Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Patrick Faber along with Minister of Tourism Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. and Minister of State in the Ministry of Health Hon. Dr. Angel Campos concluded a successful official visit to the Republic of Cuba on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Extensive discussions addressed key issues such as collaboration for multi-destination packages in the tourism sector; the possibility of direct flights; areas of mutual interest in trade and investment; heritage tourism; and the exploration of policies that respect national patrimony. Belize expressed interest in Cuba’s policy of training young people who live in historical areas, like downtown Belize City, to learn restoration skills to be able to participate in improving their neighbourhoods and benefit from the related tourism.
The delegation also received support for a request for training to make the Belize House of Culture more dynamic, participatory and inclusive of at-risk youth and the elderly.
On the theme of education, the countries shared ideas on how best to integrate culture and sports into the curriculum from early childhood and ways to improve the literacy rate. Discussions centered on training coaches as well as sports medicine.
This year, Belize awarded 10 scholarships to Cubans to attend the Regional Language Centre at the University of Belize; and Cuba is offering 13 scholarships in the areas of medicine, dentistry, health technology, study in tertiary education, and other specialties in medicine.
In the areas of medicine, public health and pest control, the delegation met with experts to assess what approaches could be effective in Belize and to see what could be helpful to Cuba.
Cuba’s Vice President H.E. Salvador Valdés Mesa warmly welcomed the Deputy Prime Minister. Thereafter the delegation met with H.E. Mr. Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, Minister for External Trade and his Vice Minister Ileana Núñez; H.E. Mr Abel Prieto Jiménez, Minister for Culture and Special Advisor to the President; H.E. Mr Alexis Trujillo, Vice Minister for Tourism; and H.E. Dr. Marcia Cobas Ruíz, Vice Minister of Health. The delegation also had access to a range of technical experts in all of the above-mentioned areas, including the national library services.
As a sign of respect, Minister Faber joined Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Rogelio Sierra Díaz at a ceremony to honour Cuban national hero José Martí.
From May 23rd to 28th, interviews featuring the Deputy Prime Minister and Ministers Heredia and Campos, were aired on the new Cuban HD channel, ‘Canal Caribe’, making Belize the first Caribbean country to be featured on the channel. Minister Faber was also interviewed by ‘Cubavision Internacional’ regarding Belize’s solidarity with Cuba; the legacy of medical scholarships inspired by the late Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz; the 26 years of presence of the medical brigade and other areas of cooperation.
Plans have been made to ensure follow-up from both governments.