Cuban Five member Antonio Guerrero on Tuesday said it was a picture of late president Nelson Mandela that motivated them not to give up during their imprisonment in the United States.
“From the beginning we had one example of a true hero and his name was Nelson Mandela.
“Nelson Mandela was not just a hero to the South African people, he was our hero. We actually cut out a picture of Nelson Mandela that we used to look at and say, we will resist,” he said.
Guerrero was speaking at a meet-and-greet session hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal ANC at the Dube Trade Port near King Shaka International Airport.
The men were earlier greeted by a large flag-waving crowd of supporters and a delegation including members from the Provincial Executive Committee and the National Executive Committee.
The Cuban Five were convicted in 2001 on various charges, including conspiracy to commit espionage. One of the Cuban Five was released in 2011, one in February 2014, and the remaining three in December of the same year.
“It has been nine intense days in South Africa. We have visited many historical places and have met many people, including your president [Jacob Zuma], comrade Ahmed Kathrada on Robben Island and Winnie Mandela in the house of Nelson Mandela.
“It has been very emotional and we had a great opportunity to further cement the love of South African people for Cuba,” said Guerrero.
He thanked South Africa for showing support for his country.
“We also want to thank you for your support in this long battle, our victory is also your victory and that is why we are here,” said Guerrero.
Chairperson of the ANC in KZN, Senzo Mchunu, said: “Hosting the Cuban Five was very special for the ANC and its alliance partners in the province.”
The final release followed an agreement between US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro to improve the relationship between the two countries.
The men spent the day touring KwaZulu-Natal and are expected to end their tour with a seminar at the Durban City Hall. News24