Cuba and Angola: The War for Freedom.

Author:Ruth, Christian
Position:LATIN AMERICA - Book review

Villegas, Harry. Cuba and Angola: The War for Freedom. Atlanta, GA: Pathfinder Press, 2017.

In recent years there has been an outpouring of scholarship on the role Cuba has played in revolutionary struggles in Africa. Pioneering work by scholars in Cuban archives, particularly by Piero Gleijeses, has revealed new dimensions of the internationalist efforts of leftist movements during the Cold War. Cuba's unique position as a bastion of communism off the coast of the United States and its willingness to send its fairly powerful military across the Atlantic meant that sons and daughters of the Cuban Revolution fought across the African continent for almost twenty years. From 1975 to 1991, when the Cold War ended, Cubans aided fellow anti-imperialists. Responding to what they viewed as imperialistic aggression by US-backed governments, Cuban soldiers and doctors went to multiple African countries, including Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Angola, to fight alongside revolutionary groups, successfully turning the tide in many of these conflicts.

As the title suggests, CUBA AND ANGOLA: THE WAR FOR FREEDOM is about Cuban efforts to aid the Angolan government. Angola achieved its independence from its colonial ruler Portugal in 1974, when the Portuguese government was overthrown in a popular uprising, the Carnation Revolution. Practically overnight, Portugal's African colonies found themselves freed of colonial control. Angola, however, was in the unenviable position of being close to South Africa. The apartheid regime in Pretoria, fearful of the implications of a free African state on its figurative doorstep and desiring more territory and power, launched a concerted invasion of Angola with its ally, Zaire, in October 1975, beginning a conflict that would last until 1991. CUBA AND ANGOLA is the account of these wartorn years by one of the main Cuban military leaders, Harry Villegas, who was a central figure in the Cuban defense of Angola.

In the months after the invasion, 36,000 Cuban volunteers, including soldiers, doctors, and electricians, flooded into Angola to stymie the South African invasion. What followed was a decade of intermittent, but vicious, warfare between Cuban and Angolan forces and South African invaders. Tens of thousands of Angolan soldiers and civilians were killed, and over 2,000 Cuban volunteers perished as the conflict dragged on. In 1987, South Africa, increasingly desperate as apartheid's hold began to crumble, launched a...

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