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Vol. 78/No. 45      December 15, 2014

Fidel Castro: ‘We shall defend
Angola and Africa!’
(Books of the Month column)

Cuba and Angola: Fighting for Africa’s Freedom and Our Own is of one Pathfinder’s Books of the Month. Between 1975 and 1991 some 425,000 Cubans volunteered for duty in response to requests from the Angolan government to help defend the newly independent country against invasions from South Africa’s white-supremacist regime, backed by Washington. This piece is from a speech by Fidel Castro given to a mass rally of more than 1 million in Havana in December 1975. Copyright © 2013 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.

… And now it is Angola that is the source of friction. The imperialists seek to prevent us from aiding our Angolan brothers. But we must tell the Yankees to bear in mind that we are a Latin-American nation and a Latin-African nation as well. [Prolonged applause]

African blood flows freely through our veins. [Applause] Many of our ancestors came as slaves from Africa to this land. As slaves they struggled a great deal. They fought as members of the Liberating Army of Cuba. We’re brothers and sisters of the people of Africa and we’re ready to fight on their behalf! [Applause]

Racial discrimination existed in our country. Is there anyone who doesn’t know this, who doesn’t remember it? Many public parks had separate walks for blacks and for whites. Is there anyone who doesn’t recall that African descendants were barred from many places, from recreation centers and schools? Is there anyone who has forgotten that racial discrimination was prevalent in all aspects of work and study?

And, today, who are the representatives, the symbols of the most hateful and inhuman form of racial discrimination? The South African fascists and racists. And Yankee imperialism, without scruples of any kind, has launched South African mercenary troops in an attempt to crush Angola’s independence and is now outraged by our help to Angola, our support for Africa and our defense of Africa. In keeping with the duties rooted in our principles, our ideology, our convictions and our very own blood, we shall defend Angola and Africa! [Applause and shouts of “Cuba, Angola, united they will win!”] And when we say defend, we mean it in the strict sense of the word. And when we say struggle, we mean it also in the strict sense of the word. [Applause]

Let the South African racists and the Yankee imperialists be warned. We are part of the world revolutionary movement, and in Africa’s struggle against racists and imperialists, we’ll stand, without any hesitation, side by side with the peoples of Africa. [Applause]

Only cynics would dare to condemn our support for Angola while marching upon that heroic people shoulder to shoulder with South African fascists; South Africa, a region where three million whites oppress 14 million blacks, wants to impose its policy on Rhodesia [Zimbabwe since 1979], as it is doing, and on the rest of black Africa. But black Africa will not stand for it, will not tolerate it. Imperialists and reactionaries underestimate the peoples; mercenaries are in the habit of doing as they please, of marching in with their tanks and cannon to overwhelm defenseless people. They’ve already tried it here in Girón, and that’s just what they’re trying to do in Angola. But Angolans are not defenseless! [Applause]

And [US president] Ford is complaining. Ford is hurling threats. Not really threats. He is just saying that the hypothetical and abstract possibilities of improving relations will be canceled.1 Ford should instead apologize to the Revolutionary Government of Cuba for the scores of assassination attempts prepared by the CIA for many years against various leaders of the Revolution. [Applause]

The Government of Cuba has the right to expect explanations from the imperialist government of the United States and to receive apologies for the horrendous and macabre assassination attempts plotted against leaders of the Cuban Revolution, attesting to their degree of civilization, or rather their degree of barbarity, and showing their true colors as criminals. They have put technology and science at the service of murder. And for years on end, in an unscrupulous, foul and indecent manner, that government has dedicated itself to planning the assassination of revolutionary Cuban leaders.

What we want from Ford is not the cancelation of his hypothetical hopes or possibilities for an improvement of relations with Cuba, but apologies for the shameful, hateful, and disgraceful crimes which the Government of the United States prepared against leaders of the Cuban Revolution. [Applause and shouts of “Fidel, hit the Yankees hard!”]

Our people have never failed to fulfill their internationalist commitment. Our people have maintained a policy consistent with their principles throughout their history.

What do the imperialists think? Do they think that since we are interested in social and economic progress we are going to sell out [Shouts of “No!”] in exchange for their purchase of a little bit of sugar and sale of cheap goods? [Shouts of “No!”] What do the imperialists think? Don’t they realize that the world is changing and that the times of blackmail and impositions on this country are over? This country on which they imposed the Platt Amendment, as well as scores of turncoats and treacherous rulers. Are they going to impose something else on this country, where a revolution has triumphed? No!

1. On December 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford threatened to end US-Cuban talks about family visits and other steps to normalize US-Cuban relations, saying that “the action by the Cuban Government in sending combat forces to Angola destroys any opportunity for improvement of relations with the United States.” At a January 15, 1976, press conference, Cuban President Fidel Castro responded: “It is not that Cuba reject[s] the ideal of improving relations with the United States. … What we do not accept are humiliating conditions — the absurd price that the United States apparently would have us pay for an improvement of relations.” The talks ended in February 1976.  
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