Angels of Death vs Freedom Fighters, by Alberto Jones, 11/19/02
US Tour 2002
Che's work in Africa given new scrutiny, 10/30/02, Atlanta Journal Constitution
La Cara Sucia de Miami, por Max Lesnik, Radio Miami, 11/14/02
Dissenters lambaste lecturer, 11/13/02
Víctor Dreke Cruz, of Havana's Center for the Study of Africa and the Middle East, is currently vice president of the Cuba-Africa Friendship Association and for the last decade has helped lead work to construct housing, schools, roads and other development projects in Africa.
As a high school activist -- president of his high school Student Association and a leader of a student strike -- in the 1950s he was a young leader of the revolutionary struggle against the U.S.-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.
After the 1959 victory of the Cuban Revolution Dreke held numerous responsibilities in the revolutionary armed forces and in the political leadership of the battle to transform Cuban society, including uprooting the institutional racial discrimination inherited from the past.
Dreke was also one of the commanders of the fight against the counterrevolutionary bands, backed by the CIA, in the Escambray mountains of central Cuba from 1960-1965.
In 1965, Dreke served as second in command under Ernesto Che Guevara in the Congo. More than 100 Cuban volunteers went to the Congo at the request of leaders of the national liberation movement there who were followers of Patrice Lumumba, the assassinated leader of the Congo's fight for independence. This experience laid the basis for the Cubans to aid other liberation struggles -- in Angola, Guinea-Bissau and elsewhere in Africa.
Dreke returned to Africa in 1966-1968 to head Cuba's military mission in Guinea-Bissau -- at that time fighting for its independence from Portugal. He fought alongside Amilcar Cabral there and also headed Cuba's mission in the Republic of Guinea. He returned to Guinea-Bissau from 1986-1989.
Dreke holds a degree in politics from the Máximo Gómez Military Academy and in 1981 graduated with a degree in law from the University of Santiago de Cuba.
|On Tuesday, November 12,
2002, the department of Black and Africana Studies, the department Latin
America and Caribbean Studies of the University of South Florida, Tampa,
various students associations, and different peace groups from Florida,
organized and presented a first-ever in the history of this house of
higher education, two Afro-Cuban freedom fighters, who would share with
us, there life experiences.
As it could be expected in Tampa, another stronghold of the ultra-right-wing, former upper-class, hispanic Cubans, the stakes were high, tension was widespread and the battle lines were drawn.
But before getting into the event per se and the vain attempt to disrupt it by those, who have reduced themselves to be qualified as unruly houligans or agent provocateur, let me attempt to touch on this very important concept of what constitutes a Freedom Fighter.
Most of us remember the presidency of Ronald Reagan and Bush-1, who came to power with a bellicose agenda, determined to re-arrange the world in their image. To achieve this goal, his government was stacked with conspirators, machiavellians, deal makers and liars, willing to get in bed with anyone capable of carrying out orders or selling their soul. Some of them comes to mind. Colonel Roberto D’Aubuisson, a cold blooded killer and a graduate from the school of assassins in Georgia, was presented as the new Rambo who would eradicate all the trouble makers in his country, only to see him have the bishop of El Salvador gunned down during Sunday mass.
Other notorious Salvadoran killers on our payroll were General Garcia and General Vides Cassanova, who are responsible of slaughtering over 35,000 innocent Salvadoran citizens; are now distinguished permanent residents of our State of Florida, which holds the sad distinction of harboring more tyrants, assassins, torturers and criminals per square mile in the world.
The outrageous loyalty of the United States government to these criminals, reached its lowest level when our legal system in Palm Beach, Florida, acquitted these monsters of proven charges of raping and murdering four US nuns. Their damning criminal record that was presented by Mr Robert White, then US Embassador to that country.
The people of Nicaragua had recently overthrown one of this continent’s most despicable dictator, Anastasio Somoza . This individual, who was frequently compared with the Shah of Iran, was the heir to the throne we had created 40 years before, after intervening militarily more than seven times in that country.
Using Cuba as the boogy man, they coined their most deadly weapon, the Domino Theory, which suggested that the success of a revolutionary process in one country would lead to a similar result in another. Years before, they cooked up the now defunct theory of "Export Revolution," as if we were dealing with food, fuel or medicine.
