Racism, whose historical cause lies in the pursuit of the most brutal exploitation as a means of enrichment, is also in its essence and necessarily a cultural phenomenon. That is why it does not end with the elimination of the economic bases that sustain it.
By Ernesto Estévez Rams
July 5, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The kidnapping of the black from the white is not exclusive to a single country with a slave-owning or slavery-like past; rather, it is the rule. In Cuba, it can even be sought from what is sometimes considered our first literary work, Mirror of Patience, written by an acriolated canary. [from the Canary Islands]
The story, in the words of Eduardo Torres-Cuevas, is an aesthetic recreation of a lie and, at the same time, the creation of a myth. The first, associated with the fact that the work tries to hide the context of smuggling that causes the events portrayed; the second refers to the intention of enhancing the heroism of the Bayamese Creoles.
But it can also be read in other ways. In the work, black appears, fundamentally in the figure of Salvador Golomón, an “Ethiopian worthy of praise”, who puts an end to the unfortunate life of the buccaneer Gilberto Girón, kidnapper of Bishop Cabezas de Altamirano. With this courageous action, the black man achieves his freedom. Salvador’s virtue, in the eyes of Silvestre de Balboa, author of the poem, is to have served the white masters courageously in a battle for commercial reasons – for a traffic from which he did not benefit at all – in which he was only a participant in his condition as a slave. Black was seen through the eyes of white, this time in his utilitarian function.
Racism, whose historical cause lies in the search for the most brutal exploitation as a means of enrichment, is also in its essence and necessarily a cultural phenomenon. That is why it does not end with the elimination of the economic bases that sustain it. It endures over time beyond the elimination of the explicit or implicit laws that codify it, beyond the economic relations that need racism. And discrimination is not completely stopped unless the cultural fabric that supports it and which, in many cases, forms part of the structural core of countries is also stopped.
Nations such as the Cuban were shaped from the Christian Eurocentric with a significant racist component. Significant actors in the formation of this nationality saw the black as a factor of social backwardness. The Creole elites justified concrete proposals for eugenics and other more genocidal proposals.
Such racist positions, whether in their most extreme or most paternalistic variants, were the norm among defenders of the colony, annexationists, reformers, or autonomists. But racism was also present in pro-independence sectors, despite our most distinquich heroes and the profoundly anti-slavery roots of our deeds. Martí’s preaching of thinking of an inclusive and peerless republic in all its ethnic diversity did not mean by far the acceptance of an anti-racist stance by the frustrated society that emerged from the war of independence.
The intervening power favored actors who shared its anti-black vision. From the elites, Cuba’s progress was to “whitewash” it, appealing equally to processes of “advancing the race” by means of mestizaje, as to relegating the black “to his place”. Such ideas, projected from the class hegemony of the subordinate bourgeoisie of imperial power, were also used as a mechanism of fear to justify violence against components of the humble masses of whites, blacks and mestizos. They were used to justify crimes like the killing of thousands of Black people during the 1912 uprising. The fear of the Black people, which had been stirred up as a mechanism of domination in the colony, was transferred to the nascent republic for the same purpose.
The black, in the neo-colonial republican design that emerged, was a symbol of incivility, backwardness, and a hindrance to the nation’s progress. Its culture was not such, it was ignorant, lascivious, perverse and incompetent, and to the same extent that its rebellious presence in authentic Cuba was unstoppable, it made more of an effort to create its “white”, “civilized” variant, whether in music, theater or literature. That perspective is still there in sectors of the Cuban social imaginary, even after 60 years of systematic effort to change it from the political power that the Revolution gave to the dispossessed, including in them the black.
Any process of gestation of the national, essentially symbolic, necessarily generates an organic intellectuality to that effort. We know the white intelligentsia, most of them representatives of sectors of the owning class within the Creole population. The memory of the black woman was largely lost, either through the lack of her own written testimony or through an exercise that she sought to forget. But, although recovering it for the social imaginary is difficult, we have the emancipatory duty to continue doing so. We still have a debt to the Aponte of our history and we will not succeed in crowning our aspirations until we pay it off.
These shortcomings persist despite years of effort to study the country’s black roots and the intellectuals who have made and continue to make this study the reason for their scientific endeavors. Studies to which the Revolution managed to incorporate the Black himself from his literate empowerment, as a prying into his past and shaping his history. This systematic effort to discover our Black history has not been accompanied by the same success, in spite of all the progress that has been made there too, in its incorporation into the educational systems. Nor is the generation of tangible and intangible symbols of that memory sufficient.
