- Your Excellency Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba;
- Your Excellency Chandrikapersad Santokhi, President of the Republic of Suriname, and Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM);
- Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, SC, MP, Host Prime Minister, and Other Heads of State and Government of CARICOM Member States;
- Distinguished Delegates;
- Ladies and Gentlemen.
It gives me great pleasure to address the Eighth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the Republic of Cuba. We gather here to mark a historic moment in Caribbean relations and to further strengthen the bonds of solidarity between CARICOM and Cuba.
Fifty years ago on December 8, 1972, four Member States of our Caribbean Community: Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, took the bold step of establishing diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba in the midst of heightened geopolitical tensions in the Americas.
In the five decades since, our nations have built on this momentous initiative by engaging in continuous cooperation and collaboration, marked by a commitment to the advancement of the interests of the people of CARICOM and Cuba.
CARICOM-Cuba relations have remained constant through the ever-changing political, social, economic and environmental contexts. We have strengthened our relationship by continuously exploring new opportunities for cooperation, underpinned by successive declarations arising from meetings such as this Summit.
Your Excellencies, all of our countries continue to work assiduously towards recovery from the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuba’s role in bolstering the health systems of CARICOM Member States in the face of the challenging circumstances presented by the pandemic is highly appreciated, and is yet another example of the generosity shared to our Member States by Cuba. I extend my thanks on the behalf of the Community.
Another area where our cooperation has borne fruit is the area of disaster management and mitigation. We welcome the collaboration between the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Cuban Civil Defense 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.
The shared respect for multilateralism and international law between CARICOM and Cuba has facilitated coordination in international fora and strengthened regional positions on matters of importance. In that regard, the Community will continue to maintain its solidarity and support for Cuba with regard to the lifting of the unjust US financial and economic embargo.
As we convene this Summit, I am confident that the discussions will be fruitful and deepen CARICOM-Cuba cooperation, as we look forward to building even stronger fraternal relations in the interests of the peoples of our nations.
I thank you.