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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)
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Prime minister Ralph Gonsalves, on Monday, urged Vincentians studying on scholarships in Cuba to “continue to be strong and do your work as you best as you can in all the circumstances” in the face of the worsening economic crisis there.

“The students, from the reports I have received, are bearing whatever discomforts and hardships with equanimity. Doesn’t mean you would enjoy a discomfort but they don’t want to throw in their towel,” Gonsalves said at a press conference in Kingstown.

He urged Vincentian students in Cuba to “do your work as you best as you can in all the circumstances and we are monitoring the situation with the Cuban government and very much so with our ambassador”.

The prime minister dismissed a suggestion that Kingstown should ferry food to its nationals in Cuba.

“How can we go and take food and take it to Cuba, as some unthinking persons are asking, to feed Vincentian students? What about the Cuban students, what about the other nationalities? What about the Cuban people themselves?” Gonsalves said.

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“When the difficulties come, we have to take the rough with the smooth. And I know families, in some individual ways, are trying to help, but this is a temporary difficulty. I ‘m told it is nowhere as challenging as those persons who were educated in what is called the special period when the Soviet Union collapsed…”

In September, a Vincentian scholarship recipient in Cuba sent iWitness News a commentary on the situation in the communist nation as the United States stepped up their sanctions.

 “The economic situation in Cuba has been deteriorating for quite some time and, sadly, continues to worsen, and Cuba has now entered what is known as the second ‘special period’,” said the student who did not want their identity known.

The student added:  This “period” affects the availability and prices of food products throughout the island. These shortages, which not only affect the locals, have a great deal of reverberations on the foreign demographic, most notably those of us studying, as we purchase goods in local supermarkets, which are currently understocked and even empty.”

Speaking at a press conference in Kingstown on Monday, Gonsalves said that his government has been in touch with its Ambassador in Havana, Ellsworth John.

“You know, I would just like if people would, in relation to Cuba, some people, if you  would just drop your bitterness and shed what relatively useless ideological antipathy which you have to the Cuban government and people,” the prime minister said.

He said Cuba has trained, free of charge, hundreds of Vincentians, contributed to the Argyle International Airport, has a permanent mission at the hospital in SVG, and accommodate Vincentians who need specialist tertiary health care at rates that are lower than in Barbados, Trinidad or the United States.

Gonsalves said Cuba made thousands of people in SVG “see better physically and one or two who were basically blind, were made to see under the “Vision Now” under which persons were transported to Cuba for free eye care.

“You mean to tell me that because there is now a difficulty in Cuba, you’re using this as an opportunity to attack Cuba and the Cuban people and the Cuban government and not make the criticism at those who are breaking international law by having a blockade around Cuba, continuing this blockade, putting pressure on Venezuela where Venezuela can’t send the fuel to Cuba because they are sanctioning the ships?” the prime minister said.

“Those are the people [to] whom the critical comments should be directed. I am very sympathetic, clearly, to the Cuban people for this essential economic war, which is waged against them by the most powerful country in the world. It’s a sin to make people suffer like that. A sin!” the prime minister said.

He said that Cuba enjoys the support of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I know that the whole country, that we are also very sympathetic and touched, and it pains us that the students who are there have to endure hardship too.”

He said the Cuban government give scholarships recipients their tuition, as well as free board and lodging and a little stipend.

“But we give them annually EC$5,000 because – I mean I will tell you, the number of times Fidel [Castro] asked me why yo’ don’t withdraw this money, the students are so much better off and some of them flaunting it in the communities and where working people working to send them and give them free education.

“And so I always got to explain to Fidel the context and how we have to address this. He never really understood it – why you have to give additional money to them.”

Gonsalves said he had read and heard all kinds of suggestions about what must be done for the Vincentian students in Cuba.

24 replies on “‘Continue to be strong,’ PM tells Vincies in Cuba”

  1. It really is terrible that Trump is leading such punishment on Cuba and Venezuela. Although Trump is far better than all the Democrats, At least Obama was not so terrible to these loser countries. Obama may have been the worst President in history with causing more indebtedness than all Presidents combined and being a terrible war-monger, liar, and bragging about how good he was at killing people with drones, he at least never got extreme against Cuba.

    1. I remember Obama trying to hug dictator raul castro,the man responsible for the poberty and hunger I lived throught my youth till I made it to America. Thats despicable

  2. Reality has a way of catching up with all peoples no matter how hard they try to hide it from others and so it is in Cuba and Venezuela. Watch; Nothing Changed!

    US citizen E.A. Bucchianeri from the old Wild West, Virginia City, Nevada had this to say; “I have been told the best things in life are free, I found them very expensive.” And so do most people!

    However, The National Socialist, the socialist and all communist would have us believe otherwise. Vincentian students in Communist Cuba are finding out the hard way the true facts of life, while our own day of reckoning under the Ralph Gonsalves family regime, beckons on the horizon. How long, how long, how much longer? Ralph Gonsalves speaks of differing ideology yet reality speaks of hunger, ego and gross folly!
    Amnesty names five new political prisoners in Cuba. Rights group says detentions show not much has changed since Raul Castro handed over power to a younger leader in 2018. The US sanctions Cuba’s Castro for supporting Venezuela’s Maduro. The sanctions block Raul Castro and his immediate family from entering the United States. Now caught up in the US drag net are our Vincentian students.

