ROSEAU, Dominica – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit on Friday defended the decision of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries in calling for an end to the economic and trade embargo by the United States against Cuba, saying the region’s position should not be viewed as “anti-American|.
Skerrit, who received a rousing welcome at the Douglas Charles Airport, on his return home from Cuba where he received that the Jose Marti Award, the country’s highest award, told a news conference that regional leaders were due to meet with the United States Vice President Kamala Harris later on Friday.
“We are not in the CARICOM supporting Cuba on our call to remove the embargo because of what we received. No, we are doing so as a matter of principle,” Skerrit said.
“As a matter of fact, this year it will be 50 years since CARICOM-Cuba relations with the pioneers, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana defied the international order of the time and established relations with Cuba.
‘So it is 50 years of relationship we have had within CARICOM and the reality is if you have a brother who is in difficulty, what do you do? And if you have a brother who is being oppressed what do you do, what do you say?
“So it is not an anti-America position, it is a matter of justice and fairness, that’s all,” Skerrit told reporters.
He said that the United Nations has consistently over the last decade has called for the removal of the embargo with only Washington and Israel voting in support of the measure.
“So the entire world and if you do a poll in the United States of America, you will find the majority of American citizens will tell you that this embargo should be removed. So it is an issue of injustice and the need for Cuban people to really be afforded the opportunity to be part of the world system”.
Skerrit said with most of the international financing and trading concerns going through the US, it was important for Havana to be part of the “mainstream economic system”.
Prime Minister Skerrit said despite the embargo Cuba has been able to achieve significant milestones in health, science and disaster assistance to countries.
“A lot of people do not know, Cuba played a huge role in the apartheid period, in supporting Nelson Mandela…Cuba helped up in Angola, Cuba helped in what was called Rhodesia and now known as Zimbabwe and all of the African states benefitted from Cuba’s contribution to their independence,” Skerrit said.
“Here in the Caribbean ever single country, if you were to remove Cuban trained doctors and Cuban doctors from the health system of every CARICOM country with no exception, the health systems would collapse,” he said.
The United States embargo against Cuba prevents American businesses, and businesses organized under US law or majority-owned by American citizens, from conducting trade with Cuban interests. It is the most enduring trade embargo in modern history.
Washington maintains the comprehensive economic embargo on the Cuba in place since 1962, when President John F. Kennedy proclaimed an embargo on trade between the two countries in response to certain actions taken by the Cuban government, and directed the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury to implement the embargo, which still remains in place. (CMC)