Beyond laws and concrete efforts to eliminate the economic and social roots of racism, the Revolution set in motion gigantic cultural decolonization processes that are still in progress today. Entire spaces in society acquired dark colors, especially in artistic culture, but far beyond it. Never before in the history of this country has a more monumental effort been made to incorporate the Black, not as something grafter on, but as an essential part of the trunk of what is Cuban. This was done at the same time as the methodological tools were being developed to achieve this, based on the urgency of taking the sky by storm here too. Like all emancipatory social processes, much was achieved in a very short time and it was also erred as a result of doing and, also, not doing enough.
The special period, with the social and economic processes that it unleashed, gave rise to processes of re-marginalization of tangible and symbolic areas of Cuban society that joined others that had never ceased to be marginal, where the Black presence is marked. This pointed to structural problems of inequality or vulnerability, associated with skin color, which have not been resolved in our society. Racism is still present in Cuba today, because it underlies, often dormant, in the social consciousness of not a few compatriots and is invisible in not a few social and even institutional spaces.
Today, the symbolic marginalization has as a new component the influence of colonizing globalization. It is in this context that the fight against racism in Cuba also acquires even more peremptory connotations and scope, as part of the common cultural front against the onslaught to which we are subjected as a nation.
We also see this marginalization in the loss of civility reflected in reprehensible social attitudes, the rise of misogynistic lyrics in songs and other manifestations. When this phenomenon occurs, the underlying racism tends to re-visit it in terms of race: the Black is antisocial, the Black is the ill-mannered, the Black is the uncivilized… This image is reflected in common places that persist among us, such as when it is associated with doing things right with “let’s do it like whites” or when a person is reproached for behaving like “a Black man”.
In our current society, wide spaces, where racism has been defeated, coexist with others where it persists and expands. We can proudly see tremendous advances in this fight against racism: firstly, its banishment as a phenomenon inherent to a capitalist society, but we also have to recognize its stubborn permanence as a real social phenomenon.
We recognize our formal dress, symbolically legitimized for protocol and official acts, in the very Cuban guayabera, but also in the jacket and tie imported from white and symbolically exclusive Europe, and none other. We do not incorporate into the garments accepted as formal the beautiful clothes of our African heritage. It is a simple and “innocent” example of all those symbolic dimensions of racism that go unnoticed among us.
Some monuments erected in the bourgeois neo-colonial republic have not been adequately intervened to re-describe them in the light of an anti-colonial and revolutionary vision of our history.
We carry with us the consequences of those centuries in which the Black, culturally speaking, was forcibly inserted into a society shaped from the white and its codes. Their culture, as an everyday attitude, is still seen by many as peripheral, another reality not incorporated into a supposed white root; it is perceived as a culture of folklore. It persists in segregating certain social behaviors, such as Black behaviors. The most explicit reaction on the part of those attacked to this symbolic aggression is then reduced by some to a supposed threat to social coexistence.
A relentless struggle must be waged, on the real economic, social and cultural levels, against racism, which not only persists but threatens to advance. It must be fought with the tools that we have used and are using in all these years of immense and insufficient effort. We have a tremendous arsenal of ideas that we didn’t have before, which is also the result of what has been done since the Revolution, and which we can and must incorporate into this battle, the one we owe to all the Salvador Golomóns of our history. They did not fight to reproduce patterns of exploitation, but to open up paths to seek full human potential. We owe it to ourselves, regardless of color, all the children equally of Martí and Maceo, of Camilo and Almeida.
On the website of our newspaper, readers denounce, in addition to the resales, the effects suffered by the environment for their “campsites” in parks and sidewalks that count among papers and cans their shameless.
By Walkiria Juanes Sánchez
July 27, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Queues and “coleros” abound in these months of COVID-19 in Cuba. They move in full view of everyone: those who mark two and three times, for several people, with the aim of selling their stuff to those who can pay high prices for rushing their time to buy. And there are also those who whisper in your ear that they have whatever you want (wet wipes, baby wipes, chicken, picadillo, oil, splits, refrigerators…), but only if you are willing to pay double, triple or who knows what number in CUC above their price in state stores. Then, to expand the resale, they even use the internet.
Like a ray of light in the midst of the global crisis, with its impacts on the internal market and the economic persecutions due to the blockade that increases the national crisis, a note from the Ministry of the Interior recently revived public debate on the subject, stating that more than 1,285 “coleros” had been sanctioned in Cuba since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In view of this figure, which in the opinion of some will increase if the gravity of the situation is taken into account, the indolence of people without social commitment, dedicated to the transfer of products necessary for families, in the midst of a context of lack of supplies and national health emergency, comes to public attention.
