PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti. - Cuban Vice President Esteban Lazo met on Monday with Haitian President Rene Preval after his arrival in this city, struck by a devastating earthquake last January 12th.
The high-ranking official conveyed greetings to Preval and to the Haitian people and government from the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, and from President Raul Castro.
"We come here representing the people and Government of Cuba to reaffirm our solidarity as an expression of the deep historic and brotherly ties that bind us," he said.
Lazo also conveyed condolences to the Haitian people for the human losses and material damages suffered as a result of the earthquake.
The Cuban VP was briefed about the current situation in Haiti and exchanged ideas about aspects of the future of Cuba’s cooperation with this nation, in particular about a resolution by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas (ALBA) to concentrate an important part of its assistance in creating an effective public health system in Haiti.
He reiterated that, given the enormous tragedy suffered by the Haitian people, their Cuban brothers will continue by their side as long as necessary. “We share the immense pain and suffering, and together we will go forward,” he said.
Preval recalled that Cuba has stood by his people for years. “They did not wait for the earthquake to be with us," he said.
The Haitian President also expressed his condolences on the death of Commander
Juan Almeida (who died on September 11th, 2009), because he could not make it to Cuba on that occasion, and of whom he said: “as he was a very good friend of mine, I visited his house whenever I visited Cuba.”
“We're used to disasters, but this is the biggest in Haiti,” said Preval, referring to the devastating January 12th earthquake.
“When a hurricane passes by Cuba, there are no deaths. Here we have already collected 170 000 corpses and there are still many others under the rubble”, said the dignitary.
Accompanying Lazo Hernandez were Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Cuban Public Health Deputy Minister Marcia Cobas and other Cuban leaders who are now working in Haiti.
In the morning, the Cuban Vice President was in Croix des Bouquets, where there is one of five field hospitals run by Cuban specialists and by Haitian and US health professionals who graduated in Cuba.
There, he exchanged with the Haitian population and with the Cuban, Haitian and
American health specialists.