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PM Briceño urges US prez to end sanctions against Cuba 

GeneralPM Briceño urges US prez to end sanctions against Cuba 

Following a trip to Cuba, Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, who is currently the Chairman of the Caribbean Community, called on US president Joe Biden to invite Cuba to the 9th Summit of the Americas. Additionally, just two months ago, CARICOM had called for the inclusion of both Cuba and Venezuela at the Summit of the Americas at its Thirty-Third Inter-Sessional Meeting held in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, in March of this year.

It is possible that CARICOM members, including Belize, might decide to not attend the summit if the US does not comply with their request. According to Prime Minister Briceño, the US is urging states like Belize and other countries to be in attendance at the summit, which is set to take place sometime in June, but there has not yet been any announcement by the Caribbean Community that a decision has been made on the matter.

“When we had the Heads of Government meeting in March here in Belize on the first and second of March, the issue of the Summit of the Americas came up and whether Cuba and Venezuela were going to be invited or not, we felt that if we have the ‘Summit of the Americas’ then everybody should be invited,” Prime Minister Briceño said. 

“We made that decision then, but since that decision we have been having meetings with different officials of the US government. We have former Senator Chris Dodd that was visiting us. I’ve been on the phone with him; he met with us in Barbados, making a case as to why it is important for us to be able to attend to the Summit of the Americas. While I was in Cuba, we had a Zoom meeting with Vice President Harris, where again we spoke on different issues….but during the entire discussion again they were making the point that it is important for CARICOM to be able to attend the Summit of the Americas,” explained Hon. Briceño, who said that in the next few days he will be in meetings with his CARICOM counterparts and they will be engaging in discussions in an attempt to reach a final decision. 

“In the next few days, I will be in contact with our colleagues to find out what is going to be the final decision,” Hon. Briceño said. 

CARICOM has taken a firm stand in support of the removal of the US economic embargo that has caused immense suffering for the people of Cuba for over 60 years. For 29 years in a row, the United Nations General Assembly has voted on and passed a resolution demanding the end of the US economic blockade agasint Cuba, but despite this, the measures have been made even more extensive and severe. 

In January 2021, the US designated Cuba a State Sponsor of Terrorism, seen in many circles as a hypocritical and cynical designation by the US. CARICOM, for its part, has outrightly rejected the enforcement of the embargo against Cuba. 

In its final declaration of the 7th CARICOM-Cuba Summit meeting, the parties agreed in clause 21 to, “Reject the imposition of unilateral coercive measures and, in that context, call for an immediate and unconditional end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade implemented by the Government of the United States of America against Cuba, and the termination of the US persecution of Cuban financial transactions, the relentlessness of which has increased. Reiterate our firm rejection of the enforcement of extraterritorial laws and measures, such as the Helms-Burton Act, which grossly violate International Law and undermine the sovereignty and interests of third parties.”

Prime Minister Briceño said that while the absence of any CARICOM members at the Summit of the Americas may not have any meaningful effect in changing the US stance on Cuba, it is nonetheless important to recognize that the embargo against Cuba borders on criminality. 

“I think it is verging on criminality. It is unfortunate what they have done because of the amount of punishment that they are putting on the Cuban people, that the Cuban people are suffering, in some instances because they cannot get medicines,” PM Briceño said. 

He shared that on his trip he met a family who recounted to him the tragedy of losing their mother simply because of not having the medication needed to keep her alive within the country because of the blockade. 

“I am urging President Biden and the US government to remove those sanctions from the people, because it is the Cuban people that are suffering, and we stand in solidarity with the Cuban people,” Prime Minister Briceño said. 

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