Despite the hostility that has characterized the policies of different US administrations in the last six decades, the award-winning artist was one of the forerunners of the bridges of solidarity with Cuba and the strengthening of ties between Cuban and US intellectuals.
On July 23, 2020, he was awarded the Friendship Medal, granted by the Cuban State, which served to recognize the many moments in his long and prolific life in which he shared luck, convictions, and destiny with the Cuban people.
On that occasion, Cuban Ambassador to the United States Jose Ramon Cabañas said, “This distinction is an acknowledgment of his trajectory of solidarity with Cuba and his respect and admiration for the Cuban revolutionary process.”
Born on March 1, 1927, in New York City, the social activist is also considered a source of inspiration for many artists and fighters for justice in his country. Belafonte traveled to Cuba as both an actor in his youth, before the revolutionary triumph in January 1, 1959, and later, starting in 1979, when he met more than once with the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, with whom he had a very close relationship for many years.
A sign of his support for Cuba were his words at the start of a rally at the Church of Reconciliation, in New York, on September 27, 2003, when he called for the release of five Cuban antiterrorist fighters subjected to lengthy prison sentences in the United States.
That day he stated, “What is happening with our policy against Cuba is not the American style, it is not the true voice of the American people, it is not the true voice of those of us who deeply, deeply believe in the rights of all peoples, and the freedom of all people and in democracy.”
Later he said, “(…) There is a lot about the Cuban Government, the Cuban people and what they have achieved that many of us here are still trying to achieve.”
Regarding his support for Cuba, the comrade-in-arms of Martin Luther King Jr. stressed, “I do not see it as a supreme effort, it is a way of life: if you believe in freedom, if you believe in justice, if you believe in democracy, if you believe in people’s rights, if you believe in the harmony of all humanity.”