Cuba in Africa: a historic contribution

Havana, Nov 5 (Prensa Latina) The victory of Cuba and Angola during Operation Carlota changed the balance of forces in Africa in favor of progressive governments, a specialized source said on Thursday.

In an exclusive interview with Prensa Latina, Professor Yoslan Silverio, from the Cuban Center for Research on International Politics, noted that these events granted Cuba great political-diplomatic prestige that still prevails in that continent.

According to the expert, in order to understand better the course of events that led Cuba to provide military support to Angola in 1975, the regional context should be analyzed since the 1960s.

‘We should mention that the process of decolonization in the African continent started at the time, and the triumphant Cuban Revolution of 1959 was taking its first steps,’ he commented.

According to Silverio, Africa and Cuba started a rapprochement that translated into the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Republic of Ghana and Cuba’s military support for Algeria in its border war against Morocco, just two mention some examples.

In addition, ‘in 1963, the first brigade of Cuban international medical collaborators traveled to Algeria, and then Cuban contributed to the pro-independence struggles in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde,’ he explained.

These antecedents should also be analyzed on the basis of Cuba’s ties with the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), made up of progressive nations such as Tanzania and Egypt, the professor added. On the one hand, in the southern region, South Africa’s Apartheid regime rejected the pro-independence process in the Portuguese colonies because it considered that a change in the balance of forces might damage the situation of the white minority in that country,’ he stressed.

According to Silverio, that situation made the Apartheid regime to invade Angola and Mozambique to prevent the consolidation of a left-wing force in those nations.

The People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) held the main political power after the country’s independence in 1975; however, it was threatened by the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

‘African pro-imperialist and anticommunist regimes such as those in Zaire and South Africa supported the FNLA in the north and the UNITA in the south, respectively,’ the expert noted.

On November 5, at the request of the MPLA, the Cuban Government decided to assist directly in the preservation of Angola’s independence by sending a battalion from the Special Forces of the Ministry of the Interior.

‘These are alliances that take place at the regional level, but we cannot forget that it is part of the context of the Cold War,’ the professor underlined.

He added that the United States and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) defended the South African regime and the anticommunist guerrillas, while the Soviet Union (USSR) supported the MPLA in general terms.

Between 1975 and 1991, some 300,000 Cubans participated in the so-called Operation Carlota, and 2,000 of them were killed.

According to Silverio, the battle in Cuito Cuanavale (from December 1987 to March 1988) represented South Africa’s defeat and contributed to the liberation of Namibia (March 1990), the end of Apartheid and the liberation of Nelson Mandela.

‘In all those years, cooperation between Cuba and Africa has been multifaceted, including military support, medical collaboration with health personnel, and the notable assistance to train African professionals,’ the professor said.

He noted that this support, in addition to the historic significance of the defeat of Apartheid and the change in the balance of forces in Southern Africa boosted Cuba’s prestige in the continent and has fostered high levels of exchange in different fields until today.


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