Local Attorney, Amateur Historian
and Author Peter Polack is poised to launch his new book BlackStalingrad later
this year and has managed to secure a list of the Cubans who fought and died in
a vaguely documented war in Africa.
He explained that the work is an
unbiased historical perspective of the role Cuba played in the Angolan war for
independence from Portugal.
“Cuban troops were sent to Angola
in 1975 to support the leftist guerrillas of the “Popular movement for the
Liberation of Angola,” said Polack.
He explained that BlackStalingrad
was based on the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, a key engagement during which
15,000 Cuban troops helped Angolan government soldiers stall an offensive by
South Africa and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola.
The author added that the Cuban
government had been tight lipped about the role it played in the war.
In 1989, the names of all 2,106
Cuban soldiers that the Castro Government admits were killed were published in
Cuba’s provincial newspapers.
The full list of soldiers, which is
said to consist of 2,280 Cubans- 183 more than thought originally- is more
consistent with soldier accounts.
Mr. Polack was able to obtain this
document from The Freedom Park Memorial in South Africa, which received the
list in 2006 from Cuba’s ambassador to Pretoria Esther Armenteros.
This was so the names could be
displayed on the Sikhumbuto Wall, designed to display all the names of those
killed fighting for “liberation in South Africa”.
There is no doubt, the document could bolster
the promotion of Mr. Polack’s book as well, but the author has taken a more altruistic
approach to marketing and says he is releasing the list before the launch of
the book as a means of giving some of the families’ closure.
He said he became interested in
Cuban issues in 1992 when he met two Cuban refugees in Jamaica who had fought
“Their stories were absolutely
fascinating,” he exclaimed, adding that the Cayman Islands and Jamaica were so
close to Cuba, yet much of the information about important historical and
political events was shrouded behind a mojito curtain.
Havana officials took part in
international peace negotiations, which concluded in 1988 and the last 119
Cuban troops in Angola were withdrawn in 1991.
The soldiers’ remains were buried
in simultaneous ceremonies throughout the Island of Cuba.