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Fidel Castro Bestowed Guatemala's Top Distinction

CUBA, February 17, 2009. The Quetzal Order, in its Great Collar degree, was granted to Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro Ruz by Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom Caballeros.

During a solemn ceremony at Havana's Revolution Palace, the distinction was handed over to Cuban President Raul Castro. In backing his decision, President Colom said he granted the distinction in a gesture of gratefulness for the over 17 million medical consultations

and more than 40, 000 eye surgeries practiced in the context of the Miracle Operation free-eye surgery program, undertaken by Cuban doctors in the benefit of the Guatemalan people.

“I took the decision to grant Fidel the top Guatemalan distinction, and we do it with affection, esteem and acknowledgement, but also based on the thankfulness of all men and women, who are now enjoying the fruit of the Revolution, which has implied a high cost to the Cuban people,” said President Colom.

The distinguished visitor also recalled that Cuban doctors in Guatemala are working in the most remote mountainous areas and settlements; he thanked Cuba for the preparation of Guatemalan youths in the island´s education centers.

On behalf of the historic leader of the Revolution, Raul Castro, stressed that both countries are united by historic and brotherhood bonds. He recalled that illustrious citizen of the eastern Cuban town of Bayamo Jose Joaquin Palma wrote the lyrics of Guatemala´s National Anthem and that the central American nation, know as the Quetzal´s Land, welcomed Jose Marti during his independence pilgrimage throughout Latin America. He also explained that both nations closed ranks against Spanish colonial rule.

The Cuban President also said that after the devastating passage of hurricanes on Central America, thousands of Cuban doctors arrived in the most remote sites of Guatemala to first cure the wounded of the huge tragedy and secondly to contribute to guarantee all citizens access to health care services, particularly for the humble people.

“We feel that once again our two nations are united in a hug of mutual gratefulness and confidence and I also reiterate our will to jointly work with Guatemala to build a common Latin American and Caribbean homeland, in which all its children have a right to enjoy peace, justice and development,” Raul Castro concluded.

Present at the ceremony were the members of the Guatemalan delegation, as well as Cuban government officials and leaders. (Cubaminrex - ACN)


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