August 4 2020
By María Inés Álvarez Garay
The struggles against racial domination and discrimination in Africa had in Fidel the highest expression of internationalism, as defender of the rights of man. The leader of the Cuban Revolution extended his help to the African people oppressed for decades by the colonialism and segregationist regimes.
With the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in January 1959, Algeria was in the midst of the struggle for independence against French colonialism, Cuba decided to support the African country.
Algeria marked the beginning of the internationalist collaboration of the largest of the Antilles in Africa.
In 1961 the Cuban government sent a ship with support to the Algerian military forces, on its return to Havana it brought hundreds of wounded and orphaned children to be cared for.
“We will never forget how you [Cubans] took care of our orphans and our wounded. Ahmed Ben Bella, Prime Minister of the Republic of Algeria, 16 October 1962. Later, Cuba’s participation in internationalist missions for the liberation from racist and colonialist regimes was present in countries such as Ghana, Congo (Brazzaville), Zaire, Equatorial GuineaZimbabwe, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Yemen, Tanzania, Angola, Namibia and Guinea Bissau.
The decisive battle against apartheid was that of Cuito Cuanavale, in Angola between December ’87 and March ’88. After months of confrontation, Cuban and Angolan soldiers staved off the advance of the South African troops.
“The crushing defeat of the racist army in Cuito Cuanavale was a victory for all of Africa! That resounding defeat of the racist army in Cuito Cuanavale gave Angola the chance to enjoy peace and consolidate their own sovereignty! The defeat of the racist army allowed the fighting people of Namibia to finally reach their independence!” Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid leader and former president of South Africa.
Currently, the bilateral links between Cuba and African countries are based on that feeling of solidarity and internationalism, for which the most oppressed nations for years feel grateful and honest. Thanks to Fidel Castro, the forerunner of those revolutionary ideas.
Africa is an essential part of what we Cubans are today, and Fidel was consistent with this postulate that guided from the very beginning of the Cuban Revolution the special relations with the African continent.
Fidel referred to his country’s presence as a “duty of compensation”, for what the Africans contributed to the formation of Cuba, its roots, its independence and its culture.
Our eternal Commander-in-Chief foresaw the future. A little more than half a century later, thousands of professionals have passed through Africa in health and education, the education of children, culture, sports, agriculture. and many others.