Fidel Castro’s African legacy: Friendship and freedom
Fidel Castro was the enduring face and voice of a Cuban internationalism forged at the height of the Cold War and still widely misunderstood by the global North.
In 1969, during a meeting with the Chilean foreign minister Gabriel Valdes, Henry Kissinger – who would later become the US secretary of state – declared: “Nothing important can come from the South. History has never been produced in the South. The axis of history starts in Moscow, goes to Bonn, crosses over to Washington, and then goes to Tokyo. What happens in the South is of no importance.”
This so-called South – the global South – had already proved Kissinger wrong, though he was not astute enough to recognise it. As well as the emergence of the Non-Aligned Movement (of newly independent nations) at the Bandung Conference some 14 years earlier, post-revolution Cuba had been busy forging deep ties with countries that shared both its mistrust of US foreign policy and desire for true independence.