By OLIVIA IMANI MINGUELA GEORGAKOPOULOS, age 10
After Nelson Mandela’s death on December 5, 2013, the U.S. media described the former South African president as a wonderful person who did great things for his country. But the U.S. government wasn’t always so kind to him. Mandela, who became president of South Africa in 1994, remained on a terrorist watch list in the United States until 2008, and his attempts to end Apartheid were not supported in the U.S. government for several years.
Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan was against putting sanctions on the Apartheid government in South Africa. He wanted to preserve good trade relations with their government and also worried about connections between the African National Congress and communism. Historically, the United States has been focused on fighting Communism worldwide.
Nelson Mandela was a member of the African National Congress. The ANC had some members who were in the Communist party. Fidel Castro, then the president of Cuba, was a Communist, which means he believed money should be evenly distributed among people in a country, and that everyone should have access to medical care, a house, food, and more. These were values that Mandela agreed with, and Castro was against apartheid (the separation of blacks and whites in South Africa).
Eventually, Reagan did come around and supported boycotting South Africa. Those global boycotts were one big reason that Apartheid ended. Former U.S. president George W. Bush signed a bill removing Mandela and the ANC from the list in 2008. “It’s frankly a rather embarrassing matter,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said at the time, according to the Washington Post.