AFRICANGLOBE – Maybe the empire thought that we would not honor our word when, during days of uncertainty in the past century, we affirmed that even if the USSR were to disappear Cuba would continue struggling. World War II broke out on September 1, 1939 when Nazi-fascist troops invaded Poland and struck like a lightning over the heroic people of the USSR, who contributed 27 million lives to preserve mankind from that brutal massacre that ended the lives of 50 million persons.
War, on the other hand, is the only venture that the human race throughout history has failed to avoid, leading Einstein to say that he did not know how World War III would be like but most certainly the fourth would be fought with sticks and stones.
Added up, the means available to the two most powerful powers –United States and Russia— amount to 20,000 (twenty thousand) nuclear warheads. Mankind should know that three days before John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency of his country on January 20, 1961, a US B-52 bomber, in a routine flight, carrying two atomic bombs with a destructive capacity 260 times that of the bomb dropped in Hiroshima, had an accident and the aircraft crashed. For such cases sophisticated automatic equipment are in place to prevent the bombs from exploding. The first bomb landed without risks. In the case of the second, three of the four mechanisms failed, and the fourth, in very critical conditions could barely function. The bomb did not explode by mere chance.
There is no present or past event I remember or have heard of that has impacted world public opinion so much as the death of Nelson Mandela, and not because of his wealth, but for his human quality and the loftiness of his ideas and feelings. Throughout history and barely one and a half century ago — before robots and machines took over our modest tasks with a minimum energy cost– none of the phenomena that today shake mankind and inexorably rule each and every person –men and women, children and elders, young and adult, farmers and factory workers, manual workers or intellectuals– existed. The prevailing trend is to move to the cities, where the creation of jobs, transportation, and basic living conditions demand huge investments to the detriment of food production and other more rational ways of life.
Three powers have landed in our planet’s Moon. The same day Nelson Mandela, covered with his country’s flag, was buried in the backyard of the humble house where he was born 95 years ago, a sophisticated module from the Peoples Republic of China descended upon a bright spot in our Moon. The coincidence of both events was purely by chance.
Millions of scientists are studying earth and outer-space matters and radiations. Through them we now know that Titan, one of Saturn’s rings, accumulated 40 times more oil than the existing amount in our planet when oil extraction began 125 years ago and which will last barely one more century at current consumption rates. The fraternal feelings of profound brotherhood between the Cuban people and Nelson Mandela’s homeland were born out of an event that has never been mentioned and about which we have never said a word during all these long years; Mandela, because he was an apostle of peace and did not want to hurt anyone; Cuba, because we have never done anything for the sake of glory and prestige.
Since the very triumph of the Revolution in Cuba we extended our solidarity to the Portuguese colonies in Africa. Liberation movements in that continent had colonialism and imperialism on the rack after World War II and the liberation of the Peoples Republic of China –the most highly populated country in the world— following the glorious triumph of the Russian Socialist Revolution. Social revolutions were shaking the pillars of the old world order. In 1960 the inhabitants of the planet amounted to three million. Along with this, the power of big transnational companies –almost all Americans– was growing and the American currency, underpinned by US gold monopoly and its intact industry so far removed from the battle fields, took control of the world economy. Richard Nixon unilaterally abolished the backing of US currency in gold and his country’s companies took control over the main resources and raw materials in the planet which they bought with paper bills.
Nothing I have said till now is new. But why do they try to hide the fact that the Apartheid regime –that brought so much suffering onto Africa and arouse so much indignation in most nations throughout the world– was the fruit of European colonial powers and was turned into a nuclear power by the United States and Israel, something Cuba, who supported Portuguese colonies in Africa fighting for their independence openly condemned?
Our people, handed over to the United States by Spain after 30 years of heroic struggle, never reconciled with the slavery regime imposed during almost 500 years. In 1975, racist troops supported by light tanks equipped with 90-millimeter guns set off from Namibia –then occupied by South Africa— and penetrated more than one thousand kilometers into Angolan territory up to the vicinity of Luanda, where an airborne battalion of Cuban Special Troops and several Cuban crews for Soviet tanks with no crews, succeeded in delaying their advance. This happened in November 1975, 13 years before the Cuito Cuanavale Battle. I’ve already said that we have done nothing for the sake of prestige or seeking benefit of any kind. It is a fact that Mandela was an upright man, a profound revolutionary and a radical socialist who endured with great stoicism 27 years of solitary confinement. I could not but admire his honesty, modesty and enormous merit.
Cuba was strictly fulfilling its internationalist duties by defending key positions and training thousands of Angolans in the use of weapons every year. The USSR was providing the weapons. At the time, however, we disagreed with the idea of the main advisor of the suppliers of military equipment. Thousands of young and healthy Angolans were constantly joining the units of their then incipient army. Their main adviser, however, was not a Zhúkov, Rokossovski, Malinowvsky or any of the many men that brought so much glory to Soviet military strategy. His obsessive idea was to send Angolan brigades carrying the best weapons to the territory where the tribal government of Savimbi – a mercenary serving the United States and South Africa– was supposedly located, which was tantamount to sending the troops fighting in Stalingrad to the border with the Falangist Spain that had sent over hundred thousand troops to fight against the USSR. That year a similar operation was going on. The enemy was advancing behind several Angolan brigades severely hitting them near the place they had been sent to, approximately 1,500 kilometers away from Luanda. They were returning from there, pursued by South African troops en route to Cuito Cuanavale, a former NATO military base, located some 100 kilometers away from where a Cuban Tank Brigade was stationed.
At such a critical point, the President of Angola requested the support of Cuban troops. The commander of our troops in the South, General Leopoldo Cintra Frías, sent us the request as usual. Our firm reply was that we would provide such support provided that all Angolan troops and equipment would be under the Cuban command in South Angola. Everybody understood that our request was a requirement to turn the former base into the ideal battle field to hit the racist South African forces.
There was a positive response from Angola in less than 24 hours. It was decided that a Cuban Tank Brigade would be immediately sent there. Several other were in the same line towards the West. The main obstacle was the mud and humidity due to the rainy season and the fact that every stretch of land had to be checked for anti-personnel mines. The military personnel to operate the tanks and guns without crew were also sent to Cuito.