vendredi 3 août 2012

D.R.C. / CUBA: The failure of Che Guevara in the DRC. Is the revolution inconsistent with Africa? *

The story of "Che" in the Congo is both pathetic and heroic. Pathetic, as the company's famous guerrilla was doomed to failure from the start it clashes with African realities and the Congolese imbroglio, but by his heroic determination in a universal commitment to serve the liberation of peoples.

         From December 11, 1964, while the Belgian-American aggression, reinforced by mercenaries from South Africa, Rhodesia and Katanga, began, Ernesto Guevara speaks at the XIXth General Assembly of the UN. During his speech, he protests against intervention "imperialists", calling "free men of the world to avenge the crime committed against the Congo."
Following this short stay in New York, he flew to Algiers on 18 December 1964, the first step of an African tour of several weeks when he passes through Egypt, Mali, Guinea, Ghana, Benin, Congo - Brazzaville or Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.).
This trip allows him to meet the great African leaders of the era like Ben Bella, Modibo Keita, Massemba-Debat, Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure, Samora Machel, Agostino Neto, Amilcar Cabral or Lucio Lara, to name a few. Quickly, with notoriety and his interest in African peoples, he weaves a network of friendships in Africa and the Western bloc worried that considers Cuba as a Soviet satellite.
Moreover, in addition to wanting to export the revolution, the "Che" keep in mind that part of the Cuban population comes from being deported to the Americas and therefore that Cuban history is closely linked to the mainland Africa (the Cuban warriors sent the various theaters of operation will also for the vast majority of descendants of slaves). This solidarity emerging between the small island and African rebel Revolutionary understood below, in addition to military support, assistance programs in the fields of medicine, education and development.

Meeting with Kabila and departure for the DRC.

After his tour, February 11, 1965, Guevara traveled to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. There he meets the independence fighters of most settlements, including Laurent Kabila, the rebel leader of Eastern Front, an ally of Lumumba, which makes him a very good impression, despite the doubts of some of his relatives about his fighting spirit and its integrity.
         The "Che" has however decided to provide weapons and instructors, and even to visit the town of Kibamba near Fizi-Baraka, at the head of a handful of Cuban soldiers. The expedition arrived on the scene April 24, 1965 at 4:00, to combat human Westerners Moise Tshombe, a leader of the death of Patrice Lumumba. Despite the excitement of departure, during the seven months that will oppose the first Tshombe and Mobutu, the Commander will experience a real ordeal.
First, many Congolese, particularly some Lumumba, see the Cuban intervention as an additional interference and remain reluctant to work closely with the guerrilla Che Guevara. Moreover, the "Che" sentencing iron discipline of Congolese combatants to poorly trained in the use of Soviet and Chinese weapons, poorly controlled and determined little heads without ideological training. Moreover, the Cuban-Argentine icon does not speak any local language and was unprepared to Congolese realities, local culture, traditions and mentalities.
This lack of preparation for armed struggle in African soil slows the progression of the troops, and the Cuban adventurer can no longer hide his exasperation. DRC for six weeks, his report is as follows: "Indiscipline, disorder, ignorance of the rules of combat most basic, lack of fighting spirit and authority of leaders."
         There is increased realization that his sacrifice is not shared, and does not know how to react to laughter in response to his orders, or the importance of superstition, ethnic and local rivalries. Moreover undergoing multiple military defeats against foreign mercenaries in the pay of Mobutu, "Che" finally folds in Tanzania by Lake Tanganyika.
Despite this fiasco, the few months of the Revolutionary Internationalist African inspired many African fighters and laid the foundations for a lasting friendship between Africa and revolutionary Havana. Cubans support of revolutionary struggles across the continent throughout the second half of the twentieth century.

* Renaud Towe’s article appeared in Afrik.Com of August 3, 2012.
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