Cuba–South Africa relations

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Cuba–South Africa relations
Map indicating locations of Cuba and South Africa


South Africa

Cuba–South Africa relations refer to the bilateral relations between Cuba and South Africa. Relations were strained during the apartheid era.

Fidel Castro (centre) and Thabo Mbeki (right), former presidents of Cuba and South Africa

Relations during apartheid[edit]

Cuba condemned the apartheid government in South Africa and demanded the release of Nelson Mandela. The two nations fought against each other in the Angolan Civil War until 1988:[1] the apartheid government of South Africa supported the nominally anti-communist National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and Cuba supported the socialist People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). In 1988, Cuba, Angola and South Africa signed the New York Accords, in terms of which Cuba withdrew its troops from Angola in exchange for South Africa granting independence to Namibia.

South African campaign against United States Cuba sanctions[edit]

In July 2014, the African National Congress pledged South Africa to assist Cuba to fight United States sanctions.[2][3]

Medical exchange[edit]

South Africa suffers a shortage of doctors, and since 1996 South Africa has been a beneficiary of Cuban medical internationalism. Between 1996 and 2002, more than 450 Cuban doctors and medical lecturers were deployed in South Africa[4][5] and about a hundred South African students a year are trained in Cuba before finishing their studies in South Africa.[6] Both aspects of the programme have been criticised because of the mismatch between skills needed and taught in Cuba and those in South Africa, the inability of Cuban doctors to speak local languages, and the fact that medical students in Cuba must spend a year learning Spanish and return knowing medical terminology only in Spanish.[7] In 2013, 187 students out 1200 in Cuba went on strike for higher stipends and more variety in meals.[8]


  1. ^ Angola profile, British Broadcasting Corporation, 22 December 2013, archived from the original on 8 July 2014 
  2. ^ Khumalo, Thuso (25 July 2014). "S. Africa Launches Campaign Against US Cuba Sanctions". Voice of America. Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "South Africa Launches Campaign Against U.S. Cuba Sanctions". Radio Cadena Agramonte. 28 July 2014. Archived from the original on 27 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "Cuban Doctors Find Niche in Rural South Africa". 10 May 1998. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015. 
  5. ^ Hammett, Daniel (March 2007). "Cuban Intervention in South African Health Care Service Provision". Journal of South African Studies. Taylor & Francis. 33 (1): 63–81. JSTOR 25065171. 
  6. ^ Bateman, Chris (August 2013). "Doctor shortages: Unpacking the 'Cuban solution'". South African Medical Journal. 103 (9): 603–605. doi:10.7196/samj.7323. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015. 
  7. ^ "SA-Cuba medical programme criticised". Archived from the original on 29 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "SA medical students in Cuba on strike". 

Further reading[edit]

  • Cuba (Republic of), Department of International Relations and Cooperation: Republic of South Africa, archived from the original on 6 March 2014