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The Shakespearian drama gets the emotion of multitude out of the
sub-plot which copies the main plot, much as a shadow upon the wall
copies one's body in the firelight.
                                                      --W. B. Yeats (1)

If you trace a line with your finger across a map from Luanda west across the Atlantic Ocean, you end up at the site of the longest-surviving quilombo (runaway slave settlement) in Brazil--Quilombo dos Palmares in the state of Alagoas. If you begin at the Baia dos Todos os Santos in Salvador, known as Brazil's most African city, and move straight across eastward, you will arrive at the spot on the Angolan littoral where Benguela lies, which, by the eighteenth century had come to rival Luanda as the major port through which enslaved Africans were shipped to the New World. Through this simple exercise, we learn that the invisible lines of historical and cultural connection that linked peoples in the Americas and Africa often correspond in a surprisingly direct fashion to the imaginary circles of latitude and longitude that shaped maritime sea routes. Furthermore, the perception that the natural world helps organize social relationships provides insight into how geographical features often serve as reflections or manifestations of what can be understood as "emotional ecosystems." The notion of an emotional ecology stems from our knowledge that the human world functions according to networks of interaction among individuals and between individuals and their environment that are predominantly focused on the emotions: "It is these emotional interactions therefore that constitute the emotional ecosystem of the group." (2) While the concept of ecology cannot be uncritically transferred from the natural to the social sciences, integrated approaches to the study of social-ecological systems have contributed tools for understanding how ethnically and racially diverse societies function and have shaped the emergence of the field of environmental humanities research. (3)

Resilience is one of the principal concepts of ecological studies. In the natural environment, this refers to an ecosystem's capacity to recover from the onslaught of adverse conditions and changes. At the psychological level it can indicate either adaptability or long-term resistance to change. It is this latter connotation, which is bound up with technological qualities of resilience (such as what can be observed in a given materials ability to revert to its original form after deformation or assault), that serves as the contextual matrix for my analysis of the psychical qualities of Operation Antonio Maceo. Paying attention to these more nebulous aspects through a type of "thematic amplification"--the experiential research device of detecting and describing recurrent themes in narratives that Sunnie D. Kidd and James W. Kidd advocate--can allow us to examine what lies beneath political rhetoric and help us to arrive at an understanding of more primordial meanings and social referents. (4) As philosophers Kidd and Kidd put it, amplification "works somewhat like time-lapsed photography where slowing down time reveals processes which we cannot see in a single grasp by the human eye. In microphotography a whole new world is found to exist inside another." (5) This type of "freeze-framing" of an event facilitates an intensified observation and interpretation of social and cultural characteristics that allow us to tune into the dialectic between inner and outer life-worlds in human experience. In a similar metaphysical vein, Irish poet W. B. Yeats, reflecting on the "emotion of multitude" as a dramatic device in the plays of Shakespeare, paid tribute to the strength and importance of "the half-seen world" or subplot, which he recognized as "the main plot working itself out in more ordinary men and women." (6) It is this recognition that themes often permeate through different levels of human experience that aligns Yeats's literary approach with the scholarly path I take into the shadows that continue to enshroud Cuban actions in Angola.

From this penumbral perspective it is possible to deduce that the notably "Cuban feel" of Benguela--even today--emanates not solely from the distinctive architectural style of the "predios" (high-rises) that internationalists from the construction brigade built (the other two humanitarian brigades Havana dispatched were made up of medical personnel and teachers) (7) or the art-deco theatres that bring the cityscapes of Santa Clara or Santiago to mind (in other words, the man-made features). That Cuban feel also emanates from the impenetrable belt of fog produced when the cold Benguela Current meets the warm descending air from inland. (8) These sea mists are produced by two competing elements, similar to the contrapuntal Latin African identity that Fidel Castro claimed as his compatriots' birthright, endowing them with a duty to serve not only their homeland but also the largest of Portugal's former African colonies, an identity by turns as impenetrable, treacherous, confusing, and ethereal as the mists themselves.

My focus, in this essay, will veer from theorizing about Operation Carlota, the first of the Cuban missions, during which the concept of Latin Africa first emerged, (9) to an assessment of the symbolism of Operation General Antonio Maceo, the military offensive that took place in southern Angola between January and April 1976 to ensure that South African troops retreated toward Namibia. That operation centered on the capture of the main towns along the Benguela Railway line. The most decisive maneuvers in the campaign happened when Cuban troops joined forces with the Popular Armed Forces of Angolan Liberation (FAPLA) to take over the ports of Lobito and Benguela on February 10. In the end, Havana triumphantly declared the operation to be "the second liberation war" (10) (Operation Carlota being the first). I propose that by applying the twin beams of historical and cultural contextualization, we can start to discern more acutely what it meant for Cubans to be Latino Africanos in the late 1970s.

Cuba's Angolan policy went through a number of transformations during the fifteen-year mission. This arose in part from a need to adapt to changing circumstances on the ground, but it also developed as idealism gave way to pragmatism and then, arguably (in some quarters) to cynicism. However, when viewed through the lens of resilience--understood here to be the quality of returning to an original form in spite of perturbations--it is possible to detect the enduring (and unsettling) half-life of ordinary experience that seethed beneath the surface at the same time that it reinforced the shifting politics of internationalism in Angola.


These words by historian James Walvin frame my analysis in this section. (11) In the framework of the African-Atlantic world that I evoked in only the barest geographical traces in the prologue, Angola stands out as the supplier of the majority of slaves to the Spanish and Portuguese territories in the New World, mainly to Brazil but a sizeable proportion also to Cuba. (12) Because those two states were the last in the western world to abolish slavery (Cuba in 1886 followed by Brazil in 1888), not to mention the illegal trade that continued for many years after, the African cultural element is considered to have persisted in these two nations more so than in any others in the Americas.

The term quilombo is most typically used in Brazil to denote a community of resistance founded by runaway slaves. The term in Spanish is palenque. While each community varied from the others in size and level of organization, collectively they constituted by far the biggest and most vexing threat to colonial Spanish and Portuguese authorities, who were forced to invest sizeable quantities of manpower and firepower in attempts to wipe out these pockets of rebellion that were located in the most inhospitable and difficult spots to access. Although we know that over a thousand quilombos existed, dotted around the Brazilian landscape at any one time, the longevity as well as the sheer size of Quilombo dos Palmares has made it legendary. (13) A settlement of maroons was first noted in that area in the official records in about 1600. Reports stated that in addition to escaped enslaved Africans, Quilombo dos Palmares was home to marginalized and mixed-race individuals, so-called mulattoes and caboclos, some indigenous peoples and poor whites, and a significant number of Portuguese soldiers trying to escape forced military service.

