Tariq Ali on Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia

Tariq Ali has kept close watch on the impact of the Cuban doctors in his native country [Pakistan]. 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 following article, by Pedro de la Hoz, was posted on the web site of Cuba’s leading newspaper, Granma, on November 29, 2005. It has been edited somewhat for Labor Standard. The original may be found here.]

Another article on Tariq Ali’s participation in efforts to bring aid to earthquake victims in Pakistan may be viewed on the web site of International Viewpoint, the publication of the Fourth International, a worldwide organization of socialist and labor activists. Click here.

Acclaimed Pakistani writer Tariq Ali is visiting Havana. He spoke to Granma about Cuban humanitarian missions abroad, the increasingly 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, and filmmaker Tariq Ali, visited his native land in October where 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 above all, 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 [a British newspaper], and 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 who 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 Recolonization of Iraq. The book analyzes the imperial lust of the U.S. to recolonize 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, or 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.”