CARICOM-CUBA: Summit opens with call for end to embargo

Author  CMC
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CC Logo
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, December 8,  Caricom leaders began their second joint summit with the Cuban leader Fidel Castro here with a call for  the United States to end its 45-year-old blockade of the socialist nation.

“We asserted that the view that Cuba was also an integral part of the hemispheric community and we remain convinced that efforts at its  isolation were not only unjust but counter-productive,” Caricom’s chairman, the St. Lucian Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony said in speech to the opening plenary at the Hilton Hotel.

Anthony sounded a key theme of “mature friendship” and “balanced model relationship” between the 32-year-old regional group and the 46-year-old Cuban regime. At the same time, the speech clearly avoided direct mention of Caricom’s powerful northern neighbour, the United States, on one of the most thorny issues in American hemispheric relations.

Anthony said the embargo was “blatantly inconsistent with international trading norms” and urged Washington to engage in “constructive engagement” with the Cuban government. “We continue to offer our view that effective resolution of conflict  and difficulty can only come from constructive engagement,” Anthony told the summit.

“When we convened in Havana three years ago, the Caribbean Community sent a clear and unambiguous statement to the rest of the world that Cuba, by virtue of geography and history, was an integral part of the Caribbeanfamily and would not be treated otherwise,” the community’s chairman said on the 33rd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the 14-nation bloc and Havana, called Caricom-Cuba Day.

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Dr. Anthony
Anthony said the Cuba’s aid to the region, predominantly in the form of education and health care services, reflected the essence of friendship in which Havana gave scholarships, sent doctors and nurses and performed eye surgery on Caricom nationals and “never asked for anything in return”.

Cuba’s assistance in providing educational scholarships to Caricom nationals has “eclipsed by far the total assistance made available to the  Caribbean Community by our richest development partners combined,” said the Caricom chairman.
“The country’s performance in respect of assistance in the health field is outstanding and unmatched”, said Anthony, who also indicated that some Caribbean nations will shortly become “self-sufficient” in health care personnel – mostly doctors – sent from Havana. 

Caricom has consistently voted at the United Nations and the Organisation of American States in favour of the end of the embargo.

Anthony recalled the October 1976 bombing of a Cubana Flight 455 off Barbados in which all 73 passengers and crew were killed, in whose  memory a monument was erected in 1998 and unveiled by Castro.

The Cuban leader will lay wreaths at the seaside obelisk in a ceremony on the island’s west
 coast later Thursday.

To brief applause from the leaders and delegates, Anthony called on  those responsible for the bombing be “denied sanctuary and be brought to justice”.

Anthony’s speech appeared to be a veiled reference to the United States which has been holding Luis PosadaCarrilles, the anti-Castro Cuban émigré who is alleged to have plotted the 1976 bombing and the murder of the Chilean ambassador to the US in Washington, a few weeks before the Cubana explosion.

Last April, Posada, a naturalised Venezuelan citizen who developed arelationship with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), sought political asylum in the United States.

An American judge has ruled that he cannot be deported to Venezuela, which has formally requested Posada's extradition, upholding Posada’s claims that he would be tortured on his return.