MOSCOW, December 7 (Sputnik) — Caribbean leaders are arriving in Havana, Cuba for a summit between Cuba and the 15-member Caribbean Community, with issues including trade, investment, and education ties on the agenda, Telesur reported.
The fifth Cuba-Caricom Summit, which will take place on Monday, will be preceded on Sunday by a meeting of the region’s foreign ministers.
In addition to the deepening of investment and trade ties, the summit aims at the strengthening of a broad range of Cuba-Caribbean cooperation initiatives related to education, health, poverty reduction, culture, sports, and climate change, the Caribbean media have explained in the lead-up to the summit.
Arriving in Havana on Saturday, Grenada’s Prime Minister Keith Mitchell said that he appreciated Cuba’s contribution to health and education projects in the region, noting that his country would play its part in international forums to challenge the US to lift its economic blockade of the country, Cuban newspaper Escambray noted. Cuban educational aid initiatives have included the provision of scholarships to hundreds of students from the Caribbean to study in Cuba.
Ralph Gonsalves, the Prime Minister of St. Vincente and the Grenadines, noted upon arrival at the Cuban capital that, “we have to work together in this globalized world to address international issues affecting our hemisphere. This includes demanding an end to the economic sanctions against Cuba.” The prime minister also called for the freeing of the Cuban Five, a group of Cuban nationals suspected of spying in the United States.
Trinidad and Tobago ambassador Jennifer Jones-Kernahana noted that the summit will assist in the strengthening of regional ties, allowing the region to act as a bloc with common interests in world affairs, Telesur explained. This may include the formation of a common position on issues such as the United Nations’ Post-2015 Development Agenda.
The first Cuba-Caricom summit took place on December 8, 2002, marking the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago in 1972, with the four countries rebuffing US diplomatic pressure not to do so. The event has taken place every three years since 2002.
The Caribbean Community organization itself was founded in 1973 as a trade organization amongst Caribbean nations; its goals including the promotion of economic integration, development planning, a common market, and the coordination of foreign policy.
Caricom’s full members include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, and Trinidad and Tobago.