Golden Jubilee of Cuba-Sri Lanka relations
Cuban Ambassador Nirsia Castro Guevara
I am privileged to issue this message on the auspicious occasion of
the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Cuba and Sri
Lanka that falls on July, 29, 2009. With great satisfaction we can say
that our relations during these 50 years have been marked with fruitful
exchanges, mutual support and cooperation for the benefit of our two
As soon as the revolution took power in Cuba, in January 1959 the
Revolutionary Government decided to establish relations with different
countries specially those within the Non-Aligned Movement. The then
Ceylonese government recognized the new Government of Cuba and embraced
the idea of establishing diplomatic relations. A few days later, Che
Guevara leading a delegation visited the country and signed a trade
agreement to sell Cuban sugar.
The Cuban Embassy in Colombo was opened in 1960 and was functioning
till 1971 when economic reasons forced its closure and the Ambassador in
Delhi was concurrently accredited to Colombo. Later in 1974, Cuba
reopened its Embassy here and gave all her support to the Sri Lankan
Government on the occasion of the Fifth Summit of the NAM which was held
in Colombo in 1975.
The political relations between Sri Lanka and Cuba have been one of
respect and mutual collaboration.
In international meetings, conferences, as well as in matters of
bilateral interests our two countries have had a very fruitful exchange
of ideas. The relations between the former Prime Minister Sirimavo
Bandaranaike and President J. R. Jayewardene with leader Fidel Castro
were very cordial.
The two visits to Cuba by the late President Jayawardene, in 1979 to
participate the VI NAM Summit and a bilateral visit in 1985 were very
significant and also the discussions during the NAM Summits between then
Presidents Fidel Castro, the late R. Premadasa and Chandrika Kumaratunga
enhanced the personal and official exchanges at the highest level. Cuba
and Sri Lanka signed a Cultural Agreement in 1976 that was later updated
by subsequent protocols and a Scientific and Technical agreement in 1978
updated also by subsequent Protocols.
The execution of Scientific and Technical Collaboration started in
1987 with the arrival to Colombo of the First Cuban medical brigade and
other specialists in fields as education, sports, culture, science and
technology and others. In the 90s the changes in the economic situation
of Cuba, among other reasons, prevented further development of our
relations of cooperation.
The Higher Education sector has been a good example of the exchanges
between our two countries. Cuba has granted Sri Lanka, till this year,
approximately 100 scholarships in different specialties.
The health sector has also been scenario of bilateral cooperation.
Cuban doctors worked in the hospitals of Ampara and Anuradhapura for
many years and in 2004, after the tsunami they came to help the
suffering of the people affected by the natural catastrophe.
The visit to Cuba of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to participate in
the XIV NAM summit in September 2006 marked a new step in the process of
strengthening of bilateral exchanges. In 2007, a new Agreement of
Economic and Scientific Cooperation was signed, and at the end of 2008
the First Session of the Inter-governmental Commission for the Economic,
Technical and Scientific Cooperation between the two countries was held
in Havana. During the discussions at the First Session of the Joint
Commission several subjects were identified as suitable in broadening
and consolidating the bilateral cooperation.
Both countries are members of the Non-Aligned Movement and have
played an active role in it, as well as in other international
organizations, defending the noblest causes and promoting fair and just
relations among countries, no matter whether they are big or small.
In this 50th year of relations between the two countries we cannot
forget the uncountable manifestations of support and friendship
expressed towards Cuba by political, social, cultural, women, youth and
worker organizations and specially the powerful movement of friendship
and solidarity that has accompanied our country during these years.
Celebrating 50 years of good relations is a big achievement that has
been possible thanks to the contribution of many persons here in Sri
Lanka and in my country. We pay tribute to all of them at this moment.
We like to express our gratitude and high appreciation to President
Mahinda Rajapaksa who has contributed significantly to the development
of our relations.