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

Martin Zehr m_zehr at
Tue Mar 27 07:45:16 MST 2001

We might also want to explain the Cuban military support of the ANC armed
struggle for which Nelson Mandela expressed his gratitude for after he was
released and was elected president. There has not been too much made of this
in the media in the US because the policy makers in the US govt. had
apparently seen the handwriting on the wall regarding the collapse of the
apartheid regime and made other decisions.

>From: "Jose G. Perez" <jgperez at>
>Reply-To: marxism at
>To: <marxism at>
>Subject: Re: Cuba, USSR and Africa (was: Re: intro:Vanessa from Venezuela)
>Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 01:10:16 -0500
> >>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
>is no question whatsoever about what the REAL POLICIES of those involved
>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
>the world anticapitalist struggle. The axis of Soviet policy was to use the
>struggles that emerged in the colonial and semicolonial world to promote
>"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
>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:
>*  *  *
>And here, from the horse's mouth, the Soviet side. This is from an
>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
>"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
>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.
>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
>allowed them to expand their possibilities of publishing propaganda and
>training personnel. That was all; there wasn't any big material help that
>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
>were using their own weapons, we were making up for what they were losing
>Africa through our deliveries to Cuba. And it went on for quite a long
>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:
>*  *  *
>This coincides fully with what the Cubans have always said, for example,
>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
>"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
>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
>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
>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
>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.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Johannes Schneider" <Johannes.Schneider at>
>To: <marxism at>
>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.
> > 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.

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