A rare and haunting propaganda map attacking Nixon Administration policies in Indochina, published at the height of the Vietnam War by OSPAAAL, a Cuba-based organization promoting solidarity between the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The poster features a map of Southeast Asia, with North Vietnam and Laos overprinted blood-red and shown in the talons of a bird of prey bearing the head of Richard Nixon. The message in short, is that the Nixon Administration’s policies were tearing the heart out of Indochina.
The poster bears the logo and imprint of OSPAAAL, or the Organization of Solidarity with the People of Africa, Asia, and Latin America (Organización de Solidaridad con los Pueblos de Asia, África y América Latina).
“[OSPAAAL] is a non-governmental publisher of political literature and propaganda based in Havana, Cuba. OSPAAAL was founded in 1966 during a conference in Havana attended by delegations from 82 Asian, Latin American, and African countries. OSPAAAL advocates social justice and works toward solidarity with various countries, particularly third world countries. It strongly opposes capitalism, “neoliberal globalization,” and “preventative war.”” (entry for OSPAAAL Poster Collection held by UC-Irvine, at Online Archive of California)
OSPAAAL’s primary vehicles for communication were its Tricontinental magazine, which appeared in Arabic, English, French and Spanish editions, along with propaganda posters folded into many of the issues.
“…the posters quickly became iconic. The reasons are many, but a few stand out. On the one hand, the publication collaborated with well-trained and highly creative artists with a strong political commitment to the project. On the other, the organization made an effort to promote a global cause that the majority of society could easily identify with—the so-called liberation of the Third World—despite the many differences between the various countries that made up OSPAAAL. Thanks to ingenious images and succinct slogans in four languages, Tricontinental’s posters managed to easily cross all kinds of borders.” (Padilla and Palieraki)
Artist Rene Mederos (1933-1996) was a prominent Cuban graphic designer. Among other things, he made two trips to Vietnam at the behest of the Castro regime, in 1969 and 1972, where he painted scenes of the war capturing both its brutality and the heroism of the North Vietnamese. “His style, with its bright, firmly contoured surfaces, its ebullience of patterns in nature, and a strong, political theme, established a unique standard for graphic design in Cuba which influenced a whole generation of graphic artists all over the world.” (“Rene Mederos 1933-1996”, at zpub.com)
The Cuban government announced the closure of OSPAAAL in June 2019, claiming that it “has fulfilled its foundational mission of standing in solidarity with the struggles of Third World countries in their battles for decolonization and of promoting unity around the just causes of their peoples.” (quoted in Padilla and Palieraki)
Background on OSPAAAL and its publications from Fernando Camacho Padilla and Eugenia Palieraki, “Hasta Siempre, OSPAAAL!” at nacla.org.