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Guiné e Cabo Verde (PAIGC) were Zaire, Congo Brazzaville, and Guinea- sible role of East Germany. I don't refighting for independence from Portu- Bissau were volunteers. They were cap

call any concern about a Cuban role. Begal. The PAIGC was “the most effec- tivated by the mystique of guerrilla war.

fore I left, when people in the Africa Butive of the liberation organizations in “We dreamt of revolution," one muses.

reau (of the State Department) talked of

the Soviet bloc role in Angola, they the Portuguese African territories,” U.S. “We wanted to be part of it, to feel that 19

thought of the Soviets, the East Germans, reports stressed time and again. At we were fighting for it. We were young,

not of Cuba. I don't recall that we knew the PAIGC's request, Cuban military in- and the children of a revolution." Fight

of Cuba's ties with the MPLA, but even structors arrived in Guinea-Bissau in ing abroad, they would defend the revo- if we knew it didn't worry us.

26 1966, and they remained there through lution at home. "In all those years we the end of the war in 1974. This was believed that at any moment they (the These ties had begun in 1965, when the longest Cuban intervention in Af- United States) were going to strike us; Che Guevara had met Agostinho Neto, rica before the dispatch of troops to and for us it was better to wage the war Lucio Lara, and other MPLA leaders in Angola in 1975. It was also the most

abroad than in our own country.”23 Brazzaville in a “historical encounter," successful. In the words of Guinea- The volunteers received no public as Raúl Castro called it.27 “We spoke, Bissau's first president,

praise in Cuba. They left“knowing that we discussed,” related Lara. “We wanted their story would remain a secret.”:24

only one thing from the Cubans: instrucwe were able to fight and triumph be- They won neither medals nor material tors. The war was becoming difficult cause other countries and people helped

rewards. Once back they could not and we were inexperienced ... Guevara us ... with weapons, with medicine, with

boast about their deeds, because they promised that he would speak with his supplies ... But there is one nation that

were bound to secrecy. in addition to material, political and dip

Party and his government so that they lomatic support, even sent its children

This secrecy notwithstanding, would send us instructors.' to fight by our side, to shed their blood through all these years U.S. officials

Risquet's column trained MPLA in our land together with that of the best knew that Cubans were in Africa—in guerrillas in Congo Brazzaville in 1966children of our country.

Algeria, then in Zaire, in Congo 67 and several of its members joined the This great people, this heroic people, Brazzaville, and finally in Guinea- MPLA in the Angolan enclave of we all know that it is the heroic people Bissau. And yet they paid little atten- Cabinda as advisers, instructors, and of Cuba; the Cuba of Fidel Castro; the

tion to it. As Robinson Mcllvaine, the combatants.29 There were moments of Cuba of the Sierra Maestra, the Cuba of

U.S. ambassador in Conakry, Guinea, frustration for the instructors who had Moncada ... Cuba sent its best children

from October 1966 through August learned their trade in the exacting school here so that they could help us in the technical aspects of our war, so that they

1969, remarked, “The State Department of Fidel Castro's Rebel Army and who could help us to wage this great struggle

was not particularly concerned with the found themselves in a completely alien ... against Portuguese colonialism.20 Cuban presence. It was not a big worry culture with a very different concept of

for us." This complacency, which con- discipline, and there were also warm Some 40-50 Cubans fought in trasts starkly with Washington's reac- moments of humanity in that inhospiGuinea-Bissau each year from 1966 tion to even the rumor of Cuban com- table forest. "I looked at them all,” wrote until independence in 1974. They batants in Latin America, is explained the Cuban Rafael Moracén after delivhelped in military planning and they by the fact that U.S. officials were con

ering a particularly severe scolding in were in charge of the artillery. Their fident that a handful of Cubans could which he had given vent to all his fruscontribution was, as President Nino, not be effective in distant, alien Afri- trations, "and I was moved, I felt love who had been the senior military com- can countries. In discussing Commu- for them. ... They had such dignity that mander of the PAIGC, said, "of the ut- nist subversion in Africa, the CIA barely I felt it was worth dying with them if I most importance.”21 mentioned Cuba. 25

