THE CUBAN MILITARY INVOLVEMENT in Africa dated from the early days of the revolution. In 1960 only nine African countries had won their independence. Yet the new government in Havana, which had not as yet determined its own political orientation, was beginning to ally itself with national-liberation movements on the vast continent—first in Algeria and Congo-Brazzaville and then, because of close cultural and linguistic ties, in the several Portuguese and Spanish colonies.
At the First Conference of Nonaligned Nations, convened by Marshal Tito in September 1961, Osvaldo Dorticós had stressed his country's links with all Third World peoples. Economic progress for any, he said, would be impossible without a joint all-out attack on imperialism and the monopolies, and the Cubans stood ready to help all peoples regain possession of their natural wealth. During the meetings Dorticós had long discussions with Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Sékou Touré of Guinea that led to the installation of military missions in both countries. In 1963 the Castro regime contributed a force of several hundred ground troops and medical doctors to Algeria in its border conflict with Morocco. After the removal of Ben Bella and Nkrumah by military coups, Cuba enlarged the praetorian guards that defended the presidents of friendly "progressive" countries, and Brazzaville became Havana's chief base for contacts in Africa and for training guerrilla forces. Ernesto Guevara launched his attack on Moïse Tshombe from there. The Cuban mission helped President Massamba‐ Débat turn back an army revolt that threatened his regime. It was also the site of Agostinho Neto's headquarters as he planned and organized a war for independence against the Portuguese in Angola. And at the Tricontinen