News / Africa

S. Africa Launches Campaign Against US Cuba Sanctions

FILE - Members of a military band stand under the iron sculpture of Ernesto "Che" Guevara at Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba
FILE - Members of a military band stand under the iron sculpture of Ernesto "Che" Guevara at Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba

South Africa's ruling African National Congress has launched the Cuban Solidarity Campaign - pledging to work against long-standing U.S. sanctions against the communist island nation.  

ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe has pledged South Africa to help Cuba fight what he calls the "inhuman" U.S. sanctions against the Caribbean nation.

"We should pay our solidarity to the cause of the Cuban people, reciprocate the solidarity they gave to us, and do that out of love and out of appreciation that we need each other," Mantashe said.

Mantashe's spoke Thursday night in Johannesburg to mark 20 years of diplomatic relations between Cuba and South Africa.

The U.S. embargo in place since 1960, is fairly comprehensive banning all exports - except humanitarian supplies - to the island nation which is just 145 kilometers off the American coast.   But the sanctions do not block third-party trade with Cuba.

Successive U.S. presidents have supported the embargo despite the falling away of similar Cold War sanctions on communist nations - notably on China.

What is not clear is why South Africa is launching the Cuban solidarity campaign now - when U.S. sanctions have been in place for more than 50 years - one of the most enduring trade embargoes in modern history.

Gideon Chitanga, a  political researcher at the Center for Study of Democracy, specializing in governance and security in Africa, suggests that 20 years after attaining democracy, South Africa feels ready to tackle global issues.

"More and more, South Africa is becoming a confident voice of the global South. So, the timing should be seen in terms of a South Africa which is asserting itself in the context of general global issues, but not to necessarily to say that this approach opposes the West," he said. "It's a policy that is based on calling for more engagement."

As part of that engagement, Mantashe says the ANC will soon push for a parliamentary resolution calling on President Barack Obama to end the sanctions and release the so-called Cuban Five - convicted in a U.S. court of espionage.  

Cuba has admitted the five men were in fact intelligence agents - but were spying on the Cuban exile community in Miami, Florida - not the American government.

Mantashe says he is calling on Obama to take a comprehensive political decision on relations with Cuba.  

"Ultimately it is the political decision by the president of the United States to release the Cuban Five. It is quite important that we don't only focus on the Cuban Five, you also focus on the lifting of the American blockade," he said. "It has outlived its usefulness but they don't take the decision to lift it."

The United Nations General Assembly has for the past 20 years passed an annual resolution condemning the sanctions as a violation of international law.  

Cuba's ambassador to South Africa, Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, says he appreciates South Africa's support and is hopeful it will have an impact.

"South Africa, because of its history, has an impact in the U.S. perhaps greater than other countries," he said. "So any step, any effort, any call, any demand, any pronouncement from South Africa, is for us a very high quality contribution."

Obama has insisted that the Cuban embargo will remain until Cuba transitions to democracy, respects human rights and releases political prisoners.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid