Solidarity with Cuba Broadens

Cuban President Receives Rousing Welcome in Africa

 Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel begins his official tour of
southern Africa in Angola, August 20, 2023.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel arrived in Angola on August 20 on an official visit, where he began a tour of southern Africa that included besides Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. In South Africa, in his capacity as presiding chair of the Group of 77 + China and host of the Summit of that group to be held in Havana September 15 -16, he also participated in the BRICS Summit.

Díaz-Canel announced on X (Twitter), shortly before his departure from Cuba, that he was travelling to "our beloved Africa, to make official visits to Angola, Mozambique and Namibia, and to participate in the BRICS Summit to be held in South Africa. These are sister nations with which we are united by a history marked by solidarity at all costs."

Arriving in Angola, Díaz-Canel was received by President João Gonçalves Lourenço. They held discussions to outline strategies to jointly advance their countries and relations. Díaz-Canel also addressed the National Assembly (unicameral Congress), signed several agreements, paid Cuba's respects to Agostinho Neto, the founding father of Angola and close friend of Cuba, and met with representatives of broad sections of the Angolan people and Cubans living in Angola.

Diaz Canel is welcomed to Angolan National Assembly, August 21, 2023

Relations with Angola are very close ever since Cuba played a crucial role in the common struggles to maintain Angolan independence and in the mutual support provided in difficult situations, as well as in the search for development. Since 1975, Cuba provided decisive support for the forces of the Government of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), led by Agostinho Neto, in the preservation of independence. Cubans took part in that struggle together with the Angolans, with many giving their lives. Today more than 2,000 Cubans are rendering professional services in Angola, mainly in the health, higher education, defence, energy, industry, internal order and hydraulic resources sectors. Likewise, more than 9,800 Angolan students have graduated in Cuba.

The support of Fidel Castro Ruz for Angola, during its fight to expel apartheid South African troops, finally defeated in the great Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, and in more recent times in the medical field, is unsurpassed.

Díaz-Canel attended a ceremony dedicated to the memory of Dr. Agostinho Neto, the centenary of whose birth was recently celebrated, at his memorial in the Praça da República (Republic Square) in Luanda. Díaz-Canel recalled Neto's legacy as that of a singular leader, "who shows his height as a revolutionary, intellectual and poet committed to the just cause he defended under the red and black colors of the MPLA." On behalf of the people of Cuba, Díaz-Canel placed a wreath as tribute to Neto and toured the enclosure that keeps his remains. He thanked President João Gonçalves Lourenço, for his welcome, his words of affection towards Cuba, and for his hospitality. "We rejoice to note the great appreciation and affection for Cuba in Angola, which we have felt continuously since our arrival in this beloved land," he said. Díaz-Canel and Lourenço witnessed the signing of three memorandums to expand economic cooperation.

Attending a session of the Council of Ministers of that country, he conveyed a warm greeting from Army General Raúl Castro Ruz to the Angolan people and Government. Díaz-Canel said it was an honour to address the members of the Angolan Parliament, whom he thanked on behalf of the Cuban people for their support for the demand to end to the economic blockade imposed on Cuba, and the parliamentary support for the strengthening of economic and cooperation ties.

The president also met with friends of Cuba from solidarity organizations and with Cubans living in Angola. Members of the Angolan League of Friendship and Solidarity with the Peoples, the Angola-Cuba Friendship Association, and the Association of Angolan pre-cadets and cadets all expressed their gratitude for Cuba's historic support to their country. Others who spoke at the meeting included members of the Angolan Trade Union Force, the International Youth Forum, and the National Union of Angolan Workers. Participants agreed on the condemnation of the U.S. blockade and all the coercive measures applied to Cuba. A representative of the Fidel Castro Ruz Middle Institute of Health argued that Cuba’s contributions to Africa and the world were unparalleled, and condemned the U.S. blockade of Cuba as a crime.

The African League, the Angolan Women's Organization and the Association of Graduates from Cuba, known as Los Caimaneros, highly applauded the work of Cubans in the training of young people in that country in the medical field. Meanwhile, the president of the Association of the Community of Cuban Residents in Angola, Felix Arozarena, assured Díaz-Canel that he can count on its members, united by the feeling of love for their families, their homeland and the defence of sovereignty.

President Díaz-Canel meets with Cuba's health and education collaborators in Angola.

