Speech by Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, on the occasion of the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, in Montego Bay, Jamaica, July 5, 2018 , Year 60 of the Revolution
Your Most Honorable Andrew Michael Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica;
Honorable Heads of State and Government of CARICOM member states;
His Excellency Ambassador Irwin La Rocque, CARICOM Secretary-General;
Distinguished heads of delegations, ministers and special guests:
It is an honor to greet the leaders of our Caribbean, a sea that we share as a cradle and a challenging home, where we count the hours with more haste, due to the passion that derives from its heat and its strength that stops hurricanes, increasingly frequent and destructive, and also due to the rise in sea level, as a consequence of climate change, which we ourselves did not even cause.
I follow the spirit of my people, who first send enthused gratitude to the hosts, as we are in Jamaica, where, in the late nineteenth century, far from the hatred of the Spanish metropolis, Mariana Grajales found refuge, the bravest of our women and Mother of the Nation, whom “God has invested with the rank of General,” in the words of another front-line fighter, the wife of her son Antonio, the unsurpassable Maceo.
Here our Mariana, who died on Jamaican land 125 years ago, and today rests in the patrimonial cemetery in Santiago de Cuba, found refuge and received José Martí.
Jamaica is very close, geographically, historically, and humanly.
I wish, therefore, to express our gratitude to the people and government authorities of Jamaica, especially to Prime Minister Andrew Holness, for kindly organizing this meeting and offering us the possibility to share in this moment of Caribbean brotherhood.
I also interpret this invitation and the welcome that we have received, as an unequivocal demonstration of the excellent state of relations between the member nations of CARICOM and Cuba, whose solid foundations are built on an infallible friendship and the mutual recognition that we share challenges, so enormous that only united and cooperatively will we be able to face them successfully.
I am honored to convey the fraternal message of friendship and solidarity of compañero Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee, and to reiterate the unwavering commitment that he made to you last December, at the 6th CARICOM-Cuba Summit, held in Antigua and Barbuda, stating that, “The Caribbean can always count on the eternal friendship, gratitude, and support of Cuba.”
“Cuba does not wander around the world cadging: she is a sister and works with such authority. On saving herself, she saves,” warned José Martí when he organized the Necessary War. And the Cuban Revolution, which turned his legacy into law, has not hesitated to share what we have; offer what we know; support where we can; more so at difficult times than in fortunate moments, but simply always. With a single priority: firstly he who suffers the most, and if he is a brother all the more reason.
Esteemed Heads of State and Government and guests:
The challenge facing our small states to achieve sustainable development is not new, although it is intensifying, because the obstacles and dangers derived from an unjust international order, that has lasted too long, are even greater and more complex
An increasingly unequal world, in which the access of our products to markets is obstructed, and we are deprived of the essential technological and financial resources for development, while rivers of money and resources are squandered on military spending and endless wars beyond the borders of their promoters, where there is little room for the hopes of the nations that lost out on centuries of progress, fuelling that of our metropolises.
This is why Cuba will always support the just demands of the Caribbean to receive fair and differential treatment in access to trade and investment. And we will support, without hesitation, the legitimate demand for reparations for the horrors of slavery and human trafficking, while rejecting the inclusion of CARICOM member states on unilateral lists of alleged non-cooperative tax jurisdictions drawn up by international financial capital centers.
We also reiterate that the demand to foster cooperation based on the needs of developing countries, and on the basis of the historic debt as a result of colonialism, and not a mechanical and incomplete measurement of national income, is necessary and just.
As mentioned earlier, the effects of climate change and the progressive destruction of the environment threaten human survival, and cause natural disasters and phenomena to affect more intensely small island states. As such, we urgently need to find joint responses to face them and demand a fair, special and differential treatment.
Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the United Nations, such as the peaceful settlement of disputes, the prohibition of threat or use of force, the respect for self-determination, territorial integrity, the sovereign equality of states, and non-interference in their internal affairs, are continuously violated, which constitutes a real danger that demands our strictest observance and will to uphold the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, a commitment signed in Havana in 2014 by the heads of state and government of the region.
We cannot ignore the serious and alarming messages of arrogance and contempt with which United States authorities address our nations.
The declared intention of a return to the Monroe Doctrine, a direct expression of its ambitions of domination, together with acts of intervention, which provoke violence, humanitarian crises, and instability, merit strong condemnation, just as the application of unilateral coercive measures and non-conventional war tactics, that have become a direct threat to the stability and true integration of our nations.
Esteemed Heads of State and Government:
Now 45 years ago, in a historic decision, the first four independent nations of the Caribbean reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba.
That act would be described by the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, as an “unquestionably courageous political decision… [insofar as it] was a fundamental step toward breaking the diplomatic and trade blockade of Cuba in the region… Cuba will never forget this noble gesture on the part of its Caribbean brothers,” Fidel said then and we reiterate today.
We will continue, with our modest resources and in spite of the current difficulties, joint cooperation projects.
We have the opportunity to further deepen our ties.
We will pursue efforts to start the activities of the Regional Arts School, whose conception is the result of common interest and political will.
We must, at the same time, make sustainable the advance of the Centre to Stimulate the Development of Children, Adolescents and Youth with Special Education Needs, located in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
Cuba ratifies the decision to continue cooperating in the training of human resources, in particular the possibility of pursuing specialization studies in the health field.
We maintain the will to exchange experiences and best practices in comprehensive disaster risk management, and in confronting the effects of climate change, and to explore other spheres of common interest.
We also have novel instruments that we must continue to strengthen, such as the expansion of the Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between the Caribbean Community and Cuba, which supports the promotion of trade and investment development; the possibility of working on multi-destination tourism and cultural exchange development. In other words: to make more systematic and constructive use of all of our scarce, but powerful, shared advantages.
Esteemed Presidents and Prime Ministers:
In Cuba we are advancing in a process of perfecting our socialist model of economic and social development, and working on the reform of our Constitution. We do so in the midst of economic difficulties and enormous financial tensions, exacerbated by the tightening of the economic, commercial and financial blockade, and the setback in bilateral relations with the United States.
Despite these enormous obstacles, the Cuban people persevere in building a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous, and sustainable nation, without abandoning any of the principles that have guided the honorable history of their Revolution.
In this context, Cuba would like to express its appreciation for the permanent support and friendship of the Caribbean peoples.
And before you, I wish to reiterate, in the name of our common history, of the present and future generations of Cuban men and women, the invariable solidarity, eternal gratitude, and irrevocable commitment of Cuba to its closest brothers, its equals in need and hope, given the good fortune and the challenge of sharing the Caribbean that embraces us.
Thank you very much!