“From Angola we take with us a close friendship that unites us with this heroic nation, the gratitude of its people and the remains of the dear brothers killed in the line of duty,” Army General Raúl Castro stated back in 1976, summing up the contribution of the Cuban people in the definitive liberation of the African country.
The proclamation of Angola’s independence on November 11, 1975, by the forces of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, led by Agostinho Neto, opened the way not only to the building of a new Angola, but also to external threats, such as that from South Africa’s apartheid regime, which wished to expand across the continent.
In response to a request from Neto, thousands of Cuban soldiers and civilian collaborators crossed the Atlantic, committed to assisting their Angolan brothers and sisters in a struggle that had plunged the country into a serious crisis.
A ceremony presided by the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Raúl Castro, was held on Wednesday, November 11, in Havana, to mark the 40th anniversary of Angola’s independence and Cuba’s contribution.
We witnessed the birth of a free and independent state, each battle was a lesson that cemented the faith in victory, expressed Army Corps General Álvaro López Miera, a member of the Politburo and first deputy minister of the FAR, during his speech at the event.
He went on to stress the heroic resistance of the Angolan people and the strategic vision of the leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro.
Cuba is filled with joy at seeing Angola celebrating four decades of independence, López Miera, also chief of the Army General Staff, stated, while noting that the cooperation of the island in the African nation continues today, in areas such as health, sports and civil construction.
Thanks to the “Yes, I can” Cuban literacy method, over a million Angolans have learned to read and write; through Operation Miracle more than 34,000 have been operated on; and 7,500 young Angolans have graduated in Cuba, he added.
Angolan Minister of Former Combatants and Homeland Veterans, General Candido Van-Dunem, attended the ceremony on behalf of Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos. During his speech, he expressed the gratitude of the Angolan people to Cuba and noted the strong bilateral ties between the two nations.
The date is a matter of pride but also of reflection on the long and glorious struggle up until today, the Angolan General added, noting that both countries continue to be united by the ideals and the blood shed by their people.
An emotive moment was the posthumous presentation by the Cuban President of the title of Hero of the Republic of Cuba and the Máximo Gómez Order, First Degree, to the daughters of Brigadier General Raúl Díaz-Argüelles and Victor Schueg Colás.
These decorations were also awarded to Major General Carlos Fernández Rondín, minister of the Interior, following a proposal from the State Council.
In turn, the head of the Political Directorate of the Interior Ministry, Major General Romárico Sotomayor, received the title of Hero of the Republic of Cuba and the Order of Playa Girón.