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Jun 1, 2017

D.P.M. Speaks of Closer Ties with Cuba

Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber, along with Ministers Manuel Heredia Junior, and Minister Angel Campos concluded an official visit to the Republic of Cuba on Monday. The delegation met with Cuba’s Vice President Salvador Valdes Mesa, as well as with several government Ministers and technical experts. They engaged in discussions on issues of collaboration for multi-destination packages in the tourism sector; the possibility of direct flights and areas of mutual interest in trade and investment. The delegation also received support for a request for training to make the Belize House of Culture more dynamic, participatory and inclusive of at-risk youth and the elderly. Deputy Prime Minister told the media on Wednesday that the visit was successful and that there are many opportunities for the countries to benefit from each other.

 

Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister

“It was an all-around mission in order to sure up the things that existed which include the medical brigade coming to Belize and our students studying there in various areas but especially medicine. And for us to explore other areas, particularly trade and tourism. For instance, we discussed the possibility of reviving the airlift that existed some years ago but failed. What we think will make it work this time is a discussion we had on tourism. Cuba is big on multi-destination tourism, for instance they sell packages to Cuba and Mexico – Cancun and all these places. So, if we are able to get Belize for the multi-destination packages, then we are able to sustain that airlift.  Then we are looking at trade as well. They are very much interested in our corn, in our dairy, our poultry – these are areas they are saying they are ready to go. This is something you may or may not know, Cuba is looking to become a full member of CARICOM, in fact they are a full member, and as a result of that trade agreements are now being worked out and will be approved shortly by COTEC, so we are expecting them to be a full partner. We saw our visit there as very timely to be able get a jump start on whatever areas we can trade. Now, because of Belize’s proximity to Cuba, Jamaica being the only other CARICOM country that has better proximity to Cuba, we believe they can be potentially a good trading partner.  There is another kind of service that they can offer in terms of rodent eradication and mosquito control – things that are very necessary here in Belize that can help us continue the fight in dengue and chick-v and all these mosquito-borne diseases. So, we are positive that good developments can come out of this. The Cuban officials were very welcoming.”

 

Faber said they also discussed how to incorporate culture and sports into the curriculum – an area that the Cubans have mastered. This year, Belize awarded ten scholarships to Cubans to attend the Regional Language Centre at the University of Belize; and Cuba is offering thirteen scholarships in the areas of medicine, dentistry, health technology, study in tertiary education, and other specialties in medicine. 

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