COMMENTARY - Police brutality, inadequate healthcare, mass incarceration, inferior education are the ‘knee on our necks.’
But 90 miles away from Florida, Cuba built a model for economic, environmental and racial justice. There are close historical links between Afro-Americans and Cuban history; Cuba has been battling racism through a socialist revolution.
Cuban Revolution critics use civil liberties and human rights to attack the revolution, and there are some limits to civil liberties in Cuba. But most Cubans are willing to make this trade to defend their sovereignty against US imperialism, the Empire, as Fidel called it, and look forward to when the 60+ years of aggression and violence by the US comes to an end.
If human rights include economic, social, political, cultural rights and healthcare, then Cuba does better than the US. The proof is the exemplary way the island protected its people against Covid-19, unlike the for-profit “health care” system here where Blacks and Latinos receive the worst care, have the highest infant mortality rate, etc.
But police brutality in Cuba is NEVER on the list of alleged human rights abuses-especially against those with African roots. Compare this to US cops who repeatedly and without punishment in 99% of cases murder unarmed Blacks and Latinos.
The hated US-backed Batista dictatorship, overthrown on January 1, 1959, was notoriously brutal. Its police were particularly bloody. For Afro-Cubans, as second-class citizens, it was horrific. Within months of the revolution’s triumph many police assassins (some were Black) were tried and executed for their crimes with the people’s overwhelming support.
The murder of hundreds of U.S. Blacks and Latinos yearly by police has its origins in the institution of racial slavery and capitalism, which Malcolm X said, could not exist without racism. Slavery existed in Cuba also, starting almost a century earlier and it outlived America’s “peculiar institution” by two decades.
What, then, explains Cuban exceptionalism?
The Cuban Revolution abolished Batista’s police and replaced it with revolutionary fighters and community members.
Cuba also began a mass literacy campaign, reduced rents to 10% of income, launched an agrarian reform distributing land to those who wished to farm, opened new opportunities for women, fought the historical racism against Afro Cubans, assisted the African Liberation movements in Algeria, Lumumba in the Congo, and thru the 1990s defended Angola from S. Africa; winning Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.
“No police”, as the New York Times reported January, 6 1959, “are on the streets since they are held in quarters and all officers are under arrest. A few police patrol cars are circulating, occupied by two policemen and two members of the rebel militia. Boy scouts are directing traffic in some places.” The police apparatus built to defend capitalism was indeed dismantled.
Although we are a committee focusing on ending the 243 US sanctions and embargo against Cuba, maintained by every Democratic and Republican president, we stand for the prosecution and jailing of killer cops in the US and point to Cuba as a different type of society, a socialist one, where cops are NOT judge, jury and executioner.
(Mark L Friedman is a Labor/Health/Environment/Science/Education reporter for Random Lengths Newspaper. RLN has been the independent, progressive newspaper of the Los Angeles/ Long Beach Harbor Area since 1979.)