HOUSTON — During a recent summit in the Belgian capital city of Brussels on July 17 and 18, a coalition of all but one member country of the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) adopted a host of measures to strengthen the bi-regional partnership “founded on shared values and interests and strong economic, social and cultural ties,” including another call for the United States to lift its unilateral sanctions on Cuba.
“We emphasise our commitment to foster cooperation and friendly relations between our peoples irrespective of the differences in our political systems and taking into consideration the differences in our economic and social or development levels,” reads the joint declaration. “Inspired by our shared values and guided by the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, we will work together to shape our common future.”
Many of the issues addressed in the statement involve eradicating poverty, promoting food and energy security, and other issues concerning migration, climate and biodiversity loss, and human rights. Also noted in the decree is an agreement to strengthen collaboration in international finance and the need to use criteria beyond GDP, such as climate vulnerability, to provide access to “financial stimulus” so smaller countries don’t have to “choose between fighting poverty and protecting the planet.”
“We further agree,” the statement adds, “to strengthen our collaboration in international financial institutions and multilateral organisations, recognising that it is essential to have a fair, inclusive and effective multilateral system that allocates appropriate resources to sustainable development, responds to the specific needs of the most vulnerable countries, strengthens the level of participation and ensures the representation of developing countries and that promotes access —under favourable and transparent conditions— to the financial resources necessary to promote their economic stability and reduce external indebtedness, to improve the debt sustainability and build more equitable, prosperous, and just societies that contribute to sustainable development.”
While the declaration is largely focused on protecting climate-vulnerable citizens and nations of the Global South along with the EU, addressing poverty and ensuring access to world markets is key to accomplishing many of the goals set forth. Similarly, the United Nations (UN) has for decades consistently demanded that the U.S. lift its sanctions on Cuba to no avail. The United States’ refusal to do so curtails much of the UN’s agenda to address poverty and oppression not just in Cuba but also in various other countries as well.
“With reference to United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution A/77/7 of 3 November 2022 on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed against Cuba, we recall our opposition to laws and regulations with extra-territorial effect,” the declaration reads. “The re-designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, and its maintenance on the list, has introduced obstacles to international financial transactions with the island.”
Resolution A/7/7/7 —titled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”— expresses concerns about the negative effects of the embargo on the Cuban people. The U.S. routinely ignores such declarations.
“Reaffirming, among other principles, the sovereign equality of States, non-intervention and non-interference in their internal affairs and freedom of international trade and navigation, which are also enshrined in many international legal instruments,” the resolution states. “Recalling the statements of the Heads of State or Government of Latin America and the Caribbean at the Summits of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States regarding the need to put an end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed against Cuba.”
Underscored in the recent declaration is Latin America’s emphasis on finding peaceful resolutions to all disputes among nation-states. Recently, Cuba hosted peace talks between Colombian government officials and rebels. The progress made by the Cuban government acting as a moderator is being celebrated across Latin America and Europe—news you rarely hear about in the United States despite Cuba being fewer than 100 miles away. The Colombian peace talks in Cuba are ongoing.
After more than 65 years of sanctions, the widespread poverty and hunger caused by those sanctions are dire. As private businesses continue to grow on the island, lifting sanctions and allowing the Cuban people to breathe a little will go a long way toward building support for, rather than the usual animosity toward, its neighbor to the north.