EDITORIAL: Strengthening Caricom/Cuba cooperation
In a pace-setting move the Guyana Parliament last week unanimously approved a motion to record for posterity the “special relationship” that country shares with Cuba.
As Guyana’s Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, noted, the relationship with Cuba dates back to more than four decades when Guyana was still a British colony, and prior to the 1962 United States-imposed economic and financial embargo against the western Caribbean nation.
The motion that forged government-opposition unity in a parliament where rancour had been the norm over the past year, coincides with the observance started last month, including activities in Barbados, of the 40th anniversary of CARICOM-Cuba diplomatic relations.
The historic CARICOM-Cuba accord had its genesis in a unique political initiative in international relations when the first four independent nations of the now 15-member Community – Barbados Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago – jointly established diplomatic relations with the then Fidel Castro-led revolutionary government in Havana. It was the beginning of the end of the American plan to isolate Cuba in opposition to its government.
Given the commonality they all share in friendship with the government and people of Cuba, it is to be expected that other parliaments of member states of CARICOM would also be placing on record their appreciation of existing relationship in this year of the 40th anniversary of the accord, signed in Havana and marking CARICOM-Cuba Day.
It is, however, quite pertinent to observe that more than the rhetoric of “unity” with Cuba, all independent states of CARICOM strive to revisit a vital dimension of the rationale for cooperation with Havana that has to do with trade and economic relations.
In this context, the Guyana Foreign Minister is on track in voicing support for more “practical forms of cooperation” between CARCOM and Cuba, including bilateral/multi-lateral trade pacts that could be of assistance also to the Cuban people who continue to bear tremendous sacrifice in sustaining their country’s assistance to many counties – beyond our Caribbean region.
Most outstanding of such assistance would, of course, be untied aid in the vital health and education sectors. From the original first four independent CARICOM states to Haiti, the last to become a member, they are all fully aware of the extent of Cuba’s generosity and sacrifice to sustain these two remarkable benchmarks in partnership with our regional economic integration movement.
When, therefore, the relevant official and ministerial meetings of CARICOM take place during the first quarter of 2013 – ahead of the annual Heads of Government Conference in July – it is to be hoped that specific proposals on how best to strengthen CARICOM/Cuba relations would be on the work agenda with the intention of ensuring more practical substance in the friendship accord signed four decades ago.