President Dr Hage Geingob's message of condolence on the passing of Comrade Fidel Castro.
It was with a profound sense of national loss that Namibia processed the sad news of the tragic loss of the Commander of the Cuban Revolution and the founding President of the Republic of Cuba. At the age of 90, he persevered through countless challenges which appeared insurmountable, hasta la victoria siempre!
He taught us that, one can compromise on anything, except on one's principles. Our own victories and losses in the struggle for our independence against apartheid South Africa, are inextricably linked to the international solidarity of the Cuban people through diplomatic, military, and people to people interface.
In 1975, Apartheid South African forces were less than 20 kilometers from Luanda, Angola in their military attempt to remove the MPLA government that supported the Southern African liberation movements of SWAPO and ANC. It required the bold decision of Comandante -en-Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, upon request of the MPLA Government, to intervene. A battalion of Cuban Special Forces were airlifted and landed in Luanda. It took only a few days for South African forces to flee the scene in a great hurry. The flame of the revolution in Southern Africa was rekindled and a balance of forces was established.
This planted seeds for the intensification of the armed liberation struggle by the military wing of SWAPO known as the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) and the exodus of more Namibians into exile to Angola.
In May 1978, racist South African military forces launched a brutal attack on defenseless Namibian women and children in exile at a SWAPO camp in Cassinga, Angola. Again, it was the gallant Cuban forces who rushed to our rescue. Cuban soldiers lost their lives in this process due to land mines planted by our enemies. It's in the same year, Fidel offered education to more than 3000 Namibian children who survived the Cassinga attack. Many of those children finished their education in Cuba and today occupy influential positions in all sectors of our economy.
The 1989 Battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola was the last straw to break the back of South African military aggression. Cuban, Angolan and Namibian forces (PLAN) stood united and defeated the apartheid South African forces. This battle was as much about ideology as it was about the survival of all the parties involved as South Africa represented retrogressive ideology. This was a watershed moment in the Southern African liberation struggle and for the Namibian fight for independence, as it led to the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 435 which subsequently culminated in Namibia's independence. In short, the unwavering commitment of Fidel to our freedom led to the destruction of apartheid in Namibia. True to his revolutionary heart, Castro had no other interest other than the liberation of the oppressed. He had no interest in the natural resources of a free Namibia as his view was that Cubans did not come to collect gold or diamonds, all they had to do was return the remains of their fallen comrades. After Namibian independence, Comandante-en-Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz ordered that Namibia continue to benefit from Cuban doctors and other professionals for which he declined any monetary compensation from Namibia to Cuba.
May the Cuban people feel consoled by the knowledge that Comandante-en-Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz lived his life in service of the oppressed and for the self-determination of the Americas and Africa. His name will be entered in the annals of history as one of the greatest leaders of our epoch.
My Dear Comrade, let us not forget that while the world lost a revolutionary, the Castro family lost a father, a brother, an uncle and a friend. Therefore, please allow me to pass my sincere condolences for your devastating loss.
The legacy of Fidel will live on. May his revolutionary spirit continue to underwrite and inspire the progressive forces to continue demanding economic justice and shared prosperity in a equitable world order.
Hasta la victoria siempre!