Saint Mary, Antigua and Barbuda.- Leaders of the 14 member countries of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and Cuban President, Raul Castro, started here today a meeting aimed at promoting solidarity and regional integration.

Prime Ministers of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Belize, Barbados, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Surinam, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, St. Christopher-Nevis, Jamaica, Grenada, Guyana and the president of Haiti, converge here in the beach Carlisle Bay Resort.

The adviser to the head of the hosting government, ambassador Colin Murdoch, told Prensa Latina that this one-day meeting celebrates 15 years of promoting ‘the most genuine expression of solidarity between developing nations to approach common issues and challenges’.

After the salutes of protocol and the reception of dignataries, the Secretary General of Caricom, Irwin LaRocqje, prime minister of Antigua Gaston Browne and president Raul Castro, addressed the meeting and welcomed dignataries.

Also, the president of the summit and head of government of Grenada, Keith Mitchell, called to promote unity, advocate for cooperation in face of natural disasters, boost trade and integration, rejecting unilateral coercive policies, indicated Murdoch.

The plenary session, the photo opportunity and a lunch offered by Browne will be the reception of an evening sesión of discussions behind closed doors which will conclude with the signing of a memo of understanding and a final declaration.

Raul Castro and the dignitaries of the 14 Caricom nations also commemorate in this Antiguan parish of St. Mary, south of the capital of St. John’s, the 45 years of relations between the Caribbean community and the greater of the Antilles.

The meeting’s agenda includes the evaluation of trade and economic links among regions, climate change and the management in cases of natural disasters, as well as value the support of Havana to Caricom in the formation of specialists through scholarships and collaboration in the health sector, trade and agriculture.

Barely one month ago, the permanent representative of Ciba before the Caribbean bloc signed in Guyana the second Protocol of the trade agreement Cuba-Caricom to expand the tariff-free market on more than 320 items, including foods, beverages, textiles and others.

According to official figures, exchanges during 2016 amounted to 126 million dollars, 98 percent above the previous year.