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realclearworld

Reports from Cuba: Venezuela is not Angola

By Camilo Ernesto Olivera Peidro in Translating Cuba:

Venezuela is not Angola

Cuba is not the same as 40 years ago, but its leaders are the same

HAVANA, Cuba, February — Cuba intervened militarily in Angola on the side of the MPLA in August of 1975.  In 1977 Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) supported the government of Agostino Neto in order to suppress by blood and fire an internal rebellion.

After that moment, the Cuban government took in its hands, in a less surreptitious manner, control of Angola. Within the MPLA there were divergent opinions about the role the Cubans were playing in the country’s political situation. On the death of President Neto in 1979, they pulled strings for the appointment of Jose Eduardo DosSantos to the post.

“In 1978, Fidel Castro knew that he could not count on the USSR unconditionally,” says an ex-official connected to the Cuban embassy in Angola at that time, “and his plan B consisted of strengthening political and military control over Angola.  The Russians involved themselves in the matter when they saw the possibility of trafficking arms in exchange for gold and precious stones. This the high Cuban officialdom did from the moment they gained control of the Angolan governmental entities and the main access roads into the country. The political and military caste that came into power in Russia post-1991, did it, too, with the money earned there and in other low intensity military conflicts.”

Now, in the case of Venezuela, the strategy is different but seeking the same objective. “Venezuela is not Angola, and Cuba is not the same as it was 40 years ago,” explains my interlocutor, “but the individuals in control are the same. They have sent civil collaborators like a screen to try to cloak their strong presence within the structures of all levels of that country. Chavez handed the house keys to the Cuban DGI (State Intelligence Directorate), and Maduro is a bad version of Jose Eduardo DosSantos.”

If the political situation in Venezuela goes completely out of control, the first victims would be the Cuban civil collaborators. “And in the same way as happened in 1977 when Nito Alves confronted Agostino Neto, it cannot be ruled out that FAR will intervene in Venezuela citing the protection of the collaborators.”

The question of how they will do it is more of form than of substance.  But Angola was a country recently released from colonial domination, in contrast with Venezuela which possesses a democratic tradition that has shown itself to be persistent.  ”Nevertheless the silence or complicity of the Latin-American countries with the abuses of the Burro from Miraflores is a bad sign.”


Cuban soldiers in Angola

On the other hand, the government of Raul Castro is facing a difficult choice: “If the military intervention by Cuban troops generates a spiral of such violence that it involves massive deaths among the civilian Venezuelan population and Cubans, the political cost for Raul Castro would be very high within and outside of Cuba. The US government would hold all the cards in its favor to declare it a hemispheric plague. The Latin-American governments would have to take a clear position in the matter or public opinion would hold them to account.” And a possible dialog with the CEE would grind to a halt.

Towards the interior of Cuban, just look at the sad destiny that the African veterans suffer. My interlocutor said: “It is unlikely that a lightning political campaign of Raulism will gain the support of the island’s people for military intervention in Venezuela. At first, he will send elite troops trained in confronting disturbances in urban zones.”

In 1992 Fidel Castro declared that the era of Cuban military missions abroad had ended.  Two decades later, the drums of another fratricidal war may be about to beat on the doors of the Cuban family. The worst scenario possible is not impossible.

Cubanet, February 28, 2014 /

Translated by mlk

1 comment to Reports from Cuba: Venezuela is not Angola

  • Griffin

    There are a couple of historical errors in the piece. Cuba began their relationship with the MPLA in 1962, when Che established a guerrilla training camp in Algeria for African revolutionaries. The first Cuban soldiers to enter Angola were with the Camilo Cienfuegos column, which marched into Angola in 1966, consisting of MPLA troops and Cuban officers. They fought against the Portuguese, and more often than not, other Angolan rebel groups. By early 1975, Cuba had about 200 troops in Angola supporting the MPLA. When the Portuguese suddenly withdrew from their colony in mid 1975, there was a mad scramble for control of the capital. It was then that Fidel Castro sent a several hundred more troops to help the MPLA defeat the FNLA. Meanwhile, the South Africans, alarmed at the prospect of the Marxist MPLA and their Cuban allies gaining power in Angola, launched their invasion of Southern Angola. Soon, the MPLA were facing defeat, and it was at this point that Castro announced operation Carlota, sending tens of thousands of Cuban troops to fight both the FNLA in the north and the South Africans and their UNITA allies in the south.

    The official story is that Cuba only sent their troops to stop the South Africans. The reality is the Cubans had already been there for a decade and were fighting to install their preferred Angolan Marxist faction. The Cuban presence triggered the South African invasion, which in turn triggered the much larger Cuban intervention.

    An excellent history of the entire Cuban intervention in Angola is available here:

    http://www.cabinda.net/The-Cuban-Intervention-in-Angola.pdf