Monday, October 31, 2011

1912: Breaking the Silence

"1912, Breaking the Silence"
Alberto N. Jones
Braving a heavy downpour on Friday October 14, 2011, over fifty diplomats from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Saint Lucia, Bahamas, Congo, Nicaragua and Bolivia; historians and a handful of especially invited guests were shaken and brought to tears, during the premier of the second chapter of the documentary 1912, Breaking the Silence, at the beautifully restored Casa del Alba in Havana.

This powerful documentary was built and supported by the input and analysis of many of Cuba’s most respected historians, researchers, sociologists, educators and a wealth of never before seen documents, pictures, newspapers clippings, first class images and a moving musical background.

Like most families or nations with an ugly story, some members of society may choose to believe this event never happened, others may wish it will be forgotten and die, while others may try to keep it hidden under the rug or shoot the messenger.

For nearly 100 years, most of Cuba’s history books dedicated two paragraphs or less to describe derogatorily what was known as "Blacks Little War," which was caused by racist, separatist black troublemakers, who revolted against a democratically elected government, forcing it to restore law and order in the country.

The root cause of this heinous crime in which it is alleged 3,000 men, women and children were massacred, the witch hunt that followed, the long lasting fear that was instilled in blacks and mixed raced Cubans through beatings, lynching and murders to conform or else, was never a subject matter of any history department or the media, always ready to denounce similar crimes committed elsewhere.

This is how director and producer Gloria Rolando have single handedly, made a monumental contribution to Cuba’s historiography, with an honest attempt to help us set our record straight, a plea for justice for the victims and a unique opportunity for our country to begin the healing process without which Cuba will never become the beacon of justice and social equality it must be.

Monday, October 10, 2011

'El Doce: Remembering Cuba's Hidden Genocide'

In a little bit more than six months, we will arrive at the 100th anniversary of El Doce, the genocidal massacre of thousands of Afro-Cubans. In preparation for this, Dr. Jones is embarking on a process of preparation which will include but is not limited to press interviews, speaking engagements, et cetera.

To assist in his effort, i am reposting here on his blog a piece i have shared in different venues over the past 11 years. It was Dr. Jones that first brought El Doce to my attention and it is fitting that i share - again - what i wrote about it here with his writings.

Please stay tuned for additional information as Spring 2012 approaches.

- hassan

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Six years ago, I first attempted to bring to the web a story known by some, unknown to more, ignored by many, and hidden by too many: El Doce.

El Doce is the tragic story of the racist massacre that killed thousands of Black Cubans across the entire country of Cuba in late spring and early summer of 1912.

My initial attempt to play a part in bringing to light yet another example of vicious genocide was on in May 2000. Two years (and many Black History Month emails later), I was
fortunate enough to have The Miami Times agree to publish the story in a three part series that was very well-received by people in Miami eager to get another side of the Cuban story.

The overwhelming majority of the material I have referenced during my research comes from two very good books that I encourage readers to look into when some allows for some deep and
informative historical reading.

The first book is Our Rightful Share: the AfroCuban Struggle for Equality, 1886 - 1912 by Aline Helg who was a professor at the University of Texas and now resides in Switzerland. This
book was highly recommended to me and I can see why. It was not easy finding Our Rightful Share but, once I did locate it, it was well worth the efforts. This book is well-written and extremely illuminating.

The other book is El Negro en Cuba (or The Black Man in Cuba) by Tomás Fernández Robaina. Please note that the only copy of this book that I have been able to find is in Spanish.

I was also very blessed to have discovered during my research a wonderful website that I still refer to frequently: This extraordinary website has been invaluable as it has rare photographs related to El Doce - including most of the images contained on this page - as well as information about a film made by Cuban film maker Gloria Rolando about this massacre,Raices de Mi Corazon (Roots of My Heart).

I used a third book - a doctoral dissertation found in an obscure corner of the University of Miami's library but only sparingly.

Please note that what follows is not meant to be a formal academic discourse hence I beg the pardon of my friends in academia who may bristle at the lack of a formal methodology in this essay.

October, 1868 set into motion what became the definitive and defiant anomaly of the Victorian Age. While Europe and the United States were putting the macabre and sadistic tenets of social Darwinism (the "scientific paradigm" that was in vogue at that time among learned and civilized men of culture - read that to mean white men – which spoke so self-righteously of superior races and inferior races designed to justify modern colonialism) into brutal and avaricious practice in Africa and Asia andwestern North America, Cuban revolutionaries set out to drive Spain (the originator of the various modus operandi of modern colonialism) into the Caribbean Sea.

There were no more master and slave - only citizens. To be racist was to be unpatriotic - a traitor to the homeland. Black, white, Cantonese, and mixed-race Cubans rose in righteous rebellion against the Spanish crown and all of the oppressive and dysfunctional institutions it so callously imposed upon Cuba. As was said during the thirty-year struggle for independence, the blood of both white and black patriots spilled on the field of battle fighting for Cuba intermingled to fertilize the soil of freedom.

