AFRICANGLOBE – Do not let your enemies determine who your heroes should be. By all measures Fidel Castro was a good friend to Black people, both in Africa and in the diaspora, there are entire swaths of Africa that is free today because of the enormous sacrifices in blood and treasure made by the Cuban Military.
Fidel Castro And Jamaica
When the CIA and the American government reduced Jamaica to a virtual state of civil war and near economic collapse in the late 1970’s by supplying weapons to subversive elements and sabotaging the country’s economy, it was Cuba who came to the rescue, providing economic and technical assistance. Many are quick to praise the glories of Jamaican athletes such as Usain Bolt, Merlene Ottey, and Shelly-Ann Frazer-Pryce not knowing that their successes were built on foundation stones that were laid by Cuban engineers in the late 1970’s.
Built by Cuba as a gift to Jamaica, the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education & Sports opened its doors to Jamaicans in 1980, at the time it was the first of it’s kind in the English Speaking Caribbean. The Teachers, Coaches, Massage Therapists and other Sporting Professionals that this institution produced has since went on to make Jamaica a sporting giant.
Castro The Anti-Apartheid, Anti-Colonial Warrior
While The United States, Britain, Israel and other white countries were busy designating Nelson Mandela and other members of the African National Congress (ANC) as terrorists and arming the apartheid government of South Africa with nuclear and biological weapons specifically designed to kill Africans, it was the Cubans under the leadership of Fidel Castro who provided the ANC with weapons, training and diplomatic support. Nelson Mandela once remarked that without the assistance of Cuba the fight against apartheid could have been lost.
Truth be told, Angola is a free country today largely because of the Cuban Military. In 1975 the racist army of then apartheid South Africa entered Angola from Namibia and penetrated deep into Angolan territory close to the capital Luanda, coming the closest it has ever been to defeating the government of Angola and installing a mercenary regime led be Jonas Savimbi, it was Cuban soldiers who managed to halt their advance.
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.
Thirteen years later the Cubans would further distinguish themselves in the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, one of the largest battles on African soil since World War II and according to some accounts, the second largest clash of African armed forces in history. Fighting alongside their Angolan counterparts the Cubans and Angolans would go on to inflict one of the deadliest and most humiliating defeats ever onto the apartheid South African Army. The defeat of the racists in the battle of Cuito Cuanavale ushered in the withdrawal of South Africa from both Namibia and Angola.
Fidel Castro On The Battle Of Cuito Cuanavale:
While troops reorganized and rearmed the urgent decision to build a runway for the Mig-23 was made. Our pilots were using the aircraft equipment provided by the USSR to Angola, whose pilots had lacked the time for a proper training. Several aircrafts were inoperative sometimes due to the action of our own artillerymen or anti-aircraft weapon operators. South Africans still occupied part of the main road going from the border of the Angolan plateau to Namibia. They began shooting from the bridges over the wide Cunene River –located between Southern Angola and Northern Namibia– with their 140-millimeter guns giving their projectiles a range of about 40 kilometers. The main problem was that the racist South Africans had, according to our estimates, 10 to 12 nuclear weapons. They had even tested them in the frozen areas or seas to the South. President Ronald Reagan had authorized such tests and the device for blasting the nuclear charge was among the equipment delivered by Israel. Our response was to organize the troops in combat groups of no more than 1,000 men, who would have to advance equipped with anti-aircraft tanks throughout an extensive territory at night.
According to reliable sources, South African nuclear weapons could not be transported by Mirage planes; heavy Canberra type bombers were required instead. In any case, our forces’ air defense had many different types of missiles that could hit and destroy air targets located dozens of kilometers away from our troops. In addition, a dam with 80 million cubic meters of water located in Angolan territory had been occupied and mined by Cuban and Angolan fighters. The explosion of that dam would have been tantamount to the explosion of several nuclear weapons.
In West Africa, Fidel Castro’s government offered either diplomatic, economic and/or military support to African revolutionaries such as Amílcar Lopes da Costa Cabral in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso and to Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana.
In Congo, while the Belgians, British and Americans were busy murdering Patrice Lumumba and installing the brutal dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko, Fidel Castro’s government dispatched revolutionary, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, to help the Africans in the fight for self determination. Cuba’s role as a friend and a defender of Africans on the continent is undeniable.
Cuba And The Fight Against Ebola
When the Ebola epidemic was mysteriously started simultaneously in three West African countries in 2014, Cuba was the first foreign country to send hundreds of doctors to West Africa. While European and American countries were busy implementing travel bans on Africans and preventing them from entering their territories — all this, while taking advantage of the crisis to send their armies into Africa— Cuba offered genuine help.
Castro And The Diaspora
Cuba has long been a place of refuge and support for persecuted Blacks in America. When State Troopers tried to murder and then falsely imprison Assata Shakur it was Cuba under Fidel Castro that offered her political asylum.
When the American Justice System tried to legally lynch Civil Rights Leader Robert Franklin Williams —famous for promoting armed Black self-defense against the Ku Klux Klan and other white terrorist groups— it was Cuba that offered refuge. Fidel Castro himself was personally instrumental in helping Williams to setup Radio Free Dixie which broadcasted messages of freedom to Blacks in the Southern United States from Cuba.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Williams used Radio Free Dixie to urge Black soldiers in the U.S. armed forces, who were then preparing for a possible invasion of Cuba, to engage in insurrection against the United States.
Robert Franklin Williams:
While you are armed, remember this is your only chance to be free. … This is your only chance to stop your people from being treated worse than dogs. We’ll take care of the front, Joe, but from the back, he’ll never know what hit him. You dig?
While white supremacist dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina was busy trying to exterminate every Black person in the Dominican Republic by branding them as “Haitian” and importing Europeans to “whiten” the country, Cuba was one of the only countries trying to undermine and bring down his murderous regime.
For Blacks in the diaspora the revolutionary government of Cuba under the leadership of Fidel Castro has been and indispensable asset.
Cubans In Florida
Fidel Castro once famously said that he was going to flush the toilets of Cuba on America, this “flush” eventually culminated in what became know as the Mariel boatlift, in which anyone who wanted to leave Cuba was allowed to leave and thousands did so by boat, he also emptied the prisons and mental asylums of Cuba and sent thousands of criminals to Miami which eventually led to what became known as the Cuban Crime Wave of the 1980’s. This crime wave and the so-called “Marielitos” were immortalized in the film “Scarface”.
Under any economic system, whether communist or capitalists there will be winners and losers, the Cubans cheering and celebrating the death of Fidel Castro in Miami are those descended from the former winners of capitalist Cuba. Some of these exiles were displaced from their lofty perch by the Cuban Revolution in a society that was the last in the western hemisphere to abolish slavery and they have remained bitter ever since. Like a jilted lover they remain obsessed with their former home constantly proclaiming their love for it. They are so in love with their homeland that they have spent decades lobbying the US government to maintain economic and trade sanctions that are stifling the island’s economy, at the expense of the family members that they left in Cuba that they claim to miss so much.
No man is perfect and I am sure Fidel Castro had his shortcomings, but when Black people were fighting for their lives and liberty in South Africa, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso and the United States it was Fidel Castro and the people of Cuba who provided support and assistance and for that he will always remain a hero and a friend to us.