The African National Congress (ANC) has hailed the formal parliamentary resolution calling for the release of the remaining prisoners of the Cuban 5 who were arrested in 1998 for allegedly being involved in espionage against the United States of America. In a statement issued on Thursday, the party said it believed the activists did not target the USA but infiltrated Cuban elements “that wanted to engage in terrorism to overthrow the Cuban government using Miami in the USA as a spring-board”.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe described the move by the South African parliament as “historic and ground breaking”.
“This resolution has elevated the issue of the Cuban five to a national issue thus joining many progressive countries who have resolved to challenge this injustice against the state of Cuba,” he said.
Te five Cuban men were imprisoned in the United States after being arrested by the FBI on Sept. 12, 1998 and convicted in U.S. federal court in Miami in 2001, in a prosecution by the U.S. government. They are Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González.
González was released on Oct. 7, 2011 after completing his sentence, but the court, in a punitive measure, denied him the right to return to Cuba to his family for more than a year and a half, instead requiring him to serve a 3-year probation sentence in the United States. Finally in May, 2013, while on a court-approved visit to Cuba to attend his father’s memorial service, he finally received permission to remain in Cuba.
The ANC has embraced international solidarity as one of its pillars in the fight against apartheid and it managed to place the injustice of apartheid firmly on the international agenda.
“True to our internationalist outlook, this resolution will serve as a national platform to continue in our quest to pledge solidarity with our compatriots in Cuba who also paid dearly with their lives in fighting the erstwhile apartheid government.”
The ruling party said while it saluted all the parties “who stood up to be counted” on this issue, it was concerned by the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) position. The DA abstained from voting.
“We call on all spheres of government and the people of South Africa to join in placing this issue firmly on the national agenda in solidarity with our friends in Cuba and in unison with our friends the world over.
Let us not allow this injustice of the American state security apparatus bully a Cuban sovereign state,” said Mantashe. SAPA