Afro-Cuban activists Calvo Cárdenas and Manuel Cuesta Morúa created the Citizens Committee for Racial Integration (CIR) to advocate for Cuba’s underrepresented Afro-Cuban population. CIR champions policies to fight discrimination that Afro-Cubans experience in the workforce.
The group’s work gives Cuba’s Communist Party pause because it refutes the idea that 50 years of communism has eliminated inequality. The Washington Post reports:
In 2008, the two joined other activists to form the Citizens Committee for Racial Integration — an organization whose very name is an indictment of their beleaguered workers’ paradise. “The Afro-Cuban population is stagnant, at the bottom of the social pyramid,” Juan Antonio Madrazo Luna, the committee’s national coordinator, said during the recent trip. As in virtually every other nation in the Western hemisphere, Calvo Cárdenas added, “Cuba has traditionally had a racially stratified workforce. And despite the egalitarian rhetoric of the government, African descendants remain excluded from the most promising jobs.”
None of the committee representatives accused the Castros of harboring racial bias. The problem that the Castros and the Communist Party have with the committee is that an independent movement for racial equality is a living, breathing refutation of the idea that, after more than 50 years in power, communism has delivered equality. Another problem for the party is that any independent movement is inherently not under its control. For Afro-Cubans, the road to equality is blocked by the party’s suppression of civil society.
The CIR’s efforts speak to some of the issues that The Root’s editor-in-chief, Henry Louis Gates Jr., examines in his PBS special Black in Latin America, which explores the lives and culture of black people in Latin American countries.
Read more at the Washington Post.