The Government of Antigua and Barbuda is happy to commemorate the 24th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Antigua and Barbuda and the Republic of Cuba. Marked by a common desire to promote cooperative and friendly ties, on this very same day, twenty-four years ago, the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda, and the Republic of Cuba signed a joint communiqué establishing diplomatic relations.
Diplomatic relations between Antigua and Barbuda and the Republic of Cuba were established on April 6th, 1994, under the visionary leadership of the former Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Lester Bird, and the late former President of the Republic of Cuba, Fidel Castro.
The signing took place at a formal ceremony in New York. His Excellency Ambassador Lionel Hurst signed the agreement on behalf of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. This agreement was the first step in the strengthening of bonds of friendship on a formal basis.
Much has been achieved together since Antigua and Barbuda and the Republic of Cuba first established diplomatic relations. Over the years, the two countries have intensified their bilateral cooperation.
Cuba has helped Antigua and Barbuda to resolve many of the nation’s healthcare obstacles by strengthening healthcare delivery systems, and improving access to quality and affordable medical services. Last year, Antigua and Barbuda benefited from the assistance of around fifty (50) Cuban health professionals, including doctors, nurses and lab technicians that form the Cuban Medical Brigade.
In addition, Cuba has invested in Antigua and Barbuda’s future, and has provided hundreds of scholarships to young Antiguans and Barbudans, building capacity at the local level and contributing to skills development and economic growth. Antigua and Barbuda has also received support from Cuban engineers and technical experts, who have assisted with Public Works projects.
In addition, following the passage of Hurricane Irma, Antigua and Barbuda received kindhearted assistance from the Government and people of Cuba. Cuba sent two (2) cargo ships to Barbuda, which bore 200 tonnes of relief supplies, and deployed twelve (12) electricians and twenty-five (25) construction workers to assist in recovery and rebuilding efforts in Barbuda.
Four (4) members of the Medical Brigade were deployed to the Hanna Thomas Hospital in Barbuda, while other members of the Brigade worked at Antiguan shelters.
Over the years, both sides have pursued common interests as members of the United Nations (UN), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Bolivarian Aliiance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP), and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).
Furthermore, joint endeavors between the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda, and the Republic of Cuba have achieved many milestones. In December 2017, Antigua and Barbuda hosted the Sixth CARICOM Cuba Summit. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda felt honoured to host such a significant event, which saw the presence of President Raul Castro in Antigua and Barbuda for the very first time.
Along with other CARICOM Member States, Antigua and Barbuda continues to condemn to the longstanding economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda admires the resilience and solidarity of the Cuban people, who despite the blockade, have overcome severe obstacles and have attained extraordinary achievements with minimal resources.
Today, we celebrate almost two and a half decades of friendship that is deeply rooted in mutual understanding, solidarity and trust.
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda looks forward to further fruitful cooperation with Cuba in the years to come!