With the President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, Army General, Raúl Castro presiding, the 22nd Ministerial Council Meeting of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS-AEC) was inaugurated March 10 in Havana.
Speaking during the opening of the session, the island’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, recalled the words of the Cuban President when, during the Fifth Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, held last January in the Dominican Republic, he stated that “Never has it been more necessary to effectively advance along the path of unity, recognizing that we have many common interests.”
The meeting is taking place in the capital’s Tryp Habana Libre hotel in the context of efforts to revitalize the regional oganization founded in Cartagena de Indias in 1994.
The event is also being presided by June Soomer, secretary general of the ACS-AEC; with President of the Cuban Parliament, Esteban Lazo; and Salvador Valdés Mesa, a Council of State vice president, among others in attendance.
The Cuban Foreign Minister stated, “Important changes, significantly impacting our region, have occurred in the world panorama since the 7th ACS-AEC Summit, held in Havana.”
Rodríguez Parrilla explained that exclusionary and repressive migration policies in destination countries which could see more Latin American and Caribbean migrants facing deportation and discrimination; and expressed concern about harsh protectionist trade regulations, which represent a genuine challenge for the sub-region.
He warned that governments of the area have the duty and responsibility to “Build more just, equal and inclusive societies, centered on human beings,” in order to further unite and integrate Latin American and Caribbean countries.
Meanwhile, ACS-AEC Secretary General, June Soomer, highlighted the importance of the commitment of the region's women to integration, and thanked member states for appointing her the bloc’s highest position.
I will work to protect the shared patrimony of the Caribbean, she added, noting that the region has great potential.
This gathering takes place following the meeting of high level officials who prepared the documents to be debated today. This group also recognized Cuba's work as president pro tempore of the Association's Ministerial Council and paid tribute to the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro.
The Council will discuss issues such as special committees, international economic relations, disaster mitigation and climate change, among others.