The mayor of Washington D.C. traveled to Havana Saturday and met with Cuban officials to discuss how the recent restoration of relations with the communist nation can be used to bolster the economy in D.C.
Mayor Muriel Bowser met with Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, chargé d’affaires for the United States in Cuba, marking their first contact since President Barack Obama reestablished diplomatic ties with the country. The meeting is being hailed as a critical first step in opening Cuba up to American businesses and strengthening future ties. The meeting also served as a learning opportunity for American and Cuban officials, who traded tips on healthcare practices and education systems, reports WJLA.
“Mayor Bowser is laying the groundwork for future relationships and potential economic and cultural opportunities with Cuba,” read a press release from the mayor’s office. “The mission also serves as a platform for the regional delegation to learn best practices and showcase the Washington metropolitan area’s strengths in transportation, tourism, health, and education.”
The Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GWHCC) arranged the diplomatic trip, calling it a historic opportunity to establish ties between the America’s capital and officials in Havana. The American delegation planned to share strategies on city planning and tourism, as easement of diplomatic relations is likely to spur greater travel to Cuba. Maryland’s Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones joined Bowser.
“The delegation will visit primary and secondary schools and the University of Havana to learn lessons on how literacy, graduation and retention rates, and other educational successes remain consistently high,” said a statement from GWHCC Wednesday Feb. 17. “Delegates will tour research hospitals and local clinics to learn about strategies that achieve high health standards amid a scarcity of resources.”
Bowser toured Old Havana Saturday and visited the Cohiba cigar plantation on a tour of The Viñales Valley.
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