Sunday, March 13, 2016

Jeremy Harding on Castro in Angola

A fascinating long read reviewing several books on Angola.
Apartheid's Last Stand:
"The pending collapse of the Soviet Union played its part in the regional settlement, but Moscow was still pouring in arms when the Cubans took matters into their own hands, and Mandela never failed to thank them for their role. The outcome in Angola, he said, had ‘destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor’. But the price was high. Angolans paid for the shortcomings of a war administration that was slow to learn the arts of war and failed entirely to administer; the population lived under a Soviet-style economy in which the only working outposts were vast, flourishing informal markets – Roque Santeiro was the biggest in Luanda (named for a Brazilian TV soap) – and Sonangol, the state oil company, which lubricated the war effort. South Africa made good use of Savimbi and played cleverly on Washington’s anxieties, compounding the chaos, repression and heartbreak in a mismanaged country: widespread hunger and disease; dispossession and displacement; provincial towns crowded with landmine victims; hospitals full of ailing civilians but bare of medication; ANC militants jailed in pits by their leaders, Swapo fighters tortured as traitors by their commissars; hundreds of Angolan ‘fractionist’ dissidents dead or jailed. Apartheid was a creature that fumbling, self-interested democracies in the West were unwilling to slay. Only another kind of monster, with friends in Havana, could point it towards the exit."

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