The Cuba Advocate

Year 58 of the Revolution

To the 34th UN General Assembly (1979)

By Fidel Castro

Esteemed chairman, distinguished representatives of the world community: I have not come to talk about Cuba. I have not come to denounce before this assembly the aggressions to which our small but honorable country has been subjected for over 20 years. Nor have I come to offend with unnecessary adjectives the powerful neighbor in his own house.

We bring the mandate of the sixth conference of heads of state or government of the nonalined countries movement to present to the United Nations the results of their deliberations and positions derived from them.

We are 95 countries from all the continents representing the vast majority of humanity. We are united by determination to defend cooperation among our countries, free national and social development, sovereignty, security, equality and self-determination. We are associated in the endeavor to change the current system of international relations based on injustice, inequality and oppression. We act on international policy as a global independent factor.

Gathered in Havana, the movement has just reaffirmed its principles and confirmed its objectives. The nonalined countries insist that it is necessary to eliminate the abysmal inequality that separates developed and developing countries. We therefore struggle to eliminate the poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy that hundreds of millions of human beings are still experiencing.

We want a new world order based on justice, equality and peace to replace the unfair and unequal system that prevails today under which, according to the proclamation in the Havana declaration, wealth continues to be concentrated in the hands of a few powers whose economies, based on waste, are maintained thanks to the exploitation of workers and to the transfer and plundering of natural and other resources of countries in Africa, Latin American and other regions of the world.

Among the problems this General Assembly will discuss, peace figures to be among the first order of concern. The search for peach also constitutes a concern of the nonalined countries movement and has been the object of attention at the sixth summit conference. However, peach for our countries is indivisible. We want a peace that benefits equally the big and small, the powerful and weak, that covers all regions of the world and reaches all citizens.

Since their founding, the nonalined countries have considered that the principles of peaceful coexistence must be the cornerstone of international relations, that they constitute the foundation for strengthening international peace and security, reducing tension and extending this process to all regions of the world and to all aspects of relations. And they must be applied universally in relations between states.

At the same time, however, the sixth summit considered that those principles of peaceful coexistence also include the right of peoples under foreign and colonial domination to self-determination, independence, sovereignty; the territorial integrity of states; the right of each country to end foreign occupation and acquisition of territories by force; and the right to choose their own social, political and economic systems. Only in this way can peaceful coexistence by the basis of all international relations. It is impossible to deny this.

When one analyzes the structure of the contemporary world, it is confirmed that these rights of our peoples still are not guaranteed. The nonalined countries know very well who are our historic enemies, where threats come from and how we must fight them. For this reason we agreed in Havana to reaffirm that the quintessence of the nonalinement policy, in accordance with its original principles and fundamental nature, is the struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism, apartheid, racism, including Zionism, and any form of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony, as well as the struggle against the policies of big powers or blocs.

It is thereby understood that the Havana declaration associated the struggle for each with political, moral and material support for national liberation movements and the implementation of joint actions to eliminate colonial domination and racial discrimination.

The nonalined countries have always attached great importance to the possibility and need for detente between the big powers. Thus, the sixth summit pointed out with great concern the fact that after the Colombo summit there came a certain stagnation in the process of detente which has also been limited in its scope as well as geographically. Basing themselves on this concern, the nonalined countries, which have made disarmament and denuclearization one of the permanent and most prominent objections of their struggle and had the initiative to convene the 10th UN General Assembly extraordinary session on disarmament, examined at their conference the results of negotiations on strategic weapons and the agreements called SALT II. They believe that these agreements represent an important step in negotiations between the two principal nuclear powers and that the agreements could pave the way for broader negotiations leading to general disarmament and reduction of tension.

However, for the nonalined countries those treaties are nothing more than part of the advance toward peace. Although negotiations between the big powers constitute a decisive element in this process, the nonalined countries once again reiterated that the endeavor to consolidate detente, extend it to all parts of the world and prevent the nuclear threat, the accumulation of weapons and, in sum, war, is a task in which all nations must participate and exercise their responsibility.

