Granma
February 17, 2009

Guatemalan President Admires Cubaís Achievements

MIRIELA FERNANDEZ LOZANO AND AIDA CALVIAC MORA

"We must thank Cuba for its solidarity and dignity, with which it has known how to defend its revolution," said Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom after laying a floral wreath at the Emigrants and Revolutionary Armed Forces Pantheons at the Colon Cemetery in Havana.

COLOM ADMIRED THE SCULPTURE WORK

President Colom noted the 26 million doctorís visits as part of the Cuban medical assistance to his country and the nearly 40,000 operations performed by the islandís physicians.

Alongside the first lady, Sandra Torres de Colom, the president paid tribute to Manuel Galich, teacher, writer and fighter against the dictatorship of Jorge Ubico; to Guillermo Torriello, the dignified Guatemalan foreign minister in the government of Jacobo Arbenz, and to other personalities from the Central American country also linked to Cuban history.

Colom pointed out that this small gesture constitutes an act of hope to recover that memory.

The Guatemalan president met on Monday with Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, president of the Cuban parliament. The two leaders discussed the new era taking hold in Latin America, with governments promoting processes of change for their peoples.

Earlier, Colom paid tribute to Cuban National Hero Jose Marti, placing a floral wreath at the foot of the monument in the Plaza de la Revolucion.

President Colom was accompanied at the Jose Marti Memorial by Jose Ramon Balaguer, minister of Public Health. The guest learned of important aspects of the period when Marti was in his country, including his friendship with Maria Garcia Granados, daughter of Miguel Granados, ex-president of Guatemala, and his ties with the intellectual environment.

Likewise, he was shown the Quetzal, national bird of Guatemala, given to Marti in 1877 by President Justo Rufino Barrios.

GUATEMALA PARK INAGURATED

During the first day of Colomís visit to Cuba he inaugurated Guatemala Park in the Havana municipality of Playa, where he participated in the symbolic planting of a Ceiba tree and a Royal Palm Tree, allegorical of the friendship between the two countries.

Colom, accompanied by Juan Contino, president of the City of Havana provincial legislature, placed the first stone on the joint sculptural project in memory of Jose Joaquin Palma of Bayamo, Cuba and Guatemalan Rafael Alvarez Ovalle, authors of the lyrics and music of the Guatemalan National Anthem.

The Guatemalan president congratulated Andres Gonzalez for the design he made for the monument, impressed by the esthetics of the project representing the fraternity between the two peoples. He said it will serve for todayís children to see in the future the conquests of the two countries.

In a conversation with the press, Colom repeated his condemnation of the US blockade against Cuba and noted that the entire American continent wants it to be lifted.

"Cuba is an admirable nation for what it has achieved and for its independence to develop itself on all fronts, despite the material limitations and the hostility from US imperialism," he said.

Colom also praised the victory of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela in the referendum to abolish term limits on elected officials that took place on Sunday February 15. He called it an important result and applauded the fact that Venezuela can decide its own future.