Browne: End Cuba embargo
HAVANA (CMC) – The Fifth Caribbean Community (CARICOM)-Cuba summit opened here today with regional countries calling on the United States to end the trade embargo against Havana.
CARICOM Chairman Gaston Browne told the summit the time for the United States President Barack Obama and Congress to end its “senseless embargo of Cuba now”.
Browne, who is also the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said that CARICOM’s solidarity with Cuba was manifested by the region’s repeated calls “in every council in every part of the world” for an end to the embargo.
Washington imposed the commercial, economic, and financial embargo against Havana in October 1960 almost two years after the Batista regime was deposed by the Cuban Revolution.
In 1962 the embargo was extended to include almost all imports.
Currently, the Cuban embargo is enforced mainly with six statutes including the Trading with the Energy Act of 1917, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the Cuba Assets Control Regulations of 1963 and the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992.
Only the United States and a handful of countries continue to vote in favour of the embargo at the United Nations.
In his address to the summit, Prime Minister Browne noted that trade between the Caribbean and Cuba had grown but was mindful of the challenges that existed for its expansion.
He referred to the work being done on a protocol to widen the existing trade and development agreement and stated he had no doubt that a mutually satisfactory result would be achieved.
He said practical machinery had to be established to expand trade and investment.
“Central to such machinery is effective and affordable transportation for the movement of goods and people between our countries. In this connection, I call on this Summit meeting to place high priority on creating mechanisms to move goods, services and passengers throughout our countries. I am convinced that if Cuba and CARICOM countries can jointly build a transportation network, all our economies will benefit,” he added.
“If Cuba and CARICOM countries can establish the air transportation links and a network of collaboration between our hotels, multi-destination tourism – that offers the distinctiveness of our culturally-rich countries – could be a winner for all of us,” he said.
The CARICOM Chairman suggested that CARICOM and Cuba share their knowledge and experience in sports, particular athletics.
He jokingly stated “that if we teach Cubans to play cricket, we might produce a Caribbean cricket team that would restore West Indian cricket to the heights it once majestically enjoyed.”
Prime Minister Browne said that areas for co-operation between CARICOM and Cuba existed at a broad level and it was up to “us to be creative and ingenious in the ways in which we bolster each other.”
“On matters such as climate change and global warming; on financial services and the dictates of the countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and development; on the marginalisation of our concerns by the G20, we should be coordinating our positions and acting in unison. We may not be able to stand-up to them alone, but they cannot ignore us if we stand-up together,” Browne said.
Prime Minister Browne took the opportunity to express profound appreciation to the host for its role in the fight against Ebola disease.