Advertisement

Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 233–248 | Cite as

The Cuban fulcrum and the search for a transatlantic revolutionary culture in Angola, Mozambique and Chile, 1965–2008

  • Stephen HenighanEmail author
Article

Abstract

This article investigates the specificity of self-defined ‘Third World Marxist’ cultures through an exploration of attempts to forge links between revolutionary movements in Latin America and the anti-colonialist movements in (former) Portuguese colonies in Africa such as Angola and Mozambique from the early 1960s. Contrasting the Lusophone African engagements of Latin American countries such Cuba and Chile, this article argues that, in general, differences outweighed similarities. Yet the cultural legacy of these exchanges, it will be shown, is substantial and in some cases has survived the end of the Cold War era in which those exchanges were forged.

Keywords

Third World Marxism cultural aspects Cuba Angola Mozambique Chile 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Agostinho Neto, ‘Noites de cárcere’ [‘Nights in Prison’], in Sagrada Esperança (São Paulo: Editora Atica, 1985), 93. Unless otherwise noted, translations from Spanish or Portuguese are by the author.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Mario Vargas Llosa, Contra viento y marea (1962–1982) (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1983), 37.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See Donald C. Hodges, The Intellectual Foundations of the Nicaraguan Revolution (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986), 195; and Patrick Chabal, withGoogle Scholar
  4. 3a.
    David Birmingham, Joshua Forest, Malyn Newitt, Gerhard Seibert, Elisa Silva Andrade, A History of Postcolonial Lusophone Africa (London: Hurst, 2002), 150–151 and 206–207.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Author’s interview with Sergio Ramírez, Managua, 14 February 2006.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
  7. 6.
    Author’s interview with Mia Couto, Maputo, 12 July 2006. The author has been unable to find evidence of direct contacts between the MPLA and Sandinista Nicaragua.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    Author’s interview with Ernesto Cardenal, Managua, 13 February 2006.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    Brazil’s relationship with Angola, defined by direct ties of language and kinship (most black Brazilians are of Angolan descent) and even by corresponding geographical locations on opposite shores of the South Atlantic Ocean (Rio de Janeiro and Luanda are connected by regular direct flights), transcends the revolutionary context under discussion here. During the colonial era, most of the books available in both Angola and Mozambique were Brazilian translations of world literature; Brazil, even under a conservative military government, was the first country in the world to grant diplomatic recognition to independent Marxist Angola in 1975; and in the twenty-first century, Brazilian television soap operas and popular music are central elements in the daily lives of both of these Lusophone African nations. Brazil’s relationship with Angola, in other words, is rooted in deep cultural and linguistic affinities which have persisted across the successive political horizons of colonialism, Cold War conflict and neo-liberal globalisation.Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    Ángel Esteban and Stéphanie Panichelli, Gabo y Fidel: elpaisaje de una amistad (Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 2004), 157.Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    Stéphanie Panichelli, Gabo y Fidel: elpaisaje de una amistad (Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 2004) Idem. 246 S. HenighanGoogle Scholar
  12. 11.
    Stéphanie Panichelli, Gabo y Fidel: elpaisaje de una amistad (Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 2004) Ibid., 156.Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    This phrase is traditionally attributed to Jonas Savimbi, leader of the counter-revolutionary UNITA (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola [National Union for the Total Independence of Angola]), which for many years was funded by the United States and South Africa. Edward George, Moscow’s Gurkhas or The Tail Wagging the Dog? Cuban Internationalism in Angola, 1965–1991, Occasional Papers Series No. 29 (Bristol: University of Bristol, Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, 1999), 1.Google Scholar
