Liberia-Cuba Bilateral Relations: Major Developments in April 2018

Liberia-Cuba Bilateral Relations: Major Developments in April 2018

Compiled by Frontier Staff Writer (Courtesy of CubaMinrex/EmbaCuba Liberia)

Monrovia, April 3, 2018-, With the presence of 18 journalists from 11 media groups (radio and newspapers), the Chargé d’Affaires of Cuba in Liberia, Yordenis Despaigne Vera, held a press conference on the system and process of Elections in the Greater Antilles. As a special guest, Dr. C. Augustine Konneh, former Director General of the Liberian Foreign Service Institute “Gabriel Dennis”, was in attendance. On the Cuban side, Second Secretary Carmen Maury Toledo also participated as moderator.

The Cuban Mission Chief explained the main features that characterize the elective procedures in Cuba, both partial and general. He highlighted the role of citizen participation from the grassroots to the General Assembly of Popular Power, the absence of campaigns that are replaced by the merits and capacities of the nominees and the steps to achieve the presidency in Cuba. Journalists inquired into various aspects such as racial representation, the broad presence of women, the role of the Communist Party of Cuba in the electoral process or the meaning of pioneers guarding the ballot boxes, among other elements. Once satisfied the questions of the attendees, the Embassy offered a cocktail to commemorate an important date: the Cuban Press Day, a favorable moment to continue a debate that allows a new perspective of knowledge about Cuban democracy.

National Chairman of the governing party in Liberia receives the Chargé d’Affaires of Cuba.

During the afternoon of Thursday, April 12, 2018, the Chargé d’Affaires of Cuba, Second Secretary Yordenis Despaigne Vera, was received at the headquarters of the current ruling party of Liberia: Coalition for Democratic Change. He was welcomed by the National Chairman of the political organization, Mr. Mulbah K. Morlu, who was accompanied by Garbla Vincent Williams, Vice Chairman for Administrative Affairs, and Ronald K. Mends-Cole, one of the party’s executives, among other executive officials. On the Cuban side, the Second Secretary Carmen Maury Toledo also participated.

The party leader expressed his admiration for Cuba and the ability to achieve such relevant results in education and health. At the same time, he extended a message of gratitude for the presence of health personnel who participated in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, an epidemic which broke out in March 2014. For his part, Vincent Williams expressed interest for a future exchange with the Communist Party of Cuba. For his part, the Cuban diplomat conveyed a congratulatory message on behalf of the Communist Party of Cuba and the Cuban people to the Coalition for access for its ascendency to power in the last elections of October 2017. He reiterated the willingness of the Cuban government to accompany and support, based on its resources and capabilities, the reconstruction process of Liberia after several years of war and the scourge of the Ebola epidemic in 2014.

The Coalition for Democratic Change, is an alliance formed in January 2017 to participate in the general elections of that year. It is composed of the parties Congress for Democratic Change, the National Patriotic Party and the Popular Democratic Party of Liberia. Under the banner of this strategic alliance, George Weah, who was the leader of the Congress for Democratic Change, was a presidential candidate. Weah became president in the second round of voting with 61.5% of the votes, while the Coalition won 21 of the 73 seats in the House of Representatives.

Chargé d’Affaires of Cuba in Liberia offers an interview to Liberian journalists.

Once again, on April 18, 2018, as part of the actions to highlight the 44th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Cuba and Liberia, the Chargé d’Affaires of the diplomatic mission of Cuba in Liberia, Second Secretary Yordenis Despaigne Vera. He offered an interview to the Daily Observer newspaper. Present on the Liberian side was Mr. Bai Best, Managing Editor; John Stewart, Editor-In-Chief and Joaquin Sendolo, Reporter. The Second Secretary Carmen Maury Toledo also participated representing the Embassy.

