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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.