Of a similar stature in the Afro-Latin imaginary but in the Cuban context, El Gran Palenque de Moa was situated in the mountains of Oriente Province in the eastern part of the island. Claims are that around 300 men, women, and children dwelled communally in this region, sheltering in the prevalent caves that offered an ample number of hideouts. This settlement flourished in the 1800s during an era when plantation slavery had increased dramatically following the triumph of the Haitian revolution in 1804, enabling Cuba to become the largest sugar producer in the world. (14)

The ideological roots of the Latin-African identity that Fidel Castro claimed as justification for Cuba's mission in the former Portuguese colony of Angola lie in this history of slave resistance in the Americas. In Cuba, the individual rebellious slave leader was an important national symbol. Thus, Operation Carlota, the most famous of the Cuban military missions in the Angolan civil war, was named after an enslaved African woman who led a slave rebellion in Triunvirato in Matanzas province in 1843. (15) The operation took place in November 1975, and was legitimized, from a political perspective, as Havana's response to an appeal for help by a fraternal political party, the Popular Movement of Angolan Liberation (MPLA), which the Cuban government had first forged ties with when Ernesto "Che" Guevara made contact with members of the exiled leadership of the Angolan liberation movement in the early 1960s. (16) However, Fidel Castro set out the cultural motivation about a month into the operation at the first Congress of the Cuban Communist Party: "And it was as slaves from Africa that many of our ancestors came to this land. And slaves, many who fought. And many that fought in the Liberation Army of our homeland. We are brothers of the Africans and for the Africans we are prepared to fight!" (17)

After gaining unprecedented access to archives in Cuba, historian Piero Gleijeses was able to put an end to earlier characterizations of the country's involvement as a "war by proxy" on behalf of the Soviet Union. (18) Not only did the freshly unearthed documents prove the independence (and belatedness) of the decision to send troops, they also appeared to corroborate the position the Cuban government maintained throughout Operation Carlotta that South African soldiers had crossed into Angolan territory prior to the arrival of its troops and that, therefore, the operation had arisen not out of a simple response to MPLA leader Agostinho Neto's appeal for help but from Pretoria's aggression. Fidel Castro depicted apartheid South Africa as the present-day heirs to Portugal's racist colonial legacy. After asking "And who today are the representatives, the symbols of the most despised, the most inhuman form of discrimination?" (19) he supplied the answer: "The fascists and racists of South Africa. And the Yankee imperialists, without scruples of any kind, dispatched mercenary troops from South Africa to crush Angolas independence, and they are outraged that we support Angola, and they are outraged that we defend Africa." (20)

Even though there are obvious complexities at work in the choice of a rebellious slave to symbolize a former slaving nation, it is far less easy to dispute that South Africa was a pariah on the African continent or that the apartheid regime was resolutely and universally detested within the black diaspora. Likewise, only a recalcitrant bigot (as Castro's words made clear) would long for the "good old days" of African enslavement. Therefore, from both moral and humanistic viewpoints, Cuba was unequivocally "good," in contrast to Pretoria and its allies, who personified "evil."

This unidimensional depiction of Cuban support for just one of three Angolan independence movements-cum-political parties that was reflected in the equally one-sided historical narrative evoked by "black Carlota" splinters into shards of uncertainty when we consider the historical figure who served as a representation for the military campaign I am discussing here: Antonio Maceo, a free-born mulatto man who was second in command of the Cuban Army of Independence during the wars against colonial Spain in the late nineteenth century. (21) And this is the case because the existence of sizeable so-called free black and/or colored populations throughout Latin America (mainly through a combination of Spanish and Portuguese laws of manumission and the emancipados scheme) (22) had led to the blurring of racial lines by the beginning of the nineteenth century, creating not only ambiguity in biological terms but also a widespread sense of mistrust at the sociopolitical level.

For example, in his insistence on the complete abolition of slavery in Cuba and not simply the limited offer of liberation for enslaved people who had fought in the independence armies (in other words, his rejection of the 1878 peace treaty with Spain known as the Pact of Zanjon), Maceo was accused by his detractors of inciting a race war or slave rebellion. Even though at the time of the military campaign that bore his name the revolutionary government had incorporated him into the pantheon of national heroes (albeit without mentioning his mixed racial heritage), what I wish to suggest is that at an experiential level, the sociocultural context of the historical era in which Maceo lived--the dawning of the Cuban nation--continued to feed into an emotional ecology that spanned centuries and crisscrossed the Atlantic Ocean. As we will see, the prevalent emotion that pervaded the complex network of social relationships between humans and their environment in racially mixed societies at the turn of the twentieth century can be categorized as a sense of moribundity. This psychic state I connect to the perception among whites that "free" blacks were both economic and ideological threats to the prevailing racial hierarchies, as a consequence of which their freedoms and very existence were imperiled.


In order to anchor this notion in lived experience, let us first consider the social environment that the Maceo family inhabited in mid- to late-nineteenth-century Oriente Province on the eastern end of the island. According to census figures for the population of Santiago de Cuba, between 1841 and 1862 the percentage of free blacks rose from 46.57 to 63.96, while that of enslaved blacks fell from 53.43 to 36.03. Meanwhile, over the same period, the white population grew more modestly, from 21.49 to 26.23 percent of the total number of inhabitants. (23) Cuban historian Jose Luciano Franco describes this milieu: "Thousands of free blacks and mulattoes made up the islands craft industry. Many others were small business owners and traders. And some were devoted to the literary arts, education, or music. Socially, they constituted a petit bourgeoisie with aspirations towards the improvement of their socio-political position." (24) Common cause between free and enslaved Afro-Cubans took some time to emerge, given the more pronounced sense of a "creole" consciousness among the free population. (25) If anything, families like the Maceos had the tendency to identify with (and forge social and political links with) colored populations in the wider region. (26) Olga Portuondo Zuniga affirms this: "Many mulattoes and blacks traveled back and forth between Haiti and Santiago de Cuba as if by cabotage." (27)

This is not to say that free and enslaved African-descended individuals circulated in completely differentiated social spheres, which would be far from the truth. Nonetheless, I propose that the alleged slave rebellion plot in western Cuba that Spanish colonial authorities uncovered in 1832, known as La Escalera or the Escalera Conspiracy, is what provided an important catalyst for unification at the political level. (28) Prior to that, such divisions as existed were more typically related to personal wealth. In Biografia de un cimarron, the testimonial given by formerly enslaved Afro-Cuban Esteban Montejo to writer and ethnologist Miguel Barnet, we find an interesting portrait of the division between rich and poor blacks in the town of Remedios in the late 1800s that adds support to Francos description above:
The women of the town played the harp in their living rooms with the
windows open for everyone to see. Then came the piano. But first was
the harp.... The fact is that all these families--the Rojas, the
Manuelillos, the Carrillos--lived among themselves. Business, parties,
and money. Gossiping wasn't their thing. Poor people, yes, because they
lived closer together and more.... The rich are rich and the poor are
poor. (29)

White foreigners who traveled to the archipelago in the wake of La Escalera appeared to have been captivated by the increased ethnic diversity, particularly among the nonblack populations. In her study of free blacks in the Atlantic world, Michele Reid-Vazquez quotes Englishman James M. Phillippo, who commented on the "extremely varied" character of its inhabitants, who included "Spanish, French, American, Italian, Dutch, African, Creole, Indian, Chinese, presenting every shade of color and variety of countenance that can be imagined." (30)

Across the Atlantic Ocean, a similar social composition existed in colonialera Angola. Portuguese journalist Julio de Castro Lopo describes it:
The so-called civilized section of the population was a mutable and
ambiguously denned society that barely even occupied the coast of
Angola let alone colonized the interior of the territory--a community
that encompassed Africanists of unknown length of stay in the
territory, adventurers (some of them arrivals directly from Brazil),
settlers forcibly tied to a life overseas due to financial obligations
and various types of misfortune, missionaries and clergymen, convicts,
soldiers and, mixed in with these elements of the populace, numerous
mestizos, many of whom were already integrated into the social norms of
the dominant Europeans, especially in the urban centres of Luanda and
Benguela. (31)

