The leader of a US Cuban exiles group has accused the founder of The 1619 Project of promoting ‘ideological Marxist spin’ after she claimed Cuba was one of the most ‘equal’ multi-racial countries in the world.
Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat ridiculed the words of Nikole Hannah-Jones, who has come under fire after a 2019 podcast where she claimed the communist country has the ‘least inequality’ due to its socialist government resurfaced.
The Havana-born scholar accused the New York Times journalist about ‘not caring’ about Cuba, claiming she was using the country’s ‘plight’ to promote Marxism instead.
‘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,’ Miami-based Gutierrez-Boronat told DailyMail.com.
‘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 said Hannah-Jones’s claim that Cuba had the ‘least inequality between black and white people’ was also flawed, explaining there is actually a lack of black leadership in the country as a result of the 1959 Cuban Revolution – which saw dictator Fidel Castro ascend to power.
The exiled leader, who has been instrumental in high-level talks in the US since protests erupted earlier this month, explained that black people – who once held important government roles – have been sidelined for positions of power and influence for decades.
Miami-based Cuban exiles leader Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat (left) tore into 1619 Project founder Nikole Hannah-Jones’s (right) 2019 claims that Cuba has ‘the least inequality between black and white people’ in the hemisphere in an interview with DailyMail.com
The Havana-born scholar said the NYT journalist’s comments weren’t reflective of Cuba’s history and accused her of using the country’s ‘plight’ to ‘promote Marxism’. Pictured: Cubans take to the streets of Havana to take part in anti-government protests on July 11
‘There is a very simple comparison you can make that shows how wrong this statement by Nikole Hannah-Jones is,’ he continued.
‘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 independence there was certainly a great increase in living standards for Cuba’s black population.
‘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.
‘That’s what leadership was like in Cuba, under the democracy.’
He added: ‘And in these 62 years of Communism it’s been a white European-descent Communist leadership that has dominated power.
‘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.’
Cuban protesters are pictured in a holding cell in Havana after being arrested during demonstrations on July 11
Hannah-Jones’ 2019 remarks were dragged back into the spotlight this weekend as Cuba is roiled by protests against its communist regime, with activists crying for freedom
Cuban-Americans participate in a demonstration to show support for protesters in Cuba, in front of the Freedom Tower in Miami on Saturday
Sidelined for their color: How Afro-Cubans lost positions of power and influence after the 1959 Cuban Revolution
Cuban exiles leader Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat slammed Nikole Hannah-Jones’s claim that Cuba has ‘the least inequality between black and white people in the hemisphere.’
The Miami-based scholar explained there is actually a lack of black leadership in the country as a result of the 1959 Cuban Revolution – which saw dictator Fidel Castro ascend to power.
The start of the communist regime ultimately resulted in the exile of numerous prominent Afro-Cubans and ‘white European’ leaders rise to power.
- Martin Morus Delgado was Cuba’s first black Senate president, assuming the role in 1909 after the 1895 to 1898 war of independence from Spain. As part of the Afro-Cuban political elite, he symbolized the social mobility that many black Cubans had previously been unable to achieve. He was a member of the country’s Liberal Party and later become agriculture minister.
- General Campos Marquetti was another leader in the independence war, living until the age of 94 before succumbing to a heart ailment in 1966 in Washington DC. He became a senator and a congressman in Havana, before ending up in exile in Miami after the 1959 revolution. He said shortly before his death that if Cubans returned to their homeland to drive out the Communist regime, he wanted to be at the forefront.
- Fanatical anti-communist Nestor ‘Tony’ Izquierdo was a prominent black Cuban who was one of the leaders in the doomed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, but escaped with his life. There is a 6ft bronze sculpture of him – toting a machinegun – in Miami’s Little Havana area. In 1963 he joined a 300-man anti-Castro army backed by the CIA in Nicaragua. He was killed in a 1979 plane crash while fighting the Sandinistas in that country.
- Salsa queen Celia Cruz crossed swords with Castro’s communist regime and made a new life for herself in the United States. She believed in 1960 that she would never set foot in Cuba again. The regime had disapproved of her band accepting offers to work abroad and at one point forbade her return to the island. An icon in the Latin music world – with hits such as Guantanamera – it was not until 1990 that she eventually made a trip back to her homeland. Famous for her shouted phrase ‘azucar’, Spanish for sugar, she died at her New Jersey home in 2003 aged 77.
- Juan Gualberto Gomez Ferrer was a leader in the Cuban War of Independence and helped to unite the island’s black population behind the rebellion. He was an activist for independence and part of the committee that drafted the country’s 1901 constitution – before becoming a representative and senator in the Cuban legislature. He died in Havana in 1933 aged 78.
- Sandalio Junco was a Cuban-Latino labor leader and trade unionist. By 1937 he had become a leading political figure, aligning himself to ex-president Ramon Grau San Martin. Although a Communist, he was murdered by a Stalinist gun squad in 1942, causing a wave of protests throughout Cuba.
- Jesus Menendez was a Cuban union leader and politician who fought for the rights of sugar cane workers. He was murdered by an army officer in 1948 at the age of 36.
