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VI was forward thinking in relations with Cuba!

- Virgin Islands Government had engaged Cuba even before it was fashionable to do so & maintained a 22 year relationship before the death of Fidel A. Castro Ruz
The late Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Hon Reeial A. George (left) is the first Government Minister in the history of the Virgin Islands to make an official visit to Communist Cuba, leading a team in 2002. Health Minister Hon Ronnie W. Skelton (right) led a delegation in 2013. Photo: VINO/File
From Left: Then Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour Julian Willock, A Senior Cuba Official, the then Chief Conservation and Fishers Officer Bertrand Lettsome, and then Manger of the BVI Fishing Complex Bevin Brathwaite while in Cuba in 2002. Photo: Provided
From Left: Then Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour Julian Willock, A Senior Cuba Official, the then Chief Conservation and Fishers Officer Bertrand Lettsome, and then Manger of the BVI Fishing Complex Bevin Brathwaite while in Cuba in 2002. Photo: Provided
Health Minister Ronnie W. Skelton’s delegation to Cuba in 2013 included Permanent Secretary in his Ministry Petrona N. Davies (right) and Dr Irad M. Potter (left), the Chief Medical Officer. Photo: VINO/File
Health Minister Ronnie W. Skelton’s delegation to Cuba in 2013 included Permanent Secretary in his Ministry Petrona N. Davies (right) and Dr Irad M. Potter (left), the Chief Medical Officer. Photo: VINO/File
The late Fidel A. Castro (left) and current President of Cuba Raul M. Castro. Photo: LA Times
The late Fidel A. Castro (left) and current President of Cuba Raul M. Castro. Photo: LA Times
The late H. Lavity Stoutt (left) was Chief Minister with Lorna G. Smith (right), the current First Lady, as his Permanent Secretary when the Virgin Islands started talks with Cuba in 1994. Photo: VINO/Internet Source
The late H. Lavity Stoutt (left) was Chief Minister with Lorna G. Smith (right), the current First Lady, as his Permanent Secretary when the Virgin Islands started talks with Cuba in 1994. Photo: VINO/Internet Source
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Way back from 1994 when the United States of America (USA) was tightening sanctions, causing an economic blockage on the Caribbean Island of Cuba and making many attempts to assassinate its communist leader, the late Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, the Virgin Islands (VI) was engaging Cuba.

In the early 80s and 90s many Caribbean countries and most western democracies were afraid to be associated with Cuba because of the indirect and direct threats from the USA and the height of the Cold War, especially once President Castro declared he was Communist and aligned with the former Soviet Union.

1994 to current relationships with Cuba in some form

However, going back to 1994 the Virgin Islands (UK) was bold and forward thinking and was having formal and informal discussions with Cuba on ways to help develop its agricultural sector.

At the time, H. Lavity Stoutt was Chief Minister with Lorna G. Smith, the current First Lady, as his Permanent Secretary.

In 1995 an official from Cuba, the then Cuban Vice-Minister for Fisheries Rafael Jimenez, visited the Virgin Islands and was hosted by the VI Government after extensive permission had been sought from the United Kingdom’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

VI Minister George made historical visit

The VI's relationship with Cuba had moved to a positive landmark when the late Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Hon Reeial A. George, became the first Government Minister in the history of the Virgin Islands to make an official visit to Communist Cuba.

It was in October of 2002 that Mr George led a delegation to Cuba. The historical trip came after an invitation from Mr Manuel Rodriguez, Director of International Relations for the Government of Cuba.

While Mr George did not meet the late Cuban President Fidel Castro, he met with other high ranking government ministers, including the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture.

Speaking during a press conference on Thursday November 14, 2002 about the trip, the then Minister George said the purpose of the visit was to establish a relationship between both governments, find ways to train local fishermen (particularly in long-line fishing), review their agricultural programme and find markets for local produce.

The Virgin Islands delegation to Cuba from October 28-30, 2002 included then Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour Julian Willock, the then Chief Conservation and Fisheries Officer Bertrand Lettsome, then Manager of the BVI Fishing Complex Bevin Brathwaite and then Agricultural Officer Berenice Freeman.

Hon Ronnie W. Skelton visited also!

Not to be outdone some eleven years later the National Democratic Party (NDP) Administration also made an official visit to Cuba.

It was in June 2013 when the Minister for Health and Social Development Hon Ronnie W. Skelton (AL) lead a delegation to Cuba. By then most of the Caribbean countries, along with Latin and South America and Western and Eastern Europe had publicly opposed the USA’s embargo on Cuba and continued their own visits and business relations with Cuba.

Minister Skelton’s trip was arranged by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) on behalf of the VI where he went to look at interest in the health sector. His delegation included Permanent Secretary in his Ministry Petrona N. Davies and Dr Irad M. Potter, the Chief Medical Officer.

While in Cuba, Minister Skelton spoke with researchers and Public Health Officials, met very senior officials in the Cuban Government but, like Mr George, he never met with the current President of Cuba Raul M. Castro.

It is reported that there is still some limited communication with the Cuban Health Sector as the BVI Health Services Authority could be looking at how their innovative wound care programme can work in the VI if introduced.

Castro dead but the progress in Health & Agriculture lives on

As the world mourns or celebrates the passing of Fidel Castro, the fiery apostle of the Cuba revolution who died on November 25, 2016 at age 90, he did some good in Health and Agriculture that many others in the world can learn from.

In declining health for serval years, Fidel turned over power to his younger brother Raul, now 85, in 2006. The late Castro had held power longer than any other living national leader except Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.

