Nehawu pickets outside US embassy in Pretoria over Cuba

Nehawu members picket at the US embassy in Pretoria on Friday, under the watchful eye of police and private security. Supplied.

Nehawu members picket at the US embassy in Pretoria on Friday, under the watchful eye of police and private security. Supplied.

The trade union is demanding an end to the US’s ‘repugnant economic blockade on Cuba’.

Senior officials of trade union Nehawu handed a memorandum of demands to officials of the United States of America embassy in Pretoria, after picketing outside the diplomatic post in Pretoria on Friday.

“We’ve met the representatives of the US embassy. We’ve handed over the memorandum but the first thing they did … they did not sign it. But we have signed it as confirmation that we have sent it,” Nehawu national deputy secretary Zola Sapeta said as he emerged from the embassy.

“They [US embassy] said they don’t want to sign for misinterpretation, as if they are together with our demands. They even refused to sign as a confirmation of receiving. We then agreed that we will arrange a meeting early next year after holidays.”

Sapeta said it would be “first time in history” that his organisation would have the meeting with the US officials.

“They have given us documents that show that they are committed to engaging with the Cuban people. They are looking forward to the uplifting of the [economic] blockade. However we will get into details when we meet again, sometime next year,” said Sapeta.

A few members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) were picketing outside the heavily guarded US embassy in Pretoria, demanding an end to United States’ “repugnant economic blockade on Cuba”.

In a statement, Nehawu said the demonstration was in honour of the life of “Comandante Fidel Castro for waging an unrelenting fight for peace, progress and socialism”.

“The policy of the blockade remains an affront to the normalisation of relations between the two states and it must go. A loss of over $1.1 trillion since 1960, with untold social harm on the people of Cuba, is the cost of rejecting a US backed dictator Fulgencio Batista and for choosing a sovereign path of socialist development,” said the Nehawu statement.

“The protest is our moral compensation of the Cuban people for their relentless fight against injustice directed at our people.”

No official from the United States embassy was available to comment.

On Thursday, the Presidency invited South Africans to show solidarity with the people of Cuba, following the passing away of their former leader Fidel Castro Ruz, by signing books of condolence.

President Jacob Zuma, who is attending the official mass memorial service in Havana, Cuba, has ordered that the the South African national flag be flown at half-mast in the South African mission in that country until December 4.

Castro passed away on November 25 at age 90.

– African News Agency

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