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PRESENTATION BY THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL : AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN, MS YOLISA MAYA SA-CUBA RELATIONS PARLIAMENTARY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL.

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Presentation on theme: "PRESENTATION BY THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL : AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN, MS YOLISA MAYA SA-CUBA RELATIONS PARLIAMENTARY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL."— Presentation transcript:

1 PRESENTATION BY THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL : AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN, MS YOLISA MAYA SA-CUBA RELATIONS PARLIAMENTARY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION 5 JUNE 2013 BRANCH: AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN JUNE 2013 DIRCO INTERNAL USE ONLY

2 CONTENTS HISTORICAL CONTEXT 4 BILATERAL RELATIONS 6 MULTILATERAL RELATIONS 9 THE EMBARGO AND THE CUBAN FIVE10 CONCLUSION12 2

3 3 BRANCH: AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN JUNE 2013 DIRCO INTERNAL USE ONLY

4 HISTORICAL CONTEXT The bilateral, political and multilateral relations between South Africa and Cuba are excellent, underpinned by historical ties forged in the common struggle against apartheid, colonisation and repression. South Africa-Cuba relations were established long ago between the then liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC) and the government and Communist Party of Cuba. The pre-1994 support given for the liberation of SA included the education of South African students, international, military, political and material support. Many South Africans also carried Cuban passports to facilitate international travel. Cuba has, therefore, been the backbone of the South African liberation despite its own many challenges. After 1994, Cuba was one of the first to offer material and human resource support. The success of South Africa’s political bilateral and multilateral relations could, therefore, be measured in the extent of the numerous development programmes, co-operation projects as well as the strong political and social solidarity and support that exist between our two countries and peoples. It thus is critical that these relations be supported in whatever way possible, especially because South Africa’s population still benefits from the SA-Cuba relations. 4 BRANCH: AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN JUNE 2013 DIRCO INTERNAL USE ONLY

5 President Fidel Castro attended the inauguration of President Nelson Mandela and paid a State Visit to South Africa in 1998 and addressed the Joint Sitting of Parliament, where he delivered a landmark speech, outlining the historical ties between Cuba and the continent of Africa. During the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma in 2009, the Cuban delegation headed by former Deputy President Esteban Lazo, attended a ceremony held at Freedom Park in Tshwane. The Memorial Wall at Freedom Park includes a list of names of those that died in the South African Wars, World War I and World War II, as well as the liberation struggle against Apartheid. Cuba’s role in defeating apartheid and colonialism in the SADC sub-region and the eventual defeat at Cuito Cuanavale includes the names of the 2106 Cuban combatants that laid down their lives, honouring their bravery and sacrifice. Cuba, Angola, South Africa and the USA participated in the international peace negotiations that followed after the ceasefire agreement in Angola. 5 HISTORICAL CONTEXT CONTINUED BRANCH: AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN JUNE 2013 DIRCO INTERNAL USE ONLY

6 BILATERAL RELATIONS The State Visit to Cuba of President Jacob Zuma on 5 to 8 December 2010 was a major development and served to further enhance the excellent relations between our country and Cuba. Cuba is a key partner to focus on in enhancing foreign policy objectives in pursuit of our identified domestic priorities. As a result, South Africa’s bilateral relations with Cuba are aligned to several key strategic priorities. Various bilateral agreements in the fields of science and technology, health, trade and industry, arts and culture, education, minerals and energy, transport, human settlements, defense and home affairs are in place. South Africa is a beneficiary of Cuba’s ongoing assistance in the form of scholarships for our youth. There are currently close to 1400 South African students studying medicine in Cuban universities. A total of 323 South African graduates from the Cuba programme work as medical doctors in various South African hospitals. 6 BRANCH: AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN JUNE 2013 DIRCO INTERNAL USE ONLY

