CARICOM, Cuba call for peaceful solution to crisis in Venezuela

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) foreign ministers and their Cuban counterpart have ended a meeting here supporting efforts by the 15-member regional grouping to find a peaceful solution to the economic and political crisis in Venezuela.

The foreign ministers who met here under the aegis of the Sixth CARICOM-Cuba Ministerial Meeting, also adopted a resolution urging that the region be declared a zone of peace, condemning the United States decision to tighten its trade and economic embargo against Havana, as well as criticise the European Union over its decision to list a number of countries as tax havens.

In addition, the meeting agreed on the need to improve trade relations between CARICOM and Cuba, climate change, condemn the efforts of developed countries to dismantle corresponding banking mechanisms as well as the current “graduation” criteria for official development assistance so as to adequately reflect the reality and specific needs of Highly-Indebted Middle Income Countries, particularly Caribbean states.

CARICOM has adopted a position of non-interference and non-intervention in the situation in Venezuela where the United States and several western countries are backing opposition parties in a bid to remove President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn into office for a second consecutive term earlier this year.

In the resolution, the foreign ministers said that they acknowledge and “support the effort deployed by CARICOM countries and its Pro Tempore President, alongside Mexico and Uruguay through the Montevideo Mechanism for respectful dialogue in Venezuela, guided by the principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of states, prohibition of the threat and use of force, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, respect for the constitutional framework and democracy, and reiterating the right of people  to self–determination”.

The resolution also calls on the international community, in its relations with the countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), to endorse the tenets of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed in Havana in January 2014.

The declaration recognises, among others, the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system as an essential condition to ensure peaceful coexistence among nations.

The foreign ministers also rejected the imposition of unilateral coercive measures and, in that context, call for an immediate and unconditional end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba “especially to its extraterritorial nature and the financial persecution of Cuban transactions, whose severity has increased.

“ In this regard, we denounce the application of the new measures under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, legislation which flagrantly violates International Law and undermines the sovereignty and interests of third parties, announced by the US government which strengthens the US blockade against Cuba, including the application of laws and measures of extra-territorial nature that are contrary to international law.

“Furthermore, we reiterate our endorsement of the principles of international law as well as our strongly-held view that economic development and stability in the Caribbean region contribute to international peace and security,” the resolution noted.

It also reiterated the importance of trade for the region’s sustainable development and reaffirm the necessity of appropriate policy space and special and differential treatment for small vulnerable economies like those in the Caribbean.

As a result, the meeting welcomed the hosting by Barbados of UNCTAD XV in October 2020, which will be the first time that an UNCTAD quadrennial conference has been held in a Caribbean country.

They also reaffirmed the need to continue strengthening cooperation and exchange of experiences and good practices in the area of integrated disaster risk management in the Caribbean, aiming to support the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and all its goals by the Caribbean countries.

They have also committed to continue cooperation in the areas of food security, nutrition and agricultural development including women empowerment and youth involvement, as key pillars in the fight against poverty, including actions for implementing the CELAC Plan for Food and Nutrition Security and the Eradication of Hunger 2025

The meeting also emphasized the “urgent and global priority” of climate change and its negative implications for our societies, ecosystems and economies.

“In this regard, the ministers have committed “to strengthening cooperation within CARICOM and with other international organizations and agencies to foster greater adaptation and mitigation, strengthen resilience and reduce our vulnerability, particularly Small Island and low-lying coastal Developing States”

The one-day meeting on Friday also expressed “grave concern over the inclusion of CARICOM Member States in the lists of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions by the European Union which has negative effects on the economies of Small Island and low-lying coastal Developing States which have implemented recognised international norms and have proven their willingness to cooperate and dialogue in order to find solutions”.

The meeting was also critical of and expressed “deep concern and rejection of the progressive decline in correspondent banking relations with developing countries, particularly CARICOM member states, “due to de-risking actions by some of the major international banking corporations, which threaten the financial stability of the affected countries and limits their efforts to achieve development and socio-economic growth”

The ministers said they were committing their countries to continue promoting joint actions and exchanges of experience and information on security, as well as on prevention and confrontation of transnational organised crime, the worldwide drug problem, corruption, human trafficking and other new threats related to cyber security among others;

On the issue of culture, they emphasised the “importance of culture as a significant instrument in the advancement of sustainable economic development, unity, peace, education and mutual understanding between our people, and support a successful celebration of CARIFESTA XIV, to take place in Trinidad and Tobago on August 16 – 25, 2019”.