had to."30 Bonds were forged that Just as the only foreigners who This helps explain why the United would never be forgotten, and which fought with the PAIGC in Guinea- States was stunned by the Cuban inter- explain why, ten years later, in late 1975, Bissau were Cubans, so too the only vention in Angola in 1975. “In the 1960s Moracén pestered Raúl Castro to be alforeign doctors were Cubans (with one there was no sense of a Cuban danger lowed to return to Angola. “I am an brief exception), and there were no na

in Africa; their intervention in Angola Angolan,” he pleaded.tive doctors until 1968. From 1966 to was a real surprise," observes former In 1966, the MPLA withdrew its 1974 there were, on average, seven State Department official Paul O'Neil. forces from Cabinda and opened a new Cuban doctors in Guinea Bissau. "They

front in eastern Angola along the Zamreally performed a miracle," observes

During my tenure as Director of South

bian border. This meant that there was Francisca Pereira, a senior PAIGC of

ern Africa Office (of the State Depart

no reason for the Cubans to remain in

ment from July 1973 to June 1975) we ficial. “I am eternally grateful to them:

the Congo, and they were unable to send

were aware that there was some Soviet/ not only did they save lives, but they

instructors to eastern Angola, as the

East European support for the MPLA, also put their own lives at risk. They

but I don't recall any discussion of a

MPLA requested, because of Zambian were truly selfless."22

Cuban role before I left. Aside from the opposition. Over the next few years, The men who went to Algeria, Soviet Union, we would discuss the pos- until the end of 1974, relations between

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* More Russian Evidence on the Cu-
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Russian Foreign Ministry archives and other et al.

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letin 5 (Spring 1995);
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* New Evidence on Soviet Decision-
year, multi-ar-
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Making on the 1956 Polish and Hungar

ian Crises, featuring an authoritive translaaces, and lega

tion and annotation of the so-called "Malin power detente

Notes" of key Kremlin meetings during the as spearheaded crises, along with an introductory essay, by d janet Lang of

Mark Kramer of Harvard University—a reute for Interna

markable window into how the Soviet leadAniversity (orga- ership responded to a challenge to the comon the Cuban

munist empire that in many ways foreshadve participation

owed the terminal crisis of 1989, and finally
scholarly part-

* Research Reports on Soviet Nuclea
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Stal research in-
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USSR's atomic project and on Niki
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and the Center Editor and as Director of the Cold War
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Ses on the breakdown in U.S.- forthcoming study of Northeast A
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articles and

Tay 1994 on the SALT II pro-
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auderdale in March 1995 (on
Norway in September 1995 (on Security Archive, a frequent co
ivalry in the Third World), and
Commentaries, were solicited by a forthcoming study on relati
Lions, as well as accompanying the East German archives, and

documents obtained by the German Democratic Rep
Brezhnev Project are available for United States, becomes Assoc

The National Security Archive.) I am also glad to say that I E

interested in these topics will closely associated with CWIL

obtain the first book to emerge ing with my successors on arter-Brezhnev Project: Odd Arne tivities, contributing to ful

The Fall of Detente: Soviet- editing CWIHP's Book Ser Relations in the Carter Years (see even finding time after five - h contains interpretive essays by istration to do more of my

>lars as well as recently declassi- writing on Cold War histo and East-bloc materials; other vol- good-bye.