  14. 13.
    Collaboration with Cuba remains a central plank of Angolan foreign policy in the twenty-first century, although the language which frames such exchanges is now that of neo-liberalism. On 23 February 2005, the Angolan ambassador to Cuba, António Condesse de Carvalho, announced that he was seeking the ‘cria©ão de parcerias entre operadores económicos cubanos e angolanos, com vista a permitir o cruzamento de capitais nas respectivas economias’ [the creation of joint ventures between Cuban and Angolan economic actors with a view to permitting capital flows between the respective economies] ‘Cuba: Diplomata angolano defende participa©ão na recupera©ão do país’, AngoNotícias: Notícias de Angola em Tempo Real, 23 February 2005, available at http://www.angono-ticias.com/full_headlines.php?id=4146%3Cb, accessed 14 April 2008. In July 2007, sixty Cuban doctors began to work in clinics in impoverished areas of Luanda, such as Sambizanga and Viana. ‘Medicos cubanos chegam ao país no mês de Julho’, AngoNotícias: Notícias de Angola em Tempo Real, 2 July 2007 available at http://angonoticias.com/full_headlines_.php?id=14752, accessed 14 April 2008.Google Scholar
  15. 14.
    Author’s interview with Pepetela, Luanda, 5 July 2005.Google Scholar
  16. 15.
    Edward George, The Cuban Intervention in Angola, 1965–1991: From Che Guevara to Cuito Cuanavale (Abingdon: Cass, 2005), 22 and 306.Google Scholar
  17. 16.
    Ibid., 29.Google Scholar
  18. 17.
    Luis Baez, ‘General de Brigada Rafael Moracén Limonta: Angola fue una escuela’, Secretos de Generales. Especial de Ganma por el año 50 de las gloriosas Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias, available at: https://doi.org/www.granma.cubaweb.cu/secciones/generales/art08.html, accessed 11 April 2008. The most thorough airing of this problem occurs in Pepetela’s novel Mayombe (1971) (Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 2002; trans. Michael Wolfers, London: Heinemann Educational, 1983), which is set in and around the Dolisie base camp.Google Scholar
  19. 18.
    http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/url secciones/generales/art08.html, accessed 11 April 2008 Idem.Google Scholar
  20. 19.
    The MPLA’s intellectual founders, Mario Pinto de Andrade and Viriato da Cruz, were light-skinned mesti¢os [mixed-race people]. Figures who became central to the MPLA government, such as Lucio Lara and Paulo Jorge, were also of mixed racial background. President Agostinho Neto, a black man of creolised culture, was married to a white woman and had three mixed-raced children. The journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski was surprised to find ‘hundreds’ of whites in the MPLA: ‘They fight at the front or work in the staff or in administration. They all wear beards’ (Ryszard Kapuscinski, Another Day of Life, trans. William R. Brand and Katarzyna Mroczkowska-Brand (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987), 37).Google Scholar
  21. 20.
    Baez, ‘General de Brigada Rafael Moracén Limonta’.Google Scholar
  22. 21.
    Hugh Thomas, Cuba, or The Pursuit of Freedom (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1971), 50 and 183.Google Scholar
  23. 22.
    Baez, ‘General de Brigada Rafael Moracén Limonta’.Google Scholar
  24. 23.
    David Birmingham, ‘Angola’, in A History of Postcolonial Lusophone Africa, Patrick Chabal with David Birmingham, Joshua Forrest, Malyn Newitt, Gerhard Seibert, Elsa Silva Andrade (London: Hurst, 2002), 153.Google Scholar
  25. 24.
    George, The Cuban Intervention in Angola, 129–130.Google Scholar
  26. 25.
    Birmingham, Angola’, 168.Google Scholar
  27. 26.
    Cited by Isaac Saney, ‘The Story of How Cuba Helped to Free Africa’, Morning Star, 4 November 2005, available at https://doi.org/www.doublestandards.org/saney1.html, accessed 10 December 2008.Google Scholar
  28. 27.
    Gabriel García Marquez. ‘Operación Carlota - Cuba en Angola’, Por la libre: obra periodística 4 - 1974–1995 (Barcelona: Grijalbo Mondadori, 1999), 155; ‘Operation Carlota’, trans. Patrick Camiller, New Left Review, no. 101–102 (January-April 1977), 137. Journal of Transatlantic Studies 247Google Scholar
  29. 28.
    George, The Cuban Intervention in Angola, 79–80.Google Scholar
  30. 29.
    Amílcar Cabral, Nacionalismo e cultura (Santiago de Compostela: Laiovento, 1999), 74–75.Google Scholar
