05 Jul 2015 18:20pm
WINDHOEK, 05 JUL (NAMPA) - Namibians will deepen the bonds of friendship with Cuba that was cemented in blood during the battles for the liberation of Namibia, Khomas Regional Governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua said on Saturday.
We shall continue with the international solidarity that provides the umbilical link between progressive peoples of the world, she said during a public rally in honour of the visiting Cuban Five at the UN Plaza in Katutura.
Today our hearts are full of joy and happiness to be united with our Cuban comrades. While we have achieved victory, our task is not finished.
Despite our victory, the unlawful heinous US blockade of Cuba continues. We will intensify our efforts, again as part of an international movement of solidarity, to end this barbaric blockade so that people of Cuba can develop their country to its full potential, as we know they will do, she said.
The Cuban Five were arrested in 1998 and imprisoned in the United States of America (USA) on charges of conspiracy. Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René Gonzálezin are Namibia for four days to express their gratitude for the country's role in raising international solidarity for their plight
The group attended the solidarity rally which was attended by Namibians who studied in Cuba and members of the Cuban community in Namibia.
McLeod-Katjirua indicated that Namibia will work to champion friendship and solidarity between the Namibian and Cuban people from generation to generation.
Today, we are welcoming you and your dear wives to celebrate your freedom and to celebrate the victory of international solidarity. Your sacrifice has demonstrated to the masses of youth that commitment to principle, courage and love for ones people and for humanity can produce a better world, she said.
The governor indicated that their sacrifice has helped usher in a new era of rapprochement between the USA and Cuba, which will undoubtedly benefit both peoples.
Chairperson of the Namibia-Cuba Friendship Association, Andimba Toivo ya Toivo said at last they have come to their Namibian home.
We greet you as our comrades, our brothers and our heroes. And we greet your dear wives as our comrades and sisters, he said.
He narrated when they first learned of the Cuban Fives unjust arrest almost 16 years ago.
We were not deceived. The vast majority of the Namibian people understood immediately that you had committed no crime whatsoever and that you had acted bravely to save innocent lives.
We understood your arrest to be yet another US effort to undermine the government and the people of Cuba, who are the steadfast and inseparable friends of the people of Namibia and of the freedom-loving people of the world, he said.
Therefore, Toivo ya Toivo said the Namibia-Cuba Friendship Association committed itself to join millions of people worldwide to demand their unconditional freedom.
We resolve not to rest until you were free. We did our best to mobilise the Namibian people and their organisations to demand the freedom of the Cuban Five.
We followed every step up and down of your protracted struggle in the US legal system and never failed to protest the cruel and inhuman conditions of your imprisonment. We organised marches through the streets of Windhoek to the US Embassy, circulated petitions addressed to US presidents demanding your release, held media conferences, organised public forums, produced pamphlets, printed Free the Cuban Five T-shirts and raised funds, he explained.
He added that Namibian citizens took repeated initiative to enlist the willing support of their Parliamentarians, not only to pass resolutions, but also to table the demand for the Cuban Fives freedom in international forums.
On a personal note, Ya Toivo told the Cubans that he spent 18 years in prison for the cause of the freedom of the Namibian people and that many other Namibian comrades also spent precious years in prison for the freedom of Namibia.
We survived because we knew that we were fighting for a noble and just cause. When we learned of your trial and incarceration, we were able to understand your situation well.
We were also aware that three of you had served as combatants in Angola, contributing directly to Namibias liberation. As comrades and internationalists, we did not hesitate to dive into the struggle for your freedom, he said.
Cuban soldiers participated in the decisive Battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola on 07 October 1987 which brought on the withdrawal of the South African Defence Force from Angola and ultimately freedom for Namibia.
Namibian leaders used international platforms to call for the release of the Cuban Five after they were arrested in Miami in the US in 1998 on charges of conspiracy to commit espionage.
One of the Cuban Five was released in October 2011 and another in February 2014, while at the end of 2014 the US swapped the remaining three for an American intelligence officer held by Cuba.
The deployment of Cuban doctors engineers and technical experts throughout southern Africa served as a demonstration of Cubas commitment to working with the region to address the infrastructural backlogs inherited from the periods of oppression.
Since Namibias independence in 1990, Namibia and Cuba have held joint meetings every two years for economic, scientific-technical and commercial cooperation.
So far, more than 2 000 Cuban professionals have worked in Namibia.
After the downfall of apartheid many Namibian youth received training in Cuba.
The country continues to support the Namibian Government in priority areas such as health, social development, housing and infrastructure.
The Cuban Five are leaving for Cuba on Monday.