23 October 2009

Our Liberation Struggle

[CU for Monday, 26 October 2009 – sent on Friday 23 October in support of the March for the Cuban Five assembling from 09h30 today at Union Buildings, Pretoria]

In political education, our method is to remove ourselves in place and time. We go to the “classics” and to authors of the intermediate period, and we study other places, in the past or in the present.

All of these provide us with examples. The examples provide us with a theoretical and practical “sandpit” that gives us a “codification” or in other words a basis upon which we may have a dialogue.

Dialogue is where political education happens. Anything that can provide an occasion for political dialogue is good for education.

Our own history can be used, but what do we find? When looking for history of our liberation struggle, and the history of the armed struggle in particular, we find very little. The materials about the culminating struggle in Angola assembled below will have to suffice for now. They can also serve as a small contribution towards recognising the Cuban and Soviet comrades who fought faithfully and often fell for us, until victory came.

Vladimir Shubin has written and published two books in English: ANC: A View from Moscow” and “The Hot 'Cold War’: The USSR in Southern Africa”. These books are presently available from bookshops in South Africa, or they can be ordered via the Internet.

But there is nothing to be found on the Internet like an article or a chapter of Shubin’s that we can use for the Communist University. Suffice it to say that the Soviet record of events does not correspond in every respect with the Cuban record, and this contrast would force the readers or students to make judgements of their own, as to what was really the critical path that led to the final political result, which was victory in Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Let us hope to find a suitable Soviet or Russian article, soon.

Fidel Castro has written a lot. Linked below, as our main item, is the speech made on 2 December 2005, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the first Cuban expeditionary force to Angola, which became what Chester Crocker called an “unprecedented projection of power”.

Piero Gleijeses has written a lot. The second item is an article of his containing this memorable passage:

“While Castro’s troops advanced toward Namibia, Cubans, Angolans, South Africans, and Americans were sparring at the negotiating table. For the South Africans and Americans the burning question was: Would the Cuban troops stop at the border? It was to answer this question that President Ronald Reagan’s Assistant Secretary for Africa, Chester Crocker, sought Risquet. "My question is the following," he told him: "Does Cuba intend to halt the advance of its troops at the border between Namibia and Angola?" Risquet replied, "I have no answer to give you. I can’t give you a Meprobamato [a well-known Cuban tranquillizer] – not to you or to the South Africans. ... I have not said whether or not our troops will stop. ... Listen to me, I am not threatening. If I told you that they will not stop, it would be a threat. If I told you that they will stop, I would be giving you a Meprobamato, a Tylenol, and I want neither to threaten you nor to reassure you ... What I have said is that the only way to guarantee [that our troops stop at the border] would be to reach an agreement [on the independence of Namibia]." [15] On August 25, Crocker cabled Secretary of State George Shultz: "Reading the Cubans is yet another art form. They are prepared for both war and peace ... We witness considerable tactical finesse and genuinely creative moves at the table. This occurs against the backdrop of Castro’s grandiose bluster and his army’s unprecedented projection of power on the ground." [16]”

Jorge Risquet Valdés Saldaña, fighter, negotiator, and currently member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, has written (downloadable, in Spanish) “El Segundo frente del Che en el Congo” (ISBN 959-210-412-3, Casa Editorial Abril, 2006) – the history of the Patrice Lumumba Battalion, in which Risquet served. The picture above is of the same Jorge Risquet, a great and brave hero, also famous for his friendliness and joie-de-vivre.

William Blum has written a chapter in his great book “Killing Hope”, but somehow misses Cuito Cuanavale, the negotiations, Namibian independence and the democratic breakthrough in South Africa. Blum has done a lot to expose the history of US atrocities around the world, but his work also shows the limitations of Western sources, even the relatively friendly ones. This essay on Angola is cast as a “great powers poker game”, and not as what it really was, namely an anti-Imperialist liberation struggle. There is no substitute for original revolutionary sources; this is the Communist University way.

This part concludes the new edition of the Communist University Generic Course on Anti-Imperialism, Peace, and Socialism. Please click here for temporary access all the documents of the course, as MS-Word downloads.

This course and the previous one on Development will be on the SACP web site soon. The last in the current programme of review of the CU Generic Courses, now in the preliminary stages of construction, is Philosophy, Religion, and Revolution.

Click on these links:

Thirty years after Angola and 49 after Granma, F Castro (4108 words)

The Massacre of Cassinga [and after] Piero Gleijeses (2243 words)

Angola, a Great Powers Poker Game, William Blum (5303 words)


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