NNOC statement on Nelson Mandela

Dec 10, 2013 by

The National Network on Cuba extends condolences on the death of Nelson Mandela to his family, the South African people, and the worldwide family of fighters for justice and peace. We also note Nelson Mandela’s steadfast allegiance and gratitude to the Cuban people for their contributions that directly and ultimately resulted in the destruction of the apartheid system. While promoting forgiveness and reconciliation he never wavered from his principles or distanced himself from Cuba which supported the freedom struggles in Africa.

Mandela never ceased to credit Cuba for its assistance in the struggles in Namibia and Angola. 300,000 Cubans, including three of the Five Cuban heroes, sacrificed to defend the fight for independence in these African nations. In his 1991 visit to Cuba, Mandela recognized the Cuban role in gaining his freedom and in the liberation of South Africa and defeat of the apartheid state. He said that “the defeat of the racist army at Cuito Cuanavale has made it possible for me to be here today.” He also said that: “It is unparalleled in African history to have another people rise to the defense of one of us.” What other country “can point to a record of greater selflessness than Cuba has displayed in its relations with Africa?”

In the numerous post mortem comments on Mandela, little has been said about his and the ANC’s continued presence on the United States terrorist list. Nelson Mandela was freed from prison in 1990, elected President of South Africa in 1994, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He received hundreds of other awards including the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002, Soviet Order of Lenin, and the Cuban Order of Jose Marti. Nonetheless, he remained on the “U.S. terrorist watch list”, just as Cuba is on the list of “state sponsors of terrorism”, until 2008; a mere five years ago. This fact alone demonstrates the hypocrisy of the United States, the transparent refusal of the United States to recognize the rights of self-determination, and the empty rhetoric that now praises the man the United States labeled a terrorist until 2008.

The best tribute to Mandela from President Obama will be to put his words into action and free the Cuban 5 and all other political prisoners unjustly held in U.S. prisons. He should lift the racist, immoral, and illegal economic blockade and travel ban on Cuba as the nations of the world have been demanding every year at the United Nations for the past 22 years.

For peace loving people in the United States and around the world, the best way to honor Mandela and his legacy is to continue the struggle for social justice, including the struggle to free the Cuban 5.

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