Because we did not like to see the elite, hispanic, pro-American government replaced by ordinary, poor, primarily brown people, once again, with the assistance and expertise of the CIA, we organized a band of tugs, crooks, thieves, opportunists, now baptised as "Freedom Fighters," who succeeded in killing thousands of peasants, destroying the country’s economy, mining of their ports and eventually overthrowing that people oriented government. Many of them are now wealthy ex-drug dealers, comfortably retired in ...... Miami.
The rest is history. That government was replaced by a very inept President, Violeta Chamorro, who was cowed by most of the crooks that overthrew the previous government, leading them to occupy key positions in her government.
The following election brought to the Presidency our poster boy, Arnoldo Aleman. It may never be known how many millions of dollars this vulgar thief stole and stashed away in foreign banks, or distributed among his friends and family by demanding kick backs from every foreign entity doing business in that country. He effectively destroyed the economy of that country for years to come and yet, we have never heard him denounced in any of the US State Department briefings or any suggestion to be imprisoned by, indictment prone Mr. Aschroft.
And this brings us to the most despicable of all this horror story, that has cost the lives of millions dying silently of hunger or disease in our region.
Mr. Gary is another abominable example of some of the human scourges that this region has produced. As head of the tiny island of Grenada in the Caribbean, this individual plundered its limited resources and erected himself in little less than an Emperor. Overthrown by a group of local intellectuals headed by Maurice Bishop, we were again quick to put in place our Domino Theory. We conspired, bought conscience, induced his murder and sent in an armada, equipped with an aircraft Carrier loaded with its F-15’s, 16’s and 18’s, under the courageous leadership of Herr General Schwartzskopf, who bombed, straffed and invaded an island that is smaller than every county in the state of Florida and with less guns than Miami. Again the blood of the innocent was spilled!
How could all of this happen? Simple. The Reagan administration had
selected and placed in key positions, the most rabid, tunnel vision,
right wing enforcers. A few outstanding ones follow.
The other accomplice in this case, Orlando Bosch, a pediatrician, was the mastermind of this criminal action. Herr Reich was able to work up a home made pardon procedure, by which Dr. Bosch was paroled but barred from entering the US because of his extensive terrorist history. Herr Reich got in touch with Mr. Jeb Bush, then campaign manager for US Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lethinen, who conveyed his wishes to Bush-1, who in turn gingerly sneaked Dr. Bosch into Miami, where he lives as a celebrity, among hundreds of surviving torturers, killers and crooks from the Batista regime era.
May we skip some of the endless list of individuals, who played a pivotal role in this very destructive period in our history? Poindexter, Abrams, Casey et al., and focus for a while on Lt. Colonel Oliver North.
This individual, who in his quest to destroy Central America, conceived and implemented with many others the infamous Resupply Project, by which, arms, munitions, explosives and all other killing instruments, were swapped in a complex mechanism that landed tons of pure cocaine into this country, that in turn created millions of drug additcts, who killed untold number of people in their insatiable need to satisfy their urge; while others have died, thanking Mr North for ending their lives prematurely.
Yet today, Lt Col. North, who was not only acquitted of all charges, is a respectable citizen, with a prominent Talk Show in the State of Virginia.
Let’s listen to the life of Victor Dreke, a man of humble beginnings in his racially segregated Santa Clara province in Cuba, who at the early age of 15, rose up against the murderous coup d’etat of General Fulgencio Batista, Our Man In Havana, then later went to the hills where he joined the rebel army and fought with it until its triumph in 1959.
He was then assigned different responsibilities, with the rank of Captain. When the CIA organized, trained, financed and directed the invaders of the Bay of Pigs, Victor Dreke was there, leading two companies that fought and defeated the invaders in 72 hours. By 1962, he was leading the Cuban Militia forces known as LCB, charged with cleaning up another CIA stronghold in the Escambray mountains.
In response to a call for help from the remnants of the Patrice Lumumba forces after his assasination in the Congo, Che Guevara organized a group of 128 combatants of which Victor Dreke was the second in command during their 7 months expedition in Africa which was severely handicapped by tribalism, poor leadership etc. and which Che described in his book as a fiasco.
Dreke returned to Cuba, where he was assigned the direction of a military school for future Cuban internationalists combatants. Between 1966-68 and 1986-89, Dreke was the head of the Cuban military mission in Guinea-Bissau.
