Today, January 1, marks the 64th anniversary of the independence of one of the most important states in Central America: Cuba. A state built with great sacrifices and revolutionary spirit by millions of Cubans, seized by the sentimentality of freedom and independence.
This spirit of struggle for a free life is brilliantly expressed in the poem “Our revolution, our love” (“Revolución nuestra, amor nuestro”) written by the Cuban poet and essayist Roberto Fernández Retamar.
Cuba, the country of the West Indies, the largest island of the archipelago and one of the most influential states in the Caribbean region, the “Pearl of the Antilles”. Cuba has always been the typical image for an island in the Caribbean, a characteristic still alive today that gives it its unique charm. Beaches bordered by clear waters, tropical breezes, mango and guava plantations, crowded cities, full of fascinating examples of Spanish colonial architecture, with large markets, classic cars, music, all combine to create a special ensemble. But the country is also known for its cigars and rum, highly sought after all over the world, for baseball, for the revolutionary tradition and especially for the figure of Fidel Castro.
Its history is very old, Christopher Columbus discovering the country, while returning to Spain, after the second trip to the New World, in 1492.
In the second part of the 1950s, Fidel Castro Ruz, Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos, Raúl Castro Ruz and their army of rebels formed the numerous guerrilla groups that opposed the dictator Fulgencio Batista. Castro’s ’26th of July Movement’ quickly absorbed all these movements and seized power, forming the government after victory in 1959 against military forces loyal to Batista.
Cuba is a multicultural, largely urban nation, although it has only one major city: Havana (La Habana), the country’s capital and commercial center, on the northwest coast. Beautiful, if rather run-down, Havana has a picturesque waterfront and is surrounded by beautiful beaches, a draw for a growing number of visitors from abroad. Cuba’s other cities, including Santiago, Camagüey, Holguín, and especially Trinidad, offer a rich heritage of Spanish colonial architecture to complement the contemporary buildings.
The first information about Cuba in Romania dates back to the century. the eighteenth. The first contacts of Romanian scientists with the Cuban country and people took place at the end of the century. the 19th and the beginning of the century 20th: we are talking about the engineer Iuliu Popper (1857-1893), who was entrusted with the creation of the systematization plan for the city and port of Havana, and the academician Gregoriu Ştefănescu, who traveled through Cuba in 1906, on his way to a geology congress from Mexico.
The first diplomatic contacts between Romania and Cuba were recorded on the occasion of the Paris Peace Conference, when both countries were part of the Entente camp. It was even decided to open an honorary consulate in Havana (May 2, 1919), whose holder was the French-born lawyer Roger Lefébure, a former officer in the First World War. After an ephemeral existence, a new honorary consulate was opened on July 1, 1928, headed by Francisco Pérez de la Riva.
In the meantime, under the impulse of Nicolae Titulescu, interested in expanding relations with Latin American countries and linked by a sincere relationship with Professor Aristides de Agueroy y Bethancourt (1865-1933), the permanent representative of Cuba at the League of Nations, an agreement was reached regarding the establishment of diplomatic missions at legation level (April 13, 1927); the Cuban envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary in Prague was to be accredited in Bucharest as well, an intention that was not, however, implemented.
Following the victory of the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro and the proclamation of the new popular power on January 1, 1959, events greeted with enthusiasm in Bucharest, political-diplomatic contacts were resumed and the first economic negotiations were initiated.
At present, the economic, cultural and scientific relations between the two countries are modest, but the future will certainly bring them on an upward slope. It is worth noting, in this context, the visit to Bucharest, between June 5-12, 2022, of the Cuban delegation, led by the Minister of Higher Education, Jose Ramon Saborido, at the invitation of the Ministry of Education and the National Council of Rectors from Romania. On this occasion, the first meeting of the Cuban and Romanian rectors took place. In addition to the meetings with their counterparts, the Cuban rectors visited universities in Bucharest, Brașov and Târgu Mureș.
The main moment of the visit was the signing by the two ministers of the Education Cooperation Program between Romania and Cuba.
It should be noted that on the occasion of the participation of the Romanian rectors, at the Universidad 2022 Congress (Havana, February 2022), 18 cooperation agreements in the field of education and science were signed.