African delegates urge U.S. to lift blockade against Cuba
Delegates of an African conference in solidarity with Cuba on Monday called on the United States to lift its over 50-year economic blockade against Cuba.
"We applaud the positive development in this respect and we commend the U.S. government and Cuba for their efforts towards normalizing of ties," said Namibian President Hage Geingob, officially opening the fifth Continental Africa Conference in Solidarity with Cuba here on Monday.
"However, there is still much ground left to cover to ensure the complete lifting of the blockage against Cuba," said Geingob.
According to Geingob, the conference will lead to the development of the common African strategy in terms of support to Cuba.
The delegates also called for the return of the Guantanamo Bay, which is presently under U.S. control, to Cuba.
Namibian delegate Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo, who serves as the patron of the Namibia-Cuba Friendship Association, said that even though former U.S. President Barack Obama normalized relations between Cuba and the United States following over 50 years of frozen diplomatic ties, this ought to be followed by complete blockade removal.
"Historically, Cuba assisted African countries in the fight against foreign domination. Through this patriotic support, Cuban people have shown us the meaning of solidarity, hence (we should show) our support for Cuba," said Ya Toivo.
Cuba and the United States reestablished diplomatic relations in 2015 after more than 50 years of political enmity, but the Washington-imposed embargo is still in place.
U.S. President Donald Trump has said he will review his predecessor Obama's policy towards Cuba but has not made any new announcements so far regarding this issue.
According to Balogun-Arogun James from Nigeria, the conference reaffirms the cultural and historical relations between Cuba and Africa.
"We have come together to jointly have a common voice as to the way forward," said James.
Imani Na Umoja, a delegate from Guinea-Bissau, said "When Africa called, Cuba answered, now that Cuba has called, Africa should answer."
During the conference which takes place on June 5-7, the delegates are expected to prepare a declaration in support of the lifting of the blockade of Cuba by the U.S. government.
The African conference of solidarity with Cuba was previously hosted in South Africa in 1995, Ghana in 1997, Angola in 2010 and Ethiopia in 2012.