Media Release

03 June 2021

South Africa and Cuba commemorates 27 years of diplomatic relations based on solidarity and cooperation

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, and her Cuban counterpart, HE Mr Bruno Rodriquez Parrilla, virtually commemorated the 27 years of formal diplomatic relations between their two countries.

The two Ministers spoke through a video call at about 16h00, this afternoon, 03 June 2021.

Presidents Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro formalised diplomatic relations between South Africa and Cuba on 11 May 1994.

However, the deep and special relationship between the two countries dates back well before 1994. It was cemented on the battlefields of southern Angola, where almost half a million Cubans joined their destiny with that of African combatants to reject the military intervention of apartheid and neo-colonialism on the continent.

Cuba is a strategic partner for South Africa in the Latin American region and in multilateral fora. The relations are characterised by high-level political dialogue as evidenced by annual meetings of the Joint Consultative Mechanism (JCM).

The two countries’ relations continue to display a good model of South-South cooperation and human solidarity in the areas of health training and services, human settlements technical exchange, science and technology, public works technical assistance, cooperation on water resource management and water supply and on professional services in the field of basic education.

South Africa-Cuba Health Cooperation is the flagship bilateral cooperation programme. Currently just under 600 SA medical students are studying in Cuba at various levels. At the request of South Africa, 217 Cuban medical practitioners, part of the Cuban Medical Brigade, were deployed throughout the country in April/May 2020 to assist South Africa in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. South Africa nominated the Cuban Medical Brigade for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

On the multilateral front, South Africa as a matter of principle, and in solidarity with the government and people of Cuba, will always vote in favour of the important annual UN resolution calling for the end of the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba. Both countries also maintain excellent cooperation in the multilateral arena, through mechanisms such as the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77 and the United Nations system.

The special and historic relations of solidarity between South Africa are best summed up in the words of the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, before the National Parliament, on 4 March 2021 when she stated: “South Africa and the Republic of Cuba are bonded by a noble history of freedom struggle. The current relations between South Africa and Cuba are morally pedigreed as well as embedded within the doctrine of South-South Relations”. Minister Pandor affirmed in her budget speech on 20 May 2021 that “we continue to support Cuba and work closely with that solid friend of South Africa”.

Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, 082 884 5974

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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