Bilateral relations and cooperation between Laos and Cuba

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Laos and Cuba are strategic partners with a good relationship and long-term partnership, based on their shared vision of socialist ideology.

Cuba established diplomatic relations with Laos on November 4, 1974, and the Embassy of Cuba is located in Vientiane. Since then, the two countries have been helping and supporting each other and have contributed to enhancing cooperation between the two parties, governments and peoples.

This has been in evidence in the international arena, through the United Nations, and at the United Nations General Assembly in particular. On such occasions, the Lao side acknowledged that Cuba was besieged by America, and urged the United States to cease the blockade unconditionally, because it violated international law.

In terms of cooperation, the two sides signed a joint cooperation agreement in Vientiane for the period 2004-2007. The agreement was signed in late 2004 by Politburo member of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP), Mr Choummaly Sayasone, and a Politburo member of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), who was visiting Laos at that time. Each year, both parties have arranged reciprocal visits by Politburo members and various delegations.

From the 1970s to the present, senior leaders of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party have visited Cuba in more than 20 delegations.

In addition, the two parties have joined together to celebrate important occasions, notably anniversaries of the Parties of Laos and Cuba. In 2015, on the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the LPRP, the PCC hosted a celebration in Havana. Both parties sent greetings and messages of good wishes during the 10th Party Congress of Laos and the 7th Party Congress of Cuba.

Last year, senior Cuban leaders and their delegations visited Laos. This year, the President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers of Cuba, Mr Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, and his wife, together with an official delegation, will pay a state visit to Laos from November 10-11.

The two-day visit by Mr Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez is in response to an invitation from President Bounnhang Vorachit.

Socio-economic cooperation between the two countries is not as extensive as it might be because there are many difficult circumstances and limitations on both sides.

Cooperation with Cuba is not a form of investment, but the Cuban government provides technical assistance to Laos.

Cubans have come to Laos to work as boxing coaches and doctors, and Laos provides accommodation for them. In addition, cooperation in the production of medicines is undertaken by Cuba. Although no money is invested directly, experts are sent to Laos to help.             

In terms of education and sports, Cuba has provided scholarships for Lao nationals, with Laos paying for airfares. Because of financial constraints, experts from Cuba come to work in Laos while the number of students sent to study in Cuba is limited.

Laos greatly appreciates Cuba’s support for education. Lao students who graduate from Cuban centres of education return home to participate in Laos’ development, with many playing a central role in state affairs.

In the past, some Lao nationals have taken courses in Cuba with Cuban government funding. Seven of these studied sports and six were sent through cooperation between Laos’ Ministry of National Defence and the Cuban Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces.

Another 27 people funded their own studies in Cuba in fields such as medicine, forestry, information technology (IT), farming-animal husbandry, sports education, mechanical engineering, telecommunications, accounting, Spanish and English.

Laos and Cuba have been satisfied with their achievements in friendly and cooperative relations over more than five decades, with both countries having provided mutual support in national liberation, defence and development.

The traditional cooperation and relations between the two parties, states and peoples spans various sectors.

This year, the Cuban government has provided new scholarships for six Lao nationals to study at the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana - an institution of international prestige - and at other universities, in the specialties of Law, Philology and Spanish, for the academic year 2018-2019.

Laos has diplomatic ties with 141 countries and relations with more than 130 political parties of these countries. About 26 countries have set up embassies in Vientiane and four have consulates here.

Laos has 26 embassies, three permanent representative offices, nine general consulates, one consulate office and 17 honorary consulates in other countries.