7 BILATERAL RELATIONS - CONTINUED There is also a considerable number of Cuban medical doctors, engineers and academic staff currently giving their services in the deepest rural areas of South Africa. On the bilateral economic front, it is worth noting that in the past few years, authorities of both countries have increased efforts to enhance bilateral trade and commercial relations to the similar level as the political ones. In 2008 the government of South Africa, working with civil society, pledged humanitarian aid to the government of Cuba in the wake of the severe destruction and damage caused by three successive hurricanes. In its statement announcing the decision, the South African government said “the Cuban government and its people must be commended for the extensive evacuation effort which saved millions of lives”. In 2010 South Africa announced the cancellation of Cuba’s +R1 billion debt that has paved the way for enhanced trade and commercial relations, which could be seized upon by economic actors in the respective countries. In 2012 the agreement on Economic Assistance to Cuba was signed. 7 BRANCH: AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN JUNE 2013 DIRCO INTERNAL USE ONLY

8 BILATERAL RELATIONS - CONTINUED The South Africa Cuba Joint Bilateral Commission (JBC) was established in February 2001 as a co-ordinating forum for the periodic review of bilateral co- operation projects in identified areas of Economic, Scientific, Technical and Commercial Co- operation and the extension of co-operation to new areas. South Africa has placed priority in its Skills Development Programmes and benefited in more than one way from the relationship with Cuba. Currently, several Cuban specialists are deployed in South Africa under the auspices of various government-to-government cooperation projects. The Joint Consultative Mechanism (JCM) was created in 2000 to enable the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to hold regular bilateral and multilateral consultations. Cuba will host the 10 th Consultative Mechanism Meeting later this year in Havana and South Africa is looking forward to a successful gathering with a view of reviewing and analysing our strategic partnership. 8 BRANCH: AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN JUNE 2013 DIRCO INTERNAL USE ONLY

9 MULTILATERAL RELATIONS The question of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba has been and continues to be a persistent problem for the United Nations despite many calls for its elimination. South Africa has repeatedly joined the majority of countries in expressing opposition to all aspects of this embargo and the unilateral action by the United States of America. South Africa has consistently voted against the UN Resolutions on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba. Both countries support its UN candidatures when requested. 9 BRANCH: AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN JUNE 2013 DIRCO INTERNAL USE ONLY

10 THE EMBARGO AND THE CUBAN FIVE Fifty years after the United States (US) enacted an embargo on all trade and commercial transactions with Cuba, relations between the two countries remain at a standstill. The US has not had full diplomatic relations with Cuba since This remains despite exceptions to the embargo that allow the export of US agricultural products, foodstuffs and some other products and the Obama administration's shift that allows most Cuban-Americans to visit Cuba at will. The US argues that it is open to a new relationship if the Cuban government starts taking ‘steps to open up its own country and provide the space and respect for human rights that would allow the Cuban people to determine their own destiny.’ 10 BRANCH: AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN JUNE 2013 DIRCO INTERNAL USE ONLY

11 Through the commitment and dedication of the Cuba – South Africa Friendship Organisation FOCUS, South Africans have been sensitised on issues pertaining to Cuba and FOCUS has been the driving force in mobilising support for the various solidarity campaigns for Cuba in South Africa, including the release of the Cuban 5. In this regard, Ms Nadine Gordimer, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been in the forefront of advocating South Africa’s support to the cause. The Cuban five are Gerardo Hernandez – 2 life terms plus 15 years; Ramon Labañino – 1 life term plus 10 years; Antonio Guerrero – 1 life term plus 10 years; Fernando Gonzalez – 19 years and Rene Gonzalez – 15 Years They were charged with conspiracy. Cuba argues that it was a political concession to anti-Cuban terrorists who were seeking revenge for the downing, by Cuba’s Air Force, in February 1996, of two airplanes piloted by members of a violent anti-Cuban group. This event had taken place two years before the Cuban Five were detained, when those airplanes were within Cuban airspace. 11 THE EMBARGO AND THE CUBAN FIVE CONTINUED BRANCH: AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN JUNE 2013 DIRCO INTERNAL USE ONLY

12 CONCLUSION South Africa remains ready to pledge our continued mutual support for each other’s economies, growth, deployment and wellbeing of our peoples. We will continue to enhance bilateral relations and cooperation in the multilateral arena. 12

13 13 THANK YOU BRANCH: AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN JUNE 2013 DIRCO INTERNAL USE ONLY


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