Opposition Leader praises Cuba’s outgoing ambassador for “helping to build the lives of the people”

By:Erasmus Williams

Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 31st 2017 – Outgoing Cuban Ambassador to St. Kitts and Nevis, His Excellency Hugo Cabrera has been thanked for his five-year tour of duty in the twin-island Federation.

Leader of the Opposition, the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas on Tuesday praised Ambassador Cabrera for his “service in advancing the relationship and helping to build the lives of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis through various programmes of support from Cuba to our country,” said Dr. Douglas during his weekly radio call-in programme “Ask the Leader” on Kyss 102.5 FM.

“It is my duty on behalf of the citizens of this country to bid His Excellency Hugo Cabrera and his dear wife and their son, Tito and them sincerely for further strengthening the relationship between St. Kitts and Nevis and Cuba during his tour of duty,” said Dr. Douglas, who noted that although it was the previous Kennedy Simmonds/PAM Administration that established diplomatic relations with Cuba, “nothing was done to strengthen that relationship and the Nation and our students of St. Kitts and Nevis were never allowed to benefit from the opportunities and scholarships offered by Cuba.”

Dr. Douglas told listeners that on his first official visit to Cuba in 1996 and during his meeting with then president, the late His Excellency Dr. Fidel Castro, the relationship was cemented and “we officially accepted the offer of the Cuban leader to allow our students to take up those scholarships and attend Cuban universities free of cost.”

“Since then, scores of our young St. Kitts and Nevis nationals have been awarded scholarships and have successfully completed degrees in several disciplines including medicine, dentistry, health technology, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, accounting, nursing, physical education, sports medicine, psychology and agriculture,” said the former prime minister.

He noted that since 1998, Cuba has been maintaining a medical brigade through a steady deployment of medical practitioners in a variety of areas including gynecology, pediatrics, ophthalmology and pathology.

“Cuba has been one of the partners in the field of agriculture, especially with respect to technical assistance – training in organic farming, which has been developed by the agricultural department into what is now considered “backyard farming” as a food security initiative in the federation,” said Dr. Douglas who recalled the band of Cuban youths who visited 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.

In 2014, during another official visit to Havana with Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Patrice Nisbett, the Embassy of St. Kitts and Nevis in Cuba as officially opened with His Excellency Kenny Douglas of Sandy Point, one who had also received a scholarship from Cuba, as the first ambassador.

“I want to thank him for his services during his tenure. I also congratulate his successor, Her Excellency Verna Morris-Mills, who had spearheaded the setting up of the St. Kitts and Nevis Embassy in Cuba on her recent appointment as Ambassador to Havana,” said Dr. Douglas.

Ambassador Morris-Mills, like Ambassador Douglas, was also one of the recipients of a Cuban scholarship during the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party administration.

During that visit as Prime Minister in 2014, Dr. Douglas also held talks with the new Cuban leader, His Excellency President Raul Castro and praised the island’s scientific achievements, particularly during a visit to Havana’s Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center.

“The relationship between our two nations has brought immense benefits for St. Kitts and Nevis,’ said Dr. Douglas.

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