Creating new perspectives since 2009

Cuba: president’s support for Gaza reflects strong ties with Palestine since 1948

December 6, 2023 at 11:52 am

President of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez on September 19, 2023 in New York City [Adam Gray/Getty Images]

Israel’s good relations with Latin America date back to before the creation of the Zionist state in 1948. Today, Israel has full diplomatic relations with almost every country in Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. These relations are reflected in political, economic and cultural cooperation, as well as in bilateral agreements in many fields.

Cuba was one of just two Latin American nations without ties to Israel, Venezuela being the other after it ended its relationship in 2009. When the UN General Assembly voted to partition Palestine in 1947, Cuba voted against the resolution, “Because it could not be a party to the coercion of the majority in Palestine.”

Since 1992, Israel has systematically voted alongside the US against all UN General Assembly resolutions condemning the American embargo on Cuba. In the latest vote on 2 November, an overwhelming majority of 187 countries voted to lift the embargo and two voted against: the US and Israel.

My first words are to express my support and solidarity with Palestine and its heroic people who resist

“History will not forgive those who are indifferent,” warned Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez warned during his speech at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) the UAE. “My first words are to express my support and solidarity with Palestine and its heroic people who resist. We call for an end to the violence and genocide in Gaza. Enough impunity for Israel, the occupying power.”

The First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and President of the Republic of Cuba took the opportunity to remind COP28 participants about the genocide underway against the Palestinian population in Gaza, and condemn the escalation of violence and terror unleashed against the people of occupied Palestine by apartheid Israel.

While members of the UN Security Council demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during a previous session, Diaz-Canel affirmed his country’s support and solidarity with the Palestinian people and their just cause and rejected the arbitrary and unilateral measures imposed on them.

READ: There are no UN designated safe zones in Gaza

Representatives from Bolivia, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Cuba and the Maldives have condemned the Israeli aggression against the Palestinians in Gaza. South Africa has referred Israel to the International Criminal Court for investigation into war crimes committed over the past 60 days in Gaza, where the number of Palestinians killed has passed the 16,000 mark, including 7,113 children and 4,885 women as of 5 December. More than 8,000 are missing, presumably under the rubble of their homes, 4,700 of them women and children.

The Cuban president led thousands of protesters in a pro-Palestine march on 23 November, the first of its kind in more than a decade. Tens of thousands of Cubans marched in front of the US Embassy in Havana to condemn Israel’s genocide of the Palestinians in Gaza. Wearing the traditional keffiyeh, Diaz-Canel was accompanied by his wife Lis Cuesta and the country’s main leaders, including Prime Minister Manuel Marrero and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

At the Revolutionary Palace in Havana last month, Diaz-Canel hosted 144 Palestinian students studying medicine in Cuba, including 53 from the Gaza Strip who were in Cuba as part of a cooperation programme. As many as 224 Palestinians study medicine in Cuba, 78 of them from the Gaza Strip. Since 2005, some 104 Palestinian doctors have graduated from the Caribbean country.

“It is a great honour and source of pride to be able to embrace them all… Our country stands and will continue to stand by the cause of the brotherly Palestinian people,” Diaz-Canel told the gathering. “Our country has portrayed the best model of international solidarity in the world as it practises true solidarity and defence of humanity, not only in words but in deeds.”

He stressed that Palestinian youth in Cuba “have not lost their roots. On the contrary, through the feelings and life stories they shared with us, they also express their firm conviction to defend their homeland.”

During the meeting, the Palestinian students presented the Palestinian keffiyeh to the Cuban president and members of his government, as an expression of their gratitude for Cuba’s position. They also stressed the need to exert more pressure on the international community to stop the Israeli occupation and its ongoing aggression against the Gaza Strip.

In turn, Diaz-Canel accompanied the Palestinian students to the Jose Marti Memorial Square where the Palestinian flag was raised and a band performed revolutionary songs in support of Palestine.

READ: Turkiye rejects ‘buffer zone’ plan for Gaza

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.