The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

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.”

Saint Lu­cia Prime Min­is­ter, Hon. Dr. Kenny D. An­thony, with Cuban Pres­i­dent, Raul Castro.

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