Racist graffiti and swastikas in Havana
DDC | La Habana | 16 Mayo 2016 – 8:49 am.
On Wednesday the graffiti between Línea and 11 was still there, in El
Vedado. If it did not spark more controversy, this was due to its
location difficult to see by most passersby. It read “Muerte a los
negros (Death to blacks), noted DIARIO DE CUBA journalist Waldo
It is the second time that a phrase of this kind has been reported in
recent weeks. In early May the IPS news agency reported the concern
expressed by some intellectuals after the appearance of a similar
message painted near the intersection of Línea and 14, in the same
The fact that a message like this can be left in a central location,
with no one showing up to erase it, contrasts with the alacrity with
which phrases condemning Castro or the Government are expunged from all
such public places.
Just a few months ago, on the Calzada del Cerro, two anti-Government
phrases were swiftly replaced with “¡Viva Fidel!” and “La Revolución es
In its report the IPS cited the indignation of intellectuals, activists
and Internet users, who called for concrete actions against emerging
manifestations of racism.
The writer and researcher Heriberto Feraudy circulated an email in which
he reported having seen, on April 20, upon leaving the El Ateneo
bookstore, the phrase “Muerte a negros” near Línea and 14, accompanied
by “a swastika.”
“Pure fascism” said Feraudy, who took and posted a photo of the
graffiti. However, he found even more worrisome the fact that he noticed
“the presence of a well-known academic expert in Economics,” who was
apparently apathetic about it.
“That’s the way things are. And there are still people who bristle and
are distressed when Raúl (Castro) talks about blacks and mestizos,”
added Feraudy, president of the José Antonio Aponte Commission against
racial discrimination, attached to Cuba’s National Union of Writers and
“If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it. Mamma mía! What is
happening on my beautiful island? All we’re missing now is the KKK,”
reacted a Facebook user, identified as Manuel Antonio Zayas.
Meanwhile, the intellectual Gisela Arandia, a member of the Cuban
chapter of the Articulación Regional Afrodescendiente for the Americas
and the Caribbean, called the event “very serious, because the racist
message is framed in an ideological context of support for fascism.”
According to the IPS, Arandia said that “the most important thing is its
meaning as an expression of the collective imagination.”
She said that she hoped that “this new racist action would help us to
emerge from the morass and organize the kind of public, anti-racist
actions that our era demands.”
Likewise, Deyni Terry, the coordinator of the Racial Unity Alliance
project, said: “This is more than an offense, it is an assault on our
human rights, and we ought not remain silent or act dumb. We must
respond and seek to determine each person’s responsibility, go to the
neighborhood, investigate … “
“People think that this is global social capitalism, and get things
mixed up, daring to express racist ideas that violate the dignity of
black men and women,” she added.
Terry, who is a jurist, vowed to support legal actions to prevent such
manifestations. “With my unmistakable color and my sharp tongue (…) I
will, from my profession and occupation, do whatever is necessary,” she
Other voices expressed that the text found by Heriberto Feraudy might
have been written by a foreigner, since the phrase “Muerte a negros”
omits the article “los,” required in Spanish. The graffiti reported by
Waldo Fernández Cuenca does include the article.
Others noted that swastikas can be found drawn or etched on the walls of
several Cuban cities.
Intellectuals and activists have condemned the continuing expressions of
racism, discrimination and prejudice against those of African descent,
although many people and institutions are reluctant to discuss the
problem, in a country where the Government claims that it eliminated
racial segregation more than 50 years ago.
On 27 March an article published in the print edition of the weekly
Tribuna de La Habana, an official Communist Party publication, sparked
controversy in the capital.
The article “¡Pero Negro, ¿tú eres sueco?!” [Hey, black guy, are you
Swedish?] was criticized for its use of racist language to assess the
visit to Cuba by US President Barack Obama and his family.
Also causing concern have been job postings on websites specifying that
candidates must be white to apply for certain positions.
Source: Racist graffiti and swastikas in Havana | Diario de Cuba –