HAVANA – Cuba sounded a warning on Saturday about the dangers of extreme commercial protectionism, the threat of climate change and building walls that will not solve the problems of poverty in the region, during the inauguration of the 5th Ministerial Meeting of countries of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) in Havana.
In his words of welcome, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez thanked the officials from countries around the Caribbean for coming, and said they have come at a “crucial moment for the region,” where it has become necessary “to protect our unity as the only guarantee” of preserving “our sovereignty and independence.”
“We face the danger that an extreme commercial protectionism is taking root, the Paris Agreement on climate change is threatened, the criminalization and deportation of our citizens is being promoted and their human rights are frequently violated,” he said.
Rodriguez said that religious and racial persecution is on the rise, as are plans “to build walls” that will not, however, solve the problems of “poverty, the effects of climate-caused natural disasters, nor the unjust international order, all of which and more are reasons why today’s migrations happen.”
The Cuban foreign minister defended membership in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) as an “indispensable, legitimate, unifying and diverse mechanism for political negotiation,” and which now includes Cuba and the small island states of the English-speaking Caribbean that make up Caricom, and in turn allows the 33 Latin American and Caribbean states to meet for the first time with a common goal.
The Cuban foreign minister along with Foreign Trade Minister Maxine McClean of Barbados, the country that temporarily presides over Caricom, greeted the occasion as a “relevant meeting for strengthening this important relationship” and a step toward the 6th Cuba-Caricom Summit, scheduled for December in Antigua and Barbuda.
Saturday’s meeting closes a four-day summit of representatives of Caribbean nations and Cuba in Havana, which welcomed last Wednesday the 1st Cooperation Conference of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).
Caricom is made up of 15 member nations: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, and Trinidad and Tobago.
This year Cuba and Caricom will celebrate 45 years of diplomatic relations during their sixth bilateral summit next December in Antigua and Barbuda.