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By I.J. Toby Westerman
© 2000, WorldNetDaily.com, Inc.

The island nations of the Caribbean recently issued a declaration of support for the communist government of Fidel Castro during a summit of the region’s leaders in Trinidad and Tobago.

The expression of “solidarity” with the Castro regime occurred during the 21st summit meeting on Community Integration in the Caribbean, according to official Cuban sources.

The Cuban representative to the conference, Minister Without Portfolio Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, referring to the nations represented at the summit, stated that “this summit confirmed the solidarity and support of all these nations for Cuba and their will to continue to act as one common, united front in the international forum.”

Cabrisas Ruiz’ statements were carried by Radio Habana Cuba, the official broadcasting service of the Cuban government.

At the summit, regional leaders struggled with economic problems and took initial steps toward the establishment of a trade zone in an area better known for sunny beaches and tourist haunts. The Caribbean nations and Cuba signed an accord broadening mutual trade relations, as well as establishing a commission to advance Caribbean-wide economic integration.

Havana interpreted the developments at the Caribbean summit as a political triumph for the Castro government.

“Politically speaking, it confirms the courage, dignity and the position of the Caribbean regarding their relationship with Cuba,” Radio Habana declared.

The trade accord reached between the Caribbean nations and Cuba, along with the determination to develop a regional free trade zone, “is only the beginning of a larger initiative,” according to the Castro government.

The Cuban government is already suggesting that the Latin American trading association, Mercosur, turn away from U.S. markets and toward the European Community.

The Caribbean summit took place not many miles from the island of Grenada, where Cuban troops resisted a U.S. invasion in 1983. During a tour of the Caribbean area two years ago, Castro visited Grenada and boasted of declining U.S. influence in the region.

While U.S. aid to the region has slipped, the Cuban government has increased its efforts to supply medical and teaching personnel to the area.

Cuba remains firm in its commitment to communism and is not shy in advancing its cause at the expense of the “neo-liberal, homogeneous, anti-democratic” political system of the “United States and its allies,” according to an earlier statement from Radio Habana.

The Castro government regularly blames the “First World” for the plight of the impoverished “Third World.” At the opening session of the April summit of the G-77, an organization of underdeveloped nations, Castro declared that “the current economic world order should be placed on trial in a legal process similar to that of the Nuremberg trials” following World War II.

Though the Caribbean nations are often merely considered as a reasonably priced offshore “getaway,” they are of immense strategic value. These states provide a doorway to the Panama Canal, Central and South America, and even the United States itself.

The Bahamas already is playing host to Hutchison Whampoa, a corporation often linked to the People’s Liberation Army of communist China. Hutchison Whampoa is constructing what will be the largest container port in the world in Freeport, Bahamas — some 60 miles from U.S. shores. The same corporation owns major ports at both ends of the Panama Canal.

Related stories:

Castro condemns, embraces capitalism

Russia expands influence in Cuba

Beijing gives boost to Fidel

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