  3. B Sc. Sociology with a minor in International Relations says:

    I do not understand why our Prime Minister continue to justify and try to champion the cause of this ungodly communist system. The students are suffering in Cuba, they should be on the next flight back home. Besides, thousands of vincentian students go to Cuba annually and up to now, you cannot see how they are contributing to our economy. We still had to bring Cubans here to build the airport, we still had to bring cuban doctors here to work in the state of the Art hospital. Where are the students and what are they really doing? Cuban Intelligence??

    1. Sociology, he supports and runs with them because he is one of them. He is a convert to communism, he believes communism is inevitable, as inevitable as the Sun dying, as the universe ending is.

      Its all the commies thoughts of why should you need to be “converted” in the face of inevitability? You’ll either come to the right side of history or you’ll drown in the ocean of the past with all the rest of the reactionaries.

  4. Student wants and Living conditions? Of all the talk that the Ralph Gonsalves family regime put forward, and that of the remaining living Castro there and Venezuela’s Maduro, talk of the wonderful beauties of practical Socialism, well here is Cuba’s Socialism for you, and this is even before the now Venezuelan Crisis that is denying Cuba the ability to fully exploit the Venezuelans.

    One building collapsing in Havana every second day. However, In Venezuela it’s your life that’s on the line, it being the murder capital of the world. In Cuba its over 60 years of Socialism in action and this is what they get! Chaos and decay.

    But is Capitalism on the way back in Cuba? Are the people being allowed by the regime to get over their confusion? Yep’ this is Cuba’s Socialism in action! And as you can see it’s over 60 years of utter chaos and decay with the poor having a profound desire to get rid of their oppressive socialist dictatorship!

  5. As a Cuban American I would love to ask the prime minister his thoughts about all the Cubans in jail not for committing crimes but just political reasons. Would also love the prime ministers comments about why two of the riches Latin American countries at one time , Cuba and Venezuela, and now in terrible economic conditions with wide spread hunger and thousands of their citizens gone.

    1. You are right to ask Ben. Many of these Socialist leaders are also brutal killers. I do not know for sure about Venezuela but former Socialist leaders such as Adolph Hitler, Stalin and Castro massacred large numbers of thier own innocent people because they had other political beliefs. “Papa” “The Comrade” Stalin was a master at putting on a smile and talking about “Love” while sending tens of thousands of Russians off to die in the Gulags. Castro saved money by just lining them up against a wall and shooting them. I hope SVG does not fall further into this extreme anti-opposition behaviour.

  6. I will also comment here this prime minister needs to review the tortures of many Cubans since 1959.
    You can’t throw gold to Raul castros terrorist goberment
    Thothands of humans have died via sea and tortured in jails by the castros United States have an Embargo against Cuba and will remains there untill the castros
    Leave the island

  7. The Prime Minister has said that the persons who suggested that Kingstown should ferry food to the students in Cuba are unthinking persons. If we are unthinking he is probably senile. Only dictators and tyrants subject their people to these conditions.

    Hon P.M, Let me ask you a question. Who were you elected to serve? Is it the Vincentian people, the Cuban people or other people of the world. Your response suggest that you are unsure. Do you think that the US, British or Canadian Government would subject their citizens to these types of inhumane conditions?

    You have a duty of care and an obligation to all Vincentians weather they reside at home or abroad. You can do either of the following, recall the students or provide some for assistance to them. That’s your responsibility. Those Governments who choose not to provide food for their students in Cuba are negligent in the discharge of their duties and responsibilities.

    You could be smart and kind. If you are sending rations to Cuba’s you would not only send for the Vincentian students but you must be considerate of Cuban people as well. The bottom line however, is that you have to take care of your citizens. We need a more educated response on this issue.

    Hon P.M. You need to get it right. It’s seems like your faculties are diminishing.

  8. Here is a means by which St. Vincent and Grenadines can me helpful to the Cuban people in a significant way. Plantain is a staple of the Cuban peoples diet. A simple and highly efficient gesture is to set a target of donating One Million plantain cultivars to the Cuban people over the next two years. This can be easily achieved by utilizing the laboratory at Orange Hill through a process of tissue culture.

    Further set a target to donate One hundred Thousand breadfruit cultivars to the Cuban people. This can be achieved through a process of air layering. Breadfruit has the potential to create complete food security for small
    Island states within the tropics. Food for thought.

    1. Carr you are so far below the bar. Man cannot live by plantain alone. The Cuban people certainly do not need anything from Vincentians by way of plantain cultivars. What the actually need is a new style of government that can provide without that top heaviness of supporting a massive communist party.

      By the way the upper Party Members get much better rations and allocations, they live a better life style.

