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Cuban president’s visit to Belize will make history – but who will represent Opposition?

Posted: Sunday, February 12, 2023. 9:53 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Later this morning, President of the Republic of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez will touch down at the Philip Goldson International Airport for a whirlwind visit to Belize, the first by any Cuban leader in the countries’ shared history.

After a brief ceremony at the Airport, President Diaz-Canel and his delegation will be brought to the Government House in Belize City for brief bilateral talks and signing of agreements before he addresses a special joint sitting of the National Assembly. We are told this will be the first such sitting held outside of Belmopan since it became the capital and the first ever to be held on a Sunday.

After lunch, the President will meet with Cuban collaborators in Belize before departing around 5 p.m.

On Friday Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eamon Courtenay, explained that this is reciprocal for Prime Minister John Briceno’s visit to Cuba last year: “A state visit by any head of state to another country is a sign and signal to the solidarity, cooperation and the strength of the relationship between two countries. That’s how we would like to characterize this visit. We are very thankful for him to come, to bring his delegation and as I said, we welcome him.”

But one delegate not expected to be there is Leader of the Opposition, Moses “Shyne” Barrow. He told reporters earlier this week that his boycott is a protest: “Against anti-democracy, dictatorship, just as we as Belizeans are a very forgiving, very compassionate nation, once the Cuban government or the Cuban powers that be, or the Cuban authority allows for free and fair democratic elections, once they have a leader of the opposition, once they allow for opposition parties, and allow for the people to have a choice then I could celebrate them. But I will be a hypocrite, I would betray my core values and beliefs, I would betray what we stand for as Belizeans [if I attended.]”

Barrow’s position appears to be a lonely one, with the UDP’s first deputy leader Hugo Patt telling Channel 5 News he intends to be present in recognition of the two countries’ ties.

Breaking Belize News will be there as well and we will have live updates as the day progresses.

 

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