Tricontinental Solidarity during the Cold War

Saturday, January 6, 2018: 9:10 AM
Columbia 9 (Washington Hilton)
Sandy Isabel Placido, Harvard University
During the 1950s and early 1960s, individuals representing liberation movements in Africa and Asia planned a series of conferences that sought to unite struggles on these two continents. Following in the footsteps of the 1955 Bandung Conference, the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization organized conferences in Cairo in 1957 and Accra in 1965. The Non-Aligned Movement had its first conference in Yugoslavia in 1961 and another in 1964, also in Egypt. The majority of the individuals who attended these events were from Africa and Asia, with significant leadership coming from countries such as Algeria, India, Morocco, Guinea, and China. However, following the Cuban Revolution, conversations about increasing the number of delegates from Latin America and the Caribbean at these assemblies became more relevant than ever.

In January 1966, as a result of evolving spatial and ideological configurations, the first Tricontinental Conference took place in Havana, Cuba. This meeting, which Fidel Castro described as unprecedented in terms of “breadth” and “magnitude,” led to the creation of the Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa, and Latin America (OSPAAAL). This presentation will trace the growing presence of Latin America and the Caribbean in anti-imperialist solidarity efforts that were initially comprised of people from Africa and Asia. I will discuss activists such as Dr. Ana Livia Cordero, a Puerto Rican physician based in Ghana who facilitated crucial connections between movements and nations. I will consider debates that motivated and emerged from alliance-building, and also the sequence in which countries joined tricontinental efforts. My goals are to reveal the role of interpersonal and geopolitical forces in the creation of political relationships, and the discursive ways in which an anti-racist, anti-capitalist, and anti-colonial vision was mobilized in order to forge and sustain material, tricontinental bonds during the Cold War.