In 1973, he was named chief of the newly formed Ejercito Juvenil del Trabajo (EJT), or young army recruits, working in agriculture enterprises. In 1981, he graduated from the Law School in Santiago de Cuba and in 1990, he retired from the Cuban Armed Forces with the rank of Colonel.
Since, he has headed two Cuban corporations in Africa involved in trade, construction of school, roads, housing and development projects. He is also Vice-President of the Cuba-Africa Friendship Association.
The second Afro-Cuban Freedom Fighter on this speaking tour is Ana Morales Valera MD, who has spent most of her professional life in Africa, first taking care of her patients, later supervising the work of the Cuban Medical Support Team, later building, opening and directing the first medical school in Guinea-Bissau and today, as a professor of Health Administration at the Institute of Basic Sciences and Pre-Clinics in Havana, teaching other to save lives, mitigate suffering and respect life.
What a stark difference between those described initially, who have dedicated a lifetime to burning, maiming, killing and destroying every living object, as opposed to others dedicated to preserving human dignity, mitigating suffering and respecting life.
Simply put, those Angels of Death, renamed Freedom Fighters by another pathological mind, will need all the benevolence of history to understand what guided their actions.
Alberto Jones, November 19, 2002
Víctor Dreke Cruz, of the Center for the Study of Africa and the Middle East, in Havana, Cuba, is speaking on "Cuba and Africa: 1959 to Today" on US university campuses in October and November 2002. Also touring with Dreke is Ana Morales, founder of the first medical school in Guinea-Bissau.
Media Center Auditorium, Healey Library Lower Level
Thursday, November 14 3:00 p.m.
Africana Studies Dept., Coll. of Public and Community Services (CPCS), Students
Arts and Events Council, Black Student Center, Casa Latina, Feminist Majority
Joukowsky Forum, 1st Floor, Watson Institute
111 Thayer St. Providence RI
Friday, November 15 4:00 p.m.
Africana Studies Department, Center for Latin American Studies, Wayland
Collegium for Liberal Learning
|By Gustavo Hernandez
Staff Writer, The Oracle, USF Student News
November 13, 2002
Victor Dreke-Cruz wanted to tell people about the relationship between Cuba and Africa, but instead he was called a "puppet of Fidel Castro."
A lecture about the close bond between Cuba and Africa Tuesday night turned into an open forum for those in opposition of the Cuban revolution.
Both Dreke-Cruz and Ana Morales-Varela intended to speak about the relationship between Cuba and Africa, but instead were challenged about their views by Cubans in the audience.
The two speakers are visiting universities across the nation to discuss the bond that has developed between Cuba and Africa since 1963.
One Cuban man in the audience said Dreke-Cruz's statements about the status of people living in Cuba were false.
The man asked Dreke-Cruz why the people still living in Cuba did not own any of the land, but that people of other races and ethnicities in the country do.
This same man said that Dreke-Cruz was a puppet of Cuban leader Fidel Castro because he was echoing Castro's idealistic views.
Dreke-Cruz said the Cuban people did own the land in spirit, and some Cuban people are on the island do own land.
After Dreke-Cruz presented his information, he proceeded to field questions from the audience about various topics.
But as he began answering questions, various people in the audience interrupted his responses by shouting oppositions to his answers.
Some people accused Dreke-Cruz of misleading audience members about the current conditions of the people in Cuba.
The question and answer session continued with the same interruptions by those who felt what they had to say was the only truth to be heard, Dreke-Cruz said.
"These people had their beliefs about the revolution and were not willing to accept anyone else's about it," Dreke-Cruz said.
Ernest Mailhot, one the committee workers of the lecture, said the lecture was still a success.
"He told us that he wanted people to come to this meeting to bring up things they wanted to hear," Mailhot said. "This is a big victory for him in that he got to speak to 150 people so that he could clear up some misconceptions people might have had."
Senior Jermaine Donaldson said the lecture provided him with a clearer view of Cuba.
"I think this was a good learning experience, and the university should have this more often," said Donaldson. "People and students as Americans are not given the full view of Cuba, and it's nice to have both sides of the story presented."
Dreke-Cruz said he was unable to get his point across to some of the people in the audience.
"I believe that (those people who chose to interrupt) were irrational and had nothing more to do but to scream," Dreke-Cruz said. "(These people) were squashed by the truths (that I stated)."
Morales-Varela said she felt the events eclipsed the true intent of the evening.