Nevertheless, I would ulletin double issue also contains gratitude to CWIHP's c her major chunks of important new friends, and collaborata

from communist archives: participate in the thril Hore New Evidence on the Cold peering behind (and tr sia, following up on the previous tirely) the curtain of the (no. 6-7, Winter 1995/1996, 294 world history, and to

Havana's Policy in Africa, 1959-76: New Evidence from Cuban Archives

by Piero Gleijeses!

cal ploys of a client state—that prevails Frequently the edited lines contained in the United States. Yet it has attracted

the remarks of a foreign leader criticizThe dearth of documents and his- virtually no attention. It is a significant ing his own political allies; thus, to extorical context has hampered rigorous lacuna. As a Cuban official told me,

plain why half a page had been sanianalysis of Cuba's intervention in “Cuba's intervention in Angola cannot tized (Doc. 5), Risquet wrote, “the conAngola in 1975. Despite the interest be understood without looking at our versation that followed was about inscholars have shown in the episode, the past.”2

ternal MPLA matters that (Angolan lack of Cuban documents and the closed Whereas those who publish in the President Agostinho] Neto discussed nature of Cuban society have prevented Bulletin generally use archives that have

with (Cuban official Díaz] Argüelles. It them from being able to accurately de- been opened, the Cuban archives I have

would be unethical to make them pubscribe Cuba's actions. I have gone to

used are still closed. This requires, then, lic."3 In the case of three intelligence Havana six times, for a total of six an explanation of my modus operandi. documents, the sanitized paragraphs months, since 1993 to research Cuban There was no established declassi

would have revealed sources. In other policy toward Africa, and I have gained fication process in Cuba when I began

cases the lines (or words) sanitized inaccess to the archives of the Central my research. Mindful of the fact that

cluded comments about African or Committee of the Communist Party of the documents I cited would not be Asian countries that, the censors beCuba (CC CPC), the Instituto de readily accessible to my readers, I de- lieved, would unnecessarily complicate Historia de Cuba, the Centro de cided that I would never use a document

Cuba's foreign relations. Información de la Defensa de las unless I was given a photocopy of the I have also interviewed 63 Cuban Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias, and original. I badgered Cuban officials protagonists, many of them repeatedly the Ministerio para la Inversión relentlessly, arguing that in the United and in relaxed settings. While interExtranjera y la Colaboración Econ- States their word has no credibility, that views without documents would be of ómica. Armed with documents from their testimonies are only valid if sup- little use, interviews with documents these closed and never before used ar- ported by documents, and that while one

can be extremely helpful. Furthermore, chives, supplemented with interviews, document would suffice to criticize

many of the interviewees gave me leta close reading of the press, and U.S. Cuba, five would be necessary to say ters and journals from their own perdocuments, I can shed new light on the anything positive. Jorge Risquet, a sonal collections, and they alerted me Angola affair.

member of the Central Committee, un- to documents in the government arThe new documents clarify the derstood. I owe a great debt to his in

chives, which made it possible to be evolution of Cuba's involvement in telligence and sensitivity. We have very specific in my requests to Risquet. Angola and answer the critical question come a long way since the day in 1994

The Cuban authorities were well aware of whether the Cubans sent troops be

when I asked him for all the reports of my freewheeling interviews and to fore or after the South African interven- written by the Chief of the Cuban Mili- the best of my knowledge they did nothtion. They also address the vexing ques- tary Mission in Angola between Augusting to hinder me. Currently I am tion of Havana's motivation, particu- and October 1975 only to be told, “You complementing my research in Cuba larly whether or not it was acting as a aren't writing his biography. One will with research in the United States, EuSoviet proxy. They document Cuba's be enough." Two years later, I received

rope (particularly Moscow, Berlin, and longstanding relationship with the all the others. The Cubans established

Lisbon), and, of course, Africa. Popular Movement for the Liberation a procedure of which I could only ap- Cuba's pre-1975 Africa policy can of Angola (MPLA), and they place the prove: any document they expected to be divided into three major phases: preAngolan crisis in the broad context of be declassified they allowed me to read 1964, when the focus was Algeria; Cuban policy toward Africa. From in its entirety, whether in Risquet's of

