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Claris Charles reacts to accusations

The distribution of food supplies to Grenadian students in Cuba

Grenada’s Ambassador to Cuba, Claris Charles who has been under fire for her alleged nonchalant manner in looking after the affairs of students in Cuba has defended her performance.

Charles has been in Grenada for the past six months.

In an expose on the Ambassador to Havana, a spokesperson for the students said that they are getting little or no assistance from the envoy in helping them to deal with food shortages in Cuba which has worsened in recent weeks.

The student leader described as “shameful” and “embarrassing” the performance of the Ambassador and pointed to the fact that they have to join long lines to get into a supermarket for up to 12 hours at times in order to try and obtain scarce food items.

In response to the charges levelled against her, the following response from Ambassador Charles came through Philomena Robertson, the Press Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister:-

“I’ve spoken to the Ambassador to Cuba who has indicated that whether or not she is in Cuba, she continues to carry out her duties, including working on behalf of students in Cuba. In addition, there is a Secretary who is in charge of Student Affairs, who along with the Ambassador, are in constant communication with the students.

The Ambassador disclosed that last June, all students were provided with US $600, which was in addition to their regular stipend which was paid in August.

On the subject of food, she indicated that embassies are allowed to order food from agencies; students are therefore advised of what’s available and can place an order, which the embassy will then deliver to them.

Two months ago, an additional driver had to be brought in to make the deliveries to students in the various provinces.

The Ambassador has confirmed that there are students who have already opted to take a leave of absence from their university and have returned home. Those students did so via chartered flights as no commercial flights are available at the moment.

For the returning students who transited through Dominica, the ambassador arranged to have their quarantine fees waived and also ensured that they were quarantined free of cost on arrival in Grenada.

With respect to care packages, the ambassador explained that because containers sometimes remain for lengthy periods on the port and some foods might go bad, she has suggested to students that it is better to have their parents put money on their cards so that purchases can be made in Cuba”.

When shown the Ambassador’s reply, the spokesman for the students in Cuba accused the Grenadian envoy of deception by showing the photographs of food distribution to some students six months ago.

According to the student leader, the food shortage situation in Cuba has deteriorated drastically in recent weeks.

The Press Secretary is insisting that the photographs were taken just two months ago.

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