Glasgow celebrates links with Havana

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The Independent Online

Glasgow, a city that boasts a proud socialist heritage dating back to its militant shipbuilders, the Red Clydesiders, has found a soul-mate on the world stage, Cuba.

Glasgow, a city that boasts a proud socialist heritage dating back to its militant shipbuilders, the Red Clydesiders, has found a soul-mate on the world stage, Cuba.

Tomorrow, Glasgow's lord provost, Alex Mosson, will sign a twinning agreement with Havana, one of the last bastions of Communism. At a ceremony at the British embassy in Havana, in front of a delegation of businessmen, officials and musicians from both countries, Glasgow City Council will seal a growing friendship between the two cities.

For three years officials have been developing closer cultural and trade links amid hopes that a formal agreement will allow Scottish companies to bid for contracts in Cuba's offshore oil developments and growing health and biotechnology industries.

Glasgow played host to a Cuban arts and music festival, Si Cuba, with a series of events throughout the city last month, and a season of Cuban films at the Glasgow Film Theatre, while there have also been two recent export missions from Glasgow to Havana.

Links between the two cities go back a long way. There is Cuban mahogany in the City Chambers, while sugar and, in particular, tobacco from Cuba helped to make Glasgow a bustling metropolis in the 18th century and second city of the British empire.

Glasgow is already twinned with Rostov-on-Don in Russia, Dalian in China and Nuremberg in Germany. The city council hopes the new addition will provide further opportunities in the retail, oil, gas, fishing, tourism and IT industries.

"There was a memorandum of understanding signed between Glasgow and Havana in November 2000 to provide for exchanges in education, science, culture and sport," said a spokesman for the council yesterday.

"There have been several trade missions and cultural exchanges over the last couple of years, which have proved an enormous success."

Tommy Sheridan, the Scottish Socialist Party leader, claims the twinning will benefit Glasgwegians. He said: "It will open trade and cultural links, which will develop an already strong friendship ... The people of Glasgow have a lot to learn from Havana and Cuba."

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