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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 12, No. 25, 4 July 2013

In this Issue:

Editorial note:

The letter below was received just before President Obama started his visit to Africa. Given the interest generated by the visit and ensuing discussions post the visit, we publish below the letter in its original format to contribute further to that debate.

Editor

   

Letter to President Obama

Redpen

 

Dear President Barrack Obama

By Phatse Justice Piitso

Dear President your impending first visit to your ancestral Sub Sahara Africa since your election as the President of the United States of America, has prompted me to write this open letter to you. It has come to my attention that your visit to your ancestral continent will include amongst others my country the Republic of South Africa, Senegal and Tanzania.

Two most important considerations about your state visit persuaded me to write this open letter to you. The first being the obvious reason that you are the first elected black President ever in the history of the American politics and the second being that you are presiding over the most powerful nation in the history of human civilization.

I wish to take the opportunity of my open letter to impress upon you about one of the most critical questions that have over the past fifty years occupied the centre stage on the agenda of the international community. I wish to impress upon you on the most important question of the necessity to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by your country, the United States of America, against the Republic of Cuba.

The economic blockade against the Republic of Cuba is the longest and toughest system of sanctions ever imposed on any country in the history of modernity. You will agree with me that throughout the years, it has subjected the people of Cuba to devastating socio economic conditions.

For the past five decades, since the declaration of the socialist character of the Cuban revolution, your successive administrations have unilaterally imposed the economic blockade against the government and the people of Cuba. Over the years the economic blockade has been used as a weapon to punish the humbled people of Cuba, for their principled support to the first ever socialist revolution in the history of the western hemisphere.

The economic blockade against the Republic of Cuba is anchored on the foundations of the ideological contradictions that have shaped the developments of the world arena since the beginning of the past century. On this basis I wish you also agree with me that by their nature, ideological contradictions are a means to mould society to grow and develop.

The economic blockade your administration has imposed on the people of Cuba is premised on the complexities of the cold war ideological battles. I present this perspective for the mere historical reasons that the blockade was mainly imposed to counterpose the ideological orientation of the Cuban socialist revolution, which is founded on the will and the aspirations of its own people.

In 1959 just after the triumph of the Cuban revolution against dictator Fulgencio Batista, the then Vice President of the United States Richard Nixon met  Prime Minister Fidel Castro in New York. In his report about the meeting to President Dwight Eisenhower, Vice President Richard Nixon defined Fidel Castro as just another dangerous communist who they should get rid off.

Few months later the then Deputy Assistant Secretary of States Lester Mallory drafted a secret memorandum titled ` Program of Covert Action against the Castro regime` to President Dwight Eisenhower. The memorandum states that"  the majority of the Cubans support Castro and there is no effective political opposition. The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support from government is through disenchantment and disaffection based on Economic dissatisfaction and hardship. Every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life, deny money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease the monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government".

In April 1961 the US through its trained mercenaries invaded the Republic of Cuba at the Playa Giron. The invasion took place just a day after President Fidel Castro declared the socialist character of the Cuban revolution. The main strategic objective of the invasion of the Republic of Cuba at the Playa Giron was to overthrow the popular government led by Fidel Castro and to restore back the autocratic government of the dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Few days after the first military defeat of the US at the battle of Playa Giron by the Cuban revolutionary forces, your administration under former President  Dwight Eisenhower imposed the ban of the US exports to Cuba, with the exceptions of some food and medicines. The blockade was a retaliation to the humiliation suffered by the defeat of the US forces at the battle of Playa Giron,  but more importantly, part of the many acts of aggression and violation of the independence and  sovereignty of the Cuban people by the American imperialist power over  history.

The following year in February 1962 the new administration of President John Kennedy  consolidated the economic blockade by banning almost all imports and export of products to and from the Republic of Cuba that have any of the American components. All other preceding American administrations continued to tighten the blockade until the ultimate promulgation of the 1996 Helm-Burton Act.

The American administrations have used the Helm-Burton act as an effective weapon to extend the imposition of the economic blockade, to all other countries of the world involved in economic partnerships with the Republic of Cuba. I wish you agree with me that these extraterritorial restrictions imposed by your government on all the countries trading with Cuba, is a complete violation of the sovereignty of other nation states and the legitimate interests of the entities or persons under their jurisdiction.

The economic blockade against the Republic of Cuba violates the United Nations Charter on the principles of sovereign equality of states, non intervention in internal affairs and freedom of international trade and navigation. It violates the World Trade Organisation regulations prohibiting adoption of any measure likely to hinder international free trade and shipping, and the widest possibilities of partnerships for the mutual economic benefit of the people of the world.

On more than twenty one consecutive occasions, the United Nation General Assembly has unanimously voted on a resolution condemning the US led economic blockade against the Republic of Cuba. During the presidium of the UN General Assembly held last year, out of the total number of 193 countries of the world,188 voted in favour of the elimination of the blockade.

It was only your country the USA, the state of Israel and also Palau, which voted against the resolution on the removal of the economic blockade against the Republic of Cuba. The Marshall Islands and the federated states of Micronesia abstained from voting. Interestingly the Ambassador of Palau is a US citizen who is also holding an Israel citizenship.

History reminds us that throughout the last fifty years, many countries and organisations of the world across the spectra of humanity, have on endless occasions invited the successive US administrations to remove the longstanding and prolonged economic blockade against the government and the people of Cuba.

