CAPE TOWN.—The Five Cuban anti-terrorists arrived in Cape Town, the legislative capital of South Africa and the provincial capital of the Western Cape, on June 22.
As has been the case since stepping on African soil, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González experienced a spontaneous outpouring of love from those gathered to welcome them at the city’s airport.
The secretary of the African National Congress (ANC) in the province, Marius Frawsman, told Prensa Latina that they felt an indescribable joy on receiving the Five.
Frawsman recalled the significance of Cuba to the birth of the new South Africa. A sentiment reiterated in a country where memories of apartheid are fresh, a past to which they do not want to return.
On arriving, the Five immediately traveled to the University of Western Cape, where students and workers awaited them. Those gathered expressed their admiration and affection for the heroes with various chants.
One of the speakers at the university was Father Michael Lapsley, a living example of the strength of human will. Lapsley, a friend of the Five and particularly of Gerardo, celebrated their visit noting that it was something he had always expected.
The Anglican priest, who suffered terrorism firsthand, said he was convinced that one day he and Gerardo would walk together in Cape Town.
In his remarks, Father Lapsley called for an end to the blockade that successive U.S. administrations have imposed on the Caribbean nation for over half a century.
Gerardo repeated “Thank you, thank you, thank you” for the support the Five received during their years in prison and highlighted how important this was to the freedom they were now celebrating.
Meanwhile, from somewhere in the main hall of the University a voice called out, “The Five, Cuba.” And that was perhaps the best summary of this visit.
Earlier in the day in Johannesburg, the Five Cuban anti-terrorists responded to varied questions from the South African press during a live television broadcast.
As part of a working breakfast organized by the African National Congress (ANC), headed by Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe, the Five shared ideas on Cuba’s reality and the history surrounding their case.
There was also great interest in the prospects relating to the current situation between Cuba and the United States.
The New Age published a photo of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González on the front page of its print edition.
Mantashe reiterated that South Africa will continue to support Cuba's struggle against the blockade just as was the case with the Five, whose cause found strong support here.
He also stressed support for the island in its just demand that the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo be removed.
Antonio Guerrero was the first to speak on behalf of the Five, expressing gratitude “to all the South African people for this invitation” and noting the outpouring of love from the people the Five have experienced since touching down in South Africa.
More than a dozen questions from reporters followed, with Gerardo Hernández stressing that Cuba will not budge an inch from its principles.
Images of the warm welcome the Five received the day before were broadcast on the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) breakfast show Morning Live.
The Five will continue their tour of the country until July 3, when they will continue on to Namibia and Angola, the last stops on their African tour.
Over the coming days, the decorated Heroes of the Republic of Cuba will visit the provinces of Western Cape, Limpopo, Gauteng, Free State and KwaZuluNatal.
Media outlets in Angola have already reported the upcoming visit scheduled July 6-8.
The state news agency Angop noted that during their stay, the Five will meet with political authorities and members of Angolan civil society.
Citing the Cuban Ambassador to the country, Gisela García, the agency indicated that the visit by the Cuban heroes follows an invitation from different national organizations including the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the nation’s parliament, solidarity organizations and the Angolan League of Friendship and Solidarity with the Peoples (LAASP), among others. (PL)