Angola honours Cuba's crucial contribution to freedom struggle

Cuban soldiers in Angola.

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos recognised and thanked Cuba on November 12 for its important support in achieving national independence 40 years ago.

Commemorating four decades of independence from colonial powers, dos Santos invited a Cuban delegation to honour the historical events that led Fidel Castro to deploy 36,000 troops to defend Angola from a US-back military invasion by forces of apartheid South Africa.

Angola won its independence from Portugal on January 15, 1975. But inner political conflicts escalated between the leftist People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA), and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

Seeking to control the political situation in its favour, the US set up a covert CIA operation to support the FNLA and UNITA with US$30 million, arms and military advisers. Apartheid South Africa supported the CIA operation by carrying out invasions, incursions and sabotage against Marxist forces within Angola.

In 1987, the MPLA, with Cuban support, finally defeated the South Africans at the village Cuito Cuanavale after a six month battle.

Dos Santos said during the commemoration that “all of the sacrifice was worth it” for Angolan self-determination.

“This simple tribute we also dedicate to all the Cuban internationalists, who together with Angolan combatants fought to defend the sovereignty of the motherland of (then Angolan president) Neto,” said Salvador Valdes Mesa, the head of the delegation and vice president of the State Council.

Cuba has continued to assist Angola with teaching methods like “Yes, I can,” which has taught more than a million Angolans to read and write, as well as medical and exchange programs.

[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.]

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