Honorable Karen Cumming, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana;
Honorable Peter David, President of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) of CARICOM;
Ambassador Irwing LaRocque, Secretary-General of CARICOM;
Distinguished Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Heads of Delegations;
It is with great satisfaction that we are attending this meeting between brothers and sisters.
I appreciate the hospitality offered by the authorities of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the CARICOM Secretariat, which have made every effort to guarantee the success of this meeting. I would like to convey fraternal greetings to the distinguished Ministers and Heads of Delegations as well as our appreciation for their attendance, which shows the willingness to advance CARICOM relations with Cuba even further
This Sixth Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean Community and Cuba is a propitious occasion to exchange on the development of our bilateral relations.
The consistency of these meetings evidences, beyond any question, the strength of our relations.
The Caribbean and Cuba share a common history and face similar challenges.
Cuba reiterates its permanent commitment to cooperate and share its modest achievement with the Caribbean. We feel we have a permanent debt of gratitude with CARICOM for its historical and fraternal support to Cuba. The courageous attitude of the first four independent Caribbean nations, which was soon followed by all the others once they managed to achieve their independence, will never be forgotten.
Cuba and the Caribbean have developed strong historical relations. The CARICOM-Cuba mechanism has decidedly and effectively contributed to strengthen our relations.
Hardly a few weeks ago, we inaugurated a monument in remembrance of the Caribbean National Heroes at a park in downtown Havana, as a symbol of the friendship that unites us and an expression of the Cuban peoples admiration for and recognition of the men and women who turned this group of countries into a community with dignity, an independent foreign policy and a voice of its own. That monument reflects the feelings of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz for what he considered to be his closest friends, for he asserted, and I quote: “No circumstances will ever change the interest and willingness of Cuba to strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation with the sister nations of the Caribbean. We will spare no effort to achieve regional integration and the unity of our peoples”.
Cuba reiterates its willingness to continue strengthening its relations with all CARICOM member countries.
We are pleased about the results achieved so far by the Regional Center to Encourage the Development of Children, Teenagers and Youths with Special Educational Needs Associated to Physical Disabilities. Cuban and Guyanese professionals have offered physical and occupational therapy to 103 persons; speech therapy to 158 persons; and have taught 98 pedagogy and 16 psycho-pedagogy training courses. A total of 56 pedagogical guidance sessions were offered to teachers and directors. We believe that all CARICOM countries can make a better use of this joint effort for the benefit of those in need.
We likewise express our disposition to find joint solutions so that the Regional School of Caribbean Arts based in Jamaica can start working.
Cuba has met its commitment with regards to the first two stages of the implementation of this project, which was about the design of the study programs and curricula. The impossibility to find a proper facility for the school has prevented a major progress, but we have received the excellent news that the Government of Jamaica will purchase a plot of land and will contribute funds for the construction of the school. We reiterate our commitment to continue supporting the creation of the school in Jamaica together with CARICOM and its member countries.
Our country will continue to support CARICOM’s fair claim for compensation for the horrors of slavery and the genocide perpetrated against indigenous populations.
We reject the decision not to take into account the real situation and needs of the Caribbean and that cooperation is arbitrarily adapted based on the statistics whereby its member States are classified as middle income countries.
The persecution, threats and sanctions against the financial systems of some of our countries, which are being accused of maintaining non-cooperative jurisdictions, is both immoral and harmful.
The vulnerability of our nations to the effects of climate change is disturbing.
It is precisely in this area where we have been taking important steps during the last few years. Several cooperative agreements have been signed, namely, one between the Civil Defense authorities of our country and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) in December of 2017 in the context of the Sixth CARICOM-Cuba Summit and, more recently, in Saint Lucia, a Declaration of Commitment to strengthen he hydro-meteorological early-warning systems in the Caribbean. We have also hosted in Cuba, with a high level of acceptance and usefulness, several international events to discuss the most recent international experiences in natural disaster risk mitigation, which have been attended by specialists from the most important national agencies of our countries.
We should also move forward together in our economic and commercial relations.
Esteemed Ministers and Heads of Delegations:
This meeting is taking place at a moment when peace in our region is being jeopardized. We have the duty to reaffirm our commitment with Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, as was stated in the Proclamation approved by the Heads of State and Government at the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States held in Havana.
Only in a climate of mutual respect and confidence shall we prosper as a region.
Only integration shall lead us down to that path.
Peace admits no ambiguities. It can not be said that all options are on the table, when one of them, the one that is most needed, has been rejected; and that is dialogue.
We welcome CARICOM’s decision, in view of the threat of use of force and foreign interference, to ratify its stand and defend the validity of the principles and purposes of the UN Charter and International Law.
We are gathered at a moment when attempts are made to re-establish the implementation of the Monroe Doctrine, which is opposite to the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.
I would like to reiterate to you our gratitude for your firmness in denouncing the US Government’s authorization to activate Title III of the Helms-Burton Act so that lawsuits can be filed at the courts of that country against Cuban or foreign entities that legally engage in commercial business or investments in properties that were once nationalized in Cuba in full adherence to national and international laws, as was recognized by the US Supreme Court ruling on the Sabatino case.
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.
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.
Esteemed Ministers and Heads of Delegations:
Let us all engage in a deep discussion about our views, convinced that our brotherhood and friendship are indestructible.
Thank you, very much.