Mr. Chairman: Basing ourselves on the concept of the universality of peace and the need to associate the search for peace–extended to all countries–with the struggle for national independence, full sovereignty and equality among states, we heads of state or government who met at the sixth summit in Havana devoted our attention to the more pressing problems in Africa, Asia, Latin America and other regions.

It is important to emphasize that we based ourselves on an independent position that was not tied to policies which might be derived from the controversy between the big powers. If, despite this objective and uncompromising focus, the review of international events becomes a denunciation against the supporters of imperialism and colonialism, it merely reflects the essential reality of the contemporary world.

Thus, when the heads of state or government began their analysis of the situation in Africa and, after noting the advances made in the struggle of the African peoples for their emancipation, they emphasized as the fundamental problem of the region the need to eradicate from that continent, especially in southern Africa, colonialism, racism, racial discrimination and apartheid. It was indispensable to stress that the colonialist and imperialist powers were continuing their aggressive policies for the purpose of perpetuating, recovering or expanding their domination and exploitation of African nations. The dramatic situation in Africa is none other than that.

The nonalined countries could not avoid condemning the attacks on Mozambique, Zambia, Angola, Botswana, the threats against Lesotho, the attempts at permanent destabilization in that region, and the role of the racist regimes of Rhodesia and South Africa. The need to urgently achieve the full liberation of Zimbabwe and Namibia is not only one of the causes of the nonalined countries or of the most progressive forces of our times, but it already constitutes agreements of the international community through the United Nations which imply unavoidable duties whose violation also presupposes the need for international condemnation.

For this reason, when the heads of state of government in the final declaration agreed to condemn by name a group of Western countries–headed by the United States–for their direct and indirect collaboration in maintaining the racist oppression and criminal policy of South Africa, and, on the other hand, they recognized the role played by the nonalined countries, the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity, socialist countries, Scandinavian countries and other democratic and progressive forces in support of the African peoples’ struggle, there is not in all; this the slightest manifestation of ideological inclination. It simply represents the faithful expression of objective reality. To condemn South Africa without mentioning those who make its criminal policy possible would have been incomprehensible.

From the sixth summit there emerged with more strength and urgency the need to end a situation which involves the rights of the people of Zimbabwe and Namibia to their independence and the unpostponable need for the black men and women of South Africa to achieve a status in which they are considered equal and respected human beings, as well as that the conditions of respect and peace for all countries of the region be insured.

The continued support to national liberation movements, and to the [Zimbabwe] patriotic Front and SWAPO was a decision that was as unanimous as it was foreseen. And it is not a case here, let us say it clearly, of expressing a unilateral preference for solution through armed struggled. It is true that the conference praised the people of Namibia and SWAPO–their true and sole representative–for having intensified the armed struggle and advancing it, and requested total and effective support for this type of combat, but this is because the South African racists have closed all paths to real negotiation since all attempts at negotiated solutions did not go beyond being mere strategems.

The decision of the Commonwealth in its Lusaka meetings last August for the British Government to call for a conference as the authority in south Rhodesia to discuss the problems of Zimbabwe helped to confirm that the nonalined do not oppose solutions achieved without armed struggle as long as they bring about an authentic majority government, and independence is attained in a manner that satisfies the fighting peoples and which conforms with the resolutions of organizations such as the OAU, the United Nations and our nonalined countries.

Mr. President: The sixth summit had to deplore again that Resolution 1514 of the UN General Assembly on the granting of independence to the colonial countries and peoples has not been applied to Western Sahara. We must recall that the decisions of the nonalined countries and the UN resolutions, especially 3331 of the General Assembly, have reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and independence. Concerning this issue, Cuba feels special responsibility because it was a member of the UN committee which carried out the investigations on Western Sahara which allowed our representatives to confirm the wholehearted decision of the Saharan people for self-determination and independence. We reiterate here that the position the nonalined countries is not one of antagonism toward any country. In hailing the agreement between the Republic of Mauritania and the POLISARIO Front and of Western Sahara and in deploring the spread of Morocco’s armed occupation in the southern part of Western Sahara previously administered by Mauritania, one should one read into it the application of our principles and the UN agreements. That is why the conference expressed its hope that the ad hoc committee of the OAU established at the 16th OAU summit meeting will insure that the Saharan people may exercise their right to self-determination and independence as soon as possible.

