Cuba, USSR and Africa (was: Re: intro:Vanessa from Venezuela)

Jose G. Perez jgperez at SPAMnetzero.net
Mon Mar 26 23:04:43 MST 2001


>>I may be wrong, but I do not see much contardictions between Cuban and
Soviet foreign policy in Africa in the pre-Gorbacev time. They both
supported the MPLA, the SACP and the Ethopian Dergue.<<

There is no "may" about it. You're completely and totally wrong.

I believe your ideological outlook has led you to be influenced by the
lying, imperialist CIA propaganda about Cuba being a Soviet stooge and Cuba
paying for Soviet aid with blood in Africa and so on.

The FACTS are incontrovertible and very well known by now. They have been
documented, among others, by the people who did the 24-part documentary
series on the Cold War for CNN. The transcripts of those programs and
extensive additional material is available at the CNN web site. There simply
is no question whatsoever about what the REAL POLICIES of those involved
were.

The AXIS of the Cuban policy was to support the struggle of the peoples of
the Third World against imperialism, understanding it as an integral part of
the world anticapitalist struggle. The axis of Soviet policy was to use the
struggles that emerged in the colonial and semicolonial world to promote the
"national" interests of the Soviet Union as refracted through the interests
of the bureaucratic officials of "really existing socialism" who sought to
establish a modus vivendi of peaceful coexistence with capitalism.

Consider, for example, the following paragraphs reporting to Raúl Castro a
meeting between representatives of Cuba and the MPLA in August of 1975,
several months before independence:

* * *

"In the course of this conversation, the Angolans complained about the
paucity of aid from the socialist camp, and they pointed out that if the
socialist camp does not help them, no one will, since they are the most
progressive forces [in the country], whereas the imperialists, Mobutu and
... [one word sanitized] are helping the FNLA in every way possible.

"They also complained that the Soviet Union stopped aiding them in 1972 and
that although it is now sending them weapons, the amount of assistance is
paltry, given the enormity of the need. In general, he [Neto] wants to
portray the situation in Angola as a crucial struggle between the two
systems -- Imperialism and Socialism -- in order to receive the assistance
of the entire socialist camp.

"We believe that he is right in this, because at this time the two camps in
Angola are well defined, the FNLA and UNITA represent reaction and world
imperialism and the Portuguese reactionaries, and the MPLA represents the
progressive and nationalist forces.

"We agreed that we would meet again the next day, because we needed to
finalize the exact timetables, quantities and details etc. of the requests
they had made. ...

"We believe that [the MPLA] enjoys the general support of the population;
the population is organized and ready to fight, but lacks weapons, as well
as food, clothing and basic gear. We believe that we must help them directly
or indirectly to remedy this situation, which is in essence the resistance
of an entire people against the forces of reaction and imperialism."

Letter from Raul Diaz Arguelles to Raul Castro, August 11, 1975. The full
document is at the following URL:

http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/episodes/17/documents/angola/

*  *  *

And here, from the horse's mouth, the Soviet side. This is from an interview
granted CNN in 1997 by Karen Brutents, who was a specialist in Third World
affairs on the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union:

"The Soviet Union, I'm fully convinced, was involved in Angola not on the
basis of any plan, but it got involved spontaneously, deeper and deeper,
despite its national interests. ...

"The government of Angola made an appeal to the international community --
that is, to the Yugoslavs and to the Cubans; they didn't appeal to us,
because they knew our position was very moderate. The Cubans responded. ...
We didn't know that the Cubans were coming to rescue the Angolans. ... It
wasn't welcomed in Moscow: it was received without enthusiasm, for a number
of reasons: it seemed to be a risky and adventurous action; [it] created
conditions for American retaliation; [and] they felt embarrassed about the
fact that the Cubans turned out to be more decisive than we were. But when
the Cubans were already in Angola, we got involved step-by-step, because the
Cubans needed food and weapons. And we found ourselves involved up to our
ears in Angola, although we were not planning on it.

