Barbados will observe CARICOM-Cuba Day tomorrow, Wednesday, December 8. The occasion will mark the 38th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Barbados; Guyana; Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba in 1972.

That bold act by the young democracies of the region to jointly establish diplomatic relations with Cuba was a clear demonstration to the world of the place which Cuba occupies within the regional family of Caribbean nations.

The Caribbean Community and the Republic of Cuba have continued to enjoy a strong and meaningful friendship ever since. On December 8, 2002 the Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community and Cuba met in Havana for their First Summit and celebrated 30 years of diplomatic relations.

It was at that meeting that our leaders adopted the Havana Declaration in which they declared December 8 CARICOM-Cuba Day – a day to be observed each year in all countries of the Community and in Cuba.?? The Havana Declaration also provided for greater cooperation between Cuba and the Caribbean Community and sought to strengthen relations between the two in multilateral fora.??

Today, the value of the relationship between the Caribbean Community and Cuba is stronger than it ever was, with Cuba providing technical support to Community members in health, sports, education, culture and agriculture, even as it responds to the challenges of the longstanding economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America.

Of particular note, is Cuba’s humanitarian response to the people of Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the January 12,?? devastating earthquake. Cuban doctors, nurses and other professionals have remained in Haiti as that Community country attempts to reconstruct. Additionally, the medical service provided by Cuba to the region through "Operacion Milagro" or Operation Miracle has served to significantly improve the vision and lives of thousands of Community citizens including many Barbadians.

Although in reduced numbers in the current economic recession which has affected almost every country of the world, Cuba has continued to offer scholarships to students of all countries of the Community to pursue studies in engineering, medicine, telecommunications, architecture, computer science, geology and other areas at universities in Cuba.??

At the international level, CARICOM and Cuba are committed to working together to achieving the internationally agreed goals of development and the protection and conservation of the environment.?? They also continue to advocate on the issue of climate change; fight against the impact of HIV-AIDS in the region; illicit drug trafficking and transnational crime; international terrorism, among other issues.

Collaboration between the Community and Cuba on matters of global significance is by no means restricted to bilateral encounters. The articulation of common positions in other groupings including the Group of 77 and China, the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) serve to facilitate the conclusion of comprehensive outcomes that favour small island developing states (SIDS) in the face of global challenges.??

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