Cuba suppresses Black Lives Matter protest

Submitted by AWL on 15 July, 2020 - 8:12 Author: Zack Muddle

A crackdown by the Cuban state on 30 June prevented planned demonstrations against the killing of an unarmed black man by Cuban police a week earlier.

Hansel Ernesto Hernández Galiano, a 27 year-old Afro-Caribbean man, was shot dead by police on the 24 June. On 25 June his aunt denounced the murder on social media, which was widely shared.

Following this criticism, the Cuban authorities acknowledged that he had been killed, and was not armed, although they attempted to partially justify it. They have not disclosed identities of the police responsible or whether any disciplinary action was taken.

State security agents staked out the homes of Cuban dissidents and journalists in advance of the 30 June planned protests, to prevent their attendance. At least 40 activists were detained by police, with some later released. The location of the main planned demonstration, in Havana, was swarming with police. No protest happened. Reportedly, the state telecoms monopoly cut off mobile internet service overnight.

The family stopped talking to media about the event after allegedly receiving threats from the state.

This was not an isolated incident in Cuba. Particular anger was however fuelled by the context of international anti-racist protests.

Yet many would-be left-wing people and organisations in the UK and internationally, hail Cuba as a “socialist” or “anti-imperialist” country.

The 1959 Cuban revolution led to the creation of a one-party police state modelled on and in close connection with the Stalinist USSR. Neither their self-description as socialist, nor their — historically at least — comparatively good healthcare system and welfare state, nor even the long-term hostility of USA governments to the Cuban regime make it one to be supported. Let alone celebrated.

Racism in Cuba is dismissed by the regime as a problem of individuals, as “remnants of the capitalist past”. The one-party state did end racial segregation, but it also shut down a network of self-organised black social clubs which existed across the country. Black people are under-represented in leading positions and even the government’s official figures for population — and over-represented in prison, as victims of police violence, and amongst the poorest.

Black lives matter everywhere, including in a self-proclaimed socialist state which is even more repressive than most avowedly capitalist states. The international left must offer solidarity with anti-racist and working-class dissidents in Cuba, some of whom are anti-capitalist, not the regime.

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