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Cuba-SVG silver jubilee: a valued partnership

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The Governments and people of Cuba and St Vincent and the Grenadines today proudly celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries. It was on this date in 1992 that the Government of Sir James Mitchell took the bold step to establish such relations and in the person of the Foreign Minister Herbert Young signed the instruments to begin a new chapter in relations between our countries.

Ever since our country assumed the right to exercise its own foreign policy, when we became independent in 1979, Cuba had been taboo for St Vincent and the Grenadines and most of its neighbours. However, times had been changing irreversibly and though there were no official relations, people-to-people relations flourished. A Friendship Society, linking the people of both countries, had been formed as far back as 1976, many expressions of solidarity were undertaken, and Vincentian students had begun accessing scholarships to Cuban universities. The turning tide could no longer be ignored.

Still, it is to the credit of the Mitchell administration that it was willing to play its part and lead the way in the Eastern Caribbean in ending Cuba’s diplomatic isolation. Since then, Cuba has been one of three countries which, for reasons of their own, have enjoyed special relations with our government and people. Not that our other multiple relations are not valued, but our relations with the Republics of Taiwan, Venezuela and Cuba have endured local political differences and have all outlived changes of regime. On such grounds are lasting relationships built.

In the case of Cuba, the last quarter of a century has witnessed the emergence of our Caribbean neighbour to the north out of the shadows of virtual pariah status to be one of the most reliable friends of our country. In spite of the unjust economic blockade imposed on it, its own limited resources, and the hardships occasioned when the former Soviet bloc turned their backs on it, Cuba never wavered in its commitments to its Caribbean neighbours. It demonstrated what true solidarity is all about.

Today, our country can boast of a formidable cadre of intellectuals, part of the backbone of our human resource treasury, all trained through Cuban generosity. The contributions in the fields of health and education have gone a long way towards underpinning our social development and Cuba’s contribution towards the building of our own Argyle International Airport is legendary stuff.

The Government of Prime Minister Gonsalves has built and developed on the foundation cemented by Sir James and dug by the selfless pioneers of the seventies and eighties who faced persecution for advocating friendship with Cuba. Today, we see the fruits of that foresight and as we celebrate a well-deserved 25th anniversary, we should all work to further develop and deepen such relations.

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