Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cuba has remained a reliable partner in development – Rupiah

Cuba has remained a reliable partner in development – Rupiah
Written by Chibaula Silwamba
Saturday, December 20, 2008 7:24:07 AM

THE courage that the Cuban revolution has continued to inspire is a lesson from which many countries have to learn, President Rupiah Banda said yesterday.
And President Banda said Cuba has remained a reliable partner in Zambia's development.

Meanwhile, Cuba's new ambassador to Zambia Carmelina Ramirez Rodriguez disclosed that hurricanes that affected Cuba caused damages calculated at US $ 5 billion (about K 24.7 trillion).

Receiving letters of credence from Ambassador Rodriguez at State House in Lusaka, President Banda praised Cuba's revolution.

"Let me use this opportunity to wish you and the people of Cuba on behalf of Zambia our heartfelt congratulations on your 50th Anniversary of the Cuban revolution which falls on 1st January 2009.

The courage that the revolution has continued to inspire in the Cuban people is a lesson from which many of our countries have a lot to learn," President Banda said. "We are impressed with Cuba's ideals of self reliance and sustenance and Zambia is ready to learn from Cuba's experiences."

President Banda said Zambia was examining and considering the possibility of opening a Zambian embassy in Havana, Cuba.

"Your government will be informed as soon as a decision is taken," President Banda said. "We certainly realise that Zambia has much to gain from having representation in Cuba on a residential basis."

He expressed government's gratitude for the long-standing economic, scientific and technical cooperation that had enabled Zambians and Cubans realise their human aspirations.

"Currently we have about 45 Zambia students studying in Cuba," he said. "For us, this is a commendable and worthwhile gesture from the government of Cuba."

He said Zambia and Cuba had always worked closely to safeguard the interests of the third world countries.

"Zambia recognises that we are living in a globalised world in which closer contacts must be seen to be promoted as much as possible," said President Banda.

He also observed that Cuba had suffered several natural calamities which had negatively affected the economy of that country.

"Notwithstanding these negative natural calamities, the people of Cuba have always demonstrated their zeal to overcome the unbearable conditions arising from such calamities," President Banda said. "It is my ardent desire that the government of Cuba will not be deterred by these negative developments in their quest to improve the living standards of the Cuban people."

And Ambassador Rodriguez said the process of Cuba's economic recovery had suffered a slight setback after the passage of two consecutive hurricanes which affected almost all the provinces in the country.

"The losses are calculated to be US $ 5 billion. The battle to make up for the damages caused by these hurricanes has been tough but we Cubans have not been left alone," Ambassador Rodriguez said. "The international support and solidarity have been present."

US $ 5 billion is about K24.7 billion, which is almost twice Zambia's annual national budget.

Ambassador Rodriguez also observed that the bilateral co-operation between Cuba and Zambia had declined to very low levels and there was need to strengthen it.

She pledged to enhance cooperation between the two countries.

Ambassador Rodriquez thanked Zambia for its permanent support for Cuba's fight against unjust policy of economic blockade imposed by the United States government for almost 50 years.

"The Zambian people have also supported us in the fight for the return of five Cuban anti-terrorists who have been unjustly imprisoned in the US..." said Ambassador Rodriguez, who once served as acting ambassador to Zambia.

Ambassador Rodriquez also described late president Levy Mwanawasa as a virtuous and honest man, who was a friend of the people of Cuba.

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