Acting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, (right) is pictured in discussion with outgoing Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba, Pedro Garcia Roque at Government Headquarters.

The harmonious relations that exist between Barbados and Cuba will continue.

This assurance was given by Acting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he met with outgoing Cuban Ambassador, Pedro Garcia Roque today during a courtesy call at his Government Headquarters office.

Mr. Stuart said that ties between the two nations had deepened and strengthened since diplomatic relations commenced over 30 years ago. In fact, he mentioned the upcoming inauguration of the Barbados embassy in Cuba on September 16, as "another indication of how highly we value our relationship with Cuba."

In the area of health care the Acting Prime Minister stated that the return to good health of former Cuban President, Fidel Castro, was testimony of the great advancements in medicine that have become synonymous with that country. Consequently, he spoke about possible assistance in the treatment of diabetes using biotechnological methods. "We have a reputation, which no one envies, of being the amputation capital of this part of the world-not one that we feel too proud about. If we can address this so that amputation can be avoided" [it would be a step in the right direction], Mr. Stuart conceded.

The Acting Prime Minister also pointed to "the possible easing of tensions between Cuba and the United States". He told the ambassador that Barbados was still committed to lobbying for the lifting of the 50 year-old trade embargo. "I do not think the embargo can be defended- it really has not worked and keeping it in place, is in our view, really a waste of time," Mr. Stuart maintained.

He thanked Mr. Garcia Roque for his years of dedicated service and wished him all the best in his new tour of duty.

In turn Ambassador Garcia Roque said that he had enjoyed his sojourn in Barbados over the past four years and saw the opening of the embassy in Havana as greatly contributing to these enhanced ties. He observed that Barbados and Cuba had some similarities, especially in terms of African heritage and added that he would continue to examine ways to deepen the bond of friendship.

Acting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, (right) in discussion with outgoing Cuban Ambassador to Barbados Pedro Garcia Roque at Government Headquarters.Others pictured?? are?? Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office Eugenia Edey (third from right ) and Administrative Officer Paula Best (partly hidden).

The ambassador mentioned that there was hope for collaboration with respect to the eye care project "Operaciόn Milagro" (translated as Operation Miracle) and efforts were ongoing to try to find solutions for the care of the patients that would be the best for everyone concerned.

He disclosed that these issues would be on the table for discussion at the upcoming Cuba/CARICOM meeting on September 17 in Havana.

Over the years Barbados and Cuba have cooperated in such areas as health, sports, education, and culture.

The two countries established diplomatic relations on December 8, 1972.??clashley@barbados.gov.bb

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