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Must Caricom-Cuba relations be always about begging?
Wednesday, December 10, 2014

THE heads of the governments of Cuba and the member states of the
Caribbean Community (Caricom) met in Havana on Monday. This was the
fifth Caricom-Cuba summit and concluded with the declaration of La
Habana, which reaffirmed solidarity among those small developing
countries based on a clear recognition that cooperation and integration
is the most effective way to meet the common economic, political and
environmental challenges which confront them.

The agenda centred on the theme of co-operation — a euphemism for
Cuba’s generous assistance to the region’s social and economic
development through programmes in health care, education, human
resources, sport and disaster management.

The agenda also included mechanisms for improving trade among countries
of the Caribbean. Caricom paid glowing tribute to Cuba’s global
contribution in the area of health, given its most recent efforts to
assist in the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

The Caricom countries distinguished themselves by reiterating their
condemnation of the US embargo and called for its immediate dismantling
as the region has done from the early 1970s when diplomatic relations
were established in Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica.

As we have said before here, the embargo has failed, and it is an
anachronism, because the US has relations with China, Libya, Vietnam,
Iraq, and North Korea.

The denunciation of the US embargo and the pledge to cooperate on issues
of mutual interests were the pluses of the summit. But there were also
failures, not of rhetoric, but of substance.

It is not clear what was discussed and agreed on with regard to the most
important issue facing all the Caribbean countries, including some that
were not present.

First, the issue of the future of PetroCaribe and the implications of
the decline in the price of oil is critical. Second, omitted is the
tangible improvement in air and sea transportation without which trade
in goods and dual destination tourism is idle talk. Third is the lack of
a humane policy on migration — legal and illegal — and the freedom of
movement of people among countries of the Caribbean.

Caricom needs to move the relationship with Cuba away from always being
supplicants for more doctors and scholarships. After all, Cuba is a poor
developing country with a per capita income lower than that of Caricom
countries.

Solidarity must include some sort of reciprocity. Apart from opposing
the US embargo against Cuba, commendable as that is, what are the
governments of Caricom sharing with Cuba? Are we providing training in
hotel management, coaching in athletics, scholarships to the University
of the West Indies, language training, improving democracy and technical
advice on managing a private sector-oriented economy?

Must we always have our hand out in supplication? Why not offer a
helping hand to our poor brothers and sisters in Cuba?

Source: Must Caricom-Cuba relations be always about begging? – Editorial
– JamaicaObserver.com –
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Must-Caricom-Cuba-relations-be-always-about-begging-_18082697

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