One could come to doubt the humanity of these beings who, moved by individualism, forget that children, the elderly, pregnant women and the sick will not have the opportunity to obtain what they need.
On our newspaper’s website, readers denounce, in addition to the resalers, the effects suffered by the environment due to their “camping” in parks and sidewalks that count among papers and cans their shamelessness.
In the case of the severity of the sanctions that these individuals receive, diverse were the petitions to correct, energetically, these types of acts. Remember, the majority of those punished by the law only received fines of one hundred to 300 quotas, a minimum amount compared to the profits generated by the collapse of the sales system in the stores and the hoarding of products.
The so-called “lists”, supposedly created to organize the queues with tickets, numbers and shifts, also cover up the activity of the “coleros”, many of whom are the same organizers of the queues in the shops from the early hours of the morning.
If the authorities already have an identity card scanning system that allows for the order and control of this process, it should be used in the best possible way so as not to leave places available for other modalities.
Control within the stores should also be improved. An efficient service depends, in addition, on the organization and rapidity at the time of collecting the products, the personalized treatment to the client and the administrative vigilance towards the workers, demands that are frequently repeated.
Some people have proposed the use of the ration book [the libreta] as a mechanism to control the distribution of products in times of crisis like these. Something that has already been explained, since the country does not have the millions of dollars needed to carry out such a distribution.
Many other citizens request a greater supply in the stores, despite the effort that it means for the country to maintain them and in view of which alternatives for their re-supply have been generated.
The issue is not new. Among the greatest discontent is that the coleros still exist and cloud a trade already hit by the crisis and the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States. The cooperation of all could be the key to success in putting an end to the speculators, but greater control and a more effective complaint mechanism are needed, The will of the people is evident.
Now that Belarus is facing a plot from the West, the warning to avoid the worst may be a reflective look at what happened in neighboring Ukraine, or what is being attempted to impose on Bolivarian Venezuela, or more recently, the coup against suffering Bolivia, after years of vindication and boom
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Author: Elson Concepción Pérez | firstname.lastname@example.org
August 31, 2020 22:08:46
Also in politics there is the rear-view mirror, the one that must be observed at every moment, if the destinies of a country are being conducted, to warn when a premeditated collision can attack a work.
Now that Belarus is facing a plot from the West, the warning to avoid the worst may be a reflexive look at what happened in neighboring Ukraine, or what is being tried to impose in Bolivarian Venezuela, or more recently, the blow against suffering Bolivia, after years of vindication and boom.
Let’s look at the examples. First of all, Venezuela, which on Sunday, May 20, 2018, democratically and transparently elected Nicolás Maduro as president.
According to the National Electoral Council (CNE), with over 98% of the ballots counted, Maduro obtained 6,190,612 votes (67.8%), while in second place was the opposition candidate and former Governor Henri Falcón, with 1,917,036 votes (21%).
The plan planned from Washington was then applied: to ignore the elections and the elected president.
A few months later, on January 23, 2019, in the midst of the chaos created by terrorist groups encouraged by radical sectors of the opposition, Juan Guaidó proclaimed himself interim president of Venezuela. Quickly the government of Donald Trump, the Organization of American States (OAS) of Luis Almagro, the so-called “Lima Group”, an appendix of the latter, and other governments, mainly European, “recognized” the impostor Guaidó.
However, courage, dignity and political guidance, have put up a retaining wall, headed by civil-military unity, which the empire fears so much.
In the case of Bolivia, general elections were held on October 20, 2019. With 100 % of the votes counted, Evo Morales obtained an irrevocable victory in the first round, with 47.08 % in his favor, while his rival, Carlos Mesa, reached 36.51 %.
Then, a divided opposition burst in with all its strength, but capable of uniting in efforts such as that of removing Morales from power. With the support of military and oligarchic sectors, opposition groups with a fascist tendency took to the streets. Meanwhile the OAS, with its Secretary-General Luis Almagro at the head, and fulfilling a script prepared by the US State Department, questioned the results and encouraged chaos and repression against the party in power and its leaders, in the first place against President Evo Morales, who had to leave the country.
Then came the verification of the votes at the polls and the confirmation by international entities of their total transparency. But the coup d’état was already underway and a de facto government was taking power. In the case of Belarus, the script prepared by the West was no different. Presidential elections were held and when the vote was counted, the current president, Alexander Lukashenko, obtained 80.23% of the votes, while the opposition candidate Svetlana Tijanovskaya, only received 9.9% of the votes.
