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SA civil society praise US-Cuba breakthrough

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South African civil society organisations have welcomed the recent decision to re-establish US-Cuban diplomatic relations. This week, US President Barack Obama called for an end to the economic embargo against Cuba and the release of the ‘Cuban Five’. Locally, a solidarity group called Friends of Cuba said the blockade and the detention of the Cuban Five was in violation of both moral and legal international standards.

“We are glad that morality and good sense has prevailed. So today, we are totally delighted that the Cuban Five are returned to their home land. The United States has created normal relations with other countries that they have been to war with in the past. President Obama acknowledged that the blockade had never worked and was not supported by any other country in the world. This is a historic move from his part,” said Father Michael Lapsley from the Friends of Cuba.

Lapsely further added that this decision reflects SA’s values.

“We are a country that has historically benefited hugely by the solidarity Cuba has shown us, very practically until today.”

ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman said South Africa has been consistent in calling for the release of the Cuban Five.

“We call on the people of the US to now boldly implement the decisions that they have taken. Obama has admitted that 50 years of embargo just didn’t work. It was wrong. South Africa must ensure that we continue to strengthen relations now,” Fransman said.

“The release of the Cuban Five was not because of the good will of the US, it was because of the collective of the pressures of revolutionaries, comrades, activists and the revolutionary spirits of the Cuban society lead by Fidel Castro and others and Raul Castro. This brings into fruition a campaign in South Africa lead by the alliance, Friends of Cuba and A range of other people; legal fraternities, academia to bring justice to the Cuban Five,” Marius further explained.

Boycott Divestment and Sanctions South Africa also saluted fraternal organisations who have campaigned relentlessly for the Cuban Five’s release.

“As a South African organization, our solidarity with the Palestinian people stems from the principle of internationalism. Our internationalism and international solidarity informs our support for the people of Palestine as well as for the revolutionary people of Cuba. BDS South Africa is inspired by the freeing of the Cuban Five which is a victory for international solidarity,” BDS said in a statement. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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