CARICOM signs free trade agreement with Cuba
by Dawne Bennett
Caribbean Net News Barbados correspondent
Monday, December 12, 2005
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders and Cuban President Fidel Castro have made an agreement giving Cuba access to free trade in the region.
The Declaration of Bridgetown, which was signed at the close of the one-day CARICOM-Cuba summit in Barbados aims to strengthen cooperation and build links in the areas of trade, education, health, culture and sports.
The heads also signed a Cultural Cooperation Agreement which allows for greater exploitation of cultural opportunities in Cuba.
President Castro, who arrived in Barbados the previous day under heavy security, restated a political commitment to strengthening cooperation with Caribbean nations.
He cited the 10,502 Caribbean citizens who have had free medical eye treatment, as part of the Operation Miracle ophthalmic program; the around 1,142 Cubans who are performing voluntary service to other CARICOM counties; Cuba's offer of schooling to nearly 2,000 young Caribbean people; and that 3,318 older Caribbean students were studying in Cuba's university.
During his visit to Barbados, President Castro also joined other heads of state to pay tribute to the victims of the mid-air sabotage of a Cuban airliner that was bombed off the coast of Barbados in 1976 killing all 73 passengers and crew members.