The difference was overwhelming and convincing, but, as Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week, everything was ready long before the election results were known.
Using NATO as a threatening military force, men and means of combat have been moved to Poland’s borders with Belarus, and to the also neighboring republics of Lithuania and Latvia, as sounding boards to incite bewilderment. Washington has moved its military from bases in Germany to Poland and has applied sanctions and threat mechanisms similar to those used in the cases cited in this commentary.
The European Union, too, which has ignored the election results without any real evidence, is already demonstrating this practice of sanctioning those who do not submit to what the West says.
As happened in Ukraine in 2014, the world must know that the plan prepared by the United States is directed against Russia, and for that reason, they want to cut economic, military, family and other ties. This is done under the false pretext of extricating Moscow’s influence in nations that were once part of the then Soviet Union, and that have a strong bond with Russia.
Putin warned that “his nation cannot observe with indifference what is happening in Belarus, because it is a very similar country in linguistic, cultural and religious aspects, and many others”.
“The problems that have arisen today in Belarus must be solved peacefully”, “or with the support of Russian force, if necessary”, Putin assured.
FROM THE LEFT
The death of Rosa Luxemburg marked the final step of world social democracy towards treason; it was not only a crime committed with full consciousness of its historical significance, but orchestrated in pursuit of a class hegemonism of the German workers bourgeoisie and big capital, allied after the defeat in the First World War.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The death of Rosa Luxemburg marked the last step of world social democracy towards treason. It was not only a crime committed with full consciousness of its historical significance, but it was orchestrated in function of a class hegemonism over the German working class by the bourgeois workers and big capital. They were allied after the defeat in World War I, to build a new right-wing order, the hard state of National Socialism (Nazi), which would lead Europe towards its dissolution as the center of the world.
In the cold dawn of January 15, 1919, Red Rosa wrote her last lines on the problem of the Revolution on the continent. And, although with pessimism, she referred to the hope that the masses would one day awaken from the nationalist and revenge lethargy hovering over the humiliated Germany of the time, and so the Revolution would show its true strength by saying: “I was, I am and I will be.”
Being born in a country occupied by Russians, Germans and Austrians made Rosa Luxemburg look at the national question with distrust. The most “revolutionary” she heard from many of the insurgents against foreign power was based on the restoration of the Polish feudal state of the 15th and 16th centuries. At that time it represented in Europe one of the purest reminiscences of the landowner’s system of servitude. That political creature, impervious to the ideas of the French Revolution, was devoured by three modern and authoritarian states that contained the nascent germ of capital.
For Rosa, then, the national question was a setback and she based her appraisals on the need to internationalize the socialist and workers’ underground movement, as a way to quickly win the emancipation of the oppressed classes. Living later in Germany, a country that based its strength as capital on the unity built by Bismarck, convinced her that nationalism only engendered steps backward on the road to a Revolution that, given the state of things at the end of the 19th century, seemed imminent.
In fact, in Germany the Social Democratic Party became the strongest and most numerous left party in the world, generating expectations in all revolutionaries. The very advance of this force in parliament provoked the removal of ultra-conservative and monarchical elements from the public sphere. But it also favored the establishment of pacts between that left and the central power of the State. It was the beginning of the historical betrayal of social democracy from Marxist socialism.
Rosa, who never felt Polish – much less German – encouraged this powerful left to extend eastwards, capturing countries under the aegis of old feudal empires, such as Russia. She saw in the mass movement of 1905 against the Tsar the beginning of the end of the crowned heads and the other European Caesars. However, the pragmatism of leaders and ideologues of social democracy, such as Karl Kautsky, would clash with Luxembourg’s theory of socialism as a new culture, whose idea is placed beyond nationalism.
For Kautsky, the struggle against capital was one of “attrition,” inasmuch as strikes were only intended to move power momentarily, but never to bring about its downfall, and the young socialist movement “would not know what to do with the vacuum of authority.” But she [Rosa] saw in this what it was: an unprecedented concession to conservative power by the leadership of a party that was beginning to abandon its foundations, while reviewing Marx’s thesis 11 on Feuerbach (Transforming the World). Historical facts demonstrated the lucidity of the Polish revolutionary, as opposed to Kautsky’s reformism, in heated and dangerous polemics.
Many of those who, at the height of the 21st century, are surprised by the anti-popular cutback policies applied by the non-Marxist European left, forget that this betrayal began a long time ago. Perhaps it is not a bad memory, but a voluntary forgetfulness in order not to recognize the cynicism with which the revolutionary question has been handled since then by elements [who have] sold out to the interests of capital.
