- Key remarks by President Raúl Castro opening the Fifth CARICOM-Cuba Summit in Havana, December 8, 2014
Honourable Gaston Alphonse Brown, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and Chairman of CARICOM;
Honourable Heads of State or Government of CARICOM member countries;
His Excellency Irwin Larocque, Secretary General of CARICOM;
His Excellency Mr Didacus Jules, Director General of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States;
His Excellency Mr Alfonso Múnera Cavadía, Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States;
Allow me to extend a warm welcome and to wish you all a pleasant stay in our country.
We share a common history of slavery, colonialism and struggles
It gives us great pleasure to receive here the leaders and representatives of the Caribbean family. We share a common history of slavery, colonialism and struggles for freedom, independence and development, which is the melting pot where our cultures have merged. We also face similar challenges that can only be met through close unity and efficient cooperation.
Such is the meaning and purpose of these summits held every three years, and aimed at fostering and strengthening our fraternal engagement in cooperation, solidarity and coordination to move towards the necessary Latin American and Caribbean integration; a dream of the forefathers of our independence deferred for more than 200 years, and which is today crucial to our survival.
CARICOM, CELAC, ACS, ALBA-TCP, Petrocaribe
The successful evolution of CARICOM, the involvement of all its member states and Cuba with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) as well as the participation of some of us in the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA-TCP) and Petrocaribe have helped to advance regional integration, and we should continue working for its consolidation.
The first four CARICOM nations to accede to independence
Every year on this day we celebrate the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba by the first four nations of the Caribbean Community to accede to independence.
As comrade Fidel Castro Ruz stated at the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of that seminal event, “Probably, the leaders of these countries, also considered the founding fathers of the independence of their nations and of Caribbean integration, –Errol Barrow from Barbados, Forbes Burnham from Guyana, Michael Manley from Jamaica and Eric Williams from Trinidad and Tobago—realised that their decision to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba was paving the way for the future foreign policy of the Caribbean Community, which to this day stands on three major pillars: independence, courage and concerted action.” This statement remains fully valid.
Forty-two years after that brave decision, we take pride in our excellent relations with every country in the Caribbean, and keep diplomatic missions in every capital. And you also have diplomatic missions in Havana; the most recent from St. Kitts and Nevis was officially opened last June 25th with our dear friend the Very Honourable Prime Minister Denzil Douglas in attendance.
Cuba’s cooperation with Caribbean nations
This moment seems fit to reaffirm that despite our economic difficulties, and the changes undertaken to upgrade our socioeconomic system, we will honour our pledge to cooperate and share our modest achievements with our sister nations in the Caribbean.
Currently, we have 1,806 collaborators working in the CARICOM countries, 1,461 of them in the area of healthcare. Likewise, 4,991 Caribbean youths have graduated in Cuba while 1,055 remain studying in the Island.
Preventing and fighting the Ebola pandemic
Additionally, we are cooperating with the Caribbean, and shall continue to do so, in preventing and fighting the Ebola pandemic. This we are doing bilaterally as well as in the framework of ALBA and CELAC, with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
The experts’ meeting held in Havana at the end of October brought together specialists from the entire hemisphere, including representatives of non-independent Caribbean states. In the past few weeks, 61 officials, physicians, experts in healthcare and other areas from CARICOMN countries have been training in Cuba. On the other hand, we are answering the request of nine CARICOM States to provide Cuban assistance in training their countries’ medical staff.
As small island states and developing nations we are facing the challenge of surviving and making progress in a world shaken by a global economic crisis manifested in the financial and energy sectors, the environment and the food sector, deadly diseases and war conflicts. Today, I want to reiterate Cuba’s unwavering decision to support, under any circumstances, the right of the small and vulnerable countries to be accorded a special and differential treatment in terms of access to trade and investments.
The challenges of the 21st century are forcing us to unite Continue reading