Cuba celebrates African Liberation Day

Source:  Granma
May 26 2018

In Havana, a ceremony was held to commemorate the 55th Anniversary of African Liberation Day

cuba celebrates africa dayPhoto:  Ismael Batista

“Cuba was the only country in the world to shed its blood for us,” stated Ambassador of Guinea Bissau in Cuba, Abel Coelho de Mendonça, during a ceremony in honor of World Africa Day, May 25, in Havana.

“For this eternal debt, Cuba will always have our support,” he added.

Presided by First Vice President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba Salvador Valdés Mesa, Minister of Foreign Relations Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, and member of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee Secretariat, José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, the event served to recall the shared history between Cuba and Africa.

“Celebrating this date is an important event,” stated Deputy Foreign Minister Rogelio Sierra Díaz, on World Africa Day.
As well as thanking African countries for their long-standing opposition to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States, Sierra highlighted Cuba’s historic support for the continent, home to almost a third of UN-member states.

“The fraternal ties with Africa are part of our history,” he stated, recalling that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of South African leader Nelson Mandela, 30 years since the battle of Cuito Cuanavale and the 40th anniversary of the Cassinga massacre.

9,000 Africans studying in Cuba

Sierra also mentioned the over 5,000 Cuban collaborators offering services in different countries across Africa, as well as the almost 9,000 young people from the region studying on the island.

“African blood runs through Cuba’s veins,” stated the Deputy Foreign Minister, recalling the words of Army General Raúl Castro, and noting that “Cuba’s relations with African are indestructible.”

Meanwhile, Mendonça offered his condolences on behalf of member states of the African Union (AU) following the tragic aviation accident on May 18 in the Cuban capital.

He also expressed his confidence in the Cuban government’s commitment to continuing the legacy of Fidel and Raúl, and offered Africa’s support in these efforts.

Also participating in the ceremony were Party officials, representatives of mass organizations, the Ministry of Foreign Relations, and members of the accredited diplomatic corps in the capital, as well as African delegates and students in Cuba.

Remembering Fidel and Cuba’s Internationalism on African Liberation Day

 

 

South Africa:  Economic Freedom Fighters – ” … we want to be like Cuba in South Africa …we want to pursue a progressive socialist agenda that will bring about free education for all … that’s why we say here in the South African parliament, that the Cuban flag must fly forever …      Floyd Shivambu

The wrath of loving men

Source:  Granma
May 14 2018

by: Ortelio González Martínez | internet@granma.cuGermán Veloz Placencia | german@granma.cu

BAJANTE: Lázaro Martínez Pérez, a humble man from Ciego de Ávila, recounts, with confidence and modesty, the story of how 40 years ago he faced enemy planes unloading their fury on residents of a small Angolan enclave, an event the world knows as the Cassinga Massacre

Lázaro Martínez Pérez.jpgLázaro (right), with Pascual Corbea Jiménez, another of the Ciego de Ävila natives who shed blood in Cassinga.Photo: Ortelio González Martínez

As if to present all he has done in the struggle for life and ideas as only a skirmish, Lázaro Martínez Pérez, a humble man from Ciego de Ávila, recounts, with confidence and modesty, the story of how 40 years ago he faced enemy planes unloading their fury on residents of a small Angolan enclave, an event the world knows as the Cassinga Massacre, despite the fact that the corporate media, especially in the United states, ignore it.

“When I was about 13, I met Che, and from then on, I wanted to be like him, and I became a Guevaran with a cause. When I left (for Angola) I was already a Literature teacher and had read a good number of texts.

“I took six books to African lands: Con la adarga al brazo, by Che, and his Diario en Bolivia; and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Also going with me were César Vallejo, José Martí, and a poetry book by Miguel Hernández.

“I had also read a great deal about the Great Patriotic War and WWII; Leon Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Armed with all this, I arrived in Africa, but nonetheless, I can say today that I went afraid of combat, and I am not ashamed; but when fear and dignity are counterpoised, dignity wins.”

