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Vol. 74/No. 5      February 8, 2010

N.Y. meeting answers
slander against Cuba
NEW YORK—Fifty people attended a program here entitled, “Race, Racism and the Cuban Revolution: An Activist Roundtable” held January 19 at the Brecht Forum. Speaking at the event were Sam Anderson, Rosemary Mealy, and Lucius Walker, three well-known African American activists and long-time defenders of the Cuban Revolution.

The event was aimed at countering the publication of “Acting on Our Conscience: A Declaration of African-American Support for the Civil Rights Struggle in Cuba,” a statement signed by some 60 prominent African Americans who claim the Cuban government has fostered a “racial system” and perpetuated discrimination. Since the release of their statement in November 2009, supporters of the Cuban Revolution have begun to answer the false charges. In introducing the panel Anderson said, “I hope tonight’s program is one of many that will take up this question.”

Mealy described how Cuba’s constitution outlaws racist practices and how those laws came about as a product of the revolutionary struggle. “There remain issues of racism in Cuba,” Mealy said, but if it is not understood that these are being addressed within the revolution “you can find yourself aligned with the wrong side,” referring to those who echo Washington’s campaign against Cuba.

Similarly, Walker, who as the director of Pastors for Peace, often organizes solidarity trips to Cuba, said, “With the revolution the question of racism begins to be seriously addressed.” Walker pointed to the pride most notable among older blacks in Cuba in the tremendous advances, “even though the fight against racism is seen very much as a work in progress.” He pointed out Cuba is a country where some “70 percent of the people are of African heritage.”

Anderson gave the audience a description of Carlos Moore, an Afro-Cuban writer and initiator of the statement slandering Cuba who turned against the revolution in the early years, leaving the island in 1963.

There was a lively exchange following the presentation with many relating personal experiences of how the question of racial prejudice is dealt with in Cuba. Some in the audience explained that the campaign against Cuba’s supposed racism is also directed against those who think a revolution is needed in the United States. Questions were raised about why this campaign against Cuba is gaining momentum now among prominent African Americans, some of whom had previously defended Cuba in face of U.S. aggressions.

At the end of the meeting Mealy encouraged those in attendance to continue the dialogue at other meetings, and to join the fight to defend the Cuban Revolution. She pointed in particular to actions in defense of the Cuban Five—Cuban revolutionaries who were framed-up by the FBI and have been serving draconian sentences in U.S. jails since 1998—as well as the fight against Washington’s decades-long embargo against Cuba.
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