Remove sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba–Caricom leaders
BY: NICOLE DRAYTON
Caricom has raised the issue of sanctions against Venezuela, the blockade against Cuba, and the view that more needs to be done to stem the flow of guns into the region.
Caricom chairman Roosevelt Skerrit, who hosted a press conference at the conclusion of the 45th general meeting at the Hyatt last night, said that regional leaders raised these and other issues with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken when he held a caucus session with them yesterday.
“We raised the issue of the embargo against Cuba and we reiterated our call to the United States to have this blockade against Cuba lifted. And also, we urged the United States to remove the sanctions on Venezuela because of the far-reaching implications of the sanctions on Venezuela,” he said.
Skerrit said at some point he hoped Cuba would be a member of Caricom.
He noted that while the US announced that they have taken action with the appointment of a special prosecutor—Michael Ben’Ary—who will serve as the very first coordinator for Caribbean Firearms Prosecutions, there was more that needed to be done in the region.
“We still believe that there are additional things that the US can do to stem the flow of guns within our region,” he said.
He said there was also extensive engagement on the issue of Haiti with Blinken and the President of Rwanda.
“We touched on a number of issues, the issue of climate change and its impacts on our world. The issue of climate financing, looking at a new architecture for the international financial institutions and how they treat countries like ours. We also discussed how we can join forces with those who have expressed interest in their commitment to providing tangible support on the ground in Haiti towards the resolution of the crisis, currently confronting our brothers and sisters in Haiti.
“And so, we look forward to collaborating with Rwanda, who has offered to also engage the African Union,” he said.
Free movement of people
On the integration movement, Skerrit said leaders took the “decision to seek to have the free movement of all categories of people to live and work”.
“Obviously, there are some legal issues that we have to examine. And we have given some months to examine those legal issues and to ensure that by 30th of March, 2023 (next general meeting), to take a deeper position on this,” he said.
He acknowledged that there are some challenges for some, “but we are committed to this”.
In addition, Caricom members will have access to primary health and emergency health, access to basic education—pre, primary, and secondary education.
“Of course, we have this sort of security agreement in place already that people can benefit from, but we believe this is a fundamental part of the integration architecture,” he said.
“I think we would have served and have served the community well at this meeting by arriving at that decision. And we hope to see that it will be implemented by the 30th of March, 2024. So this is great news.”
Skerrit said that of all the issues he discussed, this was the one that pleased him most.
“And I believe the founding fathers are smiling from heaven, that the present generation are bold enough to arrive at a decision,” he said.
(Trinidad & Tobago Guardian)