      Do away with the party and bring proper normality to peoples lives.

      Cuba and Venezuela were failing there people long before US sanctions.

    2. i agree with all you wrote Augustus. You have the best mindset and those are good solutions. I have no idea how things really are in Cuba, or Venezuela. I do not trust anything from US Government sponsored Corporate Media. Generally I believe our PM has a very good Foreign Policy, but as you wrote, he has to pay more attention to the situation in SVG. I am saddened seeing that Street Vendor is the largest industry in SVG. Too many of these countries have terrible and hopeless Economic Systems. Sanctions and blockades by the USA make things even worse. Putin has turned Sanctions into a mechanism of economic growth for Russia. Why can’t these leaders do something similar?
      Another thing that saddens me is experiencing all the economic mechanisms in SVG that guarantee we will never be an efficient growing economy. The only source of change for the better could be the government, but they keep things the way they are because they believe it benefits them. I have mentioned small changes to officials that will make certain aspects much better but I am always ignored.
      The worst part is that the government seems to want taxes to be as high as possible so they continue getting an even bigger piece of the pie, believing the more they take from us the better the country will be.. They are oblivious to the fact that investment needs capital to flourish. all taxes concerning business in SVG are so high that investment is minuscule.
      Impoverishing the very entity that you need to draw revenue from is not going to get you more revenue. Few investors come to SVG because they are treated better elsewhere.

  9. Antonio Martinez says:

    Typical BS from a communist. Lying, stealing and assassinating are keys to the tenets and practices of communism. They continuously lie to the masses over again, hoping that they will believe them, and when that fails, they always have political prisons and firing squads.

  10. Go Gunzi Go! Your needed in Cuba, we do not want you, the Cubans love you, you love the Cubans, so p–s off and live there.

    The joke is that when Gonsalves goes to Cuba he goes to expensive restaurants and eats enough food in a night to feed two or more Vincentian students for a month. So talking about, how about the Cuban students? How about the Cuban people? yes how about them comrade.

    If you look at this article there is a photo of the comrade eating in a Cuban restaurant in Havana that is reserved for special people.

    And he has the audacity to tell us he will not be sending food to our people unless he can feed everyone else in Cuba. Well he should remember that when he is at the trough next in Havana.

    Cuba deserves all that they get, yes its a shame the people should suffer. But when you comrade tell the story of the dead Cuban billionaire, Fidel Castro, him giving you advice not to give the further $5000 stipend to our students. It shows what a total a– hole he was doesn’t it?

    In the 50s and 60s Russia was like Cuba, no food in the shops but still doing things for other countries like Cuba. They spent millions all over the word in the hope of changing the whole world into a communist hellhole. Dead man Chavez and his apprentice Maduro, did the same thing starve their people, baby’s and old people dying whilst shelling out money that belongs to Venezuelans to nations like SVG who they ultimately want to own.

    Whatever is happening in Cuba and Venezuela has the same root cause, socialism. They are being treated by the US in the way they are to try and bring about a regime change for the good of the people. It may be rough on the people but that is wat it takes to flush out the vermin from among them.

    As for the Cubans helping us at Argyle airport. They took a three year project and took nine years to complete it. Whilst much of that time we were shelling out about $300 thousand a month to pay for their workers. They did nothing for nothing, they were grossly overpaid. The Vincentian people were mislead into believing that Venezuela was paying for the Cubans which turned out to absolutely untrue. We did not need the Cubans, there are thousands of Vincentians sitting around with nothing to do. They only stayed quiet because we were deceived into thinking that the Cubans were part of a deal by which the Venezuelans would pay their wages and also pay for all the plant and machinery. We got about $30k of used machinery paid for by Venezuela then spent $300 million of our own money to buy the rest.

    There are still people who are owed for their land at Argyle.

    So, Go Gunzi Go! Your needed in Cuba, we do not want you, the Cubans love you, you love the Cubans, so p–s off and live there.

  11. I don’t see why an open society is under any obligation to support a closed one. If Cuba wants relief, choose freedom and DEMOCRATIC socialism.

  12. I think every tourist should have to bring flour, sugar and donate $25.00 to the Cuban citizens payable on arrival in Cuba. I would happily do this, as I am going on vacation to Cuba next month…xo

    1. Muriel you should not be going to Cuba with the thought in mind of feeding the people. Would you visit any other Caribbean country and take food to feed the people. You are one of those responsible for prolonging the agony of the Cuban people. Stay away until the nasty dirty system and regime changes

  13. eduardo gomez says:

    At the end the Embargo to cuba is been for over 50 years it doesn’t work. who suffer the most the people not who is in power

    1. I agree Eduardo. I am not sure about everything in Cuba, but the USA should not make a terrible situation worse for the average citizen of these countries that have terrible self-serving governments.

      We should all hope it does not happen to us in SVG. The government in SVG is also a very self-serving government |(luxury for them, crumbs for the people) that has taxes and Customs that are so high that there is little opportunity for the people. In Cuba that tiny part of opportunity is nullified by US Government hostility.

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