Ambassador Mario Alzugaray Rodrigues, Cuban Ambassador to New Zealand, was welcomed to our meeting on 12 September. The Ambassador is a career diplomat who was posted to New Zealand in 2015, following postings in Beijing and Shanghai.
In introducing the Ambassador, we acknowledged the tremendous losses of life and property in Cuba as a consequence of Hurricane Irma, and extended our sympathies to the Cuban people.
Cuba's history has been shaped by its central position in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to four centuries of occupation by Spain, domination by the United States from 1902 until the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and post-revolution the US trade embargo, that largely continues until this day.
The trade embargo is the most comprehensive set of sanctions imposed on any country, and imposes barriers both large and small on dealings between Cuban businesses and people and not only the US, but also other countries and people. 
In this context, New Zealand is a welcome trade partner, the main export being dairy products, while tourism is growing rapidly. Cuba is also seeking to tap the New Zealand experience in economic and social reform.
The Ambassador and his family are enjoying the lack of formality and relaxed lifestyle in New Zealand.
(pictured; l to r: Ambassador Rodrigues and David Watt, Rotary Karori)