Wednesday, June 12, 2013

KK urges Cubans to stand by their new leaders
By Larry Moonze and Kondwani Munyeka in Cuba
Thu 06 June 2013, 14:01 CAT

DR Kenneth Kaunda has urged Cubans to stand by their new leaders as they did with revolutionary Fidel Castro.

Upon receiving the Order of Solidarity medal conferred on him by the Council of State of Cuba through the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) at Havana's Jose Marti Memorial on Tuesday, Dr Kaunda said Cuba should continue the path carved by Fidel.

He said under the leadership of Fidel, Cuba assisted Africa to end colonialism and in the struggle against poverty and its offshoots of hunger, corruption, ignorance, violence and exploitation of man by man.

"We cannot forget to mention that great son of Cuba, a great son of Africa as well, Fidel Castro. He guided Cuba well towards assisting Africa in a big way. And we thank you the Cuban people for supporting him," Dr Kaunda said.

"For us through One Zambia, One Nation we were bringing Zambians together. Now I say One Cuba, One Nation… Continue to stand together as Comrade Fidel Castro started it, taught us. He has given us a good example of working together, in full solidarity for the good of humanity. Stand by your new leaders, support them and fight on. Cuba has done wonderful things. I can only pray to God to continue guiding you."

Dr Kaunda punctuated his brief off-the-cuff speech with songs, much to the delight of the audience that included African diplomats accredited to Havana, FRELIMO founder and freedom fighter Marcelino Dos Santos, several Communist Party of Cuba members among them politburo member and Speaker Esteban Lazo, Central Committee's head of International Relations Jose Ramon Balaguer and another politburo member Jorge Risquet.

Immediately Lazo presented him the medal, Dr Kaunda invited his delegation led by Zambia's envoy to Cuba Bobby Samakai to sing his famous "We Shall Fight And Conquer AIDS". Midway into the song, diplomats and Cuban leaders could not resist but sing along.
"Comrades, Speaker and all Comrades, I prefer the so many things Cuba has done for Zambia and Africa at large. The latest it has been doing, has been the fight against HIV/AIDS," he said.

Dr Kaunda said Zambia and Cuba had a longstanding friendship.

He said Cuba sent troops to defend the African liberation cause and today was helping Africa confront HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
Dr Kaunda urged Cuba not to tire in helping Africa train its human resources.

"We must continue fighting poverty and its offshoots of hunger and exploitation," he said.

Dr Kaunda said he felt honoured to have met Marcelino in Havana.
He said the duo fought together in the liberation of Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.

"I am very happy he is here when you are honouring me this way," said Dr Kaunda.

Leading the act, ICAP president Kenia Serrano said her institute was honoured to receive a long-time friend of the Cuban Revolution. Serrano said Dr Kaunda was also a firm supporter of Latin America who expressed his sorrow following the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
She said Dr Kaunda was being honoured with the Order of Solidarity in line with Agreement Number 5062 of the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba.

Serrano said Dr Kaunda was one of Africa's most prestigious leaders.

"This former school teacher won the respect and admiration of his compatriots and the entire Africa because of his immense humanity and being an inexorable fighter for peace, development and unity of the African continent together with other leaders like Julius Nyerere (Tanzania), Oliver Tambo (South Africa) among others," she said.
Serrano said Cuba and Zambia had developed a good and exemplary relationship based on mutual respect.

She said during Dr Kaunda's reign, those links reached a greater period of dynamism leading to the establishment of medical cooperation and granting of scholarships to young Zambians to study in Cuba.

"From Zambia we have received permanent solidarity in our fight against the US blockade and the release of the Cuban Five anti-terror agents incarcerated in the US," said Serrano.

"The imposition of this honourable Order is being carried out at a very special moment when the African continent is celebrating its 50th anniversary of the formation of the African Union. For your own merits as a tireless fighter for the just causes of Africa and the world and your unwavering friendship towards the Cuban Revolution and its historic leader Fidel Castro Ruz, the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba granted you in 1975 the Order Jose Marti and now it awards you again with the Order of Solidarity. Receive, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, this medal on behalf of the Cuban Revolution, its people and its leaders as a demonstration of our eternal friendship and fraternity."

Earlier, Dr Kaunda visited the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine (IPK).

IPK director general Professor Jorge Perez said the institute was ready to cooperate with Zambia.

Prof. Perez recalled that when Dr Kaunda visited in 1985, Cuba had not yet recorded an HIV/AIDS case.

He said even then Fidel had asked the IPK to prepare and ensure that HIV/AIDS was not introduced on Cuban soil.

Prof Perez said Fidel had forewarned that HIV/AIDS would be a disease of the century and that the world was not prepared to combat it.
He said the first HIV/AIDS case was recorded in 1986 and by 2012 the pandemic had claimed 2,733 lives.

Prof Perez said between 1986 and 2012, Cuba had 17,623 HIV positive cases of which 80 per cent were male and 19.2 per cent female.
He said 8,000 people were on antiretroviral drugs. Prof Perez said Cuba produced ARVs.

He said IPK's mandate was among others to protect the Cuban population against infectious diseases and to avoid introduction of exotic ones, contribute to development of biomedical sciences, to be national reference centre for clinical treatment of HIV/AIDS and to collaborate with other countries especially the developing world.

IPK does research on STIs/HIV, respiratory illnesses, transplants and vaccines for various diseases. It has five departments: microbiology, parasitology, medical care, epidemiology, and teaching.

Prof Perez said IPK had between 1979 and 2012 trained some 51,389 personnel 4,380 of them foreigners from 89 countries in various courses such as parasitology, virology, bacterial diseases, fungal diseases and others.

At the end of his presentation, Prof Perez presented Dr Kaunda with a framed photograph of his 1985 visit to IPK along with Fidel.
For his part, Dr Kaunda said IPK was an extremely important centre.

"East-west, north-south, all of the world is grateful to the existence of this centre. For ages, you and your colleagues and indeed your dear comrades have been making wonderful contributions in the extremely important field of medical-human-existence. How can we who have these benefits come to us in many different ways thank you and all at this centre?" Dr Kaunda posed.

"Please continue to serve the whole of the common human race in this wonderful world. May God our creator who gave us Fidel Castro in this world continue to help and guide you in all ways. We are extremely grateful for all you continue to do for the entire human race. Ambassador Samakai coordinate what it is we can do together with IPK."

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