Blackett: A bold act

Some pundits suggested that when Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Jamaica established diplomatic relations with Cuba on December 8, 1972, it was tantamount to political suicide, given the geo-political realities of the time.

But today, as the region commemorated of 40 years of diplomatic relations between CARICOM and Cuba at the 3 Ws Oval, Cave Hill, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Steve Blackett, said it had turned out to be anything but suicidal.

Blackett said: “The actions taken by our states 40 years ago have often been described as bold. But the decision to go beyond merely recognising Cuba, to the point of formally establishing diplomatic relations, was of far greater significance back then than it would be today. It was obvious to the leaders of our countries at the time that there would have been some fall-out from this bold act.”

The St. Michael Central MP argued that the four leaders knew that with every important investment expected to pay big returns, there was always an element of risk.

Blackett pointed out that the considerations for Barbados and its Caribbean neighbours to invest in a relationship with Cuba were no doubt based on the “consanguinity of the region and a demonstration of independence”. He maintained that as the region marked the 40th anniversary of CARICOM/Cuba diplomatic relations there was much to celebrate.

The minister noted that like any relationship, there had been occasions of intense activity and other occasions when passions have waned. He added that Cuba had established and maintained embassies in the 14 independent states of CARICOM and by the same token, 13 CARICOM countries maintain a diplomatic presence in Cuba.

Blackett recalled that Barbados’ embassy in Cuba began operations in February 2010 and was formally opened in September of that same year. He noted that regular exchange visits by heads of state and government between Cuba and CARICOM had been a feature of the relationship.

Additional visits by ministers and other officials were aimed at advancing specific initiatives in the well established areas of cooperation, namely health, sport, education, culture and the environment. (NC)

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