Councilor Ico Travels to Cuba
The 12th Session of the Belize/Cuba Mixed Commission was held in Havana, Cuba on Thursday, October 22 and Friday, October 23. The Belize Delegation was headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Hon. Wilfred Elrington along with other government representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, Education, and Agriculture as well as members of the Mayor’s Association. San Pedro Town Councilor Pablo Ico traveled with the delegation in representation of Mayor Elsa Paz.
The Belize Delegation met with counterparts in Havana over a two day period to identify and develop new areas of cooperation which will be mutually beneficial to both countries. According to Mr. Pablo Ico the main purpose was to elaborate and strengthen old contracts and make new ones. Three major aspects covered were education, agriculture and health.
Cuba and Belize have good ties in the education sector. Most Belizean students are studying medicine and engineering in Cuba. Ministry of Education officials met with Belizean students studying in Cuba. Presently there are approximately 250 Belizean students pursuing academic studies in various parts of the island in a wide number of disciplines. The Belize Government provides ten scholarships annually for Cubans to study English as a second language at the Regional Language centre in Belmopan.
The two countries have been collaborating on bilateral cooperation projects since 1999 starting with the Cuban Medical Brigade assistance in the Public Health Care System of Belize and the Medical Scholarship Program. The Belize delegation visited many of Cuba’s Poly Clinics and medical facilities as well as Cuba’s Waste Control Center where biodegradable waste is being converted into energy.
“This was one of the main topics at the meeting since it is believed that Belize would benefit a lot if Belizeans are educated in proper garbage disposal,” commented Mr. Ico. “By doing so the entire country would benefit as the waste would be converted to energy and distributed in a much cheaper price. Of course, all of this is just something that was brought up and needs a lot of review from both countries.”
In the area of agriculture the main concern was the trade of sugar. Belize had a few problems earlier this year as the sugar was not meeting the international standards to be exported. So Cuba has agreed in holding workshops in the agriculture section for farmers to be better educated and for the products to be at international standards.
The Mayors Association presence at the mixed commission was important as it was a form of support to the Government of Belize Delegation. “On a whole the mixed commission was very successful and hopefully both Belize and Cuba will benefit from everything that was discussed,” commented Mr. Ico.
Cuban Foreign Minister, Mr. Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, presented everyone of the Belize Delegation with a gift of appreciation for having attended the 12th Belize/Cuba Commission at Havana Cuba.