Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. A. J. Nicholson, says Jamaica will continue to stand in solidarity with Cuba, in its effort to promote regional integration in the Caribbean.
The Minister was speaking at an official ceremony on December 6, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, to mark CARICOM-Cuba Day 2012 and the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Jamaica and Cuba.
The function is one of several activities to commemorate CARICOM-Cuba Day, to be observed on December 8, under the theme: ‘Celebrating 40 years of Friendship, Diplomacy and Solidarity’.
“We truly believe that Cuba is an integral partner and should therefore be fully involved in hemispheric affairs. Cuba has indeed been a true friend to Jamaica and undoubtedly will remain so,” Senator Nicholson said.
The Minister said that Cuba’s relationship with CARICOM has been enhanced over the years through deeper co-operation with the implementation of mutually beneficial economic and technical programmes.
He cited the many activities of co-operation between CARICOM and Cuba in the areas of trade, education, agriculture, health, tourism, sports, culture, security and regional integration, and noted that Cuba’s commitment to CARICOM was further underscored at the last Heads of Government Summit, when that country proposed a number of technical co-operation projects to benefit CARICOM states.
“We continue to pursue our common interest within the context of our own spirit of friendship and co-operation over many years and through people to people exchanges and high level visits between both countries,” the Minister said.
For his part, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to Jamaica, His Excellency Yuri Gala Lopez, expressed appreciation for the decision taken on December 8, 1972 by the first four CARICOM members – Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago – to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.
“Cuba will never forget this noble and courageous gesture on the part of its Caribbean brothers and sisters. This actually marked the beginning of a close and excellent relationship of friendship, solidarity and co-operation that Cuba enjoys today with all CARICOM member states that have established diplomatic ties with Cuba,” the Ambassador said.
He pointed out that over the past 40 years, more than 20,000 Cuban specialists have provided services mainly in the fields of health and education in all CARICOM countries, and that Cuba’s scholarship programmes have benefited over 3,600 CARICOM nationals,.
The Ambassador noted that more than 2,000 students from those countries are currently studying in Cuba. In the area of health, he noted that all CARICOM countries have received assistance through the Miracle Cooperation Eye Care Programme, which has benefited thousands of CARICOM residents.
“For Cuba it is not about giving others what we have to spare, but to modestly share the few resources that we have, as our contribution for the building of a better world,” he said.
At the end of the function, Minister Nicholson launched an exhibition highlighting different areas of co-operation and friendship between Jamaica/Cuba and also CARICOM/Cuba.
The exhibition, which is a collaborative effort of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Ministries of Health, National Security, Youth and Culture, the Jamaica Tourist Board and the University of the West Indies, will be displayed for one week in the conference room at the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s head office.
During the ceremony, a citation was read by Head Boy of Garvey Maceo High School, Garnett Small, in honour of the Cuban liberator, General Antonio Maceo. There were also cultural items from O’Neil Clayton, Charmaine Limonius, Meliset Rodriquez and the Kingston Technical High School dancers.