After four years of service in Barbados, friends, relatives and well-wishers said farewell to outgoing Cuban Ambassador to Barbados Francisco Fernández Peña on Monday.
In a special event at the Hospitality Institute in Hastings, Christ Church, the ambassador was showered with thanks for his tenure in Barbados as individuals reminisced on his life and work since he took up the post in 2014.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Dr Jerome Walcott said it was with a tinge of sadness that Barbados said thank you and a fond farewell to the Ambassador, whom he described as a friend.
Walcott said the establishment of the resident Cuban embassy in Barbados in 1994 represented a “firm step” in the bilateral relations between Bridgetown and Havana.
And pointing to recent bilateral meetings between Cuba and Barbados, Walcott said this was a symbol of recommitment between the two countries in the areas of tourism, health, creative economy, culture, sport, renewable energy, education and maritime affairs.
He thanked the ambassador for accomplishing “a great deal” during his tenure, adding that “there remains considerable scope for cooperation in many areas, and one such area of ongoing cooperation is that of education”.
If there was one thing the outgoing ambassador wanted to be remembered for was his promotion of the region as one entity, he said.
“I would like to be remembered for having saying once again it is not Cuba and the Caribbean, we are the Caribbean,” he remarked.
“The Caribbean is the Dutch countries, French countries, English countries and Spanish countries. So we are the Caribbean,” he added.
Acknowledging all those who have been helpful during his period as ambassador in Barbados, Peña said he was proud to have served in this country.
During the event which was attended by a number of ambassadors, Government ministers and representatives from local, regional and international organizations, patrons enjoyed live performances from a Barbados Community College ensemble and a group of Cuban musicians.
Speaking in his capacity as a member of the Pan-African Association in Barbados, Ambassador David Comissiong said the Pan-African movement considered Cuba as “a member our family”.
“So for us, Ambassador Francisco Fernández Peña is not just an ambassador, he is not just a friend, he is a brother,” said Comissiong. (MM)