Barbados Ambassador says Cuba's contribution to region is 'staggering'

Campaign News | Saturday, 2 September 2006

From the Barbados Advocate newspaper

DESPITE the numerous challenges faced by Cuba over that last four decades, the continuing contribution which that country makes is staggering. This acknowledgement was made by the Barbadian Ambas-sador to CARICOM, His Excellency John Williams, during his featured address at a ceremony celebration the return of participants of the Cuba Scholarship Pro-gramme.

According to Ambassador Williams, Cuba has always been on the vanguard of assisting countries of the region in a significant manner. Among the Cuban assistant initiatives mentioned by the ambassador were the scholarship programme, the free eye care surgery programme and disaster management in the aftermath of a hurricane.

Williams stated that the ties between Barbados and Cuba predate the Cuban Scholarship programme, with historical references of Barbadians working in the Cuban sugar industry and immigrating to Cuban after working on the Panama Canal. He noted that recently descendants of Barbadian-Cubans returned to the land of their ancestors.

Barbados Ambassador to CARICOM remarked that the establishment of the Cuban Scholarship Programme has allowed the youth of this region, and Barbados in particular, to develop their intellectual skills. This development, according to Williams, allows a brighter future for the people of the region.

The Ambassador credited the scholarship programme in the last seven years with providing opportunities to young people that would not have been otherwise available. He lauded the programmes collaborating entities  the Barbadian Cuban embassy, the Clement Payne Movement, and the Barbadian government  for making the initiative possible and also for sustaining it. [These entities] have worked assiduously together to make these opportunities possible to a most deserving sector of our society that normally might have been denied a chance to make something special of their lives, Ambassador Williams stated.

The ambassador acknowledged that a number of students returned from Cuba prematurely at the programmes inception due to an inability to adapt to the societal, lingual and cultural differences. Williams, however, expressed the belief that the average Barbadian student that took the time to adjust and took advantage of the opportunity would be a better student for the experience.

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