Cuba´s Deputy Foreign Minister, Rogelio Sierra Díaz, led a delegation to participate in the 49th Pacific Islands Forum, held in the Republic of Nauru, in the South Pacific, September 3-6, the ministry reported.
The Forum is the Pacific region’s principal event and includes 14 small island nations, as well as observers and associates, a category Cuban has been afforded since 2013.
The annual gathering had as its fundamental objective coming to agreement among members on important issues including economics and cooperation, as well as actions to mitigate the impact of climate change and preparedness for natural disasters.
During the meeting, the Cuban delegation had the opportunity to exchange experiences in facing challenges shared with these nations, as another small island state, and held bilateral meetings with regional leaders.
In this regard, Alberto Blanco Silva, the Foreign Ministry’s director for Asia and Oceania, stated that neither the geographic distance or cultural and language differences, have impeded the progress of cooperation between Cuba and Pacific islands, which is a positive example of South-South cooperation.
“Currently we have diplomatic relations with 14 small island states in the South Pacific, and in May of 2017, we opened our diplomatic mission in Suva, Fiji; with concurrency in 11 Pacific islands, which reflects Cuba’s renewed commitment to the South Pacific,” Blanco stated.
Blanco noted that, during the last four years, Cuba has been honored to receive visits from several heads of state and government from Pacific islands, and that earlier this year, Ministers of Health from Palau and Nauru arrived for meetings in which possible new areas of cooperation were identified.
“We have medical brigades in Kiribati and Vanuatu, and sent a medical brigade to Nauru in response to a request made by its government,” he reported.
The diplomat said Cuba was pleased to be hosting the 101 youth from Pacific island states currently studying at our universities, adding that 153 have graduated over the last few years, 151 of whom studied medicine.
All small island states in the South Pacific have voted in the United Nations General Assembly for an end to the unjust economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba since 1960 by the United States.
Cuba and Pacific island states have a great deal in common, as small island nations facing the challenges this reality imposes, such as climate change and the unequal environment in which we must function. This situation is aggravated by U.S. emphasis on protectionism and lack of interest in cooperation and understanding.
“On more than one occasion, our island has defended the rights of developing countries, and in particular small island states, that run the risk of being buried by the sea as a result of climate change,” the Cuban diplomat said.
“It is alarming to confirm that some small island states in the South Pacific face the very real danger of disappearing due to this,” he noted.
He emphasizing the thinking of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, who has always been a reference, saying, “Fidel Castro, visionary, conscious of the impact of human activity on the world, concerned about the negative effects of this, foresaw a world facing two tragedies, that of war and of environmental degradation.”
He reiterated that Cuba defends shared but differentiated responsibility, that is, consideration for the circumstances of each people, and that our government wishes to continue articulating tripartite cooperation with New Zealand and Australia, and other international actors, to benefit South Pacific islands, which “can count on the sincere friendship, esteem, and complete support of their Cuban brothers and sisters.” (International news staff)