The same principle and the same position of concluding agreements on Mayotte and the Malagasy Archipelago and their respective necessary reintegration to Comoros and Madagascar. [sentence as heard]

Mr. President: There is no doubt that the problem of the Middle East has turned into one of the situations of most concern in current affairs. The sixth summit examined the matter in its two-fold dimension. On the one hand, the conference reaffirmed that Israel’s determination to continue its policy of aggression, expansionism and colonial settlement in the territories it has occupied with the support of the United States constitutes a serious threat to peach and world security. At the same time, the conference examined the problem from the viewpoint of the rights of the Arab peoples and the Palestinaian question. for the nonalined countries, the Palestinian question is the crux of the Middle East problem. Both form an integrated whole which cannot be resolved separately. The basis for a just peace in the region begins with the total and unconditional withdrawal of Israel from all occupied Arab territories and presupposes for the Palestinian people the return of all their occupied territories and the recovery of their inalienable national rights, including the right to return to their homeland, to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent state in Palestine in accordance with Resolution 3236 of the General Assembly. This implies the illegality and nullity of the measures adopted by Israel in the occupied Palestine and Arab territories as well as the establishment of colonies or settlements in Palestinian lands and the other Arab territories, the immediate dismantling of which is a prerequisite for the solution of the problem.

As I said in my speech to the sixth summit, we are not fanatics. The revolutionary movement has always affirmed its abhorrence of racial discrimination and pogroms of any kind, and deep in our hearts re repudiate with all our strength the unrelenting persecution and genocide that Nazism unleashed in its time against the Jewish people. But I cannot recall anything so similar in contemporary history than the eviction, persecution and genocide carried out today by imperialism and Zionism against the Palestinian people, stripped of their land, expelled from their own homeland, dispersed throughout the world, persecuted and murdered. The heroic Palestinians are an impressive example of abnegation and patriotism and are the living symbol of the greatest crime of our age. [applause]

Can anyone find it strange that the conference found itself forced, for reasons that do not arise from any political prejudice but from the objective analysis of facts, to point out that the policy of the United States plays a fundamental role in preventing the establishment of a just and complete peace in the region of alining itself with Israel, by supporting it, by working toward partial solutions that are favorable to Zionist objectives, and by safeguarding the fruits of Israeli aggression at the expense of the Arab people of Palestine and the whole Arab nation.

The facts, and only the facts, led the conference to condemn U.S. policies and maneuvers in the region. When the heads of state or government reached a consensus condemning the Camp David accords and the Egypt-Israel treaty of March 1979, the formulations were preceded by long hours of thorough study and of profitable exchanges which made it possible for the conference to consider those treaties not only as the total abandonment of the cause of the Arab peoples but also as an act of complicity with the continued occupation of the Arab territories. The words are hard, but true and just.
It is not the people of Egypt who have been subjected to the criticism of the organs of the movement. The Egyptian people have the respect of each of our countries and the solidarity of all of our peoples. The same voices that rose to denounce the Camp David accords and the Egypt-Israel treaty praised Gamal an-Nasir, founder of the movement and the embodiment of the combative traditions of the Arab nation. No one can ignore nor will ignore Egypt’s historic role in Arab culture and development nor its merits as founder and driving force of the nonalined [movement].

The problems of Southeast Asia also held the attention of the conference. The growing conflicts and tension occurring there constitute a threat to peace that must be avoided. Similar concerns were expressed by the sixth summit regarding the situation in the Indian Ocean. the declaration approved 8 years ago by the UN General Assembly on this area as a peace zone has not attained its objectives. Military presence has not been reduced in that area. It is increasing. Military bases keep extending, now as far as South Africa. They also serve to watch the African liberation movements. The talks between the United States and the Soviet Union are still in suspense, despite the recent agreements between the two countries to discuss their resumption. This gave rise to the invitation by the sixth summit to all states interested in working effectively toward the objectives of the declaration of the Indian Ocean as a zone of Peace.

