I have to agree with our recent speaker Alejandro de la Fuente (Harvard University), who delivered a presentation on “The New Afro-Cuban Cultural Movement” at Marist College (see below*), that ever since the Special Period and economic changes that were designed to improve the quality of life in the 90s, the social inequalities that once seemed to be under control, were suddenly increasing, as indicated by new cultural production (and as I could see in unbridled comments against blacks and women in fairly recent visits, as well as the obvious classism I experienced when certain shop-owners or hotel staff thought that I could not possibly be a dollar-carrying tourist).
As one intellectual put it, there was an utterly racist saying going around in the mid to late 90s (one that had been, of course, frowned upon for many years, but was becoming popular again, ‘now that racism had reared its ugly head’): “No es que todos los negros sean criminales, sino que todos los criminales son negros” [It’s not all blacks are criminals, but rather that all criminals are black.] That comment rang in my head as I read the latest blog post by “Negra cubana tenía que ser” on the recent increase of the excessive “attention” of the Cuban police force on its more “visually-marked” black citizens.
There are more and more stories of young black men being arrested for no apparent reason; in this blog post, the writer refers to these unwarranted arrests as “abductions.” Although the term seems a bit harsh to me in the framework of the history of the military abductions rampant in right-wing dictatorships through the decades (let’s not begin listing them), this is the way it feels to those being stopped for no apparent reason other than the color if their skin. For the full story (in Spanish), see “De cómo los jóvenes negros pueden ser ‘abducidos’ en Cuba, por ser negros” [Of how black youth can be ‘abducted’ in Cuba, for being black] in the link below.
*Also see previous, related post Alejandro de la Fuente on the New Afro-Cuban Cultural Movement
[Photo above from René Peña’s series: Man-Made Materials, 1998; see more at http://www.factoriacompostela.org/factoriac/es/artistas/rene-pena]