Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Raul Castro Welcomes Internationalists
Havana Radio and Television Networks
BRS Assigned Document Number:    000007996
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     FL3005145891
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-91-105          Report Date:    31 May 91
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     1
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       5
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       27 May 91
Report Volume:       Friday Vol VI No 105


City/Source of Document:   Havana Radio and Television Networks

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Raul Castro Welcomes Internationalists

Author(s):   Army General Raul Castro, minister of the Revolutionary Armed
Forces, at a ceremony to mark the return of the last group of
Cuban troops from Angola , held at El Cacahual Mausoleum in
Havana-- live]

Source Line:   FL3005145891 Havana Radio and Television Networks in Spanish
1430 GMT 27 May 91

Subslug:   [Speech delivered by Army General Raul Castro, minister of the
Revolutionary Armed Forces, at a ceremony to mark the return of the
last group of Cuban troops from Angola, held at El Cacahual
Mausoleum in Havana-- live]

1.  [Speech delivered by Army General Raul Castro, minister of the
Revolutionary Armed Forces, at a ceremony to mark the return of the last group
of Cuban troops from Angola, held at El Cacahual Mausoleum in Havana-- live]

2.  [Text] Distinguished guests, internationalist combatants, comrades:

3.  The last person, among the Cuban internationalist combatants who stayed in
the People's Republic of Angola until 25 May, to depart on his return to the
fatherland was the chief of the Cuban military mission in that fraternal
country. The mission's unconquered banner of battle, now among us once more,
symbolizes the culmination of the long and difficult path begun in 1975. More
than one month ahead of the provisions set forth in the December 1988
agreements, our troop detachment and their weapons have left Angola.

4.  For the Cuban nation, this is a time of tribute and reckoning: a tribute of
admiration, gratitude, and respect for the 377,033 children of our nation who
during almost 16 years provided the most decisive aid to Angola to defend its
sovereignty and territorial integrity, and for the almost 50,000 who during
this same time gave their support in solidarity in civilian tasks.

5.  We honor above all the 2,077 comrades who did not survive to see this
victory, because they nourished it with their blood. They will always figure
among the most beloved children of this nation. We bow our heads before their
eternal example. With infinite respect, we recall today the no less exemplary
behavior of their mothers, fathers, children, wives, or relatives who
encouraged them while they fought far from the land where they were born.

6.  However, we have not been called together this morning only to exalt the
feats of the Angolan and Cuban peoples, joined together by the generous blood
spilled and the sweat of work. Angola is a historic landmark, a milestone, that
will continue to inspire the African peoples' desire for national independence
and social emancipation. It is an eternal flame that cannot be snuffed out,
however hard and bitter the setbacks may be in the future. Angola is a
brilliant, clean, honorable, and transparent page in the history of solidarity
between peoples, in the history of internationalism, in the history of Cubans'
contribution to the cause of human freedom and improvement. Because of all
this, Angola is also a milestone in Cuba's own history.

7.  Our forefathers would have been proud of this internationalist undertaking.
In this sanctuary of the fatherland lie the remains of General Antonio Maceo,
the unyielding protagonist of Baragua. The unredeemed African blood flowed
through his veins. More than once, Maceo offered his sword to the independence
cause of Puerto Rico. The titans of our Mambi Army did not hesitate an instant
to give the Dominican Maximo Gomez the top position he had earned. He was the
maximum expression of Latin Americanism and solidarity with the emancipation
cause of the Cuban people. Men of the most diverse latitudes in the 1868 and
1895 battlefields fought among the rank and files of the liberating army. They
intermingled in the field with the white and black Creoles and were engaged in
the same liberating epic.

8.  Among hundreds of combatants of almost 20 countries, 17 reached the rank of
general. They were: five Dominicans, three Spaniards, two Americans, two
Colombians, one Chilean, one Jamaican, one Puerto Rican, one Polish, and one
Venezuelan. At the time, they joined in the dedication, the moral greatness,
and the unselfishness our internationalist tradition forged. The Puerto Rican,
Pablo de la Torriente Brau, would honor this tradition with his exemplary
performance. He became a man and a revolutionary in the Cuban struggle and
later became a hero during the Spanish Civil War among the some thousand
internationalist from Cuba who participated in that conflict.

