H. E Mr. Elias Shoniyin, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia.
Members of the Liberian government and Legislature here present
Doyen and Members of the Diplomatic Corp accredited in Liberia.
Members of the Cuba-Liberia Friendship Association
Members of the Liberian press here present
Dear guest, ladies and gentlemen,
Thanks to all you for join us in this special occasion when the Cuban Embassy in Liberia celebrates the 59th anniversary of the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution.
Last January 1st, the Cuban people and government celebrated a new anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, with the same determination in the defense of our principles and revolutionary convictions. Also we celebrated this historical date proud of the legacy of the heroes of the struggles for the independence of Cuba and faithful to the thought of the historical leader of the Revolution Fidel Castro.
In the year that just ended, Cuba continued its safe step towards the construction of a more just, prosperous and sustainable economic model. Despite the considerable damages caused by an intense drought, the devastating consequences of Hurricane Irma and despite the reinforcement of the economic, financial and commercial blockade by the current US administration, Cuba showed again significant results in all spheres of economic and social life last year. At the same time Cuba continued its solidarity work with other nations.
The Hurricane Irma that hit Cuba last September was the most powerful meteorological event in the history of the Atlantic and affected 12 provinces of the 16 Cuban provinces. The hurricane caused economic losses that exceeded 13 million USD, with damages to educational, cultural, health and tourist facilities, as well as to the roads, electrical and telecommunications networks. It also affected more than 179 thousand homes among other consequences. It was the first occasion that a climatic phenomenon produced the interruption of the national electrical system in the whole country.
However, the Cuban government did not leave any citizen abandoned and we managed to preserve human lives and education and health services, as well as sustain the epidemiological stability, although we had to regret the death of 10 Cuban citizens. Thanks to the resilience and willness of the Cuban people, as well as to the well-timed international help, the nation was able to recover from the greatest affectations in a short period of time.
Last year there was a significant setback in the bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States of America due to the return to hostile policy by the Trump Administration against my country, and the approval of new measures to intensify the unjust and illegal economic blockade imposed on the Cuban people, including new restrictions on the right of US´ citizen to travel freely to Cuba. Nevertheless, my government has reiterated on several occasions its willingness to continue the respectful dialogue and cooperation with the USA in areas of mutual interest, without any preconditioning.
I take this opportunity to thank once again the government of Liberia and to all those nations that supported the Cuban resolution against the US blockade presented at the UN last October, which won the support of 191 votes. This is a clear sign of the almost unanimous rejection of the international community to the blockade imposed by the United States of America against my country. The US´ blockade remains in force ad is the main obstacle for the development of Cuba and a fragrant violation of the human rights of the Cuban people.
Despite the negative factors mentioned above, last year Cuba had the lowest child mortality rate in its history with 4.1 per 1,000 live births, which is one of the lowest rates in the world and the lowest in America. Cuba also reduced maternal mortality to 38 per 100 thousand live births and cancer mortality decreased too.
Likewise, in 2017, Cuban life expectancy at birth continued to grow, reaching 78.45 years of age, where women live an average of 80.45 years and men around 76.50 years.
Compared to 2016 it was reported an increase of 11.9% of foreign visitors to Cuba, reaching the figure of about 4 700 000 tourists in a year.
In 2017 Cuba maintained its solidarity support in more than 60 countries, where today some 50 thousand Cuban health workers work. On the other hand until today almost 29,000 doctors from 90 countries have been trained at the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), including 172 young people from the USA.
ELAM was created and founded by the Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, for the totally free training of foreign doctors and is the only school of its kind in the world. Currently, about 2,000 students from all continents study there, including 80 Americans and 5 Liberians. Cuba has also created 9 faculties of Medicine in Africa, with professors and Cuban study methods.
Since the beginning of Cuban international cooperation in 1962, more than 325 thousand Cuban collaborators have served in 158 countries. In the case of education sector, more than nine million people have learned to read and write in thirty nations thanks to the Cuban literacy program 'Yosípuedo'.
H. Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen
On November 26th, 89,02% of the Cuban voters attended the polls during the first stage of the general elections and 90.52% of the ballots were valid. These results were a new demonstration of the massive support and confidence of the Cuban people in the Revolution and its democracy. It was also a deserving tribute to the historic leader Fidel Castro.
The second and last phase of the general elections will take place on April 19th this year, when Cuban will elect a new Parliament and leadership of the government. We are confident that the second stage of the Cuban elections will experience a similar or greater attendance of the voter than the first stage. Without doubt that will be another demonstration of the true exercise of democracy and transparency of the Cuban electoral process.
In this year 2018, Cubans move through the 60 years of the Revolution and commemorate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the War of Independence.
The Cuban people and government, under the leadership of the Cuban Communist Party will continue the process of improving its economic, political and social model, and the defense of the achievements made in these 59 years of Revolution.
As the Cuban President Raúl Castro said in his speech at the People´s Power General Assembly last December, Cuba "will continue to maintain its principled positions in all aspects of international relations, in favor of the rights of peoples, peace, justice and solidarity with the best causes of humanity". Cuba will also continue its tireless struggle for the definitive and unconditional lifting of the blockade imposed by the United States of America against our people.
H.E. Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs,
The bilateral relations between Cuba and Liberia have been strengthened in recent years, thanks to the will of both governments. The participation of 53 Cuban doctors in the fight against Ebola in Liberia, the official reopening of the Cuban Embassy in Monrovia, the official visit of the Director General of Bilateral Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Cuba to Liberia, the accreditation of the Ambassador of Liberia to Cuba as well as the mutual support for candidacies in international organizations and institutions are among the main achievements in our bilateral relations during the last years.
In addition, in 2017 our Embassy initiated consular services in Liberia, including the issuance of visas. At the same time, the Cuban government maintained the granting of annual scholarships for young Liberians to study medicine for free in Cuba, as part of a cooperation agreement between both nations. For its part, Liberia has maintained its support to resolutions demanding the end of the US blockade against Cuba both in UN and within the AU.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to you, H.E. Deputy Minister and through you to H.E. Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, to H.E. Mrs. Marjon V. Kamara, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia, to the Liberian government and especially to the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the support, contribution and commitment with strengthening bilateral relations between our peoples and governments.
I also take this occasion to reiterate the congratulations of the President of the Council of State and Ministries of Cuba, H.E. Mr. Raúl Castro, to the President elect of the Republic of Liberia, H.E. Amb George Weah. I extend also our congratulation to the Vice President Elect, H.E. Madam Jewel Howard-Taylor and to the Coalition for Democratic Change Party for their recent victory in the general election in Liberia. At the same time, I wish to express my government's willingness to work with the new government of Liberia to make stronger and further diversify bilateral relations between our two nations.
Now, I would like to invite all of you to join me in a toast for a future of peace and prosperity for the peoples of Liberia and Cuba.
Long live to the Cuba-Liberia relations!