Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America
The Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America (Organización de Solidaridad con los Pueblos de Asia, África y América Latina), abbreviated as OSPAAAL, is a Cuban political movement with the stated purpose of fighting globalisation, imperialism, neoliberalism and defending human rights. It publishes the magazine Tricontinental. The OSPAAAL was founded in Havana in January 1966, after the Tricontinental Conference, a meeting of leftist delegates from Guinea, the Congo, South Africa, Angola, Vietnam, Syria, North Korea, the Palestine Liberation Organization, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Chile and the Dominican Republic. Mehdi Ben Barka, the Moroccan leader of the Tricontinental Conference, disappeared the year before.
One of the main purposes of the organisation is to promote the causes of socialism and communism in the Third World; for example, OSPAAAL strongly supported Hugo Chávez. Social development, which the organization says is a human right, is a recurring theme in OSPAAAL publications.
History and context
|“||We are following the heroic example of Comandante Ernesto "Che" Guevara.||”|
|— Venezuelan delegate at the first Tricontinental Conference in 1966 |
The OSPAAAL was born out of the Tricontinental Conference in Havana, which Mehdi Ben Barka was preparing before his October 1965 assassination. The OSPAA (Organization for Solidarity for the People of Africa and Asia) had gathered itself for the first time in Cairo, Egypt in 1957. 500 delegates from 35 countries represented their national liberation movements and parties rather than states. It was led by Ismaël Touré, the brother of Ahmed Sékou Touré, president of Guinea. Ismaël Touré presided the board responsible of the solidarity funds, assisted by two vice-chairmen: Mehdi Ben Barka of Morocco and Chu Tzu-chi of the People's Republic of China. At that time, AAPSO (Africa Asian People's Solidarity Organization) was debating the inclusion of Cuba and the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America to the group, a question posed again in Cairo in June 1961 by the new commission, the Commission on Neocolonialism, which was presided by Ben Barka.
While the Casablanca Group, founded in 1961, gathered "progressive states" (Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Libya, and Morocco), the OSPAAL was an organization of movements, which aimed at creating national economic development plans for the newly independent states and break national isolation through internationalism. In exile, Ben Barka resided there six months in 1964. Amílcar Cabral, Malcolm X, and Che Guevara lived in the city around that time. Henri Curiel was there organizing "solidarity networks," which trained African National Congress activists. (The ANC had been prohibited in 1960, and Curiel would be murdered in 1978). Ben Barka was going to create an anti-colonialist magazine titled The African Review, but he decided to enlarge the union to Latin America.
After the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961, Fidel Castro moved even closer to the Soviet Union. In February 1962, Cuba was expelled from the Organization of American States (OEA). On October 3, 1965, Ben Barka declared in a press conference prior to the Havana conference that the "two currents of the world revolution would be represented there: the current born with the October Revolution and the national liberation revolutions' currents."
The fourth congress of the OSPAA, in Accra from May 6 to May 9, 1965, finally agreed on including Latin America and to take in account the founding January 1966 conference in Havana. In July, Medhi Ben Barka, who was presiding the preparatory council, assured the support of China and the USSR, and defined the objectives of the new organization, summed up as "total liberation:" aid to national liberation movements (in particular to the Palestinian movement), intensification of violent and peaceful struggles on all three continents, support to the Cuban Revolution, suppression of foreign military bases, support of the nuclear disarmament option, and opposition to apartheid and racial segregation. In September, Ben Barka went to Havana to prepare the opening up of the conference on January 3, 1966. However, on October 29, 1965, he was disappeared in Paris, allegedly abducted by Moroccan secret agents. The Havana Conference thus took place without him, and the OSPAAAL was officially founded.
From its foundation until the mid-1980s, OSPAAAL produced brightly coloured propaganda posters promoting their cause, however, financial difficulty and ink shortages forced the organization to stop producing these posters. However, in 2000, these posters began to be printed again.
These posters, as they intended to be internationalist, usually had their message written in Spanish, English, French, and Arabic. As opposed to being put up on walls around Cuba, these posters were instead folded up and stapled into copies of Tricontinental, so that they could be distributed internationally. This allowed OSPAAAL to send its message to its subscribers around the world.
All OSPAAAL-Posters from the beginning until 2003 are documented and indexed in the book The Tricontinental Solidarity Poster.
Guide to the OSPAAAL Poster Collection. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.