Mandela and the Cuban Apartheid

by  and translated by Alex Higson  /  December 23, 2013  / No comments

“The situation in Cuba is identical to that of apartheid South Africa.”

Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela

Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela. Photo courtesy of Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo.

Nelson Mandela is dead. His memory will be honored and revered for posterity. He saved his country from a fate of countless hate killings, and sparked the light of hope for reconciliation in every corner of the planet—especially where fear of those who are different is a government policy.

  1. Is it worth-while to focus on the last images and letters coming from the inside of the last living utopia on Earth? Is Cuba by now a contemporary country or just another old-fashioned delusion in the middle of Nowhere-America? A Cold-War Northtalgia maybe? Can we expect a young within that Ancien Régime still known as The Revolution? I would like to provoke more questions than answers.
  2. Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo was born in Havana City and still resides and resists there, working as a free-lance writer, photographer and blogger. He is the author of Boring Home (2009) and is the editor of the independent opinion and literary e-zine Voces.

Mandela was also a firm friend of Fidel Castro. Of course he owed Cuba historic debts of gratitude for Cuba’s military interventions in Angola, which lasted more than 15 years across the 1970s and 1980s and cost my country millions of dollars and thousands of official casualties.

It mattered little to Mandela, just as it matters little to the free world today, that in terms of people’s rights, the situation in Cuba is identical to that of apartheid South Africa. There is no freedom of association, nor of expression. There is only one legal political party—the Communist Party. For more than half a century, no leader has been elected by a popular vote. As time has gone on, the number of political prisoners has reached many thousands, and today those in exile and their children number millions. But Cuba is a country of socialist revolution and, therefore, all these “errors” (or perhaps “horrors”) are pardoned across the world without much ado.

Nelson Mandela has died. He deserves to be honored. Fidel Castro’s heir, his octogenarian brother Rául Castro, traveled to South Africa for the burial, only to end up clasping the hand of his arch-enemy, US President Barack Obama. The fortune of the Cuban people, then, looks like it’s close to being wedged between foreign capital and local despotism.

The Havana government’s apartheid against its own citizens goes unrecognized. Perhaps it’s possible that the international community believes that, as a people, we deserve a Castrosim without Castros in perpetuity.

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