Published On: Tue, Apr 10th, 2018

Antigua-Barbuda and Cuba celebrate twenty-four years of diplomatic relations

castro_browne3ST JOHN’S - The government of Antigua and Barbuda has commemorated the 24th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Cuba. Marked by a common desire to promote cooperative and friendly ties, 24 years ago, the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, and Cuba signed a joint communiqué establishing diplomatic relations.

Diplomatic relations between Antigua and Barbuda and Cuba were established on April 6, 1994, under the leadership of the former prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Lester Bird, and the late former president of Cuba, Fidel Castro.

The signing took place at a formal ceremony in New York. Ambassador Lionel Hurst signed the agreement on behalf of the government of Antigua and Barbuda. This agreement was the first step in the strengthening of bonds of friendship on a formal basis.

Much has been achieved together since Antigua and Barbuda and Cuba first established diplomatic relations. Over the years, the two countries have intensified their bilateral cooperation.

Cuba has helped Antigua and Barbuda to resolve many of the nation’s healthcare obstacles by strengthening healthcare delivery systems, and improving access to quality and affordable medical services. Last year, Antigua and Barbuda benefited from the assistance of around 50 Cuban health professionals, including doctors, nurses and lab technicians that form the Cuban Medical Brigade.

In addition, Cuba has invested in Antigua and Barbuda’s future, and has provided hundreds of scholarships to young Antiguans and Barbudans, building capacity at the local level and contributing to skills development and economic growth. Antigua and Barbuda has also received support from Cuban engineers and technical experts, who have assisted with public works projects.

In addition, following the passage of Hurricane Irma, Antigua and Barbuda received assistance from the government and people of Cuba. Cuba sent two cargo ships to Barbuda, carrying 200 tonnes of relief supplies, and deployed 12 electricians and 25 construction workers to assist in recovery and rebuilding efforts in Barbuda.

Four members of the Medical Brigade were deployed to the Hanna Thomas Hospital in Barbuda, while other members of the Brigade worked at Antiguan shelters.

Over the years, both sides have pursued common interests as members of the United Nations (UN), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP), and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).

Furthermore, joint endeavours between the governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Cuba have achieved many milestones. In December 2017, Antigua and Barbuda hosted the sixth CARICOM-Cuba Summit. The government of Antigua and Barbuda said it was honoured to host such a significant event, which saw the presence of President Raul Castro in Antigua and Barbuda for the first time.

Along with other CARICOM member states, Antigua and Barbuda continues to condemn to the longstanding economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba. The government of Antigua and Barbuda said it admires the resilience and solidarity of the Cuban people who, despite the blockade, have overcome severe obstacles and have attained extraordinary achievements with minimal resources.

The government of Antigua and Barbuda said it looks forward to further fruitful cooperation with Cuba in the years to come.

Photo: Cuban President Raul Castro (L) is welcomed to Antigua by Prime Minister Gaston Browne (archive)

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