Ten interesting tidbits about Ethio-Cuban Relations
1. — Although Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie did not visit Cuba during his many travels abroad, Cuba does host a chapter of the Ethiopian World Federation and a devoted Rastafarian population.
Many famous self proclaimed “Rastafarians” were born in Cuba including Rita Marley(1946), wife of Bob Marley.
Also born in Cuba was the late Mortimo “Kumi” Planno(1929-2005), a founding member of the Rastafari Movement Association and member of the Jamaican delegation that visited Ethiopia in 1961; and Cuba-born musician Lorenzo “Laurel” Aikken(1924-1979) , considered the Godfather of Jamaican Ska who continued to create and perform Rasta-laced raggae music until his death.
2. — According to a New York Times article, dated on March 3, 1967, Cuba had reportedly agreed to train guerrilla fighters seeking Eritrean independence.
3. — In 1976, Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam was Ethiopia’s first Head-of-State to have made a “secret” visit to Cuba to plead for assistance to combat Ethiopia’s growing insurgencies.
4. — In April 1977, Cuban President Fidel Castro visited Ethiopia as rumors began to spread that Cuba had begun sending military advisors in secret to assist the Ethiopian military. At first Cuba confirmed only sending some 300 Medical Aides.
5. — In April 1978 Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam returned to Cuba wbere he received Cuba’s highest honor, the Playa Giron – The Bay of Pigs Medal. (Source: New York Times)
6. — In May of 1978, relations between the two countries became almost strained when it was revealed that Cuban agents had helped “smuggle a man known as Dr. Negede, a leading member of the All-Ethiopian Socialist Movement, known as MASON, into the country from exile.” (Source: Post Wire Service)
7.— In 1979 some 2,400 Ethiopian children, many orphaned from the Ethio-Somalian conflict were brought to Cuba to be schooled. Many of these children grew up and some remain in Cuba to this day.
8.— Cuba President Fidel Castro once was quoted in August 1979 by the Associated Press as saying he was frustrated by the lack of enthusiasm by his citizens whom would prefer to volunteer in “Ethiopia” then his own country.
“Hundreds of thousands turn up wanting to go to Ethiopia, or Angola, or wherever”, he said. “Demonstrating their revolutionary political consciousness in somethings. But when it is required on a daily basis, it fails to appear”.
9. — In September 1980, the Associated Press reported that two Cuban soldiers who defected and taken refuge in the American Embassy in Addis Ababa back in May and were still living at the embassy, The incident was suggested as linked to a demand by the Ethiopian government ordering the US Ambassador to Ethiopia to quit his post.
10. — This month Ethiopia(September 2012) is hosting the 4th Regional African Conference in Solidatary with Cuba. Since the collapse of the Soviet-back Ethiopian Government, relations continue to strengthen between Ethiopia and Cuba. (Source:Waltainfo . Com)
(Photo: The Rastafari movement alive in Havana, Cuba)