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FIDEL, AFRICA AND THE AFROCUBANS

January 29, 2017

 

 The first speech I heard from Fidel Castro on Africa, in 1978, was one with a transistor radio in my  home town San José de Barlovento, which  I connected to a lamppost to capture the terrestrial broadcast waves. I managed to listen  the whole speech when, at the request of the Angolan President, Agostino Neto, Fidel sent thirty-eight thousand  Cuban fighters  between women and men approximately to fight Angola's independence to wage  the famous Battle of Kifangondo that is only 20 minutes from Luanda and there between the Cuban and Angolan troops  stopped the well-armed troops of UNITA <FLNA, the South African army and the mercenary troops of the former president of Zaire Mobuto Seseko. It was the first glorious battle of Cuban internationalism in Africa on November 10, 1975, at such a point that in the following day the total independence of Angola was proclaimed. Fidel had already  previously sent special missions to Algeria, Guinea Bissao and given training to the Angolan guerrillas, with the current General Moracen Limonta, with whom we had many conversations in Luanda, Angola. The operation of Cuban military solidarity with Angola was called Carlota, in homage to an African maroon woman  who rose in the province of Matanzas against slavery. Fidel,  compared this battle with the battle of Giron, saying:

 

"In Giron, African blood was shed, that one  of the self-sacrificing descendants of a people who was a slave before being a worker, and was an exploited worker  before  being  the owner of his country. And in Africa, along with that of the heroic fighters of Angola, Cuban blood was also shed ,the blood of the children of Martí, Maceo and Agramonte , the blood of those who inherited the internationalist blood of Gomez and Che Guevara (PROLONGED APPLAUSE). Those who once enslaved the man and sent him to America, perhaps never imagined that one of those people who received the slaves, would send its fighters to fight for freedom in Africa. On November 5, 1975, upon request of the MPLA, the leadership of our Party decided to send with great urgency a battalion of regular troops with anti-tank weapons (APLAUSOS) to support the Angolan patriots in their resistance to the invasion of South African racists. This was the first unit of Cuban troops sent to Angola. When it arrived to the country,by the north side, foreign interventionists were 25 kilometers from Luanda, their 140-millimeter artillery shelling around the capital and South African fascists had already penetrated more than 700 kilometers south from the borders of Namibia, while Cabinda was heroically defended by MPLA fighters with a handful of Cuban instructors. "I remember clearly when I heard in the old battery cell, when Fidel expressed:" We are a Latin-African people who is enemy of colonialism, neocolonialism, racism and apartheid.  Those ones which protect and manage the  Yankee imperialism. "

 

That fact  marked me so that in my Afro-Venezuelan activism trapped in a useless folklorism, I began to build a political vision of the African diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean. Other lessons came from the great Cuban epic for the liberation of Africa, such as Kangamba (1983) and the most glorious of all, the Battle of Cuito Cuanevale (1987), which marked the final defeat of Apartheid in South Africa, the independence of Namibia and the later liberation of Nelson Mandela. All this has a name Fidel and as Amilcar Cabral said ... "we would not have how to pay for their solidarity of cuba, but with the return of the Cuban comrades who landed on our lands in Africa to contribute to our libertarian processes. Fidel also had the courage to recognize the objective racism in Cuba as one of the neglects of the Cuban revolutionary process. Today Cuba has the Aponte Commission, which is an institution to fight against racism that still exists in the Cuban process as it is  being excellently described by the Afro-Cuban researcher Esteban Morales. Fidel was and remains the man of the twentieth century for all the hopeful peoples of the world.

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