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Ramotar dismisses concerns about Cuba’s one-party system

In the wake of the United States (US) insisting that Cuba be barred from attending the Summit of the Americas unless it commits to democracy, Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar has shrugged off concerns about the absence of a multiparty system on that communist-ruled island.

Guyana is among Latin American and Caribbean nations that last week demanded that Cuba attend the summit of hemispheric leaders slated for next year in Panama.

Questioned about the obvious contradiction by Guyana and other Caribbean countries placing a high premium on multiparty democracy but not seeing the need for rapid political change in one-party Cuba, the President reflected that it was a majority that came to power.

“You got to remember also that Cuba had a popular revolution. It wasn’t a one-man show. It wasn’t a few people. It was a mass uprising that changed the government in Cuba,” he said. After Former President, Fidel Castro Ruz led a band of revolutionaries that toppled the pro-US administration of Fulgencio Batista on January 1, 1959, he established a socialist state and since then only the Communist Party of Cuba is permitted to rule the country.

Ramotar, instead, praised Cuba for developing human capital around the world and he pointed to the training of 300 Guyanese doctors free of cost as one example. “Those are very, very important things that we have to look at and Cuba’s contribution has always been very important in helping human development and social and economic development on societies,” he said.

The President did not say whether Cuba’s assistance was the reason for Guyana turning a blind eye to the absence of Western-style democracy in that Spanish-speaking country. He, however noted that said Cuba is unlike military dictatorships in Brazil and Chile in the 1960s and 1970s.

Speaking at the meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group on June 5 during the OAS Assembly in Paraguay,  Guyana’s Foreign Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett said Cuba must be invited to participate in the next Summit of the Americas “without any preconditions.”

The Foreign Ministry stated that Rodrigues-Birkett made known her country’s position after a suggestion by one Member State that certain conditions must be attached.  “Madame Chair, I am finding it a bit difficult to understand why we are discussing this issue of Cuba’s presence at the Summit. For Guyana this is a non-issue and was already settled in Cartagena at the last Summit. Cuba must be invited and there must be no conditionalities” the Minister said. This position was adumbrated by her Colleagues in the Latin American and Caribbean region