The sixth conference analyzed other problems of regional and world interest such as those pertaining to security and cooperation in Europe and the Mediterranean problem, the tensions existing there now augmented as a result of Israel’s aggressive policy and the support afforded to it by certain imperialist powers. It examined the situation of Cyprus, still occupied by foreign troops, and Korea, still divided in spite of the wishes of the Korean people for a peaceful reunification of their homeland. This led the nonalined countries to reaffirm and broaden resolutions of solidarity directed at the achievement of the aspirations of both peoples. It would be impossible to mention all the political decisions of the sixth summit. To do so would not allow us to touch on what we consider one of the most fundamental aspects of our sixth summit, its economic plans, the clamor of the developing peoples, weary of their backwardness and the suffering this backwardness causes.

Cuba, as host country, will tell all countries that are members of the international community about the final declaration and the additional resolutions of the conference. But allow me, before telling the views of the nonalined countries regarding the world economic situation, their demands and hopes, a few minutes to inform you of the main theme of the final declaration in regard to current Latin American affairs. The fact that the sixth summit was held in a Latin American country provided the heads of state or government meeting there the opportunity to recall that the peoples of that region began their efforts for independence at the very onset of the 19th century. They did not forget either, as stated in the declaration, that Latin America was one of the areas of the world which had suffered most in history from the aggression of imperialism, colonialism and neocolonialism of the United States and Europe. the participants of the conference felt it necessary to highlight that there are still traces of colonialism, neocolonialism and national oppression in that land of struggle. Therefore, the conference spoke out in favor of the eradication of colonialism in all its forms and manifestations. It condemned the existence of military bases in Latin America and the Caribbean, such as those in Cuba and Puerto Rico, and once again demanded that the areas of their territories occupied by those basis against the wishes of their peoples be returned to them by the Government of the United States and the rest of the colonial powers.

The experience in other areas made the heads of states or governments reject and condemn the attempt to create in the Caribbean a so-called security force, a neocolonial mechanism incompatible with the sovereignty, peace and security of countries. In asking the return to Argentina of the Malvinas Islands, in reiterating its support of the inalienable right of the people of Belize to self-determination, independence and territorial integrity, the conference again confirmed that which its declaration defined as the quintessence of nonalinement. It was pleased to verify that on 1 October the Panama Canal treaties signed by the Republic of Panama and the United States would go into effect. It gave its full support to those treaties, demanded that they be followed to the letter and spirit, and called on all the states of the world to adhere to the protocol of the treaty on the permanent neutrality of the Panama Canal.

Despite the pressure, threats and flattery exerted, and despite the stubbornness of the U.S. Government in demanding that the problems of Puerto Rico be considered an internal affair of the United States, the heads of state or government reiterated their solidarity with the struggle of the people of Puerto Rico and with their inalienable right to self-determination, independence and territorial integrity, and exhorted the U.S. government to abstain from any political or repressive maneuver to perpetuate the colonial situation of Puerto Rico. [applause]

There can be no more worthy homage to the liberation traditions of Latin American and the heroic Puerto Rican people who recently celebrated the Grito de Lares [Puerto Rican call for independence from Spain] with which a hundred years ago it express its indomitable with for freedom.

Referring to Latin America, the heads of state or government who had already analyzed the significance of the liberation process in Iran, could not but refer to the revolutionary upheaval in Grenada and the extraordinary victory of the people of Nicaragua and its vanguard, the Sandinist National Liberation Front [applause] and highlight the enormous historic significance this event has fore the peoples of Latin American and the world. The heads of state or government also stressed a new factor in Latin American relations which is an example to other regions in the world–the solidarity and support of the Panamanian, Costa Rican and Mexican governments, and the countries of the sub-regional Andean Pact–Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela–in the attaining of a just solution to the Nicaraguan problem, as well as the historical solidarity of Cuba with the cause of this people.