To have a revolutionary ideology (that at times manifested itself almost as a radical theology) which not only spoke and wrote of the brotherhood of all humans but also acted upon it (over 70% of the officer corps of the Army of Independence was "of color") was something that ran in the face of all that was reassuring to Euro-centric concentrations of political, economic, social, and military power. url link

Many AfroCubans fought valiently for the cause of Cuban Independence from Spain. When I write that "many AfroCubans" rushed to join the ranks of the Cuban Liberation Army (in numbers that were - in many instances - much larger in proportion than white Cubans), I mean that women and children often fought too.

The Republic of Cuba was "born" on 20 May, 1902 but only after Cuba's "leaders" agreed to make its sovereignty conditional to the impermanent approval of the United States government.

Almost from the outset, AfroCubans realized that many whites were intent on taking all of the spoils that so many Black Cubans had fought so valiantly for during the War of Independence.

Basically, three things kept AfroCubans - many of whom were veterans of the War of Independence) oppressed and frustrated:

  • racist, Jim Crow policies advocated and encouraged by the United States while the U.S. was occupying Cuba
  • racist and corrupt white Cubans that were in positions of power at virtually every level of government and business
  • Spanish and other European immigrants that were encouraged to settle in Cuba as per attempts to "bleach" the island.

Suffrage for Black males was not a problem in Cuba then as it was in the United States at the same time however getting decent jobs and admittance into organized labor was. For example, Quintín Banderas, one of the most famous of Black generals for Cuban independence, could not even get a job as a janitor after the war.


With regards to the vote that Black men had in Cuba, it was not long before they realized what still so many African-Americans in the United States have yet to realize: the "big" political parties are not going to truly look out for the best interest of both Black and white party members.

Thus, on 7 August, 1908, Evaristo Estenoz and Gregorio Surín started El Partido Independiente de Color (P.I.C. or the Independent Party of Color). Remember that, at this time, the NAACP had not even been started in the United States.

The PIC was the first all-Black political party in this hemisphere.

The PIC's platform was simple and straightforward:

  • allow for better job opportunities for Black Cubans
  • end to the ban on Black immigrants
  • serve as a unified voice for Black Cubans.

"I am a black dot, one out of the anonymous mass of my race, who longs for the claim of my people through our own effort, through the compact union and solidarity of our family."

- a letter to Previsión, the main publication the PIC (from Our Rightful Share)

At the time, AfroCubans comprised about a third of the Cuban population at the time (this was due to disportionate casualty rates for Black during the War of Independence and the aggressive importation of white immigrants from Europe). However, if whites were split between the liberal and conservative parties modeled on the United States' two party system and Black Cubans, who were viewed as a wing vote to patronize during campaigns, were to vote as a bloc the political power of Blacks in Cuba would likely be a major force in elections and policy-making.

This basically, was the first time anything like this was seriousl proposed since Haiti. This is important to note because the "spectre" of Haiti loomed ominously over Spanish and Cuban whites for a century and most of their policies towards Cuba's Blacks were reflective of it.

The immediate reaction of whites was to denounce the PIC as being racist. Yet, they failed to realize (or acknowledge) that the PIC was borne not out of AfroCuban racism but as a direct result of white Cubans ignoring the ideals of Cuban racial harmony stressed by many and perhaps most famously by José Martí.

The PIC was formed during the second U.S. occupation of Cuba (the American provisional governor at the time of the second occupation was then-Secretary of War and future President William Taft). The following year Martin Morúa Delgado, a conservative Cuban of color, is elected Speaker in Cuba's Senate. The year after that, Morúa introduces legislation that becomes known as the Morúa Amendment and it outlaws the PIC because is based on race and, according to the bill's supporters, racism did not exist in Cuba anymore.

Interesting to note that, just before the vote was taken to enact this bill into law, Estenoz and other PIC leaders were imprisoned and were kept in jail until after the law was passed.


Shortly after Estenoz was jailed, Morúa himself died. He was given a full state honors, no doubt to demonstrate to Black Cubans the benefits of supporting the status quo versus trying to rehabilitate it.

"Everybody has seen the succes achieved by our party [the PIC] in all the republic and [our] last brilliant tour of Oriente, and everybody could evaluate the electoral victory awaiting us. In order to oppose it, they have resorted to the bad means of depicting us as 'cannibals of whites'."

