The Cuban Ambassador to Fiji His Excellency, Mario Alzugaray Rodríguez, who was in country to present his credentials to His Excellency the President of the Republic of Fiji, made a courtesy visit to The Pacific Islands Development Forum Secretariat (PIDF) on Friday, 1st April, 2016.

Although the PIDF Secretary General, Mr François Martel is currently on an essential overseas mission, HE Rodriguez was met by Deputy Secretary General, Mr Penijamini Lomaloma who had the opportunity to provide an update on major accomplishments and strategic pathways forward to achieve PIDF’s mandated responsibilities.

The Deputy Secretary General also expressed appreciation for Cuba’s developing relations with the PIDF.

“Cuba was represented at our inaugural summit in 2013 by H. E. Ambassador Miguel Angel Ramírez, Director of Asia Pacific Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and since then we have met H.E. María del Carmen Herrera Caseiro, the then Ambassador of Cuba to Fiji whenever she visited Fiji,” said PIDF Deputy General Secretary, Mr Penijamini Lomaloma.

“As a small island developing state in the Caribbean, Cuba works closely with our Members on high priority SIDS issues, including climate change and the sustainable development agenda, including through the SAMOA Pathway,” said Deputy General Secretary, Mr Lomaloma.

Cuba is also a small island developing state and a member of AOSIS together with other PSIDS. Like the PIDF Cuba is a supporter of south-south cooperation and provides medical aid to the Pacific through providing medical doctors to the Pacific and scholarships to Pacific students to study medicine in Cuba.

Since the early 2000s, more than 170 young Pacific Islanders (including 90 Solomon Islanders, 23 i-Kiribati, 17 ni-Vanuatu, 20 Tuvaluans, and more than 14 Fijians) have studied medicine in Cuba and more than 30 heavily-subsidised Cuban doctors have arrived in the Pacific to support the domestic workforce.

As a state party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Cuba is an active member in related global discussions on biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions and the International Seabed Authority.