‘Respect CARICOM’s friendship with Cuba’: Antiguan Ambassador to the US warns

Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador to the United States.

As tensions between Caribbean Community members (CARICOM) and the United States over medical relief from Cuba mount—Sir Ronald Sanders, Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to America, insists that the staunchly communist island is not a threat to the western superpower.

Sir Sanders, in an op-ed article published by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (EOECS) on Friday (September 4), said it is within ‘a nation’s right to determine its friends’, even as the US nears the 60-year anniversary of the trade embargo on Cuba.

“The countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have each had a beneficial relationship with Cuba.  At times of natural disasters throughout the region, Cuba has been a first responder, even at times when it has endured catastrophe itself.  Conscious that Cuba’s own resources are meagre, the willingness of its government and people to provide help to its neighbours has earned them great respect,” Sir Sanders contended.

“Cuba has also contributed significantly to the knowledge base of CARICOM societies, training its young people through scholarships in a range of disciplines, particularly medicine, for over four decades,” he added.

The article comes as American senators Rick Scott, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz seek support for a bill, which seeks to classify Cuban medical brigades, being sent across the Caribbean and the wider world, as victims of human trafficking.

Medics and paramedics from Cuba pose upon arrival at the Malpensa airport of Milan, Italy, Sunday, March 22, 2020. 53 doctors and paramedics from Cuba arrived in Milan to help with coronavirus treatment in Crema. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

The bill also calls for punitive sanctions against countries which request them. 

“The basis for declaring Cuban medical brigades as ‘forced labour’ and accusing Caribbean – and other governments – of ‘human trafficking’ for requesting them, has no evidential foundation,” Sander wrote.

Sanders, who also doubles as Antigua’s Ambassador to the Washington DC-based Organisation of American States (OAS), expressed that Cuba is not a threat to the United States and her citizens’ safety.

The Cuban contingent arriving in Jamaica in April.

“In any event, Cuba poses no threat to the security of the US or the wellbeing of its people, something about which CARICOM countries would be deeply concerned were it so,” he said.

You can read Sanders’ op-ed article, in full, by clicking here.