The definition of “apartheid”.
a·part·heid Pronunciation (-pärtht, -ht) – noun.
- An official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against nonwhites.
- A policy or practice of separating or segregating groups.
- The condition of being separated from others; segregation.
[Afrikaans : Dutch apart, separate (from French à part, apart; see apart) + Dutch -heid, -hood.]
Apartheid is therefore defined as “a policy or practice of separating or segregating groups”. Though not required in this definition it has the connotation that different and non-equal treatment is given to these separate groups.
Types of apartheid suffered by Cubans in their own country.
There are three main (intertwined) forms of apartheid in Cuba:
- Tourist apartheid: the segregation between tourist in Cuba most clearly seen in the beach resorts like the islands (cayos) that were completely off limit to Cubans that do not live or work on the island. The impact of recent changes to the Cuban petty apartheid there is still unclear. Hotels, bars, restaurants and other tourist facilities (up to beaches) had been declared “tourist only”, a policy officially recalled in March 2008 but still in practice in reality.
- Medical or health apartheid: whole hospitals (or floors – wings) of hospitals are reserved for “health tourists” only. These facilities then benefit of all investment needed and are fully stocked with medical supplies which both are totally lacking in the “Cuban” section of the health system.
- Information apartheid: foreigners resident in Cuba have easy and full access satellite dishes, e-mail, internet and cell phones access to which is prohibited or subject to heavy restrictions / exorbitant prices for Cubans.
We aim to explore the apartheid applied in Cuba by the regime of Fidel Castro whereby Cuban nationals are physically separated and treated differently (worse) than foreigners be they residents in Cuba or “normal” or “health” tourists (including those in international programs like the Venezuelan airlift).
In the months of March and April of 2008 Raul Castro has put in place a number of reforms that ease the “petty” apartheid” in Cuba.
Cubans can now:
- Legally own cell phones.
- Stay in luxury hotels or pay to use their gyms, hair salons and other facilities.
- Visit beaches, which had previously been reserved for tourists.
- Rent cars.
- Buy DVD players and other appliances; computers are to go on sale soon.
- Cultivate unused state land with cash crops such as coffee and tobacco.
- Farmers will also be permitted to buy supplies at state-run stores without special permission.
While these changes are a theoretical improvement, they appear cosmetic in the sense that Cubans have to pay for all these services and products they can now access in CUC, the “convertible peso Cubano”. This CUC is the “tourist currency” in Cuba’s double monetary system. It has an exchange rate of 25 Peso Cubano for one CUC. With the average Cuban salary below 400 Peso Cubano (CUC 16) it takes a year’s salary to stay a weekend in a hotel or to pay the 30 CUC “registration fee” to get a cell phone. As long as this two currency system is in place the changes in apartheid will only benefit those with access to foreign currency through remittances or work.
The legal apartheid has been replaced with a “mixed” apartheid based on the separate currency system and the low incomes of Cubans.
Cubans have been protesting against this dual currency system for years. it is known as the “con la misma moneda” campaign.