  31. 30.
    Gabriel García Marquez and Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, El olor de guayaba (Barcelona: Bruguera, 1982), 73; The Fragrance of Guava, trans. Ann Wright (London: Verso, 1983), 51.Google Scholar
  32. 31.
    Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America (London: Penguin, 1992), 509.Google Scholar
  33. 32.
    Belano’s life in Chile is recounted in Bolano’s earlier novel, Estrella distante [Distant Star] (Barcelona: Anagrama, 1996).Google Scholar
  34. 33.
    Roberto Bolaño, Los detectives salvajes (Barcelona: Anagrama, 1998), 526–527; The Savage Detectives, trans. Natasha Wimmer (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), 496.Google Scholar
  35. 34.
    Ibid., 527–528; 497–498.Google Scholar
  36. 35.
    Ibid., 531; 499.Google Scholar
  37. 36.
    Ibid., 527; 497. Wimmer translates the Spanish ‘un negro’ as ‘an African’ rather than as ‘a Black man’.Google Scholar
  38. 37.
    The author expresses his gratitude to Moira Lavanderos de Tohá for her very generous collaboration in providing material for this article. He thanks the writer Jorge Etcheverry and the filmmaker Gaston Ancelovici for assisting him in establishing this contact.Google Scholar
  39. 38.
    See Malyn Newitt, A History of Mozambique (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995), 1–3, 7, and 107–119.Google Scholar
  40. 39.
    Ibid., 567.Google Scholar
  41. 40.
    Moira Lavanderos de Tohá, ‘Mozambique: preguntas’, email to the author, 4 May 2008. Lavanderos’s husband, Jaime Tohá Gonzalez, and his brother José were Ministers of Agriculture and Defence respectively in the government of President Salvador Allende (1970–1973). After General Augusto Pinochet’s coup, Jaime Tohá was imprisoned in the notorious Dawson Island concentration camp, where his brother died under torture. Posted to Mozambique by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the Tohás lived in Maputo from February 1977 to July 1988. Jaime Tohá later served in cabinet posts under the first three presidents elected after Chile’s return to democracy in 1990. In April 2007, President Michelle Bachelet named him Ambassador to Cuba.Google Scholar
  42. 41.
    Lavanderos, ‘Mozambique: preguntas’.Google Scholar
  43. 42.
    Albie Sachs, Images of a Revolution: Mural Art in Mozambique (Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House, 1983), 14.Google Scholar
  44. 43.
    Ibid., 12.Google Scholar
  45. 44.
    Lavanderos, ‘Mozambique: preguntas.’Google Scholar
  46. 45.
    Sachs, Images of a Revolution, 14.Google Scholar
  47. 46.
    Lavanderos, ‘Mozambique: preguntas’.Google Scholar
  48. 47.
  49. 48.
    Chile-Mozambique: experiencia de amistad y solidaridad entre los pueblos (Santiago de Chile: n. pub., May 2008), 48.Google Scholar
  50. 49.
    In Angola, Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA, having refused to accept the outcome of UN-sponsored elections held in 1992, continued its war against the Angolan government until Savimbi’s death in 2002.Google Scholar
  51. 50.
    Sergio Vieira, Mozambique y Nicaragua: reto por la pacificación y democratización, interview conducted by Hugo Norori, bulletin no. 10 (Managua: Centro de Estudios Internacionales, March 1993), 5.Google Scholar
  52. 51.
    These similarities are made explicit in William Minter’s Apartheid’s Contras: An Inquiry into the Roots of War in Angola and Mozambique (Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1994).Google Scholar
  53. 52.
    Vieira, Mozambique y Nicaragua, 9.Google Scholar
  54. 53.
    Ibid., 10.Google Scholar
  55. 54.
    Ibid., 11.Google Scholar
  56. 55.
    Ibid., 13.Google Scholar
  57. 56.
    Ondjaki, bom dia camaradas (Lisboa: Caminho, 2003), 103. Good Morning Comrades, trans. Stephen Henighan (Emeryville, Ontario: Biblioasis, 2008), 84.Google Scholar
  58. 57.
    Ibid., 74. 60. 248 S. HenighanGoogle Scholar
  59. 58.
    George, The Cuban Intervention in Angola, 1.Google Scholar
  60. 59.
    Robin D. Moore, Music and Revolution: Cultural Change in Socialist Cuba (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 60.
  62. 61.
    Leonardo Padura Fuentes, Paisaje de otoño (Barcelona: Tusquets, 1998), 23–24.Google Scholar
  63. 62.
    Chile-Mozambique, 3.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Languages and Literatures, MacKinnon Bldg 274University of GuelphGuelphCanada

Personalised recommendations