Ross Sheil, Staff Reporter
Jesus Silva. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer
Spanish officials met in Kingston yesterday to deliberate over the European Union
(EU) member country's proposal to increase its aid package to the region five-fold
for the over next four years.
Speaking with The Gleaner, yesterday,
at the opening session of deliberations at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston,
Spanish Ambassador Jesus Silva said that the US$100 million (J$6.6 billion) would
include financing the single CARICOM visa for travel between nine Cricket World
Cup 2007 host countries and Dominica. Other areas for funding will include training
for the tourist industry and alternative forms of agriculture, explained Ambassador
The Ambassador said the package would mark a "historic moment" whereby
Spain, colonial rulers of Jamaica before the British, is increasing its efforts
to re-engage with Caribbean countries after what he termed an absence of two centuries.
He expressed admiration with the process of integration between CARICOM member
states which, he said, was second only to the EU.
"This is for us a very urgent
and fresh experience," he said with respect to the Spanish experience of EU integration,
which helped take the country from a net recipient of aid to a major donor country.
"I think from this point of view we can become very significant partners," said
He added that Spain could play a part in bringing the grouping
closer to Spanish-speaking states through the Organisation of Ibero-American States,
a similar organisation to the British Commonwealth of which Jamaica is a member,
but representing the world's Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries, with a
population of over 600 million.
Increasing its presence
been increasing its presence in Jamaica in recent years through developments by
hotel chains Riu, Pinero and Iberostar.
Speaking at yesterday's function, Senator
Delano Franlyn, junior minister of foreign affairs and trade, said the investments
were responsible for Jamaica meeting its target of available hotel rooms for Cricket
World Cup 2007.
"This has not only brought in increased levels of construction
on the north coast, but has also provided high levels of employment. It is therefore
noteworthy that our engagement this week will provide an opportunity for advancing
discussions on strengthening our respective bilateral partnerships in various
areas," said Senator Franklyn.