Our rich history of solidarity and Internationalism with the people of the Americas. The battles of Ayachuco and Cuito Cuanavale. The liberator Simon Bolivar and commandant Fidel Castro

By: Justice Pitso

There are some of the events in the gallery of our history books that are so rare that they have become an emblem of our epoch. Such are events which belong to the category of the defining moments in the coarse of the history of our struggle for the liberation of mankind.

Wars are a spectra of destruction and human catastrophe which we must declare as the epitome of barbarism and backwardness. But there are extraordinary circumstances of history which have placed some in the rostrum to be the illumination of the triumph of human civilisation.

There are two battles of great historic significance which have definitely altered the coarse of our history. The battles of Ayacucho and Cuito Cuanavale.

The two battles took place at different epochs of our historical times and different locations of our geographical world. The one taking place on the continent of Latin America and the other on the continent of Africa, seven thousands, eight hundreds and ninety five kilometres and one hundred and fifty three years apart from each other.

The battle of Ayacucho took place in the present day republic of Peru in 1824 and the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in the present day republic of Angola in 1987. The Commander in Chief of the battle of Ayacucho was Simon Bolivar, the liberator of our America and of Cuito Cuanavale was Fidel Castro, the Commander in Chief of the Cuban revolution.

The battle of Ayacucho was the last to liberate the people of Latin America from the yoke of Portuguese and Spanish colonialism whilst the battle of Cuito Cuanavale was the last to liberate the people of Southern Africa from the yoke of apartheid colonialism.

Both continents still have a task to ensure that the republic of Porto Rico and the republic of the Saharawi Arab republic are granted their full independence and sovereignty. The republic of Puerto Rico remains the colony of the American empire and the Saharawi Arab Democratic republic of the Kingdom of Morocco.

The two historical events give us an appreciation of fully understanding who we are and our common humanity. They demonstrate that we are indeed the children of solidarity and internationalism.

During the battle of Ayacucho, the slave people from the African continent joined forces with the indigenous people of the America and other progressive forces, to fight Portuguese and Spanish colonialism, whilst during Cuito Cuanavale, the Cuban and the Soviet forces, joined the combined forces of the liberation movement in Southern Africa, ANC, MPLA and SWAPO, to defeat apartheid colonialism.

During the year 1805, Simon Bolivar, in the presence of his teacher and mentor Simon Rodriquez, took an oath on top of a sacred hill of Monte Sacro in Rome, vowing to liberate the people of the Americas during his lifetime. He said “I swear before you, I swear before the God of my parents, I swear before them, I swear on my honour and I swear by my homeland, that I will not give rest to my arm, nor rest to my soul, until I have broken the chains that oppress the people of the Americas”.

In his famous letter from Jamaica, through which he expounded his strategic vision for a future of the Americas, free from oppression and exploitation, he says “we are a macrocosm of the human race. We are a world apart, confined within two oceans, young in art and science, but old in human society. We are neither Indians, Europeans nor slaves, but part of each other”.

During an auspicious ceremony of accepting Simon Bolivar award on behalf of Nelson Mandela in Carcass, Venezuela in 1983, the long serving President of the ANC Oliver Reginald Tambo, said the following profound words

“That time came to this continent when Simon Bolivar mortgaged his life to the vision of freedom, independence and equality among peoples. The presence here of the Presidents of the independent republics of Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Panama is a striking tribute to the glorious services he rendered to the people of an entire continent.

Yet the example of his life must lead us to conclude that if he were able to speak to us today, observing the world we live in, he would ask to live his life over again. For it is not possible that Simon Bolivar could have stood aside while the uprooted Palestinian nation bled to death in the ghettos of Beirut.

He could not have stood aside while the soil of El Salvador and the sands of the Sahara turned russet brown from the blood of the innocents. He would not have been an indifferent observer as the Namibian oppressed were shot down in Katatura and Kassinga, and their South African counterparts were massacred in Soweto, Matola and Maseru”.

He further said “Thus the great Atlantic Ocean separating our two continents must become a bridge of solidarity, uniting Latin America and Africa, through a system of political, social and economic relations. Of necessity, that the system of these relations must, as far as South Africa and Namibia are concerned, be between the great peoples of this continent and the struggling masses of our countries and their representatives, the African National Congress and SWAPO of Namibia”

During an emotional ceremony in the city of Havana, of welcoming back the mortal remains of the Cuban combatants who fell during the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, the Commander in Chief of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro, said the following”

As we have said before, being an internationalists is paying debt to humanity. Those who are incapable of fighting for others will never be capable of fighting for themselves.

And the heroism shown by our forces, by our people in other lands, far away lands, must also serve to let the imperialists know what awaits them if one day, they force us to fight on this land here.

These men and women whom we are laying to rest today in the land of their birth gave their lives for the most treasured values of our history and our revolution. They died fighting against colonialism and neo-colonialism.

They died fighting against racism and apartheid. They died fighting against the plunder and exploitation of the third world.

They died fighting for the right of all peoples to ensure their wellbeing and development. They died fighting so there would be no hungry people or beggars, sick people without doctors, children without schools; human beings without work, shelter and food.

They died so there would be no oppressors or oppressed, no exploiters or exploited. They died fighting for the dignity and freedom of all men and women. They died fighting for true peace and security of all nations.

They died defending the ideals of [Cuban independence heroes] Céspedes and Máximo Gómez. They died defending the ideals of Martí and Maceo.

They died defending the ideals and example of Marx, Engels and Lenin. They died defending the ideals and example that the October Revolution extended throughout the world. They died for socialism.

They died for internationalism. They died for the proud, revolutionary homeland that Cuba is today. We will follow their example. Eternal glory to them.”

We must declare, that we are not warmongers, mankind cannot glorify war, for we are the representatives of peace. Though these events represent the galaxy of the history of our struggle for liberation, I wish they should have happened without wars and any form of human agony.

In our lifetime, society will reach the peak of the mountain top of its development. Mankind serves peace and tranquillity, it is therefore possible, that we can achieve human freedom without wars and catastrophe.

Just as the beautiful sun revolves around the contours of our mother earth, just as the moon brings light during darkness, and as the seasons of the year come and go, so is our history. Our history is about change and continuity, as it defines some of the rare historical moments, along the path of human civilisation.

The beautiful episodes of our history make us to be who we are, as President Oliver Tambo said “As we accept and receive the International Simon Bolivar Prize with pride and humility, we feel we have acquired the right to inscribe on our battle standards these immortal words that Simon Bolivar wrote in 1812”.

“Let us hasten to break the chains of those victims who groan in the dungeons, ever hopeful of rescue. Make not a mockery of their trust. Be not insensible to the cries of your brothers. Fly to avenge the dead, to give life to the dying, to bring freedom to the oppressed and liberty to all.”

If the temple is in heaven so shall it be in the hearts of all humanity. We call on the people of the world , to cherish peace, as it shall be in eternity.

Our solidarity is our internationalism and our internationalism is our solidarity.

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