Belize and Cuba want to find out more about their historical connections. And to do this, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding today that will see intensive research, cross cultural exchange and other collaborations of similar interests through workshops and projects over a four-year period. NICH and the Cuban Embassy in Belize held a short ceremony to establish the institutional cooperation agreement. Andrea Polanco was at today’s signing and tells us more in the following story.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
The National Institute of Culture and History signed a four year Memorandum of Understanding with the Centro de Estudios Martianos of Cuba to collaborate on research. President of NICH Sapna Budhrani says that the two entities will work to put together the pieces of Belize and Cuba’s shared history.
Sapna Budhrani, President, NICH
“The signing we had here today is an important step towards research in getting the facts together in knowing the relationship between Cuba and Belize. We have many records here in Belize and in Cuba where it goes back to the 1700’s of a relationship between Belize and Cuba. So, this is a starting point of ensuring that both parties could work together; share our resources and documents together. Going forward now that the MOU is signed is work ahead for us, for both parties, where we want to share the knowledge that we have. Both parties are committed to share what we have in our archives and send our resources and do an inter-change, an exchange maybe of some of our Belizean researchers to go to Cuba and likewise with Cuba exchanging their researchers here.”
“Once the Belize-Cuba research is done, is there anything you’re gonna do with that information?”
“We’re hoping to publish as we go along. That is our hope and vision moving forward, to share the knowledge that we have through social media, to the media and to everyone. So, we do plan to share whatever we come up with together.”
“I would imagine they will do the same in Cuba?”
“We are hoping for the same in Cuba, yes.”
The idea was floated out of a working visit to Cuba about two years ago. The Centro de Estudios Martianos is a research institute of dedicated to the study , research and dissemination of the life, writings and work of revolutionary leader José Martí – a freedom fighter and national hero to Cuba and Cubans in his movement against Spain for Cuba’s indepdence. Marti reportedly spent some time in Belize during his early childhood. One of the professors at the institute spent the last week in Belize doing some preliminary research.
Pedro Pablo Rodriguez, Professor, Centro de Estudios Martianos (Cuba)
“About the presence of the person of Cuba Jose Marti who lived some months in Belize when he was a child. As the rest of the Caribbean region, Belize and Cuba have shared by similar conditions in our identities such as the push down of original cultures by colonial rules. Jose Marti said, our republic must be grafted in the world; but the tree trunk must be from ours. From all this, I think that from this visit, this MOU that we are signing this morning could be done in real common actions between both institutions that would increase the knowledge, respect and solidarity between Belizeans and Cuban.”
Ambassador of Cuba to Belize Lisette Perez Perez says that the initiative will reveal more to Belize and Cuba’s deep connections.
Lisette Perez Perez, Ambassador of Cuba to Belize
“The history of the Belize House of Culture, the Belizean Film Festival and other events have strong linkages with Cuba. There are many opportunities on offering with Cuba’s willingness to continue to strengthen relations with Belize. We welcome this memorandum between these two institutions in knowing our common history and cooperating on matters of knowledge and research.”