Basseterre, St. Kitts (October 16, 2013) — Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Dr Denzil Douglas, is in acknowledgement of the fact that the government of the Republic of Cuba has extended tangible benefits to the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis over the years, and has vowed to express gratitude to that country at all levels.
“There is no doubt that in both islands of St. Kitts and Nevis we have seen the tangible benefits that have been received by the people of St. Kitts and Nevis from the Cuban government,” said Prime Minister Douglas on Tuesday evening October 15.
“We know that the Cuban government and people provide such support under tremendous difficulties and constrains and that is why we continue to say that we cannot take the support from Cuba for granted.”
The Prime Minister made the remarks at a cocktail party hosted by the Cuban Embassy at the Ambassador’s residence in Bladen Housing, Basseterre, for the visiting Director of ICAP (Cuban Institute of Friendship with the People) to the Eastern Caribbean, Senior Joaquin Lacke Portuondo.
“We must express our gratitude at all levels and that is why I took pride, and to a large extent felt very privileged to express openly at the United Nations the need for the people of Cuba to be free of the ongoing blockade that has deprived them of very many areas that can enhance their development and their livelihood,” observed Dr Douglas.
“To a large extent I have done so on behalf of my government and on behalf of my people; on behalf of my country because that is how our people feel. That is how the Caribbean people feel and it has to be expressed.”
According to Prime Minister Douglas, the relationship between the Republic of Cuba and the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has been excellent, and one that has been built over the years on mutual respect and friendship among the governments and two peoples and countries.
“Being here tonight at this function, to mark the arrival in our Federation of the Cuban official from the Cuban Institute of Friendship reinforces the relationship that we have built over the years,” the Prime Minister told the Press. “I have had the opportunity to be in Cuba in the past and I look forward of course to another visit so as to strengthen the relationship between our two countries, our two governments, and our two peoples.”
Resident Cuban Ambassador His Excellency Hugo Ruiz Cabrera said that the visiting Cuban official had executed a very good programme in St. Kitts and Nevis and was impressed by the gratitude of the people and the government of St. Kitts and Nevis towards Cuba.
“I feel like I am at home,” Ambassador Hugo Ruiz told the media. “I am feeling like I am in my home country. I have received a lot of love and appreciation from your people and I feel extremely happy to be here to contribute in some way to enhance our cooperation and to make possible that our cooperation can continue for the development of the country.”
Senior Joaquin Lacke Portuondo said that he was invited by Cuba St. Kitts Nevis Friendship Association and commented that the programme laid out had allowed him to meet many personalities, to visit schools, and hospitals. He commented that in the many places that he went, he observed the friendship that the St. Kitts and Nevis population have towards Cuba.
“That is good,” said the Cuban official, who is based in Havana. “In return of that Cuba also offers the solidarity towards our brothers and sisters of the Caribbean area and specifically from the St. Kitts and Nevis population. We also visited Nevis and we went to see the hospital. Almost all the staff in the hospital is trained in Cuba and the population is satisfied with the service they receive from them.”
Senior Lacke was however especially impressed by the staff at the Alexandra Hospital in Nevis saying that it was of an international composition, as the Cuban trained Director of the Hospital is from Nigeria, and one of the Doctors is from Peru.
“The solidarity (at the hospital) may help in other countries and that is pretty good,” said Senior Lacke. “That is what the world has to do in order to have peace in the world with no more war. I thank the population of St. Kitts and Nevis for receiving me in your country and allow me to know more about your community.”
President of the Cuba St. Kitts Nevis Friendship Association Mrs Telca Daniel Wallace confirmed that the visit of Senior Lacke came about as a result of their invitation.
“Senior Lacke was visiting other countries and islands within our region and we felt it was appropriate for him to come here and pay a visit, bearing in mind that Cuba has been active in our local news and we wanted persons to get a perspective on the friendship between St. Kitts Nevis and Cuba,” said Mrs Wallace.
“Our association is basically looking at the cultural and social interaction between St. Kitts Nevis and Cuba and so having him here to have a firsthand opportunity to interact with organisations, schools and the medical fraternity who have been trained in Cuba both in St. Kitts and Nevis, paying courtesy calls on the different ministries especially those of health, and social development was a way for us to basically bring to the forefront the fact that Cuba is prominent in our Federation.”
She pointed out that as it relates to the future they came out with some recommendations from his visit, among them looking at teaching early primary school Spanish and other languages so that St. Kitts and Nevis can keep pace with the rest of region and the world.