| posted on 11.30.2016 at 05:48 PM
The legacy of Fidel Castro - to BLACK people
For half a century, Fidel Castro held an iron grip on Cuba, defying a CIA-backed invasion, numerous assassination attempts, a U.S. trade embargo, and
Castro came to power in 1959 after overthrowing the American-backed President Fulgencio Batista, who ran an authoritarian government and was viewed by
many as corrupt.
After Castro aligned his country with the Soviet Union in 1961, President John F. Kennedy ordered an ill-fated, CIA-backed Cuban invasion known as the
Bay of Pigs mission, which served up a humiliating defeat for the U.S. A year later, the United States and the Soviet Union played a game of nuclear
brinkmanship in Cuba, which ended when the Soviets agreed to dismantle their nuclear weapons and remove them from Cuba.
Many Cubans saw their families torn apart after Castro took power, seizing property and jailing dissidents. Millions fled the country.
But for many African-Americans, Castro was a leader who was unafraid to stand up against racism at home and abroad.
At the height of the U.S. civil rights movement, Castro met publicly with Malcolm X, and sent Cuban troops to Angola to fight against the apartheid
government of South Africa at a time when the U.S. still supported it. His support of the Civil Rights movement in America and African independence
movements abroad has complicated his story.
On Monday’s edition of NewsOne Now, Roland Martin spoke with Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., founder of Rainbow PUSH, Soledad O’Brien, CEO of Starfish Media,
and Bill Fletcher, Jr., a writer and activist, about the complexities of Castro’s legacy.
Soledad O’Brien, whose mother is an Afro-Cuban, said those who have not fully studied history should take into account the “horrible things”
perpetrated on Cubans, as well as the “big things” Castro brought to the nation, including healthcare, literacy and his attempt to “stamp out racial
O’Brien said these aspects of Castro’s legacy “make the understanding of Fidel Castro much more than a binary, ‘He was evil, he was great.’ I think he
was evil and/or all of these other things that he accomplished.”
Bill Fletcher said, “The discussions about Fidel Castro in the media have been incredibly biased and lack that analysis that would help people
understand the types of things that both Rev. Jackson and Soledad are raising.”
O’Brien recalled her mother’s description of the dictator’s methodology in remaining in power and said, “Batista would only kill you … Castro would
kill you and then he’d make sure that your children could never work and he’d make sure that your parents didn’t have a house.” The award-winning
journalist added, “There was a certain viciousness” associated with the former leader of Cuba.
“Sure, you can describe a list of things that were done in improvements in society and then you have to also say this person was a vicious dictator,”
Watch Roland Martin, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., Soledad O’Brien, Bill Fletcher and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the complex legacy of Fidel Castro in
the video clip above.
(Please click on the link and watch the video. Everything you want to know about Castro is in it. It's awesome. The convo between Soledad O'Brien,
an Afro-Cuban, and Jessie Jackson will make you think!)
| posted on 11.30.2016 at 07:26 PM
My feelings on Castro....
He was for black people. He put his 'money' where his mouth was when it came to black people.
Before Castro, the Mafia OWNED Cuba. Batista, the "black" Cuban dictator gave the island over to the Sicilians. The Mafia owned every slot machine
and pretty much every hotel, on the island. They had some kind of 'executives' club. No blacks were permitted membership (kills me - half of Sicily
is BLACK! Note: they seem to have more colorism than racism in Sicily, but that's just an impression), but because Batista was the President
(whateva) of Cuba and he was their "boy," he was made an "honorary" member of the club. Afro-Cubans were darn near starving. Afro-Cuban women
were working as prostitutes to live. Afro-Cuban children were beggars. Castro put an end to Mafia-controlled gambling and prostitution.
When Castro came to the U.S. after overthrowing Batista for a meeting at the United Nations, he stayed at the Theresa Hotel in black Harlem for the
ENTIRETY of his stay. No other head of state, European, Asian OR African, has ever come to the U.S. and stayed in a black hotel in a black community.
They ALL stay in Manhattan and frequent white business establishments.
When Apartheid South Africa (that the U.S. backed and supported) sent troops to put down the black rebellion in Angola, Castro sent Cuban troops there
to fight the South African force.
When Katrina struck and white Americans were calling black AMERICANS "refugees," Bush was partying, and Condoleeza Rice was in NYC shopping for
shoes, Castro offered to send a platoon of doctors to New Orleans to treat the sick and wounded.
Cuban/Americans can say what they will about Castro, true or exaggerated, but I will forever praise him. When all others turned their backs --
INCLUDING our government during Katrina -- on black people's plight wherever in the world you find us, Fidel Castro stepped up to
So while WHITE Cuban/Americans dance in the streets in Miami, blacks who know the score, say:
RIP Fidel- you were a good friend.
| posted on 12.1.2016 at 04:38 AM
Kept hearing about Castro's "crimes against humanity," the "flying death squads," "Castro's atrocities, etc. As is my wont,
decided to engage our friend, Google for info about all the horrible things the man is accused of.
