100 years since the Independent Party of Color and creation of a new anti-racist alliance in Cuba

On 20 and 21 September there was the inaugural meeting of ARA, the Regional Joint African Descent initiative linked to the UN Decade of African Descent and Cuban activists and intellectuals have formed the Cuban ARA to push forward with action and demands for concrete projects, development of research, pressure on the media to be more representational and expand anti racist activism.

About the Independent Part of Color and the 1912 Massacre from AfroCubaWeb:

In 1912, the Cuban army massacred thousands of AfroCubans in what became known as "El Doce," "the Twelve," and the "Guerrita de Raza," the "Little Race War." Many of those murdered, but by no means all, were members of the hemisphere's first black political party outside Haiti: The Independent Party of Color (PIC). These were largely made up of veterans of the Mambi Army, the Cuban Army of Liberation that defeated the Spanish in two Wars of Liberation (1868-1878 and 1895-1898). Recent research in Cuba has established that this army was overwhelmingly made up of Cubans of African descent (80% and perhaps as high as 90%): it was one of the largest slave revolts in the hemisphere. When the Mambises had all but ejected the Spaniards from Cuba, the plantocracy, as Maceo had predicted, allied themselves with the Americans to bring about the American intervention known as the Spanish American War in 1898.

Evaristo Estenoz, Pedro Ivonet, and others founded the Independents of Color in 1908 in order to secure a rightful share for AfroCubans in a Cuba which had successfully marginalized them since Independence. The plantocracy responded with a law, the Morua amendment, to prohibit parties restricted to a particular race, even though there were white members of the PIC. Then, after the party's protests continued, the plantocracy engaged in an intense media campaign to demonize the party. This culminated in a massacre where Estenoz, along with 6,000 or more other AfroCubans, mostly fellow party members, were murdered by Cuban troops that President Jose Miguel Gomez ordered to the field in 1912. From report on AfroCubaWeb at this link

About Cuba's commemoration of these events during 2012:

See report in Granma, Cuba at this link

Extract from report on inaugural meeting of ARA – a regional anti-racist alliance in Cuba

In September 2012 about 30 leaders, activists and intellectuals of the movement of African descent in Spanish America, met in Havana to consolidate the Regional Joint African Descent (ARA) in Latin America and the Caribbean as a common working tool. Representatives from Colombia, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Venezuela and Cuba presented the different experiences confronting racism in their countries, both from the political struggle in the academic and community.

The Declaration by the United Nations (UN) Decade of African descent provides a strategic opportunity to develop joint projects to move towards empowerment and racial equality. Hence, amongst the aims of ARA is to outline a regional action plan for the decade.

"This inaugural meeting of ARA in Havana, is a historic landmark that has to count among the contributions of Cuba to reinvent and remake the decolonization of Latin America and the Caribbean… For Cuba it means revitalizing an old tradition and eloquent radical Pan-Africanism and African activism in the region means a reconnection essential to the renewal of social processes and racial justice in Cuba…"declared Puerto Rican academic Laó Augustine Montes at the opening of the meeting.

As a result of the exchange the principles and objectives of the alliance, as well as advocacy and thematic outline concrete proposals were declared…

The host country showed the largest number of participants, mostly intellectuals who for years defended this cause. Consequently, it also established the Cuban chapter of ARA…Groups like Color Cubano, The Brotherhood of Negritude and Aponte Commission of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) have served as a wake-up call to Cuban civil society to face rising inequalities and racist remarks in the past 20 years…

..Writer and president of the Cuban Book Institute (ICL) Zuleika Romay emphasized that it is not an organization that dissolves the experiences of autonomous groups that exist in the country today, but that encourages working together, leveraging the strengths of each…

Cuban researcher Fernando Martínez Heredia had said on the celebration in 2011 of the Year of People of African Descent, "we must encourage antiracist actions and awareness in many different fields of society, without waiting for State policies, we must press, acting together …, we must consider this problem for what it is, a battlefield itself and a battlefield in the tremendous cultural between socialism and capitalism being aired in our country. "

The Cuban group defined work areas, with the idea of developing concrete proposals in the shortest time possible. Identify projects and community leaders who work in these issues, encourage the development of research on raciality, influence the media to achieve greater racial diversity and and use new technologies in antiracist activism…

Original and full report in La Jiribilla at this link