OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE

Heads of state and government from Caribbean Community (Caricom) member countries, meeting in Saint Mary’s, Antigua and Barbuda, on the occasion of the Sixth Caricom-Cuba Summit, issued a Final Declaration in which they express their pride in a "shared Caribbean identity and the strong and high level of bilateral and political relations, strengthened by the arrangements we have signed that have permitted us to advance our national development agenda on behalf of our peoples on the basis of solidarity and regional cooperation."

The document notes that signatories are "deeply grieved by the human losses and extensive economic damage caused by the recent passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the region, and gravely concerned by the negative effect of natural disasters on our development processes," and recalls "the importance of the implementation of the revised Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between CARICOM and Cuba to broaden economic and trade relations."

Summit participants reiterated "the need to pool our efforts in order to improve the productivity, infrastructure, air and sea connectivity of our countries, as well as to strengthen capacities for disaster risk reduction and coping with extreme climatic events that are increasingly frequent and devastating for our small island developing states," as well as the "unity and integration" of the region, "based on respect for the Purposes and Principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and in international law."

The statement went on to note, "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."

Likewise reaffirmed in the document was the "Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed in Havana in January 2014, which recognizes, among others, the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system."

The Summit Final Declaration included a commitment "to strengthen South-South cooperation as an expression of solidarity among our countries," and recognized that "cooperation between the countries of the Caribbean Community and Cuba in areas such as health, training of human resources, construction, sports, and disaster risk reduction and mitigation has effectively contributed to the development and wellbeing of our peoples."

Rejected was the "imposition of unilateral coercive measures" and a call made "for an immediate end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the government of the United States of America against Cuba and, especially, to its extraterritorial nature and the financial persecution of Cuban transactions, whose severity has increased."

The document continued, "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… "

Later in the statement, participating leaders welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the government of Cuba and CARICOM states on multi-destination tourism; the proposal for such an agreement in the area of science, technology and innovation, "which will enable joint cooperation, including the development of enhanced research and development capacity" for participants; the signing of the Second Protocol to the Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between CARICOM and Cuba, "aimed at increasing bilateral trade flows and improving the implementation of the Agreement"; as well as a Memorandum of Understanding in Disaster Risk Reduction between the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency of the Caribbean Community and Cuba's National Civil Defense General Staff.

The statement reaffirmed that "the preservation and consolidation of CELAC as a forum for dialogue and international political actor is one our priorities," while insisting on the need "to review and modify the current 'graduation' criteria for countries to receive Official Development Assistance, so that they adequately reflect the reality and specific needs of the Highly Indebted Middle-Income Countries."

Likewise expressed was "deep concern about the inclusion of CARICOM Member States in the lists of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions generated by many partner states in the hemisphere and beyond, including in the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes published on December 5, 2017 by the Council of the European Union." A call was made "for a change to this approach which serves to negatively impact the economies of small vulnerable states that have implemented recognized international standards and have demonstrated a commitment to engage in cooperation and dialogue to find solutions that are mutually beneficial."

Reiterated was the commitment of CARICOM countries and Cuba "to implement the new global development agenda, consisting of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the New Urban Agenda of Habit III."

The Caribbean leaders reiterated their "resolute solidarity with the Small Island Developing States and territories of the Caribbean that suffered the devastating passage of two hurricanes of great intensity in a period of less than 12 days in September 2017," and reaffirmed the commitment to strengthen cooperation within the region and with others to enhance "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."

The final paragraphs of the Summit Declaration included one recognizing "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."