The Cuban revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, who passed away on 25 November, is being remembered for all what he has done in his political life. On their part, Eritreans also have reasons to remember Fidel Castro and Cuba for the good things and bad things they have done to Eritrea and Eritreans.
To start with the good...
Fidel Castro's Cuba was among the first nations to support the Eritrean struggle for self-determination and national independence. Among the first group of fighters of the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) who were sent to Cuba in the late 1960s included Martyrs Ibrahim Afa, Debrom Tiluq Mahmoud Hassab and Tesfai Kahsai. They received training not only in the use of arms but also in military leadership skills plus some basic briefing in leftist ideology. That was the time when Eritreans everywhere, if connected with the national liberation struggle, were fumbling in libraries for copies of the Tricontinental magazine, which many times carried supportive articles and information about what was going in the Eritrean field of armed struggle. The Havana-based magazine was published by the Organizations of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America (OPAAL) which also received support of left-leaning parties and groups in Europe and other continents.
Things turned bad in the late 1970s. When the 11,600 Cuban soldiers and 6,000 military advisors sent to help Ethiopia's Menghistu Hailemariam in fighing Somalia ended their job in Ogaden, eastern Ethiopia, Fidel Castro ordered in 1978 that they also fight the Eritrean Revolution that was in the threshold of victory after liberating almost all the country-side and cities except Asmara and other two. The then quite capable and mighty armies of the ELF and the EPLF could not be a match to the Cuban contingent and advisors guiding the Ethiopian army that was also supported by 225 Soviet transport aircraft ferries supplied to Ethiopia.
Many Eritreans believe that things could have been different for Eritrea and its people if Fidel Castro and Cuba were not to decide in crushing the Eritrean Revolution that Cuba was among the first to support it in the 1960s.
Again in June 2016, the Cuban delegation in the UN Human Rights Council stood against the Eritirean people by supporting the dictatorial regime and asking that Isaias Afeworki and his clique be spared from being charged for Crimes Against Humanity for their abuses against their own people since 1991.
Anyway, one need not stop from wishing Fidel Castro's soul to rest in peace.
EPDP Information Office