Home » General » Zim Hails Thaw in Us-Cuba Ties

Zimbabweans have hailed the latest developments on Cuba and United States relations following the announcement by both countries that they had agreed to restore diplomatic ties.

Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees Minister Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa said it was unAmerican for the US to continue picking petty fights with small nations.

“That is a good gesture that America and Cuba have done. It is good for America, it is good for Cuba, it is good for the world and it is good for the international discourse. The less countries quarrel, the better,” said Ambassador Mutsvangwa.

He commended the release of the remaining three of the Cuban Five by the US government as well as the release of an American agent who was jailed in Cuba saying it is the starting point to solving differences between the two neighbouring countries.

“This has given both countries a chance to start on a new chapter of camaraderie as they close the gap between their differences and widen similarities.”

Ambassador Mutsvangwa described the previous animosity between the two countries as unnecessary considering the fact that they were neighbours.

“The US must have learnt that making Cuba suffer did not make it super powerful,” he said.

Outgoing chairperson of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Management (IPCM) Dr Chakanyuka Karase in a statement said: “The IPCM welcomes the thawing of relations between Cuba and the US.

The IPCM further also welcomes the release of the Cuban Five as well as the release of US citizen Alan Gross by the Cuban authorities on humanitarian grounds.

“It is our view that the re-establishment of diplomatic links between these two countries will only be in the best interest of both the people of Cuba and the people of United States of America in all respects.

“It is our hope that the same progressive attitude that the US has displayed in Cuba-US relations can also be extended to Zimbabwe where the US in an act of war has imposed illegal sanctions against the Government, people and Zimbabwean companies over the past 12 years against all norms of international law and relations,” said the IPCM chairperson.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has also hailed the latest development saying this act shows progress and a slight improvement in relations between Cuba and the US.

ANC’s deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said her party remains committed in its solidarity with the Cuban people and further called on US President Barack Obama to take decisive steps in removing the sanctions against Cuba by lifting the long-term economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba.

“All these efforts should be commended and the ANC expresses its gratitude to all that was committed to this now realised objective,” Duarte said.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon heralded the restoration of ties as positive news, thanking leaders of both countries for the very important step.

Mr Ban said at a year-end Press conference that he welcomed the development and hoped that the announcement will help to expand further exchange between the two peoples who have been separated for more than half a century.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called the move a change in civilisation, saying, we, social activists, never imagined we were going to see this moment of resumption of ties between the US and Cuba.

In a statement on Thursday, Beijing spokesperson Qin Gang said: “China welcomes and supports the normalisation of Cuba-US bilateral ties, and we hope that the US can lift its embargo on Cuba as early as possible.”

He added that China cherished its “friendship with Cuba” and vowed to continue their “support for Cuba’s choice in their development path”.

China’s Global Times newspaper in an editorial titled “Thaw in US-Cuba ties offers broad lessons” said: “The Reverse in US-Cuba policy is indicative of its shrinking strength. It also demonstrates that with unity, even a small country can boast g tenacity.”

On Wednesday, the US and Cuban governments announced that they were restoring relations following more than half a century of estrangement.

The announcement came a day after President Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro Ruz agreed in a phone call on a breakthrough prisoner exchange, the opening of embassies in each other’s countries, and an easing of some restrictions on commerce.

Cuban leader Raul Castro confirmed on Wednesday that the remaining three members of The Cuban Five, a Cuban intelligence group, were released and returned to their home country after 16 years of imprisonment in US jails.

As announced by President Castro in a TV broadcast, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez and Ramon Labanino were released by the US government and sent back to Cuba, in exchange for an important US intelligence agent that had been imprisoned for 20 years.

The other two Cubans Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez were freed in 2011 and 2014, respectively after about 13 years and more than 15 years behind bars, respectively.

President Castro said: “As Fidel promised on June 2001,when he said, ‘They shall return!’ Gerardo, Ramon, and Antonio have arrived today to our homeland.”

He added that Obama’s decision “deserves the respect and acknowledgement of our people”.

The five men were arrested in 1998 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and judged by a federal tribunal in Miami, Florida, with harsh penalties ranging from 15 years to life imprisonment.

Cuba has described them as the Five Heroes and unleashed an international campaign to push for their release since their arrest, which was fully supported by the Government of Zimbabwe.

While Obama first shook Castro’s hand at the memorial service of democratic South Africa’s founding President Nelson Mandela in December last year, it was the Latin American Pope Francis who brokered the historic breakthrough in relations between Cuba and the US.

Miami Catholic Archbishop Thomas Wenski remarked that Pope Francis did what popes are supposed to do – “build bridges and promote peace.”

Washington severed ties with Havana in 1961, shortly after former Cuban leader Fidel Castro Ruz launched a revolution that toppled a US-friendly govern- ment.

The two countries have been at loggerheads ever since, with tensions boiling over on a number of occasions, most notably the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs Invasion in the early 1960s.

Source : The Herald