Responding to the interviewers’ first question, the Cuban diplomat highlighted the milestones that mark the relations between the Greater Antilles nation and the West African nation, from its uninterrupted establishment on April 19, 1974. This historic precedent served to generate new inquiries about the prospects of relations between both countries, with emphasis on the possibilities of expanding the links of cooperation between Cuba and Liberia to areas such as agriculture, culture or sports. Other topics that enlivened the dialogue were Cuba-United States relations, in particular the implementation of the blockade, its consequences in Cuba and its extraterritorial impact; the development of the tourism sector in the Antillean nation, the results of the electoral process in Cuba, among others. Despaigne Vera emphasized the willingness and commitment of Cuba to support the Liberian government and people, based on their modest efforts, in their process of recovery after the Ebola epidemic, particularly in the health and education sectors, also strengthened other spaces that may be of mutual interest for the benefit of both nations.

Still on the 44th anniversary of Liberia-Cuba bilateral relations, a meeting Chaired by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Bhofal Chambers, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Gbehzhongar Milton Findley, for the Liberian side and the Chargé d’Affaires of Cuba, Second Secretary Yordenis Despaigne Vera, took place on the night of Thursday, 19 April 2018 at the commemorative reception of the 44th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and Liberia. Representing the West African nation were also the Minister of Health, Mrs. Wilhemina Jallah, the Minister of Education, Prof. Ansu D. Sonii, the Minister of Sports, Mr. Zogar Wilson, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Marjon V. Kamara, former Minister for Presidential Affairs, Sylvester Grisby among other personalities of the current and former government, together with representatives of the press and Liberian graduates from Cuba.

The head of mission of the Greater Antilles narrated, in tight synthesis, the milestones of relations between the two countries, since its uninterrupted establishment in 1974. He particularly underlined the arrival of a brigade of Cuban doctors in October 2014, which together with the country’s health personnel, they fought the Ebola outbreak that claimed the lives of more than 4000 Liberian citizens. He referred to the double significance that Cubans have for this date, when they celebrate the 57th anniversary of the Victory of Playa Girón along with to the culmination of the third electoral stage in Cuba, with the election of the membership of the Council of State of Cuba, in particular its President, First Vice President and Vice Presidents. The occasion was particularly propitious to reiterate the permanent willingness of the Cuban government and people to continue accompanying, to the extent that resources permit, the recovery of the health system of Liberia and to explore other potential areas of cooperation for the strengthening of these links.

In his speech for the occasion, Foreign Minister Milton Findley highlighted the long-standing ties between the two countries. He also thanked Cuba for its valuable contribution to the fight for the elimination of the Ebola epidemic and the training of Liberian professionals by granting free scholarships to young people. He welcomed the election of a new generation of leaders in Cuba. In the celebration, a particularly touching moment for those present was the presentation of a video, prepared by the Cuban mission and set with African music, with images that reflect some of the main moments of bilateral relations during the last 4 years (2014- 2018).

President of Liberia George Manneh Weah sends congratulations to the new Cuban president

Finally in the month of April, the President of the Republic of Liberia. H.E. Mr. George M. Weah, on April 26, 2018, sent congratulatory message to his Cuban counterpart, Mr. Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, on his election as the new President of the Councils of States and Ministers of Cuba.

In his letter, received by the Cuban Embassy in Monrovia, the Liberian leader sent “hearty and profound congratulations” on behalf of the government, the people of Liberia and his own. He added that “his preferment is undoubtedly an affirmation of the continued confidence the people of your great country reposed in your visionary and distinguished leadership. It is our fervent hope that your term will be marked by greater achievements at home and abroad. ” The leader of the West African nation assured his Cuban counterpart that “we will continue to forge common fronts for the promotion of International Peace, Security and Development,” while “we look forward to deepening friendship and cooperation that so happily subsisting between our two countries and peoples”. Prior to the farewell he wished his counterpart “wisdom, vision and good health to successfully lead his great people”

The message was received in the Cuban diplomatic mission, shortly after the celebration of the 44th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between Cuba and Liberia, on April 19, coinciding with the 57th anniversary of the Victory of Playa Girón and the election of Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez as Cuban leader.

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