With his 68th birthday coming in November, Lázaro tells the story without adding or neglecting anything, exactly as it happened that May 4, 1978, when the sun scorched the earth and they were in Tchamutete, some 16 kilometers from hell.

Attack on Namibian refugees by South Africa

The attack on the camp of Namibian refugees, in southern Angola, was well planned by South Africa. Participating in the operation, given the code name “Operation Reindeer,” were 527 paratroopers from the Bravo combat group, who were sent to destroy the Cassinga camp (codename: Moscow) and then escape aboard helicopters.

“The Cassinga Massacre was one of apartheid’s worst crimes. First, the aviation bombing; then the paratroopers who landed and murdered hundreds of defenseless residents, among them women, children, and elders,” recalled Lázaro, who as a young man had arrived in Angola of his own free will, in January of 1978.

Jesús and Sixto.jpgJesús (left) and Sixto  honor their fallen comrades with everyday loyalty. Photo: Germán Veloz Placencia

“Etched into my memory is the image of a little girl that didn’t weigh 60 pounds. Eusebio González picked her up. Her leg was wounded. Many years later I learned that she was Claudia, who was one of the children who came to study on the Isle of Youth and went on to become her country’s ambassador in Cuba. Who could have imagined!”

Clothed in dignity, a man is invincible, no matter the glory, life, death, or medals.

“With the first explosion, I didn’t wait for the order and I said to Eusebio: Negro, let’s go, they’re attacking us. From the emplacement, we opened fire, though later we were obliged to fire on the march, when the planes were within reach.

“We were heading to the settlement of Cassinga to defend the Namibian refugees. We advanced along the raised roadbed, and those flying devils were always on us, clear shots for bombs and rockets. It’s wasn’t long before the three artillery pieces in my platoon were separated from the group, and we were obliged to unhitch from the vehicles and set up.

“By about 3:00pm, the only “four mouths” (anti-aircraft artillery) that fired was mine, from one barrel. The only artillery-men left in the platoon were Eusebio González and me. Eusebio, the bravest man I have ever known, was mortally wounded and I think the same projectile, or maybe another one, threw me into the air. I tried to get up with a great deal of effort, and realized that both my legs were wounded. Practically without strength, I get back to the artillery and see a plane come straight ahead, I shoot and hit it. I’m almost certain I downed it.

Fallen comrades

“Everyone’s courage came to the fore. When you are far from your homeland, valor and dignity go within each person. It doesn’t matter if your hair stands on end during the battle, although the misfortune of losing a friend, a brother in struggle, may arrive. As I remember, there they killed our Eusebio, Antolín, Francisco Seguí, Ricardo González, Zamora, El Yoni, and Pedro Valdivia Paz, all from Ciego de Ävila. And a young man from the East, last name Barea.

“I would estimate that the South African aviation operated without interruption for about three hours or a bit longer, but I was fighting half the day. I was going to pieces, overwhelmed by inexplicable feelings… Just imagine, seeing your friends, your brothers, dead, seeing them fall before your eyes; seeing the civilian population, the children, women, old people, ripped apart by the machine gun fire, with handfuls of spikes in different parts of their bodies… Inside I felt something very strange: the hate of men who love, I say.”

A good dancer, a bad cook, in the kaleidoscope of his life, he’s been, at some point, a journalist, teacher, reader, principal at a rural secondary school, taxi driver, Party militant – plus the father of four boys, two of them with María Esther Alcorta Chau, the same woman who, after Cassinga, heard the mysterious knock at her door and the whisper that stills the soul: “We’re here to inform you that your husband, Lázaro, has died in Angola.”

Luck would have it that the nightmare was short. The next day, the same men came back, to say, according to María Esther, “That business yesterday was a mistake. Lázaro is alive, and being treated in a hospital, but he’s not doing well… He still has several wounds on his legs, although that hasn’t kept him from walking.”