9.  In our days, the paradigm of that highest level of the human species--as he
accurately summed up--was born in Argentina from where he began his journey
riding the Rocinante [horse in Cervantes' ``Don Quixote''] that brought him to
Cuba, that took him to Africa and brought him back to America, our common
fatherland, to become immortal. This was our Comrade Ernesto Che Guevara.

10.  It was precisely Che who, fulfilling our party's mandate, established in
1965 the first contacts with the MPLA [Popular Movement for the Liberation of
Angola] and with its leader, the enlightened founder of the Angolan nation,
Comrade Agosthino Neto. This is why those who are not aware of the historic
background of our presence in Angola, in good faith find the reasons in
simplistic geopolitical explanations, in the results of the Cold War, or global
conflicts between the East and West, are mistaken. Although we cannot deny that
in the last century Marti already thought of Cuba's independence as a historic
need and a contribution to restrain the neocolonial expansion he anticipated
the United States would unleash over Latin America.

11.  If the Cuban presence in Angola--a continuation of the nation's best
traditions--was exceptional in any way, it was because of the massive
participation of the people, which had never before reached such figures and
which was set in motion by the willingness of an entire nation to participate
in this epic event. Of even more momentous significance was the absolutely
voluntary nature of this participation. This was not only a professional army,
although we are very proud of our troops' performance in battle and with
technology, but rather an army of the masses, a revolutionary army of the

12.  The more than 400,000 men and women who went to Angola during these years,
and whose names will be extolled by our descendants, came from all the
generations that are active today in the Cuban process, from rebel veterans to
the youngest soldiers and reservists. All were moved by a single interest: to
save and consolidate the fraternal Republic of Angola. As we noted at a very
early date, we have brought nothing back but the satisfaction of having done
our duty and the remains of our comrades who fell, with the exception of three
whose remains we have not yet recovered.

13.  One very profound motivation should not be forgotten.  Cuba had already
been living through its beautiful experience of solidarity from other nations,
especially the USSR, which gave us a friendly hand at times that were crucial
for the Cuban revolution's survival. The solidarity, support, and fraternal
cooperation that the consistent practice of internationalism gave us at
decisive times created a sincere feeling: an awareness of a debt to other
nations who might find themselves in similar circumstances.

14.  Comrade Fidel dedicated himself to drawing these lessons from historical
experience and spreading this awareness, and he awoke in the nation's spirit
the idea that as Latin-Africans, we Cubans also had a historic debt to Africa,
one of the vital sources of our national identity. These are the authentic
reasons for the people's response to the young Angolan Government's request for
aid, in accordance with international law.

15.  The independent destiny of Angola and its triumphant anticolonial
revolution were threatened of being torn to pieces by enemies who attacked from
the south, north, and east. Imperialism, neocolonialism, and the mortal danger
of the expansion of apartheid's frontiers came together to suppress
independence of a potentially wealthy state the instant in which it came about.
Progressive and revolutionary men were decisively involved in the founding of
this state.

16.  In Cuba we named the internationalist operation Carlota in honor of an
exceptional African woman who, while being a slave, headed two uprisings
against the colonial oppression and, as they attempted to do in Angola in 1975,
was torn apart by the tyrants who were able to arrest her in her second
rebellious attempt. Without even knowing it yet, the thousands of Cubans who
were part of the operation were going to extend the legend of Carlota, the
Cuban-African heroine, through Cabinda, Quifangondo, Medunda, Cangamba, Sumbe,
Ruacana, Calueque, and Cuito Cuanavale.