1964-66, when Cuba's attention was 1959 to 1974 the Cubans intervened in fice or in the archives themselves. Then suddenly riveted by sub-Saharan AfAlgeria, Congo Leopoldville, Congo the waiting would begin. It could take

rica-a heady time characterized by Brazzaville and Guinea-Bissau. More less than a hour or more than a year. As Che Guevara's three-month trip through Cubans fought in Africa during these I write, there are several hundred pages the continent and the dispatch of Cuyears than in Latin America, and Cu- of documents that I have been allowed ban columns to Zaire and Congo ban policy was far more successful in to read but have not yet been given. Brazzaville; and post-1966, a period of the former than in the latter. The story

About 80 of the more than 3,000 growing maturity, highlighted by the of these fifteen years challenges the pages of documents that I have received

long and successful Cuban involvement image of Cuban foreign policy-cyni- were sanitized after I had read them. in Guinea-Bissau (1966-74). Before FIDEL CASTRO'S 1977 SOUTHERN AFRICA TOUR: A REPORT TO HONECKER

Cuba and the MPLA were friendly but stronger than the MPLA in the short less close, and Cuba's support for the term, the MPLA was building for the movement was limited to training a long haul, and this would bear fruit. handful of MPLA fighters in Cuba and, “This movement," they wrote, “is the as the MPLA was convulsed by inter- best structured politically and militarnal strife, to giving unwavering support ily, (and) as a result it enjoys extraordito the group around Agostinho Neto.32 nary popular support."34 Time favored

Lack of space precludes an in- the MPLA. depth discussion of the 1975 Cuban in- The report also included a letter tervention in Angola. I will focus in- from Neto specifying the aid he sought stead on two particularly controversial from Cuba (see doc. 4). But Neto was, issues: when Cuba sent its military in- in fact, uncertain about what he wanted structors and when it sent its troops. I from Cuba. He told Pina and Cadelo will also comment briefly on some of that “once we know what weapons the the points raised in Odd Arne Westad's Soviets are going to give us, we will article about the Soviet role in Angola have to adjust our military plans; exin this issue of the Bulletin.

actly what we ask from Cuba will be The basic outline of the story is contingent on this.”35 A recurring idea well known. Upon the collapse of the of military instructors floated in the air Portuguese dictatorship on 25 April but was not precise. As Cadelo noted, 1974, there were three rival indepen- “Even though Neto gave us a letter with dence movements in Angola: Agostinho some concrete demands, it was not reNeto's MPLA, Holden Roberto's Na- ally clear what the best form of cooptional Front for the Liberation of Angola eration with Cuba would be, or how and (FNLA), and Jonas Savimbi's National when it should be implemented.”36 On Union for the Total Independence of one point, however, Neto was definite: Angola (UNITA). On 15 January 1975, he wanted Cuba to provide the funds to Portugal and these three movements ship the weapons the MPLA had in Daragreed that a transitional government, es-Salaam, its major arsenal, to Angola. under a Portuguese High Commis- Neto "said that he was confident that sioner, would rule the country until in

until in- they would receive Soviet aid, but that dependence on 11 November 1975. it would not arrive for five months and Before independence would come elec- that it was therefore imperative to move tions for a Constituent Assembly which their material and equipment from Darwould elect Angola's first president. es-Salaam to Angola."37 Neto told

The first high-level contact be- Cadelo and Pina that he would need tween the MPLA and Cuba following $100,000 for the task. 38 the coup in Portugal was in late Decem- But Cuba did not send the money, ber 1974, when two senior Cubans ar- and nothing happened beyond the arrived in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania: rival of ten to twelve Angolans in Cuba Carlos Cadelo, the Communist party for special training in March and official whose portfolio included April. 39 There is no indication in the Angola, and Major Alfonso Pérez Mo- Cuban documents I have seen that the rales (Pina), who had served, with great MPLA renewed its requests until May, distinction, with the PAIGC guerrilla when Neto met Cuban Deputy Prime fighters in Guinea-Bissau. They met Minister Flavio Bravo in Brazzaville, Neto and other MPLA leaders in Dar- "and asked [Cuba's] help to transport es-Salaam and asked permission to some weapons, and also asked about the travel to Angola. Neto approved: “He possibility of a broader and more speasked us to verify everything he had told cific aid program.” In late June, Neto us so that we could get an objective met with Cadelo in Maputo, view of the real situation in Angola."33 Mozambique, and renewed his re

