A Caribbean increasingly more prosperous, equitable, secure, and united is possible

Featured A Caribbean increasingly more prosperous, equitable, secure, and united is possible

Speech presented by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of stare and Ministers, during the VI Caricom-Cuba Summit.  Antigua and Barbuda, December 8, 2017, Year 59 of the Revolution Council of State transcript / GI translation)

Honorable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda;
Honorable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada and president of the the Caribbean Community's Heads of Government Conference;
Honorable Prime Ministers and Presidents of Caricom member countries;
Your Excellency Ambassador Irwin Larocque, Caricom secretary general;
Your Excellency Didacus Jules, director general of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States;
Your Excellency June Soomer, secretary general of the Association of Caribbean States;

Distinguished heads of delegation, ministers, and special guests;

I would like to convey, to the people and authorities of Antigua and Barbuda, our sincere gratitude for the expressions of friendship we have received since we arrived to the country, and relay the appreciation and gratitude of the Cuban people and government for the solidarity shown by our Caribbean brothers following the death of the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, who was the initiator, guide, and driving force in promoting political ties and cooperation between our countries.

I recall his words on December 8, 2002: "The only way forward for our peoples is integration and cooperation, not only between states, but also between different regional frameworks and organizations."

I thank the honorable Gaston Browne and his government team for their determination, who despite the difficulties they face in the wake of the destructive Hurricane Irma, did not spare any effort to guarantee the conditions needed to successfully hold this Sixth Caricom-Cuba Summit.

On a day like today, 45 years ago, the prime ministers of four English-speaking Caribbean nations, which had recently won their independence - Errol Barrow of Barbados; Forbes Burnham of Guyana; Michael Manley of Jamaica; and Eric Williams of Trinidad and Tobago - decided to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.

We will never forget this decision that constituted a fundamental step in breaking the diplomatic and commercial isolation of Cuba. It also allowed for the deepening of relations among peoples of our America, united by centuries of history, culture, and proximity.

With pride we also celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Caricom-Cuba Summits, which have produced agreements and results leading to a deeper and more effective relationship, based on solidarity and cooperation.

The support we offered each other following the hurricanes that ravaged our region, this past September, is evidence of this longstanding friendship. I would like to thank you for the gestures of Caribbean brotherhood and solidarity we received.

In this context, the signing today of a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation between Cuba's Civil Defense and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, represents a significant step forward.

Over the course of the next three years, as a result of the political will of our governments, we foresee continuing joint projects, including the Regional Arts School in Jamaica and the Special Centre dedicated to enhancing attention given to children, adolescents and youths with disabilities, in Guyana, which has made progress in the implementation process.

We will continue to receive Caribbean students in our universities. The 5,432 Caribbean youth who have graduated and the 723 currently studying in them, as well as the 1,762 Cuban collaborators present in all Caricom countries - of which 1,469 are working in the health sector - are part of Cuba's contribution to the development of Caribbean peoples.

We propose to advance in the development of trade and investments. Between

2014 and 2016, commercial trade grew 70%,  and is progressing at a good rate this year. The broad, diverse participation of companies and agencies in the Havana Trade Fair last month augurs well for further growth.

We welcome with satisfaction the implementation of the Second Protocol to the bilateral Trade and Cooperation Accord, a document that expands the preferential customs tariffs granted Cuba, and facilitates access to our markets.

Esteemed Presidents, Prime Ministers and Guests:

How can we confront the challenge of advancing toward development amidst the deep economic, social, political, and environmental crisis this hemisphere and the world is suffering? We must do so with unity within our diversity, with integration and genuine cooperation amongst ourselves.

The dangers posed to the survival of the human species are increasing. The consequences of the application of universally rejected concepts such as "humanitarian intervention" and "responsibility to protect" are used to cover up interventionist, aggressive actions that threaten international peace and security, obliging us to defend international law and adherence to the purposes and principles established in the United Nations Charter.

We must articulate our efforts to demand just action by industrialized powers for mitigation and adaptation to the effects of climate change, in particular financial resources and the transfer of technology; a concerted focus on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and especially to collectively confront the mechanisms of domination imposed on us by the unjust international financial system.

I reiterate Cuba's unwavering position to support, under all circumstances, the right of small island states and developing nations to special, differentiated treatment

in terms of access to trade and investments.

We support the equally just demand to receive cooperation in accordance with our real situations and needs, and not on the basis of per capita income statistics that

rigidly describe countries as middle income, excluding them from access to the financial resources needed for their development.

We add our voice to denounce persecution on the part of centers of transnational financial capital, intended to damage the international reputation of Caribbean countries and create obstacles to their economic development through their inclusion on spurious, unilateral lists, and their targeting in dangerous supranational efforts, supposedly meant to confront corruption.

We firmly support the Caribbean Community's just demand for compensation from colonial powers for the horrors of slavery and the slave trade.

We also have the undeniable duty to our peoples to move, with more concrete steps everyday, toward the political, economic, and social integration of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Today, the successful work of Caricom; the participation of all your member states and Cuba in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States; as well as the membership of some of us in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, have contributed to progress in regional integration, which we must continue to push forward. Likewise, our participation in Petrocaribe has represented a guarantee and significant contribution to the development of our countries.

I emphasize the signing of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, by regional heads of state and government, on the occasion of the Second CELAC Summit in Havana, in January of 2014, that constitutes the foundation for the development of relations of mutual respect between states and their commitment to strict compliance with the principle of non-intervention, direct or indirect, in the internal affairs of any other state, and observe the principles of national sovereignty, equality of rights, and self-determination of peoples.

This is why we should not allow the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, one of our Latin American and Caribbean nations, to suffer continuous efforts to destroy its constitutional order. Cuba reiterates its permanent solidarity and support to the heroic Venezuelan people, its civic-military union, and the Bolivarian, Chavista government led by President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

I stress the historical, ethical responsibility of our nations to the sister Republic of Haiti and the need for a contribution to its development, in strict accordance with the wishes of its government and the legitimate needs of its people.

Cubans are deeply grateful to our Caribbean brothers and sisters for their inalterable position of respect and solidarity with our homeland. We will never forget the perennial backing of our resolutions against the blockade of Cuba, as well as the numerous expressions of solidarity during general debates in the United Nations General Assembly and other international forums.

This support is even more important given the step back which actions taken by the new U.S. administration against Cuba represent. The blockade constitutes the greatest obstacle to our country's economic and social development, and to Cuba's economic, commercial, and financial relations with the rest of the world.

Caribbean brothers:

"Among the faithful of America are the Antilles," wrote José Martí, the most universal of Cubans, in 1894.  His ideas, today widely shared, give us the confidence that a Caribbean increasingly more prosperous, equitable, secure, and united is possible; that it can always count on the eternal friendship, gratitude, and support of Cuba.

Thank you very much. (Applause).

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