While many in the political and academic classes will debate for years whether Fidel Castro was a brutal dictator or a freedom fighter, one thing for sure is he has made history in more ways than one. In addition, he was on the side of the poor and oppressed peoples of the world.

He dominated his country with strength and symbolism from the day he triumphantly entered Havana, Cuba on January 8, 1959 and overthrew General Ruben Fulgencio Batista.

19 Responses to “VI was forward thinking in relations with Cuba!”

  • africa (27/11/2016, 20:42) Like (10) Dislike (7) Reply
    LONG LIVE FIDEL
    • one eye (27/11/2016, 22:53) Like (7) Dislike (10) Reply
      bvi is always ahead of the rest
    • street reporter. (28/11/2016, 05:39) Like (17) Dislike (7) Reply
      Fidel. Great Man. As a matter a fact do u know that Castro is the only Anti American leader that died a natural death? On-like the others, alll CIA attempt to kill him failed. A Wize Man..
    • Opinion. (28/11/2016, 05:57) Like (16) Dislike (0) Reply
      People are not brave and courageous no more.. Taking a Gun to kill your black brother over something petty is not brave, it's devilish and htupid.. Brave, Godly and courageous is too rise up against the root of our problems, the root of our problems is any unjust, bias and oppessive system that create unnecessary pain and suffering to the Masses.
    • the rock (28/11/2016, 06:39) Like (7) Dislike (10) Reply
      must admit he was a legend
  • Z (27/11/2016, 21:23) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
    no kidding now its beginning to show.
  • John (27/11/2016, 21:34) Like (15) Dislike (0) Reply
    I really wish we had acted back in 1995 to improve the fisheries sector. We could be exporting fish by now; but its not too late.
  • And most of us had written-off Cuba, as a had been (27/11/2016, 21:37) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    based on American propaganda- not knowing that LIFE and Events are always EVOLVING. The Virgin Islands Party was on the Right track from the beginning. CUBA will teach us ALL a Lesson about HISTORY. Wait if you wish- or either be proactive in the process. Right now our Leaders, if they call themselves leaders, should be proactive- this new event- most certainty- will affect our economy in some way or the other, but we can positively and significantly advance our country if we negotiated early in the process of the “cruise ship industry scenarios.”

    It will take strategic planning without any kind of prejudice (not cronies ideas) of which our current party has not shown any kind of substantial engagement.

    A total reshuffle of political prospects is required for moving our country forward for both the Virgin Islands Party, NDP Party, or any other kind of New Party for that matter.

    However, some of us in the Virgin Islands and “Abroad” are expecting a total Reshuffling of both, or a completely NEW Party of progressive individuals to move us forward. Many challenges are ahead to deal with.

    The PUBLIC needs to be fully informed and engage with this new development- it will certainly affect us ALL- on top of everything else happening locally.
  • You know something (28/11/2016, 01:46) Like (6) Dislike (4) Reply

    Julian Willock is ahead of us in his thinking, whether it is his online site or not, he is thinking forward.

  • Charley Rose (28/11/2016, 04:54) Like (11) Dislike (4) Reply
    It is a sad feeling. May his good works for the poor peole continue. He has done more for the Caribbean and the world than any other world leader.Rest In Peace FIDELL. Iwill remember you always.
  • Question to Ronnie (28/11/2016, 05:24) Like (26) Dislike (4) Reply
    OK Ronnie. Here is the question. If you really care about us and our health why u didn't use your Cuban contact and relationship to get us some good Doctors..Specialise in Hearts, Cancer and Eyes..Most of our people are dying from heart and Cancer illness.. Why allow these greedy amateur Doctors here who are charging an Arm an a Leg to continue experimenting on us.....Don't talk like u care...Act like u care.l? Cuban Doctors They have been all over the world helping wherever there is disaster in poor countries and they always get the job done...Good people care more about the aixk and suffering than themselves. These are good people... Get us a Few.
  • Wendy (28/11/2016, 06:43) Like (14) Dislike (8) Reply
    Castro probably is the best leader who ever lived...barring none! The great one has passed on and now we are about to perhaps see the worst leader of all time in the USA.

    Rest well Generalissimo Commrade Revolutinit Fidelista, the real defender if the poor and working class
  • Anonymous (28/11/2016, 06:49) Like (13) Dislike (8) Reply
    Thank you VINO for this story! Cuba has been a friend also to the wider Caribbean. Our Friend Fidel Castro will be dearly missed, Viva Fidel! Viva Fidel..RIP Great one we salute you.
  • wondering (28/11/2016, 07:27) Like (20) Dislike (4) Reply
    So we've heard of all the visits. What is /was the impact of those visits? Can we get an update
  • Charley Rose (28/11/2016, 07:42) Like (16) Dislike (3) Reply
    The death of Fidel Castro is a tremendous loss to the Caribbean, I do hope that the Revolution will continue to help the Caribbean. We have benifited from free training of some of our professionals such as doctors, dentists, veterinarians and sports professionals. Rest In Peace Commandant Fidel and may the Revolution continues to defend itself.
  • best (28/11/2016, 08:03) Like (9) Dislike (2) Reply
    Cuba have the best trained Doctors.
    • Kudos (28/11/2016, 09:26) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
      No skipping school today because it is raining. "Cuba has the best-trained doctors." End of English lesson.
  • @Charly Rose (28/11/2016, 19:55) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    The rest of the Caribbean cannot just take, pay it forward. Those Caribbean countries that benefited can now help other poorer countries. We cannot always look to others to help us we have to help ourselves.


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