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

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora