Lessons from the Embargo on Apartheid South Africa for Castroite Cuba pt. 1

Via Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Lessons from the Embargo on Apartheid South Africa for Castroite Cuba pt. 1

“Astonishingly, it is argued that strengthening the economic basis of the white apartheid regime will in fact bring change. This is nonsense, and those who speak it know it … Continued American investment in South Africa in any form is continued American support for the regime in power. Those who wish to support change in South Africa have only two ways to do it: (1) active assistance to the liberation movement; (2) a call for United States economic disinvestment and political disengagement from the present South African state. The rest is sophistry.” – Immanuel Wallerstein, co-chairman of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars (1977)

The quote above is taken from a book that every activist who supports the Embargo on Cuba should read and it is available online in pdf format. Ironically, it is a book recommended by Castro regime apologist Danny Glover, it is titled No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists over a Half Century, 1950-2000. Now for the folks who argue that the sanctions approach hasn’t worked in 53 years they should also recall that the African National Congress (ANC) was founded in 1912 to combat systematic racism in South Africa and only succeeded in this goal 82 years later in 1994. Mind you it got worse before it got better. Apartheid came into existence 36 years after the founding of the ANC.  It took decades for South African economic sanctions to make an impact.

South Africa and Cuba have profoundly different histories and experiences.  South Africa throughout the 20th Century would be a country defined by racial segregation taken to its most extreme form in the creation of an Apartheid state that sought to completely separate South  Africans along racial lines while systematically seeking to humiliate, degrade and dominate the black majority. In Cuba and South Africa, the 20th century is divided in two. In Cuba, a flawed democratic republic with authoritarian interruptions between 1902-1952 followed by the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista (1952-1958) and the arrival of a tropical form of Stalinist communism through the betrayal of the promises of democratic restoration by Fidel Castro (1959 – Present). In South Africa, independence arrived in a de facto form in 1931 and on May 3, 1961 in a whites only referendum South Africa became a Republic and left the British Commonwealth. Apartheid was put into place with a series of laws in 1948 and continued until 1994. In both Cuba and South Africa large numbers of people were killed struggling for both their freedom and dignity and the opposition struggled to develop a coherent strategy.

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One thought on “Lessons from the Embargo on Apartheid South Africa for Castroite Cuba pt. 1

  1. Fervently urging serious sanctions against South Africa to topple the apartheid regime and doing essentially the opposite with Cuba is also sophistry. The difference, of course, is that the apartheid regime qualified as right wing and was therefore treated as an unalloyed abomination for which nobody had any patience, whereas the Castro regime is leftist and therefore given far more slack, every benefit of the doubt, and plenty of time to “evolve at its own pace,” not to say condoned, coddled and even overtly defended and praised. It’s obviously not about what’s righteous, just or true, but rather about what’s ideologically fashionable and “correct.”

    Sadly, despite the glaring hypocrisy and double-standard, that won’t change. The willfully blind and deaf will remain so, no matter what we do to get through to them. That’s why we should rely as little as possible on non-Cubans and as much as possible on ourselves. We’re never going to get the help or solidarity that South Africa got. Ever. We need to accept that and act accordingly.

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