Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is pictured having discussions with Cuban Ambassador, Lissette Perez Perez at Government Headquarters
By Cathy Lashley
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) — The close ties that exist between Barbados and Cuba are on a solid foundation and will continue to deepen.
This assurance was given this week by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he held discussions with newly appointed Cuban Ambassador, Lissette Pérez Pérez at Government Headquarters.
Stuart said the long-established ties between the two nations were highly valued and dated back to the 1970s. He added that this was evidenced by the "giant step" of establishing an embassy in Havana this year, which, he maintained, would make life a little easier for Barbadian descendants who wanted some information about this country and their ancestral roots.
The prime minister underscored the importance of the bilateral air services, investment and double taxation agreements, as well as cooperation in areas of sports and culture.
Stuart said he was looking forward to the expansion of joint venture initiatives in health care, especially the ongoing free eye surgery programme "Operaciόn Milagro" (Operation Miracle) which, he noted, had so far benefitted some 300 Barbadians. This Memorandum of Cooperation between the Cuban Medical Services of Cuba and the government of Barbados was approved by Cabinet in 2007. It covers free air transportation to Barbadians needing cataract surgery to Havana, as well as accommodation and meals.
With regard to other areas of assistance, Stuart conceded that with respect to diabetes, Barbados had gained the unenviable reputation of being designated the amputation capital of the world. In light of this, he welcomed Cuba’s expertise in helping to reduce these numbers.
In turn, Ambassador Pérez Pérez expressed satisfaction with the bilateral relations between the two nations and said that she would do all in her power to augment the existing ties.
The Cuban envoy also mentioned the Memorandum of Understanding in health care as an important programme to which her government was committed and would continue to offer assistance wherever possible.
She thanked Barbados for its continued support at the United Nations to end the 50-year old trade blockade and asked for government to advocate for the release of the ‘Cuban Five’, (Cuban men convicted in convicted in 2001 in the United States Federal Court for conspiracy to commit espionage and currently serving four life sentences).
The two countries established diplomatic relations on December 8, 1972.