Remarks by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, on the arrival of Cuban Medical Brigade at Waterkloof Air Force Base, 26 April 2020

Programme Director,
Your Excellency Ambassador Rodolfo Benítez Verson,
Honourable Ministers of Defence and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Deputy Minister of Health,
Estimados Camaradas, nuestros hermanos y hermanas Cubanos, (Comrades, our Cuban brothers and sisters),

I wish to convey our deep gratitude and sincere appreciation for Cuba's solidarity and prompt response to our request to send a multi-disciplinary team of experts and health professionals to work alongside the South African health professionals in our response to COVID-19.

Cuba is once again proving the character of its nation through its acts of international human solidarity, during the global COVID-19 pandemic, having deployed Cuban medical brigades in 21 countries already.

We acknowledge and thank each one of the Cuban health professionals who are part of this team for your personal commitments and sacrifice in order to assist South Africa’s efforts to curb the spread of the Corona virus in our country.

Reflecting on South Africa /Cuba relations, it is evident that Cuba’s support for our struggle did not end with the advent of our democracy. South Africa and Cuba have translated our bond of historical friendship into formal bilateral relations with co-operation covering amongst others Health, Defence, Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation and Basic Education. Our relations therefore serve as a successful and exemplary model of South-South cooperation.

The Government of South Africa remains committed to deepening our strategic and historic relations and facing the common challenges imposed on us by global geopolitical and socio-economic challenges. Furthermore, we remain resolute in our joint endeavors to enhance our bilateral and multilateral relations to advance the development agenda of the South.

In conclusion, I wish to thank the Departments of Defence, Health, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and South African Airways for all the hard work in bringing our Cuban comrades to South Africa. We also owe a debt of gratitude to the Embassy of Cuba for the excellent cooperation that our Departments enjoy when working with them.

Muchas Gracias

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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