The Third Caribbean Community (CARICOM)-Cuba Ministerial Meeting decried the slow pace of disbursement of funds pledged to Haiti by the international community following the earthquake of January 12, last, and called on the international donor community to make good on the pledges and promises made to that CARICOM Member State for its reconstruction and recovery.
The meeting which brought together the Foreign Ministers of the two sides ended in Havana, Cuba on Friday 17, September with the adoption of a Final Declaration and a Special Declaration on Haiti.
CARICOM Ministers hailed the Government of Cuba for its unswerving commitment to Haiti, noting its presence in that CARICOM country long before the earthquake of January 12, and Cuba ’s declared intent to continue its support to Haiti and to maintain a presence through its volunteers for as long as Haiti so desired.
Invited as a special guest by the Government of Cuba, the former Jamaica Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, Special Representative of CARICOM Heads of Government on Haiti, gave an overview of the current reconstruction and recovery situation in Haiti.
He emphasised the priority areas in which the Government of Haiti still required assistance from the international community, key among these were shelter for the displaced, the strengthening the institutional capacity of the State, education and training, and the agriculture and health sectors.
In an overview of the present status of the electoral process in Haiti leading up to the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for November 28, Assistant Secretary General of Foreign and Community Relations at the CARICOM Secretariat, Ambassador Colin Granderson, assured the forum that the preparations for the elections were proceeding steadily.
This, he said, was despite the complexities of the process, the challenges caused by the earthquake, and the criticisms and mistrust of the Provisional Election Commission expressed by a number of opposition parties which had decided to boycott the process.
The Ministers also focused their attention on issues related to climate change, the environment and sustainable development, as well as the progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Recognizing Climate Change as one of the major threats to mankind, the Foreign Ministers committed to strengthening their partnership in the efforts towards achieving a concrete and legally binding agreement at the next Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework convention on Climate Change (COP16) in Mexico in November 2010.
The meeting, which was co-chaired by the Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minster and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Information Technology of Dominica, and Bruno Rodriguez Parilla, was conducted, as described in the Declaration adopted by the Ministers, in “an atmosphere of friendship, respect and solidarity”.
Convened under the theme “Towards a Caribbean of Unity and Solidarity” the meeting also facilitated a stimulating debate on the process of integration in the Caribbean and Latin America, during which the Ministers reiterated their commitment to facilitating an integration based on cooperation and solidarity to ensure the greater well-being for the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean
Cuba was lauded by the CARICOM side for its ongoing support to the Region at both the bilateral and regional levels in a multitude of areas including health, human resource development, natural disasters, sports and culture. Highlighting in particular Cuba’s extensive work in the Community in the area of Health, CARICOM Ministers were unanimous in affirming that this outreach by Cuba had made a tremendous difference in the lives of Caribbean people.
In a well-received gesture, the President of Cuba, Raul Castro Ruz, joined the forum for the closing ceremony.
The President echoed the sentiments of his Foreign Minister in expressing sincere gratitude to CARICOM for its “adamant support” to his nation. He recalled with warmth, the bold step taken by the first four independent nations of CARICOM, Barbados , Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago in establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1972 in the midst of the antagonisms of the Cold War and at a time when it remained economically and politically isolated from much of the world.
In closing remarks on behalf of the CARICOM side, Sir Louis Straker, deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of St Vincent and the Grenadines, reiterated the Community’s call for the lifting of the unjust, economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba .
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