Saturday, February 21, 2009

Colom Criticized for not Obtaining Agreements with Cuba

Critics complain that President Alvaro Colom failed to make any formal signed agreements with Cuba during his recent visit there.

The Foreign Minister, Haroldo Rodas, argued that the absence of firm agreements during the recent official visit of President Alvaro Colom to Cuba was because the island does not normally enter into agreements.

Rodas, like Colom, explained that "Cuba does not normally enter into agreements not dealing with specific aspects of cooperation previously agreed upon." He said that in this case the signatures on cooperation agreements between two countries "often occur in other bilateral meetings."

However, the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez, during her official visit to the island, signed 11 bilateral agreements. Among them were agreements about the production of vaccines, antiretroviral drugs, and anti-cancer drugs.

Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile, also made an official visit to Cuba which resulted in the signing of two agreements in the areas of health and science, and technology and innovation.

Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba, President of Namibia, signed agreements with Cuba to support education and health.

The Guatemalan foreign minister said that in the coming weeks a binational commission will meet in Guatemala to discuss follow-up or new treaties will be signed to implement new technologies, purchase of medicines or vaccines, and cooperation in housing construction, where the Guatemalan government has expressed interest in being assisted by Cuba.

Attorney Giovanni Fratti commented that the foreign minister "tries to hide the incompetence and improvisation in external relations of this [Alvaro Colom's] government." He went on to say "the Government must prove with facts the results that he claimed to have obtained with this visit."

Last Wednesday, upon his return from Cuba, President Alvaro Colom explained: "In Cuba there is no tradition of signing agreements. Things are just done and implemented."

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