Africans and African-Americans used to be hassled quite regularly by the police as they were mistaken for Cuban citizens. Thankfully, with the change in apartheid rules in Cuba in February 2008, this is much less common. There is also the advantage of ethnically blending in and thus being less subject to hassle and scams. In Havana, multicultural attractions include Chinatown, Arabic societies, and synagogues. Mass is held in all churches across the country.
Race Relations in Cuba
The Cuban population is -- very conservatively -- estimated to be about one-third black or mixed-race (in reality, the percentage is probably closer to two-thirds or more). Cuba officially declares itself to be colorblind and, at least on the surface, the obvious mixed-race heritage and the strong presence of Afro-Cuban culture seem to support that notion. Though as a society, Cuba is much less racist and male dominated than it was before the Revolution, racism still exists, even if much of it is under the radar. Economic racism is widespread; relatively few black Cubans occupy positions of authority in the government, state enterprise, or tourism. Racist comments are as regrettably common as they are in other countries. Many Cubans assume blacks to be the majority of jineteros (male hustlers) and jineteras (female escorts), even though the reality is that hustling in Cuba is universal. Most Cubans also believe that the police harass blacks to a disproportionate degree, and travelers of African and Hispanic descent may experience the same. Spanish-speaking travelers accompanying Anglo-looking tourists are sometimes followed and questioned by police who ignorantly assume them to be Cuban hustlers working a beat. In fact, one other disturbing aspect of this situation is that black tourists are sometimes mistaken for Cuban jineteros and may be given a hard time by security personnel upon entering hotels, although now that it is legal for Cubans to enter and stay in hotels with foreigners, this should no longer happen.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.