The year 2020 marks 60 years of continued friendship between Indonesia and Cuba. It all started in Jakarta in 1959, when then-commander Ernesto “Che” Guevara arrived in Jakarta as the special envoy of Cuba’s prime minister. At the end of his visit, an announcement was made: Indonesia and Cuba would establish diplomatic relations.
On Jan. 22, 1960, the two states officially opened diplomatic relations. Four months later, Indonesia’s founding father Sukarno, affectionately called Bung Karno, paid a historic visit to Cuba. He was the first head of state to visit the Caribbean island after the triumph of the Revolution.
During his visit, president Sukarno had extensive exchanges with commander-in-chief Fidel Castro.
Mutual sympathy between the two leaders was visible. From that time on, Cuba and Indonesia have maintained a friendship and solid cooperation in various fields, including in issues of the international agenda that presidents Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez have respectively ratified.
Cuba recognizes the role of Indonesia as a precursor of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which our country presided over twice.
Cuba also acknowledges Indonesia’s past support of Cuba’s struggle against the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States and appreciates Indonesia’s customary vote in favor of the United Nations General Assembly’s resolution that for the past 27 years has demanded the end of this obsolete practice.
One of Cuba’s most emotive offers of solidarity to Indonesia occurred in 2005, when a team of 25 doctors from Cuba went to Aceh province to relieve the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that affected the region in December 2004.
Cuba returned later with the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade (HRIMB), specializing in disaster situations and serious epidemics. The HRIMB arrived in Yogyakarta in May 2006 with around 76 doctors, and other staff, who worked in two field hospitals fully equipped by the Caribbean nation.
The links between the two nations have stood the test of time and distance to show concrete results of cooperation in areas such as sports, health, culture, human resources training and epidemiological surveillance.
Looking to the past drives us to move toward the future with greater determination.
Actually, Indonesia and Cuba are immersed in defeating geographical barriers and promoting a commercial exchange that honors the political ties between both countries.
Currently, our nations share the vision of promoting economic diplomacy and seeking new markets for our respective products. In this context, the potential for Cuban and Indonesian companies is greater, mainly in areas such as tourism, agriculture, the pharmaceutical industry and biotechnology.
From the approval of Cuba’s new Foreign Investment Law and the launch of the Mariel Special Development Zone, interesting opportunities have opened up for Indonesian businesses in Cuba, which could also allow them to project toward the Latin American and Caribbean markets.
In this regard, the biggest island in the Caribbean (population of 11 million) is very competitive as a result of its highly trained personnel, excellent health indicators, as well as its security and political stability.
The 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Cuba is a cause for celebration, but at the same time the perfect motivation to relaunch economic-commercial cooperation between our countries, and thus offers greater opportunities for the development of our peoples.
Ambassador designate of Republic of Cuba to Indonesia
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.