[Marxism] BUSINESS DAY interviews Cuban ambassador to South Africa

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Dec 2 15:16:53 MST 2008

I've stayed out of the current round of discussion on South Africa
and the role of the African National Congress in the liberation
struggle. It's basically pointless to try to have any responsible
discussion with those who argue that conditions in South Africa 
are WORSE today than they were under the racist apartheid regime. 
None are so blind as those who refuse to see, but that's about
all I really need to say on the subject.

Those who argue that conditions in South Africa today are worse than
they were under apartheid never respond to the obvious question: If
things were better under apartheid, what good was the overthrow of
apartheid? The critics never discuss the difference, since they ONLY
have negative things to say about South Africa today. Cuba has any
number of problems which could easily be overcome if only it would
surrender its independence and give up its post-capitalist social 
and economic system.

My opinions have not changed, and Louis has urged subscribers not to
debate it again, so I'm not saying more. However, what follows is new
material about which I will only make one point: It could not and
would not have taken place under the racist apartheid regime, which
supported US policy against Cuba, the blockade, and which also was
defeated by Cuban and Angolan troops in a military confrontation.

There is a qualitative difference in today's South Africa, in terms 
of its foreign policy. About this, the critics are always mute.

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

Business Day (South Africa)
December 01, 2008
The Exporter Edition
The Official Line. Cuba
BYLINE: Marja Tuit
The Official Line


BUILDING on the diplomatic relations established between Cuba and SA on May 11
1994, ties between the two countries have grown from strength to strength and
diversified into many areas of co-operation. spoke to Cuban Ambassador Angel
Villa about SA's interest in consolidating, extending and promoting new areas of
co-operation with his country in 2009.

There has always been a high level of bilateral links and excellent political,
economic and diplomatic relations between our countries. How do you see this
expanding during 2009?

SA and Cuba have maintained long-standing relations, dating back to the struggle
against apartheid and colonialism. One of the most significant events in
Cuba-SA's historical friendship was the visit paid to Cuba by Nelson Mandela on
his release from Robben Island in 1991. Mandela's visit was one of his first
foreign trips after his liberation and coincided with the commemoration of the
38th anniversary of one of Cuba's most important dates: July 26.

SA and Cuba have a long-standing co-operation, which ranges from the political
to economic fields.

One of the most significant agreements signed was the establishment of the Joint
Bilateral Commission (JBC) in 2001. Following the success of co-operation in the
sphere of health - a collaboration that involves Cuban doctors and medical
professors working in SA and South African medical students studying in Cuba -
national and provincial departments began pursuing diverse projects.

The SA-Cuba JBC provides the two countries with a constructive and useful forum
through which bilateral co-operation can be conducted and enhanced, particularly
in the trade and investments arena, as well as other trilateral co-operation
projects. One example was a trilateral agreement between SA and Cuba which
resulted in the deployment of more than 100 Cuban doctors in Mali, with
financial resources provided by SA.

A similar agreement is in place for Rwanda.

Other forms of co-operation have ensued with memoranda of understanding signed
in the fields of trade and investment, housing construction, water resources,
merchant shipping, agriculture, science and technology, education, arts and
culture and sports.

Also, they firmly support the strengthening of a non-aligned movement (NAM) as a
vehicle that developing member countries could use to establish critical
consensus around fundamental issues such as poverty alleviation, debt reduction
and sustainable development. Cuba also shares SA's sense of urgency at the need
to reform the United Nations (UN) system, and the Bretton Woods institutions.

Likewise, as a long-time friend and supporter of anti-colonial liberation
struggles in Africa, Cuba shares with SA an interest in the African Union (AU)
and African initiatives such as the New Partnership for Africa's Development

SA has maintained throughout the years a position of solidarity toward Cuba,
especially through its unwavering support for Cuba's resolution on the US
blockade presented every year at the UN and the support given to other
initiatives promoted by Cuba in its national capacity and as current NAM chair.

At present, 321 Cuban co-operative personnel work in SA in the construction and
health sectors, while a total of 436 South African students have graduated on
the island. Another 300 students are being trained in Cuba in medicine,
education, physical education and sports specialties.

On October 29, the UN General Assembly voiced the opinion of the international
community on the policy of blockade that the US has imposed on Cuba for nearly
50 years. Direct economic damage resulting from the US blockade has exceeded
$93bn. Could you elaborate?

For the 17th consecutive year, Cuba has submitted the draft resolution entitled
"Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by
the United States of America against Cuba" on the agenda of the UN General
Assembly. There were 185 votes to three, with two abstentions. The 185 votes in
favour are almost unanimous proof of the international community's rejection of
the genocidal policy of the US government against Cuba.

The blockade has a direct impact on our population in a silent, systematic and
cumulative manner. The US has ignored the 16 resolutions adopted by the General
Assembly calling for the lifting of the blockade against Cuba. In spite of that,
Cuba will not surrender. It fights, and will continue to fight, with the
conviction that defending our rights today is tantamount to defending the rights
of all the peoples represented in the Assembly.

As the next US president, Barack Obama will face a list of foreign policy
challenges. Do you believe that there will be any change with regard to US
relations with Cuba?

The new administration must decide if it is maintaining the absurd, illegal and
failed policy that has been implemented against Cuba for 50 years. It is up to
the US to rectify its policy.

Cuba has expressed its availability to discuss bilateral differences without
preconditions but on the basis of the respect to the principles of sovereign
equality and non-foreign interference in our internal affairs and our

How have trade and economic relations improved between our two countries over
the past year and do you foresee this growing/expanding in 2009?

Since the signing of the General Agreement for Co-operation on February 5 2001,
five JBCs have been held - the last one in Cape Town in November 2007. In every
JBC there is always the will from both sides to strengthen existing trade and
economic co-operation. Both countries have identified that trade and economic
relations are critical areas to be improved and 2009 will be an opportunity to
advance these. New areas of co-operation, such as ICT, energy saving and
biotechnology will contribute to expansion.

How can trade and business relationships be fostered further between
entrepreneurs in both our countries?

The most recent example of this was the participation of a delegation of
entrepreneurs, headed by SA's Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa, to
the 26th edition of the International Fair of Havana held at the beginning of
November. Cuba has great potential in biotechnology and both sides are working
to identify new partners for some of these products. We are currently working
together to supply the hepatitis B vaccine.

The global financial crisis has spilled from developed economies into emerging
markets. How has Cuba been affected by the current economic crisis?

Cuba has been affected by the financial crisis. This is the deepest crisis since
1929 and for the first time there is a convergence of five different crises -
financial, food, ecological, energy and social - which makes it difficult to
find a solution to the economic problems.

In recent years Cuba has identified new ways to face world economic problems and
to soften the effect of the crisis - for example, Cuba is applying an energy
saving programme.

How does Cuba view the political situation in SA - i.e. a new president and new
political party - and how do you believe it will affect relations between our
two countries?

The current political situation in SA won't affect the solid relations with
Cuba. It is an internal matter that needs to be solved by South African leaders
and its people.

Embassies interested in participating in this feature during 2009 should contact
Marja Tuit at 011 280 5778 or e-mail tuitm at bdfm.co.za

Cuban Ambassador Angel Villa ... Surrounded by creature comforts from his
homeland. He's effusive about relations between his native country and SA.

     Los Angeles, California
     Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
     "Cuba - Un Paraíso bajo el bloqueo"

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