December 10, 2010
On December 7th 1896, General Antonio Maceo, the greatest son of Africa ever to live in Cuba, fell in a skirmish in Punta Brava, Havana, after rising through the ranks from an enlisted soldier to second in command of the Cuban Army of Independence.
After leading the Cuban Army of Independence successfully into its most decisive and critical battles during the 10 Year War, the Protest of Baragua and the War of Independence in 1895, during which he faced and defeated on the battle ground, each of Spain most courageous, accomplished and decorated army Generals, for which he earned the honorable title of the Bronze Titan.
His outstanding leadership was tested over and over in the most diverse circumstances, in which he had the opportunity demonstrate his love of country, patriotism, fidelity and courage, which lead Jose Marti, the father of the Cuban Nation, to proclaim that the power of his brain was equal to the power of his arm that held his sword.
If there was ever a role model to influence the behavior, hopes and aspirations of the Cuban youths, especially those of African ancestry, it was the Maceo family in general and General Antonio Maceo in particular, who was like a lighthouse, leading us into a safe harbor.
It is therefore very painful for hundreds of thousands of Afro-Cubans, to witness how 114 years after this tragic event, so much of the core values for which he lived, fought and died, remain unfulfilled and out of reach for too many of his children.
No one in his/her right mind can deny the extraordinary educational advances that Afro-Cubans have made in the past half a century. Yet, the socio-economic gap between us and other ethnic groups have persisted and widened in many cases.
A clear and determined effort by many in positions of authority within the government or holding administrative responsibilities, have done everything within their power to segregate and relegate Afro-Cubans to the least desirable jobs, poor living quarters, stagnation, opposing their promotion into positions of high visibility, all of which have been clearly identified, repeatedly exposed and denounced with limited or no success. Racism is today, a fact of life in Cuba.
For this monstrosity to take place in the land of General Jose and Antonio Maceo, Quintin Banderas, Mariana Grajales, Juan Almeida, Jesus Menendez, Guillermon Moncada, Juan Gualberto Gomez and thousands of others exemplary Afro-Cubans, is an affront to our history and moral values.
This very serious failure through neglect or indifference, lead to a spurious document entitled “Acting on our Conscience” which hit the cyberspace on December 1, 2009, like an atomic bomb pretending to address this repulsive reality.
In fact, it’s only purpose was to pit Black intellectuals, scholars, religious leaders and ordinary people in the Black world against each others, forcing many to take side in this thorny issue, weakening our tenuous unity and turning everyone into losers.
This divisive, sectarian, opportunist document, did irreparable harm to our struggle to earn our rightful share and social dignity in our country, that was founded under the banner of “With All and for the Wellbeing of All“.
Likewise, for those responsible to correct and eradicate this revolting social manifestation from our society, they should be reminded that ignoring this festering wound, not confronting head on this viper or to pretend this corrosive mental secretion will fade away, they are setting up themselves for a rude awakening, when this malignancy metastasize out of control across the island.
The murder of Placido, the Ladder Conspiracy, Triunvirato, the massacre of thousands of members of Independent Party of Color and others, are graphic examples of when such deranged behavior are left unchecked.
On the other hand, Cuba’s monumental internationalist solidarity contributions during the past fifty years in Algeria, Congo, Mozambique, Grenada, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia, Jamaica, East Timor, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and no where else like in Haiti, Angola and South Africa, supersedes, obliterates and debunk all questions, doubts or insinuations attempting to tarnish Cuba’s well established position in favor of the poor, ignored and abused.
Although it is clear, that Cuba has a monumental task at home to clean-up its racial inequality and racism at the earliest date possible, the horrendous earth quake that flattened Port au Prince on January 12, 2010, causing over 250,000 dead, 300,000 wounded and maimed and 1.5 million women, children and elderly without shelter, exposed to a harsh tropical environment, compel all men of good will around the world, to put on hold their national issues and focus on this unprecedented calamity.
Immediately following this disaster, I published “ A moment of reckoning” 1/13/10, “Act now in Haiti before it is too late” 2/15/10 and “Will we allow Haiti to die” 11/5/10 to no avail. Today, more than 30,000 victims have contracted Cholera and 2,000 have died unnecessarily, due to this foreseeable, preventable, transmissible disease outbreak.
As the world learned about the magnitude of this disaster, an incredible outpouring of solidarity took shape with nearly every country offering every possible type of assistance. Billions of dollars were pledged and two US ex Presidents were enlisted by president Barack Obama, to lead the recovery effort.
Eleven months after, Haiti continue to be plagued by inefficiency, indolence, inaptitude in face of massive human suffering. Many of those supposed to lead the recovery effort, have engaged in posturing, photo-ops, press releases, TV appearances and on Radio talk shows.
The time have come for us, ordinary people to step up to the plate. This tragedy is basically an American, Caribbean, African disaster, irrespective of all of the humanitarian support and kindness of the rest of the world.
As we write these notes, 200,000 school children are on the streets of Port au Prince without shelter, schools, healthcare, food and seriously exposed to a host of transmissible diseases.
No country in the world except Cuba, have the infrastructure, human resources, expertise, commitment with the pain and suffering of the poor and the political will, to open its doors and confront a problem of this magnitude, which calls for the immediate relocation of thousands of these victims to a safe haven, where all basic means of survival will be available.
But Cuba cannot do it alone. Cuba, is undergoing its most critical financial crisis in its 500 plus years history. Cuban-Americans elected to the US Congress and Senate, have already put Cuba on notice of enhanced punitive measures, determined to inflict greater suffering on deaths on its people.
Tens of thousands of Afro-Americans physicians, attorneys, accountants, businesspeople, churches, social organizations, farmers and educators, need only to provide a once a year nominal donation to save these children.
Hundreds of thousands of emigrants from the Caribbean and Latin America in the first world, should be persuaded to do likewise. Each of our Caribbean Islands and Central American countries, albeit their own poverty level, should make a public commitment of their level of financial or material contribution.
If all nations on their own, their citizens and institutions would once and for all, shelve temporarily all divisive sentiments and come together in the largest and most important humanitarian airlift in our hemisphere, this could enable the relocation of tens of thousands of Haitian children from their Port au Prince disaster zone, to a fully refurbished and equipped schools on the Isle of Youth in Cuba.
This proposal may sound novel, outrageous or undoable to those not related with Cuba’s history. In the decade of 1960-70’s, over 40 thousands students from war torn African countries, were safely removed to the Isles of Pines, where they received shelter, education, food, healthcare and culture. Thousands of these survivors can be found in their country or adopted countries, sharing their higher education expertise in every field of science, health or culture.
Haiti is no different from Africa or anywhere else. Putting in motion a project of this nature, can not only save these children, but it can also open a path for that country’s development, leaving behind ignorance, backwardness and the scorn of others, by becoming the shinning light that L’Ouverture, Desalines and others fought and died for.
We need not to depend of hundreds of millions of dollars that were donated for these purposes, most of which are sitting in mega banks, paying exuberant wages to bureaucrats or on luxury office space rentals.
Now is the time for the entire world to begin to address the un-payable debt it have contracted with Haiti, for all what Haiti have thought and given to the world and for all the pain and suffering, the world have inflicted on this victimized nation.