Guyana Chronicle / Guyana’s Housing Minister, Valerie Patterson-Yearwood (standing fourth right) with members of the GACC delegation during a visit to the Embassy of Guyana in Havana, Cuba A 50-member Guyanese delegation from the diaspora in the United States has ended a week-long people-to-people visit to Cuba during which they enjoyed the open friendship and warm hospitality of the Cuban people.
The delegation, comprising members of the Sunshine State Softball Cricket Association (SSSCA) and the Guyanese-American Chamber of Commerce (GACC), visited Cuba as part of the 48th Republic Anniversary celebrations, as well as celebrations marking the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Guyana and Cuba.
The visitors opened their encounter last Thursday in the city of Holguín, which is home to hundreds of Cubans who visit Guyana to engage in trading. While there, members of the delegation interacted with Cuban children and adults who displayed their cultural talents in the city square. Later, the team travelled for three hours by road to Santiago de Cuba.
On Friday, February 23, Guyana’s Republic Day, the SSSCA played two softball cricket matches against a Cuban team and against another comprising Caribbean students studying at universities in Santiago de Cuba, both of which were won by the visitors. An appreciative gathering, including a group of schoolchildren, watched the matches amidst a musical performance by a local guitarist/singer, one of whose renditions was a song he composed, titled Guyana.
On Friday, some of the visitors also interacted with Cubans at the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, where the remains of several of Cuba’s heroes, including the ashes of Fidel Castro, are entombed. They witnessed the changing-of-the-guard ceremony at the memorial.
Members of the SSSCA and the GACC at the presentation of trophies following the cricket competition between teams from South Florida and Cuba Some four decades ago, the Government of Guyana donated a set of steel pans to the Cuban community in Santiago de Cuba, as well as provided two steel pan tuners to assist with the launch of Cuba’s first steel orchestra. On Friday afternoon, two of the organisers of the visit, Guyana’s Honorary Consul for Florida, Ramzan Roshanali, and president of the GACC, Wesley Kirton, were guests at a special event where performances were given by both the children and adult sections of the steel band. Both sections performed a variety of popular Cuban, Caribbean and American songs, including “We are the World.”
The band hopes to be able to perform in Guyana in the not-too-distant future. Scores of people from the community flocked the small hall and the streets surrounding the venue to view and listen to the performances. Speaking through a translator, the director, members of the band, and community members thanked Guyana for assisting with the formation of the band, which has since received additional assistance from Guyana’s CARICOM sister nation– Trinidad and Tobago.
This was followed by a meeting at the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce of Santiago, at which welcoming remarks were delivered by its executive director, Ms Alba Luis Blanco Mendez. A response was made on behalf of the visitors by Mr Wesley Kirton. The chamber celebrated its 55th anniversary on February 23rd.
The Hotel Melia in Santiago was the venue for Guyana’s Republic Anniversary celebration on Friday evening. Sponsored by Surinam Airways, which is the only airline currently providing non-stop service to Guyana from Florida, some 200 guests gathered for the event. Remarks were made by Mr Ramzan Roshanali, Mr Wesley Kirton, and a message was sent by Guyana’s Ambassador to Cuba, Mr Halim Majeed, who is currently hospitalised. Ms Maria Adams, director of international affairs of the City of Santiago, spoke on behalf of the government and people of Cuba.
The Guyanese visitors left Santiago de Cuba on Saturday morning via aircraft for Havana, where they enjoyed the rich culture of the Cuban people at the internationally famous Tropicana on Saturday night. On Monday, the interaction took the form of a cricket match which was won by the visiting team.
On Tuesday, the visitors were received by the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, during which they were brought up to date on the activities of the chamber. Later, a courtesy call was paid to Ambassador Majeed at the hospital at which he is recovering well after recent surgery and then they visited the Guyana Embassy, where they heard an impromptu presentation from Guyana’s Housing Minister, Ms Valerie Patterson-Yearwood. (This report was written by Ms Abbisola Oxley and is made possible through the support of Surinam Airways and DMC Travel)
GUYANA: Guyanese-American delegation ends successful Cuba tour
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