MEDIA RELEASE: BDS South Africa welcomes the release of the Cuban Five
The human rights and Palestine solidarity organization BDS South Africa (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa) joins justice loving and progressive people around the world in welcoming the release of the Cuban Five: Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González. We are proud to be counted amongst those that have stood with the Cubans, participated in the Cuban 5 campaign and today we celebrate with the Cuban people.
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 South Africa salutes fraternal organisations who have campaigned relentlessly for the Cuban Five’s release. It sometimes appeared impossible but Friends of Cuba Society (FOCUS) and the National Education and Allied Health Workers Union (NEHAWU) amongst many others  never relented. NEHAWU in Gauteng should be noted for  picketing outside the United States Embassy on the 5th of every month, demanding the Cuban Five’s release.
BDS South Africa was one of over 30 South African organisations that took part in the NObama! campaign in July 2013 which involved major protest actions across the country to coincide with the visit by USA President Barack Obama to South Africa. Some of the key demands of the NObama! campaign included the demand that President Obama frees the Cuban 5, lifts the economic embargo on Cuba and end the USA's military support to Apartheid Israel. We welcome that President Obama has moved in the direction of releasing the Cuban 5 as well as lifting certain sanctions against Cuba but we demand that President Obama and the USA Congress lift the entire economic embargo on Cuba. We also call on President Obama in the same spirit of releasing the Cuban 5 to demand from its ally, Israel, the lifting of the Israeli siege on the Palestinian Gaza Strip and release of all Palestinian political prisoners.
The sanctions and embargo against Cuba have been imposed unilaterally by the USA without being called for by the Cuban people. It is unlike the correct and legitimate boycott and sanctions that were imposed against Apartheid South Africa during the 1980s or what is now being imposed against Apartheid Israel, both in the cases of Apartheid South Africa and in the case of Israel (unlike Cuba) the indigenous oppressed people called for boycotts.
We look forward to joining other progressive organisations in celebrating and marking this historic event. Tata Madiba, a true internationalist and friend of Cuba, is indeed smiling today. Mandela famously said in a TV interview (click here to watch): “Palestine's Yasser Arafat and [Cuba's] Fidel Castro support our struggle [against Apartheid] to the hilt…they do not only support it [our struggle against Apartheid] in rhetoric, they [the Palestinians, Libyans and Cubans] are placing resources at our disposal for us to win the struggle". The Cubans and Palestinians stood with us South Africans in the darkest days of Apartheid, we now stand with them not as a favor but out of an internationalist duty.
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