17.  Our tankers, infantrymen, artillery men, engineering troops and sappers,
pilots, special troops, scouts, communications troops, rearguard service
troops, antiaircraft defense troops, convoy personnel, engineers, technicians,
political and military counterintelligence workers, and combatants of other FAR
[Revolutionary Armed Forces] and Interior Ministry specialty areas, joined by
the timely and exemplary service of the Cubana Airlines and Merchant Marine
staff, made the success of the operation possible. They used that unforgettable
experience and gave the best they had. At the same time, they became better
patriots, more determined revolutionaries, and more convinced militants.  They
were to accompany the Angolan people together with teachers, doctors,
construction workers, and other civilian specialists of our country throughout
the longest, cruelest, and most devastating conflict Africa has ever known.
They would become remarkable witnesses of what no other black African country
has had to struggle to preserve the territorial integrity and its existence as
a state as Angola has.

18.  The chiefs and officers have played a decisive role in this whole test.
Numerous decisions fell on their shoulders.  Above all, they were called on to
be role models and they were indeed. This is illustrated by the fact that one
out of four of those fallen in combat had the rank of officer.

19.  The serious threat which emerged in 1975 was not warded off until March of
1976 after fierce fighting took place at the doorstep of the Angolan capital.
After the invaders were defeated, they retreated in the north, east, and
especially in the south, when the South Africans crossed the border to their
Namibian colony. We then thought that an opportunity for peace had opened. Only
days away from the 22 April 1976 victory were we able to reach an agreement
with the Angolan Government; the first program from the gradual return of the
troops.  Thus, as the Cuban civilian cooperation began to arrive, the military
contingent was reduced by over a third in less than a year. But only two years
later, in 1978, the South African Army threatened once more the safety and
territorial entity of Angola and, of course, of the lives of Cuban
internationalists who were conducting operations inside Angolan territory,
south of the Cuban positions, who were defending a line 250 km from the border
with Namibia.

20.  The heinous massacre of Namibian civilians--most of them women and
children--in Casinga, where the South Africans killed over 600 refugees, was
the most infamous chapter. In 1979, an apparent change of the situation brought
about new agreements between Cuba and Angola for a timetable on the withdrawal
of our troops.  These were also hampered by another increase of South African
attacks by way of terrorist actions against civilian Cuban workers.

21.  Throughout all these years, our troops were sufficient to defend the
assigned line and to prevent a movement deep into the Angolan territory but the
correlation favored the enemy in the strip between Angola and Namibia. While
this situation continued, Angola and Cuba did not stop in the attempt to find
negotiated political solutions. This will was expressed in the joint statements
of February 1982 and March 1984. At the same time that they rejected the
conditioning of Namibia's independence on the Cuban withdrawal proposed by the
United States and South Africa, they offered reasonable alternatives which
coincided with the ones which would be reached later in the New York agreements
for peace in southwestern Africa.

22.  Before this, it would be necessary to defeat the South Africans once
again. Toward the end of 1987, thousands of South African soldiers clashed with
a FAPLA [People's Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola] group which
conducted an important operation in the southeast, inside the Angolan
territory. During the lopsided fighting, part of the Angolan group was in
danger of being ambushed and wiped out in Cuito Cuanavale. Had the South
African intentions materialized, the defeat would have caused a collapse of
unpredictable consequences. The forces we had in Angola were not enough to face
the situation. To reinforce Cuito Cuanavale with the forces in Angola could had
threatened the general stability of the defense in the southern front.
Therefore, a reinforcement from Cuba was essential. At the same time, we could
not get involved in a decisive battle in Cuito because it was the area chosen
by the enemy and it had all the advantages.

23.  A solid defense had to be organized so that the enemy was inevitably
weakened. The decisive actions had to be waged at a time and place chosen by
us, that is, when we were stronger and could strike their most vulnerable
points, specifically in the southwestern flank.

24.  To achieve this, after making the usual consultations with the Angolan
Government and a meticulous planning by the FAR's General Staff led by
Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, on 15 November 1987 the historic decision was
made to reinforce our troops in the People's Republic of Angola which, as it is
known, amounted to 50,000 soldiers with the mission of, in cooperation with the
Angolan troops, defeating the invading South African troops.

