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PM Calls on UWP Leader to 'Abandon Cold War Thinking'

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He also wants UWP to clarify its position on relations with Havana


Contact: Prime Minister's Press Secretary

Thursday, January 5, 2006 - Prime Minister Dr Kenny D. Anthony has expressed concern about negative statements about Cuba by the Leader of the United Workers Party (UWP) and is calling on the opposition party to clarify its position on St. Lucia's relations with Cuba.

In a recent statement, Sir John Compton said the deepening of relations between Cuba, Venezuela and CARICOM member-states could upset the United States and result in negative consequences for the governments and people of the region.

But Prime Minister Anthony says Sir John's statements are “entirely out of order.”

Said the Prime Minister: “I am exceedingly concerned about the critical and unflattering statements about Cuba and Venezuela made by the UWP Leader.”

He said it was “imperative that Sir John clarify the UWP's position, particularly regarding St. Lucia's relations with the Government and people of Cuba.”

Dr Anthony, said Sir John's statements “also fly in the face of the reality that Cuba is also assisting other member-states of CARICOM through technical assistance and cooperation in the fields of education, health, housing and construction.”

The Prime Minister noted that Cuba has trained scores of St. Lucians over the past 27 years and continues to give much assistance to the island, particularly in the areas of health and education.

He pointed out that “at present, there are 231 St. Lucian students in Cuba, studying various subjects that will prepare them to contribute to their country's development.” Of these, the PM added, “15 are studying Civil Engineering, while 52 are studying Medicine, including dentistry.”

The Prime Minister noted that in the area of health care, Cuba's Miracle Eye Care Programme was one which has benefited hundreds of St. Lucians.

He pointed out that “up to December 31, 2005 a total of 8,887 St. Lucians had been examined here by Cuban doctors.” Of these, he added, “approximately 1,000 patients have travelled to Cuba, where 932 surgical operations were carried out, while another 1,000 are awaiting their turn to go to Cuba for surgery.”

“In many of these cases,” he said, “surgery was done on both eyes.”

He also noted that, “apart from those who have recently been to Cuba for eye care, many St. Lucian citizens have also travelled to Cuba in the past for other types of medical care that are either unavailable here or too expensive to afford.”

According to the Prime Minister: “Cuba has always respected St. Lucia's sovereignty and has never interfered in our domestic affairs.”

He said the UWP Leader's position on Cuba was therefore “not only unflattering, but reeks of Cold War behaviour, for which successive UWP governments, under Sir John Compton, were well known.”

The Prime Minister concluded: “In light of the fact that St. Lucia and St. Lucians have benefited so much from Cuba, the UWP Leader must say, in clear and unambiguous terms, what is his party's position regarding St. Lucia's relations with Cuba.”

January 5, 2006

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