President Ramotar hails Cuba’s contribution to region

President Donald Ramotar being given a warm welcome by Cuba’s President, Raul Castro on his arrival in Havana
President Donald Ramotar being given a warm welcome by Cuba’s President, Raul Castro on his arrival in Havana

[] – The contributions of Cuba and its people were lauded by President Donald Ramotar as he attended the fifth Caricom – Cuba Summit in Havana. The president made specific mention of that country’s efforts to build the human capital of Guyana and its fellow regional member states.

He said, “We are very, very thankful for that solidarity that Cuba has given so unselfishly over the many decades”.

The news of Cuba’s planned increase for the number of scholarships for graduate and post-graduate studies for Guyanese was welcomed by President Ramotar during his address to the regional leaders on Monday. He thanked President Raul Castro for Cuba’s continued assistance to Guyana. He noted that the strong foundation of cooperation had indeed justified the decision taken 42 years ago to establish relations with Cuba-a decision which was the culmination of other related actions, in particular the role of the people of British Guiana as it was then, in breaking the blockade to trade with Cuba.

In this regard, President Ramotar recalled the constant advocacy of former President Cheddi Jagan during those times to engage with Cuba and to contribute to the building of the foundation of the relationship with the Caribbean and Cuba. Tribute was also given to the role which Cuba played in the liberation struggle of the African countries.

Mention was made of potential areas of cooperation, with the president calling for the regional countries and Cuba to build more research centers to foster independent advances in science and technology. Referring to the $4Billion food import bill of the countries of the Caribbean Community, President Ramotar noted that if Cuba was added, that would increase to more than $5Billion. He stated that building on the Jagdeo Initiative for agriculture and using the National Institutes in the member states and that of Cuba, were means to ensure more independence in terms of food security.

President Donald Ramotar (2nd left front row) among Caricom leaders and Cuban President Raul Castro at the end of the Fifth Caricom-Cuba summit
President Donald Ramotar (2nd left front row) among Caricom leaders and Cuban President Raul Castro at the end of the Fifth Caricom-Cuba summit

It was also proposed by President Ramotar that the region cooperate towards affordable energy for development. President Ramotar further assured leaders that Guyana was happy to cooperate with the region in the setting up in Guyana of the Regional Centre for the Treatment of Physical Disabilities.

Acknowledging the importance of enhancing trade relations among the countries of Caricom and Cuba, President Ramotar committed to working with the rest of CARICOM and Cuba for the signing and early implementation of the Second Additional Protocol to the Agreement for Trade and Economic Cooperation.

Noting that the sugar industry plays a central role in the history of the countries of the Caribbean and recalling Cuba’s offer to assist the countries of CARICOM in this sector, President Ramotar noted the vast experience of Cuba in its sugar industry’s development and innovations.  He thus explained that Guyana was willing to benefit from Cuba’s expertise in the development of the local sugar industry.

The close of the two day meeting today saw Caricom signing the “Declaration of Havana” which reaffirmed the region’s commitment to several issues facing regional member states.

The declaration recalled the previous “Declarations of Havana (2002), Bridgetown (2005), Santiago de Cuba (2008) and Port-of-Spain (2011)”, and recognised their significant contribution towards the strengthening of the relations between regional nations. It stressed awareness of the importance of working together for the sustainable development of regional countries, “that allows us to build more inclusive societies and to address our vulnerabilities as small developing States, in particular Small Island Developing States, especially in the environmental and economic spheres.

The declaration reiterated the need to pool efforts in order to improve the productivity, infrastructure, air and sea connectivity of the member countries, as well as to broaden economic and trade relations through the implementation of the revised Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between CARICOM and Cuba”. It recalled the importance of the consolidation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) as “a mechanism of political coordination and promotion of the unity and integration of our region, as well as the significance of its direct efforts in the eradication of poverty, hunger and inequality within and amongst its member states”.

The 2014 Declaration of Havana called for an immediate end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States Government against Cuba and, especially, to its extraterritorial nature and the financial persecution of Cuban transactions, whose severity increases daily. The declaration called for the removal of Cuba from the List of States Sponsoring Terrorism, “prepared and published unilaterally by the U.S. State Department”.

It also called for a change in how middle-income countries in the Caribbean region, having achieved significant advances in fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals, are viewed by international financial agencies and donor countries. [Extracted and modified from GINA]


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