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Vol. 72/No. 45      November 17, 2008

San Francisco students discuss Cuba and Africa
SAN FRANCISCO—Students at San Francisco State University who are studying in Professor Aguibou Yansané’s class on “Development and Foreign Policy in Africa” listened intently to an October 22 presentation by Mary-Alice Waters, president of Pathfinder Press, on Cuba’s internationalist role in Africa.

“Revolutionary Cuba has a long history of aid to national liberation struggles, from Algeria to the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, South Africa, and beyond,” Waters noted to the nearly 40 students.

One outstanding example was the role of more than 300,000 Cuban volunteers who beginning in 1975 defended Angola from multiple attacks by the South African apartheid regime. The decisive defeat of the South African forces in 1988 at the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, Angola, also led to the independence of Namibia and accelerated the fall of the apartheid regime itself. The last Cuban troops left Angola in 1991.

Waters, who had led a two-week fact-finding trip to Equatorial Guinea in August, following up on an initial visit there three years ago, also talked about the changing social and economic relations in that Central African country.

The conditions in Equatorial Guinea are shared by millions throughout Africa, Waters noted. The legacy of centuries of colonial domination and imperialist exploitation have left a country in which agriculture is subsistence farming, there is no national electrical grid, and virtually no manufacturing. At the same time, the recent discovery of vast reservoirs of oil and natural gas is creating the conditions out of which capitalist relations of production are being born. Both a capitalist class and a working class are emerging.

While U.S. and other imperialist powers seek to plunder the national resources of Equatorial Guinea, some 160 Cuban doctors, nurses, and medical technicians are providing quality health care in every region of the country. Most importantly, they are training Guinean youth as doctors and nurses at the Cuban-led medical school there.

Unlike capitalist governments and businesses that offer “aid” to African countries, “to the Cuban internationalist volunteers, medical care is a basic human right, not a commodity,” she said. “And that is an expansion of the class character of the Cuban Revolution.”

One of the students asked what other countries in Africa were receiving Cuba’s medical assistance. “Cuba has medical brigades in 35 countries in Africa, as well as medical schools in Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Eritrea,” Waters replied.

During the course of her presentation, Waters talked about and showed a number of Pathfinder titles providing facts on Cuba and Africa. These included How Far We Slaves Have Come by Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela; Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-87; From the Escambray to the Congo: In the Whirlwind of the Cuban Revolution, by Víctor Dreke; and Our History Is Still Being Written: The Story of Three Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution, by Armando Choy, Gustavo Chui, and Moisés Sío Wong. Waters, who is also the editor of New International, added that several issues of that magazine take up Cuba and Africa as well.
Related articles:
‘Cuban Revolution gains importance in midst of world economic crisis’
UN resolution condemns U.S. embargo of Cuba
Service Employees Int’l Union urges U.S. visas for wives of Cuban Five  
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