Nelson Mandela in Havana

December 4, 1991

Nelson Mandela in Havana

How Far We Slaves Have Come
By Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro
New York: Pathfinder. 80 pp. $10.95
Reviewed by Camilo Jorquera

When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, he made a point of visiting Cuba on July 26 for celebrations of the 38th anniversary of the start of the Cuban Revolution. Mandela and Fidel Castro spoke on the same platform, and this book contains the text of their speeches on that occasion.

Appropriately, Mandela addressed his audience as "Cuban internationalists, who have done so much to free our continent".

In 1975 Cuba sent forces to fight off the invasion of Angola by South Africa. At considerable cost — human and material — the Cuban forces helped turn back the invasion. Defeats suffered by the South Africans contributed as well to the liberation of Namibia and the domestic retreats forced upon the apartheid regime.

Fidel Castro's speech was an attack on the imperialist vultures in the west who continue to help the apartheid regime: "Today those in the west are trying to ingratiate themselves with Africa, trying to ingratiate themselves with those who hate apartheid. But the fact is that apartheid was created by the west, by the capitalist and imperialist west."

Many times the Cubans have pointed out that the capitalist west can not survive without the exploitation of the Third World.

"The real truth is that the west supported apartheid; they supplied it with technology, countless billions in investments, and vast quantities of arms; and they also gave it political support. No, imperialism did not break ties with apartheid, it did not blockade apartheid; imperialism maintained and continues to maintain excellent relations with apartheid. It was Cuba that had to be blockaded, Cuba where the vestiges of apartheid — that is, racial discrimination — disappeared a long time ago. Cuba had to be blockaded as punishment for its revolution, as punishment for its social justice — but never apartheid."

Mandela said "We come here with a sense of great debt that is owed to the people of Cuba. What other country can point to a record of greater selflessness than Cuba has displayed in its relations with Africa?

"Where is the country that has sought Cuban help and has had it refused?

"How many countries under threat from imperialism or struggling for national liberation have been able to count on Cuban support?"

As Cuba continues to struggle against imperialism and a 30-year blockade, the inspiration of the Cuban Revolution comes out in Mandela's words, "The most important lesson that you have for us is that no matter what the odds, no matter under what difficulties, you have had to struggle. There can be no surrender! It is a case of |>

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