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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BRIDGETOWN2234
2006-12-22 18:24:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bridgetown
Cable title:  

BARBADOS REAFFIRMS FRIENDSHIP AND DIFFERENCES WITH

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  PINR  BB  CU  XL 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0004
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWN #2234/01 3561824
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221824Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3947
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1591
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA PRIORITY 0056
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J5 MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEHCV/USDAO CARACAS VE PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L BRIDGETOWN 002234 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CAR
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/17/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR BB CU XL
SUBJECT: BARBADOS REAFFIRMS FRIENDSHIP AND DIFFERENCES WITH
CUBA

Classified By: DCM Mary Ellen T. Gilroy for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: On December 7-8, Barbados hosted the fourth
meeting of the Barbados/Cuba Joint Commission to discuss
opportunities for deepening the two countries' relations and
exploring new areas for cooperation. The headline
announcement from the meeting was Barbados' agreement to
participate in Cuba's "Operacion Milagro," which offers free
cataract surgeries to patients in partner countries.
Barbados also requested Cuba's assistance in Cricket World
Cup preparations. However, recent public statements by
Barbadian Attorney General Dale Marshall demonstrate that
Barbados, while it may be interested in receiving Cuba's
assistance, is less interested in Cuba's socialist policies
and system. End Summary.

MEDICAL ASSISTANCE AND EDUCATION LINKS


--------------------------





2. (C) On December 7-8, Barbados hosted the fourth meeting
of the Barbados/Cuba Joint Commission. The meeting was
chaired by Teresa Marshall, Permanent Secretary in Barbados'
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Roberto Rivas Lopez,
Director of Latin America and Caribbean Division of Cuba's
Ministry of Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation.
Marshall opened the meeting by "sending our most warm and
fraternal greetings to the Government and people of Cuba, and
in particular to President Fidel Castro." Beyond these
atmospherics and pledges of mutual friendship, the meeting
seemed to break little new ground. According to press
headlines and Francois Jackman, the CARICOM desk officer at
Barbados' Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the meeting's key
deliverable was Barbados' agreement to participate in Cuba's
free cataract care program "Operacion Milagro." Barbados
spent over a year and a half reviewing the program after it
was first offered. The Barbadian Minister of Health, Jerome
Walcott, and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John,
approved the program only after a visit to Cuba to inspect
personally Cuba's medical facilities and standards.
According to a news release by the Barbados Government
Information Service, the agreement is still contingent on
further discussions with Cuba, and Jackman said that they
hope to finalize the agreement by March 2007. In light of
the malaria outbreak on Jamaica, Barbados also asked for
Cuba's assistance with assessing its malaria control program
for wetlands.



3. (C) In addition, Barbadian officials sought to highlight
the conclusion of an agreement on the recognition of degrees
earned by Barbadian students in Cuba. However, since
educational links between the two countries are limited, the
impact of this agreement will be negligible. Jackman
acknowledged that very few Barbadian students are attracted

to studying in Cuba, and vice versa, due to the language
barrier. Press reported that some 67 Barbadian students are
currently studying in Cuba, a figure that Jackman thought was
accurate. According to Jackman, there were no Cuban students
at the Cave Hill campus of the University of West Indies.

CRICKET WORLD CUP


--------------------------





4. (C) Barbadian press also reported that the government
requested assistance from Cuba in their preparations for the
2007 Cricket World Cup (CWC). Jackman told PolOff that the
two governments did not discuss any specifics, and the CWC
was just "thrown out as one area of potential cooperation."
The press reported that the CWC assistance from Cuba would
likely be in the area of emergency response, and Jackman
confirmed that the CWC came up during the governments'
discussion of Cuba's severe burn unit, which Barbados lacks
at the local Queen Elizabeth Hospital. According to Jackman,
there is definitely a need for further discussion with Cuba
on this issue, but he said that no meetings have been
scheduled yet.

ASSISTANCE TO CUBA


--------------------------





5. (C) On the face of it, Cuba seemed to get very little in
return for its generosity. Barbadian press was largely
silent on the topic of Barbados' assistance to Cuba, and
Jackman could offer only slightly more information. He said

that Barbados committed to provide assistance with some of
Cuba's sports programs, namely cricket and road tennis. He
added that Barbados was also considering providing English
language training, but at this point, no specific courses or
programs have been organized. However, as is usually the
case with Cuban assistance, no tangible reciprocation was
probably necessary or expected. Barbados and other countries
in the Eastern Caribbean have been consistent allies of the
Cuban government, demonstrating their support through votes
and public statements in the United Nations and other fora.

WE ARE NOT CUBA


--------------------------





6. (C) However, Barbados's support for and friendship with
Cuba apparently has its limits. In a public interview
published in December, Barbados' Attorney General Dale
Marshall argued strongly against the possibility of Barbados
turning to socialism in the future, despite recent leftist
trends in the hemisphere. Marshall essentially relegated
Cuban-style socialism to Barbados' dustbin of history when he
said: "Barbados was caught up in that (socialism) 30 to 40
years ago, when that was a pervasive theme not just in our
political arena but also in academia... I think we have gone
past that, and we have tried to find a path that works for us
and for Barbadians."

COMMENT


--------------------------





7. (C) It is encouraging that Barbadian officials are
realistic enough to see Cuba for what it is, rather than some
romanticized socialist paradise. This recognition, however,
will mean little in practice, at least in the near term.
Barbados is likely to continue welcoming--even if
cautiously--Cuba's assistance and supporting Cuba with words
and votes, if for no other reason than small island nation
solidarity. In Barbados' case, that solidarity probably
weighs more heavily in guiding Barbadian foreign policy than
Cuba's offers of help. In this regard, Barbados is different
from its smaller Eastern Caribbean neighbors, in that it is
less likely to be directly swayed by dollar diplomacy. For
example, Barbados spurned Venezuela's Petrocaribe offer, and
it chose to build its cricket stadium for the CWC with its
own resources. No doubt, Barbados' relatively strong
economic record and advanced level of development translate
into greater flexibility when it comes to offers of
assistance. However, Barbados has not used this flexibility
to strike out on its own in terms of foreign policy. While
Cuba, Venezuela, China and others may have less direct
influence over Barbados, Barbados will inevitably be bound to
its neighbors' policies because of their shared commitment to
the CARICOM consensus, principle of noninterference, and
small nation solidarity, as well as a certain degree of
anti-Americanism.
OURISMAN