Cuban state media accuses President Obama of inciting 'disorder'
State-run media in Cuba had some angry words for President Obama following his visit. An editorial in the Havanna Tribune was titled "Black Man, Are You Dumb" and excoriated Obama for what it referred to as fomenting discord and "inciting rebellion."
The author, who is black, goes on to condemn President Obama for meeting with Cuban pro-democracy activists and “subtly” suggesting that the Cuban Revolution needed to change. “Obama came, saw, but unfortunately, with the pretend gesture of lending a hand, tried to conquer,” Elias Argudín writes.
“[Obama] chose to criticize and subtly suggest … incitations to rebellion and disorder, without caring that he was on foreign ground. Without a doubt, Obama overplayed his hand,” he continues. “The least I can say is, Virulo-style: ‘Negro, are you dumb?'”
Virulo is a white pro-Revolution comedian.
Argudín’s article later accuses President Obama of presiding over a racist country–mocking the calls for freedom in Cuba by stating, “Which freedom–the freedom enjoyed by white police to massacre and manhandle black people?”–and issue demands parroted straight from the Castro regime: the end of the “genocidal” embargo and giving the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, which has belonged to the United States since before Cuban independence, to the Castros.
The column appears on the Havana Tribune website with a March 23 dateline, though itappeared in the print edition of the newspaper on Monday and has begun to make the rounds online this week. It has received intense criticism from Cuban-Americans on social media for its disrespect of the president and openly racist language.
The Castros have claimed there is no racism in Cuba, which is a bad joke when you consider how poorly Afro-Cubans have fared since the revolution. In fact, as this New York Times piece points out, the kind of racism practiced in Cuba is as bad as or worse than what we see in the U.S.:
Most remittances from abroad — mainly the Miami area, the nerve center of the mostly white exile community — go to white Cubans. They tend to live in more upscale houses, which can easily be converted into restaurants or bed-and-breakfasts — the most common kind of private business in Cuba. Black Cubans have less property and money, and also have to contend with pervasive racism. Not long ago it was common for hotel managers, for example, to hire only white staff members, so as not to offend the supposed sensibilities of their European clientele.
That type of blatant racism has become less socially acceptable, but blacks are still woefully underrepresented in tourism — probably the economy’s most lucrative sector — and are far less likely than whites to own their own businesses. Raúl Castro has recognized the persistence of racism and has been successful in some areas (there are more black teachers and representatives in the National Assembly), but much remains to be done to address the structural inequality and racial prejudice that continue to exclude Afro-Cubans from the benefits of liberalization.
Racism in Cuba has been concealed and reinforced in part because it isn’t talked about. The government hasn’t allowed racial prejudice to be debated or confronted politically or culturally, often pretending instead as though it didn’t exist. Before 1990, black Cubans suffered a paralysis of economic mobility while, paradoxically, the government decreed the end of racism in speeches and publications. To question the extent of racial progress was tantamount to a counterrevolutionary act. This made it almost impossible to point out the obvious: racism is alive and well.
Cubans taunting America is simply one more example of Obama's "openings" to our "former" enemies. The result has been insults, denunciations, threats, and sarcastic mocking. Words do have consequences, and there is a legitimate question as to whether we can trust a regime like Cuba or Iran that doesn't respect us or our president.