Marx warned that the original accumulation product of the plundering of the third world gave the European workers (a part of them) the possibility of becoming bourgeois and, therefore, defending interests far from total emancipation, guided only towards a nationalist, local question of the selfish improvement of their living conditions. The European worker will thus support not only a conservative pseudo-socialism, but also the hard fascist who guarantees a middle-class standard of living, as we are seeing in today’s Europe.
That is exactly the explanation of German social democracy, the model on which that same continental tendency was built during the Cold War (1945-1991), as a wild card against the Marxist socialism of Eastern Europe.
Social democracy should not surprise us, because since the beginning of the First World War, the budget for the Army was approved in the German parliament. [It was] the same [army] that would kill workers and peasants of the other rival imperialist nations of Europe. That fact marked Rosa Luxemburg’s distance when she founded the Spartacus League, the germ of the German Communist Party, which would be hated by social democrats, ultranationalists and monarchists alike.
The German failure in the trenches, which showed the impossibility of the “confluence” project. It put the country on the verge of total civil war, with revolutionary forces ready to drive for power. However, years of social-democratic government and conservative trade unions that agreed with the existing powers prevented the necessary unity of action.
A poster placed in every corner of Berlin appealed, in those hungry early morning hours of December 1918: “Whoever wants bread, let him bring the head of Rosa Luxemburg”. The black legend of Nazism began by blaming the revolutionary socialists for national disaster, as it would later do with the Jews. Worst of all, this poster was sent to hang by the president of the Republic and leader of the social democratic party, Rosa’s former comrade.
Days later, a group of Freikcorps (antecedents of the Nazi SS assault troops) advanced on a lonely 47-year-old woman, who had her skull smashed with rifle butts, and then threw her blood-dripping body into a Berlin canal. A Spartacist comrade sent an obituary to Lenin, leader of Bolshevik Russia, saying that she “took her revolutionary condition to the extreme.’
The Rose was uprooted, but not hope, much less History.
By Nelson García Santos
July 27, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Colera: Come with me it will cost you 10. Police officer: Come with me to the police station.
Money that is easy to obtain, like a raging river, incites the crime-prone to fish. And this true truiosm is, let us say it bluntly, even by the benevolence with which this phenomenon has been treated, more visible in the unbridled action of coleros and resellers.
This scourge, which is now in the public eye, is multiplying the weights, squeezing the needs of our neighbors to the utmost, who sometimes, with no other alternative, have to die in their unhealthy hands.
They go to the extreme of wanting to justify their illicit business with the impudence that they are solving a problem for the people when, in reality, this practice harms the official market, the population and shows an unacceptable disrespect for the Law.
To finish off this trilogy, as if it were derisory, it is complemented by hoarders who operate in the wholesale market offering wholesale merchandise.
They often do it with the desired results on the employees of establishments and, who knows, with whom else, to explicitly obtain goods without the bosses noticing.
But they also capture people, weight for weight, to turn them into coleros and resellers, preferably women, elderly people and even the disabled.
Let’s recapitulate: this scaffolding has its categories. The highest-ranking is the great hoarder, but there are the coleros, who operate on their own, and the pot workers, those who put up the money for them to hoard and then give them a profit for resale.
In recent times, the authorities have intensified the confrontation against these people who have made living a la izquierda [literally, “on the left”, but meaning outside the law, wl] their lucrative essence, while the wise tribune on the street expresses satisfaction, because they approve, as in any place, of that protection that should be imposed by the authorities in the face of those who break the law.
But so untouchable do many of the transgressors believe themselves to be that their obfuscation prevents them from feeling that the noose is being pulled to stop this disorder attributed to scarcity, a half-truth, because nothing can justify immorality.
Here is an example of what is being done: for crimes related to illicit economic activity, disobedience, hoarding and the spread of epidemics, around 1,285 coleros have been prosecuted in Cuba since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last March, according to a report published on the website of the Ministry of the Interior.
That figure has been broken down and prophylactic measures and fines have been applied. Others have been charged with the crimes of illegal economic activity, disobedience, hoarding and the spread of epidemics.
With the thunder falling on some and blinding others with the glare of lightning, the only thing advisable is to avoid turning a deaf ear to the very clear message from the authorities that illegalities will not be allowed, because they can simply compromise the daily course of our society.
Let no one think that this is just a momentary action and everything will return to normal, that is, let it be done and undone.
The people even want the laws to be tougher against all these illicit actions, so that anyone who has the idea of throwing himself into the dark labyrinth of living outside the law will think twice. It’s that logical, that simple.