Despite the tight agenda of the official visit, Díaz-Canel said it was essential to meet with friends of Cuba and compatriots residing in Angola. He thanked them for the expressions of solidarity in the difficult times that the Caribbean nation has recently gone through, and for the affection they maintain towards it and their actions to safeguard it. He also expressed gratitude for the condemnation of the economic blockade and for confronting in social networks the campaigns of disinformation and misrepresentation about the Cuban reality. He mentioned that from October 25 to 27, the African Continental Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba will be held in the Caribbean nation, and on November 18 and 19, the fourth conference of The Nation and Emigration will take place. "We count on your success and on all those like you who are committed to the welfare and progress of the nation," he stressed.

President Díaz-Canel arrived in South Africa on August 22. "We are already in the homeland of our dear friend Nelson Mandela," he wrote after arriving in South Africa and he recalled that Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz described Nelson Mandela as a brilliant and extraordinary leader, symbol of the freedom of Africa and the world. The president also recalled the feelings of brotherhood and solidarity that inspire relations between South Africa and Cuba.

Accompanying the Cuban President were Bruno Rodríguez, Minister of Foreign Affairs; José Ángel Portal Miranda, Minister of Public Health, and Emilio Lozada, head of the Department of International Relations of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), among other officials.

The President attended the BRICS Summit on August 24, participating as a guest in his capacity as pro tempore president of the G77+China. In this capacity, he gave a speech in which he described as a great honor and privilege his presence in the conference of an organization that creates great expectations and hopes in the strengthening of the currently urgent and essential multilateralism. "If we do not act at once, we will bequeath our children and grandchildren a planet not only unrecognizable for those of us who come from the previous century, but also, and sadly, doomed to be uninhabitable," he said. For the full text of his speech, click here

Díaz-Canel also held meetings with several leaders from different countries attending the Summit of the BRICS bloc. Between sessions, Díaz-Canel met with Azali Assoumani, President of the Comoros and the African Union. Both leaders addressed bilateral relations between their countries. Díaz-Canel extended Assoumani an invitation to participate at the G-77 Summit in Havana. He also met Dilma Rousseff, president of the BRICS Bank, on the possibility to implement joint projects. He also met with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi whom he thanked for the credit lines granted by India to Cuba to develop renewable energy and rice cultivation.

A high point of his visit to South Africa was the jam-packed solidarity rally held on the morning of August 23. The militant and joyful rally was organized by the African National Congress (ANC), the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party to express their support for Cuba and the demand that the U.S. blockade of Cuba be ended. The rally took place at Freedom Park, Tshwane, with the venue filled to capacity. It was addressed by President Díaz-Canel and ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula.

Mbalula expressed the deep appreciation of the people of South Africa for Cuba's unwavering support which played a decisive role in ending apartheid. He said, "We will never forget the ultimate sacrifice by Cubans in the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola which led to the historic defeat of the apartheid armed forces." Referring to Cuba's training of thousands of doctors from South Africa and many other countries, he added, "To us in South Africa and the countries of the global South, Cuba is synonymous with profound acts of solidarity!"

On behalf of the ANC he reiterated the pledge of unequivocal solidarity with the people of Cuba against the unjust U.S. blockade, demanded the removal of Cuba from the list of terrorist sponsoring states, and urged South Africans to join the worldwide million signature campaign on the removal of the blockade.

Cuban President Díaz-Canel addressing the solidarity rally

Díaz-Canel paid tribute to Nelson Mandela and to the Cuban heroes who fell in the struggle for the liberation of South Africa. He thanked the South African authorities and people for taking care of the Cuban doctors and health workers who have been working in their country for more than 20 years. He said, "In the name of those who fell for the freedom and sovereignty of Africa, South Africa and Cuba and for peace and harmony among nations and human beings, let us fight for friendship to become indestructible and for future generations of South Africans and Cubans to be proud of the bonds that we bequeath to them."

President Díaz-Canel arrives in Mozambique, August 25, 2023.

The next stop for Díaz-Canel was Mozambique on August 25 where he was officially received by his Mozambican counterpart, Felipe Nyussi, at the Presidency of the Republic, where both leaders held a private meeting. During their talks, Nyussi confirmed the Cuban President's invitation to travel to Havana in September to participate in the Summit of the G77+China. Díaz-Canel recalled that August 27th marks the 48th anniversary of bilateral relations between the two countries.

Díaz-Canel concluded his tour in Namibia where he was the guest of honour at the ceremony on Heroes' Day. Paying tribute to heroes and heroines of Namibia, Angola and Cuba, he said they "paved the way to independence with their blood, and ended the apartheid regime." He also received, from the hands of his Namibian counterpart, the "Order of the Most Ancient Welwitschia Mirabilis," Namibia's highest decoration. Bilateral agreements were signed to strengthen mutual ties.

President Díaz-Canel was a guest of honour at a Heroes' Day ceremony in Namibia, August 26, 2023

(Photos: Cuban Presidency)

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 9 - September 2023

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