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St Vincent PM calls for regional condemnation of US reversal of Cuba policy
Published on June 21, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves

By Earl Bousquet

VARADERO BEACH, Cuba -- St Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, has called on Caribbean governments and regional credit unions to loudly condemn US President Donald Trump’s reversal of recent positive advances in US-Cuba relations started by his predecessor Barack Obama.

Gonsalves also calls for the Caribbean region, as a whole, to resist the latest attempts to wrest regional support for intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

He issued the calls while addressing the opening ceremony in Cuba of the just-ended 60th annual international convention of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU).

Addressing 485 delegates from 16 Caribbean territories at the Memories Varadero Beach Resort one day after Trump announced a complete cancellation of all the measures taken by Obama to improve trade, travel and people-to-people ties between the US and Cuba, the longest-serving Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leader called on the region’s governments and credit unions to take a page from history both to resist and reject Washington’s latest anti-Cuba moves.

“What President Trump has done is to undo the baby steps taken by President Obama to improve ties between the US and Cuba after 50 years of failed US policy against Havana,” he said.

“These steps are seeking to revive the ghost of the Cold War in the Caribbean, and it will be well for the region’s credit unions to also condemn this very loudly,” he added.

The prime minister recalled that “back in December 1972, four Caribbean leaders decided to agree to disagree with our US friends, and resisted the pressure on them to isolate Cuba.”

He was referring to the decision taken by the prime ministers of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago (Errol Barrow, Forbes Burnham, Michael Manley and Dr Eric Williams, respectively) to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba -- much to the annoyance of Washington, which had ten years earlier established the US economic, commercial and trade embargo against Cuba, while encouraging Havana’s Caribbean neighbours to isolate Cuba.

Gonsalves also recalled more recent history in the 1990s, “when the Caribbean also resisted and rejected the attempts to deepen Cuba’s isolation through introduction of the Torricelli and Helms-Burton acts in the US Congress, to punish countries for trading with Cuba.”

“Today,” he urged, “we must be true to the Caribbean titans of yesteryear and not allow our smallness to make us slither like snakes. Each Caribbean prime minister must know today that they are no less than the first four.”

Regarding the continuing US-led efforts to isolate and intervene in Venezuela, Gonsalves also urged his audience – and CARICOM leaders – to resist any last-ditch attempts to divide them ahead of, or during the June 19-21 General Assembly (Summit) of member-states of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Cancun, Mexico, where ‘The situation in the Bolivarian republic of Venezuela’ is a top agenda item.

“We must also resist giving ‘fig leaf’ approval for overt or covert intervention in our region,” Gonsalves said of the continuing efforts by Washington to get Caribbean support at the OAS summit for its ongoing interventionist plans against Venezuela.

The Caribbean had played a major role in stalling a US-backed resolution seeking approval for intervention in Venezuela during a "consultation" meeting of OAS foreign ministers in Washington on May 31.

Since then, Washington has been targeting CARICOM leaders individually ahead of the Cancun Summit, with a view to breaking the unity they have shown over the Venezuela issue.

Washington has also launched its latest run of the annual ‘Operation Tradewinds’ military exercise in Caribbean waters at a time that coincides with its ramped-up pressure on Venezuela.

The first stage of the exercise took place in Barbados, with the second scheduled in waters off Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela’s closest island neighbour, which shares the Gulf of Paria with the Caribbean and Latin American nation.

Gonsalves said, “We must not allow Trojan Horses to enter Caracas in pursuit of Venezuela’s oil.

“We must resist the call to support intervention in Venezuela just because we are told that people are lining-up for food, or we may have to also justify and support similar action across the Caribbean, as people in all our territories also line-up for food at the Salvation Army outlets across the region.”

The Vincentian prime minister urged fellow Caribbean leaders to stand firm to their earlier commitments to oppose intervention in the internal affairs of a neighbouring state.

He said, “We (CARICOM governments) had all agreed on May 29 to unite against intervention. But the imperialists don’t sleep and they are working on us right now, as we speak…”

According to Gonsalves, “The imperialists are telling us that there is no democracy in Venezuela. But there have been more elections under the Bolivarian Revolution than at any other time in Venezuela’s history.”

“Besides,” he added, “I do not want to see millions of Venezuelans coming to the (Caribbean) islands as refugees.”

The Vincentian leader told his audience, “I am offering the best of my advice from my long and collective experience, both as a politician and as the longest-lasting CARICOM prime minister.”

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