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Reuters Photoshops Castro, Cuba-African History

Some amazingly bald-faced revisionism from Castro’s worshippers at Reuters:

Residents queue to buy drinking water in a slum in Angola’s capital Luanda in this July 1, 2006 file photo. Led by a collection of reformed Marxists and Western-leaning technocrats, Angola’s government is struggling to convince sceptical citizens that it will use the proceeds of vast oil reserves to improve living standards in a country shattered by a brutal 27-year civil war.

Castro has stamped his mark on Africa’s history

Thu Aug 10, 2006 6:32 AM ET

By Pascal Fletcher

DAKAR (Reuters) – As the world wonders about Fidel Castro’s health, Africa remembers him as the foreign leader who most invested his personal effort — and Cuban lives — to help end colonialism and apartheid.

Throughout the veteran Comandante’s 47-year rule, the world’s poorest continent has loomed large in his global outlook and it was the scene of his most ambitious overseas adventures.

From the deserts of Algeria and Ethiopia to the jungles of Guinea Bissau and Congo and the Angolan bush, close to half a million Cubans have fought and worked on African soil in the name of "revolutionary solidarity". More than 2,000 died there.

Most served as soldiers in Cuba’s large-scale military interventions in Angola and Ethiopia.

"I vividly remember the support Cuban troops rendered (to Ethiopia) during our struggle in beating back a Somali invasion of our east … I wish speedy recovery and long life to the great Cuban leader Fidel Castro," retired Ethiopian brigadier-general Wasihun Negat told Reuters.

Castro’s critics say he fought as a Cold War proxy in Africa for the Soviet Union, sacrificing Cuban and African lives as cannon fodder in Moscow’s superpower tug-of-war with Washington.

But Cubans have also served as medics and construction workers in Africa, benefiting the lives of ordinary people.

Nearly 2,000 Cuban doctors are still working in countries like South Africa, Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Mali. Tens of thousands of African students have also studied in Cuba.

"The Cubans had a huge influence in southern Africa, they helped to shape history there. … There are Africans who remember this," Piero Gleijeses, professor of American Foreign Policy at Johns Hopkins University, told Reuters.

Fresh from his own 1959 Cuban Revolution which toppled dictator Fulgencio Batista, Castro threw himself with enthusiasm behind the liberation struggles of Africans fighting to end European colonial rule.


From the early 1960s he sent Cuban military instructors to Algeria and Guinea Bissau. One of his closest comrades, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, tried and failed to ignite revolution in eastern Congo in 1965, leading a band of black Cuban soldiers.

But it was Angola, the former jewel of Portugal’s African colonial empire, which saw Castro’s biggest foreign gamble.

When Angola’s Soviet-backed independence was threatened in 1975 by South African and Zairean forces and mercenaries, Castro launched "Operation Carlota" — a rush airlift of Cuban combat troops who defended Angola’s new Marxist rulers.

So began Cuba’s 16-year intervention in Angola, which culminated in 1988 with 55,000 Cuban troops armed with Soviet tanks and MiG fighters battling white South African soldiers and U.S.-backed Angolan rebels in the southern bushlands.

Thousands of miles from their Caribbean home in Angola’s "lands at the end of the earth", young Cuban servicemen fought in what Castro dubbed "Africa’s Stalingrad", the battle of Cuito Cuanavale which blocked the South African advance north.

Gleijeses says Castro often angered and alarmed the cautious Soviets with his daring deployments in Angola.


African leaders, and many historians, say Cuba’s military muscle — personally directed by Castro from Havana — kept Angola free, won independence for Namibia and hastened the end of apartheid rule in South Africa.

"When Angola was invaded by the Boers, Comrade Castro sent his troops to assist his brothers here in Africa," Zambia’s former President Kenneth Kaunda said recently.

After the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the cash-strapped island pulled its last combat troops out of Africa in May 1991.

The memory of Cuba’s help against colonialism and apartheid kept Castro’s star burning brightly in Africa. South Africa’s former President Nelson Mandela calls him friend, so too does Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and a host of other African leaders.

Castro has extended this goodwill by replacing Cuban soldiers with doctors — albeit in fewer numbers.

But analysts see Cuba’s influence in Africa waning.

"Without Castro, Cuban-African relations will deteriorate. … When a new leadership comes in, there could be new priorities," said Lyal White of the South African Institute for International Affairs.

Castro sent soldiers to Angola because Leonid Brezhnev ordered him to. If Castro didn’t cooperate, Brezhnev threatened to cut Cuba’s huge subsidies. (There are tapes of these conversations.)

And Brezhnev wasn’t interested in ending colonialism or apartheid.

This is blatant propaganda from Reuters.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, August 10th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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