Castro decides to send troops to Angola to fight South Africa

Tuesday, 4 November 1975

The president of Cuba Fidel Castro decides to send Cuban troops to Angola in response to South Africa's invasion of the country. After attaining its independence, Angola provided support to liberation movements in Southern Africa such as the African National Congress (ANC), the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) and the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO). When Angola's ruling party the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) allowed SWAPO to set bases in the country close to northern border with Namibia, South Africa countered by launching military operations against SWAPO and the MPLA. South Africa also sponsored UNITA as part of its strategy of destabilizing Angola.

In response to the invasion of Angola by South Africa, Cuba deployed an estimated 36 000 troops to Angola to support the MPLA in 1975. By 1979 there was an estimated 60 000 South African troops in Angola with additional support coming from the United States. Cuban military support for the MPLA continued into the 1980s. In 1988 South Africa, Cuba and Angola agreed to withdraw foreign troops from Angola and grant Namibia independence.


  1. Anon, Conflicting Missions, Secret Cuban Documents on History of African Involvement,  from the National Security Archive George Washington University, [online], Available at [Accessed 26 November 2010]
  2. Piero  Gleigeses, (2002), Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976 (University of North Carolina Press)
  3. Peter N. Stearns, (2001, 6th Ed), The Encyclopedia of World History, (New York), pp.1071.
  4. Edward George, (2005), The Cuban Intervention in Angola 1965-1991, From Che Guevara to Cuito Cuanavale, (New York)

Last updated : 01-Nov-2016

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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