Secretary general of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Irwin LaRocque, Monday called on the United States to lift the “unwarranted economic embargo and sanctions” against Cuba.
Addressing the 22nd meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), LaRocque said that next month, the 15-member grouping will host the Sixth Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of CARICOM and Cuba.
“Cuba has been a long-standing, supportive partner particularly in building the region’s human capital in fields such as public health and sport. Our Community reiterates its call for the lifting of the unwarranted economic embargo and sanctions on Cuba which were strengthened recently,” he added.
Washington strengthened the decades old embargo on the Caribbean island after it publicly stated its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro whom the United States and several other western countries are seeking to remove from power.
CARICOM has called for non-intervention in the internal affairs of countries and that it has adopted this principle with regards to Caracas.
LaRocque said that the meeting here was taking place “at a time when our hemisphere continues to face great challenges.
“The ongoing political situation in Venezuela is worrisome and requires an urgent and concerted response from all actors. Since the beginning of the year, CARICOM has been very active on the issue and spared no effort on its own as well as working with like-minded countries and other parties, towards a peaceful internal outcome to the crisis, an objective on which all member states agree,” he said.
The Secretary General said that CARICOM has been operating within the framework of the Montevideo Mechanism process established with Mexico and Uruguay.
“The Community has been resolute in reaffirming its guiding principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, prohibition of the threat or use of force, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for the constitutional framework, human rights and democracy.”
He said last week, CARICOM chairman, Dr. Timothy Harris, led a CARICOM delegation to the outreach session of the third Ministerial Meeting of the International Contact Group in Costa Rica, where perspectives on the situation in Venezuela were exchanged.
LaRocque said, Venezuela and Cuba apart, other issues of interest to the Community’s welfare also feature on the agenda for the two-day meeting.
“The implications of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU), and the ongoing Post-Cotonou negotiations which will determine CARICOM’s and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) future relationship with the EU.
“Our meeting today will have to consider several issues as we formulate the Community’s position going forward. We are facing a world where major actors are showing a decreasing interest in a collective approach to global problems. It is an era where the multilateral architecture has come under increasing strain. Geopolitical competition in a multipolar world has increased, as well as the exercise of state power by the powerful to the detriment of international law and of smaller countries.”
LaRocque said that CARICOM, as small states, must therefore rely more than ever on focused and coordinated diplomacy, bolster its relations with like-minded states and continue to advocate for multilateralism.
The two-day meeting is being held under the theme ““Leveraging the Community’s Voice in an Era of Challenges and Disorder” and LaRocque said it is more than timely and “constitutes a wakeup call that reminds us as small states that the best way to protect the region’s interests in such a challenging time is to be cohesive, to work together as a collective, and to speak with one voice”.