Message of the Caribbean Community on CARICOM-CUBA day

It is my distinct honour, in my capacity as Chairman of the Caribbean Community, to address the peoples and governments of CARICOM and Cuba on the occasion of the Forty-Third Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries.  That symbolic and courageous act of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago on 8 December 1972 has evolved over the years into a fruitful and mutually beneficial friendship.  

Over the past four (4) decades, the relationship between CARICOM and the Republic of Cuba has matured considerably.  Since the adoption of the Havana Declaration in 2002 at the first CARICOM-Cuba Summit, our Heads of Government have met on five occasions.  The Ministerial Meeting scheduled for Havana in June 2016, which is the fifth since the Declaration, will provide another opportunity for an exchange on a wide range of bilateral, hemispheric and global issues that are of interest and concern, together with discussions on areas for further mutual cooperation that will strengthen our bonds of friendship.

As a further concrete demonstration of our close ties, allow me to make mention of our blossoming trade and economic relations which are given expression through the instrument of the Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between CARICOM and the Republic of Cuba, signed in July 2000.  Last October in Havana, the Joint Commission established under the Agreement advanced discussions aimed at improving its implementation and deepening of cooperation.  The Caribbean Community looks forward to a strengthened trade and economic partnership with the Republic of Cuba in the years ahead.

CARICOM has been steadfast in its advocacy for Cuba to be integrated into the wider hemisphere of which it is so integrally a part.  In this regard, the Community welcomed the participation of Cuba in the Seventh Summit of the Americas held in Panama in April this year and its readmission to the Organisation of American States (OAS) after its regrettable and notable absence.  While the Community has welcomed the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States of America, and the subsequent re-opening of diplomatic missions, CARICOM will continue to call for the lifting of the economic, trade and financial embargo against our sister Caribbean nation.

Cuba, for its part, has reciprocated by demonstrating its appreciation of the actions and positions taken by CARICOM over the years, including through generous and meaningful offers of technical assistance to the Community in its most critical areas of need.  These include building the Region’s social, cultural and linguistic capacity, strengthening its competencies in disaster management, agriculture, sport and most especially, the field of health.  

Cuba has supported significantly, the development of the Community’s human resources through the provision of scholarships in a wide variety of areas.  Also our Member States have benefitted from the contribution of Cuban Doctors, Nurses and Pharmacists to the heath sector.

Cuba’s strong technical cooperation and assistance to Member States of the Caribbean Community is profoundly appreciated as it has contributed meaningfully to the well-being of the citizenry of the Region.  

In these times marked by various global crises, small and vulnerable States like those of the Caribbean Community and Cuba continue to face  serious challenges - the negative effects of natural disasters, the impact of global warming and transnational crime to name a few.  We must continue to work together to tackle these obstacles.  One of the best ways to do so is to speak with one voice in international fora where issues of interest to Small States are discussed.

As we celebrate another year of friendship and look forward to another of continued cooperation, I take this opportunity, on behalf of the Governments and People of the Caribbean Community, to extend best wishes for the well-being and prosperity of the Government and People of Cuba.  I reiterate the Community’s commitment to the further strengthening and enhancement of the close bonds of camaraderie, cooperation, and solidarity which unite us.

8 December 2015

Embacuba Guyana
 

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