About 66 percent of the Cuban islanders are categorized as white, descended from Spanish colonists.
Twenty-two percent are a mix of white and black, combining Spanish and African ancestry. Twelve percent are black. Because Native Americans were wiped out early in the conquest, they are not a major racial component.
The distinctions between races has been more important in Cuba than in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico almost everyone acknowledges some racial mixing. In Cuba, the majority take pride in claiming unmixed white ancestry.
Racism in Cuba was never as severe as in the United States.
Even during slavery (abolished in 1886), African slaves had the right to buy their freedom. Mulattoes, children of black and white couples, were given many of the privileges of whites. Still, there was a color line.
In colonial times as in the years of independence before Castro’s revolution, white people were more likely to occupy the upper and middle classes than blacks.