25.  The time will come to explain how it was possible for a Third World
country such as ours to carry out that logistic and moral feat in a matter of
weeks. It is known that the South African command estimated that it would take
us at least six months to transfer the personnel, weapons, and combat equipment
equivalent to a division. It took longer than that for the South African
strategist to realize that we had doubled the total number of our forces and
multiplied it several times in the southern front where 12 years later, we
dominated the airspace for the first time. Labor feats took place to achieve
this such as the construction of the Cahama airport in 70 days. This placed
vital enemy targets within our reach.

26.  On this front we also displayed a force which counted with 998 tanks; over
600 armored vehicles; and 1,600 artillery, mortar, and antiaircraft defense
units, among other equipment. From Cuba, in workdays of up to 20 hours and even
more, Comrade Fidel, as he had done several times since 1975, personally led
the work of the Minfar [Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces] General
Staff, giving us all the strong spirit of achieving victory with a minimum of
casualties by combining audacity and heroism with the principle of not risking
the life of a single man without having exhausted first all the alternatives.
This spirit prevailed throughout these 16 years. It became an ethic and a
style. It established a combat mastery in the chiefs and it was translated into
a morale which, at the same time, fostered confidence and courage in the

27.  Cuito resisted. In its aproaches, all the South African attempts to
advance were halted. Its sophisticated long-range artillery which did not stop
bombing night and day did not frighten the Angolan-Cuban forces and turned out
to be ineffective. In the meantime, in the southwestern flank, a powerful group
joined by SWAPO [South-West African People's Organization] units, seriously
threatened places of strategic importance for the enemy. The clashes with
scouting detachments in Donguene and Tchipa and the air strike against their
positions in Calueque persuaded the South Africans that a military victory at
the expense of the Angolan sovereignty and against the combined forces of
Angola and Cuba was impossible.

28.  This is how the possibility of a negotiated solution was opened. It
included the fulfillment of UN Security Council Resolution No. 435 of 1978 for
the decolonization and independence of Namibia which had been postponed time
after time. The agreements reached in December 1988 signed in New York,
unimaginable without the Carlota operation, placed the withdrawal of Cuban
internationalist troops within the context of a total solution. Its key always
was the complete and prior withdrawal of the South African invaders, first,
from Angola and, later, from Namibia.

29.  The timetable adopted as an annex to the Cuban-Angolan bilateral agreement
for the orderly withdrawal of Cuban combatants by stages and with guarantees
has been fulfilled today ahead of schedule. Cuba's word of not remaining there
a single day more than necessary has been honored. This early withdrawal is a
last gesture of the Governments of Angola and Cuba to contribute to a climate
of confidence so that the negotiated solution of the internal conflict becomes
irreversible. There has been no intention of humiliating the adversary or of
denying what each of the parties should have contributed to reach the
agreements which we have complied strictly and exemplarily. The peoples of
Angola and Cuba have the right to reach the appropriate conclusions of their

30.  A categorical victory is being able to stop the initial assault and bury
forever the myth of the invincibility of the South African Army and of the
mercenaries. A categorical victory is being able to help our brothers to
preserve Angola as an independent nation since 1975 for all these years and
that today its safety, territorial integrity, and inviolability of its borders.

31.  A historic victory is the independence of Namibia, last black African
colony. It would continue being one and the UN Security Council's Resolution
435 of 1978 once more would have not been complied with. It would be buried in
the UN files despite the heroic struggle of the SWAPO.

32.  A victory that is projected toward the future is the achievement of a new
regional correlation in southern Africa determined by the battles of Angolan
and Namibia, by the advances of the antiapartheid movement and the political
space that the ANC [African National Congress] and the black minority have
gained through many sacrifices in their struggle for a solution and a
non-racist state.

33.  A victory is contributing to breaking the locks that kept Nelson Mandela
and other patriots incarcerated for over a quarter of a century. These
victories also belong to all the African peoples, to the governments which,
defying not a few pressures, cooperated according to their possibilities to the
liberation of Angola, to the Frontline States, to the OAU, the Nonaligned
Movement, all the peoples of the Third World.

