Hans de Salas del Valle*, Cuba Transition Project


Afro-Cubans in Civil Society

• Afro-Cubans comprise over 60 percent of the island’s population, yet… [1]

• Black and dark-skinned multiracial Cubans constitute only five percent of hospitality workers catering to Europeans and other tourists' international joint ventures with foreign firms (which tend to offer the highest wages by Cuban standards), while making up nearly 70 percent of the state-run labor force. [2]

• Moreover, only about 35 percent of managerial positions in the state-run sector are held by black and biracial (mulatto) Cubans. [3]

• Afro-Cubans are disproportionately represented in the prison population -- 80 percent of Cuba’s inmates are black or mulatto. [4]

• Cubans of European ancestry receive as much as 250 percent more in remittances (cash subsidies) from family abroad than their Afro-Cuban neighbors. Growing income disparities may in turn be affecting the educational opportunities as well as occupational options of many Cubans of African ancestry. [5]

• In terms of higher education, Afro-Cubans are already perceived to be woefully underrepresented – accounting for as little as three percent of university enrollments. [6]
Afro-Cubans in the Castro Government

• Senior Leadership (Politburo) of the Cuban Communist Party: 17 % [7]

• Executive Committee (Secretariat) of the Cuban Communist Party: 4 % [8]

• Council of State (Head of State and Senior Advisors): 35 % [9]

• Council of Ministers (President and Cabinet Members): 8 % [10]

• National Assembly (Cuban Parliament): 36 % [11]

• Provincial Assemblies (provincial legislatures): 35 % [12]

• Senior Command, Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR): 10 % [13]


1. Cf. Patricia Grogg, “Cuba: Racism – Taboo, Complicated, and Thorny,” Havana, IPS, January 7, 2009,

2. Rodrigo Espina Prieto and Pablo Rodríguez Ruiz, “Raza y desigualdad en la Cuba actual,” Temas , no. 45: 44-54 (enero-marzo), 2006, p. 48;
3. Ibid., p. 48.

4. Cf. Oscar Espinosa Chepe, “La soga en casa del ahorcado,” Cubanet, Havana, July 10, 2007,

5. R. Espina Prieto and E. Rodriguez Ruiz, op. cit., p. 48.
6. Cf. Fernando Ravsberg, “Cuba y las tinieblas del racismo,” BBC, Havana, October 10, 2006,

7. Partido Comunista de Cuba, “Buró Político,” April 28, 2008,

8. Partido Comunista de Cuba, “Integrantes del Secretariado del Comité Central,”

9. Cuba, Consejo de Estado,

10. Cuba, Consejo de Ministros,

11. Cuba, Asamblea Nacional, “VII Legislatura”,

12. Cuba, Asambleas Provinciales,

13. Within the Cuban Ministry of Defense (MINFAR) organizational framework, only one Afro-Cuban, Division General Raúl Rodríguez Lobaina, ranked among the top ten members of the senior command as of January 2009. Cf. Granma, “Ceremonia militar de cambio de mando en el Ejército central,” May 24, 2008,

* This report was prepared by Hans de Salas del Valle, Research Associate, Cuba Transition Project, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami.
The CTP can be contacted at P.O. Box 248174, Coral Gables, Florida 33124-3010, Tel: 305-284-CUBA (2822), Fax: 305-284-4875, and by email at The CTP Website is accessible at