Astonishing. I found nothing but articles written by Cuban/Americans who called him "evil," "monstrous," etc., and said he killed thousands of
Cubans..... Not ONE had any documentation. Not ONE gave circumstances, or even examples, of "thousands" --- nah, not even ONE death. Seriously. Only
- Castro was no good. Anyone who believes Castro did ANY good is an idiot. And so on and so forth.
Why do Cuban-Americans hate Castro? Because 1) they're pretty much white Cubans (and you know there's some African ancestry in there somewhere but
they're denying it) and 2) because they LOOK white, they were at the top of the ladder in Batista Cuba. They owned everything. They ran everything.
No phenotypically Afro-Cuban - except, ironically, Batista himself - was in charge of anything except a broom. Castro came into power with the idea of
spreading the wealth, which meant some of their privileges and access to the good life (education, health care, etc.) would be SHARED with their
darker countrymen.... and like racists everywhere, they didn't like it.
To hell with Cuban-Americans' racist
Ex. of "rabid hatred" of Castro with NO proof of anything wrong he did:
Great start (if you're into demonizing Castro), but in the ENTIRE article, the author tells not ONE "atrocity" - not just one DOCUMENTED atrocity,
but not even one he said/she said 'atrocity'! He, instead, launches into a tirade against President Obama for not saying Castro was the
monster he felt him to be. Seriously. Check it out. This article is typical of those who rail against acceding Fidel Castro having done ANY good for
Cuba or the world, even though Cuba is the FIRST country in the world to end mother-to-child HIV! (check it out! Pregnant Cuban mothers with HIV do
NOT pass it along to their unborn children )
Fidel Castro's African legacy: Friendship and freedom
Analysis: Cuba's decades-long involvement in Africa has left a disputed and complicated legacy.
Fidel Castro was the enduring face and voice of a Cuban internationalism forged at the height of the Cold War and still widely misunderstood by the
In 1969, during a meeting with the Chilean foreign minister Gabriel Valdes, Henry Kissinger - who would later become the US secretary of state -
declared: "Nothing important can come from the South. History has never been produced in the South. The axis of history starts in Moscow, goes to
Bonn, crosses over to Washington, and then goes to Tokyo. What happens in the South is of no importance."
This so-called South - the global South - had already proved Kissinger wrong, though he was not astute enough to recognise it. As well as the
emergence of the Non-Aligned Movement (of newly independent nations) at the Bandung Conference some 14 years earlier, post-revolution Cuba had been
busy forging deep ties with countries that shared both its mistrust of US foreign policy and desire for true independence.
In the years that followed, Havana would provide not just symbolic but also military and economic support to peoples all over Asia, Africa and Latin
America. This struggle for self-determination, which spread across the globe throughout the 20th century, is perhaps one of the most enduring legacies
of Fidel Castro's Cuba. Nowhere has it had as deep an impact as in Africa, where Cuba helped consolidate the rule of socialist independent movements
in several nations, and to bring about the end of apartheid in South Africa.
Cuba's influence on the global South began, symbolically, with the Cuban revolution itself, in 1959. "The Cuban revolution provided a sort of
language for which places like Guinea-Bissau could dream of their future as independent countries," says Antonio Tomas, a biographer of African
anti-colonial leader Amilcar Cabral.
It was an event which resonated with nations still fighting or only recently liberated from colonial occupations.
"I was a young student when I heard about it, and about Fidel, for the first time," says Adriano Pereira dos Santos Junior, who was part of the
liberation struggle in Angola, won by the socialist MPLA. "The Cuban revolution and the defeat of Baptista was hugely influential for us in
The following year, with Cuba already under sanctions from the US, Fidel Castro travelled to New York to address the United Nations, and found that he
would be confined to Manhattan island by security measures. After a spat with a hotel that demanded a $20,000 deposit from the Cubans, Castro and his
delegation left and moved to the black-owned Hotel Theresa, in Harlem, where they were welcomed by el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, Malcolm X.
Rosemari Mealy, an academic, writer and Black Panther Party member, who has written about the encounter, recalls: "Activists, journalists and regular
Harlemites ... recalled witnessing thousands of pro-Cuba demonstrators in the streets in front of the hotel."
At the time, as Mealy points out, "all across the United States, including Harlem, blacks and other people of colour were waging relentless struggles
against racism and police violence, the fight for decent housing, jobs and the end to segregation of public schools and transportation".'
Castro's decision to stay in Harlem, to meet so publicly with Malcolm X and, subsequently, to receive a host of foreign leaders who were at odds with
American foreign policy - including Nikita Khrushchev, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Jawaharlal Nehru - antagonised the US administration but also served as
a powerful example of how Cuba was positioning itself in relation to the rest of the world.
But the rest of the world was in a state of turmoil. The 1960 independence of the Republic of Congo was followed in January 1961 by the assassination
of its new president, Patrice Lumumba, in which both the US and the United Nations played a role.
