Remarks by his Excellency President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the award bestowal on him by Cuban President Raul Castro Ruz, of the order of Jose Marti, the highest honour that the Cubans can bestow on an individual, Havana, Cuba
7 Dec 2010
His Excellency President Raul Castro Ruz,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour for me to be decorated with an award bearing the name of this great country's national hero, Jose Marti.
I am humbled to accept this award on behalf of the people of South Africa whose ties to Cuba remain unbreakable, because they were forged in the long and bitter struggle against apartheid. Jose Martí devoted his entire life to ending colonial rule in Cuba and to preventing Cuba from falling under the control of any country whose political ideologies were inimical to the principles he held.
With those goals, and with the conviction that the freedom of the Caribbean was crucial to Latin America, he devoted his talents to the forging of a Cuban nation and even paid the ultimate price at a tender age of 42 years.
Jose Martí may never have lived to see an independent Cuba, but his greatest accomplishment was the way he managed to unite Cuban freedom fighters, in exile and on the island.
It was his leadership, charisma and reputable integrity that enabled the formation of the Cuban Revolutionary Party and led to the eventual defeat of Spanish forces on the island in 1898.
Jose Martí's courageous life and writings inspired many movements fighting for national liberation, including our own African National Congress in South Africa.
He continues to inspire the people of Cuba and the world.
It is such inspiration that drives to ensure that relations between the Cuban and South African people grows deeper, in memory of such heroes as Jose Martie, whose ideals shaped the quest for freedom around the world.
Allow me also to thank you for this invitation for us to visit Cuba, to enable us to discuss these relations further.
South Africa and Cuba share similar interests in relation to addressing the socio-economic needs and aspirations in the struggle to fulfil the aspirations of our respective peoples.
Both of us are active members of the Non-Aligned Movement, the G77 & China.
Our Governments have long-standing cooperation, which ranges from the political to the economic fields.
We have a longstanding collaboration that involves Cuban doctors and medical professors working in South Africa and South African medical students studying in Cuba.
In addition, various national and provincial departments have begun pursuing bilateral cooperation projects in diverse areas.
Cuba occupies a prominent place in the history of the struggle for, and the achievement of, freedom on the African continent.
Cuba also continues to play an exemplary role in promoting international solidarity as well as progress in the areas of education, health and other scientific areas in the world.
For South Africa and its people, our state visit here is significant because we continue to be humbled by the historic role that Cuba played in our liberation and freedom.
The people of Cuba, true to their commitment to international solidarity, justice, freedom and equality could not stand by and be spectators when we were oppressed.
It is that friendship and solidarity that drives our relations to this day.
Thank you again, Mr President for the invitation to visit Cuba, and also for honouring me and the people of South Africa with this award.
I thank you!
Source : Sapa
Issued by: Department of International Relations and Cooperation
7 Dec 2010
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