US President Barack Obama is moving to lift the second part of the half-century-old trade embargo against Cuba, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said yesterday at the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama City.
Persad-Bissessar was responding to renewed diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, where Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro shook hands and held a joint news conference before 120 local and foreign journalists at the Convention Centre.
During the morning session, Obama spoke, and was followed by Castro. After the session, Persad-Bissessar responded to the historic meeting of both leaders.
"It is for all of us in the Americas, a very historic and defining moment, one which we advocated a very long time ago," Persad-Bissessar said.
"You will recall that Trinidad and Tobago, along with Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana, called for this. In 1972 we established diplomatic relations with Cuba and we have been amongst those leaders calling for the end of the blockade on Cuba, and for Cuba to be readmitted into the family of nations."
Persad-Bissessar said the region needed to applaud the efforts of regional leaders for the part they played in making this happen.
"It was only last year, you may recall, at the United Nations, where I called for the end of the blockade against Cuba, and from what I heard today, it appears that President Obama is prepared to look at the second part of ending the embargo. The first part is taking place, but there is still a lot more work to be done."
She said having heard both leaders spoke, "I think that is also in process and in the making. I think it was a great day, but as I pointed out (in the plenary session), there was also cause for concern on another front, our neighbour, Venezuela."
Last December, Obama announced moves toward normalising relations with Cuba.
The legislation seeks to repeal provisions of previous laws that prevent Americans from doing business with Cuba, but does not repeal portions of laws addressing human rights or property claims against Cuba's government.
Persad-Bissessar will also today formally open this country's first embassy in Panama City.
Getting it Right
In the Business Guardian yesterday, it was reported in error that Petrotrin's rating
was confirmed by Standard & Poors. The rating was actually confirmed by Moody's.
The error is regretted.