Top Line

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

We cleaned toilets to accommodate tourists in Cuba —Ambassador

We cleaned toilets to accommodate tourists in Cuba —Ambassador

February 3, 2016

Cuba Ambassador to Nigeria,  His Excellency, Carlos E Trejos in company of his wife, Melva Pereze De Trejo and another official of the embassy  Mrs Miriam Morales Palmero, last week, visited the Ooni of Ife, Oba  Eniitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II. They embarked on a tour of the historical town, including the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile ife. In this interview, Ambassador Trejos said he felt more at home in Nigeria and suggested ways through which Nigeria can develop its tourism potentialities for income generation.
What are the significant things you will remember this visit for?
 First of all, the meetings I have with the Ooni and other people in Ile-Ife. My coming here is fruitful for I visited many interesting places which we can now develop   for stronger and better cooperation in the future. The people here are very culturally friendly.  I felt more at home , I enjoy the music, dance and other thrilling  entertainment  and hospitality at the palace and other places we toured.

 Is there any area where Cuba can work with Nigeria?
 There are many areas where Cuba can work with Nigeria and there are many areas where Cuba is working with Nigerians. Nigeria and Cuba are in several mute-lateral projects and collaborations .So we are working with the government.

But getting visa to Cuba for cultural exchange and others is tasking?
No. It is not tasking. We issue a day visa.  Getting Cuba visa is on the spot, when you come to our embassy and you provide the documentation that we need, the next day, you get your visa once you meet with the condition without consulting even for some people, it’s just stamping, we don’t put the visa .

 What’s the formation of people in Cuba?
In Cuba, we don’t have white black or yellow.  We have Cubans. Colour doesn’t exist in Cuba not for sexual orientation not because of religion, women collect the same salary with men, they do the same job and get the same payment. Cuba is a women’s country where respect and consideration go to women. We take care of women than men. Apart from the fact that they receive the same salary, now in Cuba, when a woman delivers  for the first few months, she  receives compensation from the government for complete one year her salaries. There is a law that a man can stay at home catering for the baby while the wife goes to work and he will be paid too.

How has the system of communism helped the advancement of Cuba as a nation?
 We called that Tropical Socialism, it is ours. It is  founded upon the idea of our founding fathers, most of them came from Africa and Nigeria especially and  with the knowledge we have from them,  a black man was  the Major General of the Cuban army fighting colonialism in those days, he died with more than 250 bullet wounds.  A complete family of black people born in Cuba from African descent from Nigeria died in combat, with the rank of Major General.  They won the war.  They are Jose Marcel and Anthony Marcel, our heroes, our founding fathers. They laid the basis upon ideology which goes far beyond any idea of just socialism, first of all, it is humanism. We have the idea of Karl Marx who was the most important thinker in the world in the 19th century, he is even being studies now more than before by capitalists because he developed the law of crisis and development under capitalism so all of these comprise the ideology which we have in Cuba.

What is the position of tourism in Cuba?
 Tourism in Cuba is the second largest industry.

How did you get to that level?
 First of all, Cuba understand that investment has to go through the basic funding and recover later. The first is the scientific research and the second is tourism.The most important investment in the area of tourism is our companies, we build and then we give to foreign companies to administrate, they get 15 per cent of the profit and 85 per cent remains ours.  Last year, they increased to 17.4 and in 2015 the visitors increased from three million to 3.5 million. Cubans now see that we have to invest  more  and that is why  I’ve invited investors from Nigeria to come and invest in Cuba  tourism, when tourists come, they have to get accommodated where it is available, it doesn’t matter if it is Africa or China, they come  and get accommodated. Last year, we had to clean our toilets to accommodate them because we did not have places  where they could be conveniently accommodated.

Countries in Africa are facing a lot of economic crisis, as an experienced diplomat and administrator, can countries like Nigeria develop tourism to generate revenue?
 I will not pretend to teach my ancestors how to do things, my great grandfather came from Nigeria and I cannot come to Nigeria and be telling them to do this and that.  They have wise people  and beautiful  country which will overcome its challenges sooner, I mean in a very near future,  the problem  with their crisis is managing the oil  resources and now the prices are very low, which is not good for the economy. Nigeira’s government has to improve tourism and in doing this, it has to provide energy, improve infrastructure, create infrastructures such as roads, railway lines, airports and others. Though there will consume  a lot of money, but they will help in stabilising and sustaining the economy, you begin step by step. In Cuba for instance,  in old Havana, we have architectural designs from the 15th  to 16th century, they were almost in ruins because of the crisis that hit the country,  but when the government decided to put a little money  to start  restoration, the little amount was one million dollars, it is nothing, but the first  thing was to renovate them and  convert some into hotels that began to yield money  and we began  to repair others until Havana is beautiful now. You spend what you have, we have been working on places that were destroyed  during the war, people still live there and we established   a museum, so that we’ll make people to learn about their own history and know what they have in the past.

How do you go in the area of cultural exchange with Nigeria?
 We are doing that already, we’ve signed a special MOU with the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) which put forward the collaboration with the two countries and I am very sure it is going to work out fine.

 Now you are at your great grandfather’s home how do you feel?
 At home, I feel completely at home in Nigeria. Apart from being a diplomat in Nigeria, I understand even more than any other diplomat in Nigeria the mentality, the psychology of Nigerians that I am never affected because I am used to that in my own country, same people, same culture I understand, people know me  I have so many friends here, they know me and my wife very well, we do go to Garki market on our own to buy things,  I feel free, I relate with Nigerians  as brothers and sisters.

How is the practice of African Traditional Religion over there?
  I told the kabiyesi, Ooni about a documentary produced by the Yoruba Association in Cuba about culture and tradition. We have the same Orisa, Obaluaye, Obatala, Yemoja, Osun,  Sango and all the same saints. I have a lot of people who worship them in Yoruba Language, how they learn it, I don’t know.