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26 Oct 2015
8:47 am

Ramaphosa concludes Cuba Visit


South Africa Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Monday conclude his official visit to Cuba, where he led a high-level government and business delegation.

FILE PICTURE: President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation meeting comprising of former African Heads of State and Government. (Photo: GCIS)

The visit was aimed at strengthening bilateral, political, economic and trade relations between South Africa and Cuba.

Deputy President Ramaphosa visited Cuba at the invitation of his counterpart First Vice President Miguel Diaz Canel Bermudez.

Ramaphosa was accompanied by deputy ministers, Luwellyn Landers, Mzwandile Masina, Buti Manamela, Pam Tshwete, Enver Surty and advisors Steyn Speed, Dr. Nono Simelela and Adv. Nokukhanya Jele and senior government officials.

During the visit Ramaphosa paid a courtesy call on President Raul Castro and held bilateral discussions with Vice President Canel.

The deputy president reiterated the gratitude of the South African people for the moral, political and material support that Cuba provided to the liberation movement during the struggle against apartheid.

He said South Africa has always supporedt the establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States of America – initiated under the leadership of President Raul Castro and President Barrack Obama.

Ramaphosa called for an end to the blockade against Cuba and the removal of all punitive measures that have been directed against the Cuban people.

“We are keen to hear about the process that Cuba has initiated to meet the challenges of the 21st century, particularly since the 2008 global financial crisis and the decline of commodity prices, which have brought economic hardship to many developing countries,” said Deputy President Ramaphosa.

“We are keen to hear about the steps that Cuba has taken in the revitalisation of the state and economy. We are particularly keen to strengthen our economic relations with Cuba. We hope the visit will contribute to increased trade and investment between South Africa and Cuba.

“Not only has Cuba contributed to our freedom by supporting our struggle and fighting side by side with us, but you continue to improve the lives of our people by training doctors and providing scholarships for over 80 students annually to study medicine in Cuba.

“Apart from doctors, Cuba has provided 45 engineers deployed in four provinces in collaboration with the Department of Human Settlements. Our department of Water and Sanitation also has 35 Cuban engineers deployed across the country,” said Ramaphosa.

He also used the opportunity to visit to pay his respects at the Jose Marti Monument at the Plaza de la Revolucion and the Oliver Tambo Bust at the Park for African heroes.

Ramaphosa had an occasion to interact with the management of the Latin American School of Medicine where a number of South African students are being trained to become doctors.

During the visit Deputy President also held a meeting with leaders and the broader South African student body studying medicine in Cuba.

He also visited the Cuban Combined Cycle Gas Plant to study how Cubans cope with energy challenges as well as the Cuban Molecular Immunology Centre including the local Policlinic and the Military Historical Park Morro in Havana.
Ramaphosa will visit to Mexico from 26-28 October 2015, his office said.