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  • Saint Vincent and Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves at the U.N. General Assembly.

    Saint Vincent and Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves at the U.N. General Assembly. | Photo: Reuters

The longest-serving CARICOM prime minister expressed solidarity with both Cuba and Venezuela.

Vincentian Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has called on Caribbean governments and regional credit unions to loudly condemn U.S. President Donald Trump’s reversal of recent positive advances in U.S.-Cuba relations started by his predecessor Barack Obama.

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Dr. Gonsalves also calls for the Caribbean region, as a whole, to resist the latest attempts to wrest regional support for intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

Prime Minister Gonsalves issued the calls while addressing the opening ceremony here of the just-ended 60th annual international convention of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU).

Addressing 485 delegates from 16 Caribbean territories at the Memories Varadero Beach Resort one day after Trump announced a complete cancellation of all the measures taken by Obama to improve trade, travel and people-to-people ties between the US and Cuba, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leader called on the region’s governments and credit unions to take a page from history to both resist and reject Washington’s latest anti-Cuba moves.

“What President Trump has done is to undo the baby steps taken by President Obama to improve ties between the U.S. and Cuba after 50 years of failed U.S. policy against Havana,” he said.

“These steps are seeking to revive the ghost of the Cold War in the Caribbean, and it will be well for the region’s credit unions to also condemn this very loudly,” he added.

The Prime Minister recalled that “Back in December 1972, four Caribbean leaders decided to agree to disagree with our US friends, and resisted the pressure on them to isolate Cuba.”

He was referring to the decision taken by the Prime Ministers of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago (Errol Barrow, Forbes Burnham, Michael Manley and Dr Eric Williams, respectively) to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba -- much to the annoyance of Washington, that had ten years earlier established the US economic, commercial and trade blockade against Cuba, while promoting Havana’s Caribbean neighbors to isolate Cuba.

Dr. Gonsalves also recalled more recent history in the 1990s, “when the Caribbean also resisted and rejected the attempts to deepen Cuba’s isolation through introduction of the Torricelli and Helms-Burton acts in the U.S. Congress, to punish countries for trading with Cuba.”

“Today,” he urged, “we must be true to the Caribbean titans of yesteryear and not allow our smallness to make us slither like snakes. Each Caribbean prime minister must know today that they are no less than the first four.”

Regarding the continuing U.S.-led efforts to isolate and intervene in Venezuela, Dr Gonsalves also urged his audience – and CARICOM leaders – to resist any last-ditch attempts to divide them ahead of, or during, the June 19-21 General Assembly (Summit) of member-states of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Cancun, Mexico, where ‘The situation in the Bolivarian republic of Venezuela’ is a top agenda item.

“We must also resist giving ‘fig leaf’ approval for overt or covert intervention in our region,” said Dr Gonsalves, of the continuing efforts by Washington to get Caribbean support at the OAS summit for its ongoing interventionist plans against Venezuela.

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The Caribbean had played a major role in staling a U.S.-backed resolution seeking approval for intervention in Venezuela during a meeting of the OAS Permanent Council (Foreign Ministers) in Washington on May 31.

Since then, Washington has been targeting CARICOM leaders individually ahead of the Cancun Summit, with a view to breaking the unity they have shown over the Venezuela issue.

Washington has also launched its latest run of the annual ‘Operation Tradewinds’ naval exercise in Caribbean waters at a time that coincides with its piped-up pressure on Venezuela.

The first stage of the exercise took place in Barbados, with the second scheduled in eaters off Trinidad & Tobago, Venezuela’s closes island neighbor, which shares the Gulf of Paria with the Caribbean and Latin American nation.

“We must not allow Trojan Horses to enter Caracas in pursuit of Venezuela’s oil," said Prime Minister Gonsalves. “We must resist the call to support intervention in Venezuela just because we are told that people are lining-up for food, or we may have to also justify and support similar action across the Caribbean, as people in all our territories also line-up for food at the Salvation Army outlets across the region.”

The Vincentian Prime Minister urged fellow Caribbean leaders to stand firm to their earlier commitments to oppose intervention in the internal affairs of a neighboring state.

He said, “We (CARICOM governments) had all agreed on May 29 to unite against intervention. But the imperialists don’t sleep and they are working on us right now, as we speak.”

According to Gonsalves, “The imperialists are telling us that there is no democracy in Venezuela. But there have been more elections under the Bolivarian Revolution, than at any other time in Venezuela’s history.”

“Besides,” he added, “I do not want to see millions of Venezuelans coming to the (Caribbean) islands as refugees.”

The Vincentian leader told his audience, “I am offering the best of my advice from my long and collective experience, both as a politician and as the longest-lasting CARICOM Prime Minister.”

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