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Ban Ki-Moon mingles with locals and experiences Cuba like a tourist

During a recent visit to Cuba to attend the second summit of CELAC, United Nations Secretary Genral, Ban Ki-Moon, also took time to learn about the city's cultural riches with a tour around Old Havana, which included a haircut in a barbershop. Just like any other tourist on holiday to Cuba he mingled with the locals, strolled the cobbled streets of the colonial quarter and took in the vibrant atmosphere.

Ban Ki-Moon mingles with locals and experiences Cuba like a tourist

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, who is currently in Cuba as of last Sunday, recently embarked on a tour of Havana, just like any tourist on a holiday would.

Having come to the largest Caribbean nation with the purpose of attending the second edition of the Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Estates (CELAC), Ban Ki-Moon also took some time to explore the city, learn more about the country’s economic situation and world renowned health care as well as mingle with the locals.

One of his first cultural pursuits was a tour around Old Havana, which he explored with his wife, Yoo-Taek Coon and with the guidance of Havana’s historian, Eusebio Leal, the person behind the restoration of many of the old town’s colonial relics and the creation of the Habaguanex chain of hotels, which are housed within old restored mansions, refurbished without taking away any of its initial features and colonial décor.

Of Havana’s colonial quarter he said:

“I am very impressed by the efforts made to restore the old town," adding how the UN Development Programme and other UN Agencies were “very closely to help the Cuban Government and people to preserve this area,”.

During his tour he also learnt about the socio-cultural projects in Old Havana, driving the private sector in a poor and crumbling neighbourhood of the old town to give more jobs to locals, improve the local economy and train youngsters so that they can give back to the local community. He even had his hair cut in a traditional barbershop.

His time in the capital city also included a visit to the Latin American School of Medicine, where he met with the 1015 foreign students from all over Latin America, who receive free training in the form of a scholarship. He talked about the importance of Cuba’s efforts to train foreign doctors, praising how the Caribbean island had made:

A great contribution to be in the main line of health in the world, and be at the forefront of South-South cooperation. I have seen a common factor in various remote communities: Cuban doctors or doctors trained in Cuba who are there helping to save lives.”

“Cuba has a long history of cooperation. Cuban doctors are the first to arrive and the last to leave.”

“They were in Haiti facing the challenges of cholera, a disease that in the XXI century should not be a death sentence because it is preventable and curable.”

“Cuba can teach the world about your health system based on primary care, with significant achievements as a low infant mortality, increased life expectancy and universal coverage.”

During his visit, he also met with former Cuban president Fidel Castro for 55 minutes, where he discussed, food security, climate change and nuclear proliferation. He also met a number of Cuban officials including Fidel’s younger brother and current President Raul Castro, with whom he discussed the U.S. embargo and human rights on the island.

On this note, Samantha Power, Washington's U.N. ambassador posted a tweet urging world leaders visiting Cuba to meet with "everyday Cubans" and independent groups "to learn what's really happening …"

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