This past week, Cuba was once again the capital of the Caribbean, serving as venue to different regional meetings aiming to dialogue about key issues for our region like tourism, commerce, transportation, sustainable development, the environment and climate change.
The First Cooperation Conference of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), held in Havana, last 8th March, focused on two important areas: the fight against climate change, and the connection by sea. Representatives from ACS member states as well as United Nations funds and programmes were in attendance. The strengthening of the concertation and cooperation capacity will favour ACS member states and associates to be in better conditions to face the issues and problems affecting the region.
As stated by Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment of Cuba Ileana Nuñez Mordoche, who visited Jamaica last May, 2016, the conference represented an opportunity to assess capacities, join forces, and integrate in order to achieve sustainable development in all Caribbean countries.
The capital of Cuba also hosted the XXII Ordinary Meeting of ACS Council of Ministers from 9th-10 March, chaired by ACS Secretary General June Soomer, and President of the Republic of Cuba, Raul Castro Ruz. Representatives from ACS members states participated. The Jamaican delegation was presided over by the Honourable Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte.
To discuss our common interests and the risks that Caribbean nations share was the main goal of the meeting. ACS member states were able to review the implementation of the agreements adopted at the Seventh Summit of the Association held in Havana on June 4, 2016, during which the Heads of State and Government, driven by their commitment with ACS and determined to strengthen its role as a platform for political dialogue, coordination and cooperation, approved the Havana Declaration and Plan of action.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla stated that “in the face of the walls intended to be built, our choice should continue to be unity, solidarity and complementarity to defend the most legitimate interests of our peoples. Given the current scenario, we could only achieve that if we coordinate and concert our actions in an effective way around the consensus attained in those areas at the Seventh Summit. In this regard, we should enhance the possibilities of our Association to come up with a joint response”.
During the V Ministerial Meeting Caricom-Cuba, on 11th March, Cuba ratified the permanent compromise to maintain the traditional cooperation with the countries of this regional organisation in key areas like health, education, construction and response to natural disasters.
The meeting also served as an opportunity to convey our profound appreciation for the support of the Caribbean nations to our people and Government, especially, in the fight against the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by the United States.
The ties between Cuba and the nations of the Caribbean are strongly based on solidarity and marked by a high political level. Cuba continues to feel proud of the excellent relations it maintains with every country of the Caribbean, and it shall continue working side by side with ACS and Caricom member states toward the strengthening of the diplomatic and economic relations. Likewise, it reiterates the willingness to continue and strengthen cooperation with ACS and Caricom in areas like health, education, sports, etc.
As stated by Chancellor Rodriguez Parrilla: “The Caribbean can always count on Cuba. Our country will continue defending, at regional and international fora, the legitimate interest of the Caribbean nations, who deserve the gratitude of our people and Government for the permanent solidary and brave support”.
Bernardo Guanche Hernandez is Cuba’s Ambassador to Jamaica, based in Kingston.
Bernardo Guanche Hernandez, Jamaica Observer
March 12, 2017