Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fidel Castro: The Great Hero of African Liberation

Fidel Castro, the Lion of Cuba

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz retired as the President and Commander-in-Chief of Cuba on Monday February 18, 2008, after 49 years in power.

Fidel Castro is the most lionized foreign leader in Africa and highly esteemed as one of the heroes of the liberation struggles in South African nations.

Fidel Castro sent Cuban troops to Angola on November 4, 1975, to join the forces of the marxist MPLA-ruled government in the war against the racist South African-backed UNITA rebels. One of the survivors, Claude Grace Uushona can still remember how she survived the massacre in the refugee camp in Cassinga, in southern Angola and was rescued and brought to Cuba when she was only 16.

"It was a camp for women and children refugees located 250 km from the border with Namibia. On May 4, 1978, South African forces bombed us with military helicopters and planes," she recalled.

Cuban and Angolan troops helped the guerrilla freedom fighters of the Southwest African People's Organisation (SWAPO) in many battles against the racist South African army, like in the bloody battle of Cuito Cuanavale in southern Angola in April 1988. Cuba played a leading role in the liberation of Namibia.

There were over 300,000 Cubans in Angola between 1975 and 1989, and about 2,016 of them were killed in combat.

President Fidel Castro gave scholarships to many of the survivors of the liberation wars to study at the school on the Isla de la Juventud (the Island of Youth) in Cuba.

Apart from helping in the independence struggles of notable African nations, Cuba under Fidel Castro, contributed to the development of modern medical care in Africa.
Over 2,574 Cuban collaborators have worked in Africa, and Cuban medical assistance began when Cuba sent health brigades to Algeria in 1963.

Cuban medical professionals have reduced infant mortality from 59 to 7.8 per 1,000 live births in Ghana, from 48 to 10.6 in Eritrea, and from 131 to 35.5 in Equatorial Guinea.

African health professionals have been trained in institutes in Cuba and medical schools have been established in Gambia and Equatorial Guinea, with Cuban professors teaching in medical schools in several African countries, including Ethiopia, Uganda and South Africa.

Cuba has been providing regular aid for the control and prevention of HIV/AIDS in Africa where an estimated 29 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

Cuba is actively supporting 51 African countries in sustainable human development programmes on health, education, agriculture, construction and urban planning and sports.

"Cuban internationalists have done so much for African independence, freedom, and justice."
~ Nelson Mandela

Therefore, Africa is grateful to Fidel Castro, the great leader of the developing world who conquered the United States of America in the Bay of Pigs Invasion and humiliated President John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy. Fidel Castro, the great Lion of Cuba, who survived 638 Assassination attempts, including the assassination plot approved by Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy. He survived them all, but the Kennedy brothers who failed in all their evil plots to assassinate Fidel Castro, were later assassinated.

"The revolution has no time for elections. There is no more democratic government in Latin America than the revolutionary government. ... If Mr. Kennedy does not like Socialism, we do not like imperialism. We do not like capitalism."
~ Fidel Castro, on May 1, 1961, after the victory of Cuba over the Americans in the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima,
Publisher/Editor, Nigerian Times International.

Inter Press Service, July 2, 2004

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