He was speaking at a reception to mark the 57th Anniversary of the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution (National Day) held on Thursday at the Cuban ambassador’s St Andrew residence.
The event was attended by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, Government ministers, members of the diplomatic corps, among others.
Senator Nicholson noted that the Cuban Government has provided invaluable support to the country over the years, particularly in health and education.
He informed that hundreds of Jamaican students have received scholarships to study in Cuba, with seven awardsgiven for 2015-2016 — four in medical studies, two in post-graduate studies and one in health science.
The minister said that Jamaica remains deeply appreciative of the necessary assistance for implementation of the first phase of the project to establish the Caribbean Regional School of Arts in the island.
“Jamaica was also pleased to have participated in the staging of the FIHAV 2015 Trade Expo, which was held in November in Havana,” he noted further.
Senator Nicholson expressed commendation that Cuba will assume the Chairmanship of the Association of the Caribbean States (ACS) in 2016 and will host two important regional meetings in Havana this year, namely, the fifth Summit of the Association of the Caribbean States and the fifth Caricom-Cuba Foreign Ministers Meeting.
“Jamaica looks forward to working with the Government of Cuba and its other ACS and Caricom colleagues in ensuring the success of these meetings,” he said.
Minister Nicholson said Jamaica is pleased with the improved relations between Cuba and the United States of America since 2015, even as the countries work to resolve the more sensitive issues.
He welcomed the opening of the respective embassies in Washington and Havana, the gradual lifting of the trade, investment, communication and travel restrictions, as well as increase in travel, commerce, communication and private business developments between the countries, and the removal of Cuba from the US List of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
“Let me reiterate Jamaica’s strong support and advocacy for the lifting of the long-standing economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba, which continues to hinder its development and poses a serious threat to the economic well-being of the Cuban people,” the minister said.
In his remarks, Cuba’s Ambassador to Jamaica His Excellency Bernardo Guanche HernÃ¡ndez, said the partnerships and ties between the two countries over the years have been mutually beneficial.
He said that Cuba will continue to contribute to the social development of Jamaicans and to “share its modest resources with many other developing countries”.
He also informed that the second phase of the Caribbean Regional School of Arts project will commence within the coming weeks.