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For Nelson Mandela, Cuba Presented Inspired Feelings

By    |   Saturday, 23 Jan 2016 12:36 AM

During the nearly three decades that the late Nelson Mandela was imprisoned by the apartheid government of South Africa, Cuba was a constant source of inspiration. Mandela specifically cited the writings of the Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, the Cuban army’s role in Angola against fighting forces backed by South Africa’s apartheid regime, and Fidel Castro’s support for the fighting wing of the African National Congress as sources of his inspiration, the Latin Times reported.

Mandela, who was involved with the ANC long before Castro’s revolution, visited Cuba about 18 months after he was released from prison in South Africa, where he spent 27 years as a political prisoner, the Havana Times reported. Mandela was Castro’s honored guest in Cuba, which marked the first time the two leaders met.

“Our friend Cuba, who helped us train our people, who gave us resources that helped us so much in our struggle,” said Mandela in his meeting with Castro in 1991.

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Castro awarded Mandela the Order of Jose Marti medal, Cuba's highest honor, while the two shared the stage at a rally that was nationally televised in Cuba, the Los Angeles Times reported. Mandela was clad in a typical Cuban guayabera shirt. The rally was staged to mark the anniversary of a 1953 guerilla assault which was a key event leading to Castro’s rise to power.

“We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of a vicious, imperialist-orchestrated campaign,” Mandela said at the rally, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We, too, want to control our own destiny. The most important lesson that you have for us is that no matter what the odds, no matter what difficulties you have had to struggle under, there can be no surrender. It is a case of freedom or death.”

The relationship between Mandela, Cuba and Castro only grew as Mandela led the fight against apartheid. In 1994, Mandela was elected the first black president of South Africa. Castro was at the inauguration, The Huffington Post noted.

Fidel Castro, who has struggled with health issues since ceding power to his brother Raul, did not attend Mandela’s funeral, the New York Daily News reported. He made a public appearance shortly after and wrote a column that appeared in Cuba’s government-run newspapers and websites, praising his brother who shook hands with President Barack Obama and lauding Mandela. "I have never ceased to admire his honesty, modesty and enormous merit,” Castro wrote of Mandela.

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During the nearly three decades that the late Nelson Mandela wasimprisoned by the apartheid government of South Africa, Cuba was aconstant source of inspiration.
Nelson Mandela, Cuba
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2016-36-23
Saturday, 23 Jan 2016 12:36 AM
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