Western Sahara has been under Morocco’s occupation for the last 43 years. Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic is a partially-recognized state that holds control over one-fifth of the total territory of Western Sahara.
"We can not really put a value on what Cuba has done for the SADR," the diplomat told Prensa Latina.
Etkana said that since Spain withdrew from Western Sahara in 1975 and signed over the territory to Morocco, “we had almost no graduates” and since 1976, Cuba began to receive students from the African country. Since then, thousands of students have graduated from Cuban universities.
This solidarity by Cuba also helped in preserving the Spanish culture as they are a country in Africa that speaks Arabic and Spanish.
There has always been a permanent Cuban health brigade in the country and a school named after Simon Bolivar, the revolutionary who fought against Spanish colonialism in South America.
"Cuba has always provided political, diplomatic and other support at different levels of cooperation, especially at the educational and health levels, and that is why we are always very grateful," Etkana said.
Last December, the Saharawi president, and secretary general of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, visited Havana and held meetings with all the Cuban leaders, including President Miguel Diaz-Canel which reiterated the strong relationship between the two countries.
He also recalled that Fidel Castro used to speak about the courage of Saharawi resistance and support should be given to them.
The Cuban Revolution is a great example for the SADR according to the ambassador as even after 60 years, it has successfully resisted agreession from the United States and their blockades.