Barbados is a paradise. It is a paradise not only for its beautiful beaches and crystalline waters, but also for the hospitality of its citizens and the smile of its people. I have been here for only nine months, yet this already feels like my ‘home away from home’. And the reason for my presence in my new home is to be on the ground, creating closer ties, gaining first-hand knowledge of Barbadian culture, idiosyncrasies, interests and concerns. In these times, when austerity is the norm in the sphere of international affairs, our permanent presence on the island is the most comprehensive proof of our willingness and interest in strengthening our friendship and contributing our resources towards the sustainable development of Barbados. With that in mind, during 2018 and coinciding with the celebration of 50-years of diplomatic relations between Argentina and Barbados, we launched a package of initiatives and actions aimed at achieving these objectives.
In April we hosted a 2-day Regional Cooperation Workshop in Bridgetown, with two representatives from each of the nine countries of the region, specially invited by the Government of Argentina. During the opening ceremony, the signing of the first Agreement of Technical Cooperation between Barbados and Argentina took place. This instrument serves as an umbrella to implement the concrete cooperation projects arising from the workshop in areas such as Agroindustry (sustainable soil and water management, and strengthening of the phytosanitary systems); teaching of Spanish as a second language (exchange of Language Assistants in order to improve academic and pedagogical training for teachers, and the implementation of a set of standards for Spanish as a Second Language in Barbados, linked to an International Performance Exam); and SME’s (creation of successful business incubators in strategic priority sectors).
Additionally, I would also like to highlight the signing of the first Memorandum of Understanding between CDEMA and COMCA-White Helmets (the unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina in charge of designing and implementing humanitarian assistance), which marks the beginning of a new stage in the relationship of cooperation between two such renowned agencies. We are aware of the challenges which Barbados and the region face due to the constant threat of more aggressive weather systems, and we want to be prepared to bring our experience to the creation of more conscious and resilient communities.
We are also very passionate about sports, mainly football, and we are world-famous for equestrian sports, especially polo, as Barbados is for cricket. In that regard, Argentina and Barbados signed the Sports Cooperation Agreement in September 2018, which provides a framework for both countries to develop various means of cooperation for the purpose of fostering, promoting and strengthening technical cooperation and sports exchanges, as well as attaining a higher level of development in the field of sports in both countries.
Under this umbrella, an educational and training trip to Argentina by the Barbados Under-17 National Football Team took place in December 2018, with additional participation by Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc and National Sports Council authorities.
In the field of cricket, a bilateral cooperation project has been implemented. The first stage involved the Barbadian cricket legend, Mr. Roland Butcher, travelling to Buenos Aires in September 2018 to direct a training programme for young Argentine players, held at the facilities of the Argentine Cricket association (ACA). A training trip by Argentine players to Barbados is planned for 2019.
Regarding polo, a tournament involving some of our most renowned players will take place in Barbados during 2019.
Furthermore, in the frame of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture 2018 (CWA), I personally presented a package of new cooperation projects to be implemented in the near future: soil recovery, water harvesting, phytosanitary control systems and fish waste treatment, the latter in collaboration with FAO. In this sense, Argentine Government hosted a Regional Cooperation Agribusiness Workshop in November 2018, specially designed for Caribbean countries. Two representatives from Barbados’ Ministry of Agriculture were invited to travel to Buenos Aires for the seminar.
In addition, the Argentine Undersecretary of Livestock, Rodrigo Troncoso, travelled to Barbados specially to participate in the CWA and held meetings with the authorities who attended the meeting of the council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), with the goal of introducing high quality Argentine meat to the local markets. I am very glad that Barbados already has the chance to enjoy a wide range of fantastic Argentine wines, next, I would love the country to be able to enjoy delicious Argentine beef.
In summary, in my role as Ambassador of Argentina to Barbados, I believe that the development of the commercial relationship between our two countries certainly has great potential. And I look forward to witnessing further success.