President Raúl Castro: ‘ Mandela is an unsurpassable example for Latin America and the Caribbean’

President Raúl Castro at the Mandela memorial in Johannesburg, Dec. 10.

President Raúl Castro at the Mandela memorial in Johannesburg, Dec. 10.

Taken from a speech given by Army Gen. Raúl Castro Ruz, president of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the funeral honors for the historic leader of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, in Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013, Year 55 of the Revolution.

The entire talk can be found at granma.cu

We pay tribute to Nelson Mandela, who is recognized as the supreme symbol of dignity and unyielding dedication to the revolutionary struggle for freedom and justice; as a prophet of unity, reconciliation and peace.

Together with his comrades in struggle, he led his people in the battle against apartheid, in order to open the way to a new, nonracial South Africa, united in the search for happiness, equality and the well-being of all its sons and daughters, and to overcome the consequences of colonialism, slavery and racial segregation.

Mandela is an unsurpassable example for Latin America and the Caribbean, which are advancing toward unity and integration to the benefit of their peoples, respectful of their diversity, with the conviction that dialogue and cooperation are the way forward for the solution of differences and civilized cohabitation among those who think differently.

Cuba, which has African blood in its veins, rose up in the struggle for independence and for the abolition of slavery and, subsequently, has had the privilege of battling and building together with African nations.

We shall never forget Mandela’s moving tribute to our common struggle when he visited us on July 26, 1991, and stated, “The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Africa.”

A symbol of the sisterhood between Africans and Cubans, I recall his close friendship with Fidel Castro, who ­affirmed: “Nelson Mandela will not go down in history for the 27 consecutive years he spent incarcerated without ever renouncing his ideas; he will go down in history because he was able to expunge from his soul all the poison that such an unjust punishment could have created; for the generosity and wisdom with which, at the hour of the already uncontainable victory, he was able to so brilliantly lead his self-sacrificing people, knowing that the new South Africa could never be constructed on the foundations of hatred and vengeance.”

Eternal honor and glory to Nelson Mandela and the heroic people of South Africa!