Caribbean leaders meet with Cuba's Fidel Castro to strengthen ties in the region
Caribbean leaders meet with Cuba?s Fidel Castro to strengthen ties in the region
Category: caribbean Dated: 08/12/2005
Cuban president, Fidel Castro and his delegation, will meet with the 15 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat* members, including Jamaican Prime Minister, P J Patterson, Trinidad and Tobago?s, Patrick Manning and their host, Prime Minister Owen Arthur in Bridgetown Barbados for the second Caricom-Cuba Summit.
Leaders are expected to re-enforce the strengthening ties between Cuba and its Caribbean community neighbours by further developing economic links in health, employment, education and culture.
Castro, who is to participate in the talks with Caribbean heads of states, will also endorse two multi-lateral agreements in relation to culture and health and an anti-terror document.
The Final Declaration is expected to demand the lifting of the blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States for the last 42 years.
In the run-up to the summit, Barbadian government stated the ?Caribbean Community has shown its solidarity with Cuba in calling for the removal of the trade embargo imposed by the United States.
It continued that despite being a Spanish-speaking country, ?Cuba and its CARICOM neighbours share a number of similarities and traditions.
?The country is steeped in cultural awareness, and its social, cultural and scientific development, as well as its primary health care system, education and world renowned sports programme are the envy of many countries.?
In 2000 Caricom and Cuba had also signed an accord for the implementation of trade and economic cooperation to provide ?liberalisation of trade in both goods and services and collaboration in investment promotion, business facilitation and tourism development.
A push towards Caribbean Single Market (CSME) will be expected….The Summit, which is held every three years, is in accord with the Havana Declaration, signed at the first Summit in Havana in 2002.
The agreement was to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the four independent islands at the time: Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
Consequently the 8th December is now recognised throughout the region as Caricom-Cuba day.
This year?s theme at the 2-day discussions, is Strategies for Caribbean Human Development, and leaders will be expected to sign co-operation agreements relating to health and culture at the discussions, said CARICOM in a statement.
On Wednesday the region?s deputy ministers met for a session to finalise their main points of discussion before giving them to the Foreign ministers and leaders to review.
At the first summit, leaders agreed to push for regional integration. Over the past, the Caribbean community has benefited from Cuba?s education system, agriculture, science and technology, tourism, transport and trade and security and also medicine.
Reportedly over 10,000 people from the other islands undergone operation in Cuba correct their eyesight and 3,000 people are attending Cuban universities.
Another area of concern is expected to be the emergence of the Regional Development Fund (RDF), to help the region?s weaker economies to participate in the Caribbean Single Market (CSME) due to take effect in 2006.
It was hoped a mandate would be established at yesterday?s ministerial meeting, and an assessment will be produced to check the readiness for the single economy.
However, there has been reservation over the effectiveness of such an initiative as there appears to be no definite political integration, whilst members still operate independently as states within the Caribbean community, reported the Jamaica Observer.
Haiti?s presidential and parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for 2006, will also come into focus, as there are proposals to send a joint Caricom-African Union delegation to visit the island in the upcoming weeks to pave the way for free and fair elections.
*The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat consists of Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam and Trinidad and Tobago, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands.