President Díaz-Canel Holds Cuba’s Name High at CELAC-EU Summit

Alejandra Garcia and Bill Hackwell, Orinoco Tribune, July 22, 2023 —

This week, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel attended the III Summit between the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union (EU) held on July 17 and 18 in Brussels, Belgium. For 48 hours, the Cuban leader and other government authorities put the island in the spotlight and felt the love and respect that authorities and political figures from other regions throughout the world expressed toward Cuba and Cubans.

Díaz-Canel arrived in Brussels after a very welcoming and successful visit to Portugal, where he received the keys to the city of Lisbon and held high-level meetings, including with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. Upon his arrival in Brussels on July 17, he was received with honors by major leaders of the European Union.

Cuba’s name rang out loud and clear during the summit, the first held after an eight year hiatus, this time including representatives of the 33 CELAC countries and the 27 countries of the EU. This was undoubtedly a successful summit for Cuba judging by the complaints from far-right media and activists, which still failed to tarnish the image that Cuba embodied throughout the event.

A few days prior to the summit, these far-right forces, submitting to the US, pushed through a resolution in the European Parliament condemning Cuba’s human rights record. This attempt to resurrect the tired lies that emanate from Miami, Madrid, and the offices of the US Congress not only failed to gain traction at the meeting but seemed to backfire when faced with vocal expression of recognition and support for Cuba.

Presidents such as Chile’s Gabriel Boric, Honduras’ Xiomara Castro, Colombia’s Gustavo Petro, and other leaders set the tone for the summit, all enthusiastically condemning the US blockade against Cuba and Cuba’s inclusion in the US list of countries sponsoring terrorism. This theme continued throughout the event including at its closing, where a final declaration was signed rejecting this outlandish US policy against Cuba.

Also newsworthy were Díaz-Canel’s meetings with the German foreign minister Olaf Scholz and Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, with whom Cuba had not met for decades.

The president also successfully dialogued with friendly leaders of the Latin American left-wing, including Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Luis Arce of Bolivia, Mexican Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcena, President Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who is currently the president pro tempore of CELAC, one of the main speakers at the event and a loyal friend to Cuba.

This warm company reassured Díaz-Canel in an environment where Cuba has gained an emerging leadership role due to the dignified way in which it conducts itself despite the uninterrupted slander that the island faces every day from the US.

“During the summit, we called for joint efforts to eliminate the huge inequalities that set the Caribbean countries and the European Union apart. It is a difficult yet not impossible task. The Caribbean and the EU can and must cooperate better. Count on Cuba to help achieve this goal,” the Cuban president said during his speech at the event.

The EU going into the summit had hoped for a resolution that would condemn Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, but the countries of CELAC expressed their refusal to blindly follow the will of countries who had once colonized them. Instead, within the framework of the international event, Cuba and others were able to forge alliances urging for negotiations for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine. “We advocate for the search for peace, the restoration of peace, and the respect for international law. We insist authorities avoid double standards on issues that are so important for humanity,” International Relations Minister Bruno Rodrígez Parrilla added in an interview with EFE from Brussels.

Supporters welcome Díaz-Canel to Brussels.

On Monday, the Cuban president also attended the progressive People’s Summit that was held alongside the CELAC-EU Summit at the Free University of Brussels. This meeting, made up primarily of solidarity activists, erupted in thunderous applause to Díaz-Canel when he arrived and said, “You didn’t think we could be in Brussels and not come here to take the opportunity to express our thanks for all your support, did you?” The Cuban president then went on to remind everyone how the Cuban Revolution remains solid to its socialist origins.

“When I see so many people committed to the just causes of this world, I am thinking of Fidel. We are here out of principle, out of conviction, because this is a truly plural, open, and participatory space. This is a meeting place for representatives of Latin American, Caribbean, and European civil society; therefore, this is the best of the Summits because here, the people [are the ones who] speak.” He then chanted with the audience “Yo soy Fidel…I am Fidel.”

In reflection, the two day EU-CELAC Summit went well for the proud island of Cuba and its dignified president. In spite of the hostile campaigns and the blockade, Díaz-Canel was greeted with all the respect deserved for being a Latin American dignitary leading a beautiful, humble, Caribbean island that focuses on the improvement of humanity over the accumulation of wealth. There is no denying that.

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