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    On May 11 of 1994, Presidents Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro signed in Pretoria diplomatic relations between South Africa and Cuba, within hours of the inauguration of the first free and democratic government of South Africa and as one of the first foreign policy actions of the newly liberated nation.

The government of Cuba had deliberately awaited the installment of a government that was truly representative of a non racial South Africa before proceeding to formalize at diplomatic level an association that had been built for decades between the peoples of both countries, during the difficult years of the struggle against apartheid. It was not the beginning of a relationship, but the expression of an intergovernmental commitment inspired on the fraternal bonds of solidarity, respect and cooperation that generations had enjoyed.

The Cuban Revolution was an early supporter of the struggle against segregation, abuse and repression in South Africa. The imprisonment of Nelson Mandela and his comrades was well known by Cubans and openly denounced since the early 1960s, when their cause was still poorly noticed in many parts of the world, and when they were labeled as terrorists by several governments. Formal ties with the ANC and the South African Communist Party allowed Cuba a close connection and understanding of the plight of the people of South Africa.

South Africans received academic and military training in Cuba as early as 1962, as well as medical treatment. Children and youngsters of this country enjoyed schooling, professional training and support in Cuba, as did thousands of sons and daughters of Africa in Cuba´s overall solidarity and commitment with this continent.

In the battle fields of Southern Angola, hundreds of thousands of Cubans committed their sacrifice for the liberation of Africa and in support for the struggle against apartheid.

Since 1994, these fraternal bonds have expanded and consolidated, as a relationship of true cooperation and mutual benefit, still inspired in solidarity and in the quest for justice for peoples of both nations and of other parts of the world. In the past 20 years, trade, technical assistance, cultural and sport exchanges, people to people contacts in multiple areas, and joint endeavors in the international arena have developed as part of a healthy and promising bilateral commitment.

It is a relationship nurtured by shared values of peace and respect for international law; and guided by a common commitment with justice and against inequality, exploitation and aggression.

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