Front Door to Cuba

José Antonio Saco

An excerpt from
Nationalizing Blackness Afrocubanismo and Artistic Revolution in Havana, 1920-1040
by Robin D. Moore
University of Pittsburg Press, 1997
Pg. 17

"José Antonio Saco, a prominent essayist and social critic of the 1830s, served as a spokesman of the white urban middle classes. He supported abolition and encouraged white emigration from European countries to counterbalance the demographic effects of the slave trade (Helg 1990, 39). An early nationalist figure as well, Saco frequently clashed with Spanish authorities. While he opposed annexation to the United States and championed a Cuba free from oppressive colonial mandates, Saco did not conceive of Afrocubans as part of the emerging nation (Sanchez Roca 1960, 5). Obsessed with the abstract notion of an entirely white/Hispanic Cuba, Saco and contemporaries such as Domingo del Monte and Luz Caballero were unable to accept the possibility that Cuba might someday be comprised of both blacks and whites as equal citizens."

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In 1832, Saco supported the concerns of white Spaniards over the participation of blacks in popular music making. "Among the enormous evils that this accursed race [blacks] has carried to our land… is that of having distanced the arts from our white population."

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