34.  If these victories are not taken into account, it is impossible to
understand the current political circumstances in Angola. If today the
independent and sovereign government of the People's Republic of Angola has
reached agreements in a process of negotiating the internal conflict, it is
also because the integrity of the Angolan state was preserved in spite of the
aggressive South African designs and invasions, and in spite of the crude
interference by the United States. It is the legitimate government, a result of
the anticolonial struggle which began on 4 February 1961, which continues to
lead the country and offers a chance for peace.

35.  These agreements should give rise to further political processes. Whatever
the results may be, if they reflect the will of the majority of the Angolan
people, exercised in full and genuine freedom, this would also be explained by
these victories, because what Angola's enemies always longed for was to erase
the MPLA and the clearsighted, consistent, and courageous leadership of
President Neto and later Comrade Jose Eduardo dos Santos from the map.

36.  Our only desire, now that the mission that took us to Angola has been
completed, is that its people and leaders will be able to choose without any
kind of interference or pressure the path for rebuilding and developing their
country. As it has done for more than 15 years, Cuba will always respect
Angola's wishes. However, it is not possible to play down the dangers that
threaten the true exercise of this national self-determination.

37.  Cuba is an exceptional witness to U.S. duplicity in the case of Angola;
the United States took on the singular status of mediator while it was at the
same time an active party in the internal conflict. We know about the
innumerable demands always in favor of the aggressor's interests. The hegemonic
role that country is striving to play today in the world is not exactly the
best guarantee that the agreements that should promote stability and peace for
the tormented Angolan people will be respected.

38.  Comrades, we are here today before the memory of those who fell to give an
account to all our people and the leadership of the party and government of the
mission that was entrusted to the Revolutionary Armed Forces almost 16 years
ago. In the new and unexpected challenges, we will always be able to evoke the
Angolan epic with gratitude, because without Angola, we would not be as strong
as we are today. If our people know themselves better, if we know much better
what all of us, veterans and young people, are capable of, it is also thanks to
Angola. The prestige, authority, and respect Cuba enjoys today in the world
cannot be separated from our performance in Angola.

39.  Thanks to Angola, we understand in all its depth Comrade Fidel's teaching
that when a nation like the Cuban nation has been capable of fighting and
sacrificing itself for the freedom of another nation, what would it not be
capable of doing for itself? If today we are more mature in our thinking and
decisions, if today we are more solid, more experienced, it is also thanks to
Angola. If today we are more aware of the work of the revolution because we
have touched the terrible imprint of colonialism and underdevelopment, we have
Angola to thank for this.

40.  If today our political and ideological development, our revolutionary,
socialist, and internationalist awareness, is deeper, we also owe this to
Angola. If today our political and ideological development is deeper....
[corrects himself] If today our combat experience has been enriched, if we are
more battle-hardened and ready to defend our nation, it is because along with
hundreds of thousands of soldiers, 56,622 officers passed through the school of
life and struggle in Angola. If our people are prepared to confront any
difficulty in the times that are approaching, if we have confidence in
ourselves and our ability to endure, to continue to develop the country, and to
win, in this confidence is also the experience of how in the face of adversity
we grew and won in Angola.

41.  If we owe to a country a lesson on stoicism, greatness, spirit of
sacrifice, and loyalty it is to the Angolan people which bade farewell to our
internationalist combatants, with love, and gratitude. Today, under the sky of
the fatherland, the combat flag of the Cuban military mission in the People's
Republic of Angola glows with honor next to the lone star flag. The glory and
supreme merit belongs to the Cuban people, true protagonist of this epic which
will be up to history to value its deepest and long-lasting importance.

42.  Allow me, on behalf of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, express as Fidel
did during the October crisis days, that today more than ever, I am proud of
being a child of this country. [applause] I report to our people and you
commander in chief that Carlota Operation has concluded. [prolonged applause]