For Release: June 23, 2000
Contact: David Almasi at 202/543-4110 x106 or [email protected]
Citing government-sponsored discrimination, military aggression on the African continent and a poor human rights record, members of the African-American leadership network Project 21 question the support liberal black politicians provide to the communist dictatorship of Cuba's Fidel Castro.
Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members Gregory Meeks (D-NY), James E. Clyburn (D-SC) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS) recently returned from a trip to Cuba, urging the U.S. Government to ease the decades-old U.S. trade embargo on the island. Another CBC member, Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), praised the Cuban government in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on April 13. Support for returning Elian Gonzalez not just to his father but back to Cuba itself is also very strong among African-American leaders.
"Those members of the black political establishment, in all of their praise of Cuba and Fidel Castro, they fail to explain one thing," said Project 21 member Kevin Martin. "If life is so good in Cuba, why are so many people leaving Cuba in rubber rafts or things less seaworthy? From hearing them talk, it should be the other way around!"
Many of the assertions about Cuba made by these black leaders conflict with other reports and contradict civil rights goals here in the U.S. In her speech, McKinney claimed Cubans enjoy "free and universal health care for all citizens." The U.S. State Department, however, described Cuba's health care system in 1997 as "medical apartheid... funnel[ing] money into services for a privileged few, while depriving the health care system used by the vast majority of Cubans of adequate funding." Cuban health care expenditures are actually smaller than other Caribbean nations like Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, and ordinary citizens must sometimes bring their own bedding to hospitals. Similar preferences for the Cuban elite also extend to education and housing.
In addition, the Cuban government implemented Decree 217 in 1997 to control migration into the Cuban capital of Havana. According to the State Department, "Human rights observers noted that while the decree affected migration countrywide, the decree was targeted at individuals and families from the poor, predominantly black and mulatto eastern provinces." Instances of police brutality are also reportedly directed predominantly at young blacks.
Cuba has also sent military forces abroad to support communist regimes on the African continent. Tens of thousands of Cuban troops have been stationed in countries like Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Countless numbers of innocent Africans have lost their lives in guerrilla wars there to support Cuban-backed regimes.
"Congressional Black Caucus support for Castro only emphasizes the fact that CBC members are truly the house slaves of the political left by supporting things at the expense of the black masses out in the fields." said Project 21 member Reginald Jones.
Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American
community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi
at (202) 543-4110 x106 or [email protected],
or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.