Honorable Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, Justice of the Peace, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Barbados;
Dr. June Soomer, Secretary-General of the Association of Caribbean States;
Distinguished delegates and guests;
First of all I would like to welcome the initiative of the Government of Barbados, in its condition as Chair of the Council of Ministers of the Association of Caribbean States, of convening this meeting.
COVID-19, the epicenter of which has now moved to the United States, whose effects are seriously jeopardizing Latin America and the Caribbean, has generated a health crisis of huge proportions and a threat to the life of all of us, thus confirming the need for cooperation and solidarity to confront the pandemic as well as the increasing challenges derived from it.
The ACS generated actions aimed at coordinating our work to protect the health of our peoples. Particularly worth mentioning are those resulting from the First Extraordinary Meeting of Foreign and Health Ministers on COVID-19 and the First Regional Technical Meeting.
These are times for expressing solidarity and understanding health as a human right, a principle that encourages our country’s cooperation in the face of an emergency.
Cuba has been responding to requests from various countries in virtue of which Cuban health professionals and technicians have travelled specifically to provide health care and advisory to 16 member States of the Association, who have joined the medical brigades that had already been deployed there from before, thus increasing to 20 the number of ACS member States with which we have cooperation in the field of health.
Added to the challenge of preserving human life under the conditions imposed by the pandemic there is a the need to reactivate the economies of our nations, after the steep reduction in the productive, economic and commercial activities, which had already been hardly hit by the international economic crisis, the impact of climate change, the occurrence of natural disasters and the terrible and unsustainable burden of the external debt and the unjust international financial system.
Even under these circumstances, unilateral coercive measures continue to be applied against countries like Venezuela and Nicaragua, which are causing humanitarian damage and make it impossible for governments to acquire the medical equipment and pharmaceuticals necessary to treat the sick.
In the case of Cuba, the blockade has been further tightened; and the politically motivated campaign against Cuba’s medical cooperation aimed at depriving thousands of persons from these services has been further strengthened.
I would like to thank the Association and all its member States for opposing the irrational, illegal and cruel blockade policy against our people.
I reiterate Cuba’s rejection of unilateral lists and certifications that affect the countries of the Association as well as the inclusion of ACS member States in the list of non-cooperative jurisdictions and calls for a constructive dialogue in this regard.
We hail the election of the Dominican Republic as President of the Executive Board of the Council of Ministers and appreciate the able conduct of this body by the Prime Minister, The Honorable Mia Motley, and our friend and Foreign Minister, Jerome Walcott.
Likewise I would like to commend the effective performance of Dr. June Soomer and give a warm welcome to Engineer Rodolfo Salonge as new Secretary-General, knowing for sure that he will resort to his vast experience and capability to successfully fulfill the mandates received from our Heads of State and/or Government.
To those who initiate their terms in such important positions, we express our willingness to continue contributing with the ACS. To those who conclude their mandate we reiterate our gratitude.
We are sure that this important meeting will decisively contribute to make the Association move forward. Cuba will continue working in favor of unity, concerted action and the consolidation of our Association.
Thank you, very much!