DAILY-Cuban exile leader says 1619 Project founder 'needs to read some Cuban history'
- Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat slammed 1619 Project writer Nikole Hannah-Jones after she claimed Cuba is the most equal country in the western hemisphere
- The Miami-based leader of US Cuban exiles group said the comments don't reflect the reality of Cuba's history
- 'What she is saying shows how little she knows about Cuba and how [pressure groups] use Cuba to promote Marxism,' he told DailyMail.com
- Hannah-Jones sparked fury online after a 2019 podcast in which she made the controversial comments resurfaced
- She said the communist country could serve as a model for integration
- She claimed Cuba was one of the most 'equal' and 'multiracial' countries in the with 'very little inequality' between black and white people living there
- Gutierrez-Boronat slammed the comments noting how black Cubans have been sidelined and no longer seen in leadership roles since the 1959 Cuban revolution
- 'It was during Cuba's democracy that black Cubans had leadership roles as president, as president of the senate, multiple ministries,' he said
The leader of a US Cuban exile group has slammed 1619 Project founder Nikole Hannah-Jones after she claimed Cuba had the 'least inequality between black and white people' thanks to its socialist government.
Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat spoke out against the New York Times journalist Tuesday after a 2019 podcast where she called the communist country one of the most 'equal' in the world, resurfaced online.
The Havana-born scholar, who is based in Miami, said Hannah-Jones's remarks do not 'reflect the reality of Cuban history', noting there has actually been a lack of black leadership on the island since the 1959 revolution - which saw dictator Fidel Castro ascend to power.
'There is a very simple comparison you can make that shows how wrong this statement by Nikole Hannah-Jones is,' Gutierrez-Boronat told DailyMail.com.
'Look at the central committee of the Communist Party for the past 62 years and tell me how many prominent black Cubans have been in that central committee.
'And then look at the republic that existed between 1902 and 1959. You couldn't write the history of the republic without mentioning all the prominent black Cubans who were there.
'Cuba is a syncretic culture, where two or more cultures blend together. After its independence [in 1902] there was certainly a great increase in living standards for Cuba's black population.'
The exiled leader, who has been instrumental in high-level talks in the US since protests erupted earlier this month, said black people - who once held important government roles - have instead been sidelined for positions of power and influence for decades.
'It was during Cuba's democracy that black Cubans had leadership roles as president, as president of the senate, multiple ministries, representatives to the house, important social leaders, the leader of the labor movement,' he said.
'That's what leadership was like in Cuba, under the democracy.'
'And in these 62 years of Communism it's been a white European-descent Communist leadership that has dominated power,' he added.
'I don't see how anyone cannot see that. Anyone who knows a little bit about Cuban history can confirm what I am saying.
'Fulgencio Baptista was president twice. Baptista was definitely multi-racial, with Spanish, African, and Chinese blood.'
Hannah-Jones made the controversial comments after she was asked which countries or places around the world she believed had a 'viable and sufficiently ambitious integration agenda', in a podcast with Ezra Klein of Vox and The New York Times in 2019.
'If you want to see the most equal, multiracial democ … it's not a democracy. The most equal, multiracial country in our hemisphere, it would be Cuba,' she replied.
'Cuba has the least inequality between black and white people anyplace really in the hemisphere.
'I mean, the Caribbean, most of the Caribbean it's hard to count because the white population in a lot of those countries is very, very small.
'A lot of those countries are run by black folks. But in places that are truly at least biracial countries, Cuba actually has the least inequality.
'And that's largely due to socialism - which I'm sure no one wants to hear,' she added.
Her remarks were dragged back into the spotlight this weekend as protests continue to rock Cuba, with activists crying for freedom and expressing anger over rising prices, goods shortages, and poor health care amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Gutierrez-Boronat joined the chorus of critics on social media who blasted Hannah-Jones for her perceived ignorance on the state of the island nation.
'Her assertion that what she says is "equality" is largely due to socialism is ideological spin. That doesn't reflect the reality of Cuban history,' he continued.
'What she is saying shows how little she knows about Cuba and how they [some pressure groups] use Cuba to promote Marxism.
'They use Cuba's plight to promote Marxism. They don't care about Cuba, they care about their own ideology.'
Gutierrez-Boronat, who runs the Cuban Democratic Directorate, added: 'I think this woman needs to come to Miami and read some Cuban history. Black and white in Cuba doesn't mean the same thing as it might mean in the United States.'
