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In Mexico I felt like a human being

24 September 2009

Although the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista considered himself “mulatto”, the country was — as an unofficial colony of the United States — largely segregated when it came to public accommodations. Although unofficial, Afro-Cubans were simply not admitted to the better establishments (except as employees) and frozen out of much of public life. Much of the social and political change after 1959 was the result of political and social pressure from Afro-Cuban writer, revolutionary and politician, Juan Alemieda Bosques.

A general in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, and, at the time of his death, ice-President of the Cuban Council of State, Alemieda Bosques, together with Fidel and Raul Castro was one of the last survivors of the 1953 attack on the Moncada Barracks. Imprisoned until 1955, he was exiled to Mexico, returning with the Castros and Che Guevara on the Granma, when it sailed out of Tuxpan the night of 25 November 1956.

I felt for the first time, in Mexico, like a human being. I’m going to explain what that means. At that time, you remember how blacks lived here, in this country (Cuba). If you went to a bar, they turned it into a Club, so you couldn’t go in. All the limitations, the lessons, the relations, it was a tough situation. And in Mexico, honestly, in a group of compañeros and there in the Mexican capital, I felt as though I could move around like a human being, I went to the places I’d longed to go. It wasn’t like here, where you had to first think about where you were going and once you got there, whether they’d let me in. That was one of the best moments that I felt in my life.

Machetera posted a video interview (with an English transcript) of a 1976 interview with Alemieda Bosques who died 11 September at the age of 82.

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