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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU welcomes release of Cuban heroes

19 December 2014

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is overjoyed and relieved at the long overdue release, and return to Cuba, of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, the three remaining members of Cuban Five.

These five comrades were sent by their government to the US to investigate those responsible for acts of terrorism against Cuba by CIA-backed Cuban exiles based in Miami. They were arrested in 1998 by the United States government, tried on trumped-up charges of espionage and unjustly incarcerated for 16 long years.

COSATU also welcomes the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the USA and Cuba, and the easing in economic and travel restrictions announced by President Obama, who said: "Isolation has not worked. It`s time for a new approach."

The campaign continues however. The federation demands that this week’s step forward be quickly followed by the end of the decades-long US economic blockade of Cuba, which can only be overturned by an act of Congress.

On the 20th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Cuba and South Africa on 29 August this year, General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, summed up the importance of our campaign of solidarity with Cuba:

“For more than half a century Cuba has been a beacon of hope for workers around the world... it has a proud history of resistance to dictatorship, massive socio-economic advances and exemplary internationalism, driven by the desire to change the world in the interests of all humanity. In the Cuban people, the oppressed, all over the world, have a trustworthy ally and friend, who seek no glory, no narrow material gains, but a total commitment to liberate the human race from oppression.

“Our own national democratic revolution could have been delayed for years were it not for the huge contribution of the Cuban combatants, whose victory over the mighty apartheid regime at the battle of Cuito Cuanavale paved the way for the final overthrow of our racist oppressors, culminating in our victory for democracy and national liberation in 1994. To the Cuban people our struggle was theirs, for which we are ever in their debt.”

“We will drive forward to achieve our objective to building, promoting and defending working class alternatives to neo-liberalism and capitalism. In this struggle, supporting and protecting the Cuban revolution is crucial. COSATU Vows to defend the Cuban Revolution – Our Revolution.”