Honorable Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia and President of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States;
Honorable Rene Baptiste, President of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Assembly;
Your Excellency, Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States;
Esteemed heads of state;
Distinguished leaders of the opposition;
I thank you for the invitation to visit the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Assembly, and the opportunity to share with you the celebration of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the first independent states of the Caribbean, and this visit to Antigua and Barbuda. I assure you that the Cuban delegation has felt at home and has, every minute, experienced proof of the mutual affection shared by our nations.
Despite the devastating impact of the extreme weather events that recently affected several of our islands, including Barbuda, we very much appreciate the decision to maintain these meetings. We see this as a confirmation of the brotherhood that unites us.
Today we have before us a new and urgent challenge, on whose outcome the survival of the human species depends. Combating climate change is an urgent priority for all humanity, especially for our peoples who have suffered firsthand its devastating effects, and upon whom weigh the most worrisome forecasts, as a result of our geographic location and our high level of vulnerability in the event of extreme natural disasters, such as hurricanes.
The climate is changing with a proven impact on the increasing intensity and destructive power of natural phenomena.
International efforts to detain and reverse the damage caused to the planet have been insufficient. Time to mitigate the situation is running out. It is time to close ranks and take immediate, ambitious action to stop the continuing deterioration of Mother Earth. If we do not act immediately, the objectives set in 1992, when the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted, will be no more than dead letter, and the goal agreed upon in Paris, to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius, will be only a pipe dream.
It cannot be permitted that our countries are leveled and our citizens victimized, while irrational patterns of production and consumption persist in developed countries, historically responsible for the degradation of the environment.
They have the obligation to fulfill their international commitments with ambitious mitigation goals and the transfer of financial resources and the necessary technology to developing countries, with absolute respect for national sovereignty.
Promoting an international environment that favors the development of countries of the South is imperative, in particular for developing small island nations.
The special vulnerabilities of our nations, given the danger presented by climate change and the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters, provide an irrefutable argument supporting our call for a differentiated strategy for the Caribbean
Thus the relevance of the United Nations designation of the Caribbean Sea as a "Special Sustainability Zone."
In the arena of disaster reduction, that constitutes a priority for us all, strengthening national and collective capacity to confront these phenomena is imperative.
Our nations have all the political will needed to make more and better progress in preparing for and facing these events.
This requires significant resources, which we do not have. The principal obstacle is underdevelopment, and the unjust, self-centered international economic order that conditions and sustains it.
A significant increase in international cooperation is indispensable, and the transfer of resources, technology, and knowledge to Caribbean countries, with the objective
of strengthening national strategies.
In the spirit of solidarity that has characterized our relations, Cuba's modest experiences in this arena have been made available to several countries in the region. For example, the Cuban model of Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management Centers has been applied in several Caribbean countries, adapted to their specific realities.
As has occurred in various Caribbean nations, in Antigua & Barbuda and in Dominica, dozens of Cuban medical professionals were already collaborating there when they suffered the devastating impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
In the wake of the hurricanes, they were joined by additional specialists from the Henry Reeve International Contingent Specialized in Serious Disasters and Epidemics, search and rescue teams, construction workers, electrical technicians, and other human resources and materials, as a small but useful contribution to the recovery.
In the framework of the VI Cuba-Caricom Summit, Cuba presented a program proposal for the development of cooperation in the area of disaster reduction and confronting climate change, for the three year period 2018-2020, in which we hope member nations of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States can actively participate.
We reaffirm today Cuba's unequivocal commitment to continue sharing with our sister Caribbeans the benefits of our modest accomplishments in the area of adaptation to climate change and in the reduction of disaster risks. We assume this commitment as a duty that unites sister peoples. The Caribbean can always count on Cuba, as it has been and will always be!
We will maintain the principles of respect and solidarity as essential values in our relations.
And finally, I would like to thank you all, for the simple and profound tribute which you made, just minutes ago, to the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz.
Thank you very much.