- Evaristo Estenoz, "La Discusión" (from Our Rightful Share)

A continuation and escalation of repression of Blacks that began during the first administration of Cuba's first president, Tomás Estrada Palma was one reaction to the formation of the PIC. Among the tactics employed was ignoring the blatant portrayal of AfroCubans in negative lights in the Cuban press as well as attempts to stamp out any evidence of African culture and heritage including trying to do away with the Abakúa brotherhood. This was done in much the same fashion by which Spain outlawed Freemasonry in Cuba in 1895 (many respected leaders in the Independence movement such as Antonio Maceo and Martí were Masons).

By spring of 1912, the inevitable decision to protest this repression had arrived.

On 20 May, 1912, PIC party members - many of whom were veterans of the War of Independence - assembled in protest in Oriente Province. A statement was made via an interview the following day that the movement was not racist - it sought only to redress the grievances of PIC.

American government officials, upon hearing of the protest, sent 700 servicemen and 2 warships from Philadelphia on 23 May.

Also on that day, a Cuban government official sent off a telegraph to The New York Timesstating the majority of the Cuban people were on the side of the government. Debate on the "insurrection" began in the Cuban House of Representatives and a Spaniard was captured by government forces claiming that he was forcibly conscripted by the "rebels of the PIC."

The Cuban Legation in Washington, D.C. received an urgent telegraph stating that the government is in complete control of the situation.

Volunteers to help existing Cuban government forces fight against PIC came forward en masse.

The Government declared its intention not to negotiate with PIC. The Cabinet authorized the use of whatever recourse is necessary to crush the "rebellion. " On 25 May, Cuban coast guard boat El Hatuey was sent to Oriente Province with a caché of arms and other war materiel.

The Cuban government was then informed that Washington had ordered two battleships in the area to rendezevous at Key West for the possibility of engagement. The following day, Cuban President José Miguel Goméz cabled Washington asking them to please refrain from intervening for the sake of Cuba's natural sovereign rights.

On 27 May, Cuban Army General Monteagudo was dispatched to Oriente.

U.S. President Taft replied to Goméz by stating that he understood concerns for Cuban sovereignty and then proceeded to explain the rationale behind the movement of American military forces.

A newspaper in London stated that the British opinion of the events was that the U.S. would annex Cuba outright.

On 5 June, constitutional guarantees were suspended in Oriente as martial law was declared. A war credit of a million pesos was granted to the Cuban army and 450 American servicemen arrived in Cuba. A day later, Goméz called for a national struggle against "rebels."

The following is taken from Aline Helg's Our Rightful Share:

By May 1912, there was still no sign that the independientes would be allowed to participate in the November elections.

By showing their willingness to resort to armed protest, [so as to compel the Cuban congress to repeal the "Morua Amendment" outlawing PIC] however, the independientes prompted an outbrust of racism that swept the entire country. Although the independientes actually demonstrated only in Oriente, white repression was nationwide, indiscriminate, and unopposed.

..the government rallied immediate cross-party support for a policy of merciless repression; throughout the island, thousands of whites organized themselves into local "self-defense" militias and volunteered to go fight in Oriente.

The US government dispatched Marines to protect US lives and properties.

In the face of President Gómez' inflexibility and the army's increasing antiblack violence, on 31 May and 1 June the independientes performed limited sabotage and burned some buildings. Instantly magnified, this act provoked a new escalation of repression of AfroCubans in the provinces of Havana, Santa Clara, and elsewhere. Moreover, it justified the suspension of constitutional guarantees on 5 June in Oriente, where the bloodiest violence took place.

Thousands of AfroCubans, including Evaristo Estenoz, Pedro Ivonnet, and hundreds of other independientes, were killed by the Cuban army and voluntarios. This massacre achieved what Morúa's amendment and the trial against the party in 1910 had been unable to do: it put a definitive end to the Partido Independiente de Color and made it clear to all AfroCubans that any further attempt to challenge the social order would be crushed with bloodshed.

Journalists had a predilection for reporting false rumors of rapes of white women. In a population in which the ideals of virginity and pureza de sangre ["pure blood"] still ran high and in which white men continued to outnumber white women, the image of Blacks raping white women fit in with the overall representation of race war. The idea had been so deeply rooted in white Cuban culture since the time of slavery that it did not need the support of evidence.

"The Uprising of the Black Independents

Alarms and Rumors Everywhere - The Official Version"

Moreover, newspapers claimed that the real leader of the movement was not Estenoz or Ivonnet but, rather, Eugenio Lacoste, "the Wizard of Guantánamo." The son of a Haitian immigrant, light-skinned, and educated in oriental French schools, Lacoste had been struck down by paralysis at the age of twenty-one and since then had been confined to a wheel chair. In 1912, he was a fifty-one year old coffee grower and the head of the PIC in Guantánamo; he was rumored to dominate his "fanatical" followers by spritualism and brujería [witchcraft]. This explanation allowed commentators to enhance the image of the Black brujo with that of the Haitian voodoo priest [bokor].

