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Cuban opposition pleased by African American support. By Professor Emeritus, David Covin.
  
10-12-2009


Cuban opposition pleased by African American support.


By Professor Emeritus, David Covin.
 

(Radio Martí) - A group of African American activists are considering forming a permanent watchdog group to monitor racial discrimination in Cuba. The 60 activists published a Statement of Conscience by African Americans denouncing social inequalities, marginalization and the scorn of the Castro government against blacks in the island.


We are considering forming a group to follow this situation via international human rights and civil rights organizations, said David Covin, professor emeritus at the University of California at Sacramento and former president of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.

The four page letter calls on the government of Raul Castro to end the unnecessary and brutal harassment of blacks and the growing persecution waged by the authorities against African American movements.

"There has been ample repercussion in local and international media after the statement was published" said Professor Covin. We are distributing the letter, first to the media and of course, each person who signed is also distributing the letter to the organizations they represent.

Covin added that the idea is to call attention to the issue, particularly amongst black Americans.

"We know firsthand the experiences and the consequences of denying civil freedoms on the basis of race, and we certainly understand what racial discrimination is and does to people. For that reason we are even more obligated to voice our opinion on what is happening to our Cuban brethren a few miles away," said the black American scholars, artists and professionals.

Political prisoner Oscar Elias Biscet found out about the letter from Radio Marti staffers. Biscet, president of the independent group Lawton Foundation is serving a 25 year sentence at Combinado del Este prison. "I found out via Radio Marti, because we don't have electricity, we can't have access to the news, not even the official news," he said in a brief phone interview. The activist said he was pleased that at last black Americans have understood the suffering of Afro-Cubans.

 
Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet, presidente de la Fundación Lawton de Derechos Humanos y prisionero de conciencia cubano.

"They are now on the side of justice and it is very important for Afro-Cubans to have on our side our American brothers, they have fought against racism, they have fought for the ideal of equality and democracy in the United States and we need that here to," said Oscar Elias Biscet.

Cuba official Internet site "Cuba Debate" reacted to the letter by criticizing the authors and calling them liars.

"We cannot sit idly by and allow for decent and dedicated civil rights activists in Cuba and the black population as a whole to be treated with callous disregard for their rights as citizens and as the most marginalized people in the island. Racism in Cuba, and anywhere else in the world, is unacceptable and must be confronted ", added the statement of African American activists.

In an addendum containing statistics on the black population in Cuba, the authors cite the high percentage of black and mulattos that make up the population.

Oscar Elias Biscet confirms the assessment saying that even though the majority of Cubans are either black or mixed, there is no proportionate representation in government, no proportionate access when it comes to economic means. Racism in Cuba is evidenced in the racial composition at the helm of power. The proportion of blacks and mixed raced Cubans in prison is higher. But segregation is not limited to race, it also has to do with ideology, according to Doctor Biscet.

The document of African American leaders has had a positive impact in the opposition movement in Cuba. Manuel Cuesta Morua of the Party Arco Progresista, said that that the importance of the document lies in the fact that the group of supporters have supported the Cuban government with the understanding that the authorities where doing all they could to support racial integration. Unfortunately, added Cuesta Morua, this has not been the case, so now African Americans are sensitive to this and I think this is the message. "We should consider this a historic document, said Cuesta Morua; we have not seen this in the past. Those of us who are struggling here, fighting for racial equality and civil rights, now we are going to more international solidarity and support for our struggle".

 
Manuel Cuesta Morúa, presidente del Partido Arco Progresista.

Morua continued saying that as far as the petition itself that in Cuba these are principles shared not only by blacks but by all citizens.

The statement mentions specifically the case of Doctor Darsi Ferrer, a physician, jailed since July of this year and called for his immediate release. His wife read the letter and told Radio Marti that she felt hopeful. For Yusnaimi Jorge Soca, the evidence of racism in Cuba is part of everyday life and the evidence is everywhere, the slums where blacks live, the low salaries they receive, and police abuse.

"This letter is a very positive step, said Jorge Soca, because before no one wanted to talk about this. There has always been the notion that racism in Cuba did not exist but this is a lie", she added.

Statement of Conscience - Radio and TV Martí pictures.

 

_____________________________________
 

 

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Editores y Redactore: 
Guillermo Milán


 Colaboradores:

Julio M. Shiling

Lcdo. Sergio Ramos

Carlos

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