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Issue 49-December 2009


Cuba Facts
is an ongoing series of succinct fact sheets on various topics, including, but not limited to, political structure, health, economy, education, nutrition, labor, business, foreign investment, and demographics, published and updated on a regular basis by the Cuba Transition Project staff.


On December 1, 2009 a group of 60 prominent Afro-American leaders (including Princeton University Professor Cornel West; Jeremiah Wright, former Pastor of President Barack Obama; and Susan Taylor, former editor of Essence magazine) publicly condemned the Cuban government long standing policies of discrimination and human right abuses of Afro-Cubans in the island.

On December 4, Cuba responded: “To say that among us exists a callus disregard for black Cubans, that their civil liberties are restricted and to demand an end to the unwarranted and brutal harassment of black citizens in Cuba, would seem a delusional farce.” The Cuban statement said the island is not a racist society adding that blacks have opportunities “like never before in our country.”

In March 2009, CTP published a report showing glaring abuses against Cuban blacks and inequalities in Cuban society. Following is the report.


Afro-Cubans: Powerless Majority in Their Own Country*


    Afro-Cubans in Civil Society

    • Afro-Cubans comprise over 60 percent of the island’s population, yet… [1]

    • Black and dark-skinned multiracial Cubans constitute only five percent of hospitality workers catering to Europeans and other tourists' international joint ventures with foreign firms (which tend to offer the highest wages by Cuban standards), while making up nearly 70 percent of the state-run labor force. [2]

    • Moreover, only about 35 percent of managerial positions in the state-run sector are held by black and biracial (mulatto) Cubans. [3]

    • Afro-Cubans are disproportionately represented in the prison population -- 80 percent of Cuba’s inmates are black or mulatto. [4]

    • Cubans of European ancestry receive as much as 250 percent more in remittances (cash subsidies) from family abroad than their Afro-Cuban neighbors. Growing income disparities may in turn be affecting the educational opportunities as well as occupational options of many Cubans of African ancestry. [5]

    • In terms of higher education, Afro-Cubans are already perceived to be woefully underrepresented – accounting for as little as three percent of university enrollments. [6]

    Afro-Cubans in the Castro Government

    • Senior Leadership (Politburo) of the Cuban Communist Party: 17 % [7]

    • Executive Committee (Secretariat) of the Cuban Communist Party: 4 % [8]

    • Council of State (Head of State and Senior Advisors): 35 % [9]

    • Council of Ministers (President and Cabinet Members): 8 % [10]

    • National Assembly (Cuban Parliament): 36 % [11]

    • Provincial Assemblies (provincial legislatures): 35 % [12]

    • Senior Command, Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR): 10 % [13]


    1. Cf. Patricia Grogg, “Cuba: Racism – Taboo, Complicated, and Thorny,” Havana, IPS, January 7, 2009,

    2. Rodrigo Espina Prieto and Pablo Rodríguez Ruiz, “Raza y desigualdad en la Cuba actual,” Temas , no. 45: 44-54 (enero-marzo), 2006, p. 48;

    3. Ibid., p. 48.

    4. Cf. Oscar Espinosa Chepe, “La soga en casa del ahorcado,” Cubanet, Havana, July 10, 2007,

    5. R. Espina Prieto and E. Rodriguez Ruiz, op. cit., p. 48.

    6. Cf. Fernando Ravsberg, “Cuba y las tinieblas del racismo,” BBC, Havana, October 10, 2006,

    7. Partido Comunista de Cuba, “Buró Político,” April 28, 2008,

    8. Partido Comunista de Cuba, “Integrantes del Secretariado del Comité Central,”

    9. Cuba, Consejo de Estado,

    10. Cuba, Consejo de Ministros,

    11. Cuba, Asamblea Nacional, “VII Legislatura”,

    12. Cuba, Asambleas Provinciales,”

    13. Within the Cuban Ministry of Defense (MINFAR) organizational framework, only one Afro-Cuban, Division General Raúl Rodríguez Lobaina, ranked among the top ten members of the senior command as of January 2009. Cf. Granma, “Ceremonia militar de cambio de mando en el Ejército central,” May 24, 2008,


* This report was prepared by Hans de Salas del Valle, Research Associate, Cuba Transition Project, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami.


The CTP can be contacted at P.O. Box 248174, Coral Gables, Florida 33124-3010, Tel: 305-284-CUBA (2822), Fax: 305-284-4875, and by email at The CTP Website is accessible at