The racialization of the independiente movement and the ensuing mobilization of whites against Blacks rendered the Cuban myth of racial equality ideologically useless.

[One Cuban newspaper] advocated that Cuba should emulate the United States in matter of race relations. In that country, an editorialist noted, there were ten million Blacks, but they did not rebel. Why? Because U.S. whites, unlike Cuban whites, mistreated Blacks: they burned them alive, they lynched them, they kept them completely segregated, and they did not let them vote. He concluded: "Objective lessons are terrible: Dominated races do submit."

[Prior to May 1912] whites were ready to interpret any movement of Blacks as an uprising.

Local rumors...were propogated at the national level by mainstream newspapers, which gave the impression that the supposed race war raged not only in Oriente but everywhere on the island. Fears rose nationwide. In the province of Havana, though no protest group had been observed, the alarm ran high. Black seasonal workers journeying home at the end of the zafra [sugar cane harvest] were the subjects of numerous rumors about attempted Black uprisings.

The independiente leaders were well informed about the chasm between newspaper descriptions of the alleged race war and the reality of thier armed protest. On several occasions, the formally denied to Cuban journalists and to U.S. officials that they had launched a war against whites: their aim was simply to obtain a repeal of Morúa's amendment, Estenoz and Ivonnet declared to El Cubano Libre's correspondent. In addition, they asserted that their followers would not commit rapes, and that if rapes did take place, the culprits would be executed.

The orgy of murder that ensued was unilateral.

...Repression preceded Independiente actions.

Frustrated at not having the chance to fight rebels ["rebels" refers to independientes who did not surrender to the army - Ivonnet did and he was shot in the back, "trying to escape"], Cuban officers began to attack peaceful peasants [guajiros] indiscriminately in order to show military activity. One particularly bloody incident was the artillery campaign that Gen. Carlos Mendieta conducted in the area of La Maya. On 31 May, Mendieta invited journalists to witness the efficiency of the army's new machine guns against an alleged encampment of rebels in Hatillo. His forces then simulated a battle. As a result, 150 peaceful AfroCuban peasants, among them women and children, were killed or wounded. Entire families were machine-gunned in their bohíos. According to one witness, the cries of the wounded resonated in the distance, and for days vultures circled over the area, attracted by the corpses.

...Whites were permitted to carry arms without license.

Government forces suspected the entire AfroCuban population of collaborating with the rebels. Blacks and mulattoes found in the fields were considered rebels, unarmed peasants were believed to have hidden their guns, and all were treated without mercy. Military rule facilitated both arrests withouth evidence and executions for alleged attempts to escape. The requirement that individuals have military passes to enter and leave cities considerably restrained AfroCubans' movements: "No suspects or culprits are able to ask for passes," one journalist reported, "because they are well aware that such boldness would surely cost them their lives...."

Mass killings multiplied after the suspension of the constitutional guarantees. The bodies of hanged men began to appear in close proximity to towns....

By 10 June, it was public knowledge that those shot or hanged were seldom rebels. According to the U.S. Consul in Santiago de Cuba, "many innocent and defenseless Negroe in the country are being butchered." Bohíos were set on fire, and peasant families trying to run away were hunted down and shot. Alleged rebels who surrendered or were taken prisoner were often killed, and their bodies were often multilated.

The British consulate at Santiago reported that whites would come into town with a packet of Negroes' ears cut off prisoners who had been shot.

...Commander of the Cuban Army General Monteagudo carried out such "carnage in the hills" that "it was impossible to estimate the number of dead."

Estonez was shot at point-blank range, together with fifty men.... His body, covered with flies, was displayed in Santiago de Cuba before being buried in a common grave....

...The exact balance of the racist massacre of 1912 will never be known. Official Cuban sources put the number of dead rebels [no mention of innocent "civilians" murdered] at more than 2,000. U.S. citizens living in Oriente estimated it at 5,000 to 6,000. Guillermo Lara, an indepiente fighting with Estonez, spoke of 5,000 dead. In contrast, the official figure for the total dead in the armed forces was sixteen, including eight AfroCubans murdered by their white mates and some men shot by friendly fire.

In all likelihood, Estonez and Ivonnet never expected the racist outcry that followed the launching for their armed protest. Several sources even indicate that the independientes had made an argreement with President Gómez.

The deal that appears to have been was that the PIC would protest, Gómez would use the "threat" for leverage to compel Congress to repeal the Morúa amendment and he would get credit for "saving the day." In turn, the PIC would support the president and his candidates in November. This was not a big secret to the point where even the French ambassador was aware of it and the British consulate in Santiago had noticed that, as some independientes were being arrested, the leaders of the PIC, Estonez and Ivonnet, walked about undisturbed by authorities without having to "hide."

