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Castro mourns loss of old friend Arafat declares three-day of official mourning
by sources
Saturday Nov 13th, 2004 11:16 AM
Havana, Nov. 12: Cuban President Fidel Castro, led Latin America's mourning for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, while Palestinian communities across the continent staged their own tributes.

Castro said yesterday that the death of his friend and ally, "as well as a deeply felt loss to the battle being fought by the Arab peoples, ... also comes as a major blow to the progressive movement worldwide.." a media report said.

CUBA highlighted its unconditional support for and solidarity with the Palestinian people, as well as its firm decision to continue fortifying fraternal links at a solemn posthumous tribute to Yasser Arafat, president of the Palestinian National Authority, a beloved friend of the Cuban Revolution and President Fidel Castro.

General of the Army Raúl Castro, second secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and first vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, presided over the emotional ceremony at the foot of the José Martí Memorial in the capital’s Plaza de la Revolución.

The solemn tribute was attended by leaders of the Party, state and government; the Young Communist League and the mass organizations; as well as a representation of various sectors of Cuban society; Imad Jada’a, ambassador of the State of Palestine in Cuba; Cuban-Arab solidarity organizations, Palestinian students on the island; and the accredited diplomatic corps in our country.

In his opening words, Imad Jada’a described Arafat as a beloved brother and trench comrade, who always rejected US and Israeli maneuvers to humiliate the Palestinian people, thus prompting the enemy to liquidate an enemy whom it was unable to bring to his knees.

He exposed how the Zionists, backed up by the United States, managed to confine Arafat to his headquarters, but how the leader did not allow himself to be intimidated and responded: “You want me dead or expelled. I reply: martyr, martyr, martyr.”

The ambassador recalled that he was with the Palestinian leader a few weeks ago and Arafat had a map of Cuba on his desk and was following the path of Hurricane Ivan, concerned at what could happen to the sister island, “attacked like Palestine, blockaded like Palestine.”

After underlining the mutual admiration between Fidel and Arafat, Ambassador Jada’a affirmed that when the history of those who fought for freedom, the combatants against fascism and terrorism is written, the name of Yasser Arafat will be there in indelible letters.

He continues to head the battle for the sovereignty of the Palestinian state.

“Not one man or woman, child or elderly person will yield in the undertaking of making the homeland free,” he stressed.

Closing the ceremony, Ricardo Alarcón, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party and president of the National Assembly of People’s Power, qualified Arafat as a warrior who gave his life to the cause of liberty and justice; how his death has caused consternation, pain and sadness in his people and has served to unmask the cruelty and ignobility of the oppressors of the Palestinian homeland and those supporting them from Washington.

He recalled that Arafat was always a faithful friend of Cuba and especially of our president, and a man who found time to visit us and exchange opinions with the Cuban leadership.

Alarcón noted that the principal international courts have been witness to our country’s solid condemnation of the genocide being exercised by Israel, “which has intensified during the mandate of Ariel Sharon, who has been able to count on the total and systematic support of his inseparable partner, Mr. George W. Bush.”

At the end of his speech, the leader expressed the Cuban conviction that “only the unity of Palestinians will lead them to the final victory and we are, moreover, absolutely certain that the Palestinian people and leadership will make real the dream for which Arafat fought until the final day of his fertile life: the dignity and independence of Palestine.”

Cuban President Fidel Castro Ruz said he was in "deep sorrow" as he heard the news of Arafat's death.

"At the moment of sadness, I am reminded of the lasting memories of meeting Comrade Arafat, a dear friend that I held along three decades," said the Cuban leader in a message sent to Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Rawhi Fattouh.

Castro also pledged Cuba's solidarity with and firm support forthe just cause of the Palestinian people. The Cuban government has declared a three-day official mourning for Arafat.
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VIEW: Yasser Arafat — the man and his people —Uri AvneryDTSaturday Nov 13th, 2004 11:32 AM