HAVANA, Cuba – Army General Raul Castro, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, has met in Havana with visiting Grenada Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell.
The meeting with Mitchell was held at the Palacio de la Revolucion (Revolution Building).
The Grenadian leader is on an official visit to Cuba and also heads the Grenadian delegation to the 5th CARICOM/Cuba Summit.
A release out of Havana said that during the fraternal meeting, held on Sunday, the heads of state verified the excellent state of the bilateral bonds of friendship and cooperation, as well as prospects for their strengthening.
Likewise, they spoke about other regional and international topics.
Dr. Mitchell was accompanied to the talks with the Cuban President by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Clarice Modeste-Curwen, and his long-time friend, Dr. Bert Brathwaite.
Cuba was also represented at the meeting by Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and ambassador Maria Caridad Balaguer.
A government release in St. George’s said that on December 8, the CARICOM and Cuba Heads of State and Government will convene the 5th CARICOM-Cuba Summit, where the discussions will include new integration mechanisms for achieving higher productivity in the region, as well as recommendations to increase the collective prominence of Caribbean nations on the international scene.
In addressing his colleagues at the opening of the summit on Monday, President Castro reiterated that the goal of these meetings is to foster and strengthen the region’s “fraternal engagement in cooperation, solidarity and coordination to move towards the necessary Latin American and Caribbean integration…a dream of the forefathers…which is today crucial to our survival.”
Citing the brave decision of the first four Caribbean nations to
establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, namely Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, President Castro expressed pride in the excellent relations that Cuba now has with all the nations of CARICOM.
The President reassured the CARICOM member nations that “despite the economic difficulties, and the changes undertaken to upgrade Cuba’s socio-economic system, the Caribbean’s only communist State will honour pledges made to cooperate and share our modest achievements with our sister nations in the Caribbean.”
Among the areas mentioned for collaboration and support to the region are educational scholarships, facilities and opportunities, development of human resources for the provision of quality healthcare, expertise in climate change adaptation, and support for the small countries of the Caribbean to be accorded special and differential treatment in access to trade and investments.
To date, Cuba has 1806 collaborators working in CARICOM countries, especially in Health Care.
In addition, 4, 991 Caribbean nationals have graduated from Cuban universities and a further 1,055 are currently undertaking studies in Cuba.
In reporting on Cuba’s ongoing changes aimed at providing a quality life for its citizens, President Castro expressed profound gratitude to the Caribbean nations for their “upright stance in respect for and solidarity with Cuba.”
The Summit on Monday is in commemoration of CARICOM- Cuba day, which is celebrated on December 8th each year, with the summit convening every three years in one of the member nations.
The first CARICOM-Cuba Summit was convened in Havana in 2002, initially as a meeting of Heads of State and Government of Cuba, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between Cuba and the latter four CARICOM nations.
Cuba and CARICOM have since established high levels of cooperation in areas such as health, education and energy.
During the 1979-83 period of revolutionary rule by leftist Prime Minister Maurice, Grenada was often considered as Cuba’s close ally in the English-speaking Caribbean.
The Cubans pumped massive aid into St. George’s with the biggest project being the construction of the airport at Point Salines.
With the execution of Bishop on October 19, 1983 in a palace coup staged by a group of hardliners with the then ruling New Jewel Movement (NJM) led by his once trusted second in command, Bernard Coard, the island was invaded six days later on October 25, 1983 by U.S and Caribbean troops to help restore order.
The late Paul Scoon who was serving as Governor-General at the time took the decision to expel all diplomats from Cuba and other Eastern European States that pursued the communist doctrine.
Relations between St. George’s and Havana were restored in the 1990-95 rule of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Sir Nicholas Brathwaite under a deal in which Cuba had to recognise the island in order to gain entry into the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO).
The then Minister of Tourism in Congress, former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas became the first government official from St. George’s in 1994 to step foot on Cuban soil after the resumption of relations to attend a meeting of the CTO.