I confess that these focuses on Latin America would have been enough for the Cuban people to justify all efforts and vigilance carried out by hundreds of thousands of men and women of our country in making it possible for Cuba to worthily welcome the fraternal countries of the nonalined movement at the Havana summit. But there was much more for Cuba–something for which we wish to express our thanks here at the tribune of the United Nations on behalf of our people. In Havana the Cuban people received support for its right to choose its political and social system, for its reclamation of the territory occupied by the Guantanamo base and for the condemnation of the blockage which the U.s. Government still [corrects himself] by which the U.S. Government still attempts to isolate and dreams of destroying the Cuban revolution. [applause] We appreciate the profound meaning and resounding universal denunciation which the movement has just made in Havana of the acts of hostility, pressure and threats by the United States toward Cuba, calling them a flagrant violation of the UN Charter and the principles of international law, a threat to world peace.

Once again we answer our brothers and assure the universal community that Cuba will continue loyal to the principles of international solidarity.

Mr. President: History has taught us that the access to independence by a people which has freed itself of the colonial or neocolonial system is, at the same time, the last act in a long struggle and the first in a new and difficult battle. This is because the independence, sovereignty and freedom of our peoples who are apparently free are continually threatened by foreign control of their natural resources, by the financial imposition of official international organizations and by the precarious situation of their economies which diminish their full sovereignty. Therefore, at the very start of its analysis of world economic problems the chiefs of state or government once again solemnly stressed the supreme importance of having to consolidate political independence by way of economic emancipation and reiterated that the existing international economic system runs counter to the basic interests of the developing countries, that it was profoundly unjust and incompatible with the development of the nonalined countries and other developing countries and did not contribute to the elimination of the economic and social ills which afflicted those countries.

On the other hand, they emphasized the historic mission which the nonalined countries movement should play in the struggle for the economic and political independence of all developing countries and peoples in exercising full and permanent sovereignty and control over their natural and all types of resources and over their economic activities, to promote an in-depth restructuring through the establishment of a new international economic order. They conclude with these words: The struggle to eliminate the injustice of the existing international economic system and establish a new international economic order is an integral part of the struggle of the people for their political, economic, cultural and social struggle.

It is not necessary to show here up to what point the existing international economic order is profoundly unjust and incompatible with the development of the underdeveloped countries. The figures are already so well known that it is unnecessary for us. [Pauses] It is disputed whether the number of undernourished beings on our planet is only 400 million or if it has become 450 million as it is stated in certain international documents. Four hundred million hungry men and women is already too accusing a number. What no one doubts is that all of the hopes which have been displayed in the developing countries appear to have failed and to have been canceled by the end of this second decade of development.

The general director of the FAO Council has recognized that progress continues deceptively slow in relation to the long-term development objectives decided on in international development strategy in the declaration and action program on the establishment of a new international economic order, in the resolution of the world conference on food and in various subsequent conferences. The agricultural and food production of the developing countries over these past 10 years has far from achieved the modest annual average increase of four percent, which was set forth to resolve some of the most urgent problems of world hunger, and leads to further reduced levels of consumption. As a consequence of this, the food imports by developing countries, which right now constitute an aggravating element in their deficit balance of payments, will very soon reach, according to the FAO, such proportions as to be unmanageable.

The official pledges of foreign aid in agriculture for developing countries diminish in face of this. This panorama cannot be embellished. Sometimes certain official documents reflect the circumstantial increases of agricultural production in certain areas of the underdeveloped world. Or they point out the occasional increases in prices of some agricultural articles. But this deals with transitory advances and fleeting advantages. The income in terms of agricultural exports by developing countries continues unstable and insufficient in relation to their needs to import food, fertilizer and other necessary goods to increase their own production. In Africa food production per inhabitant in 1977 was 11 percent less than 10 years earlier.