"I believe what happened tonight was ugly in the sense that we did not have our time to speak about the topic at hand," Morales-Varela said. "I regret not being able to speak more to the students who wanted to know more about Cuba."
nuevo anoche Miami enseñó su cara sucia con motivo de la conferencia
que pronunciara en la Universidad Internacional de La Florida el
Comandante del Directorio Revolucionario del Escambray Víctor Dreke.
Estaba invitado por los alumnos y los profesores de ese centro docente
sobre asuntos africanos que querían profundizar sus conocimientos sobre
la participación de Cuba en el continente negro. El Comandante Dreke
había sido uno de los actores principales de la lucha guerrillera
iniciada en esa región del mundo por el Che Guevara en la década de
los años 60. Dreke es un pedazo de esa historia y a contarla vino a
Miami y no a otra cosa.
Seguimos lavando para bien de
todos, la cara sucia d Miami.
|Author who aided him there hopes to demystify his hero
Moni Basu - Staff
The worldwide interest in Ernesto "Che" Guevara, whether as stylish revolutionary or a historical figure, endures more than four decades after he was slain by U.S.-assisted Bolivian troops. But to Cuba's faithful Fidelistas, Che's legacy remains even more vivid.
"Some people have tried to mystify Che, but for us, he was flesh and bones," said Victor Dreke, who was Guevara's second in command in Cuba's failed military ventures into the Congo.
Much of Guevara's character was revealed in his African diaries, published last year, and in Dreke's book, published earlier this year, called "From the Escambray to the Congo: In the Whirlwind of the Cuban Revolution." Click for pricing & to order ==>
Dreke, 64, visiting the United States for the first time, is in Atlanta this week to talk about Cuba's relationship with African nations. Now the vice president of the Cuba-Africa Friendship Association, Dreke is meeting with black Georgia farmers, speaking at Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College, touring the Auburn Avenue historic district and the Martin Luther King Jr. site and talking to civil rights veterans Tyrone Brooks, the Rev. Tim McDonald and the Rev. C.T. Vivian.
In an interview this week, Dreke talked about race relations and why Castro sent his beloved friend Che to fight in post-colonial wars in Africa. Dreke and more than 100 other Cuban volunteers --- all black except Che --- followed their commandante into the Congo after the assassination of socialist leader Patrice Lumumba shortly after independence. There they fought alongside the remnants of Lumumba's nationalist movement.
As Dreke recalled, Che brimmed with courage and zeal in his quest to help Laurent Kabila's Simba rebels oust the U.S.-supported government. But Dreke said Che faced faulty intelligence and deeply divided, ill-trained Congolese fighters.
"We had other misconceptions, too," Dreke wrote in his book. "Speaking truthfully, almost nobody here knew anything about Africa. Our image was from Tarzan movies --- Tarzan and Cheeta the monkey." Dreke blamed textbooks written by capitalists in pre-revolutionary days for Cubans' ignorance about their black brethren across the Atlantic.
The Congo experience led to Cuban troops in Angola, Guinea-Bissau and other African nations freshly freed from colonial rule. The United States accused Castro of exporting revolution; the Cubans claimed affinity with black Africans struggling against racism.
"The brutal policy of apartheid is being carried out before the eyes of the whole world," Guevara declared at the U.N. General Assembly in 1964.
"The people of Africa are being compelled to tolerate in that continent the concept, still official, of the superiority of one race over another. . . . Can the United Nations do nothing to prevent this?"
Dreke credited Cubans of African descent with the start of Cuba's independence movement and for the prosperity of Havana.
"The beautiful buildings of Old Havana were built with the blood and sweat of Africans," he said, defending Cuba's "internationalist" policy.
"That's why Fidel felt compelled to pay back the debt."
The U.S. State Department estimates Cuba's population at 37 percent white, 11 percent black, 51 percent mulatto (mixed race) and 1 percent Chinese. An estimated two-thirds of the population is believed to have some African roots.
Dreke credited Castro's 1959 revolution with wiping Cuba clean of racial discrimination.
"It wasn't as grave as it was [in the American South], but blacks in Cuba didn't have the same rights as whites," Dreke said. "I was not a socialist --- or a Communist --- but in the face of abuse, you become rebellious. From night to day, things changed for black people in Cuba."
Pathfinder Books: Review From the Escambray to the Congo
War-Cry Still Resounds in Congo
By Dihur Godefoid Tchamlesso, Prensa Latina (Havana)
22 May 1997
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