|Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, is pictured as he held talks with Chile’s newly appointed Ambassador to Barbados, His Excellency Luis Fernando Ayala Gonzalez, during a courtesy call last Friday at Ilaro Court. (A. Gaskin/BGIS)|
Barbados is actively seeking to have stronger bilateral relations with Chile.
This was emphasised by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he held talks with Chile’s newly appointed Ambassador to Barbados, Luis Fernando Ayala Gonzalez, during a courtesy call last Friday at Ilaro Court.
Ambassador Ayala presented his credentials to Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave on Thursday at Government House.
In his remarks, Mr. Stuart pointed out that the two nations had enjoyed strong diplomatic ties since 1967 and expressed the hope that relations would continue and "get better". He noted that Chile was the first Latin American country with which Barbados had established diplomatic relations.
The Prime Minister thanked Chile for assisting Barbados with technical cooperation over the years and observed that there was "a lot to offer" in this area and added that it was Barbados’ desire to have a double taxation agreement between the two nations concluded this year.
Prime Minister Stuart also acknowledged Chile’s leadership in the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC) and its role as Pro-Tempore President of that body in December 2011. He saw CELAC as a positive move towards integration between Caribbean and Latin American countries.
In turn, Ambassador Ayala said that Chile was committed to south-south cooperation, especially through CELAC. He stressed that the Caribbean was a priority area for his country and called for the region and Chile to be united so that they would have a greater voice in the international community.
He maintained that the destiny of the Caribbean and Latin America was "intimately linked", with deeper ties only hampered because of a perceived language barrier. However, he suggested that as part of tourism efforts, Chileans should be encouraged to visit the island for a holiday and to improve their English.
The envoy also invited Barbadians to make the most of the educational opportunities that were available in Chile, especially at the tertiary level.
Recalling Chile’s history, in particular the years of dictatorship under the rule of former President Augusto Pinochet, the ambassador said that now democracy was thriving in that country. "Today, we look to the future with great confidence. We are proud of what we are doing and there is much hope for the future".
The possibility of establishing an air services agreement was also discussed, among other issues of mutual concern.