If backwardness is perpetuated in agriculture, the industrialization process does not progress either. It cannot advance because of the majority of the developed countries the industrialization of the developing countries is seen as a threat. In 1975 in Lima the World Conference on Industrialization set for us, the developing countries, the goal of contributing by the year 2000, 25 percent of all manufactured goods produced in the world. But the progress from Lima to today is so insignificant that if we do not accept the measures proposed by the sixth summit conference and do not carry out an urgent program of rectifying the economic policy of the majority of the developed countries, this goal will also be unfulfilled. We have not yet arrived at producing 9 percent of the world’s manufactured goods. Our dependency is once again expressed by the fact that we, the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, import 26.1 percent of the manufactured goods in international trade and we only export 6.3 percent.

It will be said that there is a certain progress in industrial expansion. But it is not at the necessary rate nor in the key industries of the industrial economy. The Havana conference pointed this out. The world redistribution of industry, the so-called industrial redeployment, cannot consist in a new confirmation of profound economic inequalities which originated in the colonial period of the 19th century. At that time they condemned us to be producers of raw materials and cheap agricultural products. Now they want to use the abundant manpower and starvation wages of the developing countries to transfer to them the industries of least technology, lowest productivity and those which are the greatest polluters of the environment. We categorically reject this. The developed market economy countries today absorb more than 85 percent of the world’s manufactured goods production, among which is the highest technology industrial development. They also control over 83 percent of industrial exports. Twenty-six percent of these exports go to the developing countries, whose markets they monopolize. The most serious aspect of this structure of dependency is that that which we import–that is, not only capital goods but also the articles of consumption–is manufactured according to the demands, needs and the technology of the countries of greatest industrial development and the patterns of the consumer society. These goods are introduced through openings in our trade, infecting our societies and, in this way, add a new element in the already permanent structural crisis.

As a result of all this, as the chiefs of state or government saw at Havana, the existing gap between developed and developing countries not only exists, but has been substantially widened. The relative participation by the developing countries in world production considerably decreased over the last two decades, resulting in even more disastrous consequences, in phenomena such as malnutrition, illiteracy and unsanitary conditions. Some have wanted to resolve the tragic problem of humanity with drastic measures to reduce the population. They recall that war and epidemics have helped reduce the population in other periods. They even want something more. They want to attribute underdevelopment to the population explosion. But the population explosion is not the cause, rather it is the consequence of underdevelopment. In its turn development will bring solution to poverty and contribute through education and culture so that our countries achieve rational and adequate growth rates.

A recent World Bank report pointed out a more serious prospect. It says that it is possible that by the year 2000 there will be 600 million inhabitants on this earth who will still be in absolute poverty.

Mr. President, Messrs Representatives: The situation of industrial and agricultural backwardness from which the developing countries have not been able to free themselves is without a doubt, as the sixth summit pointed out, the result of unjust and unequal international relations. Added to this now, as the Havana declaration also points out, is the prolonged crisis of the international economy. I will not spend too much time on this aspect.

Let us now state that we, the chiefs of state or government, consider that the crisis of the international economic system is not a situation but rather a symptom of structural breakdown and an imbalance which are part of its own nature; that is imbalance has been aggravated by the refusal of the developed market economies to control their foreign imbalances and their high levels of inflation and unemployment; that inflation has been applying the only measures which could end it. And we also pointed out, because it is something which we will refer to alter and which is also stated in the Havana declaration, that this crisis is at the same time the result of the persistent lack of equality in international economic relations. Resolving this imbalance, as we propose will contribute toward lessening and ending the crisis itself.

What are the main points which the representatives of the nonalined countries movement drew up in Havana? We condemned the persistent diversion of human and material resources toward an arms race which is unproductive, wasteful and dangerous for mankind. [applause]

And we demanded that a considerable part of the resources now used for armaments, particularly by the major powers, be used for economic and social development.

