Geingob calls for removal of U.S. trade embargo on Cuba

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Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-President Hage Geingob says there is much ground to cover to ensure the complete lifting of the United States of America’s long running economic and trade blockade against Cuba.

Geingob made the remarks yesterday during the commencement of the 5th Continental African Conference in Solidarity with Cuba, where about 174 delegates, including several Cuban nationals, were gathered.

He said Africa would continue to support the people of Cuba until the world sees the total elimination of existing economic and commercial barriers, noting that some progress had been made, particularly following the release of the Cuban Five (who were held in the U.S. on dubious espionage charges), but said it was necessary that the U.S. lift its economic and trade embargo of Cuba.

“We applaud the positive developments in this respect and commend the governments of Cuba and the U.S. for their efforts… We salute the people of Cuba for the fortitude that they have maintained throughout the years, never compromising on their principles while facing economic injustice,” he stated.

The conference aims to strengthen bonds of friendship between the people of Cuba and progressive peoples of the world by recognising the important work done by them in solidarity and support of Cuba.

The three-day conference further aims to galvanise international solidarity organisations to demand the lifting of the economic, financial and trade blockade against Cuba, and the restoration of the territory illegally occupied by the U.S. as a naval base at Guantanamo Bay where the infamous Guantanamo Prison is based, as two of the main obstacles to the island’s development.

Andima Toivo Ya Toivo, patron of the Namibia-Cuba Friendship Association, said he looked forward to discussions on how the two countries can jointly help bring an end to the economic blockade and the return of Guantanamo Bay to the people of Cuba.

The conference also aims to strategise collectively and to strengthen solidarity movements with Cuba, as well as Cuban solidarity with Africa, in light of the importance of utilising social and alternative media to spread news of the reality of Cuban social, political and economic life.

It also aims to highlight and promote the legacy of late Commandant Fidel Castro, who from Havana spearheaded the Cuban forces in the famous and decisive Battle of Cuito Cuanevale in Angola in the late 1980s – the largest battle on African soil since the Seoncd World War – which led to the military defeat of the South African regime, opening up the prospects for Namibian independence and the end of apartheid rule in South Africa.

Geingob said the continent of Africa and Cuba continue to enjoy fraternal relations. This, he added, needs to translate into strong meaningful commercial and trade relations.

Further, he said Africans still face major challenges related to economic development, external debt, the global economic downturn, rampant poverty, as well as the HIV/Aids pandemic.

“We all agree that our aim should be to achieve sufficient levels of sustainable economic development in order to eradicate poverty in our societies. We must take bold and concrete actions aimed at promoting South-South cooperation at all levels in areas, such as investment, trade, technology exchange for agricultural production and manufacturing, as well as human resources development,” he argued.

In this way, he said, Africans would improve their productive capacities for economic growth and competiveness in the global market.

Fernando Gonzalez, the president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) and one of the Cuban Five, highlighted the friendship between the two countries that dates back to the days when Cuba assisted Namibia during its liberation struggle.

Gonzalez condemned acts of terror being committed against African and Middle East nations and thanked Namibian leaders, particularly President Geingob and the two former presidents Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, for their sympathy and support following Castro’s death on November 29, 2016.

A moment of silence was observed by the conference attendants in honour of the late Cuban leader.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said Africa is not foreign to Cubans, noting that many Cubans are today providing essential services in various countries in Africa, including Namibia.

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