African Americans have been peculiarly quiet about U.S.-Cuba relations. The recent passing of former Cuban President Fidel Castro has raised the voices of only a few African-American civil rights leaders commenting about Castro’s legacy and influence on the world. It doesn’t take the ability to read the tea leaves to see the connection African Americans have with the Cuban people; and, it is no mystery that fewer African Americans view Castro as a brutal dictator than those who respect his revolutionary commitment to his country.
In response to Castro’s death, public relations strategist Gwen McKinney, owner of D.C.-based McKinney and Associates, wrote in a commentary in Huffington Post: ‘From Argentina to Angola, Canada to Kenya, this tiny island country made a massive contribution, especially to progress for people – the poor, the black, the forgotten – in his [Castro] country and developing nations. Undeniably, he set in motion a model of self-determination not known anywhere in the world.’
The Reverend Jesse Jackson wrote in a Chicago Sun Times editorial, Castro’s “defiance and pride consolidated the hatred of U.S. governing circles. He exported doctors and teachers while the U.S. exported weapons and war. Across the world — and in parts of the U.S. — Castro was and is celebrated. He stood with Africans against European imperialism and South African apartheid. He stood with Latin Americans against Yankee domination and corrupt local regimes. He dispatched doctors across the world to non-aligned nations, earning friends and saving lives. In 1975, he launched an audacious airlift of Cuban troops to repel the South African invasion of Angola, marking the beginning of the end for apartheid. He celebrated Mandela while the U.S. government was supporting the apartheid government and labeling Mandela a terrorist.
President Obama read the tea leaves and on March 16, 2017 forged a plan to normalize relations with Cuba. The president’s Cuba Policy includes opening the door to travel, educational exchanges, business opportunities and trade. The agreement between the two nations also provides for mutual efforts addressing health and science, agriculture, human rights, and law enforcement. This new era in U.S.-Cuba relations is in its infancy, less than one year old, and already President-Elect Donald Trump wants to abort it.
He must be stopped!
This is no time for African Americans to be silent. When President Obama and President Raoul Castro, the brother of Fidel, reached their agreement, rest for sure it was meant to benefit Cubans and African Americans, alike.
Jackson concluded: “We won’t understand the perversity of our own policies if we don’t understand why Castro’s leadership is celebrated across much of the world.”