Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs, Planning and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, has lauded the announcement that the United States and Cuba intend to pursue ‘normalization’ of relations after five decades of hostility. Joint announcements were made in Washington and Havana on Wednesday, by US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, in which the two leaders laid the foundations for establishing what President Obama rightly described as “a new chapter” in the history of the relationship between the United States and Cuba.
According to the Prime Minister, “this is a monumental and dramatic development. President Barack Obama has made a bold and courageous decision. This is one of the decisions that will define his presidency for all time.”
The role of Pope Francis in securing agreement between Cuba and the United States deserve praise, respect and admiration. “It is,” says the Prime Minister, “comforting that Pope Francis has brought his enormous prestige and moral authority to bear to help secure the normalization of relations between these two states, once bitter enemies.”
The Prime Minister went on to note that the policy shift will have tremendous ramifications for the region and its future. Dr. Anthony said:
“The historic steps taken by these two great nations will resonate in our region and hemisphere. We are of course pleased that the United States has responded to the demands of the international community to normalize its relations with Cuba , end its economic sanctions against Cuba and its people and begin the process which we hope will culminate in the end of the trade embargo.
“Saint Lucia has long joined CARICOM and other Latin American countries in calling for an end to the blockade against Cuba. Only recently, CARICOM states and member countries of ALBA, in separate Summits, reiterated that call for the full inclusion of Cuba in the international community, and for an end to the embargo. The events unfolding this week are a sign that our voices have been heard.
“This of course comes some forty years after the bold decision by President Forbes Burnham of Guyana, Prime Ministers Errol Barrow of Barbados, Michael Manley of Jamaica and Eric Williams of Trinidad and Tobago to establish diplomatic ties with our Caribbean neighbour. This move by Presidents Obama and Raul Castro vindicates the courage of those great Caribbean leaders.
“Cuba has led the effort to build bridges between the nations and peoples of our region, between the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. The Cuban government, despite its own challenges, has been generous in its support for our development efforts. The government of Cuba has enjoyed a relationship of trust and respect with the governments of our region. We therefore share the joy of the Cuban people at the announcement from Washington and Havana.”
As part of their resumption of diplomatic relations, the US and Cuba are holding talks towards reopening embassies in one another’s capitals after half a century. High-level exchanges and visits between the governments are also planned. The US is easing travel bans to Cuba for family visits, government business and educational activities.
“The road ahead,”
says Prime Minister Anthony, “will be long, winding and complex. Many will find President Obama’s decision difficult to digest. The final steps to end the embargo will not be easy, but at least it will be helped by the outpouring of support from leaders throughout the world.”