Angolan author Antonio de Assis Junior was born into a family of assimilados, the name given to the black and mulatto individuals who had been deemed to meet colonial Portuguese standards of "civilization." This sector of society comprised an Atlantic Creole middle class that dated back to the seventeenth century. (32) Similar to the free blacks in Cuba, they remained deprived of full integration into white-dominated colonial society although their levels of education and comparative status vis-a-vis other descendants of Africans were higher. In his collection of essays entitled Portugal and Africa, historian David Birmingham describes the group as "Edwardian Creoles, with their black skins and their white customs [who] formed an enclave on the Atlantic coast of Africa." They "were notable lawyers, army officers, medical doctors, journalists, property-owners and civil servants." (33) Assiss novel O Segredo da Morta (The secret of the dead woman) is set toward the end of the nineteenth century and thus gives a pertinent portrait of an African-Atlantic nation that, like Maceo-era Cuba, was in the throes of transformation from a slaving system. (34) I shall return to the emblematic themes of dying and disease that form the backdrop to this tale of "Angolan customs" later in this essay, but it's sufficient at this juncture to signal their interconnectedness with the ideology of "whitening." Because just as Spanish colonial policy in Cuba reacted to the predominance of Afro-descendants by initiating a vigorous (and virulently racist) wave of immigration to the island of famine-stricken peasants, convicts, and destitute workers from Spain, the Canary Islands, and to a lesser extent Ireland, (35) during the same epoch Portugal began to consider measures designed to increase the white presence in Angola, its richest African possession, without seeking to undermine policies that encouraged settlement in Brazil. (36)

In 1869, the Portuguese minister for justice, Rebelo da Silva, influenced by the viewpoint that Portuguese criminals had an essential role to play in the nations civilizing mission in Africa, decreed that the wives and children of convicts were permitted to accompany them into exile. One of the principal objectives of this legislation (which was effective until 1932) was to stem the tide of so-called cafrealizacao, or the impregnation of black women by Portuguese convicts, which had contributed to a swelling mulatto population. Moreover, according to Angolan historian Alberto Oliveira Pinto, the minister also mandated that Angola should receive the most serious criminals, such as fraudsters and murderers, assigning privileges to those convicted of infanticide or patricide. Thus, in the late nineteenth century, chronicler Eca de Queiros once famously quipped that all that anyone who wanted to visit Portugal's overseas territories had to do was simply kill their father. (37)

I find that the German word Gotterddmmerung, literally translated in English as "twilight of the Gods," exquisitely evokes this cross-Atlantic atmosphere of dying and emergent forces captured in an epic struggle that can be considered as the defining feature of the emotional ecology of creole societies of the Atlantic rim that I am discussing. A little way into O Segredo da Morte, Assis appears to enforce this idea through the close repetition of two descriptions of the sunset. First, he writes, "The sun kept tumbling towards the west, leaving in the air a sultry, stifling atmosphere," (38) followed a few lines later by "And the sun kept tumbling... endlessly tumbling towards the west, leaving in the air a stifling atmosphere." (39)


This image of an almighty tussle between waxing and waning forces matches to a notable degree the political context of the Cuban military operation to push South African troops back behind the national borders of newly emancipated Angola in the early months of 1976--Operation Antonio Maceo. On one side was the dimming potency of the ultimate representative of white supremacist and segregationist politics on the African continent; on the other was a brimming anti-apartheid militancy and the idealistic principals of "racelessness" that revolutionary Cuba and the MPLA espoused. Anti-racism trounced xenophobia in this particular skirmish, and by late March 1976 the combined Cuban and Angolan forces had arrived at Angolas southern boundary with Namibia. (40) Fidel Castro claimed that the campaign was a "bloodless" rout of the enemy, a victory that was achieved psychologically rather than militarily. "We sent 36,000 men," he explained, "because if we had to fight South Africa, which is a strong military power, we wanted to be prepared to defeat them. This was our philosophy. When they got wind of how many troops we were sending they got scared. Because theirs is a regime based on bravado: outwardly aggressive, but inwardly--morally and politically--weak." (41) Leaving hubris to one side, what is certain is that psychology constituted an important element not only in the withdrawal of the South African army to Namibia but also in the aftermath of the campaign, by which I mean that the unprecedented Cuban victory delivered an all-important boost in morale to the global anti-apartheid camp.

In the course of his research on the Cuban internationalist mission in southern Africa, which resulted in his two major studies, Conflicting Missions and Visions of Freedom, Gleijeses came across a number of articles in the South African press that referred to Operation Antonio Maceo and its outcome. Two of the most compelling were published in mid-February 1976, after it had become evident that Cuban troops had gained the upper hand. The first is an editorial that appeared in the major black South African newspaper The World. It declared: "Black Africa is riding the crest of a wave generated by the Cuban success in Angola. Black Africa is tasting the heady wine of the possibility of realizing the dream of total liberation." (42) An interesting aspect of this example is how the victory is represented as unequivocally Cuban, with no mention whatsoever of the involvement of their Angolan FAPLA allies. (43) The second was written by a white South African military analyst and appeared in the Rand Daily Mail, a major white South African newspaper:
In Angola, black troops--Cubans and Angolans--have defeated white
troops in military exchanges. Whether the bulk of the offensive was by
Cubans or Angolans is immaterial in the color-conscious context of this
war's battlefield, for the reality is that they won, are winning and
are not white. And that psychological edge, that advantage the white
man has enjoyed and exploited over three hundred years of colonialism
and empire!,] is slipping away. White elitism has suffered an
irreversible blow in Angola. And whites who have been there know it.

This excerpt leaves no doubt that what was at stake were not just two opposing political ideologies; Pretoria was fighting to defend a way of life founded on a settler colonialism that linked together the narratives of both the Angolan and South African nations. The former had been dealt a life-threatening wound in the wake of the 1974 Carnation Revolution, the military coup that brought an end to the Portuguese "Estado Novo" dictatorship, and the latter found itself in peril of being next to succumb to the forces of allied left-wing revolutionary change.

For diverse reasons, some more apparent than others, setder colonialism can be considered the most challenging variety of colonialism to dislodge. Partly this has to do with the form that settler colonial myths take, in contrast with colonial narratives. The latter typically share a circular structure, which begins with a journey away from home, followed by an interlude characterized by intercourse with exoticized "others" in a distant location, and finally a return to the point of origin. Settler colonial narratives, in contrast, are configured around a straight line because, as Lorenzo Veracini writes, "no return is ever envisaged." (45) He adds: "Colonial and settler colonial narrative forms emerge as structurally distinct. Colonialism reproduces cycles of opposition between civility and barbarism; colonialism immobilizes relationships and establishes a pattern of repetition. In marked contrast, settler colonialism mobilizes peoples in the teleological expectation of irreversible transformation." (46) This idea of irreversibility offers a powerful way of comprehending the intransigence and "life-or-death" frame of mind that Cubans, the MPLA, and South Africans shared. None of these groups were in a position to envisage a return to a former way of being. For although the Cuban soldiers could--and (if they survived the war) would--eventually go back to the Caribbean, the narrative context in which they were operating was located within the continuum of their country's historic revolution, which (according to Castroite discourse) had changed their society into one that was, at least officially, anti-racist.

