My Compatriots Have Learned a New Word for Love: Cuba
By Pedro de la Hoz
Acclaimed Pakistani writer Tariq Ali is visiting Havana. He spoke to Granma about Cuban humanitarian missions abroad, the growingly discredited U.S. President George W. Bush and the fresh winds blowing in Latin America.
In his travels around the world, the Britain-based Pakistani writer, historian, filmmaker, Tariq Ali, was in his native land in October when a powerful earthquake took the lives of tens of thousands of his compatriots and left a devastating situation.
Soon he became aware of the arrival of Cuban doctors and paramedics to the affected region and their work under highly difficult conditions.
Tariq Ali is in Havana as the guest of the Cuban Book Institute. His agenda includes meetings with Cuban intellectuals and academic exchanges.
But, firstly, the vocal political commentator and prolific author said he wished to express his testimony of gratitude: “The gesture of the Cuban doctors will go down in the history of internationalism. Many of my compatriots have learned a new word for love: Cuba.”
Ali is among the world’s leading intellectuals sharply critical of U.S. hegemony and in favor of alternatives to reverse this reality. The author was born in 1943 in Lahore, then British-controlled India, and exiled from Pakistan for his vocal opposition to the country’s military dictatorship during the 1960s.
Since then, he has made his home in Britain, studying at Oxford University where he became active in the movement against the U.S. war in Vietnam. He is the author of more than a dozen books on politics, history and culture, a regular broadcaster on the BBC, a contributor to the Guardian and a member of the editorial board of the prestigious British publication New Left Review.
Ali has kept close watch on the impact of the Cuban doctors in his native country. The island’s physicians are members of the Henry Reeve brigade, originally convoked to assist hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans, an offer rejected by the Bush administration.
“The earthquake hit the poorest communities hardest. In Pakistan there are many good hospitals but they are not located in the area where the disaster occurred, which is also difficult to reach. The number of Cuban doctors, nurses and health technicians is greater than all the local health personnel in the region. However, it’s not just a matter of numbers, it’s also one of sensitivity and dedication. I am aware that the majority of those benefited from these services knew nothing about Cuba or even where it is located on the map. That has changed. The mark the Cubans are leaving among the Pakistanis will be lasting.”
One of the latest works by Tariq Ali is titled: Bush in Babylon: The Re-colonization of Iraq. The essay analyzes the imperial lust of the U.S. to re-colonize the Third World. In his opinion the effort will fail: “Bush faces a major credibility crisis in the United States itself. The U.S. will never have control of Iraq; they don’t even control the so-called Green Zone in Baghdad. U.S. intelligence never expected the resistance to have been organized before the invasion, nor that the Iraqi military had a strategy to resist against the invaders and their lackeys from their own communities. I travel often to the United States and I can feel how opposition to the war is growing each day.”
Latin America is another part of the world that greatly interests the Pakistani author. “Here the world is taking a new shape. There is revolutionary Cuba and now Bolivarian Venezuela, and we’ll see what happens in Bolivia in the coming days. I am confident there will be advances with the example of these forces.”
—Granma, December 1, 2005