Chair of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, President of the Republic of Suriname, Chandrikapersad Santokhi, addressing the opening ceremony of the Eighth CARICOM-Cuba Summit, today. (Photo credit: C. Pitt/BGIS)
Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr. Carla Barnett, is optimistic that the Eighth CARICOM-Cuba Summit could result in a further strengthening of diplomatic ties.
Addressing the opening ceremony today at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in Barbados, Dr. Barnett, expressed the hope for fruitful discussions on enhanced cooperation, noting that relations between CARICOM and Cuba had “remained constant through the ever-changing political, social, economic and environmental contexts”, over the last 50 years.
She lauded Cuba for the generosity extended to member states throughout the years, the most recent being the bolstering of the healthcare systems of CARICOM countries during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, through the provision of vaccines and other medical support.
Turning attention to the growing threat of climatic events, the CARICOM official highlighted the need for further collaboration in the area of disaster risk management.
“We welcome the collaboration between the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and the Cuban Civil Defence Authority to enhance early warning systems in the region. The multifaceted dangers presented by the effects of climate change, particularly by natural disasters remain an area of concern and require a concerted effort for our nations to build resilience to adapt and mitigate the loss and damage inflicted by the phenomenon.
“The recent damage caused by Hurricanes Ian and Lisa emphasised the urgency of stronger cooperation on disaster risk management as pledged in the declaration following the Seventh CARICOM-Cuba summit in 2020. It is critical that we enhance our cooperation in this area,” Dr. Barnett stated.
On the matter of the United States sanctions against Cuba, the CARICOM official stated that the regional grouping would continue to stand in solidarity with and support Cuba with regard to the lifting of the embargo.
Chair of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, President of the Republic of Suriname, Chandrikapersad Santokhi, echoed similar sentiments, during his address.
He underscored the importance of continuing to build on the pioneering work which saw the foundation being laid for the establishment of diplomatic relations on December 8, 1972. It was spearheaded by the then newly-independent countries of Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, who took the bold step to develop ties with Cuba during a politically hostile period.
“Many developments have tried and tested the fortitude and solidarity of our CARICOM-Cuba relationship. Yet, the Caribbean Community has never deviated from our principled position…. It has allowed our relationship to mature into one of enduring bonds of trust, respect, friendship and cooperation by building on those friendly ties,” Mr. Santokhi said.
Author: Nya Phillips/BGIS