Fifty years ago, Granma International was born, in February of 1966, one month after the meeting of rebels from three continents – delegates and guests at the Tricontinental Conference which created the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America Solidarity Organization (OSPAAAL.)
During preparations for the conference, on the eve of its opening, organizers requested that Granma daily organize a group of journalists and translators to produce a supplement for the event, in the three languages to be used during the sessions: English, French, and Portuguese, in addition to Spanish.
The results from this initiative were so satisfying – given the accomplishment achieved in publishing the supplement, producing the articles, and distributing the paper – the desire to maintain it emerged. The idea was well-received by Granma’s leadership, and then-editor Isidoro Malmierca called a meeting to discuss how the publication could continue. Gratitude expressed by conference participants, who liked the supplement so much, soon turned to proposals regarding how it could be maintained.
OSPAAAL had as its central strategy the goal of maintaining unity within the revolutionary struggle in the Third World, as designed by Fidel and Che, for the liberation of countries still under colonial and neo-colonial domination. Many governments were battling in this direction, despite lackeys who opposed the struggle, especially the secret service conspirators of oppressive governments.
Granma International was born in this context, practically the child of the Tricontinental Conference held in Havana, where everyone asked for Che Guevara, who had been with one of the guerilla fronts in the old Belgian Congo. In fact, he was preparing to leave for Bolivia, to open a new guerilla front there.
Although apparently absent, Che, along with Fidel, was the symbol and strongest supporter of the meeting. In his subsequent Message to the Tricontinental, he presented the theory and practice which permeated the Conference, of creating one, two, many Vietnams.
We received the support of many, and especially the leadership of the Party and its ideological department. We thus began with the name Granma Weekly Summary, one of the alternatives discussed at the abovementioned meeting. Another name was inspired by Le Monde Hebdomadaire, based on the idea that we could not limit ourselves to reproducing the daily. This publication’s readership was different, and the content needed to reflect this – something we managed to do later, when the goal of unity in the struggle on three continents gained adherence, and the ideas of Fidel and Che became a reality in Africa, in particular in the Portuguese colonies’ liberation struggle. Cuba demonstrated that its position was more than words, that its people were willing to shed their blood if it were needed, as Fidel said, to liberate Vietnam in Asia. Cuba continued its solidarity in the Americas, and beginning in April, 1975, contributed to the victories at Cuito Cuanavale and Cangamba in Angola, to win this country’s independence and that of Namibia.
Granma International’s website was the first to be launched by a Cuban media outlet, in 1996, to take advantage of this platform’s great potential to disseminate our message around the world.
Our dear friend Jesús Montané was decisive, given his close relationship with Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, and introduced us to a Canadian, Robert Sajo, who offered to host our site on his servers in Canada, at the level needed to reach the rest of the world. Thus we were able to function, first sending a car with the material on diskettes to Infomed in Havana, and later via e-mail.
I am not exaggerating when I say the reception was marvelous. Soon we were receiving millions of hits. The Union of Cuban Journalists recognized us as pioneers with a distinction awarded to Granma’s then-director Frank Agüero by Fidel, during the organization’s Congress.
Granma International has persevered, along with the Cuban people and the Communist Party of Cuba, even during the difficult years known as the Special Period, precipitated by the disappearance of the socialist camp in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, along with the tightening of the U.S. blockade. These times obliged us to take steps to fund the paper, such as including commercial announcements in our pages.
Currently, we publish a weekly print edition in Spanish, English, French and Portuguese, plus a monthly in German and Italian, in an effort to expand our readership both abroad and within the country, principally among the millions of tourists who visit Cuba every year. At the same time, we are consolidating our presence in these languages on the web, on the Granma site, as our principal means of sharing the truth about Cuba and our Revolution with the world.