PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Wednesday May 1, 2013 – The Fifth Summit of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) ended late on Friday with delegates signing the Declaration of Pétion-Ville calling for an end to the United States embargo against Cuba and to help the region better prepare for disasters.
The ACS groups more than 25 countries in the English, French, Spanish and Dutch speaking Caribbean and President Michel Martelly said that the leaders wanted Washington to adopt “a new approach” in dealing with the decades-old embargo against the Caribbean’s only Communist country.
Washington imposed the commercial, economic and financial embargo against Cuba in 1960 after the Batista regime was deposed by the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro.
Despite numerous United Nations resolutions calling for an end to the measure, successive presidents have maintained the Cuban Democracy Act that allows for the embargo to remain in force as long as Havana continues to refuse to move towards “democratization and greater respect for human rights”.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton expanded the trade embargo even further by also disallowing foreign subsidiaries of US companies to trade with Cuba. In 2000, Clinton authorized the sale of certain “humanitarian” US products to Cuba.
The summit was attended by several heads of state who also signed the Plan of Action, which the ACS said it regards as “another stride towards regional integration and functional cooperation in the wider Caribbean”.
A statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister noted that by hosting the “successful” summit, Haiti was “assuming surprising leadership role in Caribbean affairs and was quickly inserting Haiti into the most important hemispheric discussions.
“The success of the meeting coupled with its Chairmanship of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the other major sub-regional organization, has provided Haiti with an extraordinary platform to showcase its achievements and to become a leading actor in Caribbean affairs,” the statement added.
The three-day summit also provided Haiti with an opportunity to show the progress being made in the French-speaking CARICOM country following the devastating 2010 earthquake.
“It shows the progress that’s been done, and that we’re able to host this type of an event, with the logistics behind it,” Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said, while the government statement added “until very recently obtaining a hotel room in Port-au-Prince was difficult owing to the collapse of existing infrastructure during the 2010 earthquake and the lack of investment in new tourism infrastructure during the last three decades”.