According to this teleological view, racism (and by extension apartheid) was counterrevolutionary. Following the 1959 Revolution, therefore, no retreat was imaginable in the face of reactionary white supremacy, whether at home or abroad. Thus, for Cubans and their MPLA comrades, the possibility that Angola could revert to racist pre-independence social and political structures was categorically precluded. Similarly, as far as Pretoria was concerned, white settler exodus from southern Africa was never an option, and thus neither ideological nor territorial ground could be ceded. (47) Nevertheless, what must be emphasized is that no matter what specific political ideology underpinned the denouement of settler stories in Cuba, Angola, or South Africa, all were encased, at least historically, within the same emotional ecology of moribundity, which, crucially in the context of our reading, was related to the policy of whitening. For if colonial thinking on "progress" would be "characterized by indigenous displacement and permanent subordination," settler colonies, as we will see, set themselves towards "a measure of indigenous displacement and ultimate erasure." (48)

In the two months after the arrival of the first internationalist soldiers in Angola on November 4, 1975, the Soviet Union refused to support the Cuban air bridge, in all likelihood as retaliation for the fact that Havana had presented Operation Carlota to Moscow as a fait accompli. However, after Cuba executed two successful large-scale military missions, the Soviets started to flex their muscles and Leonid Brezhnev ordered Fidel Castro to withdraw his troops at the conclusion of Operation Antonio Maceo. Moscow and Washington had already begun the delicate dance of detente in the preceding months, and under the Kissinger/Nixon policy of "linkage," what the United States perceived as Cuban adventurism in Africa threatened to ruin those early negotiations. Subsequently, Havana drew up a plan for Cuban troops to pull out gradually between 1976 and 1978. (49) It would take another fourteen years for Cuba to complete a full withdrawal, however, and Operation Antonio Maceo can be considered as more of a turning point than an endpoint.


Wars, like other catastrophic events, pose the biggest threats to natural and social environments, prompting fears of irreversible and damaging change. When disaster strikes the most vulnerable, it can appear as though a full recovery is impossible. So how is it possible to sum up an armed conflict that raged (with intermittent interludes of armistice) from November 11, 1975, until April 4, 2002--that is to say for twenty-six years, four months, three weeks, and three days--without egregiously understating the mind-numbing violence and dizzying socioeconomic upheaval involved? How is it possible to capture the day-to-day experience of grief, instability, and confusion inscribed within a civil war that followed a thirteen-year-long war for independence and resulted in the death of over half a million men, women, and children? How indeed is it possible to make clear that the MPLA victory that Cuban soldiers facilitated was as much against native Angolans as it was in defiance of foreign incursion? (50) The importance of such questions for my framework of emotional ecology is brought to the fore when we observe that the Angolan civil war, which is essentially a story of transgenerational trauma (spanning from slave captivity to forced labor and colonialism to Third World liberationist movements), is often narrated in the Cuban and Angolan mainstream presses as a transnational trauma, which shifts the focus from history to geopolitics. The concept of resilience offers insights into how these post-conflict narratives act as a potential bulwark against the different cultural geographies that threaten to destroy the idea of a singular national imaginary.

For Cuba, sociocultural resilience operates through tropes that portray the internationalist mission as a self-sacrificing act based on a historical allegiance with a vulnerable sister nation and is rarely articulated as the politico-military collaboration with the MPLA that, in reality, it constituted. Through a focus on the Cold War context of Washington's support for (at different times) the two major opponents to the MPLA--Jonas Savimbi's National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and Holden Roberto's National Front of--Angolan Independence (FNLA)--combined with an emphasis on the South African campaign to bring down the Neto-led government, the result has been a detour around the highly charged cultural aspects at play. Because, following 500 years of Portuguese dominance, it goes without saying that beyond the struggle for political control, the Angolan civil war was fought for the very identity of the nation. Expressed differently, after the collapse of a heavy-handed colonial system enshrined in the principles of white supremacy that had granted limited social and economic advantages to a tiny population of "deracinated" or "detribalized" or "Europeanized" Africans, what kind of black African nation would (or even could) Angola become following independence? The answer would depend on which of the three opposing groups held sway. In this regard, Havana's role in the victory of the MPLA ensured that Cuban thinking on Africa would hold a strong influence over the formation of national identity. And Cuba's idea of Africa developed in the crucible of the transatlantic slave trade.

The cultural fault lines that marked the terrain between the MPLA, the FNLA, and UNITA are brought into surprisingly sharp relief in Independencia de Angola, Parte II, the elegant yet neglected documentary made by white Angolan filmmaker Antonio Escudeiro, who was commissioned by the interim Processo Revolucionario em Curso (PREC) (51) government to record for posterity the transition from colony to independent nation, beginning with the Alvor agreements signed in January 1975. (52) These divisions, as the film makes apparent, also delimit the boundaries of three overlapping yet separately defined emotional ecologies rooted in different modes of living within a single national territory. Two aspects, in particular, are noteworthy. The first relates to the types of geographical space connected to the cultural identities of each of the political parties, and the second, somewhat relatedly, to how the bodies associated with each group (the leadership and supporters) behaved and moved within the depicted spaces. Thus, early on, the film shuttles between scenes surrounding the arrival of Agostinho Neto from exile on February 4, 1975, to the first official assembly of UNITA in Bie on February, 10 1975, presided over by Jonas Savimbi, and then to an FNLA gathering in Luanda on March 15.

Given that UNITA, with its connections to Washington and Pretoria, was the principal wartime adversary of the Cuban- and Soviet-backed MPLA and that it was only with the death of Savimbi that the brutal conflict came to a shuddering and definitive end, my analysis will focus on key differences between the cultural identities of these two parties as seen in the film. (53) In the MPLA segments, the mini-skirted and flared pants-wearing supporters shown marching against a backdrop of sleek high-rise commercial and residential buildings and the concentration of moving vehicles on the streets combine to create a visual context that is emphatically urban and animated. In contrast, the provincial setting of the UNITA meeting is easily recognizable through the dusty roads and smalltown environment, not to mention, the subdued crowd gathered sparsely in front of the decidedly unglamorous "Residencial America." Correspondingly, the MPLA drew its support mainly from the coastal urban centers and UNITA from the heartland and provinces. Most of the MPLA segment was shot at the airport, where teeming hordes had gathered, a handful perched atop a Soviet tank, to hear Neto speak after disembarking from the commercial jetliner that had brought him home. In strong contrast, Savimbi was driven in from the bush, where his former guerrilla movement had been headquartered, in a dusty burgundy station wagon, his motorcade led by two white-helmeted Portuguese police officers on shiny motorcycles. In these differences, we recognize similarities with the contentions about the question of which party could be judged as the most authentic or the most representative of the Angolan people. And in this way, the film lays bare a type of emotional cartography UNITA, for example, sought to discredit the MPLA for having its headquarters outside Angola during the independence wars. UNITA's leaders stayed and suffered alongside ordinary Angolans who had neither the connections nor the means to flee the everyday cruelties of Portuguese colonialism. In fact, sofrimento (suffering) recurs frequently as a term UNITA employed to capture the emotional dimension of the history of Angolas indigenes. The MPLAs bid to be seen as the true representative of the people (in addition to its claim that it was the first party to take up weapons against the colonizing forces--at least in the cities) was enshrined in the concept of national unity, which rested on the principles of anti-racism and especially anti-tribalism, in contrast to the essentialism and xenophobia that it equated with the politics of Savimbi. (54)

