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Vol. 73/No. 49      December 21, 2009

Health group withdraws
from anti-Cuba letter
One of the signers of a November 30 declaration alleging that the Cuban government practices racial discrimination against black Cubans has asked that her name and that of her organization be withdrawn. Several prominent Cuban artists and writers also issued a response to the declaration December 2, recounting the contributions made by the Cuban Revolution to the advancement of blacks in Cuba and around the world. (See statement above.)

Among the 60 prominent African Americans who signed the declaration charging racism in Cuba are Princeton professor Cornel West, Atlanta’s Emory University professor Kathleen Neal Cleaver, former president of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and University of California at Sacramento professor David Covin, Bennett College for Women president Julianne Malveaux, Africana Studies professor at Cornell University James Turner, actress Ruby Dee, film director Melvin Van Peebles, and Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The statement charges the Cuban government with “unwarranted and brutal harassment of black citizens” and “callous disregard.”

In withdrawing her name and organization from the attack on the Cuban Revolution, Makani Themba-Nixon, executive director of the Praxis Project in Washington, D.C., wrote, “I know as a person with family on the island, that racism is not by any stretch of the imagination solved. I also know that the progress made in Cuba is enviable by U.S. standards. This does not mean that there should not be criticism and advocacy to push for even more progress. I just don’t want any public statement that we sign to become fodder for attacking a nation and a revolution that has contributed so much to the world.” Praxis Project is a health advocacy group for African Americans.

The statement condemning the Cuban government was largely driven by Carlos Moore, reported the December 1 Miami Herald. Moore is a decades-long opponent of the Cuban Revolution. It repeats many of the slanders against the revolution that can be found in his two books, Castro, the Blacks, and Africa and Pichón: Race and Revolution in Castro’s Cuba.

Moore convinced Abdias Nascimiento, described by the Herald as a leading figure among blacks in Brazil, to send a letter to Cuban president Raúl Castro denouncing racism in Cuba. Moore, who now lives in Brazil, then approached friends and contacts among U.S. Blacks, including Susan Taylor, former editor of Essence magazine.

The declaration calls on the Cuban government to release Darsi Ferrer, whom a press release issued with the statement describes as a leader of the island’s “budding civil rights movement.” The release says that Ferrer has angered Cuban authorities by setting up “people’s clinics” in homes and garages for black Cubans who “no longer receive medical attention,” from the government.

Cuba’s health-care system is unrivaled in the world and is provided free to all Cubans. In addition thousands of Cuban doctors and other medical specialists provide health care in the most remote parts of Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Cuban medical schools also train students from many semicolonial countries.
Related articles:
Cubans answer slander of racism against revolution
Afro-Cubans defended anticolonial fighters  
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