May 20, 2013 Letters Comments Off on Only two Cuban flights landed in Guyana because Burnham caved in to US and Venezuelan pressure
I doubt Kaieteur News will publish this letter but as the nation’s most valiant freedom of speech and free press defender, I strongly believe it would be subverting its own indomitable code if it refuses to do so.
I wrote a letter to Kaieteur News that was not published (as far as I know). In that letter I highlighted the fact that Burnham only allowed two Cuban flights to land in Guyana before caving in to US and Venezuelan pressure.
The source of that information is none other than award-winning scholar on Cuban foreign policy Piero Gleijesis’ “Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976”. A May 13, 2013 Kaieteur News editorial titled “The Tambo Award Tango” made the case for Burnham’s entitlement to the OR Tambo Award. It also distinguished between causa belli (reason for) and casus belli (occasion for) criticism of Burnham’s entitlement to the Award. It is a valid distinction notably because the terms of entitlement to the OR Tambo Award are very specific. Notwithstanding this fact, to merely do as the editorial did, in dismissing my argument as petty is missing the wider point.
The Cuban intransit issue is one of the visible acts of support by Burnham for African liberation and for this reason, it is emphasized by his backers. Accordingly, it must be closely examined.
Any deep scrutiny of the events surrounding Burnham’s assistance to the Cubans to land in Guyana in 1975 unearth the following fact: only two flights landed before Burnham caved to US and Venezuelan pressure. Obviously the editorial is attempting to illustrate that some limited assistance is better than no assistance at all.
However, it fails to correspondingly illustrate that Angola was at its direst point, meaning it faced potential collapse into the hegemony of pro-South African apartheid elements. At that critical juncture when push came to shove, Forbes Burnham succumbed to not only pressure from the USA, a tacit supporter of anti-communist apartheid South Africa, but also to Venezuela, from whom Burnham was secretly begging for oil despite Venezuela’s attack on Guyana at Ankoko a mere five years prior and its continued aggressive claim to two-thirds of Guyana.
The instructive point is that at Angola’s direst crossroads, Forbes Burnham surrendered to a superpower that supported apartheid South Africa and to a sworn enemy claiming two-thirds of our nation.
The editorial seemingly attempts to justify Burnham’s capitulation to US pressure when it stated that “During the Cold War, governments were overthrown for less.” However, the reality is that with a PPP communist government-in-waiting, Forbes Burnham was more secured of his hold on power and US support than many other regimes.
A more terrifying despot more open to US overthrow shenanigans in Ahmed Seke Toure, leader of Guinea, allowed Cubans to land freely in Guinea. Clearly, Forbes Burnham helped the people of South Africa on other fronts and that entitles him to the OR Tambo Award. But that does not mean that some of the reasons proffered for his entitlement to the award cannot be examined or challenged.
The causa belli for Burnham’s turnaround on allowing the landing of Cuban flights cannot be buried under the blanket dismissal that it is petty to argue that only two flights landed. Nor can it be rejected without reason as just posturing casus belli.
Not when the causa belli evidence hypocrisy and emboldened Venezuela which sensed our weakness from that act to reopen its territorial ambitions with even greater aggression in the period shortly thereafter.
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