HAVANA – Cuba and the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) have concluded their fifth summit in Havana with a commitment to strengthen economic and commercial relations as well as cooperation in areas of health, education, climate change and intensifying their integration.
“This day has been intense and fruitful because it has served to further strengthen our unity and reinforce our commitment to continue working together tirelessly, for the development and prosperity of the Caribbean and Latin America,” said Cuban President Raul Castro at the close of the summit Monday.
Caribbean and Cuban leaders, in their final declaration, pledged to work towards developing their countries, especially in the economic and environmental fields, as well as improving productivity, infrastructure and air and sea transport connections.
The summit was attended by government heads and foreign ministers of Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, San Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago.
On behalf of the Caribbean bloc, interim President Gaston A. Browne praised the solidarity of Cuba for its involvement in the fight against the Ebola virus in West Africa and assisting countries of the region to prepare for any possible case of Ebola.
The countries thanked Cuba for increased scholarships for university and medical studies and for increasing the admission of patients from these countries to receive free health care.
The need to cooperate in the prevention of natural disaster risks and combat the effects of climate change with joint efforts due to the challenges posed by the condition of small islands, was also discussed.
Castro also noted that Cuba joins in the demands of the rest of the Caribbean community for an immediate suppression of “unilateral lists that hindered the economic development and trade with other countries” in an apparent reference to the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.
Referring in particular to trade in the CARICOM area, Castro considered development of investments between Caribbean countries to still be a pending issue and, in particular, noted the difficulties in transporting goods.
Dec. 8 was established as Cuba-CARICOM Day and it was agreed that future summits would be held on that date every three years in order to deepen dialogue and review cooperation, Cuban state media said.