Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas gave his committment to His Excellency Hugo Ruiz Cabrera, who assumed the post of Chargé d’affaires ad interim, following the departure of His Excellency Jorge D. Payret Zubiaur the most recent Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cuba to the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Other items discussed centered around education, agriculture and health.
Currently, 40 students are pursuing degrees in Cuba, the majority of whom are pursuing Medical Degrees. One student recently graduated with a Nursing Degree and some six (6) others are expected to graduate at the end of the month in the same discipline. This is the first batch of nurses to graduate from Cuba.
Other areas in which students are currently studying include Mechanical Engineering, Physical Education and Sports and Psychology.
Since 1998, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has been getting a steady deployment of medical practitioners in a variety of areas (Gynecology, Pediatrics, Ophthalmology, Pathology, etc.) and they now make up the core of medical personnel at the main hospitals.
Cuba has been one of the partners in the field of agriculture, especially with respect to technical assistance – training in organic farming which has been developed by the Agricultural Department into what is now considered “backyard farming” as a food security initiative in the Federation.
Some years ago, a band of Cuban youth, worked in homes throughout the Federation to replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs in an effort to conserve energy and to reduce the cost of electricity bills to consumers. Energy conservation is one of the Cuban authorities’ strengths and efforts to access their expertise should be continuously pursued.
St. Kitts and Nevis and Cuba participate in the CARICOM-Cuba Summit which is a mechanism which allows for political dialogue amongst the Heads of CARICOM Member States and the President of Cuba.
At the last Summit of the Comunidad de Estados de Latino America y el Caribe (CELAC) -Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Cuba assumed the Temporary Chairmanship of the Body. CARICOM had proposed that the Troika of CELAC be reviewed to a Quartet which would allow for representation from CARICOM. It is hoped that during Cuba’s chairmanship, this matter could be fully deliberated and implemented.
Ambassador Ruiz is a career diplomat and has served Cuba in a wide array of capacities, ranging from Foreign Affairs Officer to Second Secretary, Consul and Ambassador.
His most recent posting abroad spanned 2005-2010 in St. Lucia overseeing during his tenure there, the Misión Milagro Programme, the Comprehensive Health Programme, the Energy Saving Light Bulb Project, the introduction of the Nursing Scholarship Programme as well as the establishment of the Ophthalmology Clinic at the Victoria Hospital.
Ambassador Ruiz speaks English fluently, which would be an asset as he will be able to communicate effectively with both the Federation and Cuba alike.