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Cuban exceptionality has shown over the years despite the long-lasted and fruitless embargo – Afro-Cubans

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, a relatively lengthy Island with an eleven million population, has shown the world that having human diversity is a real strength. Only its diversity has allowed Cuba to survive a long-lasted, fruitless, and painful embargo imposed on its people since the sixties.

Cubans love to read, and all Cubans are highly literate, having at least attended up to twelve grades. Wrongly, many people in the world associate Cuba with music, dance, and sports.

This work intends to show our readers the exceptionality of the Cuban people. Cuba had a Chess Champion and a Nobel Price in Physics, many famous mathematicians, great scientists in biotechnology and epidemiology, composers and musicians, television pioneers, and innovators. We will provide the name of thousands and thousands of famous and successful Cubans in all fields. But there is one field in which Cubans have been remarkably successful, project management and business development. The cause why Cuba is relatively poor is a topic for another article’s series, but a double embargo from one side of the United States and the other Russia has made it almost impossible for Cubans to score on all its strengths, the second one being a silent and a horrible one.
Afro-Cubans are vocal and proud of their Black ancestry and have influenced music, art, science, and entertainment in several ways.
According to the CIA Facts Book, 62% of Cubans have Afro-Cuban heritage. White Cubans are not afraid of disclosing having in one way or another African heritage.
Before Cuba was conquered by the Spaniards, three tribes lived on the island. They were the Taínos, the Ciboneys, and the Guanajatabeyes. The Taínos were the largest and most common of the three tribes. They farmed crops such as beans, corn, squash, and yams. The Taínos also slept in hammocks which the Spaniards would introduce to the rest of the world. Then, in 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived in Cuba on his first trip to the Americas. Three years later, he claimed the islands for the Spanish. The Spanish began to rule Cuba afterwards. The Spanish brought thousands of slaves from Africa to Cuba to work for them. Most of the native Cubans died because of the new diseases brought by the Spanish and Africans. The Spanish also treated the native Cubans very cruelly and massacred many of them. Later Chinese emigrants joined the Cuban melting pot, together with English, Scottish, and Italians.
All these groups brought their culture and behaviors. We will start by covering Africans, who were crucial in the development of Cuban exceptionalism as they enriched Cubans with their cultural and psychological traits:
1. Improvisation. The ability to be resourceful, imaginative, creative, and innovative as we meet life challenges. From a child forward, we internalized a way of being that facilitated our ability to seek opportunities, find opportunities, create opportunities and seize opportunities.
2. Resilience. The capacity to rebound from a setback and become stronger in the broken places. In the Black experience, psychological maturity cannot be achieved until one has paid one due and come through the storm. No way a Black person can get through 75 years of living in the world without a few disappointments, setbacks, loss, and disillusionment.
3. Connectedness to others. The deepest of all human needs. Human closeness is a more profound need than sex, from the cradle to the grave. It has operated in our life in four ways: family and extended family, strong peer relationships, romantic relationships, and periodically mentors entering our life. Through connectedness to others across the life span, we learn how to build successful mutual relationships.
4. Spirituality. More important than the Church or established religions, there is a spiritual theme that runs through the Black experience. There is a soul force, a life-affirming force responsible for strength in the face of adversity, inspiration, vitality, and hope for a brighter tomorrow.
5. Emotional vitality. Emotional vitality in the Black community and our life is characterized by a zest for life, high energy, vitality & a lifestyle that fully embraces life. This vitality and the increase of energy can be found in Black music, both secular & religious.
6. Gallows humor. The ability to laugh and cry as we move through a storm, crying about the tragedy, and the ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Famous Afro-Cubans:

Antonio Maceo — 1890s revolutionary leader

Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez — cosmonaut; first Latin American and first person of African descent in outer space

Teófilo Stevenson — amateur boxer

Celia Cruz – famous singer

Wilfredo Lam – famous painter

Salvador Valdés Mesa — First Vice President of Cuba, former trade union leader, Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba

In our next article we will covering Cubans of Spanish heritage.
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