Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has apologized to Cuban President Raul Castro who was not allowed to stay at the Hilton Trinidad for the one-day CARICOM-Cuba Summit recently.
Castro had to be accommodated at the Kapok Hotel, St. Clair, Port of Spain after Hilton Trinidad application for U.S. permission was not processed in time, resulting in the venue being changed for the Summit to the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain.
Persad-Bissessar said she apologized to Castro and he accepted her apology.
“I said to him I was sorry about what happened and he says he understands. It is not the first time that they have faced a blockade from the U.S. and they have been living under that for many, many years,” she said.
“He said he was not upset about it in the sense that they have faced that kind of behavior before, indeed the entire country has been blockaded for the past 50 years, so he was very happy to be here, his visit was very beneficial for us and I do believe for Cuba as well,” the prime minister told reporters.
Persad-Bissessar was responding to former Prime Minister Patrick Manning who said the government has offended one of its allies by not being able to allow the Cuban leader to stay at one of the nation’s leading hotel, which was owned by the government.
Persad-Bissessar and Foreign Affairs Minister Suruj Rambachan said the government was not late in seeking permission to have the summit hosted at the Hilton.
At Castro’s farewell ceremony at Piarco International Airport, Persad-Bissessar said she was not pleased with the situation but she could not tell the American people what was in their best interest.