US President Barack Obama arrived in South Africa today as part of a three nation African visit. Obama is visiting Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.
The tour of Africa was rich in symbolism: Obama visited Gorée Island in Senegal, the point of departure for the thousands of slaves who were captured in Africa and shipped to America.
The African economy is dynamic and growing; however, it is increasingly coming under the influence of the US rival, China. The main purpose of Obama’s visit is to bolster trade links between Africa and the US, although Obama also took the opportunity to speak out against the persecution of gays in a number of African countries.
However, South African trade unions were not impressed: the union federation COSATU backed large scale protests against the visit. In a statement to the media, international spokesperson Bongani Masuku highlighted the federation’s opposition to Obama’s presidency, and in particular US foreign policy.
COSATU is “outraged at the horrifying record of US foreign policy”, and in particular highlighted the following issues:
- The occupation of Palestine by the Israeli apartheid state, with the full support of the US
- The imprisonment of the Cuban 5
- The continued existence of Guantanamo Bay
- The ruthless and savage looting of natural resources by US and other multinational companies in close collaboration with corrupt elites in various countries
- The US support for oppressive regimes that benefit US narrow interests
- US aggressive opposition to climate justice and ways to end global warming and destruction of our environment
- US policies that perpetuate unequal and exploitative trade relations and underdevelopment in Africa and the rest of the developing world
- US policies of nuclear proliferation and arming of space to the detriment of peace, justice, democracy and human rights.
COSATU is also protesting against US attempts to undermine the democratic process in Bolivia and Venezuela.
The federation aligns itself with “the growing global and national movement for peace, justice, human rights, environmental justice and the right to development for all.”
The statement ends with a strongly worded call to action:
“The world-wide struggle against imperialism must be intensified and the people of Africa must lead the struggle to reclaim their natural resources and rise against oppressive dictators of various kinds that undermine their developmental and democratic aspirations for a better world. This means building progressive and popular working class alternatives to the crisis and failures of capitalism and dictatorship.
A new and just world is not only possible, but necessary NOW!”
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