"The Cubans did all this completely independently from us. ... Fidel Castro
wasn't one to obey orders. The Soviet leaders never managed to make him do
so. They were acting independently, [for] two reasons, in my opinion. First
of all, revolutionary vigor -- to help the national liberation movement. And
secondly, it was a matter of prestige. The Cubans showed their authority in
the Third World, their leading role. ...

"The Cubans moved into Angola and they started to turn to us with requests.
Of course we started helping them. ... [At first] the aid was very small and
allowed them to expand their possibilities of publishing propaganda and
training personnel. That was all; there wasn't any big material help that we
were giving them. [But] our material expenditure in Angola grew, of course,
as we immersed ourselves deeper into Angolan affairs. The Cubans came and
took an active part in their military actions, and providing them with
weapons and food gradually became our responsibility. Even though the Cubans
were using their own weapons, we were making up for what they were losing in
Africa through our deliveries to Cuba. And it went on for quite a long time.
We were also giving economic aid to Angola itself. Our advisers and the
Cuban advisers were training Angolan armed forces. It all ran up to quite a
big amount. ...

"And that's how one of the most stupid actions in the foreign policy of the
Soviet Union started. The Soviet involvement cost the Soviet Union dearly,
financially. What did we seek in Angola? They were very rich: gas, oil,
diamonds -- but we didn't get anything from them. We sat there, protecting
them from the South Africans, and at the same time the Americans were
pumping their oil in Cabinda, we were draining ourselves of our own blood."

You can read what CNN published of this interview here:

http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/episodes/17/interviews/brutents/

*  *  *

This coincides fully with what the Cubans have always said, for example, the
detailed account written by Gabriel García Marquez of how the initial
contingents of Cuban troops went to Angola in 1975, and the fact that not
only were the Soviets not giving the orders, they were not even consulted.

The bottom line on Cuba's "subservience" to Moscow, from one who was there,
on the Soviet side, in the Central Committee, and knew all the intimate
details:

"The Cubans did all this completely independently from us. ... Fidel Castro
wasn't one to obey orders. The Soviet leaders never managed to make him do
so."

Butents statements are imbued with the narrow, nationalist,
privilege-seeking, non-struggle Stalinist approach that led to the collapse
of the Eastern  European socialist bloc. He calls Soviet aid to the just
struggle of the people of southern Africa against CIA mercenary forces and
the aparheid regime "one of the most stupid actions in the foreign policy of
the Soviet Union." Why? "They were very rich: gas, oil, diamonds -- but we
didn't get anything from them."

That's the genuine voice of  "really existing Soviet Socialism." The
collapse of Portuguese colonialism, the defeat of American imperialism and
its surrogates, the destruction of the Apartheid regime, all that counts for
nothing.

Contrast that to the attitude of the Cubans, not in public speeches, but in
their own private communications. What was the REAL reason for their
involvement? "We believe that we must help them."  Why? Because this was "in
essence the resistance of an entire people against the forces of reaction
and imperialism."

There is not a word said about any possible immediate advantage Cuba could
draw from this. Rather the matter is presented as an imperative of
revolutionary morality: "we MUST help them" because what was involved was
the struggle by oppressed peoples against imperialism.

José

----- Original Message -----
From: "Johannes Schneider" <Johannes.Schneider at gmx.net>
To: <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Sent: Monday, March 26, 2001 8:26 AM
Subject: Cuba, USSR and Africa (was: Re: intro:Vanessa from Venezuela)


Louis Proyect wrote

>
>  Castro did not support 'peaceful coexistence' in the Soviet manner. Long
> after the death of Che, he took initiatives in Africa that were key to
> advancing the colonial revolution.

I may be wrong, but I do not see much contardictions between Cuban and
Soviet foreign policy in Africa in the pre-Gorbacev time. They both
supported the MPLA, the SACP and the Ethopian Dergue.

Johannes








More information about the Marxism mailing list