Cuba’s government has launched a programme to combat racism, acknowledging that a problem that Fidel Castro tried to eliminate after the 1959 leftist revolution remains unresolved. Black Cubans are treated more unfairly than white ones.
The programme aims to fight discrimination, broaden education on Cuba’s African legacy and start a public debate on racial issues, Culture Vice Minister Fernando Rojas announced.
“Everyone recognizes our revolution has been the social and political process that has possibly done most to eliminate racial discrimination,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel said. “But there are still some vestiges that are not in our society because of policy but that are rather anchored in the culture of a group of people.”
Activists welcomed the move by Diaz-Canel, who replaced Fidel’s younger brother Raul Castro as president last year, but said it remained to be seen how well the programme would be implemented. Cuba has long hailed its elimination of racial segregation as one of the revolution’s greatest achievements.
Before 1959, education was largely inaccessible to blacks and mestizos (mixed race and Spanish) and they were shut out of universities and jobs that involved interacting with customers. Whites had their own social clubs, beaches and private parties. When he took power, Fidel Castro abolished segregation and gave all Cubans access to free education and health care. But Diaz-Canel acknowledged that some Cubans still make racist jokes and some private sector businesses advertised jobs only to people of a certain skin colour.
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