Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago and President of Cuba Raul Castro exchange greetings during the opening ceremony of the CARICOM-Cuba Summit in Trinidad. At left is Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis and chairman of CARICOM, Dr. Denzil Douglas. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – CARICOM and Cuba leaders wrapped up their one-day summit in Trinidad on Friday with a statement that they are “affronted by the intrusion of the United States against the sovereignty of Trinidad and Tobago”.

The statement was in response to application of the U.S. Helms Burton law, which prevents American companies from doing business with Cuba without special permission from the U.S. State Department.

The U.S.-based hotel chain Hilton Worldwide was denied a special licence from the U.S. government to allow for the IV CARICOM-Cuba Summit to be held at the Hilton Trinidad with visiting Cuban President Raul Castro.

The development has become known in Trinidad as the “Hilton Fiasco” and saw the conference moved to the National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port of Spain instead.

“This is a unilateral and unwarranted extra-territorial application of the United States Helms Burton Law which is contrary to the United Nations Charter and to international law. It also flies in the face of the annual overwhelming rejection of this policy by the United Nations General Assembly,” the “special statement” issued at the end of the conference said.

“We reject the intervention of the U.S. authorities which prevented the hosting of the CARICOM-Cuba Summit at the Hilton Hotel. This was one more demonstration of the injustice of the United States embargo and its harmful impact on the daily life of the Cuban people.

“On this occasion the extra-territorial action could have impacted on the success of the Summit, but thanks to the commitment and solidarity of the Member States of the Caribbean Community we can celebrate an outcome which reinforces the strong fraternal bonds between CARICOM and Cuba,” the statement said.

The leaders, in their declaration at the end of the summit, reiterated their “firm commitment to the principles and purposes enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, … including respect for the sovereign equality of States, non-intervention and non-interference in domestic affairs, prohibition of the threat or the use of force in international relations, respect for territorial integrity, the peaceful settlement of disputes and the sovereign right of the citizens of every country to freely determine their political system and institutions, in peace, stability and justice”.

They also recognised Cuba “as an integral part of our vibrant and diverse Caribbean region and our shared identity, as well as the need for a collaborative approach in the promotion and protection of our common values, objectives and interests in various regional and international fora”.

The Fifth CARICOM-Cuba Summit is slated for in Cuba on Dec. 8, 2014.

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