However, it appears that the president was selling worthless tickets of deceit to PIC as evidenced by the following from Our Rightful Share:

Mainstream white Cuban reaction to the 1910 ... repression of the PIC ... had shown [that Gómez had more to gain from just the opposite of what he promised to the PIC].

On this basis, a more Machiavellian version of the thesis of an independiente agreement with Gómez cannot be excluded: that President Gómez hoped to be reelected in November 1912 not through independientes' support but through a broad white support - transcending party allegiance - gained in the
military repression of an independiente armed protest he himself would've induced.

Since I first attempted to tell this story in 2000 it has become known to some as the "Cuban Rosewood." Because the telling of this story involved forces much more complex and deep-seeded than what one would expect, there is no way that this journal entry could ever fully tell the story. If anything, it is my sincere hope that this will motivate the reader to seek out additional truthes not only about this tragedy (I strongly recommend purchasing copies of Ms. Helg's important historical testimony, Our Rightful Share) but also other tragic stories such as Tulsa and its Black Wall Street, Rwanda, Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, the eviction and liquidation of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, and so many others (if you dont know about Ida B. Wells, do learn about her - soon!).

The presence of a Black dot on the psuedowhiteness of our sociopolitical floor was cleverly used to delude the Black masses into believing that they were respected and taken into account.

-Alberto Arredondo, El Negro en Cuba

* * * * * * * * *

**Other helpful sources:

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Birth and Death of a Fake Man-Made Feud

"The birth and death of a fake man-made feud"
Alberto N. Jones
June 20, 2011

In 1999, it became evident that the United States through its Cuban-American surrogates in south Florida, was introducing a new strategy in their efforts to undermine the Cuban government.

Having identified a substantial demographic shift in favor of Afro-Cubans in the early 90’s, a growing economical crisis following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the existence of only a nominal amount of Afro-Cubans living abroad able to help family members with remittances, created the perfect mix for their proselytizing projects to take root in Cuba.

Aggravating these factors, was a forceful push by Cubans of Hispanic ancestry to co-opt every job earning hard currency in Cuba, monopolize most promotions, travels abroad, improved living conditions, cars and all other material benefits, further deepening the racial and social divide.

Coincidentally, a well intended program in the 2000’s with an unforeseen adverse consequence, consisted of providing emigrants and descendent from Spain, China, Arabs and Israel with humanitarian assistance from their respective countries or organizations abroad, while no similar humanitarian assistance existed for those of African ancestry.

These combined factors created the right broth in which, a number of anti-Castro Afro-Cubans in and outside of Cuba proliferated exuberantly, some of whom, were recruited as US-AID operatives and front foundations, all with a multiprong, heavily funded, subversive program, determined to exacerbate racial divisions, civil unrest and to erode the Cuban government support base.

Tens of unknown Afro-Cubans until then, such as Dr. Elias Biscet, Dr. Darsi Ferrer, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, Vladimiro Roca, Guillermo Farinas and others, replaced well established White Cuban dissidents Osvaldo Paya, Elizardo Sanchez and others.

Suddenly, the Cuban American National Foundation, Alpha 66, Unidad Cubana, Cuban Liberty Council and other lily white counterrevolutionary groups, failed the melanin litmus test and were pushed aside by the US State Department.

Many Afro-Cubans living in Cuba, were acutely aware of these growing inequalities, which they confronted initially through intellectual gatherings, writings and visual arts, as they navigated a slippery slope, by avoiding all confrontation with the Cuban government or for creating a perception of being a resonance box for those bent on fomenting internal conflict.

Tens of thousands of people in this hemisphere, who may have escaped death or injury in a potential race war, shall forever be grateful to the vision and tireless work of Dr. Wayne Smith, Senior Fellow at the Center For International Policy, Washington, D.C., who organized a number of educational seminars on these burning and potentially dangerous issues in the United States.

The first International Conference on this matter, “Views of the Afro-Cuban Community, was organized at Barry University, Miami, 1998.

An expanded and more complex second International Conference, “Afro-Cubans in Cuban society, Past, Present and Future” took place at the John Hopkins University, Washington D. C. in 1999.

The Third International Conference, “Questions on Racial Identity, Racism and Anti-Racist Policies in Cuba Today“, was hosted by the Center For International Policy at the University of California, Washington Center on June 2, 2011, which lived up to the highest expectation of participants from Cuba and from across the United States, after a twelve year hiatus.

A profound and thorough historical description about the evolution of racism in Cuba by two excellent, well documented visiting Cuban scholars, was enlightening and defining. A myriad of questions from the audience followed each panel, requiring at times, that questions had to be grouped, in order to fit within our tight time constraints.

The past was discussed, the present was dissected and the future has begun to be plotted with all factors in Cuba, knowing that it success is contingent on our ability to bring together every person of goodwill from around the world, in this unprecedented, corrective, transformative, far reaching project, which will inexorably turn Cuba into a beacon of social equality and road map for others to follow.

