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New Left Review I/101-102, January-April 1977

Gabriel García Márquez

Operation Carlota

The United States first made known the presence of Cuban troops in Angola in an official statement of 24 November 1975. Three months later, during a short visit to Venezuela, Henry Kissinger remarked in private to President Carlos Andrés Pérez: ‘Our intelligence services have grown so bad that we only found out that Cubans were being sent to Angola after they were already there.’ At that moment, there were many Cuban troops, military specialists and civilian technicians in Angola—more even than Kissinger imagined. Indeed, there were so many ships anchored in the bay of Luanda that President Agostinho Neto, counting them from his window, felt a very characteristic shudder of modesty. ‘It’s not right’, he said to a functionary personally close to him. ‘If they go on like that, the Cubans will ruin themselves.’ It is unlikely that even the Cubans had foreseen that their solidarity aid to the Angolan people would reach such proportions. It had been clear to them right from the start, however, that the action had to be swift, decisive, and at all costs successful.

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez, ‘Operation Carlota’, NLR I/101-102: £3

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