For Cubans in Cuba, the Revolution Hasn’t Begun

by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo  and translated by Alex Higson  /  May 13, 2013  / 1 Comment

An Afrocuban writer pens an article about racism in the U.S. and loses his job on the Island.

Castro 51 years of Revolution

Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

In March the Cuban columnist Roberto Zurbano published an article in The New York Times entitled “For Blacks in Cuba, the Revolution Hasn’t Begun.”

Although the author himself has since said that his text suffered from editorial interventions (namely that the title should have read “For Blacks in Cuba, the Revolution is Not Yet Finished”), his perspective has still caused a huge reaction on and off the Island. Consequently, a variety of responses to the article appeared in the Cuban online press.

  1. Is it worth-while to focus on the last images and letters coming from the inside of the last living utopia on Earth? Is Cuba by now a contemporary country or just another old-fashioned delusion in the middle of Nowhere-America? A Cold-War Northtalgia maybe? Can we expect a young Rewwwolution.cu within that Ancien Régime still known as The Revolution? I would like to provoke more questions than answers.
  2. Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo was born in Havana City and still resides and resists there, working as a free-lance writer, photographer and blogger. He is the author of Boring Home (2009) and is the editor of the independent opinion and literary e-zine Voces.

At the time it seemed that the Island’s racial polemic might finally come out of the closet of censorship into the public arena. But unfortunately, at the beginning of April, the Editorial Fund of the Casa de las Américas in Havana dismissed Zurbano from his post as its director.

Thus, the logic of totalitarian intolerance won another battle. Cuba isn’t changing, even though everything looks like it is.

And Afro-Cubans are not the only ones in Cuba left without their fundamental rights. Over the past half-century the anti-democratic tradition on our island has not set out to back racial apartheid, but rather civic discrimination, whereby the State claims that no dissident voice is legitimate, where no law is born out of the people’s wishes but instead by decree of the historic caudillos, where a human being’s fundamental rights are still held hostage in the name of utopia.

In his controversial article, Zurbano claims that “It is unrealistic to hope for a black president, given the insufficient racial consciousness on the island.” But in these historic circumstances what should urgently be made realistic is for Cuba to gain in social conscience and for the president of our country to finally be a public servant, not a demagogic messiah.

About the Author

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo was born in Havana City and still resides and resists there, working as a free-lance writer, photographer and blogger. He is the author of Boring Home (2009) and is the editor of the independent opinion and literary e-zine Voces.

View all articles by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

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