The controversial 2019 podcast is not the first time that Hannah-Jones has spoken out in support of the communist regime.
More than ten years prior, she wrote an op-ed where she noted the many overlooked accomplishments that had been made in Cuba including what she touted as a high literacy rate in the country, low HIV infection rate, and 'model' universal health care system.
She claimed the Cuban revolution led to the 'end of codified racism' and brought about universal education and access to jobs for black Cubans.
In 2020 she won the Pulitzer Prize for the 1619 Project which 'reframed' American history to focus on when the first Africans arrived to Virginia as slaves.
But the 2019 series of essays has come under withering criticism for portraying American history as fundamentally racist and also containing historical inaccuracies and generalizations.
She tweeted at the time: 'You do not produce a project like this and not expect pushback. History, in general, is contested. Historians debate, disagree and interpret differently the same set of facts. Historians also produce history from a vantage point. This project unsettled many. I think that is good.'
Meanwhile, families of Cuban protesters who have been arrested since the unrest broke out on July 11 are now planning to march on police stations through the island to demand information about their loved ones, Gutierrez-Boronat said.
He added: 'Hundreds of people have now been arrested in Cuba, I don't know how many dead there are.
'There were some protests until Saturday night. I haven't heard anything yesterday or today yet. The internet is really difficult.
'Family members of those who are arrested or disappeared will be having marches on police stations on Wednesday and demand to know where their loved ones are. That will be in Havana and other cities. The call has gone out.
'The slogans and the calls to action circulate among the underground and suddenly you have slogans appearing in multiple places at the same time. These are coming from the internal networks.
'I don't know how the authorities will react. They have an aggressive police presence in many places. I guess they will try to put it down.'
The resurfaced podcast sparked outrage from among many commenters online over the weekend.
'This is the person Progressives want teaching history to your kids,' tweeted conservative talk show host Jason Rantz.
'Founder of 1619 project & outspoken (idiot) communist, says Cuba has the least inequality between Black & White people. She's correct, because there's no democrat party to ensure everyone is divided. Also, communism is an equal opportunity oppressor,' wrote Jonathan T. Gilliam, an ex-Navy Seal turned author.
'Crazy!' declared senior writer for the Houston Chronicle Cindy Horswell.
'Then let's send her there! And she can live her dreams!!!' wrote user Ken Hebden.
'Yep, you're either equally poor or you are the rich oppressor. One day in Cuba and she'd realize she's one of the poor, oppressed masses begging for her freedom,' tweeted Danielle Kriner.
'Please go to Cuba and stay in Cuba - Nicole Hannah Jones. The anti-American factions in our own country fail to understand the horrors of Communism,' stated Mercedes Schlapp, a Senior Fellow for ACU Foundation penned.
'Note to Nikole: Cuba has 'equality' because everyone is equally desperately poor,' explained one Twitter account.
'I think one should be required to live in the country one believes is superior for a year before endorsing it as preferred location over one's own country,' suggested Twitter user Jerry.
'They just allow anyone to be thought leaders these days,' wrote another social media user.
'1619 project creator says Cuba's dictator government is a model for other countries. The woman Nikole Hannah-Jones is that crazy! She wants America to be like Cuba, a communist country Cuban ppl are protesting for their freedom & are tired of tyranny. This is all u need to know,' tweeted Steve.
'Why don't she move to Cuba then ??? Let her see how the people are treated, for awhile, then see what she thinks !!!' added user Alabama Lady.
Hundreds of people headed to Washington DC this weekend to protest outside the White House after a week of unprecedented protests on the Communist-led island this past week.
The protests in the nation's capital came as Raul Castro joined thousands at a government-organized rally in Havana on Saturday to denounce the US trade embargo and reaffirm their support for Cuba's 'revolution.'
The Havana rally came after thousands of Cubans have protested shortages of basic goods, curbs on civil liberties, and the government's handling of a surge in COVID-19 infections in the past week.
Meanwhile, demonstrators in Washington on Saturday carried signs reading 'Freedom for Cuba' while calling on President Joe Biden to help the suffering Caribbean nation.
In the wake of the protests, the Cuban government had cut off internet access on Sunday.
Internet connectivity was restored on Wednesday though access to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter remained blocked on cellular networks.
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