When it comes to Cuba, CARICOM continues to stand remarkably tall.
For starters, it was four CARICOM founding members (Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago) that in 1972 jointly broke the US diplomatic blockade against Cuba.
During the following 48 years, Cuba-CARICOM ties multiplied by historic leaps and bounds, Caribbean states gladly welcoming much-needed scholarships and free medical assistance benefitting millions across island and mainland borders.
In 2002, the first Cuba-CARICOM summit took place in Havana, since which institutional ties have transcended the usual normal.
Today, no CARICOM member-state will hesitate to continue saying eternal thanks to Cuba, including repeatedly supporting it’s right to self-determination and consistently opposing all external efforts to force regime change.
Between that first Cuba-CARICOM summit and the 7th held on December 8, 2020 – a date observed as Cuba-CARICOM Day – Cuba has provided free eye care for millions, specialized healthcare for hundreds of thousands and scholarships for thousands of CARICOM students.
Permanent Cuban medical brigades provide daily health support across CARICOM; and the Henry Reeve Medical Brigade dispatched thousands of Cuban medical professionals across the Caribbean, including to non-independent territories that requested COVID-19 help in 2020.
CARICOM isn’t the least hypocritical in its united collective support for and appreciation of Cuba, now seen by most Caribbean citizens as a true and reliable Caribbean friend.
Accordingly, CARICOM has always opposed US efforts at the United Nations to further punish Cuba.
Up to late 2020, CARICOM flatly rejected US efforts to force it to reject Cuban health and education assistance on the basis of politically-generated American claims intended to paint Havana as an international human rights violator.
The Republicans failed to muster enough support to put Cuba on President Trump’s 2020 ‘List of State Sponsors of Terrorism’, but in the final days before his last White House supper, the outgoing president included listing Cuba among his last vengeful acts.
Since the Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces incited an insurrection against the American state in Washington DC on January 6, the world now better knows and sees all things, including outgoing soon-to-be Ex-President’s most secret thoughts.
Trump’s vengeful acts were always expected to accelerate as his days numbered less — and the act against Cuba is seen as nothing less than just another vengeful sin of commission on the altar of his expiring presidential expediency.
Commendably, CARICOM is the first and only regional grouping to outrightly reject President Trump’s politically spiteful action against Cuba.
With just 109 words – and in very short thrift — the CARICOM Secretariat put paid to the issue in a January 13 statement, saying:
‘The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) denounces the unilateral declaration by the outgoing United States administration to designate Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.
‘Cuba’s international conduct does not in any way warrant that designation.
‘This further attack on the country adversely affects its international standing and its social, human and economic development and is another misguided action, in addition to the unproductive, unnecessary and illegal financial and economic embargo already imposed on this Caribbean nation by the United States.
‘CARICOM calls for the immediate review and reversal of these unjustified actions taken in regard to Cuba and looks forward to the United States moving towards normalising relations with Cuba.’
For its part, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs termed Trump’s act as ‘a fraudulent qualification’ and ‘a cynical and hypocritical act.’
Havana also described the announcement by soon-to-be-replaced Secretary of State Michael Pompeo as ‘an arrogant act by a government that is discredited, dishonest and morally bankrupt’, aimed at ‘imposing additional obstacles to any prospect of recovery in the bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States’ under the incoming Biden administration.’
Cuba argued that it was instead ‘a state victim of terrorism’, as suffered first-hand by its population with 3,478 deaths and 2,099 people permanent disabled, all ‘due to acts committed by the United States government or perpetrated and sponsored from the territory of that country, with the support or tolerance of its Government.’
Cuba and CARICOM indeed stand-out as the only countries in the world to have summoned the testicular fortitude to stand-up to President Trump on his way out of the Oval Office, other Caribbean nations and regional groupings preferring to ride the tide of time and remain silent for fear of retaliation.
Unfortunately, CARICOM is not as all-at-one on Venezuela, the influence of Washington over member-states belonging to the ‘Lima Group’ at the Organization of American States (OAS) resulting in less commitment to appreciation of historic ties with Caracas dating all the way back to its independence struggle led by Simon Bolivar.
Over 200 years of Caribbean ties with Venezuela — starting with building ships and shipping fighters and supplies from the West Indies through the Gulf of Paria by Saint Lucian shipwright Jean Baptiste, who fought by Bolivar’s side, captained his war ships, once saved his (Bolivar’s) life, became Governor of Eastern Venezuela after Independence — and died in battle to protect the first Bolivarian Revolution.
But when it comes to Cuba, it’s a different frying pan of Caribbean flying fish…
CARICOM didn’t mix words or wash its mouth last Wednesday to tell President Trump where to jump off.
But it did it so nicely that, in his current state of political malady, The Dizzy Prez might very well have interpreted it as a complementing compliment.
But if I’d drafted the Cuba statement, with nothing to lose, I’d only have made the whole point in these 25 words: ‘After January 6, 2021, US President and Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump has over-qualified and out-classed all other contenders on his list of Sponsors of State Terrorism.’
I would have left Trump trumping himself over Cuba, leaving the region’s diplomats with better things to do than try to figure-out what’s on the outgoing president’s outgoing mind, less than one week before leaving or being evicted from the White House.