Tribute to fallen comrades

Death, like the ebb and flow of daily life, creates brotherhood. So say Jesús Acosta Lanchazo and Sixto Salvador Ledea Velázquez. Both pay eternal tribute to their fallen comrades, who did everything humanly possible with their anti-aircraft artillery to aid a group of Namibian refugees sheltered at Cassinga.

“I’m 77 years old and my memory is beginning to fail me, but what happened that day is right here (inside) with almost all the details,” Jesús Acosta says, holding back the emotion. It’s enough to see the slight trembling of his hand as he removes his cap.

“The alarm was given when we heard the morning news. Within a short time we were on the march, because we were always completely ready for battle. Cassinga wasn’t far; we only had to circumvent a reservoir of water.

“The truck that was pulling the artillery piece, a 14.5mm or ‘cuatro-bocas,’ as people know them, went off-road to avoid the mines, and took the bank. A few minutes later, close to nine in the morning, it got stuck, and from that moment, well into the afternoon, we resisted the aviation attacks in a clearing with no protection at all.

“I operated the artillery sight block. Not being able to move made us an easy target for the planes. So we kept up constant fire, calculating the number of projectiles used and the heat of the barrels, although this (overheating) was inevitable and they began to stick.

“At one of those moments, I told Manuel Cruz, one of my companions, to go over to the place, not too far off, where the other artillery unit had stopped firing. When he came back, he said the cannons of that piece were bent; it had fired with more intensity than ours. The worst was hearing that the squad was dead.

“Around five in the afternoon, they sent a truck to pull us out. Back on the road, we met a plane that attacked us with missiles and bursts of projectiles. Along with the other artillery pieces we concentrated our fire on the plane, and saw it retreat trailing black smoke.”

But there was no time to celebrate the damage done. What would be the enemy’s last aerial incursion left another casualty: Alfredo Barea Franco, one of 47 compatriots from the municipality of Urbano Noris in Holguín, who participated in the operation. He was part of the command squadron, which had lost its truck early in the fighting. This didn’t prevent the group from continuing to fire on the AKM planes, supporting all the artillery squads they could reach.

Once the battle was over, Jesús joined the group of Cubans who entered the camp. The pain he felt for the deaths of his comrades turned to wrath and hate for the aggressors who had caused the deaths of more than 700 persons, among them children, women, and elders. Some bodies showed clear signs of shots at close range; others with bayonet wounds delivered by the paratroopers who arrived and were retrieved by air. They found bodies riddled with spikes from the cluster bombs.

Alfredo Barea Franco

The death of Alfredo Barea Franco made a strong impression on Sixto Salvador, a member of artillery squad number four, who said, “He was face down. When we picked him up and took off his helmet, we saw the impact of a missile fragment. We placed the body under a tree that we marked, because we had to move on. After the battle had ended, we returned for the cadaver. We wrapped him in my hammock and left him at the Tactical Group Medical Post, in Tchamutete. That’s the way things are in a war.

“Practically the entire time, my artillery piece was firing in motion, on the rapid, well-armed planes, like the Mirages. I always say that those pilots knew their trade; surely they had studied our combat tactics. The whole time, they tried to interrupt our zigzag movements, trying to estimate the moment we would change directions. It was on one of these turns that they destroyed the command squad truck.”

Sixto is satisfied with his 74 years of life and the retirement he is enjoying, after working a long time in the sugar industry. He had other experiences from the beginning of that hard day, until the end. Entering into action, he was the only loader of the artillery piece. When the alarm was given, his companion had to drive their truck, since the usual driver was in the hospital.

Overcoming fear

He says he doesn’t know exactly how he managed to react. But listening to him, there is no doubt that his knowledge – and the will to live with the honor of overcoming fear – prevailed.

“I am not ashamed to say that I trembled many times amid the explosions that lifted columns of dirt, uprooted trees and everything around us. I even thought I might never see my family again, but I overcame it, as did the other compañeros.

“Juan Pavón Matos, head of the artillery squad, was wounded when he was getting out of the truck. Dionisio Millán, who was the Number 1, that is the shooter, yelled out loud that he assumed command of the squad. So we kept firing on the planes that attacked almost always with their tails to the sun, to hamper our vision. My job was to follow their movement, indicate the direction of the attack and keep the piece supplied with enough projectiles.

