It is my distinct honour, in my capacity as Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), to address the People and Governments of CARICOM and Cuba on the Forty-Ninth Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between our Countries. Today reminds us of that symbolic and courageous historic act of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago on 8 December 1972, that has evolved over the years into a fruitful and mutually beneficial relationship based on solidarity.
CARICOM and Cuba have a lot of which they can be proud. A growing friendship, spanning almost half of a century is a rare milestone in the history of any relationship. The Member States of the Community place great value on the strong and enduring bonds between CARICOM and Cuba, and the excellent spirit of cooperation that has been of great assistance, both bilaterally and regionally, particularly with regard to human capacity building and the provision of health care, critical inputs to improving the welfare of our people.
In regard to the latter, the provision by the Government of Cuba of public health personnel to Caribbean nations to reinforce their response capacity in addressing the public health challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic is a vivid example of Cuba’s continuing solidarity in the face of its own challenges, arising from the longstanding and universally-condemned US embargo.
The relationship has been bolstered by the formal engagement ties developed over the years, South-South cooperation and efforts to strengthen trading links, an area in which more can be accomplished by both sides. We both also place great emphasis on the Caribbean remaining a Zone of Peace, without which the sustainable development for the benefit of our people will not progress.
Today, the 49th Anniversary of these relations provides an opportunity to look back and to take stock of this exemplary relationship of good neighbourliness and South-South Cooperation – a relationship that has blossomed over the years, despite the test of time, and the vicissitudes of regional and international geopolitics.
The Caribbean Community is confident that our relations with Cuba will continue to flourish in the years ahead, despite the challenges we both face. I extend our best wishes for the well-being and prosperity of the Government and People of Cuba. I also take this opportunity to reiterate CARICOM’s unwavering commitment to the further strengthening and enhancement of the bonds of friendship, cooperation and solidarity which unite us.
8 December 2021