Then, just months later, in Cuba, the CIA orchestrated the invasion of the Bay of Pigs in an attempt to unseat Castro. It was not hard, at the time,
for Cuba to convince the global South of the facts of American imperialism.
With the controversial, US-imposed sanctions as his calling card, Castro declared solidarity between Cuba and other oppressed, colonised, and newly
According to Raquel Ribeiro, who writes about the relationship between Cuba and Angola, "there was a wide and significant network of influence in the
so-called Third World, which stemmed clearly from the Tricontinental conference in Havana in 1966 as a movement of the 'global South', an
alternative to imperial, neo-colonial forms of domination".
In its attempt to galvanise this movement, the Cuban government went beyond rhetoric and began to provide tangible support to those it counted among
its allies. It was in this spirit that, in 1963, Cuba sent a delegation of 56 Cuban doctors to Algeria. Algeria was still recovering from a long war
of liberation from France, and post-independence "white flight" had left the country desperately lacking in medical professionals.
This small, but symbolic, envoy from Havana was the beginning of a decades-long programme of Cuban "medical internationalism" which would leave a
lasting legacy across Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, in particular. "The symbolic aspect was really the generosity," says Tomas. "And I
think this is the narrative Fidel wanted to write. The history of the little island doing great things in Africa, far greater than the resources they
had and so on .... This internationalism was unprecedented."
But from its inception, medical internationalism was not only part of a humanitarian campaign (which also provided teachers, engineers and
technicians); it was also fundamental to the military interventions that Cuba was launching abroad, particularly in Africa, where ongoing independence
struggles were fast becoming a live battleground for the Cold War.
Arms and weapons to Africa
From 1963, Cuba began to provide arms and weapons training to allied movements in Algeria, Yemen, and to Amilcar Cabral's PAIGC movement for the
liberation of Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, then still Portuguese colonies. But the support wasn't only practical. Rooted in a language of
brotherhood and shared history, it was also emotional. "In a spirit of friendship," declared Amilcar Cabral, "... the bonds of history, blood and
culture unite our peoples with the Cuban people."
Although outflanked by the Soviet Union in terms of the military and financial aid it provided, Cuba's internationalist support continued to be of
importance to the emerging political leaders of the global South (including Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah; Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser; Burkina Faso's
Thomas Sankara; Mozambique's Eduardo Mondlane; and Angola's Agostinho Neto - not all of whom were then in power).
While these leaders were courted by Raul and Fidel Castro, it was Che Guevara who provided the idealism and passion for the armed struggle on the
ground. Che intended to put the guerilla warfare theories he had developed - based on his own experiences in Cuba - into practice. In 1965, he
embedded himself with 100 Afro-Cuban soldiers in the Republic of Congo, to train guerilla fighters in support of the Marxist Simba movement.
The mission was disastrous; his men were soon outnumbered by apartheid South African- and CIA-backed mercenaries, and he retreated, having learned a
painful lesson about wading into unfamiliar conflicts. While subsequently hiding in Dar es Salaam, he offered his services to FRELIMO (the National
Front for the Liberation of Mozambique), but was turned down. Not all African liberation movements wanted - or needed - help.
After Che's death in 1966, Cuban internationalism became more pragmatic. But over the following decade, the struggles for independence mutated into a
series of bitter internal conflicts, heavily fuelled by foreign interests and Cold War politics.
At the request of the MPLA (the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola), Castro sent tens of thousands of Cubans to Angola under "Operation
Carlotta" between 1975 and 1991, many of whom would die fighting against rival, US-backed and South-African apartheid forces. The Cuban forces'
victory at the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in 1988 was a watershed moment in southern African history, heralding independence for Zimbabwe and Namibia -
and the beginning of the end of South African apartheid. It was also the moment for Cuba to begin withdrawing militarily from Angola - although the
civil war there would not end for another decade.
Cuba's decades-long involvement in Africa has left a disputed and complicated legacy; alongside the victory over apartheid sits their alleged
involvement in the May 27 massacre in Angola; and the bloodshed from the 1977 Ethiopia-Somalia war, to mention just two examples.
The movements whose leadership Castro supported have not always fulfilled the hopes of the people they rule over, and some have morphed from socialism
into something quite unrecognisable. But as Nelson Mandela - a lifelong friend of Castro - also remarked: "Cubans came to our region as doctors,
teachers, soldiers, agricultural experts, but never as colonisers ... What other country has such a history of selfless behaviour as Cuba has shown
for the people of Africa?"
Even today, thousands of Cuban doctors are working all over Africa and beyond - providing vital medical services including most recently during the
Ebola crisis; supporting infrastructure, education and culture. "Internationalism is ingrained in Cuban society and it's a fundamental part of Cuban
identity," says Ribeiro. "It will continue to live on, beyond Fidel."'
Ana Naomi de Sousa is a filmmaker and journalist. She is the director of: Hacking Madrid; The Architecture of Violence; Guerrilla Architect; and
Angola Birth of a Movement.