When Reagan backed S. Africa Racism and Castro inspired Mandela

TeleSur | – –

The world remembers Nelson Mandela as the freedom fighter and president who liberated South Africa from apartheid.

But many look back with a selected memory of how the former prisoner’s story unfolded. The man who former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher [and US President Ronald Reagan] branded a “terrorist” was a close personal friend and political ally of Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro.

Mandela was inspired by Fidel and the Cuban Revolution in 1959 when he began a South African resistance militia to end racial oppression.

“Any and every source was of interest to me,” Mandela wrote in his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom.” “I read the report of Blas Roca, the general secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, about their years as an illegal organization during the Batista regime. In Commando, by Deneys Reitz, I read of the unconventional guerrilla tactics of the Boer generals during the Anglo-Boer War. I read works by and about Che Guevara, Mao Tse-tung, Fidel Castro.”

Furthermore, after his release from prison in 1990, Mandela traveled to Cuba to meet his friend in person and to thank him for sending soldiers to Angola during the 1970s and 1980s to fight apartheid regimes, widely believed to be a significant catalyst to the eventual ending of apartheid.

In his speech, Mandela said, “We have come here today recognizing our great debt to the Cuban people. What other country has such a history of selfless behavior as Cuba has shown for the people of Africa?

“How many countries benefit from Cuban health care professionals and educators? How many of these volunteers are now in Africa?

“What country has ever needed help from Cuba and has not received it? How many countries threatened by imperialism or fighting for their freedom have been able to count on the support of Cuba?”

Castro responded, “I have not visited my homeland South Africa, but I love it as if it were my homeland.”

In 1994, Castro was able to return the visit to attend Mandela’s presidential inauguration after he was elected as South Africa’s first black president. Four years later, on a return visit to South Africa, Castro was given a hero’s welcome, delivering a speech to a packed African National Congress. Castro could barely get through his address for the cheers of “Cuba, Cuba,” and “Fidel, Fidel.”

Via TeleSur

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Related video:

Democracy Now! “Nelson Mandela & Fidel Castro: A Video You Won’t See on the Evening News”

7 Responses

  1. Most of your readers will not know who Brian Mulroney was. He was a Conservative Prime Minister of Canada. Your Republican Part was probably the closest in political “beliefs” to the Canadian Conservatives until Ronald Reagan came along. Mulroney, who I never voted for, nevertheless, fought long and hard to have Nelson Mandela released from prison, and as much as I detested some of his other political shenanigans, I very much admire his energy and efforts to have this man released from prison. Unfortunately, as much as Ronald Reagan smiled his best Hollywood smile, he was a closet Tea Party type rather than the Republican party of better days. Our Progressive Conservative party in Canada also evolved into something called the Reform party and its subsequent leader come Prime Minister, spoke loud and hard that Nelson Mandela should be executed as a traitor to South Africa. This the best reason, I, as a moderate Canadian believes that all voters should take a long, hard look at what it means to be Conservative/Republican in our respective countries.

  2. And yet, how ironic that Nelson Mandela evolved in his political thinking and lived to be elected President of a democratic South Africa, while Fidel Castro never evolved beyond the dictator that he was. For some 50 years Castro did not brook any opposition to his iron rule, putting in prison those who opposed it while denying the Cuban people any democratic say in choosing their leadership. Nelson Mandela and South Africa demonstrated what enlightened leadership can accomplish. Castro, on the other hand, demonstrated the opposite, a police state dependent upon Soviet and East German trained secret police and informants.

  3. I do not believe Cuba is a police state, but still it does not broach political opposition or what we call “free speech”..But then ask journalist Mumia Abdul Jamal what he thinks about American “free speech”. I spent 2 weeks in 6 cities in Cuba this past January, a week traveling with just my wife. We had complete access to the common people in Cuba, and we speak fluent Spanish. They did not at all hesitate to criticize the gov’t or seem afraid. Problems, repression; show me a gov’t that doesn’t do that. Healthcare and first rate FREE education for all through university? Not so much….and not here. Say what you will, they don’t shoot down their own citizens in the street like here and in Mexico.

    • I do not know what Mumia Abu-Jamal (actual name Wesley Cook) thinks about “American free speech.” What I do know is he was charged with and convicted for the murder of a police officer in 1981. He was originally sentenced to death, but his sentence was changed by the court to life imprisonment. If you have evidence that his right to “free speech” was abridged, please provide it.

      No, the Castro regime did not shoot down its own citizens in the street. Instead, they put those who protested against the regime, considered “counter-revolutionaries,” before a firing squad. Thousands of so-called “counter-revolutionaries” were executed in this fashion. The respected British historian of Latin America, Hugh Thomas, estimates 10,000 were shot. In later decades, such “counter-revolutionaries” were spared the firing squad and put in prison, largely as a result of European Union protests.

      There are plenty of governments that do not exercise the same level of “repression” as Castro’s Cuba. His repression was felt by the Cuban people in all aspects of their lives, from the complete lack of free elections to choose their leader, to the ban on travel, to the state-owned and run economy that drove the Cuban economy into the ground.

    • That depends on what class a Cuban is in. What do you know of what it was like to be poor and Black under Batista? Was it as bad as the Dominican Republic today?

      The question is, what is “fair” treatment for the rich and for the poor? And given the US trade embargo that entirely defined Cuba’s economy while Wall Street lavished sweatshop money on its neighbors, what is “fair” treatment for the countries that favor the rich or favor the poor?

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