By Owei Lakemfa
The Presidents of the United States (US) in most cases, tend to see themselves as lions at liberty to devour leaders of smaller or weaker countries who they treat as antelopes. That mentality was jolted 59 years ago when a supposed antelope in the mouth of a lion not only fought to prise itself from the mouth of the lion, but also, gave chase.
The anniversary of that victory at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, was marked this Sunday at an international online conference coordinated by the Nigeria-based Amilcar Cabral Ideological School (ACIS) It attracted 81 participants from the United States, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Cuba, South Africa, Germany and Nigeria. Also, the Cuban ambassador in Nigeria, Clara Pulido, her counterpart in Ghana, Pedro Luis Despaigne Gonzalez, the Venezuelan Ambassador in Nigeria, David Vasquez Caraballo, onetime Guinea Bissau Women Affairs Minister, Bilony Nhama Nantamba Nhasse and former President of the Nigerian Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Dr. Dipo Fashina, were special guests of honour.
To-date, the US has invaded about 200 nations and territories. One of its most notorious presidents was a retired general, Dwight David ‘Ike’ Eisenhower who in an eight-year presidency from 1953 assisted in the Syrian coup of 1957, the Lebanese coup of 1958,the Iraqi coup of 1959 and the series of coup attempts in Indonesia over two-year period from 1957.
However, two coups make him stand out. The 1953 coup against the elected government of Mohmmed Mosaddeq in Iran which was executed with the British government. The sin of that government was its nationalization of the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Second was the quite bloody 1954 coup by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) against the elected president of Guatamala, Jacobo Arbenz. He had offended Eisenhower by executing an agrarian reform in his country in which some land run by the United Fruit Company, a private American company was acquired. The fact that the Arbenz government paid compensation for the acquisition did not mollify the US anger.
The last coup Eisenhower decided to execute was the overthrow of the new Cuban government headed by the youthful Fidel Castro. The sins of the Castro government were two fold. First, it had carried out a revolution which removed the dictator, Fulgencio Batista whom America had installed in a 1952 coup. The second, was the refusal of the Castro government to accept dictation from the US and its mafia.
On August 8, 1960, Eisenhower approved $13.1 million for the CIA to invade Cuba and overthrow the revolutionary government. But the invasion could not be carried out before he handed over to John Fitzgerald Kennedy on January 20, 1961. On April 4, Kennedy ordered the invasion. Eleven days later, the American Airforce began bombing Cuban airfields using 8 B-26 Bombers. Then on April 17, 1961, a 1,500 strong force of former Cuban soldiers and America-based renegades, special forces, CIA agents and mercenaries in Operation Zapata, invaded Cuba from its Bay of Pigs port. The invaders were shipped in from a training base in Guatamala by two American Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) ships. They were backed by five ships which had set sail from New Orleans via Nicaragua.
After three days of fighting, the Cuban revolutionary forces on April 19, 1961, defeated the invaders killing 122 of them including 4 Americans, downing 2 bombers, destroying 2 ships and capturing 1,202 of the invaders.
Dr. Fashina who is also the Chair of Nigeria’s Joint Action Front (JAF) said of that victory: “The defeat of imperialism in the Bay of Pigs, the humiliation of Imperialism by the Cuban people, opened real possibilities of defeating imperialism in Africa. It engendered a deep inspiration of the colonized and oppressed peoples all over the world. The Cuban revolution and the Cuban people have turned out to play a decisive role in the success of the liberation wars in Africa.”
Mrs. Ngozi Iwere, CEO of Nigeria’s Community Life Project said the Bay of Pigs was a significant defeat for imperialism and that despite six decades of American blockade; Cuba has become the most sustainably developed country in the world.
Ambassador Pulido told the participants: “Comrades, we know that we have always been together. We can be physically near or far. We will never be apart. Even though we don’t know every one personally, we do know, as Che Guevara teaches us, that we are companions, the highest echelon of the human being. This extraordinary experience has proven it once again. In Covid-19 times we have been very close. The Cuban people receiving the solidarity of each one of you. We ratify our gratitude and the firm commitment to continue in solidarity.”
In a solidarity message from Havana, Fernando Llort, President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) noted that the 59th Anniversary coincided with the Covid-9 pandemic in which the government and people of Cuba are offering the world, once again, the example of militant solidarity by providing medical help to various countries. In this wise he said, Cuba has sent an army of white coats made up of more than 1,000 health professionals, organized in 21 brigades to Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East.
In reiterating this point, Ambassador Gonzalez said from Accra: “Today the heritage of Giron is still alive in the Cuban health specialists that are participating in the struggle of the Covid-19 pandemic. That was the same idea that moved the Cuban doctors in Liberia and Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak.”
Comrade Segun Oladunni Che of ACIS remarked: “Since the triumph of the revolution in 1959,Cuba has remained a shining example for all countries and oppressed people all over, on what is possible if the economy is managed in the interest of all unlike in Capitalism where greed is the philosophy for a few.”
Venezuelan Ambassador Caraballo noted: “Cuba defeated the attack in Giron in April, 1961. In April, 2002, we defeated in Venezuela, the Coup d’etat against President Chávez; April is the Month of People’s Victory. President Nicolás Maduro and the Venezuelan People are following the legacy of President Chávez to build the Bolivarian Socialism.”
The participants in their communique demanded that against the background of the Cuban internationalist mission fighting the Covid-19 pandemic in over 20 countries, the US should lift its six-decade economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba. They declared Africans have benefited immensely from the political solidarity and humanitarianism of the Cuban revolution, adding: “We want the United States Government and its allies to note that Cuba is not alone.”
Cuba has in the last six decades shown that victory does not necessarily belong to the strong and powerful; that a determined people can live on their own terms.