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Cuba keen to expand economic, trade, tourism ties with India: Envoy

Acknowledging warm and close ties with India dating back to nearly five decades, Cuban Ambassador to India Oscar J Martinex Cordoves on Thursday said that his country was keen to develop economic and trade relations with India, particularly in the field of IT, biotech, non-conventional energy and tourism. 

Speaking to a group of select journalists here at the Press Club of India, Cordoves who took up his diplomatic assignment in New Delhi only a few months ago, said that a lot of goodwill and support for Cuba exists among political class and people of India which would go a long way in further expanding Cuba-India relations in all spheres. “As Indian economy promises to grow at a fast pace, Cuba can be India's gateway to Latin American nations,”' he said. 

The communist island last month witnessed a historic visit by the US President Barack Obama and re-establishment of diplomatic ties with the US which also sparked off a debate along the lines of capitalism vs communism. This month from April 16 to 19, the all-important 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba was held in Havana which noted that President Obama’s visit to Havana came after 88 years of an American President. 

“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,”' the Cuban envoy 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. 

Cordoves said that Cuba wants to have an efficient economy but the broad direction of socialism through which the nation has been able to evolve a free healthcare and education system would continue. 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 the fruits of 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. 

In his opinion, 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 that India had extended a line of credit to Cuba three years ago and some projects had been taken up on the basis of the credit line. The envoy said that tourism was a thriving sector in Cuba and his country would encourage Indian tourists who are known to be avid travellers to visit the island which would also give a boost to its economy. 
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