At the ideological heart of the Cuban Revolution is the commitment to liberation from oppressive systems at home and abroad. From early on, as it supported anti-imperialist struggles, revolutionary Cuba also officially condemned racism and sexism. However, the state’s attention to racism and sexism has fluctuated—it has been full-throated at times, silent at others. This essay examines gender and race in Cuba’s international liberatory efforts while also considering the human costs of armed internationalism. Focusing on Cuba’s Angola mission (1975–91), it finds that the state approached gender and racial liberation separately and tactically, as means to military, political, and diplomatic ends. Through negrificación (blackening) of national identity, Cuba highlighted race to internationally legitimize its Angola mission. Women were a minor and primarily domestic theme, yet military women’s femininity was racialized, as idealized feminine combatants were typically represented as white, light-skinned women despite a diverse racial composition.

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