Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna has returned from an official visit to Cuba with the Cuban government's commitment to developing bilateral relationship with Jamaica to assist in the development of the youth and culture portfolios.
The Cuban government, which has centred its entire policy framework on the cultural development of its people, has offered technical support to the Jamaican Government in the development of projects and programmes that will be of benefit to Jamaicans.
Of significance, Hanna participated in a one-day seminar hosted by former Cuban President Fidel Castro. According to Hanna, meeting with Castro was a significant opportunity to learn about his commitment to the importance of culture to the development of Cuba and the skills of the Cuban people. He demonstrated his knowledge on a wide range of issues and demonstrated that he has remained an engaged commentator on world issues and events, despite his recent illness.
She also met with Julio Ballester, deputy minister in the Ministry of Culture, regarding bilateral arrangements in culture, and with her counterpart, Culture Minister Abel Prieto.
Among her engagements were visits to the Cuban Higher Institute of Arts, which provided insights into the training and standardisation of certification for cultural and creative industries professions.
She also visited the Palace of Computation, where people of all ages participate in information communication technology activities, including the development of culturally specific Cuban video games.
Another highlight of the minister's Cuban visit was the participation in a rehearsal at one of the island's 'Colmenita' after-school performing arts centres. It is a programme for children and has several centres across Cuba and in several Latin American countries. The children, who demonstrated high skill levels in the performing arts, tour the world with their performances and performed for the minister and her delegation.
Purpose of visit
In keeping with her youth mandate, the minister also met with Jamaican students studying in Cuba.
The main purpose of Hanna's visit was to represent Caribbean delegations at the Cuba International Book Fair, hosted by Cuban Vice-President Estaban Lazo. She received the signal honour of speaking on behalf of the Caribbean delegations. The book fair, which is one of Cuba's most noteworthy cultural activities this year, was dedicated to the cultures of the Caribbean nations.
The delegations included representatives of several CARICOM member states, Mexico, the six Central Caribbean countries and the four South American countries with Caribbean coasts. The Cuban recognition of Caribbean culture was particularly significant in light of the celebration of the 40 years of diplomatic relations between CARICOM and Cuba.
In her address, Hanna reiterated CARICOM's solidarity with its Caribbean neighbours and pointed to its emphasis on culture as one area in which the group of countries can learn important lessons. Speaking of the changing nature of developmental challenges facing CARICOM nations, she said addressing those issues required "willingness on our part, as leaders, to be resolute in ensuring that the fundamental human instincts of nurturing, care and protection of each other that have become suppressed and set aside in this globalised world, are again placed at the forefront of every progressive agenda".
These principles, she noted, "must be at the forefront of a new culture of productivity, one that is necessary for transforming our nations into more globally competitive ones, while not losing the vibrancy of distinctive Caribbean identities. This is the mission of my generation".
The ministries of culture of Jamaica and Cuba will continue to develop areas of cooperation to be agreed upon and implemented in short order.