Speech given by H.E. Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, upon awarding the José Martí Order to Abdelaziz Bouteflika, president of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, on May 6, 2001.
Dear President Bouteflika;
It is a very great honor for the Cuban people and for me to have the opportunity, here in your own country, to acknowledge the merits that have characterized the life and work of such a distinguished son of Algeria as yourself.
Your personal history is closely tied to your country’s national independence process, from the ranks of the National Liberation Army, and later to its domestic affairs, as a member of parliament and Minister of Youth, Sport and Tourism. You also had the privilege of accompanying and serving as minister of foreign affairs alongside our unforgettable friend, President Houari Boumediene, during a difficult and important era for the Algerian people and for the peoples of the Third World.
Those were years of bitter confrontation with colonialism and its remnants, during which Algeria played an outstanding role in the defense and consolidation of the most just causes in the new countries emerging in Africa and other regions of the Third World. You were given the historic opportunity to contribute your tenacious efforts to the achievement of these supreme goals. From your position as Minister of Foreign Relations of Algeria, you were an energetic defender in international forums of respect for peace and the sovereignty and independence of these new nations and the long-suffering peoples of the world.
In this context, Algeria bravely undertook the organization of the 4th Summit Conference of the Movement of Non-Aligned Nations in 1973. It was here, in Algiers, that I ratified Cuba’s internationalist vocation and announced the Cuban revolutionary government’s decision to break diplomatic relations with Israel, as a result of the expansionist, aggressive and genocidal policy that this State had adopted and continues to maintain against the Arab countries, and especially against the heroic Palestinian people.
You have been a tireless promoter and supporter of friendship and cooperation between Cuba and Algeria, particularly during the last 10 years, when the ideas of unipolar hegemonism and neoliberalism were gaining ground in the minds of many as the only apparent alternatives to the failure of the socialist experiment in the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe.
You have distinguished yourself through your devotion and the conviction of your thoughts and actions to ensure that Algeria occupies its proper place on the side of those who suffer in this convulsed world, and to recover and enhance your country’s prestige in Africa and the Third World.
For your valuable contribution to peace, sovereignty and respect for the peoples’ right to freely determine their future, without foreign interference alien to their cultural and social traditions; for your demand for respect of the rules that must guide the international conduct of states, regardless of their power, size, population, creed or culture; for your devotion to the reconstruction of your country and the unity of the Algerian people; for your decisive contribution to the consolidation of friendship and solidarity between Cuba and Algeria, the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba has decided to award you the José Martí Order, the highest decoration conferred by the Cuban State.
Allow me, on behalf of the people of Cuba, to place it upon your chest as an acknowledgement of your role as a Third World statesman and of your friendship and solidarity with the Cuban people.
Please do us the honor of accepting it.
Thank you very much. (APPLAUSE)