Even more important is that our concept of resilience can be connected to a certain (unwitting, yet perhaps unavoidable) historical point of contact between the detribalized African under Portuguese colonialism and the anti-tribal African the MPLA espoused. Latin Africa--the cultural and historical space surrounding the political and military collaboration between Cuba and the MPLA--therefore held within its boundaries many enduring similarities with colonial-era Spanish and Portuguese racial thinking. Put differently, Latin Africa can be conceptualized on the one hand as a geographical zone established first from the sea voyages of Portuguese negreiros with their cargo of enslaved Africans and centuries later from Soviet battleships laden with Cuban soldiers: ships that transported not only bodies but also the customs, religions, values, foodstuffs, and so on that merged into an identifiable "culture area" that spanned the Atlantic. On the other hand, it was where two related ideologies of race mixing(mestizaje and mesticagem) fused together and where the lived experience of demographic heterogeneity had to be emphatically and symbolically severed from any imperialist European root at the same time that it was subsumed by the common project of building a unified nation. As newly liberated Angola experienced the need to assert its sovereignty against the actions of aggressive neighboring states such as South Africa, neither the tribe nor the self-differentiating ethnic group could provide the basis of a strong, cohesive nation-state. The 1976 and 1980 revisions to the original 1975 Constitution clearly established the national goal of a revolutionary socialist one-party state for which the MPLA acted as the only policy-making government body. All Angolans were thus implicitly declared to be citizens of a tnestico (mixed) nation whose administrative presentation as a Marxist-Leninist state placed class ahead of any form of local or regional self-identifications related to language, religion, or ethnicity.

International relations analyst Gerald Bender reported in 1978 on what he saw as the special affinity between Cubans and Angolans during the internationalist mission in support of the MPLA: "The difference between Cuban-Angolan social relations and those of Angolans with advisers and technicians from other Socialist countries is dramatic. The Cubans work directly with Angolans, whatever the task. They seem immensely popular in the country, perhaps because they do not manifest the cultural and racial arrogance of many other foreigners. The Cubans, whose own lifestyle closely approximates that of Angolans, make relatively few demands on the government." (55) Although Bender elides the MPLA camp with the Angolan nation, he gives us a telling portrait of a Latin-African community that was facilitated by the Cubans' tropical "island-ness," "multiracial background," and "minimal ethnocentrism" (56) and the fact that the MPLA was a political organization formed of black, white, and mixed-race Angolans residing together in coastal cities.


Beginning in the early sixties when he first met Che Guevara, Liicio Lara, a mestico originally from Benguela who was one of the founders of the MPLA, was the most important point of a liaison between Havana and Luanda. Photographs taken in the 1970s show that he was clearly influenced by the style of Guevara. However, for MPLA minister of the interior Nito Alves, it was Guevara's theory of guerrilla warfare that had the greatest influence, as comes through in his 1976 book, A Diabetica e a Guerrilha. Alves was born and raised in the rural province of Bengo that cradles Luanda to the north, east, and south. He and other members of his faction held the opinion that under Neto's leadership, the MPLA had become accustomed to operating at a remove from the masses. This had started during the group's time in exile under colonial rule. Alves felt that they had lost touch with the needs and concerns of the general population and that this was in large measure because Neto was little more than a black figurehead for a party that was effectively being run by whites and mesticos, such as Lara, who shared neither the life experiences nor the passions for social change of the ordinary black Angolans who made up the majority of the population. Alves, meanwhile, had started to make a name for himself in the musseques (shantytowns) of Luanda for his informal style, which included holding talk sessions, or "groundings," as Rastafarians refer to them, with the local people. On May 27, 1977, the Nitistas, as his supporters became known, executed a plan to overthrow Neto and reclaim the party for "real" Angolans.

The plan failed, and after the main ringleaders were executed, a reign of terror was unleashed as thousands of suspected sympathizers and supporters of Alves were hunted down and killed, first in the capitals slums, especially Rangel and Sambizanga, and then throughout the country. Their crimes? Plotting against the state and racism. There was zero tolerance within the MPLA and among its Cuban supporters for either one of these transgressions. Some witnesses reported that the role of the Cuban troops was to seal off escape routes to allow the slaughter to take place, while Portuguese diplomats reported that Cubans had opened fire on protesters on the day of the uprising. In her scrupulous investigation into the May 27th massacre, Lara Pawson discovered that the expression "they were sent to Cuba" ("foram mandados para Cuba") was a coded way of saying that those who were missing had been shot dead. (57) Evidently, the internationalist mission had strayed far from the righteous path of anti-apartheid ("humanity's most beautiful cause," as Fidel had once referred to it), which Operation Carlota had once exemplified, into the less easily defined landscape of anti-racism. How had this happened? Resiliency theory would give the answer that the actions and motivations of Cuban internationalist soldiers in Luanda were simply shadowing those of Cuban soldiers at home in Santiago several decades before, by which I mean the 1912 massacre of members of the Partido Independiente de Cuba (PIC) and suspected "sympathizers."

PIC represented the first time that black people in the Caribbean--namely, veterans of the Cuban independence war--had organized themselves politically to fight for equality, social justice, and their full integration into the national project. After it was founded in 1908, the party was declared illegal in the following year after the president of the Cuban Senate, Morua Delgado, introduced a law that banned political parties based on race or class. However, in May 1912, PIC began to mobilize with a view toward regaining its lost legal status in order to compete in elections scheduled for that November. An armed demonstration took place that the government responded to by sending troops to neutralize the threat of what was portrayed as a "race war." By the end of the military campaign, an estimated 6,000 Afro Cubans had been massacred, whether they were directly connected to PIC or not. Black Cubans have not organized themselves to fight against racial discrimination nor to challenge any aspect of the white-dominated power structure since then. (58)

My phenomenological approach to understanding Latin-African identity thus appears to unveil experiences tied to fundamental themes of life and death, growth and decline, vulnerability and resilience. These revelations connect to the understanding that collective actions are often metaphors for states of mind and that they integrate psychological, historical, and social processes. Chief among the collective emotional processes rehearsed in speeches, periodicals, and other sources prior to and during Cuba's internationalist mission in southwest Africa is the indirectly expressed yet detectable guilt and anxiety the white leaders of the Cuban revolution experienced, some of whom (including the siblings Fidel and Raul Castro) hailed from the land-owning elites whose privilege was founded on the exploitation of black labor. This is another way that the emotional ecology of the African Atlantic may be said to unfold in time as a transgenerational, as much as a transnational, story of colonial violence: in the inexorable revolving narrative of white fear of black self-love and black fear of white self-hatred.


Lucio Lara once claimed that as youths, many members of the party leadership had identified closely with the portrait of Bahia in northeast Brazil they encountered in the novels of Jorge Amado. This raises the possibility that strong similarities likewise existed between bahianidade (Bahianess) and Latin-African identity, which, as we have seen, has its fullest geographical expression in the place of Antonio Maceo's birth, Santiago de Cuba. It also returns us to the beginning of this essay and the exercise of tracing the historical and cultural lines of connection among Africans and Afro Latinos in the Atlantic Rim. One strategy the Cuban government employed during the Angolan mission was to appropriate historical figures and recontextualize them according to the prevailing conditions. Thus, Cuban leaders invoked the palenque leader "black Carlota" to equate neocolonialism and apartheid with colonialism and slavery in the early internationalist imaginary. Then, as the mission deepened and the civil war became more entrenched, the historical and cultural narrative of Latin Africa disengaged from its earlier universalistic meaning and moved sharply toward a social and political alignment with Neto's MPLA. Another way of looking at it is to perceive the transition as a psychological need to shift from the question of why the Cubans had come to Angola to the question of why they had remained. That is to say that, by the time of Operation Antonio Maceo, they had become "entangled." The case I wish to make is that in finding common cause with the MPLA leadership, Cuban leaders engaged certain mutual sociocultural reference points that linked back historically with the urban experience of Africans and African-descended people in the colonial societies I have considered, spaces in which the erasure (physical and/or social) of the free black/colored populations lurked as a constant threat.

