Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, greets Cuba’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, at the start of their working meeting yesterday. (B.Hinds/BGIS)

Barbados is seeking to expand its bilateral cooperation with Cuba in health, education, the blue economy and disaster mitigation.

This was disclosed during a press briefing, following a working meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, and Cuba’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, who was on island for a one-day official visit on Monday.

Minster of Health and Wellness, Jeffrey Bostic, and Minister of Small Business Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, also attended the meeting. 

Minister Walcott outlined that Barbados had benefited tremendously from Cuba in health and education.

He noted that the island was hoping to take advantage of Cuba’s expertise in the medical field, since that country had made great advancements in this area.

He identified training for dental auxiliaries and specialized training for nurses in oncology and gerontology, among others.

“We dealt with the issue of pharmaceuticals and the management of diabetes. Cuba has done some revolutionary work in terms of the management of leg ulcers, which is a scourge of diabetes in Barbados…. We are looking at trying to get access to some of the drugs and methods that they use, certainly in training and treating the diabetic leg ulcers and the diabetic foot,” he stated.

Barbados and Cuba are also seeking to deepen cooperation in education.  Currently, Barbadians benefit from scholarships in medicine, dentistry and architecture.

With regards to foreign language assistance, Minister Walcott noted that both countries will be widening bidirectional training, so that Cubans could be exposed to English language training and Barbadians to Spanish. 

“There is an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) which is being reviewed by the Ministry of Education, and we hope this will roll out in the not too distant future,” he shared.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, speaking to the media at a briefing with Cuba’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla (right). The Cuban official was on the island for a one-day official visit on Monday. (A.Husbands/BGIS)

The two officials also discussed multi-destination tourism, trade and investment and the access of Barbadian goods to the Cuban market. 

Minister Walcott also pointed out that Cuba had done tremendous work in climate change mitigation, ocean governance and preservation of the Caribbean Sea. 

He added that Cuba has a disaster management system that was the “envy of many in the region”, and said that Barbados would be seeking to cooperate in these areas.

Minister Rodriguez confirmed Cuba’s “willingness to strengthen” bilateral relations, and described the current relationship as being “fruitful”.

“The bilateral cooperation is running smoothly…and we are committed to enhancing the current cooperation and identifying any new common interests,” he said.

The areas noted for cooperation are climate change mitigation and adaptation, national disaster prevention and mitigation, the blue economy and ocean management, health care and educational services.

“We feel really comfortable, and appreciative of our bilateral relationship.  It’s a rock solid tradition built on relations between both countries, and we will never forget the courageous decision taken by Barbados’ Prime Minister Errol Barrow and the leaders of Caribbean nations to recognize the Government of Cuba, and in breaking down the isolation in the early 70s,” the Cuban Foreign Minister stressed.

Barbados and Cuba established diplomatic relations in December 1972.

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