This was an interesting story that broke out of Politico:
Key members of the Congressional Black Caucus are calling for an end to U.S. prohibition on travel to Cuba, just hours after a meeting with former Cuban president Fidel Castro in Havana.
“The fifty-year embargo just hasn’t worked,” CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Ca.) told reporters this evening at a Capitol press conference after returning from a congressional delegation visit to Cuba. “The bottom line is that we believe its time to open dialogue with Cuba.”
Lee and others heaped praise on Castro, calling him warm and receptive during their discussion. But the lawmakers disputed Castro’s later statement that members of the congressional delegation said American society is still racist.
“It was quite a moment to behold,” Lee said, recalling her moments with Castro.
“It was almost like listening to an old friend,” said Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Il.), adding that he found Castro’s home to be modest and Castro’s wife to be particularly hospitable.
“In my household I told Castro he is known as the ultimate survivor,” Rush said.
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Ca.) said Castro was receptive to President Obama’s message of turning the page in American foreign policy…
Having read the excerpt what is your initial reaction? Thunderous applause? A hair raising WTF?
Before we draw any conclusions let’s first examine Castro’s historical relationship with the African American community.
In our collective memory, Fidel Castro is cast as the ruthless Cuban dictator, enemy of the United States. However history has been silenced about Castro’s firm support of African American Civil Rights. Before I go any further, I want to first preface this post by saying that I (Afrocity) in no way, shape or form support Fidel Castro or his policies. I actually do NOT AGREE with the statements or actions of the Congressional Black Caucus. I simply wish to offer a few historical facts which may allow a greater understanding of the position of the CBC.
In 1959 Castro led a coup d’etat in which he overthrew dictator, Fulgencio Batista. Shortly thereafter Cuba strengthened ties with the Soviet Union by relying upon them for oil and Castro declared Cuba a socialist state. As tensions grew between Cuba and the US, Castro deflected criticism of his policies by accusing the United States of being a racitst nation for its treatment of African Americans.
In 1960, a delegation of African American writers and prominent black politicians were invited to Cuba at Castor’s request including Amiri Baraka ,NY Congressman Adam Clayton Paul. Harold Cruse,Julian Mayfield and John Henrik Clarke. Black Americans were also encouraged by Castro to consider Cuba as a travel destination and he hired boxer Joe Louis for a publicity campaign. Castro was quick to point out that under a socialist state all people are created equal regardless of race or color and that this was in sharp contrast to America’s treatment of minorities. Castro also made notable visits to Harlem where he met with Powell once again and Black activist Malcolm X. Cuba offered scholarships to doctors who studied in Cuba yet wanted to serve in minority communities of the US. Decades later Castro supported Nelson Mandela and supported the end of apartheid.
Having read the above does your opinion of the recent Congressional Black Caucus trip to Cuba? Is your opinion more favorable?
Speaking for myself, I can give a very firm ‘No’ on that.
Mr. Castro do not expect me to play court and smoke cigar’s with you just because you supported civil rights and “hung out” in Harlem a few times during the 1960’s. It does not mean that I excuse what you have done to the people in your country. I would not break bread with you based upon your relationship with MY COUNTRY. Country first.
And incidentally, looking at that Politico article it goes on to say:
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Ca.) said Castro was receptive to President Obama’s message of turning the page in American foreign policy.
“He listened. He said the exact same thing” about turning the page “as President Obama said,” said Richardson.
Richardson said Castro knew her name and district. “He looked right into my eyes and he said, ‘How can we help? How can we help President Obama”
I am not so sure that the US (white or black) wants or needs Fidel Castro’s help especially if it is like the kind below.