Cuba, like no other country in the world, have contributed enormous human and material resources for the development of health, education, sports and culture in tens of countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and on Blacks in Cuba.

Much, much more must be done, if the victims of slavery, colonialism, ignorance, segregation and other forms of injustices, are ever to achieve their full emancipation, development and equality, new concepts must be developed and implemented immediately.

The new economical development direction that was presented and approved by the VI Congress of the Communist Party in Cuba, laid out the groundwork for what may become, a complete restructuring of its political, administrative and management of the nation’s economy.

The convergence of these separate national and international interests, may become the catalyst our nation needs to achieve its full potential, by joining forces with the underdeveloped world in unleashing the enormous human resource capabilities accumulated in Cuba and elsewhere, on behalf of millions of people who have been victimized for five centuries.

For years, millions of our nation most loyal and unconditional supporters, have been overlooked and ignored, presumably because of their limited financial resources and therefore, their inability to participate in large joint ventures with which, the country has been engaged for more than two decades.

Today, these new development opens our country, to its most interesting development opportunity ever, in which, tens of thousands of minorities from around the world, who have stood steadfast by our nation during its most challenging times, are enthused, willing and waiting to be called upon, to share their modest resources and expertise, with our incipient Mom and Pop, small and medium size enterprises in Cuba.

Here too, Cuba can conceive a new transnational, minority enterprise development in which, the forgotten and excluded of this world, may find a head-start, a true affirmative action that is capable of breaking the yoke of dependency for themselves and their country, by turning this fake, sick, man-made racial feud into a true international solidarity movement.

Unable to thank publicly thousands of intellectuals and ordinary peace loving people in and outside of Cuba, who dedicated their lives to this just cause of building bridges of understanding, harmony and respect among the US and
Cuba, they can rejoice, as the fruits of their sacrifice is now within reach.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My African Pilgrimage. Part I

"My African Pilgrimage, Part I"
Alberto N. Jones
May 14, 2011

On Saturday April 23rd, I began a lifetime dream at the Miami International Airport, as I departed on a long journey to Africa from where our ancestors were forcefully kidnapped five centuries ago.

Kept in bondage for over three hundred years in their newly acquired country in the new world, they were never compensated for their sweat, tears, blood and deaths, building everything visible and invisible around us and finally released into racism, segregation and ignorance 150 years ago.

Our seven-man delegation arrived at 5:00 AM at the Leopold S. Senghor International Airport in Dakar, Senegal after an 11 hour flight, where we were warmly greeted with a Welcome Home!! by an efficient and friendly immigration and customs personnel.

After picking up our bags, we got our first taste of the country financial ills, as a number of people struggled to carry our bags, begged for money and the general environment was in urgent need of upkeep.Before arriving at our hotel, we stopped at the enormous, 27 million dollar, 170 foot-tall bronze statute on a hill top with three superimposed figures representing the fresh start African countries made when they declared independence 50 years ago, which have drawn criticism from every sector, especially for not evoking African themes and for having outsourced this entire project to a Korean construction firm, in a country with 50% unemployment.

The hotel was nice with a number of amenities, but once you stepped out beyond its boundaries, there were tens of thousands of people huddled against buildings walls with huge assortment of handcrafts, garments, food, supplies, parts or equipment for sale, where potential customers negotiated, bargained, coerced or left, pressuring for better prices.

Some basic statistics:
Independence April 4, 1960
Area 198,840 Km2
Population 12.3 Million
Without reliable drinking water 31%
Undernourished 17%
Longevity 59 years%
Infant mortality 58%
Illiteracy 59%
Secondary school enrollment 11%
GDP 12.6 Billion
Annual Per Capita 1,900 dollars
Employment, primarily in service 56%
Below poverty line ($1.25/day) 34%
USAID 2009 119.9 Millions
Socio-economic world standing 144 among 169 nations

As dramatic as these numbers are, they represent a national average. If these were applied solely to the countryside or the periphery of Dakar, which are overflowing with crowded huts without running water, sewer, electricity, open drainage filled with rotting, stagnating water, garbage and every hazardous microorganism, these stats would be far worse.

A visit to a Fulani village in the desert, took us back in time to the X century. Scattered thatched huts in a barren terrain headed by a chief, while most adults are engaged in survival agriculture, fishing or worst, working at the Pink Lake, the most horrendous job on earth.This shallow body of water takes a pink hue under bright sun light in which, hundreds of wooden boats with 2-3 men on board, armed with long shovels, digs up a very salty sand which is deposited into their boats and when they are full, are rowed to the shoreline.

There the cargo is transferred into large tubs weighing over 100 pounds each, that an army of women haul on their heads and deposit on dry land forming mounds that are left to dry in the sun and for which they are paid in kind, one bag of salt for every ten delivered.

