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The Sugar Curtain is a metaphor for much more than the economic, political, and ideological disconnect between Cuba and the United States that followed the 1959 Revolution. Sugar formed the bedrock of Cuba’s 19th century colonial and post-colonial economy, aborting—making a mockery of, really—aspirations and declarations of freedom and sovereignty for more than a few. When you pulled back the Sugar Curtain, blood, broken backs and heartache poured from the stage in torrents filling the theatre like the Overlook Hotel hallway in The Shining, Stanley Kubric’s classic 1980 horror film. When we take the long view, when we consider Michel Rolf Trouillot’s silenced past and the hidden histories that are often not hidden from the sugar makers, the Sugar Curtain was there before the troubles that the Cuban Revolution caused by disrupting the naturalized order of things, before the seizure of businesses and severance of diplomatic ties. Evidence of the Sugar Curtain’s magic is not that it purports to have cut off two historically, culturally and economically intertwined nations just ninety miles apart from one another but that the black bodies that fueled the industry after which this curtain is named are largely invisible in its evocation. From my vantage point, the Sugar Curtain does the work of separating simultaneous interdependent realities: owners from enslaved, Spanish soldiers from mambises, mistresses of the house from maids, U.S. military officers from the Guantánamo Naval Base’s Cuban and West Indian workers, the embargo from el bloqueo, Castro from Fidel, and perhaps even my American researcher self from my black diasporic self.
Queeley, Andrea J., "Sugar, Black Belonging and the Anglo-Caribbean Cuban Experience: A View From Backstage" (2017). Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies. 12.
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