Jewelnel Davis

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Jewelnel Davis

Cuba visit

In June, 1996 Manning Marable led a delegation of fifteen prominent African Americans to the island of Cuba.

Members of the delegation included: Leith Mullings, Professor of Anthropology, City University of New York; writer/editor Jean Carey Bond; political theorist Clarence Lusane; Columbia University Chaplain Jewelnel Davis; and Michael Eric Dyson, Visiting Professor of African American Studies, Columbia University.

The delegation was hosted by the Center for the Study of the Americas in Havana to engage in a series of conversations about the future of Cuba and its relationship with Black America.[1]

The delegation identified four critical areas for examination: race relations and the status of Afro-Cuban people since the Cuban Revolution; the status of women and gender relations; the impact of economic liberalization and the introduction of private enterprise in Cuba since the end of the Cold War and issues of human rights, civil liberties and political freedom under the Castro government. The ground rules for our visit permitted us to travel anywhere in the island. We were encouraged to interview prominent leaders in government, culture and society.

Always throughout our investigations, delegation members asked questions which had broader implications for Black folk not only in Cuba. but within the U.S.
We met with Alphonso Casanova, the Deputy Minister of Economic Planning, and the chief architect of Cuba’s economic transformation. Casanova explained that Cuba’s gross domestic product was cut in half after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of economic trade with socialist countries. Out of necessity, US. dollars were decriminalized and corporate investnent from Europe, Canada and Mexico was eagerly solicited. By 1997, there were over 300,000 Cubans who had registered as private entrepreneurs with the government. New resort hotels were constructed and a thriving tourist business developed. This year over one million tourists will visit Cuba.
Cuban economists believe that it is possible to adopt elements of capitalism and corporate investment into a socialist system. Casanova states. "Capitalism is a major failure as a socioeconomic and political project."

Nevertheless, the Cuban people had to devise ways to avoid economic collapse and to integrate their economy into world markets. "Throughout the Third World, ‘Cuba is the hope that things can be done differently," Casanova stated.

Safeguarding the interest of Cuban workers is Salvador Valdez Gonzalez, the Minister of Labor and social Security. The minister estimated that Cuba’s current unemployment rate is 6.5%. However, workers who were terminated from their jobs still receive a minimum of 60% of their former salaries. "Our main policy is to maintain the achievements of the Revolution," Valdez explained. Despite their current economic difficulties all healthcare in Cuba is still free, programs for the physically disabled were protected. No hospitals or universities were shut down. In fact, Cuba’s ratio of doctors to the general population, one out of seventy three, is by far the best of any Third World country, and better than many western societies.

References

  1. [http://www.afrocubaweb.com/marable.htm#revolution%20and%20Race%20in%20Cuba Cuba Says Discrimination Against Blacks Resolved By Revolution Along the Color Lines, By Manning Marable]