This is how, this cruel, sub-human enterprise, which has never been investigated by the United Nations Human Right Commission, enables wealthy, powerful, self-righteous Europe to acquire all the salt they need to deice their slippery, snow laden roadways in winter, without ever asking at what human cost.

Senegal has had a longstanding close relations with western countries and it is France key ally in Africa. Senegal was an anti-Communist bastion during the cold war and have contributed Peace Keeping forces to Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur, Liberia, Ivory Coast and others.

Tens of thousands of Senegalese soldiers fought and died alongside France in WWI whose efforts and courage was not recognized nor paid veterans benefits until 2006.

A shocking visit to a fishing village, revealed hundreds of brightly colored canoes beached or unloading tons of the day catch, as thousands of people buys, clean, puts in carts or on their heads in frightening unsanitary condition, loads of fish that are rushed out of the area, hoping to find buyers who can help them survive their financial crisis.

But worse was yet to come. The following morning after a 30 minutes ferry ride from Dakar, we landed on the infamous Goree Island, one of the 3 or 4 similar slave concentration camps that under orders of the United Nations, are preserved and serve as a grim reminder of the estimated 20 millions slaves that were forcefully ripped away from their lands, incarcerated, beaten, raped, died or were sent through the Door of No Return.

As we tour this 23 hectare island of unpaved roads and ally, government buildings, numerous churches of various denominations, business, defensive forts and the slave holding fort, it is easy to recreate the wicked mind of those who conceived this monstrosity.

After crossing a lift bridge over a body of shark infested waters, one enters a hall that leads to an open courtyard. Surrounding this courtyard were a variety of cells for males, females, infants, recalcitrant, death, a chapel and a tunnel leading to the Door of No Return.

Males cells appeared to be approximately 20x10 feet, with no lighting and a single ventilation opening of approximately 1 ½ x 1 ½ feet for 150 slaves. A shallow gutter close to the wall doubled as a toilet. All slaves would be taken out for one hour in the evenings while the area was flushed out with sea water. Slaves weighing less than 60 kilos were not shipped out, assuming they would not endure the two months journey.

Females cells were larger for 400 slaves. Recalcitrant cell was a small hole in the wall with no ventilation, which was used for any slave difficult to handle, who would refuse orders or talk back. Any slave who fought back was forced into a similar but smaller cell, where he would be locked-up without food or water and condemned to a horrible death from thirst in 3-4 days. All slaves severely ill or dead, were thrown in the shark infested sea outside the walls of the fort.

Because of a host of tropical diseases, most Europeans were single males, leading to widespread rape by the prison guards. The governor’s living quarters was large, spacious, airy and located on the second floor, from where he occasionally would stand on the balcony to review all nude slave females, choose one, who would be bathed and sent up a back stairs to his room.

Those who got pregnant were released from the dungeon into farm-type camps, where their mulatto offspring would be born, sent to school and later allowed to work in the household as “house slave”, further dividing the slave community.

My personal assessment of the socio-economic situation of Senegal is a that of a very complex, intractable social stagnation, that whatever political, social, economic or religious policies have been in place since 1960, have proven to be incapable of addressing the basic needs of its society.

Rampant hunger, poverty, illiteracy, lack of healthcare, widespread transmissible diseases, unemployment and lack of development demands a different approach to fulfill the hopes and expectation of its population.

Because tens of thousands of slaves shipped to all Caribbean islands may have been held in these infamous dungeon at any given time, Cuba has a moral obligation to share its solidarity and expertise with the descendents of those victims, by helping them improve their health, education, sports and culture.

Equally important could be an economical boost that Cuba could provide to Senegal, by importing its surplus fisheries with insufficient market and/or by installing a fish sub-product plant, which could provide employment to hundreds, as we set an example for the rest of the world and begin erasing our unpayable debt of gratitude to Africa.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Macabre Assault on the Poor

"A Macabre Assault on the Poor"
Alberto N Jones
April 10, 2011

On August 11, 2006, the Department of Homeland Security announced, in conjunction with the Department of State, that it would allow Cuban medical personnel conscripted to study or work in a third country under the direction of the Cuban government, to enter the United States under a new program known as the Cuban Medical Professional Parole (CMPP) program.

Among the aspects contained in its guidelines are:

  • What is the statutory authority that allows the Department of Homeland Security to parole Cubans into the United States?
  • How does Cuban Medical Professional qualify for consideration of parole?
  • Who are Cuban Medical Professionals?
  • Are family members eligible to enter the United States under CMPP?
  • What should interested persons be required to submit?

