Greater Georgetown, Guyana – After 37 years of diplomatic relations, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Cuba have assured each other of continued support and strengthening of relations, with the former underscoring its support for Cuba’s full integration in the hemisphere.
At a vin-d’honneur at the CARICOM Secretariat to mark CARICOM-Cuba Day on December 8th, representatives of the Community and Cuba both recalled the historic stand that four independent CARICOM Member States took in 1972 to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.
The Hon. Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Guyana, representing H.E. Bharrat Jagdeo, President of Guyana and Chairman of CARICOM said the “courageous and historic” stand that Guyana, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, took in 1972 was subsequently adopted by all the sovereign states of CARICOM, “thereby affirming the Community’s embrace of that country as an integral member of the Caribbean family.”
“The Member States of the Community have remained steadfast in their support for the lifting of the long-standing economic and trade embargo against Cuba. The government and people of Cuba can be assured that the Community will continue to support efforts for the full integration of Cuba in the hemisphere,” Minister Rodrigues-Birkett said.
In his remarks, H.E. Excellency Raúl Gortázar Marrero, Ambassador of Cuba to CARICOM – who presented his credentials to H.E. Edwin Carrington, Secretary-General of CARICOM shortly before the vin d’honneur – also referred to the “four small, newly independent” CARICOM countries that established ties with Cuba in the context of a hostile environment.
“It had to take great courage at that time” to proceed with diplomatic ties to Cuba, he said. He added that the Community could be confident in the continuity and strengthening of the relations and cooperation towards advancing the integration of the entire Caribbean.
According to Minister Rodrigues-Birkett, CARICOM viewed the relationship with Cuba as one of its most important and both parties could proudly proclaim that the relationship had been most beneficial.
Under the mechanism of the CARICOM-Cuba Joint Commission established to promote social and cultural development, the strengthening of trade and economic ties and cooperation in the international arena, the Region has received significant support from Cuba, particularly in the areas of health, sports and disaster management.
“Perhaps no greater area has given greater insight into the people-centred nature of these relations and more deeply appreciated by the people of the Community, than the Operation Milagro Programme through which thousands of our citizens have been provided with first class eye care and follow-up treatment,” Minister Rodrigues Birkett said.
Prior to the vin d’honneur, guests viewed an exhibition mounted by the CARICOM Secretariat that reflected the progress of relations between CARICOM and Cuba over the years.