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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid