Cuba honours memory of Yasser Arafat

HAVANA (12 November 2004) RHC -- Cuba honoured the memory of the President of the Palestine National Authority, Yasser Arafat, with a ceremony on the Plaza de la Revolución the day after his death, attended by the Cuban Vice President Raúl Castro, the President of the Cuban Parliament Ricardo Alarcón, the Palestinian Ambassador to Cuba, Imad Jada'a, Cuban ministers and members of the Central Committee and many of the diplomatic corps in Cuba. Cuban President Fidel Castro was unable to attend due to his recent accident.

Ambassador Jada'a expressed his personal grief at the loss of his leader and thanked Cubans for their nobility and solidarity with the struggle of the people of Palestine:

"Today, as the fact of his departure sinks in, we relive unforgettable moments that we must keep with us all our lives, as we have a duty to pass on to new generations the high morals, the talent, the gift of leadership, dignity, courage and determination that characterized my leader Yasser Arafat."

Jada'a said that Yasser Arafat was a father to his people and that their struggle would continue:

"The enemy cannot sing victory because the father of the Palestinians breathes no more. His heart will continue to beat in all of those who struggle for the independence and sovereignty our beloved land. The cause for which he lived and died will continue to live forever."

The Palestinian ambassador to Cuba added that Arafat had been a great friend of Cuba, and recalled his last visit with the Palestinian leader a few weeks ago when Cuba was being hit with hurricanes - the worst of which, Ivan, was threatening the island with devastation:

"He had on his work desk a map of Cuba and was following the trajectory of Hurricane Ivan that was moving parallel to the southern coast of Cuba. Among so many important documents, this little map touched me as a symbol of his concern for his friends, of his constant concern for this Caribbean island, besieged like Palestine, blockaded like Palestine."

Our pain, said Imad Jada will however transform itself into a new level of struggle for the rights and self-determination of our people. Dream, Hope and Freedom go with Arafat's name.

Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcón then spoke to the gathering expressing his own personal sadness at the passing of a man who unceasingly sought a better world. Arafat's was a cause of freedom and justice, said Alarcón, and he represented and continues to represent the highest symbol of the struggle of his people:

"The whole world awaited the news. He was known to be gravely ill in Ramallah, besieged and harassed by an aggressor that has never for a single moment relented in its attacks. Yet he confronted this with the same valor and gallantry with which he faced death. In every place that seeks a better world flags will be lowered to Yasser Arafat, the great fighter who dedicated his life to freedom and justice. His suffering and death have caused consternation, pain and sadness to his people and hundreds of millions of people (elsewhere) and has served to demonstrate the naked cruelty and pettiness of the oppressors of his people - oppressors propped-up by Washington. Together with the image and memory of José Martí, we gather together to render homage to the untiring, heroic and selfless combatant that came to be the highest voice and the most indestructible symbol of the cause of the Palestinian people."

Although Yasser Arafat's departure is an irreparable loss to Palestinians and to the cause of peace, ended the Cuban Parliament president, Cuba once more proclaims its unconditional solidarity with the people of Palestine and against the genocide practiced against them.

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