Organisation in Solidarity with the People of Africa, Asia, and Latin America
Namibia - Power to the People, 1981 by Alberto Blanco González
Courtesy Lincoln Cushing / Docs Populi Archive
OSPAAAL was founded in Havana, Cuba in 1966 following the Tricontinental Conference, a meeting of delegates from 82 countries throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Officially a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) recognised by the United Nations, it has a board of representatives from all over the world, with the stated aim to promote ‘solidarity with the Third World people's struggles, claims and most precious desires’.
Support for the struggles of other nations is an important part of the national culture of Cuba owing to its long history of fighting against foreign political and economic domination.
OSPAAAL was the primary producer of international solidarity posters in Cuba until production stopped in the mid-1980s following the collapse of the Soviet Union..
Solidarity can mean many things, ranging from military support to foreign aid. In the 1970s and 1980s Fidel Castro sent more than 60,000 troops, advisers and doctors to 17 African nations in support of various liberation movements. Castro’s military intervention in Angola played a critical role in ending the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Solidarity can also be expressed through public support. In Cuba, it was through the production of OSPAAAL’s posters that the state demonstrated its commitment to freedom struggles elsewhere in the world. These campaigns were directed at corrupt regimes and the continued exploitation of ‘Third World’ countries by Europe and America.
Following the first Tricontinental Conference in 1966 OSPAAAL began producing the Tricontinental magazine. It was published in several languages including English, Spanish and French with a circulation that peaked at 30,000 copies in 1989, reaching more than 80 different countries.
Most issues included solidarity posters, which were distributed worldwide. During the late 20th century, Tricontinental became a notice board, guidebook and lifestyle magazine for liberation movements in Africa and around the world. OSPAAAL’s publication activities have reduced in recent years but it continues to host international conferences.