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Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 208–217 | Cite as

‘Locking horns with the Northern Empire’: anti-American imperialism at the Tricontinental Conference of 1966 in Havana

  • Manuel BarciaEmail author
Article

Abstract

In January 1966 Havana hosted a ‘tricontinental’ conference that aimed to address the role of US imperialism in the Cold War world as well as the invasions of Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. This article examines some of the themes discussed in 1966 and the immediate impact of the conference on liberation movements around the world, most notably in Portuguese Africa, Vietnam and the Middle East. The conference also had a long-lasting impact on the democratic future of many Third World countries.

Keywords

anti-imperialism Cuba Tricontinental Conference Tricontinental Movement 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    The kidnapping and execution of Mehdi Ben Barka has been the subject of several books, articles and at least two films, Simone Bitton’s Ben Barka: The Moroccan Equation (2003), andGoogle Scholar
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    Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was assassinated, with the consent of the CIA, in 1961, after a coup d’état staged by Joseph Mobutu. Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, who had been one of the main leaders of the Cuban Revolution, was captured in combat and then assassinated by the Bolivian army under the supervision of CIA agents in 1967. The democratically-elected Chilean president Salvador Allende was murdered by the troops led by General Augusto Pinochet in 1973. The coup d’état that eventually led to more than a decade of dictatorship was fully supported by the US government of Richard Nixon.Google Scholar
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    See Fidel Castro Ruz, comandante, speech given at the closing session of the Tricontinental Conference, Chaplin Theater, Havana, 15 January 1966, available at: http://www.cuba.cu/gobierno/discursos/1966/esp/f150166e.html, accessed 5 February 2007.Google Scholar
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    At this juncture the sponsorship of the Chinese was being heavily undermined by the USSR, which was giving financial support to the various bodies that were appearing and strengthening as a consequence of the meetings.Google Scholar
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    Of course such a change affected the balance of external power and influence that China and the USSR were trying to maintain over the delegates of the nations involved in this movement. The meeting in Havana became a battleground between China and the USSR, both of whom wanted to extend boundaries and spheres of influence to encompass the Third World. No-one was able to spot this struggle better than the agents of the ‘Empire’ who were reporting from Havana at the time. They all coincided on a Chinese victory in ideological terms, and on a Soviet triumph at the organisational level. (For more information see: A Staff Study, Chapters 10 and 11; and ‘The Tricontinental Conference’, TNA: FO. 1110/2115).Google Scholar
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    Osvaldo Dorticós served as president of the Republic of Cuba between 1959 and 1976.Google Scholar
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    Internal problems and the Arab-Israeli conflict that led to the six-day war in June 1967 prevented Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser from hosting the event. To a certain extent the cancellation of the Cairo conference brought to an end the idea of yearly meetings among the OSPAAAL countries.Google Scholar
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    A Staff Study, Chapter 3.Google Scholar
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    Anon. to R. H. G Edmonds, Esq., Havana, 2 February 1967. TNA: FO. 7/97.Google Scholar
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  37. 35.
    The USA, and the CIA in particular, had been practicing this type of contingency-plan since the deposition of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. Two notorious casualties of this policy were Jacobo Goulart in Brazil in 1965 and Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973.Google Scholar
  38. 36.
    Mobutu Seseseco ( Joseph Désiré Mobutu) was behind the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in 1961. In 1965 he came to power after staging another coup ousting the government of Moise Tchombe and Joseph Kasavuvu. He went on to rule the former Belgian Congo until 1997.Google Scholar
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    In October 2008, barely a few months before leaving office, the Bush administration ordered an air strike inside Syrian territory that resulted in the death of eight civilians in the town of Abu Kamal. See ‘Syria Complains to UN about US Strike’, CNN, 28 October 2008, available at http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/10/28/syria.us.strike/index.html, accessed 15 November 2008; and ‘Syrian Witness Reacts to US Raid’, BBC, 27 October 2008, available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7693053.stm, accessed 15 November 2008.Google Scholar
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    Castro Ruz, speech given at the closing session of the Tricontinental Conference.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American StudiesUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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