It can be difficult to find traces of institutionalized racism in Cuba. It’s not in the country’s laws or in the hidden prohibitions (called decrees, those subsections added at the directives of the Commander in Chief) that come out at the last minute to protect the victimizers.
In the eastern part of the island for a long time they spoke, and still speak, of Holguin as having a “strong racist component,” referring perhaps to the majority population. Here in this province more atrocities have been covered up than we can imagine.
The case of prisoners, both common and political, refutes any argument. It’s astonishing that seven out of ten prisoners are of the black race, according to a clandestine poll conducted by an opposition group in 2007. And on the other hand, the first-hand accounts are eloquent.
When they abuse a prisoner, the word “black” comes out with the first kick or blow. Zapata Tamayo, in the Holguín Provincial Prison, was always insulted for being black, and he didn’t know he should thank the Revolution for “having saved him from disgrace.” Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez said, in an interview he gave a south Florida radio station, that this past December 28th he heard from a senior police official in Holguin the worst racial insults that he had ever heard during his career as a fighter for civil rights.
“Combating racism” is never going to be an effective rhetorical device as long as one personal testimony remains standing.
Translated by: Tomás A.