Belmopan. July 15, 2020. 12:30 p.m.

Today, July 15th, marks 25 years of established diplomatic relations between Belize and Cuba. It is, therefore, an opportune time to reflect on the evolution of this bilateral relationship.

The Belize-Cuba bilateral relationship bears all the signal markers and achievements of a robust, deep and fruitful partnership. The two countries have implemented a multitude of cooperation agreements covering many areas such as agriculture, health, education, and tourism. Belize and Cuba have undertaken many high-level visits, expressed positions of mutual support in international fora, and engaged cultural, sporting, and diplomatic accreditation exchanges. At critical moments of national disasters and in this COVID-19 pandemic, both countries have extended assistance to one another.

The scope of the cooperation between the two countries is all the more remarkable given the longstanding and suffocating economic and financial embargo imposed on Cuba — that in such circumstances Cuba still sustains a genuine generosity is deeply appreciated.

The bilateral relationship transcends government level, and continues to thrive at the people-to-people level where it is most impactful.

Hundreds of Belizeans are graduates of Cuban universities and their presence is felt in their contribution to Belize’s public and private sectors.  Through the Cuban flagship health initiative, the medical brigade presently has about 90 healthcare professionals deployed in Belize. Most recently, in its usual humanitarian manner, Cuba deployed 65 healthcare professionals to Belize to assist in the COVID-19 response. The partnership in healthcare, which is a demonstration of good faith, existed even before formal diplomatic relations and is in its 39th year.

Moreover, Cuban artists have collaborated and influenced their Belizean counterparts in lasting ways. Cuba has influenced and helped to broaden Belize’s approach and capacity in culture and the arts. However, to characterize the relationship between Belize and Cuba by only such markers would be to miss the spirit, solidarity, camaraderie, and respect, which imbues the relationship.

There remains in Belize, and among Belizeans, a deep admiration and respect for Cuba’s independent spirit, its self-sustenance, its willingness to chart its own path, its ingenuity and resilience in the face of ever-compounding difficulties and challenges. Therefore, it has been a duty for Belize to express its solidarity and support for Cuba internationally and most strenuously with respect to the unjust economic and financial embargo.

The Government and people of Belize celebrate this 25-year mark and look forward to continued partnership based on shared vision for human development, south-south cooperation, and regional solidarity.