January 17, 2006

Race War of 1912

The struggle for racial equality in Cuba is a unique and painful story, full of dramatic gains and losses, victories and atrocities.

The various articles and images that make up the current Race in Cuba section at the site is but a peak into a much larger and complex world, where black and white have a different meaning than they do here in the states. We grow as individuals by exploring these issues, and we grow as a society by discussing them.

Featured are the optimistic musings of José Martí, and a look at the horrific reality of the so-called Race War of 1912. The extremes of human potential and decadence are all there.

In 1912 Cuba, newspapers were more than willing to support the official government point of view that the previously scheduled demonstration by members of the Partido Independiente de Color for May 20 was, in fact, a race war.

One paper reported the violent rape of a white female teacher by a black demonstrator. The event had never taken place, but its mere suggestion revived the race fears that existed in upper class white society. That seemed to be all that white society required to begin the slaughter of nearly 6,000 human beings, all guilty of black skin.

One reason for the slaughter may have been to cover up a deal with Cuban President José Miguel Gómez and leaders of the Partido Independiete de Color: Evaristo Estenoz and Pedro Ivonnet. Both men were killed in June 1912 while “trying to escape,” just after they had turned themselves into the authorities.

In May and June 1912, it was almost legal to kill blacks for mere “suspicion.” This has to be one of the darkest chapters in Cuban history.

Everyone got away with it. President Gómez got to keep the money he stole in office, and was never charged with a crime.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I understand race relations have improved since the Cuban Revolution. However, although the majority of the population is black and mulatto, the government of Cuba is still primarily white. I've also read reports that the increased tourism of recent years has spurred racism, blacks denied jobs in the hospitality sector where hard currency can be earned.

Additionally, the a sizeable portion of the Cuban community in Miami seems to have embraced American racial values with a vengeance.

4:59 PM, August 07, 2006  

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