After two weeks in Angola, Cadelo and Pina met Neto again. Their subse- Three weeks later the United States quent report was lengthy (42 pages) and decided to greatly expand the CIA's optimistic: the elections would take covert operation in Angola (increasing place; while the FNLA was militarily aid to the FNLA and initiating support

Editor's Note: In early 1977, Cuban President Fidel Castro took a an extensive tour of Africa and then continued on to Europe and the USSR. During a stop in East Berlin, Castro recounted his experiences to East German Communist leader Erich Honecker. The record of those discussions was located in the archives of the former ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) by Christian F. Ostermann (CWIHP/National Security Archive).

The following excerpt-from a discussion on 3 April 1977 at the House of the SED Central Committee in East Berlin-contains Castro's impressions of the situations in several southern African countries, (e.g., Tanzania, Angola, Mozambique, People's Republic of the Congo), and several guerrilla or liberation groups in the region, such as the African National Congress (ANC), then struggling for power in South Africa, and two groups fighting to rule ZimbabweRhodesia, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and the Zimbabwe African Political Union (ZAPU). Also included are Castro's assessments of individual political leaders, remarks about coordination with Moscow, and an overall conclusion that Africa was the place to inflict a major blow against world imperialism. (For Castro's remarks at this meeting on the situation in the Horn of Africa, see the excerpts printed later in this issue of the CWIHP Bulletin.)

Transcript of Honecker-Castro,
Meeting, 3 April 1977 (excerpts)

Minutes of the conversation between Comrade Erich Honecker and Comrade

Fidel Castro, Sunday, 3 April 1977 between 11:00 and 13:30 and 15:45 and 18:00, House of the

Central Committee, Berlin.

quest. 40

Participants: Comrades Hermann Axen,
Werner Lamberz, Paul Verner, Paul
Markowski (with Comrades Edgar Fries
and Karlheinz Mobus as interpreters),
Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, Osmany Cien-

continued on page 18

for UNITA), but there is no evidence Cuba decided to offer Neto almost five claim that Cuba did not move sooner to that Cuba and the MPLA knew about times more instructors than he had re- help the MPLA because the Soviet it. What they knew—and indeed it was quested. In Risquet's words, “If we were Union did not want it to. But can one public knowledge—was that the pro- going to send our men, we had to send seriously argue that Cuba needed SoAmerican Zairean government of enough to fulfill the mission and to de- viet permission to send $100,000 to Mobuto Sese Seko had sent troops into fend themselves, because too small a Neto? Others may repeat the canard northern Angola on Roberto's side. By group would simply have been over- that Cuba sent 200 military instructors May, Portugal was no longer making whelmed.":46

to Angola in the spring of 1975,51 but any attempt to police even the main Contrary to the widespread image the evidence flatly contradicts this. In crossing points with Zaire and it was of the Cuban intervention in Angola, the absence of a satisfactory explanareported that over one thousand Zairean Havana had been slow to get involved. tion, one can only note that the Cuban soldiers were in northern Angola. 41 The documents that I have seen do not leaders were focusing on domestic matAngola, warned Neto, “was being sub- explain this delay, and I have not been ters and that relations with the MPLA jected to a silent invasion by soldiers able to interview those protagonists who since 1967 had not been intense. In July from Zaire.:42