“We knew that the cannons had to be changed every so often, after completing a certain number of shots, but the enemy fire was so intense, we couldn’t give them any relief, until we forced a retreat.” And that’s the way it was.

Jesús and Sixto talk about Cassinga only when they are asked. The rest of the time, they are everyday men. But just like many of their comrades in arms in the municipality of Urbano Noris, they are faithful to the tradition of getting together every May 4 in San Germán. In the company of Alfredo Barea Franco’s family, they visit the school and community center for elders that bear his name.

And they march to the Fallen Patriots Cemetery, where his remains rest.

On these occasions, there are no flowery words. Sometimes, they don’t talk at all. Silence reigns, to contain the emotions evoked by memories of their epic internationalist mission on African soil.

Cuba in Africa: Solidarity in the face of brutality

Photo: Juvenal Balán

The Cassinga massacre was the worst air attack perpetuated against the adherents of SWAPO, the political organization opposing South Africa’s domination and occupation of Namibian territory.

Some 600 refugees, the majority women, children, and elders lost their lives at the hands of the apartheid forces.

The efforts of Cuban military forces that continued their advance toward

Cassinga, despite the bombing, forced the attackers to retreat and saved the lives of some 3,000 refugees in the camp.

Cuba’s contribution

Cuba’s contribution was not only military, but also humanitarian, with vital assistance provided to the victims, many of whom went on to study on the island.

Although the apartheid forces achieved their military objectives, the massacre was a political defeat, with the United Nations approving Resolution 435, supporting the independence of Namibia.

Africa is a continent with important historical roots in Cuba, key to the development of our national identity.

Cuba’s efforts on the continent after the Revolution are also a tribute to the African slaves who with their sweat, blood and spirit of resistance contributed to our country.

Cuba has always been guided by the principles of solidarity and cooperation in its relations with Africa, as the internationalist legacy of our Comandante en Jefe dictates.

Our historic cooperation continues, with thousands of collaborators supporting socio-economic development in countries across the continent.

Havana is home to the most African embassies in Latin America

Source:  Granma

Photo: cadenagramonte.cu

Despite the geographical distance and economic limitations, regionally Cuba is home to the most African embassies, a continent with which it shares many historic and cultural ties.
With the opening of the Kenyan Embassy in the Cuban capital, set to take place this Friday March 16, there will now be 22 nations from Sub-Saharan Africa with diplomatic missions in the country, according to information by the Cuban Foreign Ministry.
Although African countries have embassies located throughout the region, there are less than a dozen missions in bigger and economically stronger nations on our continent, like Mexico and Brazil.

The Republic of the Seychelles

Meanwhile, an important event occurred in April last year with the opening of the Embassy of the Republic of the Seychelles in Havana, the island’s first in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Attending the inauguration was the country’s President Danny Faure, who studied Political Science in Cuba.

In addition to Africa’s roots in Cuban society, culture and history, the 1959 Revolution also inspired and supported anti-colonial struggles on the continent.
Cuban soldiers for example, gave their lives to help several African countries secure their freedom, while tens of thousands of doctors, athletes, and teachers have contributed, and continue contributing, to the social and economic development of these nations.

In addition to the vast number of young Africans currently studying on the island, Cuba has also trained thousands of students from that continent who now hold important and even senior political positions in their countries of origin

Related

Healthcare

Cuba to Send 100 Doctors to Kenya

Source:  The Star, Kenya / TeleSUR
March 18 2018

President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks on direct engagement among African-Caribbean and Pacific countries during his state visit to Cuba, March 16, 2018. /PSCU

Kenya has announced that they will bring 100 Cuban medical specialists to fill gaps in county hospitals after Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta ended a short visit to the Caribbean island.

One of President Kenyatta’s “Big Four Agenda” objectives is to implement universal health care for Kenyans, and that’s why medical assistance was one of their main discussion points during their visit to Havana.

