24 January 2005

Zambia: Cuba Honours Elijah Mudenda

Lusaka — Cuba-Zambia Friendship Association patron Elijah Mudenda has been conferred the medal of friendship by Cuba through the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples.

And Cuban Ambassador to Zambia Francisco Javier Viamontes Correa has charged that the United States was trying its best to destroy the process taking place in Venezuela.

Commenting on the economic and political situation in Venezuela, Ambassador Correa said President Hugo Chavez was trying his best to change the system and make sure the poor benefit from the country's wealth but the process was being frustrated by the few that owned the means of production, most of whom were American companies.

He said Venezuela was the fourth largest supplier of petrol to the US and its petrol was of high quality.

Ambassador Correa said Venezuela was a rich country in terms of mineral resources but its population was very poor.

"You have an elite, the owners of means of production and these are American companies but for their own benefit and not the benefit of the owners of the resources," he said.

Ambassador Correa said President Chavez was very charismatic, very popular and supported by majority of the people who were not enjoying the wealth.

"President Chavez is trying to develop a new system in order to bring development but it is very difficult because he is trying to do it in a very high bourgeois system," he said.

Ambassador Correa said Cuba knew how difficult it was to carry out changes without affecting the majority of the people.

He said Cuba was very near Venezuela and had been through the struggle.

Ambassador Correa asked Zambians to support Venezuela just as they have supported Cuba since Venezuela does not have enough embassies in Africa.

"There is another process taking place which is very important for the advancement of Latin America. America is trying to do their best to destroy that process," he said.

Ambassador Correa said through the Organisation of American States, the US wanted to punish Venezuela through sanctions.

He said Cuba had 20,000 civilians helping with health, schools and research in Venezuela.

"We are where there is no electricity, where there is no water, no schools, but we're helping out. We have to show that it's possible to bring services to people that are isolated," he said.

Ambassador Correa said Cuba does not have minerals to export.

"What we have are human beings, that is what we supply," he said.

Ambassador Correa said Cuba would continue to develop its co-operation with Zambia through health and education.

On the medal, Ambassador Correa said Mudenda who participated in the struggle for Zambia's independence had continued to render his service as patron of the Cuba-Zambia Friendship Association.

He said the institute which conferred the medal was set up in 1959 mainly to develop co-operation withAfrica, Latin America and Asia.

Ambassador Correa said Mudenda deserved more than the medal but Cuba wanted to appreciate his permanent interest, dedication and participation.

And Mudenda, who was accompanied by his wife, said the medal was a kind offer. He paid tribute to Cuban President Fidel Castro for his contribution to Africa.

"He is a remarkable person. He means a lot to Zambia," he said.

Mudenda said Cuban doctors were helping Zambia in many areas and Zambians are grateful.

According to the letter, Mudenda was conferred with the medal for his recognised prestige and as a patriot and a staunch fighter for the independence and wellbeing of people.

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