Socialismo mulato: Soviet Fascination with Race in Cuba

  • Damaris Puñales-Alpízar


In the Soviet imaginary, the Cuban mulato represented not only an exotic other but also the realization of another kind of socialism, possible in other conditions and at other coordinates, (almost) far from Soviet reach. In general terms, Cubans came to fulfill a multilevel imaginary aspiration of Soviet identity related to Black and exploited people, Latin America, the United States, and the dissemination of the socialist ideology around the world. The Soviet fascination with, commitment to, and admiration for people of color was reinforced in this case by the added bonus that Cubans were comrades from a socialist island just a few miles from the US coast. At the geopolitical level, that fascination translated into the election of the first Black man to be sent into the cosmos; at an aesthetic level, it is related to a specific kind of poetry produced by Soviet authors in which the emphasis was on Cubans as mulatos, as this article will demonstrate through the analysis of literary works by authors such as Mayakovski, Yevtushenko, Kovaliov, Smolnikov, and Gamzatov. The third aspect of this fascination was made manifest in the many interracial marriages between Soviet women and Black Cuban men.