In his lecture "Genocide: The Social Lynching of Africans and Their Descendants in Brazil," given at the Seminar for African World Alternatives in Dakar, Senegal, in 1976, black nationalist intellectual and politician Abdias do Nascimento emphasized the link in Brazil between the cultural concepts of mixedness or "racial democracy" and the bio-socio-political project of "whitening." "The political, economic, social, and cultural repression experienced by the black people of Brazil is deplorable," he said. "Its ultimate objective is the obliteration of the black as a cultural, physical, or ethnic entity. In the face of the racist, genocidal character of the ideology of so-called 'racial democracy,' it would be irresponsible to fail to expose and roundly denounce the social structure supposedly based upon it." (59) It is interesting to note that Nascimentos presentation took place in the middle of the Cuban military operation in southern Angola, as if calling our attention to the temporal continuities and geographical crosscurrents within the Latin-African experience, above and beyond the sociocultural. And, as his title reinforces, it is death itself that seems to inhabit the space between the hybrid configuration of European and African--to wit, the moribundity of Latin Africa's emotional ecosystem.

But in the drive to increase the white population in Cuba in the 1830s and early 1840s, what number of Irish and Canary Islanders succumbed to the harsh labor conditions in the tropical climate and the ravages of diseases, such as cholera? (60) Reflecting on the erstwhile popular idea that these two types of "islanders" had more robust constitutions and were, therefore, hardier workers than other Europeans brings to mind the moribund effect of racial hierarchies to which Maceo, even after death, became a victim. I am speaking of the anthropological study of his skeleton in 1900 by, as Aline Helg writes, "Cuban scientists, disturbed by the war hero's African ancestry," who "stretched theories of racial miscegenation to prove that in Maceo the 'white' heritage predominated over the 'black one." (61)

At their core, racial hierarchies function as categorizations of the value of human life. In the Latin-African system, black "elites" historically played a complex role: they existed somewhere between their culture of origin (which was debased) and the European dominant class. Coming back to Assis's novel O Segredo da Morte, close to the beginning of the chapter entitled "A Nuvem" (The Fog), an onset of sickness is quickly followed by the death of the ailing character, a personal tragedy that appears to shadow the demise of trading in the Dondo area that had started in 1896.
The village, which, due to its port and navigability of the Kwanza, had
become the center for products from Malanje, Cazengo, and Libolo,
cannot withstand the assault that had undermined her previous life.

Coffee farmers watched with amazement as the prices of their products
dropped... while construction of the Ambaca railway line accelerated on
into the interior, resulting in the diversion of products to other
faster routes of entry. (62)

The sharp reduction in commerce the free black and mulatto community experienced sets in motion a series of events that lead to great riches for one of the principal characters--through trickery, slavery, and greed--but also sudden and inexplicable illness and death for her loved ones. Through these interconnected events, Assis seems to be saying that in both morally and climatically nebulous places, particularly those steeped in the history and experience of African enslavement, healthy human connections of all kinds are unsustainable. And on this point, Antonio Maceo, who died in the same year signalled in O Segredo da Morte as the beginning of the end, would no doubt have concurred.

By looking at the symbolic meaning of Antonio Maceo in the Benguela military operation, we are reminded that in the ambiguous topography of Latin Africa, death is interwoven with (if not embedded in) the cause of black liberation to a singular degree and across generations, to the extent that in 1989 the name of Maceo was paired with yet another military operation related to the Cuban mission in Angola: Operation Tribute, the shipment back home of the remains of the internationalists who had died fighting abroad, mainly on African soil. On December 7, a ceremony was held at the General Antonio Maceo mausoleum in Cacahual, where what still remained of sixteen fighters, who represented each of the provinces and the Isla de la Juventud, was put on display for the public. (63) The day of the operation and ceremony was chosen to coincide with the date Maceo was killed in battle, which is commemorated as the National Day of Mourning (Dia de Duelo Nacional). Lest we forget...


The research underlying this article was made possible by funding from The Leverhulme Trust. I am also grateful to Jose Maria Rodriguez Garcia for the initial inspiration and for his warmth and support. Deborah E. McDowell set me on the path to theorizing on the urban black experience, for which I am deeply thankful. I am indebted to Bartholomew Ryan for his painstaking reading of an early draft. His insights and perceptive commentary have helped to make it a far better work. I would also like to thank my copyeditor at the Journal of Global South Studies, Kate Babbitt, for her deep engagement, helpful suggestions, and words of encouragement.

(1.) W. B. Yeats, "Emotion of Multitude," in Essays and Introductions, ed. Mrs. Yeats (London: Macmillan, 1969), 215.

(2.) Paul Nichols, "Emotional Ecology and People Development," 2001, accessed July 11, 2018, Peter Frost and colleagues coined the term "emotional ecology" to describe a specific climate in a place of employment: "Organizations create an emotional ecology where care and human connection are enabled or disabled. That emotional ecology can facilitate or retard compassionate action"; Peter J. Frost, Jane E. Dutton, Monica C. Worline, and Annette Wilson, "Narratives of Compassion in Organizations," in Emotion in Organizations, 2nd ed., ed. Stephen Fineman (London: Sage Publications, 2000), 25-45. Since then, the notion has become infused with broader ideas related to sustainability.

(3.) Caribbean Studies in particular has experienced an ecological turn in recent years that has produced a rich vein of research exploring the interconnectedness of the natural environment, politics, and aesthetics/cultural production. See, for example, Chris Campbell and Michael Niblett, eds., The Caribbean: Aesthetics, World-Ecology, Politics (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2016); Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Jill Didur, and Anthony Carrigan, eds., Global Ecologies and the Environmental Humanities: Postcolonial Approaches (New York: Routledge, 2015); and Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert, "Endangered Species: Caribbean Ecology and the Discourse of the Nation," in Displacements and Transformations in Caribbean Cultures, ed. Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert and Ivette Romero-Cesareo (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008), 8-23.

(4.) Sunnie D. Kidd and James W. Kidd, "Experiential Method: Qualitative Research in the Humanities," unpublished paper, 1990, accessed July 20, 2018,'s%20Publications/ExperientialMethodOrig.pdf.

(5.) Kidd and Kidd, 3.

(6.) W. B. Yeats, Essays (London: Macmillan & Co., 1924), 266.

(7.) Edward George, The Cuban Intervention in Angola, 1965-1991: From Che Guevara to Cuito Cuanavale (London: Frank Cass, 2005), 158.

(8.) As an example of civil cooperation, Cubans were apportioned fishing rights in the abundantly provisioned waters of the Benguela Current. See Christine Hatzky, Cubans in Angola: South-South Cooperation and Transfer of Knowledge, 1976-1991 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2015), 83.

(9.) At the closing ceremony of the first Congress of the Cuban Communist Party on December 22, 1975, Fidel Castro declaimed, "The imperialists aim to prevent us from helping our Angolan brethren. But we must tell the Yankees not to forget that we are not just a Latin-American country, but we are also a Latin-African country." Departamento de Versiones taquigraficas, "Discurso prononciado por el comandante en jefe Fidel Castro Ruz," December 22, 1975, accessed July 13, 2018, All translations in the text are mine unless otherwise indicated.

