President of Cuba Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel will make an official visit to St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Dec. 3-5, becoming the first Cuban leader to do so since the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves made the announcement in Parliament on Monday, saying that the national assembly will meet for a formal sitting in honour of the visit.
Gonsalves said that Díaz-Canel will remain in SVG until around midday on Dec. 5, before travelling to Barbados for the 8th Cuba-CARICOM Summit.
The prime minister said that as has been the case when heads of governments have addressed Parliament, he and the Leader of the Opposition will address the national assembly, followed by Díaz-Canel.
Gonsalves said a committee involving state officials and the Cuban ambassador to SVG had been set up to plan the visit and the programme was being finalised.
He noted that the vice president of Cuba visited SVG on Feb. 14, 2017, when the Argyle International Airport was opened.
Cuba was among the “Coalition of the Willing” nations that contributed to the construction of the airport.
“And, of course, we have had Cuban foreign ministers come to visit us. But this is the first time and I am sure the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines will respond very warmly to His Excellency President Miguel Diaz Canal and it would be a strengthening of the bonds of friendship between our two countries,” Gonsalves said.
“There will be much occasion to speak about these things but I thought that I’d make the formal announcement today. I didn’t want to make it too far in advance and I didn’t want to make it other than in Parliament, given our schedules.”