Upon the death of Nelson Mandela, the New York Times ran no less than four full pages about his life in one day. There was not a single mention of Cuba, the Caribbean nation just to our south. That’s paramount to mentioning the Civil Rights Act of 1964 without mentioning Selma, or Montgomery, or Birmingham.
Cuba is the only country that sent its troops to fight the South African Army, the army of apartheid that attempted to expand, militarily, throughout the rest of Southern Africa. They did so twice, once from 1975 until 1976 and again in 1988, and were successful in their efforts. It was the first time that the South African army was forced to retreat. The intervention is still appreciated by Africans throughout the continent.
Upon Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, Cuba is the first country that he visited. It’s worth mentioning that US intelligence was used to capture Mandela, and that the American government, who now sings Mandela’s praises, stuck with the apartheid regime nearly until the very end.
Yesterday evening at Riverside Church, a tribute was held for Mandela the revolutionary, and Cuba’s role in that revolution. One speaker was Rodolpho Reyes Rodrigues, the Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations, who spoke in front of a packed house about Mandela and the importance of Africa to his country, which has contributed both militarily and medically to the continent. Here’s what he had to say.
In the mean time, Democracy Now also had a special about the Cuban intervention in Southern Africa last months, only days after Mandela’s Death. It features Italian author and Latin American expert Piero Gleijeses, who teaches at John Hopkins University.