Thursday, September 13, 2007
Jamaica Labour Party government to continue diplomatic relations with Cuba
FIRST OFFICIAL MEETING: Prime Minister Bruce Golding (right) listens to an interpreter during his first official meeting at Jamaica House yesterday with Esteban Lazo Hernandez (left) vicepresident of the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba. Golding said Jamaica would continue its diplomatic relations with Cuba. (Photo: JIS)
Thursday, September 13, 2007
THE Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government will be continuing the country's diplomatic relations with Cuba, Prime Minister Bruce Golding assured officials of its Caribbean neighbour yesterday.
Jamaica, shortly after the Edward Seaga-led JLP took power from Michael Manley's socialist People's National Party (PNP) in October 1980, broke off diplomatic ties with Cuba and declared Havana's envoy to Kingston persona non grata. He was accused of interfering in the country's internal affairs during the bitter 1980 election campaign in which the JLP pushed hard its anti-Communist stance against the PNP.
However, Michael Manley, after leading the PNP to victory in the February 1989 general elections, re-established diplomatic links with Cuba.
Golding, who yesterday acknowledged that there were difficulties in the relationship between Jamaica and Cuba during the 1980s, said that was a different time and the world has changed drastically since then. He said both countries could maintain and deepen their relations on the basis of mutual respect and recognition.
Golding said that his administration would explore new areas of co-operation with Cuba, and that said Jamaica would also continue to oppose the economic blockade against Cuba, citing it as counterproductive.
The prime minister's assurance were given yesterday during a meeting at Jamaica House with Esteban Lazo Hernandez, vice-president of the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba and its delegation.
Jamaica House said the meeting was Golding's first official duty as prime minister, after being sworn in on Tuesday.
Jamaica House said, too, that in addition to technical co-operation and assistance in the areas of health, education and agriculture, Golding said he would like to explore further, advances in applied technology, particularly as it relates to agriculture and agro-processing, with Cuba. He said Cuba had achieved significant achievements in this area and he would be speaking with local technocrats in order to determine what assistance Jamaica would require.
He said also that there were many areas in which Jamaica had achieved success and recognition and could share its expertise with Cuba beyond what now obtains.
The prime minister said that while it was the prerogative of the Cuban people to determine their own internal arrangement, and given Jamaica's commitment to a pluralistic democracy, he was satisfied that both countries could expand their relations with due respect for those rights.
Against this background, Golding said it was significant that his first meeting as prime minister was with a delegation from Cuba, according to Jamaica House.
Meanwhile, Hernandez expressed the willingness of his country to maintain and expand its relations with Jamaica. He said Jamaica and Cuba were not bound solely by geography and trade, but that there were cultural and historic ties that are difficult to break.
The Cuban vice-president made reference to 11 areas of technical co-operation and assistance in which Jamaica and Cuba are involved, adding that there were endless possibilities developing in the field of tourism.
During the meeting Golding enquired about the health of Cuban President Fidel Castro and asked that his personal regards and best wishes be conveyed to the president.
Vice-President Hernanadez also extended an invitation for Prime Minister Golding to visit Cuba at his earliest convenience which Golding has accepted.