could provide an answer, notably Fidel Cuba finally shifted gears. It was as if By late July, Angola was in the and Raúl Castro. Perhaps there was, the music had suddenly changed; Cuba throes of civil war and Havana finally on Cuba's part, a reluctance to be drawn had made its choice, and Operation geared into action. From August 3-8, a into what could become an open-ended Carlota was born. seven-man Cuban delegation, led by a conflict. Perhaps there was reluctance On August 21, Díaz Argüelles was very senior military officer, Raúl Díaz to jeopardize relations with the West back in Luanda as the head of the fledgArgüelles, was in Angola. “Their mis- when, after a long period of isolation ling Cuban Military Mission in Angola sion was to pin down on the ground with and hostility, they were markedly im- (MMCA). He reported to Abelardo the leaders of the MPLA exactly what proving: for the first time, the United (Furry) Colomé, the first deputy minisaid they wanted, the objectives they States was interested in a modus viv- ter of the Armed Forces. His reports expected to achieve with this aid, and endi with Cuba;47 the Organization of from late August through October (all the stages in which the aid should be American States was preparing to lift handwritten) are kept in the archives of given."43 They also brought Neto the its sanctions; and West European gov- the Centro de Información de la $100,000 he had requested six months ernments were offering low interest Defensa de las Fuerzas Armadas earlier. (See doc. 5)

loans. Perhaps Cuba had feared that the Revolucionarias and are a very imporNeto wanted Cuban military in- dispatch of military instructors would tant source on the evolution of the Custructors. He did not have a precise fig- offend even friendly African countries

ban presence.

52 ure in mind, but he was thinking of no like Tanzania; or perhaps the attention Díaz Argüelles' first order of busimore than a hundred men who would of the Cuban leaders was distracted by ness was to obtain Neto's approval for be spread out among many small train- the preparations for the first Congress the 480-man military mission and four ing centers. He also wanted Cuba to of the Cuban Communist party that large CIRs. "Comrade Neto accepted send weapons, clothing, and food for would be held in December. “The revo- our offer with great emotion,” he inthe recruits. On the basis of this request, lution was institutionalized in 1975,” formed Colomé in late August. "He was Díaz Argüelles drafted a proposal for a remarks Risquet. “It was a year of moved. He asked me to tell Fidel that military mission “that would include 65 never-ending work. This may have they accept everything."53 officers and 29 noncommissioned of played a role. And the situation in The members of the MMCA began ficers and soldiers for a grand total of Angola was quite confused. In the first arriving in late August, and they kept 94 compañeros. "44

months of 1975 there was very little coming through September, all on comThis plan was reworked in Havana discussion in the sessions of the Politi- mercial flights. There were slightly after Díaz Argüelles returned. The re- cal Bureau about Angola. Our focus over 100 by early October. The others vised plan contemplated the dispatch of was on domestic matters."48 came aboard three Cuban ships that had 480 men who would create and staff None of these explanations is very left Havana on September 16-20: the four training centers (Centros de persuasive. By preparing to host a con- Vietnam Heroico and the Coral Island Instrucción Revolucionaria or CIRs). ference for the independence of Puerto docked at a beach near Puerto Amboim Some 5,300 Angolans would be trained Rico, Cuba was signalling that there “where no one lives” on October 5 and in these CIRs within three to six months. were limits to the price it would pay for 8 respectively; the La Plata reached Cuba would send the weapons for the improved ties with Washington.

49

By Punta Negra (Congo Brazzaville) on the instructors and for the recruits in the sending troops to Syria in October 11th. Díaz Argüelles described their arCIRs, as well as enough food, clothing, 1973—troops that might well have be- rival in a lengthy report to Colomé.54 camping gear, toiletries, medicine, cots, come involved in a major clash with the The three ships brought the weapand bedclothes for 5,300 men for six Israelis-Cuba had demonstrated its ons and equipment for the CIRs, includmonths. The CIRs would begin oper- continued willingness to take risks for ing 12,000 Czech rifles for the ating in mid-October.45 In other words, a cause it believed just.50 Some may Angolans. (They could not give them

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