Ambassador Gail Mathurin, Director General of the CARICOM´s Trade Negotiations Office in Barbados, represented the Community at the diplomatic reception organized by the Cuban Embassy for the joint celebration of the 45th Anniversary of CARICOM-Cuba diplomatic relations. The Cuban Ambassador, Francisco Fernández, highlighted the presence of a delegation from Cuba headed by the Member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Party, Dr. José Ramón Balaguer, accompanied by Idalmis Brooks, from the Department of International Relations, evidence of the relevance accorded to the occasion to celebrate on December 8, the 45 years of relations with CARICOM.
In her remarks, Ambassador Mathurin referred to the 6th CARICOM-Cuba bilateral Summit, to be held in Antigua on December 8, which will deepen existing cooperation ties and extending current agreements. She announced the signing of an important memorandum of understanding between Cuba and CDEMA, the CARICOM Disaster Emergency Management Agency. In this regard, in extending its condolences for the human and material losses of Cuba to the passage of the recent hurricanes, she expressed the high appreciation of the subregion for the rapid and decisive assistance provided to the affected islands despite the damage suffered in its territory.
Ambassador Fernández Peña highlighted the unwavering will of Cuba to pay tribute with increasing actions to that solidarity shown in these 45 years by the member states of CARICOM, an example of which is that six triennial summits have been held to review relations and advance in new areas of cooperation. In this regard, he emphasized two new regional projects that Cuba will present to this Summit with a view to its signature; the first was the one mentioned by the Director General to be signed with CDEMA in the area of natural disasters; the second is multi-destination tourism and will be signed with national authorities from each of the 14 CARICOM member states, as an unequivocal demonstration that the intention is not to compete but to complement the economies, recognizing the existing asymmetries. He also underscored the importance of having updated the bilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement in 2016 and signed the II Protocol of that agreement, through which Cuba guarantees free access to its domestic market to 297 products from CARICOM countries.