Tribute to Fidel Castro
20 December 2016
I am honoured to speak on behalf of the people and Government of Angola in this ceremony in memory of the late President Fidel Castro.
On November 25th of this year, at the age of 90, the world lost one of the main figures of the 20th century.
A committed and unmatched defender of the liberation of oppressed peoples, who personifies for those who love freedom and peace—the most sublime and humble qualities that can be found in a leader.
In Angola, Fidel will forever occupy the prominent place of friend and companion who related the most to Angolans in this last half century.
It was Fidel Castro who contributed decisively to the consolidation of the Independence of Angola, threatened from the early days, when he decided to respond to the appeal by the President of Angola to the country.
Angola was confronted with an invasion to the north, and with another, perhaps more serious invasion to the south by the highly-armed military of the apartheid South African racist regime.
Some thousands of Angolans were trained at Cuban schools, universities and academies, going on to significantly improve some of the most sensitive social areas of the country, particularly, education and health.
We are all reminded of the intervention of the “Camilo Cienfuegos” contingent, which filled in the dramatic shortage of teachers for secondary education in the years immediately following the proclamation of Independence.
Many Angolans would have lost their lives for lack of medical assistance if not for the timely dispatch of specialists in the most remote corners of our extensive Angola—from the Maiombe forest to the Namibe desert and throughout the plains in the East.
Relations between the governments of Angola and Cuba have always been based on respect, friendship, fraternity and unquestionable cooperation.
It could not be otherwise because of the ties that unite us and the blood we jointly shed in great battles in history, such as Cuito Cuanavale.
From his distant Havana, Commander Fidel Castro led his troops and defined his strategy.
The political and ideological leanings of each human being can be discussed, appreciated or criticized. And although freedom and democracy allow us to exercise these judgments of value, we cannot hide the facts.
Fidel made accomplishments to Cuba and the world that should not be forgotten, especially because they were attained under an unjust and unilateral blockade instigated by the United States of America.
I will cite just a few:
He eliminated illiteracy in Cuba in one year.
He lowered infant mortality from 42% to 4%.
He provided for the training of more than 130,000 physicians, guaranteeing 1 doctor per 130 people—the highest number of physicians per capita in the world.
He launched the largest medical college in the world, which graduates 1500 foreign physicians a year, having trained 25,000 doctors from 84 nations.
He has sent over 30,000 physicians to work in more than 68 countries around the world, totaling about 600,000 missions.
He ended child malnutrition in Cuba.
He created the necessary conditions to attain 100% of schooling.
He created the necessary conditions not have children sleeping on the streets.
It is not just any human being who reaches 90 years of age with so much protagonism in world history.
Let me conclude with one of the most poignant phrases in his speeches, some of which lasted more than 4 hours, and which, as a rule, were written by him:
“A revolutionary can lose everything: family, freedom, even life, but never morality”.
May Fidel rest in peace.
HASTA SIEMPRE COMANDANTE!
Thank you very much.