Thirty years after the return of our last internationalists from Angola, I become more convinced that, in addition to the military, the victory over South Africa and its allies was a deeply human triumph.
Thousands of witnesses and protagonists could write entire books or spend hours reviving transcendental moments during actions and combats throughout a period of five lustrums.
The altruism is at the tip of the pupil in Quifangondo, Cabinda, Ebo, Sumbe, Cangamba, Cuito Cuanavale, Calueque, hundreds of caravans and other moments in which more than 370,000 Cubans participated directly or indirectly.
None of the Cubans were forced to go. Not a single one of them did it in search of personal glories, money, fortune, perks?
It was the response of an entire country, nobody should doubt it, to the help requested by President Agosthino Neto to the Commander in Chief Fidel Castro (1975), in the face of the conspiracy interwoven by foreign powers and the internal counterrevolution, to take Luanda and prevent the independence of Angola agreed in Alvor.
The Cuban solidarity operation was called Carlota, in evocation of the African slave who in 1843 had led a revolt against Spanish oppression in the Triunvirato sugar mill in Matanzas, Cuba.
About Cuba’s military experience and political contribution to the destinies of that country (sovereignty) and the continent (end of apartheid in South Africa and implementation of UN Resolution 435/78 for the independence of Namibia), experts and researchers have written and could write even more.
Each chime of the clock, however, reinforces the conviction of how much remains to be said about what military art has perhaps never been able to show the world: the human impact left on every inch of defended land.
This is not imagination: this is the real silhouette of the Cuban doctor trying to save the baby that the native woman carries between sobs, it is the throat denied to pass food while a group of Angolanitos look on, with an emptiness as big in their eyes as in their stomachs.
This is the gratitude of the child who, at the age of five, was found dying, without family, and our men sheltered him, gave him a name (Alberto Manuel Gomez), protected him and turned him into a magnificent young man.
This is the breath of life in every playground that Cuban hands raised for barefoot children, or the rustic toys made in shelters in Cuito Cuanavale, to overflow, perhaps for the first time, the fantasy of childhood in that area.
They are the Angolan soldiers whom Sergeant Alfredo Plascencia taught to read and write in Ruacaná, or the monuments erected to victory, in faraway places, prior to a triumphal return whose total transparency would be observed by the UN.
This is the silhouette of a man named Joao Isidro Sesse turning his head, in the middle of the crowd that bids farewell to our troops, so as not to see his wife’s tears and, by the way, to hide his own.
And it is Raul in El Cacahual, two days after the last combatant returned, saying with a firm voice what the Cuban people, “the true protagonist of that epic”, a colossal demonstration of how much a small and solidary country, moved by just causes, can accomplish: “To our people and to you, Commander in Chief, I report: Operation Carlota has concluded!
(Taken from Granma)