Three Internationalist Victories: A Bulletin From Latin America

Statue and monument dedicated to Antonio Maceo, in Havana. (Photo by Sento.)

Statue and monument dedicated to Antonio Maceo, in Havana. (Photo by Sento.)

FRSO/OSCL is an internationalist organization. To that end, we will occasionally publish reportage and opinion pieces about developments outside the United States. This piece discusses Latin America, where events serve as inspiration and impact domestic movements in the US. Note that this was written prior to the recent resumption of some diplomatic relations with Cuba by the US.

Latin America, like everywhere else on the globe, is experiencing turmoil and change. But as they used to say in the former Portuguese colonies in Africa during their struggle for independence, “A luta continua.”

We have to appreciate the small victories both close to home and beyond our borders, both recent and passed. As a regular viewer and reader of Telesur, I am reminded of several historic moments of importance in Latin America. Each has far reaching impacts in the region and internationally. All three occurred in early December 2014.

The first was the commemoration in Cuba of the 118th anniversary of the death of Antonio Maceo who died while fighting for the Cuban independence. Maceo had already sustained 26 bullet wounds in previous battles. He is known as El Titán de Bronce or “The Bronze Titan.”

The independence struggle of Cuba from Spain brought together many currents:

  • The legitimate aspirations for independence of all the Cuban people;
  • The struggle against slavery;
  • The dream of the Confederación Antillana.

Puerto Rican independence hero and abolitionist Ramón Emeterio Betances proposed a union of the 3 Spanish colonies & ex-colonies in the Caribbean – Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. This was a time when some of the bravest and most progressive thinkers and liberation fighters from those three colonies actively supported each other’s struggles for liberation, human rights and social progress.

Maceo and other heroes of those struggles, like Dominican Máximo Gómez and Puerto Rican Eugenio María de Hostos, are seen in Cuba, the Caribbean and Latin America as examples for the kind of internationalism that continues to be a vital and necessary force in the world today.

The second was the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Operación Tributo, which celebrated the return of the remains of 2,085 Cuban internationalists who had given their lives in support of the liberation struggles in Africa.

March commemorating Operación Tributo. Photo by Luis Mario Rodríguez Suñol.

March commemorating Operación Tributo. Photo by Luis Mario Rodríguez Suñol.

While I may question the role that Cuba played in intervening on the side of the Ethiopian regime in the 70s and 80s against the Eritrean independence movement, I believe that their role in Southern Africa was heroic and crucial. Many observers point to the defeat of apartheid South African forces at the hands of Angolan and Cuban forces in the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola in 1988 as one of the straws that broke the back of the apartheid regime and put a halt to its military incursions against the Frontline States that had been supporting the anti-apartheid struggle.

The final small victory was the 5th Caricom-Cuba Summit. While the US has consistently undermined efforts at Latin American and Caribbean unity for the last 200+ years, our sisters and brothers south of the US border have been saying !Basta Ya! more and more in recent years. Is a continental socialist revolution imminent in the Americas? No, but we should be aware of and support the various efforts of progressive forces in that vast region to build multinational alliances and political, economic, social and military alternatives to continued US domination of those territories and peoples.

It is no accident that this summit was held at the same time as those other two anniversaries. Leaders in attendance at the summit did not fail to note of the significance and example of the past internationalist and national liberation fighters who are being honored in Cuba and beyond.

It is also worth noting that while the US and other big powers have almost nothing to help the people in West Africa who are struggling against the Ebola pandemic (beyond some brave individuals and a few NGOs), Cuba has made great contributions on the ground in the directly affected countries and in the effort to coordinate prevention efforts in the Caribbean.

One final thing to note on the Latin American internationalist front:

Cuba has been playing host to peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP over the last several months. That these negotiations are happening at all is amazing, given the power of the reactionary forces in Colombia and beyond who insist on a strictly military/paramilitary “solution” to that conflict. It is even more amazing that it is happening in Cuba when one considers the nearly 60 year effort by US “leaders” and their Latin American lackeys to isolate the Cuban revolution and its allies as well as other forces for change in Latin America that may have been/are allied with the cuban@s.

The author is a long time activist and lifelong learner for over three decades. She is a student of the historical and current developments in Latin America and the Caribbean—as well as the USNA & other parts of the world. Over the years, she has been active in the many movements: anti-draft, international solidarity, labor, immigrant rights and anti-war/anti-imperialist, to name a few. After a long career as a public school teacher, she now uses her language skills as an interpreter and translator.

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