(10.) George, The Cuban Intervention in Angola, 106.

(11.) James Walvin, Atlas of Slavery (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006), 115.

(12.) Rafael L. Lopez Valdes, Africanos en Cuba (San Juan: Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe, 2002), 257.

(13.) Palmares is reputed to have comprised an area the size of about one-third of the land mass of Portugal. It was finally conquered in 1694. A number of historical studies reference this black "republic" and its famed leader, Zumbi. See Glenn Alan Cheney, Quilombo dos Palmares: Brazil's Lost Nation of Fugitive Slaves (Hanover, CT: New London Librarium, 2014); Edison Carneiro, O Quilombo dos Palmares, 5th ed. (Bela Vista, S.P.: Martins Fontes, 2011); and Flavio dos Santos Gomes, De olho em Zumbi dos Palmares--Histdrias, simbolos e memoria social (Sao Paulo: Claro Enigma, 2011).

(14.) In 1795, Cuba produced only 14,000 tons of sugar. However, by 1856, the island was the top sugar producer in the world; the 359, 397 tons it produced represented 25 percent of the market share. In the wake of the Haitian Revolution, plantation owners fled the island, heading to Louisiana and Cuba (especially the eastern part of the island), where their technological expertise became instrumental during the sugar boom of 1790-1820.

(15.) To give some context to the choice of name, "La gesta heroica del Triunvirato" (Triunvirato's historic act) was the title of a conference organized by Cuban historian Jose Luciano Franco that took place on August 27, 1974, in Havana to pay tribute to "the heroic men and women, suppliers of the sugar mill's riches in the province of Matanzas, which was the scene of some of the most outstanding events in the rebellions by Afro-Cuban slaves in their confrontation with the cruel exploiters of their labour during the fourth decade of the past nineteenth century." "Rebelion de Triunvirato," EcuRed, n.d., accessed July 13, 2018,

(16.) Guevara first mentioned meeting leaders of the anticolonial movements in Portuguese Africa (including the MPLA) in his Congo diaries: The African Dream: The Diaries of the Revolutionary War in the Congo (London: Vintage Books, 2001). In the early 1960s, MPLA headquarters were based initially in Conakry, then in Leopoldville and Congo-Brazzaville.

(17.) Original text: "Y de Africa como esclavos vinieron muchos de nuestros antecesores a esta tierra. Y mucho que lucharon los esclavos, y mucho que combatieron en el Ejercito Libertador de nuestra patria. !Somos hermanos de los africanos y por los africanos estamos dispuestos a luchar!" "Discurso prononciado por el comandante en jefe Fidel Castro Ruz." "Rebelion de Triunvirato."

(18.) Piero Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington and Africa, 1959-1976 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2002).

(19.) "?Y quienes son hoy los representantes, los simbolos de la mas odiosa, de la mas inhumana discrimination?' "Discurso prononciado por el comandante en jefe Fidel Castro Ruz."

(20.) "Los fascistas y racistas de Africa del Sur. Y el imperialism yanki, sin escrupulos de ninguna indole, lanzo las tropas mercenarias de Africa del Sur para aplastar la independencia de Angola, y se indigna de que nosotros defendamos al Africa" Ibid.

(21.) Cuba won its independence from Spain as a result of three wars: the Ten Years' War (1868-1878), the Little War (1879-1880), and the Cuban War of Independence (1895-1898). Antonio Maceo worked his way up through the ranks to become an officer during the Ten Years' War. Still suffering from the racist controversy that had erupted at the end of the previous war, he did not fight in the Little War, but General Maximo Gomez promoted him to second-in-command of the independence army for the final military campaign.

(22.) Following the establishment of the Mixed Commission for the Suppression of the Slave Trade in 1817, by which Britain sought to seize ships still engaged in the illegal activity and liberate the Africans that constituted the cargo on board, Cuba's courts processed the cases of over 20,000 African captives between 1820 and the mid-1830s. As Michele Reid-Vazquez notes: "The majority of these men and women remained under the control of Spanish colonial authorities, many of whom represented some of the major slaveholders in the colony. In other words, instead of acquiring freedom, they were subjected to an ambiguous but highly exploitable status between free and slave." Michele Reid-Vazquez, The Year of the Lash Free People of Color in Cuba and the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011), 162.

(23.) Olga Portuondo Zufniga, Entre Esclavos y Libres de Cuba Colonial (Santiago de Cuba: Editorial Oriente, 2014), 260.

(24.) "Millares de negros y mulatos libres constituian el artesanado de la Isla. Otros muchos eran pequehos comerciantes y proprietarios Y, algunos, se dedicaban a las letras, a la ensehanza, a la musica. Constituian socialmente una pequena burguesia com aspiraciones a mejorar su situacion socio-political Jose Luciano Franco, La gesta heroica del Triunvirato (Havana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 2012), 5-6.

(25.) The term "creole" or "criollo" (Spanish) carries several different permutations throughout the Americas. In this work, I am guided by the Cuban usage, according to which the term applies to an individual that is Cuban-born, regardless of ethnic or racial origin.

(26.) Maceo's father was supposedly Venezuelan and his family spent some time in exile in Jamaica.

(27.) "Muchos mulatosy negros iban y venian como por cabotaje entre Haiti y Santiago de Cuba" Portuondo Zuniga, Entre esclavos, 257.

(28.) The Escalera conspiracy (Conspiration de La Escalera) was an alleged large-scale slave rebellion in western Cuba that Spanish colonial authorities uncovered in the early 1840s. Whether an organized network of planned insurrection actually existed or not, the brutal response--torture, killings, and banishment--of thousands of Afro-Cubans (both free and enslaved) was unequivocal. Some of the luminaries of the free black and mulatto community in Matanzas perished in the slaughter, including the distinguished poet Placido (Gabriel de la Conception Valdes), who was executed by firing squad on June 28, 1844, after a rigged trial.

(29.) "La gente rica era la que menos se ocupaba de los chismes. Com sus musicas y sus bailes se pasaban las horas. Y com su dinero, claw. Las mujeres del Pueblo tocaban el arpa en las salas com las ventanas abiertas para que todo el mundo las viera. Despues vino el piano. Pero primerofue el arpa. [...] El caso es que todas esas familias los Rojas, los Manuelillo, los Carrillo, vivian en lo suyo. Negocios, fiestas y dinero. Del chisme no se ocupaban. Elpobre si, porque vivia mas unido y mas.... El rico es rico y elpobre es pobre'' Miguel Barnet and Esteban Montejo, Biografia de un Cimarron (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010), 146.

(30.) Reid-Vazquez, Year of the Lash, 166.

(31.) "A parte da populacao chamada civilizada, era sociedade flutuante e de definicdo equivoca, que mal ocupava sequer o litoral de Angola e ainda menos colonizava o interior do territorio--sociedade que englobava africanistas de permanencia incerta no territorio, aventureiros (alguns deles vindos diretamente do Brasil), colonos forcadamente amarrados por necessidades economicas e contrariedades diversas a vida ultramarina, missiondrios e clergios, degredados, militares e, de mistura com estes elementos populacionais, numerosos mesticos, dos quais muitos deles integrados ja nos hdbitos sociais dos europeus dominadores, mormente nos centros urbanos de Luanda e Benguela" Julio de Castro Lopo, Jornalismo de Angola: Subsidios para a sua historia (Luanda: Centro de Informacao e Turismo de Angola, 1964), 12.

