US vice president thanks CARICOM for Cuba ‘encouragement’

CARICOM has long been advocating for an end to the economic and trade embargo on Cuba by the US as well as for an end to the isolation of Cuba from the hemispheric councils. President Barack Obama recently announced steps towards the normalisation of relations between the US and Cuba.

In an opening statement at a multilateral meeting with Caribbean heads of government in Washington DC on Monday, Biden also indicated that he had advised US Treasury Department to change its voting positions with respect to graduation policies of the international financial institutions. Biden referred especially to financing with respect to renewable energy and natural disaster management.

CARICOM has been lobbying consistently for a reversal of the policy, which sees many of the member states being denied access to concessionary development financing due to being graduated through the use of GDP per capita as a major criterion. Japan has also indicated in recent times a willingness to revise its position on the same issue.

CARICOM Chairman Perry Christie, the prime minister of The Bahamas, in his opening statement referred to CARICOM and the United States having a” kith and kin relationship”, which allows for them to have a shared vision. Christie took the opportunity once again to extend an invitation to President Obama to meet with the Community’s leaders.

Christie told the vice president that as leaders there was an enduring obligation to ensure that the youth had a future and would not be victims of hopelessness. Discussions such as those engaged in at the meeting should always have that issue at the forefront, the prime minister said.

The meeting was a follow up to one held in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in May 2013 and discussions centred on economic competitiveness, citizen security and issues raised at the earlier meeting including energy and climate change. 

The vice president reported that, in following up results of that session, the US had included the Caribbean in its broadband partnership for the Americas. 

He also said that before the end of the year six CARICOM countries would be enlisted on an electronic system which was being implemented by the US to track criminal deportees. This, he said, would give more complete information on the deportees to help the receiving countries deal with the problem.

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