Benefits from Cuba summit
Barbados is set to receive Cuba’s help in preparing for hurricanes and other disasters, and more benefits as they relate to care for children with special challenges and to the arts.
Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett made the announcement, as he expressed Barbados’ delight over thawing of relations between Cuba and the United States, when on Wednesday evening he joined Cuba’s Ambassador to Barbados Francisco Ferdnandez Pena in celebrating the 56th anniversary of the latter’s country’s revolution, and the 162nd birthday of Cuban national hero Jose Marti.
Barbados established diplomatic ties with Cuba 43 years ago, but the relationship with that country reaches back centuries, and there exists a community of Bajan descendents in Cuba.
Blackett told the group of diplomats, politicians, and other well-wishers gathered at Limegrove in Holetown, St James, for a reception marking the anniversaries: “The CARICOM-Cuba Summit held in Havana, Cuba, in December last year, was a resounding success, and Barbados anticipates increased cooperation from Cuba emanating from the summit, including disaster management, the regional school for the arts in Jamaica and a [regional] centre for special needs children
Barbados already receives assistance from Cuba in specialized eye care for Bajans, and training of doctors.
Blackett touched on the December 17 announcement by America’s President Barack Obama of the planned establishment of limited diplomatic relations with Cuba after 50 years of embargo and isolation.
“The Government of Barbados at both the bilateral and wider CARICOM levels also note with relief and anticipation the recent announcement and subsequent action in efforts to restore diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States.”
He added: “We look forward to witnessing all of the positives that will follow, especially for the Cuban people. The future looks promising and we hope that current efforts will bring the results that Barbados and the wider international community are anticipating.”
As he praised the policies of Fidel Castro, who led a force of revolutionaries into Havana in 1959, Ambassador Fernandez described the retired Cuban leader as a visionary.
“This thinking by him is a reality now and we are defending that.”
Without direct reference to the current thawing of United States-Cuban relations, the ambassador added: “We think also that events that are happening, you are aware of that, are a demonstration of the right path we were trying to go many years ago.”