Lest we forget

Recent ceremonies across the region marked the 40th year of diplomatic relations between sovereign English-speaking Caribbean territories and Cuba. The establishment of those relations had their impetus a year earlier.

It was at Chaguaramas, Trinidad November 15 to 21, 1971 where the historic Caribbean Ecumenical Consultation for Development was held that Cuba received a full endorsement from the churches to re-enter the Caribbean family.

Resolution III Culture and Power spoke at Proposal 8 that, “this consultation deplores the fact that the Cuban delegates had to suffer the inconvenience of going all the way to Madrid in Europe in order to get to a sister Caribbean country separated from it by a few hundred miles and further that (a) the Consultation expresses its concern for the continuing isolation of Cuba from the rest of the Caribbean Community by intra- and extra-regional forces… (b) (that) Governments of the Caribbean be called upon to move swiftly towards full diplomatic relations with Cuba; (c) the churches of the Caribbean be called to increase links with the Cuban church; (d) we extend a particularly warm welcome to the Cuban delegates attending this consultation; (e) a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Secretariat of the Organization of American States.” (Excerpted from Called To Be, a report on the 1971 Consultation.)

The principal players from the staff of what was then Christian Action for Development in the (Eastern) Caribbean, Robert Cuthbert, David Mitchell, Edwin Vandeyar and others have long since made their transition. Their work and the dedication and commitment of the churches made it possible for regional governments to begin the process of reintegrating Cuba into the Caribbean family a year after the 1971 Consultation.

Lest we forget, we need to recognise the role the Caribbean churches played from then on in the process of re-integration in programmes like Communicarib. That role has allowed us to celebrate 40 years of diplomatic ties with Cuba.

— Michael Rudder

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