Why African Trade Unions Are Calling On United States To Lift Commercial, Financial Blockage Against Cuba

African trade unions are persistently urging the United States of America to lift the economic blockage against the Republic of Cuba.

Like the African Union (AU) that has persistently called for the lifting of the blockage against the Republic of Cuba through its resolutions, trade unions across Africa have toed the same line; urging the United States to put a human face to the issue and lift the aged-long commercial and financial embargoes.

Recently, the AU Assembly in a unanimous decision tagged: Resolution on the Lifting of the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade Imposed on the Cuba by United States of America, “expresses serious concern about the continuous and illegal economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on the Cuban government and people.”

The Assembly, “Reaffirms its full support to the resolution of the UNGA “Necessity to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”;

“Regrets the regression in the bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States and once again, calls upon the Government of the United States of America to lift the long standing and unjustifiable economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on the Cuban people;

“Also regrets the measures implemented by the Government of the United States since 9th November 2017, which strengthen the blockade and expresses deep concern over the widening of the extraterritorial nature of the blockade, including the full implementation of Chapter III of the Helms-Burton Act (based on paragraph 300 of the G-77 Ministerial Declaration of 2022, which maintains the same language agreed in 2021);

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“Acknowledges that the negative impact of the blockade is aggravated and even crueler in the current context, when Cuba is facing the economic and social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic;

“Also acknowledges that the blockade is the main obstacle for Cuba’s implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and shares this concern due to the importance that the African Union attaches to the achievements of the objectives on the said agenda; and also reaffirms its solidarity with the people of Cuba.”

According to the US Department of State, “the United States maintains a comprehensive economic embargo on the Republic of Cuba. In February 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed an embargo on trade between the United States and Cuba, in response to certain actions taken by the Cuban Government, and directed the Departments of Commerce and Treasury to implement the embargo, which remains in pace today.”

Literally, the blockage means that no form of commercial and financial activity must be exchanged between the United States and Cuba. It even extends to businesses own or controlled by the US or Cuba in any country across the world. And since 1962 when it became effective till now, 2023; the blockage acts as a deadly poison that must not allow any business enterprise of the Cuban nation prosper.

So in solidarity with Cuban workers, trade unions in Africa are pleading to the United States, a country of magnanimity, to lift the blockage that apparently cripples prosperity in the economic life of the Cuban nation. This is a persistent plea of the ITUC-Africa.

Speaking to NIGERIAN TRIBUNE on why trade unions in the most populous back continent are persistently urging the US to lift the blockage, Comrade Akhato Joel Odigie, Deputy General Secretary ITUC-Africa, said; “Life and living condition of Cuban workers are involved in this matter. There are grievous humanitarian situations at stake and we are concerned because a situation that affects a worker any where in the world, is a case of interest to workers’ unions and organisations across board.”

He went on to say; “This is to say that ITUC-Africa and its affiliates, African workers, are fully supporting the working men or women and people of Cuba. We demand that the embargo on the Cuban people should be lifted. We say this because the Cuban people have the right to self determination.

“And we ask what is their crime? What crime have they committed? They have simply said this is the kind of government arrangement that we want; a socialist government that speak to the benefit of all. I can tell you globally, Cuba socialism has shined brightly. It has shown the world how you can live a decent life and decent society.

“In Cuba itself, it known that  the literacy rate is high, that access to healthcare is high. The people might not be rich, but quite the majority are happy people are happy. The embargo, the economic blockade, is making it difficult for them to advance to being a society that can be of envy to all.”

He added; “As Africans, we are proud of the solidarity we enjoy from the people of Cuba. During Ebola, the Cubans came in mass to our rescue. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they did the same thing: the doctors, medicine, were sent all the way to our people with with love. And all of these solidarity support from the Cuban people from the Cuban government contributed in large part to the defeat of the Ebola virus disease and to defeating the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa. And they have been doing this effortlessly, tirelessly, repeatedly.”

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Furthermore, he said; “Why is the Cuban people being put on blockade; it is because neoliberal capitalism is afraid that Cuba will be the model that will be attractive for the rest part of the world. The neoliberal capitalists apparently don’t want that to succeed. And that is heartlessness, that is wickedness. You cannot tell me that the whole world must have a dogma prescription that says the rich to get richer, and the poor get poorer.

“The consequence of neoliberal capitalism is the rise of the far-rights that we are seeing today and then they are gaining ground using the same prescription of neoliberal capitalism. For those of us who love democracy, who love freedom, we are saying No, this cannot continue. This is not right. This is not sustainable.

“The people of Cuba must be allowed to determine their fate the way that is proper, and the way they have elected. And that is the voice of the people on the on the ground. I can tell you, the workers and people in Latin America are fully supportive of Cubans, and they want the Cubans to be liberated.”

On the crust of the matter he retorted; “We call on the US government to please take off the the blockage. Let’s live by leaving others to live. If you are living, let other live too. It is the only proper way and proper thing to do. Our humanity must shine for all, not to humanity that deprives  others at the detriment of a very few. This is not sustainable. This cannot continue. This must stop.

“African workers will continue to show support the ways we can; on our streets, speaking to our government, speaking to our people, trying to educate them to understand what the Cuban people are going through and continue to support them to succeed.

“The people of Cuba must succeed and survive. It is the duty of every people of justice to ensure that this happen. As Africans, we can only do little we can, but we will continuously, steadfastly continue to push this relentlessly for the juat course of the Cuban people.”

ITUC-AFRICA is the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation. It is a pan-African trade union organisation created in November 2007 following the merger of two former African trade union organisations, namely ICFTU-Afro and DOAWTU.

ITUC-Africa has 17 million declared members and 101 affiliated trade union centres in 51 African countries. The headquarters of ITUC-Africa is now in Lome, Togo.

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