ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Cuban leaders ended their sixth summit in Antigua on Friday reiterating calls for the region to be declared a zone of peace and urging the United States to lift the decades old trade and economic embargo on Havana.
In addition, the leaders of the 15-member group and Cuba also agreed to strengthen cooperation in areas of health, culture, the environment, disaster preparedness while also welcoming the adoption and efforts for the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs), which they said has a universal character and integrates the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental.
The leaders, including Raul Castro, who was making his first visit to Antigua and Barbuda, noted that the full implementation of the SDGs requires the creation of capacities and the establishment of an international mechanism that facilitates the transfer of environmentally friendly technologies, under favourable conditions, for developing countries, as well as the reform of multilateral trade rules.
“The industrialised countries have a moral duty, financial and technological resources and a historic responsibility to increase investment and cooperation with developing countries, particularly the Caribbean, and to contribute decisively to the creation of a suitable international environment for sustainable development,” according to the “Declaration of St. Mary’s” issued following the talks.
The leaders also reiterated that the unity and integration of the Caribbean region is based on respect for the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and in international law.
“Therefore, we commit our wholehearted support to sovereignty and territorial integrity, self-determination, non-interference in the internal affairs of each country and the protection and promotion of human rights for all.’
They also re-affirmed the proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed in Havana in January 2014, which recognises, among others, the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system.
They rejected the imposition of “unilateral coercive measures” and, in that context, called for an immediate end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba and, “especially, to its extraterritorial nature and the financial persecution of Cuban transactions, whose severity has increased”.
“In this regard, we reiterate our firm rejection of the application of laws and measures contrary to International Law, such as the Helms-Burton Act, including its extraterritorial effects.
“Furthermore, we call for an immediate end to all actions that the U.S. government is carrying out to subvert domestic law and order in the Republic of Cuba, including those that involve the illegal use of information and communications technologies that constitute violations of Cuban sovereignty and its people’s right to self-determination’ the leaders added.
The United States embargo against Cuba was imposed on February 7, 1962. It followed the overthrow of the military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959 by Fidel Castro.
According to the Declaration, the leaders also expressed their support for the growth and development agenda of CARICOM and Cuba towards creating an enabling environment that facilitates building of climate resilience, innovation and as a means of unlocking the potential of their respective countries.
They also committed to strengthening cooperation within the region and “with our developed partners, international organisations and agencies towards enhancing support for greater adaptation and mitigation measures, such as the implementation of sustainable energy technology and early warning systems; and strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability, particularly in Small Island Developing States and countries with low-lying coastal areas;”.
The meeting here also discussed the impact of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and the leaders committed themselves to partnering in the fight against the epidemic of NCDs.
They recalled that this year is the 10th anniversary of the seminal CARICOM Heads of Government NCD and Declaration “Uniting to Stop the Epidemic of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)”, adding “we reaffirm our commitment to achieving the nine global NCD targets, taking into account national circumstances”
They also reiterated a commitment to support efforts in preventing the entry and spread of HIV-AIDS and other diseases such as the mosquito borne dengue, Zika and Chikungunya viruses.
“We also support projects aimed at assisting differently-abled persons in the region. In this regard, we recognise the active role of Cuba and the valuable support being given to the region for the creation in Guyana of a Regional Centre for the Stimulation of the Development in Children, Adolescents and Young People with Special Educational Needs Associated with Disabilities,” the Declaration noted.