Thursday, May 2, 2013
Cuban intervention had a substantial impact on Southern Africa, especially in defending the MPLA's control over large parts of Angola as well as helping secure Namibia's independence. As W. Freeman, ambassador, US state department, department for African policies, put it into words: "Castro could regard himself as father of Namibia's independence and as the one who put an end to colonialism in Africa. Indeed, Cuba demonstrated responsibility and maturity.". On July 26, 1991, on occasion of the celebrations of the 38th anniversary of the start of the Cuban Revolution, Nelson Mandela delivered a speech in Havana to personally thank Cuba for its role in Angola: "The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice unparalleled for its principled and selfless character - We in Africa are used to being victims of countries wanting to carve up our territory or subvert our sovereignty. It is unparalleled in African history to have another people rise to the defence of one of us - The defeat of the apartheid army was an inspiration to the struggling people in South Africa! Without the defeat of Cuito Cuanavale our organizations would not have been unbanned! The defeat of the racist army at Cuito Cuanavale has made it possible for me to be here today! Cuito Cuanavale was a milestone in the history of the struggle for southern African liberation!" After the fall of white-minority rule in 1994, South Africa and Cuba established full diplomatic relations on 11 May 1994. Destroyed lighthouse in Lobito, Angola, 1995 Cuban intervention had also been criticized mainly due to human right abuses with Dr. Peter Hammond, a Christian missionary who lived in Angola at the time, recalling: "There were over 50,000 Cuban troops in the country. The communists had attacked and destroyed many churches. MiG-23s and Mi-24 Hind helicopter gun ships were terrorising villagers in Angola. I documented numerous atrocities, including the strafing of villages, schools and churches." In a national ceremony on 7 December 1988, all Cubans killed in Africa were buried in cemeteries across the island. According to Cuban government figures, during all of the Cuban foreign intervention missions carried out in Africa from the early 1960s to the withdrawal of the last soldier from Angola on May 25, 1991, a total of 2,289 Cubans were killed. Other analysts have noted that of 36,000 Cuban troops committed to fighting in Angola from 1975 to 1979, reported combat deaths figures range from 3,000 to less than 10,000. Free elections in Namibia were held in November 1989 with SWAPO taking 57% of the vote in spite of Pretoria's attempts to swing the elections in favor of other parties. (see Martti Ahtisaari and History of Namibia). Namibia gained independence in March 1990. The situation in Angola was anything but settled and the country continued to be ravaged by civil war for more than a decade. The MPLA won the 1992 election, however eight opposition parties rejected the 1992 election as rigged. UNITA sent peace negotiators to the capital, where the MPLA murdered them, along with thousands of UNITA members. Savimbi was still ready to continue the elections. The MPLA then massacred tens of thousands of UNITA voters nationwide, in an event known as the Halloween Massacre. UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi would not accept the results and refused to join the Angolan parliament as opposition. Again UNITA took up arms, financed with the sale of blood diamonds. The civil war ended in 2002 after Jonas Savimbi was killed in battle.