President Hage Geingob has saluted former Cuban leader Fidel Castro on his 90th birthday, saying Castro’s proud historic legacy remains a great source of inspiration to many Namibians.
“Namibians recall with fondness and admiration, the role played by the Cuban combatants who fought side by side with our People’s Liberation Army [against] the apartheid ideology in southern Africa,” Geingob said in a statement online. He said Namibia and Cuba share a longstanding bond of friendship, “a bond of blood, etched in the trenches of our struggle for freedom and independence”.
Cuban-Namibian relations date back to the days of Namibia’s struggle for independence when Cuba supported the Namibian liberation movement and Swapo Party against apartheid South Africa, politically, militarily and diplomatically.
Since Namibia’s independence, the two countries have held several joint meetings for economic, scientific-technical and commercial cooperation. Last year Namibia and Cuba cemented economic relations when the two countries established a joint working group to promote and strengthen trade and commercial cooperation.
With the establishment of the Namibia-Cuba Joint Working Group (JWG), the two countries aim to promote and build cooperation between them. On top of the list is accelerating three projects in the manufacturing sector, which involve establishing a pharmaceutical plant in Namibia, capacity building and a focus on renewable energy.
Geingob said the brave people of Cuba sought nothing in return through their solidarity actions, but were driven by the very principles that had helped them achieve the revolution in their own country. “Your sacrifices in blood lead to the turning-point of our armed struggle and shall be engraved forever in the annals of history,” he said.
He said under Castro’s leadership, the Republic of Cuba provided education to many young Namibians, many of whom are today playing a vital role in the socio-economic development of Namibia.
“Comandante En Jefe, as you celebrate another milestone in your extraordinary life, I take this opportunity to wish you good personal health and wisdom, so that you may continue to inspire our young generations,” he said.
“Happy birthday to the most incredible, most inspirational and most captivating 90 year old I have ever known,” Geingob added.
Castro on Saturday made a rare public appearance for his 90th birthday, alongside his brother and successor, Raul, and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, a live broadcast on local television showed.
The revolutionary Cuban leader, who had not been seen publicly since April, wore a white track jacket and sat next to the two presidents at a gala organised by a children’s theatre company in Havana’s Karl Marx Theatre, the island nation’s largest.
In an article published by official media late on Friday, Castro criticised US President Barack Obama for failing to explicitly apologise during his historic visit to Japan in May for Washington’s decision to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. He condemned as “equally criminal” the bombing of Nagasaki three days later.
“That’s why you have to stress the need to preserve peace and that no power has the right to kill millions of people,” Castro said.
The former leader retired from public life in 2006 due to ill health. He formally transferred the presidency to his brother in 2008.
– Additional reporting by AFP