Following the visit by Angolan President, Dr. Agostinho Neto, to Cuba last month, a new?
Following the visit by Angolan President, Dr. Agostinho Neto, to Cuba last month, a new phase in relations has opened between the two countries.
SYNOPSIS: The Cuban military presence is still evident in the capital, Luanda, but the emphasis is now on economic and technical aid. For Cubans, President Neto's visit marked the end of their bold military intervention in the former Portuguese colony. Although Cuba has pledged continued military support, the priority now is to help Angolans tackle serious economic problems and building political institutions from scratch. Nevertheless, Angolan Prime Minister, Lopo do Nascimento, conceded last month that some Cuban troops were still dying in clashes with guerrillas in southern Angola.
However, near the capital the campaign to rebuild the economy is the first priority with Cubans helping harvest the sugar cane. It's one of the few crops the country has. The civil war left much of the country's agriculture in ruins in the wake of the exodes by most Portuguese farmers. The basic diet is rice and fish -- both of which are plentiful. But there's a shortage of most other basic foods including meat. This farm is still owned by a Portuguese who decided to stay behind. But the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) Government plans to eventually turn all farms into co-operatives.
The new stage in relations between the two countries is less spectacular than the military one, but probably longer-lasting. Cuba has agreed to provide a wide range of experts to help Angola. They include doctors and engineers.
But just how long will the Cuban military presence remain in Angola? It's estimated there are about 12,000 Cuban soldiers there now, and Cuba says it's withdrawing them at the rate of 200-a-week. However, both Cuba and Angola say they've agreed an unspecified number should remain for dealing with guerrillas and for training the Angolan armed forces. Meanwhile, the Cuban Prime Minister, Dr. Fidel Castro, is urging several thousand countrymen to join civilian experts heading for Angola.
Cuban assistance extends from the lowest levels to the top political and economic tasks and covers a wide variety of skills. The Angolan President says the Cuban advice and aid is vital to the emergency of the state.