Fidel Cas­tro – Africa’s amigo

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Lin­ton Gor­don Lin­ton P. Gor­don is an at­tor­ney-at-law. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com and lp­gor­don@cw­ja­maica.com.

CUBAN PRES­I­DENT Fidel Cas­tro has gone the way that we will all be go­ing. He lived a long and colour­ful life of 90 years. His life has been cel­e­brated by some, while oth­ers have con­demned him as a bru­tal dic­ta­tor.

No one can deny how much ad­vance­ment the Cuban peo­ple have made un­der the lead­er­ship of Fidel Cas­tro. Cuba has a pub­lic med­i­cal sys­tem that is the envy of sev­eral coun­tries, in­clud­ing some of the most ad­vanced coun­tries in the world. Their ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is sec­ond to none, and to a great ex­tent, Ja­maicans are ben­e­fit­ing tremen­dously from Cuba’s ad­vances in medicine in that sev­eral of our doc­tors, some of whom are lead­ing prac­ti­tion­ers, were trained in Cuba.

How­ever, there is an as­pect of Cas­tro’s lead­er­ship that we Ja­maicans must never ever over­look, and that is the hand of sup­port and friend­ship that Cas­tro ex­tended to Africa and, in par­tic­u­lar, An­gola in 1975. Up to 1975, An­gola was a colony of Por­tu­gal, and the Euro­pean coun­try was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a rapid de­cline in its power and was grant­ing in­de­pen­dence to a num­ber of its colonies, in­clud­ing An­gola.

There were three na­tional groups in An­gola con­tend­ing for power: The Na­tional Front for the Lib­er­a­tion of An­gola (FNLA), Union for the To­tal In­de­pen­dence of An­gola (UNITA), and The Pop­u­lar Move­ment for the Lib­er­a­tion of An­gola (MPLA). The South African De­fence Form, which had un­law­fully in­vaded Namibia to the south of An­gola, crossed the bor­der into An­gola and joined forces with FNLA in a war against the MPLA.

At the same time, the forces of UNITA com­ing from the north and backed by Pres­i­dent Mabutu, the re­ac­tionary pres­i­dent of Zaire, were wag­ing a deadly war against the MPLA. UNITA was heav­ily backed by the United States and the United King­dom. The MPLA forces were in a des­per­ate sit­u­a­tion as the South African De­fence Force and the FNLA forces had reached the out­skirts of Luanda, the cap­i­tal of An­gola, on November 4, 1975.

COM­BAT UNI­FORM

The lead­er­ship of MPLA, led by Agostinho Neto, pleaded with Cas­tro for help. Cas­tro launched Op­er­a­tion Car­lota, named af­ter Black Car­lota, the leader of a slave re­bel­lion. Cas­tro dis­patched 100 highly trained special forces to Luanda. These elite troops landed at the air­port at Luanda on November 7, 1975, and while the plane was taxi­ing to a halt, they were chang­ing into com­bat uni­form and equip­ping them­selves.

When they ex­ited the plane, they could hear hos­tile fir­ing in the distance. These 100 elite troops hit the ground fight­ing. They were able to hold and pro­tect the air­port and kept it safe for planes to bring in ad­di­tional troops. Cas­tro de­ployed ad­di­tional troops to An­gola and they were avail­able to de­feat the South African De­fence Force, the FNLA and UNITA.

The CIA and the Bri­tish In­tel­li­gence Forces ar­ranged for sev­eral mer­ce­nar­ies to join with UNITA in the fight against MPLA. Sev­eral of them were cap­tured and placed on pub­lic trial, much to the hu­mil­i­a­tion of the Amer­i­cans and the Bri­tish.

The de­feat of the pre­vi­ously thought in­vin­ci­ble South African De­fence Force con­veyed to the lib­er­a­tion fight­ers through­out Africa that with proper train­ing, equip­ment and lead­er­ship, they could de­feat any force they are up against.

Cas­tro saved An­gola from being taken over by South Africa and the other colo­nial forces, mainly the United States and the United King­dom. He dealt a deadly blow to the apartheid regime in South Africa and to the racist gov­ern­ments of the United States and the United King­dom which wanted to see a South African-type gov­ern­ment in An­gola and in Namibia.

We in Ja­maica cel­e­brated the vic­tory of the Cubans and the MPLA over the forces of colo­nial­ism and evil in the mu­sic of Tap­per Zukie, who pro­duced the song MPLA, which be­came very pop­u­lar in Ja­maica.

There­fore, in re­mem­ber­ing Fidel Cas­tro, we must al­ways bear in mind his very im­por­tant and out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion in pro­tect­ing our broth­ers in Africa from the evil acts and in­ten­tions of racist colonists who in the ’70s were still bent on main­tain­ing racism and apartheid.

In this Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 18, 1998 file photo, Cuban leader Fidel Cas­tro is at his tri­umphant best.

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