March 17, 2011
Accra, March 17, GNA - The Cuban government has honoured Vice-President John Mahama with its Friendship Medal, in recognition of his firm stance against the economic blockade of Cuba and support for the release of the five Cubans in detention in the United States.
The colourful ceremony, which was witnessed by members of the African Diplomatic Corps in Cuba, was held at the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the People in the Vedado Municipality of Havana.
Mr John Jinapor, Spokesperson of the Vice President said the ceremony was attended by some of the spouses and relatives of the Cuban five, Ghana's Ambassador to Cuba, David Sarpong Boateng, Mr Yieleh Chireh, Minister of Health, Mr Joseph Alhaji Huudu Yahaya, a Vice-Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Asiedu Nketiah, General-Secretary of the NDC and some government officials.
A citation accompanying the award, signed by Raul Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State, acknowledged the advocacy role of Vice-President Mahama in several fora and symposiums on justice for Cuba.
Mr Mahama was decorated by Mr Marcus Rodriguez, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister of Cuba, with the citation: “To all Cubans, Ghana is a symbol of Pan-Africanism, anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism and neo-colonialism. Through slaves sent to the Caribbean Islands, Ghanaians not only passed on their blood and culture but also their solidarity.”
“We bestow on you the Medal of Friendship to demonstrate the high esteem we hold you and the respect we have for you for your friendship, appreciation and sincere solidarity to Cuba,” the citation said.
The ceremony was preceded by the playing of the national anthems of both Ghana and Cuba.
Mr Jinapor said the Vice President dedicated the medal to the government and people of Ghana saying “This medal is a further demonstration of the fraternal relations between our countries; I will wear it with pride.”
“When we show solidarity with Cuba, it is because we all treasure justice, it is our responsibility to ensure that as human beings, justice has been done,” he stressed.
He recalled that Africa and Cuba stood by each other in different struggles, noting that young men from Cuba fought alongside their comrades in Angola, Namibia and Guinea-Bissau, in their quest for self-determination, and also provided medical support through its medical brigade.
“Cuba is a friend indeed and must show solidarity with its aspirations,”
Vice-President Mahama explained why Ghana stood by its quest to have the 50-year economic blockade removed and the unconditional release of the Cuban five “who were only fighting international terrorism.”
The Vice-President, according to Mr Jinapor earlier met with the spouses of the detained five-Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez, Fernando Gonzalez Llort, Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo, Ramon Labanino Salazar, and Rene Gonzalez Sehwerert- whose continuous imprisonment had been questioned by Amnesty International.
"After he had been briefed by the wives of the five on efforts being made to secure the release of their husbands, Vice-President Mahama commiserated with them, saying, “Nobody can feel the pain more than you the families.”
Vice President Mahama said so long as the five detainees were aware they were not forgotten, it gave them hope that they would one day come home. “We will continue to support you by speaking up against their detention,” Mr Mahama gave the assurance.