Prime Minister, David Thompson welcoming outgoing US Ambassador Mary Ourisman to Ilaro Court
Barbados’ Prime Minister, David Thompson, has told the outgoing US Ambassador, Mary Ourisman, that her country should lift the decades-old trade embargo against Cuba. He made the comment today during a farewell visit she paid on him at his official residence, Ilaro Court.
Mr. Thompson said “the issue of the trade embargo against Cuba must be addressed”. Noting that there were “a lot of misplaced fears about Cuba” he said: “I think there is a good basis for engagement with this Cuban administration, and the US shouldn’t miss the opportunity. I know it will take some time, but cordial relations with Cuba will strengthen relations between the US and the rest of the Caribbean.”
The American envoy remarked that she did “not know why CARICOM does not see and understand the US’ position on Cuba. We want to help the Cuban people; we just want them to enjoy the same rights and privileges other democracies enjoy; but there has to be give and take on both sides”.
Prime Minister Thompson observed that “there needs to be a new beginning in US/Cuba relations, and anything that Barbados can do to help, we are ready to assist”. Reminding the Ambassador that President-elect Barack Obama said he wanted to see Guantanamo Bay Naval Base closed, Mr. Thompson said Barbados saw it as its duty “to do what we can to get dialogue going between the US and Cuba. If there is anything we can do to facilitate talks, let us know”.
Ambassador Ourisman, whose tour of duty officially ends on January 15 next year, said she was happy to have served the region. “Barbados’ hospitality has been exemplary. It has been an interesting and most rewarding experience. My husband and I have really enjoyed our stay here. You have all made us feel so welcome. Barbados is like our second home, and we hope to be back regularly,” she promised.
Prime Minister Thompson told the Ambassador that she had made a good impression on the Caribbean and he extended an invitation to the Ourismans to “return and visit”.