(32.) Some of these assimilado families, such as the black Van Dvinems, trace their lineage back to Dutch settlers who arrived in Luanda in the 1600s.

(33.) David Birmingham, Portugal and Africa (London: Macmillan Press, 1999), 175.

(34.) Slave trafficking was abolished in all Portuguese possessions south of the equator in 1836, although slavery as an institution was not included in the decree and indeed continued as an illegal practice until at least 1860. Evidence points to a continuation of many of its features under the system of forced labor, although in many cases, little distinction existed between the two systems.

(35.) Reid-Vazquez, Year of the Lash, 171. Spanish colonial officials classified Asians and indigenous Indians as white, demarcating them as biologically and socially, if not economically, superior to black Cubans.

(36.) The Portuguese government considered Brazil to be the easier option because its already well-established communication links compared with the far less-developed infrastructure in Angola. See David Birmingham, A Short History of Modern Angola (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 60.

(37.) Alberto Oliveira Pinto, Historia de Angola: Da pre-historia ao inicio do seculo XXI (Lisbon: Mercado de Letras, 2015), 514-515.

(38.) "O sol continuava tombando para opoente, deixando no ambiente uma atmosfera calida, sufocante" Antonio de Assis Junior, O Segredo da Morta (Romance de Costumes Angolenses) (Luanda: Edicoes 70, 1979), 42.

(39.) "E o sol continuava tombando... tomando semprepara o poente, deixando no ambiente uma atmosfera sufocante" Ibid., 43.

(40.) Piero Gleijeses, Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria, and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1976-1991 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013), 34.

(41.) Castro quoted in ibid.

(42.) Piero Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 9.

(43.) FAPLA was the MPLA's military wing during the anticolonial war, officially transitioning to become the Angolan national army when independence was declared by Agostinho Neto in Luanda on November 11, 1975.

(44.) Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions, 8-9.

(45.) Lorenzo Veracini, "Telling the End of the Settler Colonial Story," in Studies in Settler Colonialism: Politics, Identity and Culture, ed. Fiona Bateman and Lionel Pilkington (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 206.

(46.) Ibid., 207.

(47.) As Veracini explains, at times it is possible that settlers do return to the originating metropolis, but this occurs only when the colonial government falls, as in the case of Portugal. Veracini, "Telling the End," 210.

(48.) Ibid., 208.

(49.) Gleijeses, Visions of Freedom, 35.

(50.) This issue is probed in greater depth in my forthcoming monograph, Angola after Colonialism: Race, Politics, and National Identity (London: I. B. Tauris/Bloomsbury).

(51.) The provisional government held power from April 25, 1974 (the day of the Carnation Revolution) until new constitution and legislative elections took place on April 25, 1976.

(52.) The peace agreement known as the Alvor Accords was signed on January 15, 1975, by the leaders of the three independence movements, Holden Roberto, Agostinho Neto, and Jonas Savimbi and representatives of the post--Carnation Revolution government of Portugal. The agreement brought an end to Portuguese imperialism and the anti-colonial struggle that had raged since 1961. For more information, see Alexandra Marques, Segredos da Descolonizacao de Angola (Lisbon: Publicacoes Dom Quixote, 2013); and Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions.

(53.) The FNLA drew its support overwhelmingly from the north of the country, which had close cultural, historical, and linguistic ties to the French-speaking Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). Because Holden Roberto spoke Portuguese poorly, often it was left to charismatic FNLA cadre Johnny Eduardo to serve as the party's major representative during this time of transition. As a partial consequence, the FNLA contributed very little to the bitter dispute over which party could claim to be the most authentic voice of the Angolan people. This left the endless battle for hearts and minds to the UNITA and the MPLA.

(54.) On December 6, 1960, the MPLA, the PAIGC (O Partido Africano da Independencia da Guine e Cabo Verde/African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde), and the Goan League held a joint press conference in the House of Commons in London, where they declared that "instead of considering the proposals for a peaceful solution to the colonial question, the Portuguese government is intensifying preparations to unleash a war. With an attitude of this sort, this government leaves only one alternative to the nationalist movements: the use of DIRECT ACTION." Because of this statement, the PAIGC claimed it was the first Angolan liberation movement to publicly state that armed struggle was the only means of liberating the Angolan people. ANGOLA (Dar es Salaam: MPLA, n.d). The document cited here is among various produced by the MPLA in the period 1964-1974 compiled by Manuel Sertorio. It is located in the archive of CIDAC (Centra de Documentacao e Informacao). The File reference is H34-1 (ANGOLA-120/E).

(55.) Gerald J. Bender, "Angola, the Cubans, and American Anxieties," Foreign Policy 31 (1978): 10.

(56.) Ibid., 8.

(57.) Details of the Cuban military's role in the events of May 27, 1977, can be found in Laura Pawson, In the Name of the People: Angola's Forgotten Massacre (New York: I. B. Tauris, 2014); Dalila Cabrita Mateus and Alvaro Mateus, Purga em Angola: o 27 de Maio de 1977 (Alfragide: Texto Editores, 2009) They are also mentioned in Americo Cardoso Botelho's contentious and implacable report of murder and violence in post-independence Angola:, Holocausto em Angola: Memorias de entre o cdrcere e o cemiterio (Lisboa: Nova Vega, 2007), 381.

(58.) George Reid Andrews, Afro Latin America, 1800-2000 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004). On PIC and the 1912 massacre, also see Aline Helg, Our Rightful Share: The Afro-Cuban Struggle for Equality, 1886-1912 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995); Alejandro de la Fuente, A Nation for All: Race, Inequality and Politics in Twentieth-Century Cuba (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001); 1912; Serafin Portuondo Linares, Los Independientes de Color: historia del Partido Independiente de Color (Havana: Editorial Caminos, 2002); and the film Breaking the Silence (2013), directed by Gloria Rolando.

(59.) Abdias do Nascimento, Brazil: Mixture or Massacre? Essays in the Genocide of a Black People, trans. Elisa Larkin Nascimento (Dover, MA: The Majority Press, 1989), 90.

(60.) Reid-Vazquez, Year of the Lash, 151.

(61.) Helg, Rightful Share, 104.

(62.) "A vila, que, devido ao seu porto e navegabilidade do Cuanza, se tornara o centro dos produtos de Malanje, Cazengo e Libolo, nao pode aguentar o embate que estiolou a sua vida de entao.

Os agricultores de cafe viram com espanto baixar as cotacoes das suas producoes... ao mesmo tempo que o caminho-de-ferro de Ambaca acelerava os seus trabalhos de construcao para o interior, de que resultava o desvio dos produtos para outras vias de penetracao mais rapidas" Assis, O Segredo, 49.

(63.) "Operation Tribute," EcuRed, n.d., accessed July 13, 2018, To this day, the number of Cuban internationalists that were killed during the Angolan mission remains unknown; it is a closely guarded secret in the government's files.

CHRISTABELLE PETERS is a lecturer in Latin American cultural/political history in the School of Modern Languages at University of Bristol. Her email address is
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Title Annotation:Cuban military offensive that took place in southern Angola in 1976
Author:Peters, Christabelle
Publication:Journal of Global South Studies
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:6ANGO
Date:Sep 22, 2018

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