By Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Addressing the opening ceremony of the sixth meeting of foreign ministers of CARICOM and Cuba, in Georgetown, Guyana, CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque stated that the Caribbean Community and Cuba have forged a deep and meaningful relationship based on solidarity and cooperation; meanwhile Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, Bruno Rodriguez said, his country feels it has a “permanent debt of gratitude” to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for its historical and fraternal support.
Ambassador LaRocque stated in his opening remarks in part:
“Cuba’s contribution to the Community’s human resource development, its health sector, agriculture and in the area of sports and culture has been of major significance to our member States.
“The member states of CARICOM attach great value to the close and friendly relations forged with Cuba over the past 47 years, and cherish every opportunity for engagement with Cuban representatives.
“Recent actions against Cuba revive memories of that period, including the tightening of the unjust economic and financial embargo implemented earlier this month. The community reiterates its call for an immediate and unconditional end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the government of the United States of America against Cuba. CARICOM also rejects especially the unilateral and extraterritorial nature of these actions.
“CARICOM and Cuba both support the importance of multilateralism in the conduct of international affairs. We both adhere to the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, including non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of states, prohibition of the threat and use of force, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, respect for the constitutional framework and democracy, and the right of people to self-determination. For both of us, it is critical that the Caribbean region remains a Zone of Peace.
“Bi-laterally, one of the links that we have sought to strengthen is in the area of trade. In November 2017, I had the pleasure to sign, on behalf of CARICOM, the Second Protocol to the Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement with Cuba which expanded preferential access to both Parties. It is our hope that discussions at this meeting will provide an opportunity to advance measures needed to give effect to the protocol.
“Today’s [Friday 14 June] session will also present the opportunity to deliberate on matters of mutual importance, including climate change, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the impact of natural disasters on our development process, developments in our hemisphere and security. Finding the best collaborative solutions to these issues will undoubtedly benefit the peoples of the Caribbean community and Cuba.”
In solidity, Rodriguez said, “We recognize your resolute and irrevocable decision to join us in rejecting the genocidal economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against our country and the fair claim to put an end to it.”
The minister noted his government’s gratitude for CARICOM’s “firmness” in denouncing the US government’s authorisation to activate Title III of the Helms-Burton Act. The authorisation paves way for lawsuits in US courts against Cuba’s nationalisation of properties.
Cuba’s actions were in “full adherence to national and international laws, as was recognized by the US Supreme Court ruling on the Sabatino case,” Rodriguez stated. “The Helms-Burton Act is arbitrary and is also an outrage and an insult against the sovereignty of Cuba and of third States.”
“There is an attempt to suffocate the Cuban economy and place our people on their knees through scarcities and hardships, but I can assure you that such an attempt will fail,” Rodriguez said. “Affirmed Cuba’s permanent commitment to cooperate and share of its modest achievement with the Caribbean.”
“Cuba will never forget the courageous act of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago in establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1972 despite the tensions of the cold war.”
The consistency of formal dialogues between CARICOM and Cuba, like this occasion, is “beyond any question,” he said.