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The Government boasts of progress in its anti-racism program, but admits that it is insufficient

Works to highlight black figures and exhibitions of plastic arts are some of the Government's steps to 'contribute to the elimination of the conditions that generate equity gaps and racial.

A Cuban family fills water receptacles.
A Cuban family fills water receptacles. Diario de Cuba

On Wednesday the Cuban Government stated that "palpable progress is being made," although not everything slated is being achieved, with its National Program against Racism and Racial Discrimination, approved in November 2019.

The purported progress of the program, approved by the Council of Ministers and called Color Cubano, was highlighted at a meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Inés María Chapman Waugh and Culture Minister Alpidio Alonso Grau, the state media source Granma reported.

Color Cubano has among its objectives to contribute to the elimination of the conditions that generate equity gaps and racial discrimination associated with skin color in Cuba, the state media outlet stated, referring to the program created 60 years after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.

In 1961, at the First Conference of Non-Aligned Countries, the president of Cuba at the time, Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado, claimed to represent "a nation, a Government, a people and a Revolution that have forever abolished the vestiges of racial discrimination." Five decades later, Fidel Castro had to admit that the Revolution had failed to "eradicate the differences in the social and economic status of the country's black population."

Castro made the statement during his talk with journalist Ignacio Ramonet, featured in the book One Hundred Hours with Fidel.

It took 15 years from the late Cuban dictator's confession to the French journalist for the Council of Ministers to sanction the aforementioned program; independent civil society activists have complained about its lack of transparency and, above all, its impact.

According to Granma, the meeting reviewed actions undertaken since 2019 aimed at eliminating inequality and racial discrimination.

The actions, shown in an audiovisual piece provided by the Culture Ministry, include two works dedicated to spotlighting the figure of José Antonio Aponte, who led the first slave uprising in Cuba; a national day marking the 130th anniversary of the death of Mariana Grajales; days dedicated to Antonio Maceo, and a tribute to the five Abakuá members killed in their attempt to save the eight medical students, on November 27, 1871.

In addition, General Quintín Banderas and union leader Jesús Menéndez have been celebrated, seven books have been published, and visual arts exhibitions have been held on the subject.

According to Granma, it has also been publicly addressed "how much is done in the country to eliminate the gaps that still reveal some disadvantages in the treatment of black or mulatto people; with different forums on national television in which the problem of race is addressed with greater responsibility."

The state media report did not specify how the Cuban Government hopes to eliminate the inequality gaps that affect, fundamentally, black and mestizo people, through exhibitions, books and tributes.

Although the black and mulatto population is a minority in Cuba, according to official statistics, most of the people who live in the poorest neighborhoods, where water is lacking and garbage and broken streets abound, belong to it.

DIARIO DE CUBA and the Citizens Committee for Racial Integration (CIR) focused on this reality in the five-part series la miseria en Cuba.

In June CIR coordinator Juan Antonio Madrazo Luna stated, in an interview with DDC, that most of the Cubans who participated in the anti-government protests of July 2021, as well as those in Caimanera, Guantánamo, in May, were black or mestizo.

"People of African descent continue to languish in the same peripheral neighborhoods, in the same slums, in the same human settlements. The inequalities are increasing, but they are also representative on the informal market," said Madrazo Luna.

Most of the families, mainly made up of single mothers, who have for years resorted to squatting on state premises, or staying at shelters in poor condition, are black or mestizo. DIARIO DE CUBA has been reporting on this situation for years.

In this context, at said meeting representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) presented steps for the international promotion of the Programa Color Cubano through 2030. Granma did not indicate what steps were announced by the MINREX.

According to the state media source, the Cuban Observatory will be inaugurated on Cuban Culture Day. The newspaper did not explain what the function of that observatory will be.

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