By Bibi Khatoon
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has called for an immediate end to the United States commercial, economic, and financial embargo against Cuba.
Delivering remarks at the opening of the sixth Meeting of Foreign Ministers of CARICOM and Cuba on Friday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque said the embargo is unjust.
“The community reiterates its call for an immediate and unconditional end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the Government of the United States of America against Cuba. CARICOM also rejects especially, the unilateral and extra-territorial nature of these actions,” the CARICOM SG noted.
The Secretary-General pointed out that recent and ongoing developments at the regional level have a significant impact on Cuba as well as CARICOM member States.
“This has made even more important our practice of mutual support in international arenas,” he said.
He was joined by Peter David, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Grenada who is also the Chair of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR).
Minister David pointed out that while CARICOM and Cuba celebrate each other’s achievements, they also share each other’s travails.
“We condemn the imposition of unilateral…measures, the application of new more onus ones under title three of the Helms-Burton Act whose extra-territorial measures [go] against international law.”
“We denounce in the strongest terms the tightening of this unjust…embargo against Cuba,” the Grenadian Foreign Minister said.
The Helms-Burton Act is a United States federal law which strengthens and continues the United States embargo against Cuba. Title III of the Act allows US citizens who have property in Cuba confiscated by the state to file a suit in the US against persons that may be “trafficking” in that property.
These actions, he said, run counter to the strongly held view that economic development and stability contribute to international peace and security in the region.
Minister David assured Cuba of CARICOM’s continued support.
Meanwhile, Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla in his speech expressed gratitude for the firmness of Member States in denouncing the embargo.
Delivering his address in Spanish, the Minister said, “the Helms-Burton Act is arbitrary and is also an outrage and an insult against the sovereignty of Cuba and of third [world] states.”
“There is an attempt to suffocate the Cuban economy and to place our people on their knees through scarcities and hardships,” but he assured that “such an attempt will fail.”
Also delivering remarks was Guyana’s newly appointed Foreign Minister, Dr. Karen Cummings who lauded Cuba for its contributions to Guyana and the Region.
The Foreign Ministers Meeting is held every three years. It enables CARICOM member states and Cuba to engage in dialogue and exchange views on ways and means to maintain a course that will lead to a better future.
One of the major topic up for discussion is trade.
CARICOM and Cuba established diplomatic relations in 1972. The Spanish speaking nation has offered support to Caribbean countries, especially in the area of health, disaster management and agriculture.
Cuban nationals currently travel to Guyana frequently to utilise the services of the US Embassy in Georgetown effective April 1, 2018, after the US removed its officials from Havana, Cuba.