It is time to let Cuba in.
Opposition Leader Owen Arthur today called for the Caribbean country with which Barbados has had relations since 1972, but which has also been ostracised by others, led by the United States, to be included in key issues affecting the region.
This included participation in the Summit of the Americas, a meeting of leaders of countries in the Western Hemisphere, and acceptance into the CARIFORUM grouping, made up of CARICOM countries and the Dominican Republic.
The former prime minister voiced his views on the issue as the House of Assembly debated a resolution celebrating 40 years of diplomatic relations between Cuba and Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana. “I regret two things on reflection; when we sought to negotiate a relationship with Europe it was the wish of the Caribbean that Cuba should have been part of … CARIFORUM,” Arthur said.
“We had wanted our new Economic Partnership Agreement, … which is a relationship between Europe and CARIFORUM to include Cuba, [but[ for reasons best known to the Europeans they did not want to treat with Cuba as part of the Caribbean.
“But today I want especially to say that our relationship with Cuba … is based upon the precept that Cuba is a Caribbean society and that we of the Caribbean have to embrace the people of the Caribbean as one and that if it is still possible I would like to see some of our future economic relationships with the wider world embrace Cuba as part of those negotiations,” he added.
Arthur said the hemispheric process and development “is really not complete by the decision to exclude Cuba from direct negotiations and participation in the hemisphere”.
“I hope that if we are to have future Summits of the Americas, to the extent that you now have relationships between United States and China and United States and Russia, it is time that Cuba really should fully be integrated into the affairs of the hemisphere,” he told the Lower House.
“The Cold War has ended, we have no interest whatsoever in fighting wars hot nor cold, but more especially we have no interest whatsoever in fighting absurd nor ridiculous wars, and it is time that the affairs of our hemisphere, the affairs of the global community proceed upon the basis of mutual respect for different systems and mutual respect for people of different societies.
Arthur also noted that Barbados “had benefitted tremendously from a relationship with Cuba”, and in fact had “benefitted disproportionately”. “There has been a diminution in the extent to which we can expect productive beneficial cooperation from countries that have been our traditional partners,” he noted. (SC)