· Adoption by the Cuban state of new measures with regard to the remittances from abroad, an estimated $1.5 billion yearly, of which less than 15% reaches the hands of the black population. Reduction of the tax burden on these remittances (it is currently 20%, and it should be 10%). Fifty percent of the latter tax collected by the government should be automatically awarded to the FUNACEN since remittances from abroad are conducive to the soaring of racial inequalities in Cuba.
· Authorization for the convening of a National Congress on Racism and Racial Discrimination by autonomous organizations within Cuba, without interference from the branches of power; authorization for Afro-Cuban intellectuals and activists to participate in a roundtable of Cuban nationalists from inside the island and the diaspora, with the aim of discussing strategies to combat racism in Cuba.
· Authorization to create a National Overseer to monitor the racial situation in Cuba and to act on behalf of the elimination of racially discriminatory practices of all types, whether in governmental agencies or in the private spheres.
· Adoption of measures and concrete policies that bring dignity and respect to the phenotype associated with the black race, which is the object of denigration and ridicule in Cuba, especially in the cases of black women; positive projection of the Afro-Cuban phenotype in all major media, cultural manifestations, and forms of artistic representation, in order to counter the racist derision concentrated primarily on the racial traits associated with people of African descent (nose, lips, skin color, hair, body type, etc.).
· Formal criminalization of racism and racial discrimination in all areas of national life without the right to bail, as it has been established in Brazil through the Cao Law; proposal to the Cuban National Assembly for new legislation specifically designed to punish any type of discriminatory manifestation or racial humiliation in public or in private spaces.
· Massive recognition of the black woman and her extraordinary contribution to the national dignity, for she has suffered and continues to endure doubly the consequences of racial and gender discrimination; launching of a national campaign for the re-assessment of the Afro-Cuban female phenotype; authorization to create a self-governing Organization for Afro-Cuban women totally independent of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), and with the permission and capacity to pursue independent and foreign financial support.
· Recognition of the existence of organic majorities in Cuba, with particular attention to race and gender, that will have to be reflected in all government and decision-making institutions that affect our political, economic, and cultural life, given that at least 60% of the population in Cuba is estimated to be of African descent; creation of a mechanism that can guarantee the progressive representation of black Cubans at all levels and instances of the country, and that, to begin, must reach 35% within the next five years in all key positions of: the Party; the Government; the Parliament; the Mass organizations; the leadership of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior; mass communication organizations (especially the television and movie industries); the tourist industry; and mixed (private/government) firms created with foreign capital.
· Official recognition and respect to all Afro-Cuban religions, recognizing them as equal to other religions in Cuba, through the installation of a mechanism of permanent dialogue between the political leadership of Cuba and those religions, as has effectively been done with Christian religions. Placing Afro-Cuban religions in the position that is legitimately theirs would advance the process of national and cultural identity. Immediate cessation of all official and unofficial practices that lead to the commodification, folklorization, and exploitation of Afro-Cuban religions toward touristic ends, attaching adequate legal consequences to prevent discrimination of these religions, as befits a secular country.
· Imposition by law of the teaching of the history of Africa and of all peoples of African origin in the Americas, akin to Law 10639/03 in Brazil; publication of all world recognized reference books that elucidate the history of Africa in all aspects, and those that also bring to light the history of racism; development of studies and research about Afro-Cuban issues in history and in society, with the goal of strengthening national unity and raising the self-esteem of blacks; creation of departments of Afro-Cuban studies at the universities in Cuba, and extra-mural centers for ethnic-racial studies nationwide.
· Implementation of public policies of affirmative action as a global strategy capable of bringing socioeconomic equality to those citizens who, due to their racial origin and because they are descendants of formerly enslaved populations in Cuba, have suffered disadvantages historically construed. This affirmative action policy would be a concrete way to bring about some type of moral reparation to the black population in Cuba.
· Implementation of a national census based on modern objective criteria to determine race, given the fact that the census results of the last fifty years do not merit any trust. The new national census would develop a base from which it will be possible to evaluate the extent to which social inequities have disproportionately affected the Afro-Cuban population.
Personally, I am satisfied that you are aware of the gravity of the moment. I am sure you are also aware of the limited options that any leader in your position would have at this crucial time. Nonetheless, you do enjoy a number of favorable circumstances that can be exploited if the goal is to save the social gains that the people of Cuba achieved through the Revolution of 1959. For instance, I consider it beneficial, both for you and for our nation, that you are not the traditional charismatic leader. That fact can allow you to be a much more pragmatic and realistic head of state who is capable of recognizing danger when he sees it. Furthermore, I am convinced that the many Intelligence networks at your command, as well as the myriad research units the revolutionary regime created over the years to analyze social changes in Cuba and test the pulse of its population, has provided you with enough empirical data to conclude that something new is taking place in the collective consciousness of black Cubans on the island. This something may not be satisfied except through the effective empowerment of blacks, as a people, acting through independent grassroots organizations.
The time has come to drastically and expeditiously change the situation of blacks in Cuba. Those who never held power and continue to confront enormous problems in their daily survival feel a sense of urgency. It is dangerous to continue pretending that Blacks in Cuba have no interest in power," and to further postpone the enactment of measures that would really empower those who constitute Cubas majority. Profound changes have to be effected now. There can be no more excuses or strategies to postpone a real change that could dramatically, comprehensively, and permanently alter the socio-racial panorama of Cuban society. There is no time to waste. Every minute of delay is an open door to unforeseen situations that could become uncontrollable once they materialize.
The possibility of a complete break with the past is within your reach. So is the opportunity to do what no leader before you has dared to do: to work for the effective empowerment of those who, for more than three hundred years, have been living in a Special Period and a state of Permanent Emergency.
I have spoken on my own behalf, and only in my name. However, I know that the opinions expressed in this letter are echoed by ideas that are being increasingly formulated in Cuba.
I know that you know it, too.
Respectful nationalist regards,
Carlos Moore Ethnologist and Professor of International Relations