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Dec 8, 2009

Cuba-CARICOM Day celebrated

Story PictureAlthough it is not a full member of the CARICOM block, Cuba along with the CARICOM grouping is today celebrating the thirty-seventh anniversary of relations. Back in 1972, a joint decision by Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica led to the establishment of diplomatic relations with the island, a decision which, at the time, defied the isolation policy imposed by the U.S. Since then the remaining CARICOM countries opened relations with Havana, giving way to rich bilateral programs in healthcare, education, sports, culture and agriculture. Since 2002, December eighth has been set aside as Cuba-CARICOM Day. News Five spoke with Cuban Ambassador Manuel Rubido on the state of relations and what the embassy is organizing on this occasion.

Manuel Rubido, Cuban Ambassador
“It’s not only a day of remembrance, but a day when we can look at what we are doing together and what is our path, what is our goal, what we can do as brothers and sisters to really integrate this region into what we expect would be the Caribbean of the twenty-first century. We have over three thousand students from CARICOM states studying in Cuba. Of them, over two hundred and fifty are Belizean—most of which are studying medicine. So I think it will be a day of celebration, which will not be able to conclude on the eighth but will carry on for about a week. We ourselves are planning an activity at our embassy with a number of Belizean authorities, friends and the diplomatic core here. Even though late in time, Belize almost immediately established an embassy in Havana, the first ambassador was Her Excellency Amalia Mai in 1998. At that time, probably three or four countries of the Caribbean had embassies in Havana. Today, it’s up to a number of twelve, but Belize has maintained that embassy for the importance of the bilateral relations that this country concedes in having with Cuba and the cooperation ties that we have had for all these years. From 1999, we have a large medical brigade in Belize; it’s composed of one hundred and fifteen professionals. They work in all districts of Belize, in communities in hospitals. It is difficult to go to a public health centre in Belize and not see a doctor or a Cuban nurse. First of all, I think our professionals are grateful for the opportunity of being able to help your people because we take a lot from that too. We take a lot of experience, culture and overall the language. We have now in Cuba about six hundred doctors that have passed through the years through Belize which are very fluent in Creole, which is something excellent and new to us.”

More than one hundred Belizeans have received degrees in medicine from Cuba and over two thousand five hundred patients have benefited from free eye surgeries, proving that a country doesn’t need to have a lot to be generous.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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