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Cuban embassy in Philippines closes down due to financial difficulties

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MANILA -- The Cuban embassy here in the Philippines is shutting down due to financial difficulties brought about by the global economic crisis and the United States’ blockade.



“The global economic crisis affected us like everyone else, but the continuing US blockade has doubled the ill effects of the crisis,” former Cuban Ambassador to the Philippines Jorge Rey Jimenez told a forum organized by the Philippine-Cuba Friendship Club late last week.

“Closing the embassy was a painful decision,” the ambassador said.

Those who wish to transact with Cuba will have to deal with the Cuban embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Jimenez said.

In the 1960s, after Fidel Castro and his fellow communists won the revolution in Cuba, the United States imposed a commercial, economic, and financial embargo. This was after Cuba nationalized the properties of American citizens and corporations.

Dr. Francisco Nemenzo, former president of the University of the Philippines and a member of the club, said Cuba and the Philippines have a shared history: both were colonized by Spain for centuries, gained independence from Spanish rule in the late 1800s, and sold to the Americans soon after.

“We took separate roads only in 1959 when Cuba took the path to socialism while the Philippines remained under America’s sphere of influence,” said Nemenzo, who named his eldest after Fidel Castro.

Corazon Fabros, another member of the club, said Cuba recognizes the close kinship between the countries brought by a shared history. “Cuba didn’t want to shut down their embassy here but the Philippines shut down its embassy in Havana [last October] and that sort of decided it for them,” she said.

Sonny Melencio, another member of the club, regretted the closure. “Which other ambassador can we invite to a forum like this to talk about revolution?”

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