December 8 2017
Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the Sixth Caricom-Cuba Summit. Antigua and Barbuda, December 8, 2017, “Year 59 of the Revolution.”
(Stenographic Versions – Council of State)
Honorable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda;
Honorable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Granada and President of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (Caricom);
Honorable Prime Ministers and Presidents of the other member countries of Caricom;
His Excellency Ambassador Irwin Larocque, Secretary General of Caricom;
His Excellency Mr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States;
Her Excellency June Soomer, Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States;
Distinguished Heads of Delegations, Ministers and Special Guests:
I wish to express to the people and authorities of Antigua and Barbuda sincere gratitude for the expressions of friendship we have received since we arrived in this country and convey the appreciation and gratitude of the Cuban people and government for the expressions of solidarity of the Caribbean brothers after the physical disappearance of the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, who was the initiator, guide and maximum promoter of political ties and cooperation between our countries.
Remember his words on December 8, 2002: “The only way out for our people is integration and cooperation, not only among States, but also among the various regional schemes and organizations.”
I am grateful for the determination of the Honorable Gaston Browne and his government team, who despite the difficulties they face after the destructive passage of Hurricane Irma did not cease in their efforts to guarantee the conditions for the successful celebration of this, the Sixth Caricom-Cuba Summit .
A day like today, 45 years ago, the prime ministers of four countries of the Anglophone Caribbean, recently reached their independence, Errol Barrow, of Barbados; Forbes Burnham, of Guyana; Michael Manley, from Jamaica, and Eric Williams, from Trinidad and Tobago, decided to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.
We will never forget that decision, which was a fundamental step for breaking the diplomatic and commercial siege against Cuba. It also allowed deepening the relations between the peoples of Our America, united by centuries of history, culture and neighborhood.
With pride we also celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the Caricom-Cuba Summits, whose agreements and results have emanated a deeper and more effective relationship, based on solidarity and cooperation.
A sign of that everlasting friendship was the support that we offered each other before the passage of the two intense hurricanes that hit our region last September. I want to thank you for the expressions of brotherhood and Caribbean solidarity that we received.
A significant step
In this regard, the signing today of a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation between the Civil Defense of Cuba and the Caribbean Agency for Disaster and Emergency Management is a significant step.
In the next triennium we foresee the continuity of joint projects, the result of the political will of our governments, such as the Regional School of Arts in Jamaica and the Center for the Stimulation of the Development of Children, Adolescents and Youth with Special Educational Needs, based in in Guyana, which have made progress in their implementation process.
We will continue to receive Caribbean students in our universities. The 5,432 young people from the Caribbean who have been trained and the 723 currently studying in them, as well as the 1,762 Cuban collaborators present in all the Caricom countries, including 1,469 in the health sector, are part of the contribution from Cuba to the development of the Caribbean peoples.
We intend to advance in the development of trade and investments. Between 2014 and 2016 the commercial exchange grew by 70%. This year marches at a good pace. The broad and diverse participation of Caribbean companies and agencies at the Havana Fair, last month, predicts higher growth.
We welcome the implementation, in January 2018, of the Second Protocol to the bilateral Trade and Cooperation Agreement, a document that expands the tariff preferences granted by Cuba and that facilitates access to our markets.
Dear Presidents and Prime Ministers and Guests:
How shall we face the challenge of moving towards development in the midst of the deep economic, social, political and environmental crisis that this hemisphere and the world are suffering? We must do it with unity in our diversity, integration and genuine cooperation among us.
The dangers for the survival of the human species increase. The consequences of the application of concepts not universally accepted as “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect” are used to cover up interventionist and aggressive actions that threaten international peace and security and call us to defend international law and the full validity of the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.
We should articulate to demand a fair action by the industrialized powers for the mitigation and adaptation of the effects of climate change, in particular with financial resources and technology transfer; to agree on approaches to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and, in particular, to collectively address the mechanisms of domination imposed on us by the unjust international financial system.
I reiterate Cuba’s invariable position of supporting, in all circumstances, the right of small island states and developing nations to receive special and differential treatment in access to trade and investment.
We support the demand, equally just, to receive cooperation according to their real situation and needs, and not on the basis of per capita income statistics that classify them as middle income countries and exclude them from the flows of financial resources indispensable for its development
We join our voice against the persecution by transnational financial capital centers that seek to damage the international reputation of the Caribbean countries and hinder their economic development through inclusion in spurious and unilateral lists and singularization in dangerous supranational endeavors, supposedly for the confrontation to corruption.
We strongly support the just demand of the Caribbean Community for compensation from the colonial powers for the horrors of slavery and trafficking.
We also have an urgent duty with our peoples to advance with increasingly solid steps towards the political, economic and social integration of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Today, the successful trajectory of Caricom, the participation of all its Member States and Cuba in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the Association of Caribbean States, as well as the membership of some of us in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, have contributed to the advancement of regional integration, which we must continue to promote. On the other hand, participation in Petrocaribe has represented a guarantee and significant contribution to the development of our countries.
I would like to highlight the signature by the Heads of State and Government of the region of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, on the occasion of the II Summit of Celac, held in Havana in January 2014, which constitutes the basis for the development of relations of mutual respect between the States and the commitment of these with the strict fulfillment of their obligation not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other State and to observe the principles of national sovereignty, equality of rights and self-determination of peoples.
That is why we must not allow the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, one of our Latin American and Caribbean nations, to suffer continuous actions that pursue the destruction of its constitutional order. Cuba reiterates its permanent solidarity and support for the heroic Venezuelan people, its civic-military union and the Bolivarian and Chavez government led by President Nicolás Maduro Moros.
I underline the historical and ethical responsibility of our nations with the sister Republic of Haiti and the need to contribute to its development, with strict adherence to the will of its government and the legitimate needs of its people.
The blockade of Cuba
We Cubans deeply thank our Caribbean brothers for their unalterable position of respect and solidarity towards our country. We will never forget the permanent support for resolutions against the blockade of Cuba, as well as the numerous expressions of solidarity in the general debates of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization and in other international forums.
This support is even more relevant in the face of the setbacks caused by the actions of the new government of the United States against Cuba. The blockade is the biggest obstacle to the economic and social development of our country, and to Cuba’s economic, commercial and financial relations with the world.
“In the faithful of America are the Antilles,” José Martí wrote in 1894, the most universal of Cubans. His ideas, widely shared today, give us the conviction that an increasingly prosperous, equitable, safe, sustainable and united Caribbean is possible; you can always count on the eternal friendship, gratitude and support of Cuba.
Thank you very much (Applause).