Although there are precedents of similar despicable attacks against the Cuban people such as, the Peter Pan Program which literally kidnapped 14,000 teenagers out of Cuba in the early sixties and the revolting efforts to keep six year old, shipwreck Elian Gonzalez against the wishes of his father and grandparents in Miami, most refused to believe, that such a revolting conspiracy could be enacted forty years later.

Once this sinister plan began to yield its first fruits, Cuban medical professionals who had defected from a number of countries in the Caribbean, Latin America or as far as Namibia and South Africa, were regularly presented as Olympic trophy to the media in Miami.

Most if not all of the new emigrants, expressed their profound gratitude to the United States government and to the Cuban-American Congressional delegation, headed by the Diaz-Balart’s brothers and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who made their journey to freedom possible.

Because I was born and lived in a thatched roof hut without electricity, running water, sewer, jobs, schools or healthcare in Banes, our Cuban Soweto, I could relate easily to the harm that was being done to the poorest and weakest of the world.

Independent, reputable institutions such as the Pan American Health Organization, the World Health Organization, MEDICC, ex President Bill Clinton and others, have written tens of reports, which reflects how tens of millions of people in four continents have received clinical, surgical, maternal, dental, physical rehabilitation, genetic, eye surgery, immunizations, high tech diagnosis and others, free of charge.

Horrified by this criminal enticement of Cuban healthcare workers around the world with all sorts of inducements for them to abandon their patients and migrate to the US and become part of the American way of life with all of its wealth, glamour and freedoms, led me to publish "A Monstrous and Wicked Worldwide Attack on the Poor" 3/11/07.

Although hard figures are not readily available of the success or not of this well funded project, some reports suggests that between 1000-1500 physicians and 3 times as many other healthcare professionals have joined and most are living in south Florida.

The other tragic side of this horror story, is that once these professionals arrive in the United States, the ringleaders are no where to be found and then it is when they are confronted with the intractable American Medical Association or AMA requirements, Florida Medical Association and the State Regulatory Institutions with their near insurmountable legal barriers, regulations, boards exam, language barrier, hospital residence, financial supports, living quarters etc., which many have not been able to overcome in 10 or 15 years of struggle, frustration and bitterness.

Granted that no job should be seen as demeaning, it is nevertheless heartbreaking to see highly qualified and respected professionals, researchers, professors in Cuba, working as cashiers at supermarkets, pizza parlors, driving trucks, phlebotomists, nurse’s aide or elder care, taking orders from people with 1/10 of their education.

The US Department of State has proven once again, its absolute ignorance of historical facts and an ingrained recidivist character flaws. In 1962 and in order to create havoc, this department orchestrated the migration of 3500 physicians out of a total of 6000 in Cuba, which failed to bring down the Cuban healthcare system.

And today, when Cuba boosts over 80,000 physicians and can offer their service in close to eighty countries around the world, they childishly come up with the same poorly cooked, ill conceived, repetitive trick, which in the best case scenario; have been able to lure 1 or 2% physicians, as opposed to over 50% in 1962.

An article entitled "Hush, Hush the Scandal: US Program against Cuban Medical Assistance," Ichirino 4/3/11 just adds to other failures in the month of April, in which the US have tried to bring the Cuban people to their knees.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

No Justice for Latin America's Most Wanted Terrorist

"No Justice for Latin America's Most Wanted Terrorist"

Alberto N Jones
April 9, 2011

In a regrettable travesty of the United States judicial system, Luis Posada Carriles, a long time CIA operative with an extensive curriculum in torture, terror, conspiracy and murder in the United States, Honduras, Guatemala, el Salvador, Venezuela and Cuba, was acquitted yesterday in El paso, Texas, adding another blot to US battered image in its war against terror.

Since entering the US from Mexico, Posada Carriles was accused of illegal entry by Homeland Security, federal prosecutors and others, while no reference was made to his will documented lifelong crime spree. Venezuela and Cuba have consistently requested his deportation to face charges of torture, disappearances and murder.

Yet, his most heinous crime, revolves around masterminding the mid-air explosion of a Cubana airliner off the coast of Barbados in 1976, killing all 73 on board. In the late 90’s, he directed a bombing spree in tourists resorts in Cuba in which, an Italian tourist was killed and another 12 were seriously wounded.

Although these issues were made public during his trial through ample documentation, eye witnesses and legal findings, Judge Kathleen Cardone and the Jurors chose to ignore all 11 counts of illegal entry and his well documented crimes.

Prior to his trial, Posada Carriles spoke openly of his deeds on every Spanish speaking AM radio stations and TV talk shows in Miami, gave interviews to national media, provided tape recorded interviews for books and investigative journalism, confident of his protection and of the positive outcome of his day in court.

It is extremely difficult to reconcile shoe bomber Richard Reed life sentence with no possibility of parole and threeconsecutive life sentences in his failed terrorist attempt, while Posada Carriles was found not guilty, in numerous successful terrorist attacks.