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St. Kitts and Nevis to explore setting up embassy in Cuba

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS – St. Kitts and Nevis will expore the possibility of establishing an Embassy in the Republic of Cuba in 2014 in an effort to strengthen the existing relationship between both carribbean nations.

Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas gave the committment during a courtesy call by His Excellency Hugo Ruiz Cabrera, who assumed the post of Chargé d’affaires ad interim, following the departure of His Excellency Jorge D. Payret Zubiaur, most recent Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cuba to the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Prime Minister Douglas and the new Cuban diplomat also discussed several areas of cooperation of a bi-lateral nature in the area of education, health and agriculture.

Currently, approximately 40 students are pursuing degrees in Cuba, the majority being in Medicine. One student recently graduated with a Nursing Degree and some six (6) others are expected to graduate at the end of the month in the same discipline. This is the first batch of nurses to graduate from Cuba.

Other areas in which students are currently studying include Mechanical Engineering, Physical Education and Sports and Psychology.

Since 1998, Cuba has been maintaining a Medical Brigade through a steady deployment of medical practioners in a variety of areas (Gynecology, Pediatrics, Opthalmology, Pathology, etc.) to the Federation to supplement and the core of medical personnel at the main hospitals.

This area of cooperation has been an invaluable contribution by the Cuban Government and for which the Government and people of the Federation continue to be grateful.

Cuba has been one of the partners in the field of agriculture, especially with respect to technical assistance – training in organopic farming which has been developed by the Agricultural Department into what is now considered “backyard farming” as a food security initiative in the Federation.

It must be recalled that a band of Cuban youth worked so diligently in homes throughout the Federation some years ago to replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones in an effort to conserve energy and to reduce the cost of electricity bills to consumers. Energy conservation is strength of the Cuban authorities and efforts to access their expertise should be continuously pursued.

St. Kitts and Nevis and Cuba participate in the CARICOM-Cuba Summit which is a mechanism which allows for political dialogue amongst the Heads of CARICOM Member States and the President of Cuba.

At the last Summit of the Comunidad de Estados de Latino America y el Caribe (CELAC) -Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Cuba assumed the Temporary Chairmanship of the Body. CARICOM had proposed that the Troika of CELAC be reviewed to a Quartet which would allow for representation from CARICOM. It is hoped that during Cuba’s chairmanship, this matter could be fully deliberated and implemented.

Like the region, Cuba and St Kitts and Nevis share some common values and it is anticipated that the cooperation between Cuba and the region will continue to grow exponentially.

Ambassador Ruiz is a career diplomat and has served his country in a wide array of capacities, ranging from Foreign Affairs Officer to Second Secretary, Consul and Ambassador.

The Cuban diplomat’s most recent posting abroad spanned 2005-2010 in St. Lucia overseeing during his tenure there, the Misión Milagro Programme, the Comprehensive Health Programme, the Energy Saving Light Bulb Project, the introduction of the Nursing Scholarship Programme as well as the establishment of the Ophthalmology Clinic at the Victoria Hospital.

Ambassador Ruiz speaks English fluently and this is undoubtedly an asset that will enable him to not only understand the interests of the Government of the Federation but to also be able to articulate same to his Government on our behalf. Moreover, it also affords the Ambassador the opportunity to interact more effortlessly with both government officials and the lay citizen.

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