June 21, 2015
The historic trip of the Cuban Five to South Africa has begun. The five Cuban antiterrorist fighters Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González will be on tour in South Africa, Namibia and Angola through July 8.
The tour in South Africa was organized by the African National Congress (ANC) and will include travel to five provinces and a visit to Robben Island where anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. The Five will then travel on to Namibia at the invitation of the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) where they will pay tribute to the nation’s founding father Sam Nujoma.
The tour will end in Angola, and will mark the return of three of the five, Gerardo Hernández, Fernando González and René González, who served in Angola with the Cuban forces. The Cuban intervention was a decisive factor in the Angolan victory in their war for independence against apartheid South Africa. Over 2,000 Cuban soldiers gave their lives for this noble cause. During their visit to Angola the Five are planning to visit the tomb of Cuban internationalist commander, Comandante Raúl Díaz Argüelles, and place a wreath at the monument to Angolan leader Agostinho Neto.
-Resumen Latinoamericano North American Bureau
Johannesburg – Five former Cuban intelligence officers, informally named the Cuban Five, arrived in Johannesburg on Sunday morning, for a visit expressing gratitude for support during their imprisonment in the US.
“South Africa welcomes to its shores the five Cuban national heroes, namely, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and René Gonzalez,” said Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) spokesperson Clayson Monyela in a statement.
The men were greeted by a large crowd of supporters at OR Tambo International Airport.
“The purpose of their visit to South Africa is to thank the people and the government, including the tripartite alliance, who have used every available opportunity to call for their release,” said Monyela.
During their stay until July 3, the five would be thanked for their “sacrifices made during the war in Angola”, he said. The men had all served in Angola during the struggle against apartheid forces.
The five are scheduled to attend various events including a public participation programme hosted by Dirco and a meeting with the parliamentary portfolio committee on international relations.
The Cuban Five were convicted in 2001 on various charges, including conspiracy to commit espionage. One of the Cuban Five was released in 2011, one in February 2014, and the remaining three in December of the same year.
The final release followed an agreement between US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro to improve the relationship between the two countries.
Monyela said that Cuba had also assisted in building South Africa following apartheid, such as training doctors. Currently, 3 000 South African medical students are in training in Cuba. Various Cuban professionals, especially those with technical skills, had also shared their expertise by coming to work in South Africa.
Source: Channel 24 (South Africa)