On the thirtieth anniversary of the historic decision, Fidel Castro proclaimed:
Probably, the leaders of those countries, considered the founding fathers of the independence of their nations and of Caribbean integration, Errol Barrow, of Barbados; Forbes Burnham, of Guyana; Michael Manley, of Jamaica; and Eric Williams, of Trinidad and Tobago, in deciding on the establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, understood that they were crafting the road for what would later be the foreign policy of the Caribbean Community, which today has three fundamental characteristics: independence, courage, and united action (quoted in Gómez, 2017:5).
In 2002, December 8 was declared the day of Caricom-Cuba, and the first Caricom-Cuba Summit was held in Havana. Subsequent summits have been held every three years, always on the date of the historic 1972 decision. During these last fifteen years, Cuba and Caricom have been seeking to develop cooperation and commerce between Cuba and Caricom and between Cuba and each of the nations. Cooperation has especially occurred in areas in which Cuba has much to offer, such as health, education, sport, culture, and construction. Today, 1,762 Cuban “internationalists” are working in the countries of Caricom, 83% in the health sector. In addition, 5,542 Caribbean youths have been educated in Cuba, and 732 are presently studying in Cuban universities.
The Sixth Caricom-Cuba Summit was held in Saint Mary, Antigua and Barbuda, on December 8, 2017. In the opening ceremony, Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, observed that Cuba has contributed to the elevation of its neighbors through the donation of health services, the training of professionals, and the provision of consulting services with respect to disaster preparation, agriculture, and sport. He described these contributions as a consequence of the lasting legacy of Fidel, whose ideals of equality and social justice “will endure to the extent that we strive to advance in the socio-economic development of our countries.” The Prime Minister further observed that the Caribbean finds itself in uncertain times, characterized by “the dangers of terrorism, protectionist and mercantilist policies, and the construction of walls,” and facing threats resulting from the region’s vulnerability to natural disasters.
Raúl Castro, in his address to the Summit, recalled the historic decision taken forty-five years ago by four prime ministers of the English-speaking Caribbean. “We will never forget that decision, which constituted a fundamental step for the breaking of the diplomatic and commercial barrier around Cuba. And it permitted the deepening of relations among the peoples of Our America, united by centuries of history and culture.” He further declared, “We Cubans profoundly thank our Caribbean brothers and sisters for their unalterable position of respect toward our country.”
Raúl described Fidel as the initiator and foremost proponent of the idea of political ties and cooperation among the countries of the Caribbean. He cited Fidel’s speech of December 8, 2002: “The only way out for our countries is integration and cooperation.”
Like Prime Minister Browne, Raúl Castro referred to the dangerous international situation, which he described as “the profound economic, social, political, and environmental crisis that the hemisphere and the world is undergoing.” He maintained, “The dangers for the survival of the human species are increasing.” He observed that the powerful states of the world utilize concepts that are not universally accepted, like “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect,” “in order to hide interventionist and aggressive actions that threaten international security and peace.” The centers of transnational financial capital seek to impose further obstacles to social and economic development, singling out nations as supposed threats, including them in unilateral and spurious lists. In the context of this international situation, the countries of the Caribbean, Raúl sustained, ought to confront the challenge of social and economic development through a unity that respects diversity and through integration and cooperation.
The Sixth Caricom-Cuba Summit issued the Declaration of Saint Mary. Reaffirming the historic commitment of the Third World to the true independence of nations in the face of the interventions of the global powers (see “The Third World Project, 1948-79” 7/20/2016), the Declaration proclaims: “We commit ourselves to lend our unrestricted support to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and self-determination of each nation, and to the principle of non-intervention in their internal affairs.” In addition, the Declaration asserts that attention to the negative consequences of climate change is an urgent priority for the region, and it declares the commitment of the nations to work together to strengthen capacity to reduce risk from disasters. The Declaration reaffirms the commitment of the nations to develop further the regional infrastructure for air and sea transportation, in order to strengthen economic and commercial relations. The Summit also signed an agreement of cooperation with respect to tourism, including the development of multiple-destiny tourism in the Caribbean.
South-South cooperation is a historic goal of the Third World. South-South cooperation confronts enormous obstacles, because colonial economic, commercial, and transportation structures were designed to ensure unequal North-South trade, and not mutually beneficial trade among the newly independent nations of the Third World; and because, in the neocolonial world-system, nations that seek to exercise the sovereignty necessary for the transformation of these structures are attacked. Caricom and the Carcom-Cuba relation represent one of many efforts on the part of Third World peoples and nations to transform neocolonial structures and to establish the basis for cooperation and mutually beneficial relations among nations, so that a more just, democratic, and sustainable world-system can be developed.
Cuba and Caricom have taken modest but important steps toward this end. In the addition to the benefits to the region that derive from the advanced level of Cuban education and knowledge and from the internationalist spirit of Cuba, commerce within the region is growing, as are sea and air connections. At the present time, tariff preferences are in place for more than 300 Cuban products sold in the Caribbean, and for dozens of Caribbean products sold in Cuba. The Cuban government reports that commerce among the Caribbean nations has grown significantly in the last three years.
The Cuba-Caricom relation is part of a Third World project to construct, in theory and in practice, step-by-step, a more just world, in recognition of the fundamental fact that cooperation and solidarity among nations is the only possible road for ensuring the survival of the human species and for the establishment of a sustainable political-economic-cultural world-system.
Castro, Raúl. 2017. “Un Caribe cada vez más próspero, equitativo, seguro, sostenible y unido es posible: Discurso pronunciado en la Sexta Cumbre Caricom-Cuba,” Granma (December 9):3-4.
Gómez, Sergio Alejandro. 2017. “El Caribe, los desafíos de la integración en la frontera imperial,” Granma (December 7):5.
Menéndez Quintero, Marina. 2017. “Caricom-Cuba: una relación ejemplar y única,” Juventud Rebelde (December 7):4.