As long as the island maintains its dignity of emancipated action, it will triumphantly resist the persistent aggressions of the United States, manifested in the full application of the Helms Burton law by the Donald Trump government.
So thinks South African professor Robert Van Niekerk.
“The Cubans have shown that they have never been willing to sacrifice their dignity and that is the source of resistance of that people in the face of new pressures from Washington,” Robert Van Niekerk told Prensa Latina in Pretoria.
The academic of Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, the oldest in the country, has to his name degrees in English and Industrial Sociology of the higher education institute of Cape Town, in addition to a masters in Social Policy from the University of London’s School of Economics and in Comparative Social Policy from the University of Oxford.
The 53-year-old teacher, born in Landsdowne, about 10 kilometres from the centre of Cape Town, said his first encounter with Cuba was in 1982 when he was still an anti-apartheid activist and he heard La Historia me Absolverá (“History will Absolve me”), the plea of the revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in the trial for the Assault on the Moncada Barracks in 1953 in Santiago de Cuba.
In the opinion of van Niekerk, the reinforcement of the United States blockade against Cuba must concern all those in the world who believe in the principles of social justice.
“Since the triumph of its social revolution in 1959, Cuba has consistently and uncompromisingly represented the ideal of an egalitarian society and a just world order and has shown that it is achievable even in relatively poor nations of the South.”
These achievements of the island have been accomplished in the context of an illegal blockade that only two countries, the United States and Israel, support in the annual meetings of the General Assembly of the United Nations that demand the end of these punitive measures in the economic, commercial and financial sectors, he said. Van Niekerk said that, despite decades of illegal blockade aimed at surrendering Cuba to hunger, the country’s performances in education and health are unparalleled in the world for a nation of its size and resources, and he stressed that its positive results are recognised by the World Health Organisation, along with the best performances achieved in the North.
In addition, the professor stressed that the Caribbean nation has also been the first to support underdeveloped countries in the preparation of their medical personnel with innovative methods of primary health care and the development of vaccines such as meningitis A, which have benefited African states at much more affordable costs than those of large pharmaceutical companies.
“Cuba has been a force of good, an alternative inspiration to the social barbarism represented in the world by a force dominated by extreme neoliberalism and right-wing thinking that Donald Trump supports,” he said.
For the professor of Political Sciences, United States’ exacerbation of the illegal blockade is an attempt to destroy the sovereignty and powerful ideas defended by Cuba’s Revolution and its people, against the social barbarism of the Trump era, “because they show that sovereign peoples must and can determine their own destiny.” Going back to his considerations on how Cuba has been able to resist these permanent attacks by Washington, van Niekerk pointed out that this is due to its defence of the concepts of solidarity that includes the word dignity.
Dignity, for the academic, represents the Cuban Revolution and links the struggle for independence against colonialism led by the national hero José Martí and the one led by Fidel Castro to achieve the triumph of 1st January 1959.
It also means not to be on your knees or be slaves, which has allowed the Cuban people to triumph, because they do not renounce their desire for emancipation and chose freedom, deciding their own destiny.
In the opinion of this renowned professor, who travelled to Cuba for the first time after the arrival of democracy in South Africa in 1994, “now more than ever, progressive humanity, those who defend the values of social justice and the law of nations to determine their own destiny, must remain in solidarity with Cuba and its people. ”
He described the contribution of Cuba as invaluable, in particular to the social emancipation of the oppressed in the South, including his own country, South Africa.
“Cuba offered protection to those oppressed by the apartheid regime and maintained its loyalty to our struggle to achieve democracy, trained our fighters and now helps prepare the South African doctors of the democratic era,” he added.
The professor noted that South Africa’s bonds of solidarity with Cuba are sealed with the voluntary forces of its soldiers and doctors who died or were willing to lose their lives to rid Africa of colonialism and apartheid. (PL)
(Translated by Hannah Phelvin – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay