Namibia owes Cuba support to fight US sanctions
By Marianne Martin
SINCE 2019, the US Administration has imposed several sanctions against Cuba. In June 2017, President Trump issued a national security memorandum that introduced new restrictions on transactions with companies controlled by the Cuban military. The Cuba ‘restricted list’ includes 230 entities, including two ministries, five holding companies, 111 hotels, two tourist agencies, 41 entities serving defence and security sectors.
The White House has also increased efforts (including visa restrictions) to call attention to allegations of coercive labour practices in Cuba’s foreign medical missions, a major foreign exchange earned for Cuba. In May, the State Department added Cuba to its annual list of countries certified as non-cooperating fully with U.S. antiterrorism efforts, the first time since 2015.
Trump administration’s draconian and bullying tactics against the Cuban people deserves the ire of Namibia, Angola and the African National Congress (ANC) led South African government because of the sacrifices made by the Cuban government under the leadership of Fidel Castro.
The independence of Namibia and the removal of the South African forces from Angola and Namibia came from the decisive defeat of the South African forces at Cuito Cuanavale in Angola, mainly with Cuban military forces, hence the logical and moral obligation to fight U.S. sanctions against the Cubans.
Between October 1987 and June 1988 in the fiercest conventional battles on African soil since Erwin Rommel was defeated at El Amien in World War II (1942) the troops of the South African Defence Forces (SADF) fought pitched tank and artillery battles with the Angolan army (FAPLA) and her Cuban supporters at Cuito Cuanavale. This small base located in Southeastern Angola became important in the military history of Africa for the South African army, supposedly the best equipped army in Africa, which was trapped with its tanks and long range howitzers and were held down more than 300 miles from their bases in Namibia, a territory which was illegally occupied.
Failing to go forward to take Cuito Cuanavale with over 9 000 soldiers even after announcing to the world that Cuito Cuanavale had fallen, losing their superiority in the air, with mutinies from the black troops of the pressed ganged battalions, the President of South Africa had to fly to the war zone inside Angola, when the operational command of the SADF broke down. It had required the personal intervention of the president to settle a dispute inside the State Security Council of South Africa, on whether the apartheid society could afford to send any more troops into Angola.
With Cuban reinforcements the Angolans withstood major assaults by the South Africans on January 23 1988, February 25 and finally on March 23.
Then the principal combatants, SouthAfrica, Angola, Cuba and the United States reached an agreement on a set of 14 principles to establish the basis for the withdrawal of the South Africans from Angola. It was only then that the siege ended and the South African forces were able to withdraw in September 1988.
The Namibian, South African and Angolan governments owe the Cubans support in their fight against Trump’s repressive regime because of the blood and lives that the Cuban people sacrificed for the people of Southern Africa.
The record of the siege at Cuito Cuanavale and the resulting agreement was a major step toward self-determination for the people of Southern Africa, because it finally gave the United Nations the mandate to implement the process of elections and independence for Namibia.
Effective May 2 2019, the administration allowed the right to file lawsuits against those trafficking in confiscated property in Cuba. Lawsuits can be brought by any U.S. previous administrations that had suspended the right to file such lawsuits. The EU and Canada criticised the Trump administration’s action, vowing to ban enforcement or recognition of any judgment and allow counterclaims. To date, 28 lawsuits have been filed against the U.S.
But since the US imposed sanctions against the Cubans, no Southern African country has raised their condemnation of the U.S. behaviour.
The State Department imposed visa restrictions on Raul Castro in September 2019. Further visa restrictions were imposed on Cuba’s Interior Minister in November 2019, and Cuba’s Defense Minister in January 2020.
All these sanctions and restrictions are unlawful and they should be lifted immediately.
Cuba is a long-standing friend of Africa. It deserves our solidarity during this difficult period of pressure from the U.S. Washington’s interference in the affairs of a sovereign state is unacceptable!