Algerian Tourism Minister receives Cuban ambassador, prospects for strengthening bilateral cooperation on table

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ALGIERS- The Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts, Yacine Hamadi received, on Tuesday, the Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba in Algeria, Armando Vergara, with whom he reviewed the prospects for further strengthening Algerian-Cuban relations through the promotion of bilateral cooperation in the field of tourism and handicrafts, said a press release from the ministry.

On this occasion, the two parties welcomed “the historic relations of friendship uniting the two friendly countries”, examining, in this regard, “the ways and means of strengthening them through the establishment of a framework of cooperation between the ‘Algeria and Cuba’.

The Minister also underlined “the need to prepare a draft memorandum of understanding bringing together the main axes capable of giving impetus to relations in the tourist field and drawing up a roadmap with clear outlines, in particular in therapeutic, thermal and ecological tourism”.

“The coordination for the establishment of an effective partnership between the tourist operators of the two countries, and the creation of opportunities for cooperation and the exchange of experiences in the field of craftsmanship have also been on the table.

For his part, the Cuban ambassador expressed his country’s readiness to further strengthen cooperation relations with Algeria, through “the promotion of a long- lasting partnership between the two friendly countries in the fields of ‘Arts and crafts”.

The Cuban Ambassador to Algeria holds, periodically, meetings with Algerian senior officials with the aim to widen the scope of cooperation between the two friendly countries in order to give it a real dimension.

Algeria has had a strong and solid allyship with Cuba since its independence from French colonialism in the early 1960s. Cuba and Algeria formed strong diplomatic links due to their historical and ideological proximity. Indeed, despite their geographical distance, the two countries saw themselves as the models of a successful socialist revolution against imperialist forces. More recently, Algeria invited the Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodriguez to participate in the festivities celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Independence.

Besides, President of the Republic Abdelmadjid Tebboune received, at the headquarters of the Presidency of the Republic in Algiers, the Cuban Minister who conveyed him a message from his Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel. Following the meeting, the head of the Cuban diplomacy tweeted: ” I had the honor of being received by Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. We confirmed disposition to continue strengthening the excellent political relations, based on historical & brotherly ties; and promote economic, commercial, financial and cooperative links.”

How it all started?

When Algeria snatched its independence from France in 1962, Ahmed Ben Bella, a few days after being elected Prime Minister, arrived in New York on October 15 to participate in Algeria’s accession ceremony to the United Nations.

The next day, he boarded a Cubana de Aviación for the Caribbean island and was greeted at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport by the commander-in-chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro.

Soon after Ben Bella’s visit, Fidel gave a speech at the opening of the Playa Giron School of Medicine in Havana, where he proposed the idea of ​​sending a medical brigade to help Algeria, which after independence suffered from a mass departure of French doctors and led to a significant shortage of health personnel in the country.

The medical team consisted of 54 health workers who flew to Algeria. There were 29 doctors, four dentists, 14 nurses, and seven health technicians.

In his speech, Castro said that “Most of the doctors in Algeria were French and many of them left the country. There are millions of Algerians and colonialism left them with many diseases. The population of Algeria is 4 million more than the population of Cuba, but they only have a third of our doctors or even less. For this reason, I informed our Cuban students that we require about 50 doctors to volunteer to go to Algeria.”

Castro’s words had great resonance and received an immediate response from many Cuban doctors who expressed their willingness to go and help the Algerians. As such, the first Cuban medical solidarity journey in Algeria came in the context of the latter having resisted and defeated the French colonial regime, and this pushed Cuba to provide services beyond the island’s borders.

This is how Cuba’s first medical solidarity mission took off to provide healthcare services beyond the borders of the country.

Noting that Cuba celebrated, in 2021, the 58th anniversary of sending its first medical mission to Algeria on 23 May 1963. And this year, both countries are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in October 1962. To this end, Cuban Ambassador to Algeria Armando Vergara underlined, at a meeting organized, few months ago, on this occasion, in the presence of former Cuban diplomats, representatives of embassies accredited to Algiers, the Algerian-Cuban parliamentary friendship group, the depth of the Algerian-Cuban friendship as well as the common history of the struggle of the two sisterly peoples.

“Our two countries are bound by a deep and solid friendship as well as strong historical relations. Our two revolutions were nourished by the noble values ​​of respect for human rights, freedom, peace and the fight against all forms of injustice and exploitation,” added the Cuban Ambassador.

At the same time, he recalled a number of facts and episodes attesting to the quality of relations between the two States and peoples, including the fact that Cuba was the first country on the American continent to recognize, in 1961, the Government of the Algerian Republic (GPRA), considering it to be “a source of pride for Cubans”.

Just as he recalled the 5 State visits made to Algeria by the former Cuban President, Fidel Castro, as well as that of the former Algerian President, Ahmed Ben Bella to Cuba, as well as the long and continuous cooperation in the health sector, with the first Cuban medical mission to Algeria taking place in 1968.

For his part, the former Cuban ambassador to Algeria (1974-1978), Giraldo Mazola, recalled, among other things, the historic visit of Commander Che Guevara to Algeria, an Argentinian of origin who acquired Cuban citizenship, in July 1963, and this, on the occasion of the 1st anniversary of the country’s independence.

The support of the Cuban authorities to Algeria during the aggression of its Moroccan neighbor in 1963 was also mentioned by the Cuban diplomat, Do Dé Urra, who had been part of the Cuban delegation that set up, in January 1963, the first diplomatic representation of this country in Algeria.

The speakers, moreover, did not fail to highlight the “support” repeatedly demonstrated by Algeria for their country in the struggle for its sovereignty and the building of its Republic, noting that our country “has always been on the side of Cuba”.

“Algeria has always been a sisterly country. It helped us a lot in the Latin American Liberation Movement. This is why we keep a great memory of the relationships that we have maintained”, specified, for his part, Mr Dé Urra.

This meeting was an opportunity for the Cuban ambassador to honor, symbolically, some Algerian students who joined, before independence, his country to study there. The latter testified to the “warm welcome” to which they were entitled by their Cuban brothers.

Following the death of former Algerian President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 2021, the Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez decreed national mourning from 06:00 am until 12:00 on the evening of September 21, 2021.

“President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez decreed national mourning from 06:00 am until 12:00 on the evening of September 21, 2021, following the death of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, former Algerian president and dear friend of Cuba, Fidel and our Revolution,” read a tweet from the Cuban Embassy in Algeria.

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