On your ancestral continent Africa, many countries, eminent personalities and mass based organisations, including the Organisation of the African Unity, which is now the African Union, have throughout the years of the existence of the economic blockade joined the people in solidarity with the Cuban revolution.

The people of the African continent will forever appreciate the generosity and the contribution of the Cuban revolution in our struggles against imperialism and colonialism. There is no nobler a cause than the extraordinary acts of heroism and solidarity by the people of Cuba, who fought side by side with the people of the continent against colonial aggression and domination.

The history of the common struggles between the people of our continent and Cuba is the history of the people of the world. We trace the essence of human solidarity from as early as times in memorial. But to make it simpler we trace our history with the people of Cuba from as early as the times of the development of modern capitalism. We trace this history from the times when the development of productive forces led to the scramble for the expansion of new markets and demand for accumulation of raw material throughout the whole world.

The European voyages of exploration and expedition sailed through the whole world in search of new market opportunities and raw material. The renowned explorer Christopher Columbus reached the shores of the American hemisphere whilst Vasco da Gama became the first European to reach India through the Atlantic ocean. Your country, the United States of America, was founded during this wave of the scramble for territorial expansion in the world.

It is important to remind ourselves that this scramble for territorial expansion was characterized by the most brutal forms of human rights violations and atrocities. Imperialism and colonial powers displaced millions of the people of the world into the acrimonious world of slavery.

Millions of indigenous people of the world were virtually exterminated from their mother earth. Slanderous apatite for profits drove colonial masters to turn the people of our continent and many others throughout the world into commodities of the lucrative slave trade. Many of them lost their being in the hands of the colonial masters in the Americas.

You will agree with me that the socio economic contradictions confronting the African people are as a result of the aftermath of the Berlin conference held in 1884. It was during this meeting held at the private residence of the German architect and Imperial Chancellor, Otto van Bismarck, where fourteen European countries with the Unites States of America decided to partition our continent in line with our present politico-geographical map without consulting African people.

These countries superimposed themselves as the new colonial masters of our continent. The main strategic objective of the Berlin conference was how to exploit the natural resources of our continent and how to undermine the struggles of the people for their own freedom and dignity.

It is against this background that the people of our continent appreciate the outstanding contribution of the Cuban revolution in our own struggles against the forces of imperialism and colonialism. The Cuban revolution occupied the forefront of our trenches to fight alongside the people of our continent in our struggles to reverse the decisions of the notorious Berlin conference of 1884.

The Cuban revolution volunteered itself to fight alongside the people of the African continent against the forces of imperialism and colonialism. Therefore the struggles of the people of Cuba against the economic blockade is inseparable from our own struggles for freedom and equality.

The economic blockade has inflicted devastating consequences to the socio economic life of the people of Cuba. Over the past fifty years the cumulative effect of the the economic blockade over the Cuban economy is at trillions of dollars. The blockade is indeed the primary contributing factor and a major obstacle to the economic and social development of the people of the Republic of Cuba.

Your administration has embarked on punitive measures to impose heavy fines on companies throughout the world trading with the Republic of Cuba. During the past year alone, you have imposed a heavy fine of Six Hundred and Nineteen million dollars on the Dutch bank ING for allegedly violating the terms of the US economic blockade against Cuba.

Contrary to the expectations of the people of the world, you have so far imposed over Two Billion dollars worth of fines to companies trading with Cuba. The fines imposed by your administration in your first term of office have far doubled the amount imposed by former President George.W. Bush during his two terms in office.

The economic blockade against the people of Cuba is an act of aggression and therefore a permanent threat to the stability of the people of the world. It represents a gross violation of the rules that govern international trade, freedom of navigation and the sovereign rights of nation states. It has impeded poverty eradication and violated the basic human rights to food, health, education and humanitarian assistance.

I wish we share the common perspective that the struggles of the people of the world against imperialism and colonialism was a necessary  step in the development of human race. I wish we share the common perspective that our history will make the future generations appreciate the realities, that during the period of the struggles of our people against imperialism and colonialism, modernity was confronted by adversity against human development.

I am personally confident that the future of humanity free of oppression and exploitation will appreciate this history. The history of the people of the world to create necessary conditions for the realization of a free society that guarantees sovereignty of nation states and equal rights to its citizens. Our ideal future which the struggles of the people of the world is all essentially about. The future for human freedom and equality.

It is equally the collective responsibility of the political leadership of our world to impress on our scholars, intelligentsia and scientists appreciate our glorious history from this premise. The only way we can resolve the socio economic contradictions facing us is to appreciate this history. To make them understand that the struggles of the people of the world against imperialism and colonialism is essential and necessary for human progress.

I still belief that you can still be a President you want to be. I still believe that even if this is your last term as the President of the United States of America, you still have the opportunity to be what you want to be. I still believe that you can still be a President whose historic legacy will be appreciated by our future generations for having started a new beginning with the Cuban revolution.

I still belief you can still be a President who is not a shadow of George Bush. I still believe that you can still be a President of the US who can lift the economic blockade, close the Quantanamo bay, release the Cuban five heroes, bring peace and stability in the conflict between Israel and Palestine and the entire world.

The economic blockade against the democratic government and the people of Cuba is an act of genocide against humanity.

Thanks

Phatse Justice Piitso is the former Ambassador to the Republic of Cuba and the former Provincial Secretary of the SACP in Limpopo writing this letter in his personal capacity.

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