The Jamaica Observer
Support for Cuba
Jamaica to push for review of US embargo
balford henry, Observer writer
Friday, May 16, 2008
Jamaica is expected to push for a review of the United States' economic embargo against neighbouring Cuba at this week's summit of European, Latin American and Caribbean countries in Lima, Peru.
Industry, Investments and Commerce Minister Karl Samuda told journalists at a post-sectoral debate press briefing at Jamaica House on Wednesday that he had every reason to believe that Prime Minister Bruce Golding "will be addressing the question of the relationship between Cuba and the United States".
"We are no longer in the era of political differences that colour one's relationship with another country, let alone a neighbouring country with which we have had a long history of association, such as Cuba." said Samuda. "These are changing times, and we must move with the times. A new generation is emerging and they are impatient with old solutions."
The trade embargo was imposed nearly 50 years ago after former Cuban president, Fidel Castro, expropriated US-owned properties and established close ties with the former Soviet Union. But the sanctions, while creating hardships for the communist country, has only served to harden Havana's resolve to keep alive its hard-fought revolution.
However, in recent months, President Raul Castro, who in February this year took over the reins of government from his brother Fidel, has lifted some restrictions on Cubans, including the use of cellular phones and computers.
American president George W Bush, however, has insisted that these are only "empty gestures at reform".
On Wednesday, Samuda pointed to Raul Castro's attempts at reform and suggested that those efforts were worth encouraging.
"This is a different world in which we live, and Cuba has shown signs that it understands the issues of the day and is moving towards enabling the individual, within Cuba, to exercise a greater sense of independence and even to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit that we have become so accustomed to in Jamaica," said Samuda.
He said that what was most important was that Cuba stood ready to assist Jamaica to grow its economy, by sharing its technology and experiences and vice versa.
He said that Prime Minister Golding's recent visit to Cuba and his meeting with Raul Castro have served to reinforce this understanding.
"The time has come for us to have a re-look at the relationship between the US and Cuba, and the prime minister will be supporting that view and making it known at that conference," Samuda said.
Golding is leading Jamaica's delegation to the Fifth European Union, Latin American and Caribbean Summit which began yesterday in Lima.