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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Cuban leaders express solidarity with Palestine at meeting with students in Havana

Translated and edited from an account by Alina Perera Robbio via the Communist Party of Cuba:

Friday afternoon (November 17), at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana, was heartbreaking: there was a meeting between the country's top leadership and 144 young Palestinians who are studying medicine in Cuba. The students shared unforgettable testimonies, and the President of the Republic of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, expressed his full support for the Palestinian cause and issued a strong condemnation of the genocide being committed by Israel.

Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, gave heartfelt thanks to the group of Palestinian students who live on the island and who on Friday afternoon spoke of the pain that overwhelms them.

Accompanied by the Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz; the Secretary of Organization of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, Roberto Morales Ojeda; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla – all three of whom are members of the Politburo - as well as other leaders of the Revolution; he congratulated his special guests on International Students' Day.

Present were 144 Palestinians who are studying medicine in Cuba; of these, 53 are from the Gaza Strip. From the group of young people, shocking testimonies began to emerge.

One student warned that in the world's media there is talk of conflict, war, confrontations, but what is happening, he said, is something that goes beyond fighting against 2.2 million Palestinians. What we are dealing with is a struggle against humanity itself.

The only possible way for the Palestinian people to enjoy their freedom, at this time, is for the protests in the world to multiply by millions against the barbarism that is taking place before everyone's eyes, said the young man, who also shared his certainty that the Palestinians were not born to be defeated and that the flame of struggle will never be extinguished.

All the speeches were moving. The young men's hands trembled with the sheets of paper with their notes; some spoke from anguish; One paused for a long time, in pained silence, and apologized. The room seemed to be trapped, for a moment, in terrible sadness.

A girl named Maria raised her cracked voice. At 22 years old, he has already witnessed four wars in her country. She, like her other colleagues, gave thanks for the act of solidarity at the Palace of the Revolution – an act that joins many others that have taken place throughout the Caribbean country. She wanted to express herself from her "sorrowful heart." "In Gaza" she said, "mothers carry their children twice: once in their wombs, and then in their shrouds."

Maria said that her mother has asked her to continue with her studies, not to give up, that medicine is the noblest job in the world. "Raise your name and the name of Palestine," the mother told the young woman.

From the river to the sea, she said, Palestine will be free. And those who have the soul of doctors continued to make use of the right to speak: Mohammed Ahmed Zannoun, who has been in Cuba for nine months, said that he and his friends cannot let the day go by without talking to their families. And he uttered an enlightening and noble phrase: "What do the Palestinians want out of life: we need to live in a free homeland, without war, nothing else."

Voices followed one another to highlight that while other governments turn a blind eye, Cuba, faithful to its principles, gives its full support to the Palestinian cause. And an enormous truth also surfaced: A territory cannot be razed or a people exterminated to the last inhabitant, because there will always be a fighter standing.

At the end of each speech, a "Homeland or death" and "until victory always" were heard. At some point, a metaphor flooded the compound: the deepest dream of a Palestinian is to sleep intheir homeland and cover themself with the stars of their own sky. A beautiful image marked the exchange: the students placed on the shoulders of the leaders of the Cuban Revolution the beautiful textile garment that symbolizes the Palestinian people; that same piece, in black and white, that Fidel also showed on his uniform once.

Heartbreaking figures were shared at the meeting by the Palestinian ambassador in Cuba, Akram Samhan: in Gaza as of Thursday afternoon, there are already 11,470 deaths; Of these, 4,710 are children. And 29,000 people have been injured. All hospitals in the northern Gaza Strip are not functioning; more than 200 health workers have died; 1.6 million people have been displaced; and more than 53 percent of homes have been partially or totally destroyed.

"Cuba is with us because it has a lot of strength," said the diplomat, who recognized the prestige of the Caribbean country in all international forums.

Towards the end of a day full of emotion, President Díaz-Canel spoke about the pain that overwhelms him; and stressed his full confidence that the Palestinian people, sooner rather than later, will be free.

He spoke of the motivations of the meeting: to extend a hug of solidarity, a hug of siblings. You, he told the students, are our children's siblings. Palestine, he said, will always be able to count on Cuba.

Díaz-Canel evoked the Palestinian students who shared a university classroom with him. He wondered how they were, what they were doing in these hours; and he recalled Che Guevara and his conviction that imperialism must be fought because it is that hegemonic force that is complicit in all the barbarism of these days.

"Nothing can justify this barbarity and that is why it must be constantly condemned," he emphasized, underlining the terrible fact that two-thirds of the victims are women and children, because those committing this holocaust, he said, are being cruel in the present to Palestine, and want to erase the future of Palestine.

The president told the young people: "We are going to take care of you, and we are going to do everything possible so that you graduate as doctors, as specialists, because you are the future of Palestine, and we will do everything possible to accompany you in the successful transition of your careers."

"For us," he said at another point, "it was important to have this meeting with Palestinian students today. We Cubans learned to defend the Palestinian cause from the internationalist and humanist vision of the historic leader of our Revolution, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, who was always a friend of Palestine."

And he declared: "Before you today, dear Palestinian students, we want to reiterate Cuba's principled position in favour of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the creation of two States, which will enable the Palestinian people to exercise the right to self-determination and to have an independent and sovereign State based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and to guarantee the right of return for refugees. That is why we are going to fight together with you in a reliable, firm, and energetic way."

Díaz-Canel emphasized: "We will not be among the indifferent. We condemn in the strongest terms Israel's genocide. You study in Cuba representing Palestine, and we will be with you so that you can fulfill those dreams and in the futureso you can support your country more. As Fidel said, it is time to put an end to the philosophy of dispossession, so that the philosophy of war dies for lack of incentives."


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