Government laments loss of Mandela, who “helped transform” society

South African leader made five visits to Spain

The Spanish government on Friday said that it “deeply lamented” the loss of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, who has died at the age of 95.

 “The example of giants such as Mandela, who have gone through public life helping to transform their societies and inspire the best of feelings in their fellow citizens and the rest of humanity, stand out as unrivaled beacons in facing the challenges that lie ahead,” read a statement issued by the prime minister’s office.

Mandela visited Spain on five occasions and maintained a close relationship with the Spanish royal family.

His first visit took place in July 20, 1991 shortly after he was released from prison after 27 years. Mandela returned to Spain as leader of the African National Congress in December of that year.

The following year, he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for international cooperation. Crown Prince Felipe attended Mandela’s 1994 inauguration as president of South Africa in Pretoria.

In July 2010, Mandela was on hand at the closing ceremony of the World Cup in South Africa when Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0 to win the championship.

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