Cape Town event lauds Cuban 5
Tuesday 23 June 2015 06:17
Speakers addressing a symposium in Cape Town Monday night to welcome the Cuban Five to the Western Cape have called on the United States to lift the economic blockade of Cuba.
Cape Town, South Africa.- The caucus of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa”s parliament now receive five Cubans who arrived in the country last Sunday.
Since their arrival, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González have completed a program that stands out above all the existing admiration and respect here for the Cuban heroes.
Explainer: Who are the Cuban Five?
- REBECCA DAVIS
- 22 JUN 2015 01:13 (SOUTH AFRICA
Hero’s welcome for Cuban 5
“South Africa welcomes to its shores the five Cuban national heroes, namely, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and René Gonzalez,” said Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) spokespersonClayson Monyela in a statement.
The men were greeted by a large crowd of supporters at OR Tambo International Airport.
“The purpose of their visit to South Africa is to thank the people and the government, including the tripartite alliance, who have used every available opportunity to call for their release,” said Monyela.
During their stay until July 3, the five would be thanked for their “sacrifices made during the war in Angola”, he said. The men had all served in Angola during the struggle against apartheid forces.
The five are scheduled to attend various events including a public participation programme hosted by Dirco and a meeting with the parliamentary portfolio committee on international relations.
The Cuban Five were convicted in 2001 on various charges, including conspiracy to commit espionage. One of the Cuban Five was released in 2011, one in February 2014, and the remaining three in December of the same year.
The final release followed an agreement between US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro to improve the relationship between the two countries.
Monyela said that Cuba had also assisted in building South Africa following apartheid, such as training doctors. Currently, 3 000 South African medical students are in training in Cuba. Various Cuban professionals, especially those with technical skills, had also shared their expertise by coming to work in South Africa.
21 June 2015
South Africa welcomes to its shores the five Cuban National Heroes, namely, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and René Gonzalez, who are visiting the country from 21 June to 03 July 2015. They have become renowned globally as the Cuban Five. The purpose of their visit to South Africa is to thank the people and the Government, including the Tripartite Alliance, who have used every available opportunity to call for their release
René González was released on October 7, 2011 following the completion of 13 years of his sentence with a further three years of probation in the US. He was allowed to return to Cuba for his father’s funeral on 22 April 2013, and a federal judge allowed him to stay there provided that he renounce his United States citizenship. Fernando González was released on February 27, 2014. The remaining members were released on December 17, 2014 in a prisoner swap with Cuba for an American intelligence officer in what is seen as a precursor to the joint announcements by President Castro of Cuba and President Obama of the United States of America that the two countries will work towards the full restoration of diplomatic ties.
Cuba has furthermore participated in the reconstruction of South Africa after the demise of Apartheid by training, inter alia, scores of South African youth in medicine in Cuba. Cuba’s ongoing support for the South African Government’s main priorities through the implementation of joint programmes in health, social development, defence, housing and infrastructure is significant.
In addition, the deployment of Cuban doctors, engineers and technical experts throughout South Africa is a further demonstration of Cuba’s commitment to work with South Africa to address the infrastructural back-logs inherited from the pre-1994 period. There are currently almost 3000 South African medical students studying in Cuba. A further 45 will be starting their studies in medicine in Cuba in September 2015.
To celebrate their release and to thank them for their sacrifices made during the war in Angola, the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation will host a Public Participation Programme in Cape Town on 22 June 2015 led by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Hon. Mr L Landers. An engagement with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation is also scheduled to be held at Parliament on 23 June 2015.
Statement issued by Clayson Monyela, Department of International Relations and Cooperation, June 21 2015
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