Cuba Calling, Is India Listening?
Article122.pngWith nearly five-decade old warm and close Cuba-India ties when Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was very much talked about in global affairs, Cuban Ambassador to India Oscar J. Martinex Cordoves said that India can contribute substantially in the economic development of the communist island. Mr. Cordoves named the areas like IT, biotech, non-conventional energy, pharmaceuticals and tourism where India can play a leading role in developing trade and business ties with Cuba.
Talking to media-persons here on Thursday, the Cuban envoy who took up his diplomatic assignment in New Delhi only a few months ago, said that Indian political establishment and people have a lot of goodwill and support for Cuba from the days of Fidel Castro and Indira Gandhi which could go a long way in expanding ties in all spheres. ""As Indian economy remains a bright spot in the world and promises to grow rapidly, Cuba can benefit from it and also be India's gateway to the Latin American region,"" he said.
Last month, Cuba witnessed a historic visit to Havana by U.S. President Barack Obama, first by an American president in the past eight decades. A month later, from April 16 to 19, the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba was held in Havana which took note of President Obama's visit but remained critical of the US, doubting that it would undermine the Communist revolution. The Cuban Ambassador said that it was ""very brave"" of President Obama to undertake the visit to Havana and urge people to move forward, forgetting the past and history. ""But it is not easy, we are still badly affected by the blockade and sanctions,"" he said.
""It is a long and difficult process to get to normalize relations where Cuba demands the lifting of economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed more than half a century and despite the intentions of President Obama, is still in full force,"" he said. He also reiterated the demand for the return of the island, the illegally occupied territory by the US in the Guantanamo naval base, against Cuba's will for more than a century.
Mr. Cordoves said that Cuba wants to have an efficient economy based on the concept that socialist is a society of equal opportunities for all with social justice. He said that free health care and education system had been much appreciated the world over. He said that Cuban economy has to contribute to the essential material support to enable the socially just distribution of wealth. The strategic objective of the Cuban model is to promote a socialist society which is sustainable in economic, social and environmental aspects and committed to ethical, cultural, and political values forged by the Revolution.
The envoy said the young generation in Cuba wants to benefit from modern technology, telecom and internet in a collective way. He said the Cuban Communist Party congress also assessed that the next five years until 2021 would be decision for Cuba as the period would be gradual transition to hand over main responsibilities of the country to the new generation of Cubans. Cuba also needs to develop more economic special zones and encourage the vibrant private sector so that economy performs well on all parameters which is essential for social and equitable growth, he said.
The Cuban envoy said that India had extended a line of credit to Cuba three years ago and on its basis some projects had been taken up. He said that tourism was a thriving sector in Cuba and his country would encourage Indian tourists who are known to be avid globe trotters to visit the island which would also give a boost to its economy. In 2015 nearly 3.5 million foreign tourists had visited Cuba, showing a rise of 20 per cent over 2014 figures. Cuba-India bilateral trade has been rather low, about 38 million US dollars in 2013-14."