In Havana, Cuban President Fidel Castro opened the sixth Non-Aligned summit on Monday (3 September) with a strong attack on the United States.
In Havana, Cuban President Fidel Castro opened the sixth Non-Aligned summit on Monday (3 September) with a strong attack on the United States. He accused America of trying to sabotage the movement. At the same time the Cuban leader, who has been accused by moderates of wanting to shift the movement closer to the Soviet Union, paid warm tribute to the Soviet Union for its aid to Cuba since its revolution twenty years ago. The only surviving founder of the Non-Aligned Movement, President Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, has been waging a diplomatic offensive to try and keep the 96-member organisation on its traditional neutral path between the two super powers and flew out to Cuba earlier for talks with president Castro.
SYNOPSIS: Zambian President kenneth Kaunda was one of many leaders to arrive on Saturday (1 September). he was greeted by a seemingly tireless Fidel Castro wearing his familiar olive green battle dress. At least fifty heads of state are expected to attend the summit and other nations will be represented by senior ministers. Representatives of all five front line states confronting Zimbabwe Rhodesia and patriotic Front leaders Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo are attending the summit.
Mozambique President Samora Machel also arrived on Saturday. Leaders arriving in Havana have found disputes already raging on a variety of major topics, but for once southern Africa is unlikely to be the burning point. The issue of who should represent Kampuchea (Cambodia), the political direction of the Non-aligned Movement, the Middle East and the future of the Western Sahara seem to be causing the most heated discussions.
Ethiopian head of state Mengistu Haile Mariam arrived on Friday (31 August) and took the opportunity to decorate a group of Cuban officers and soldiers who fought in last year's Ogaden desert war against somalia. At a ceremony at the Cuban Army Academy the Ethiopian leader also gave posthumous decorations to the families of Cuban soldiers killed in action. Cuba has never said how many soldiers it sent to Ethiopia during the war but reliable reports have put the number as high as seventeen thousand.
Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu told the Cubans that by sending its sons to fight in Ethiopia, Cuba had made "an enormously difficult decision given the possible repercussions and sacrifice it implied". Cuban vice President Paul Castro who attended the ceremony replied that in the battles in he Ogaden, Cubans "not only acquired new and valuable experiences in the exercise of modern military science and art, but deepened their revolutionary consciousness."