The Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines enthusiastically welcomes today’s executive decision by United States President Barack Obama to take significant steps towards the normalisation of relations between the United States of America and the Republic of Cuba.
Those steps — which include easing of travel, banking and remittance transfer restrictions between America and Cuba; the removal of significant restrictions on American businesses and technology providers wishing to operate in Cuba; the re-establishment of embassies in Havana and Washington DC; and the removal of Cuba from the list of states that sponsor terrorism — are all applauded by the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Additionally, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines strongly supports the decision by Cuban and American authorities to release individuals characterised by either side as “political prisoners”. This mutual release of prisoners represents an important act of good faith and commitment to the process towards the normalisation of relations between two staunch friends and allies of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
The courageous and historic executive action by President Obama represents the beginning of the end of an anachronistic policy of confrontation and isolation rooted in the Cold War. While President Obama cannot completely end the illegal and immoral American blockade of Cuba without the support of the American Congress, the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is hopeful that his bold action will serve as an inspiration to those with the power to completely eliminate all remaining vestiges of the blockade.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has long maintained friendly and mutually respectful ties with both Cuba and the United States. However, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and his Government have been particularly strong critics of the blockade. Over the years, in various regional and international fora, the Prime Minister Gonsalves has lobbied strenuously for the normalisation of relations between Cuba and the United States. The Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is heartened that its voice, in concert with the overwhelming weight of international opinion, has finally been heeded by United States authorities.
The fractured and fractious relations between Cuba and the United States has been an undeniable impediment to hemispheric relations, regional integration, and multilateral diplomacy in the Americas. The Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines sees the rapprochement between Presidents Castro and Obama as a vital first step to deepening regional ties. Further, as the largest and most populous island nation in the Caribbean, Cuba has the potential to spur economic growth and development across the region.
The Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines recognises that many sharp differences and divergent political perspectives remain between Cuba and the United States. However, we are confident that the maturity and courage exhibited by Presidents Obama and Castro epitomise the manner in which these differences can be aired and possibly resolved through normal diplomatic processes.
As the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines joyously embraces these exciting developments in the relationship between our two friends, we stand ready to continue to play our own part in the full normalisation and restoration of ties between these neighbouring nations.
Dated the 17th day of December, 2014
Dr. The Hon. Ralph E. Gonsalves