Read: Kenya, Cuba bank on historical ties for stronger health, tourism sectors

Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman said Kenya had struck an agreement to bring in 100 medical specialists – with each county getting at least two – and that 50 doctors will be sent to Cuba for specialised training.

Research

Kenya will also work with Cuba on collaborative research projects, develop training for primary healthcare workers and collaborate to build capacity to undertake genetic engineering and biotech work.

What we discovered is that Cubans are very concerned and very dedicated to research and have a very strong research department and they have had many firsts, they have eliminated malaria from the face of Cuba all together,” said Mohamed Ali, the governor of Marsabit, who also visited the island along with Kenyatta.

Ali also said they would bring livestock vaccines from Cuba to help Kenyan pastoralists without damaging the environment.

“Timelines are as soon as possible,” said Aman, who was part of the delegation that accompanied Uhuru to the Caribbean nation globally known for its leadership in primary healthcare.

Cuban doctors will need to be cleared by the Kenya Medical and Dentists Practitioners Board but Governors Anyang Nyong’o of Kisumu and Mohamed Ali of Marsabit, who were also in the delegation and back the deal, said they expected no problems.

Nyong’o had been to Cuba twice before when he served as minister in the Grand Coalition Government. He had been been party to health cooperation agreements that were never implemented.

The Governor said he wants swift implementation of the plan because health is at the epicentre of a growing Kenya.

The President ordered Aman to remain in Cuba until he delivers an agreement with extensive detail on cooperation with Cuba.

Vaccines
 Essentially, the agreement will cover a raft of critical areas. These include the secondment by the Cuban government of doctors to Kenya to fill crucial gaps in county hospitals and that of technical experts to operate equipment.

It also covers participation in research and advanced trials of medicines in areas in which Kenya is vulnerable. This will be through the use of therapeutic anti-HIV and anti-prostate cancer vaccines; vaccines to control influenza and meningitis; and control of diabetic foot ulcer amputation.

It will also cover the vector control in the fight against malaria.

Kenya will also look to Cuba for vaccines against ticks, guaranteeing healthy animals and cleaner environment due to a reduction of chemicals used in tackling ticks at the moment.

The sum total of these agreements is that Cuban experts will come to Kenya within the next few weeks and roll out a range of medical interventions that will radically change how we manage a large number of life-threatening diseases.

Related: Mobile app, study tours to combat crop-munching armyworm in Africa

If the recent political handshake had the potential to change political discourse, the agreement with Cuba will be of seismic proportions when it comes to the management of Kenya’s healthcare systems.

The key approach for the Cubans concerns preventive measures so the country stops the spread of disease before the economy is drained.

Collaboration with Cuba is likely to become a major strategy in how Kenya deals with the preventive options in disease management. The main goal is saving billions of shillings that go to global pharmaceutical majors each year for treatment, at the cost of growing the economy and delivering shared prosperity to all.

Read:  Kenya: Protesters Demand US Ambassador Step Down

Raúl receives President of Kenya

Source:  Granma
March 16 2018

Photo: Estudio Revolución

Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, yesterday March 15, received his Excellency Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, who is making an official visit to the country.

In an atmosphere of cordiality, the two leaders agreed on emphasizing the relations of friendship that exist between their countries and their intention to strengthen political ties and cooperation. They likewise expressed their mutual satisfaction with the opening of a Kenyan embassy in Havana and discussed issues on the international agenda.

Raúl thanked the government of Kenya for the help offered to support recovery efforts in the wake of damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

Accompanying the distinguished guest were Monica K. Juma, minister of Foreign Relations and International Trade; Rashid Achesa Mohamud, minister of Sports and Culture; as well as the Kenyan interim chargé de affaires in Havana, Anthony Mushiry; and Raphael Tuju, secretary general of the Jubileo Party.

On the Cuban side, also participating were Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, and Abel Prieto Jiménez – ministers of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Investment, and Culture, respectively – as well as ambassador Ernesto Gómez Díaz