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Cuba to have greater presence in Caricom countries

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GEORGETOWN, GUYANA MARCH 12  (AP) - Cuba will open embassies in four more Caribbean countries, a move that will give it a presence in most of the Caricom nations, a Cuban official said Friday. Embassies in Antigua, St Vincent, Dominica and Suriname will open in about a month, said Alejandro Merchante Castellanos, Cuban Ambassador to the 15-member Caricom. 

"We will be completing all the countries of Caricom. This is a decision of our country to develop relations with all of them. The integration of the Caribbean is very important to us," he said while presenting his credentials to Caricom secretary general Edwin Carrington.

Although Cuba's relations soured with Grenada and Suriname in the 1980s, the communist nation has earned praise from its neighbors due to its work in the region, with more than 1,000 Cuban doctors providing care in the Caribbean and more than 1,200 Caribbean residents studying for free at Cuban schools.

Caricom has also consistently voted in the United Nations to end the 46-year American economic blockade of Cuba.
Cuba established diplomatic relations with Caricom in 1972. Since then, bilateral agreements have helped people throughout the Caribbean, Carrington said.

Cuban doctors also have provided free eye care to more than 10,000 Caricom nationals at Cuban hospitals since June under a programme funded by Venezuelan oil revenues. 


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