Afro-Cuban Feminism in Cuba

Tenia que ser.jpg

Exploring Afro-Cuban Feminism

Abroadia recommends that you follow the excellent blog "Negra Tenía Que Ser." The latest post discusses Afro-Cuban feminism.

https://negracubanateniaqueser.com/2017/11/12/aprendizajes-sobre-feminismo-negro-dialogos-con-cinco-negras-intelectuales-cubanas/

The US, Cuba and Historical Amnesia

The US, Cuba and Historical Amnesia

The violent confrontations in Charlottesville, Virginia the weekend of August 12-13 forced the nation to reconsider its history and what aspects of it have been promoted at the expense of others. White supremacists, Neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and others gathered in Charlottesville to protest the announced removal of the Robert E. Lee statue from the campus of the University of Virginia. Counter-protestors showed up to challenge them. Many have argued about the right of freedom of speech and others have said that all symbols of the confederacy must be abolished or removed because they commemorate an ugly portion of American history or that some were constructed in the period of Jim Crow to intimidate immigrants and African-Americans. These are complicated times indeed.

Unbeknownst to many Americans Cuba is having a similar internal dialogue. Located in a beautiful rotunda on Havana’s famous Avenida de los Presidentes (Avenue of the Presidents) lies an imposing yet beautiful monument to a man forgotten by Americans, but remembered by Cubans. Featuring many Roman columns and a resplendent and large statue, this monument is an homage to José Miguel Gómez, former president of Cuba from 1909-1913.

However, there is a controversy surrounding the very existence of this memorial (pictured above). In 1912 José Miguel Gómez ordered the massacre of over 2,000 (some claim as many as 3,000) members of the Partido Independiente de Color (PIC), an all Afro-Cuban party committed to defending its right to promote the cause and interests of blacks in Cuba, protesting a discriminatory law (la ley de Morúa). This tragedy is not discussed in Cuban history books and mirrors the current polemic in which the US is currently enmeshed. In Cuba many people are not aware of the May 1912 massacre while in the US many do not realize that most of the Confederate statues and symbols that appear in public places throughout the South were built in the 20th century as a form or resistance against the federal government, immigration and blacks.

As we know passion, uninformed by history, can transmogrify into hysteria and this is what we saw coming from the white supremacists, et al, in Charlottesville. Noted historian Jon Meacham, observed in a recent article that, “If we don’t face them [facts] forthrightly, we risk living in worlds of fantasy and fable, subject not to reason, the greatest of gifts, but susceptible to passion, the most dangerous of forces.”[1]  In the US reason has been overtly challenged by passion regarding the symbols of the Confederacy, while in Cuba no one knows the dark history of the man commemorated by the shrine on Avenida de los Presidentes, although the hip-hop group Obsesión has led the charge demanding that the monument be torn down.

Lord Bolingbroke once wrote that “History is philosophy taught with examples.”  We have to ask ourselves what kind of example we are teaching these days.

 

[1] Meacham stumbles, however, when he equates Andrew Jackson as a visionary of the caliber of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. He writes that all three of them “believed in the transcendent significance of the nation, and each was committed to the journey toward ‘a more perfect Union’”. He seems to have forgotten the brutality that Jackson (known as “Old Hickory” by Caucasian Americans and “Sharp Knife” by Native American Indians) displayed toward the indigenous Americans. Jackson certainly believed in a “more perfect Union” but this was built on the genocide of the Native American Indians. Interestingly enough, Jackson has two statues that feature prominently on US public spaces. Meacham, unfortunately, did not address this in his article).

Being Cuban on November 28, 2016

Being Cuban on November 28, 2016

For the last few years now many people have speculated what Cuban youth feel about Fidel Castro. I attended the memorial at the Plaza de La Revolución yesterday and I took this picture of a Cuban university student. What do you think this picture says?

Pondering the US Presidential Election in Cuba

Pondering the US Presidential Election in Cuba

Student Thoughts in Cuba about Presidential Debate and the Election

As we experience Election Day in the US, I thought I would share the thoughts of some American and Cuban students who watched the third presidential debate. Here are their thoughts.

James, American Student #1: Donald Trump was ridiculous and idiotic on so many levels. There were so many inaccuracies in what he said. I don’t like Hillary Clinton, but she performed really well and she almost actually made me believe she would be a good president. Whereas I went in thinking she would be a less terrible president.

Sarah, American Student #2:  I think Hillary did really well. She managed herself well on stage and she thoroughly explained the policies she wanted to cover and explaining why they would be better for Americans.

Alberto, Cuban Student:  This was the first presidential debate I ever saw and it was funny to watch each candidate insulting each other, but if that is what democracy is really about then I don’t really like it.  I am pretty sure that Hillary Clinton has a plan; she has some policies to follow and I don’t think Trump has anything. He has fancy ideas in his head and that is not good for the United States and it is not good for the world. And that is not good for the future.

 

Cuba and South Park

Cuba and South Park

Like many people in the US, some Cubans follow the US presidential election campaign by watching South Park.

Havana Life Project

Havana Life Project

If you would like to learn more about Havana, then check out this excellent website about life in Cuba´s wonderful city. Photographer and documentary maker Nad Yaqub has created the Havana Life Project for those interested in experiencing Cuba through honest and thought provoking images. Enjoy! Keep up the great work Nad!

Note: the photo above is from The Havana Life Project website.

AT&T in Cuba

AT&T in Cuba

Several days ago I received a text message from AT&T on my new iPhone, which until then did not work because I did not put a Cuban SIM chip in it. I was surprised to learn that the phone now operated. I checked the message and I saw that AT&T offers its customers who visit the island service. But it is pricey. $3.00 per minute is steep! And unfortunately, this service still does not extend to Cubans. Hopefully, one day soon, it will! Until then, many Cubans, like the young lady in the photos, will have to make to as they always do to chat, etc.

Cuba versus the US in Soccer

Cuba versus the US in Soccer

On Friday, October 7th the Cuban national soccer team played team USA in a friendly match. The US won 2-0, but Cuba showed some very adept skill in attack. What I enjoyed was the ambience. The Cuban high school students cheered wildly and at the end started chanting "U-S-A."  It was a great day for all. Jill Biden also joined the contingent of Team USA supporters. After the game, I spent time with the Outlaws (formerly "Sam's Army"), hardcore Team USA fans. All in all, a great day! I hope it is the first of many such encounters between the US and Cuba.

Cuba on Your Mind

Cuba is very sexy these days. With more people making plans to visit Cuba it has become very important to know how to get there and what to do. Abroadia is here to help you create an academic/cultural experience in Cuba. If you are looking at other options, check out this article in The New York Times.