Date: Wed, 25 Oct 1995 15:52:03 -0400 (EDT)
Fidel Castro in Harlem
By Carolyn A. Brown, on the AfrLabor list, 25 October 1995
To Afrlabor Members
I must apologize. I was at the Castro speech at Abyssynia and had begun to write a report only to get side tracked. At any rate it was quite an event. The historic importance was underscored by several people who recalled his earlier visit 35 years ago. It was also significant that many people there felt that the African American community has always welcomed Fidel. The room was filled with left dignataries such as Angela Davis, Amiri Baraka, even Leonard Jeffries attended with Gil Nobel. The politicians included Charlie Rangel and Serrano of the Bronx. He also made a number of comments about his attire (he put on the fatiques to come to Harlem, as he had before rather than the business suit). Apparently he also went by the Hotel Theresa which now is an office building. It was quite an event. The audience was quite mixed w/ a number of whites as well as the majority Latinos and African Americans. Rev. Calvin Butts the minister of Abyssynia, chided Fidel for attending church when Butts (and Jessie Jackson) visited Cuba w/ a group of ministers several years ago. Butts said he asked Fidel if he believed in God. Fidel, he said, answered, "I like church!". The very moving piece of the speech was when he spoke about how many Cubans had gone to Angola and confronted the nuclear power South Africa. He also said that the South African nuclear warheads are still under the control of some right wing groups there.
Those of us in New York were quite angry that our Mayor Guiliani had chosen to snub Fidel in such an immature macho way. (Of course none of us think Guiliani is really a "strong" macho but a "whimp".) We also note that he somehow feels he can shape U.S. foreign policy by "uninviting" Arafat to Lincoln Center for a concert. (He actually did give invites addressed to "Palestine"to the PLO) He actually had someone go in and ask Arafat to leave. Of course the Chinese remained although they had run over students in Tianamen square. Even though Fidel wasn't invited to Clinton's luncheon (all praises to the Florida vote!) he was wined and dined by the Council on Foreign Relations with an all star cast of participants including a Rockefeller.
Fidel spent the next day in the South Bronx meeting with Puerto Rican politicians.
Carolyn A. Brown