- José Antonio de la Caridad Maceo y Grajales was second in command of the Cuban Army of Independence, with the nickname The Bronze Titan, and was renowned for his military acumen. He was killed in action in 1896 aged 51, ending with the rank Lieutenant General.
In a 2019 podcast with Ezra Klein of Vox and The New York Times, Hannah-Jones was asked for her thoughts on places around the world that had a ‘viable and sufficiently ambitious integration agenda.’
In response, she said she counted Cuba to be among the most ‘equal’ and ‘multiracial’ countries in the western hemisphere due to its socialist society.
‘Cuba has the least inequality between black and white people anyplace really in the hemisphere,’ she said.
‘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.’
Her controversial remarks were dragged back into the spotlight this weekend as Cuba continues to be rocked by protests against its communist regime, with activists crying for freedom and expressing anger over rising prices, goods shortages, and poor health care amid the coronavirus pandemic.
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.’
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.’
Meanwhile, hundreds of families of people arrested in Cuba since thousands took to the streets in protest starting on July 11 plan to march on police stations through the island to demand information about their loved ones, said the exiles leader.
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.
Hannah-Jones won the Pulitzer Prize in 2020 for the 1619 Project which ‘reframed’ American history to focus on when the first Africans arrived to Virginia as slaves
‘Crazy!’ declared senior writer for the Houston Chronicle Cindy Horswell.
‘Then let’s send her there! And she can live her dreams!!!’ wrote 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.
The rediscovered remarks sparked outrage among some commenters on Twitter
Thousands of Cuban Americans in Miami have taken to the streets in the past week to show solidarity with the island. Pictured: Protesters at the Rally For Democracy in Miami on Sunday
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.
Behind the New York Times’ hotly-contested 1619 Project: Critics claim the series was riddled with inaccuracies because authors ignored fact-checker’s notes
The 1619 Project won the Pulitzer Prize in 2019. It was praised by some as shining a light on untold history, but lambasted by others, including former President Donald Trump, for what he said was a jaundiced view of the US
In August 2019 the New York Times Magazine published the 1619 project, a collection of essays, photo essays, short fiction pieces and poems aimed to ‘reframe’ American history based on the impact of slaves brought to the US.
It was published to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans in the English colonies.
It argues that the nation’s birth was not 1776 with independence from the British crown, but in August 1619 with the arrival of a cargo ship of 20 to 30 enslaved Africans at Point Comfort in the colony of Virginia, which inaugurated the system of slavery.
The project argues that slavery was the country’s origin and out of it ‘grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional.’
That includes economic might, industry, the electoral system, music, public health and education inequities, violence, income inequality, slang, and racial hatred.
However, the project is debated among historians for its factual accuracy.
In March 2020 historian Leslie M. Harris who served as a fact checker for the project said authors ignored her corrections, but believed the project was needed to correct prevailing historical narratives.
One aspect up for debate is the timeline.
Time Magazine said the first slaves arrived in 1526 in a Spanish colony in what is now South Carolina, 93 years prior to the landing in Jamestown.
Some experts say slaves first arrived at present-day Fort Monroe in Hampton, instead of Jamestown.
Others argue the first Africans in Virginia were indentured servants as laws on lifetime slavery didn’t appear till 17th century and early 18th century, but worked essentially as slaves.
Princeton historian Sean Wilentz criticized the 1619 Project’s ‘cynicism,’ according to the Atlantic magazine.
He distributed a letter signed by historians that asked the newspaper to correct what it said were factual errors.
The letter said the series was ‘ displacement of historical understanding by ideology.’
Newt Gingrich in a 2019 USA Today article said the project was a lie and that ‘there were several hundred thousand white Americans who died in the Civil War in order to free the slaves.’
In March 2020, the New York Times wrote a seemingly half-hearted ‘clarification’ to part of the 1619 project on a part of the series that said one of the primary reasons the colonists fought in the American Revolution was to protect slavery.
The clarification read: ‘We recognize that our original language could be read to suggest that protecting slavery was a primary motivation for all of the colonists. The passage has been changed to make clear that this was a primary motivation for some of the colonists. A note has been appended to the story as well’
Also that month, a professor, Leslie M. Harris, who helped fact-check the project wrote in Politico, said that she’d repeatedly argued against Hannah-Jones against the idea that the people who fought in the American Revolution to preserve slavery.
‘I vigorously disputed the claim,’ she wrote in the Politico op-ed. ‘Although slavery was certainly an issue in the American Revolution, the protection of slavery was not one of the main reasons the 13 Colonies went to war.’
Despite the expert’s advice, the Times published the story without changing the inaccuracy, something that ‘stunned’ Harris, she wrote.
‘In addition, the paper’s characterizations of slavery in early America reflected laws and practices more common in the antebellum era than in Colonial times, and did not accurately illustrate the varied experiences of the first generation of enslaved people that arrived in Virginia in 1619,’ Harris said, listing another inaccuracy.
Harris did contend that slavery was ‘central to’ the United States’ story, but that it was ‘not, in fact, founded to protect slavery.’