ACS, a Space for the Caribbean's Shared Development
Por Ernesto Vera Mellado
Havana, Mar 3 (Prensa Latina) From March 8 to 10, Cuba will host several meetings of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) with the objective of identifying and promoting consultations, cooperation and concerted actions among member countries.
Sectors like sustainable tourism, trade and transportation, and the fight against the consequences of climate change and natural disasters are top priorities on the agenda on cooperation of the 25 member countries of the ACS, which also includes other nations as observers and associates.
According to experts, Cuba's work chairing the Association's Council of Ministers gave continuity to the process of revitalization of the bloc and the efforts to eliminate the elements that prevent further cooperation among the insular nations and those with shores in the Caribbean Sea.
Amid changes in the area's political and economic scenario, it is a priority for Cuba to boost the development of the first regional mechanism of association in which the Revolution participated actively thanks to the strength of its Caribbean neighbors, the interim director general for Latin America and the Caribbean at Cuba's Foreign Ministry, Carlos Zamora, said recently.
As part of those efforts, Cuba has submitted projects to contribute to creating a more effective system to deal with the effects of climate change and natural disasters, which take lives and cause millions-worth economic losses, especially in the insular nations of the region, he pointed out.
Zamora added that Cuba's collaboration with its Caribbean brothers include solidarity with Haiti, one of the most vulnerable countries.
Cuba's experience in that field is crucial for the rest of the member states, as it has a consolidated Civil Defense whose actions have been acknowledged by international agencies, and an effective meteorological monitoring system that is available for the countries in the region.
On the other hand, developing interregional transportation to cheapen and speed up the movement of products and people is an unavoidable challenge for the Caribbean nations, whose incomes mainly come from tourism, a matter on which Cuba has paid special attention, Zamora said.
Precisely, the debates at the 1st ACS Conference on Cooperation, scheduled for March 8, and the 22nd Ordinary Meeting of the Association's Council of Ministers, two days later and preceded by a preparatory meeting of high-level officials, will focus on those matters.
According to the Cuban diplomat, all 25 ACS member countries, and more than 60 nations and international organizations that collaborate with the region have confirmed participation in the 1st Conference on Cooperation of that mechanism.
In order to review the state of integral relations between Cuba and the sister nations associated to the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Havana will also host the 5th Caricom-Cuba Ministerial Meeting on March 11.
A CLOSER CARIBBEAN
Beyond geographical, cultural and historic proximity, Cuba and its neighboring countries in the Caribbean have forged and strengthened ties of affection and commitment since 1972, when four states in the region (Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago), decided to establish diplomatic relations with the Revolution, in an open challenge to the isolationist policy of the United States.
That decision, of unquestionable political courage, made by small newly-independent countries, in a hostile environment characterized by huge pressure, was a major step to break the diplomatic and commercial blockade of Cuba in the region, noted the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, on the 30th anniversary of that event.
Another landmark was, undoubtedly, the creation of the ACS on July 24, 1994, with Cuba as a founding member, at a time when Cuba was going through a deep economic crisis caused by the demise of the socialist camp and the intensification of the U.S. blockade.
In fact, the ACS was the first regional organization that Cuba joined as a full-fledged and founding member.
In addition, Cuba has historically supported the smallest and more vulnerable nations' right to receive a special and differentiated treatment in their access to trade and investment, get additional financial resources under special conditions and have free access to clean and efficient technologies.
Cuba was a fundamental pillar for the inclusion of the Caribbean nations in the Latin American integration mechanisms, and it has raised its voice to defend its neighbors at international organizations, while it maintains close collaboration with the region in such fields as public health, education, agriculture and construction, among others.
According to Zamora, the upcoming ACS meetings in Havana, as well as the 5th Caricom-Cuba Ministerial Meeting, will contribute to consolidating regional unity as a way to address new economic, political and environmental challenges.
|By the minute||Most read|