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Diplomatic relations – Cuba & SVG

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20.JUNE.08

by Herbert Young

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and UN Ambassador

In early April of 1992, I had the good fortune of meeting the Cuban Ambassador to Barbados at the VIP lounge of the Barbados International Airport. After some discussions on various regional and international issues, we agreed to pursue the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. {{more}}

Despite the circumstances that existed at the time, I had no fear of initiating this important milestone as several countries of Caricom, including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica, had already established diplomatic relations with Cuba. Moreover, I was confident that such a move would not have caused any great concern among the Vincentian public due to the democratic ideology of the New Democratic Party.

In addition, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Republic of Cuba had cooperated in a number of areas. We have had cultural exchanges, and even in those days, we had Cuban trained doctors, economists, engineers and dental technicians employed in SVG. Several young Vincentians were in Cuba being trained in similar fields at that time also.

Cuba and St. Vincent and the Grenadines belong to the same hemisphere, and we share common cultural characteristics, and while we believe that the democratic path is the way to our development, it does not mean that we cannot have a civil relationship with those who are on a different path. This was my thought at the time of the discussions.

When I informed Prime Minister James Mitchell of my proposal to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba, he gave full support to the initiative. This was a progressive step and we have seen the benefits to our country over the last sixteen (16) years. As Minister of Foreign Affairs and as Ambassador to the United Nations, I have made repeated calls for the embargo to be lifted against the Cuban people and I hope that this will occur in the near future.

During the month of May, I journeyed to Cuba with Ambassador Cabesas, and on the 26th of that month in 1992, I had the privilege to sign the agreement with the Cuban Foreign Minister establishing diplomatic relations between our two countries. President Fidel Castro hosted a reception in my honour after that historic event and we discussed a number of international issues and particularly how we could strengthen and expand areas of cooperation between SVG and Cuba.

I take this opportunity to wish the Cuban Ambassador to St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Cuban Government and people of the Republic of Cuba best wishes as we celebrate the sixteenth (16th) anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries. I sincerely hope that President Raul Castro continues his reform measures and leads the Cuban people to full democracy.

Let me also take this opportunity to commend Mr. Renwick Rose for his pioneering efforts in obtaining scholarships for many young Vincentians to study in Cuba, even before diplomatic relations were established.

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