We have expressed our grave concern over the insignificant progress of the negotiations dealing with the implementation of the declaration and the action program on the establishment of an international economic order. We pointed out that this was due to the lack of political desire by most of the developed countries and we expressedly censured the delaying diversionist and divisionist tactics adopted by those countries. The failure of the Fifth UNCTAD session demonstrated this situation.

We confirmed that the unequal trade in international economic relations, denounced as an essential characteristic of the system, has become even more unequal. While the prices of manufactured goods, capital goods, food products and services which we import from the developed countries constantly increase, the prices of the raw materials which we export are stagnant and are subjected to constant fluctuations. Trade relations have worsened. We stressed that protectionism, which was one of the elements that worsened the great depression of the 1930’s, has again been introduced by certain developed countries. The conference lamented that in the GATT negotiations the developed member countries did not bear in mind the interests and concerns of developing countries, particularly the less-developed countries. The conference also criticized certain developed countries for increasing the use of domestic subsidies for specific products to the detriment of crops which are of interest to developing countries.

The conference deplored the deficiencies in the scope and functioning of the generalized preference system and, in that spirit, condemned the discriminatory restrictions in U.S. foreign trade laws and the inflexible position of certain developed countries which prevented agreement on these problems at the Fifth UNCTAD session.

We expressed concern over the constant deterioration of the international monetary situation, the instability in the exchange rates of the main reserve currencies and inflation. These factors intensify the imbalance of the international economic situation, create additional difficulties for developing countries, decrease the real value of their export revenues and reduce that of their foreign exchange reserves. We noted the disorderly growth of international monetary resources, basically through the use of devaluated U.S. dollars and other currency reserves. We noted that while the inequality of international economic relations had increased the developing countries accumulated foreign debt–to more than $300 billion–international financial organizations and private banks had raised interests rates, shortened the amortization terms of loans, thus financially smothering the developing countries. As the conference noted, all of this becomes a coercive element in the negotiations, permitting these financial institutions to obtain additional political and economic advantages at the expense of our countries.

The conference kept in mind the neocolonialist effort to prevent developing countries from permanently and effectively exercising their full sovereignty over natural resources and reaffirmed that right. It supported the efforts of developing countries which produce raw materials to obtain just and profitable prices for their exports and to improve their export revenues in real terms.

The conference paid more attention than ever to strengthening economic relations and scientific-technical and technological cooperation among the developing countries. We can define this concept as collective self-sufficiency. That is, mutual support and cooperation among the developing countries so they will be able to depend on their own collective forces In the Havana declaration, this position gained strength which it never had before. Cuba, as president of the movement and coordinating country, plans to carry out, along with the Group of 77, all efforts necessary to promote the action program outlined by the conference regarding economic cooperation.

Nevertheless, we do not view this collective self-sufficiency as something even closely resembling autarchy. We see it as a factor in international relations which will put into play all the possibilities and resources of this considerable and important part of mankind which we developing countries represent. We hope to incorporate it into the general current of resources and the economy, which it can mobilize in the capitalist camp as well as in socialist countries.

Mr. President, the sixth summit rejected the attempts of some developed countries which are trying to use the energy issue to divide the developing countries. The energy problem can only be examined in its historical context, bearing in mind how the consumption patterns of certain developed countries led to the squandering of hydrocarbons and at the same time underscoring the plundering by the transnational companies which until recently have benefited from the supply of cheap energy, which they used irresponsibly.

Transnational companies are simultaneously exploiting producers and consumers and are making huge and unjustified profits. At the same time they are trying to blame the developing petroleum exporting countries for the current situation. Permit me to recall that in my opening speech to the conference I pointed out the distressing situation of those developing countries which are not petroleum producers, particularly the less developed countries. I expressed the certainty that the nonalined petroleum producing countries would find formulas to lessen the unfavorable situation of those countries already hit by inflation and unequal trade relations and suffering from deficits in their trade balances and a considerable increase of their foreign debt. However, this does not preclude the developed countries, their monopolies and transnational companies from bearing the main responsibility. On examining the energy problem from this viewpoint, the chiefs of state or government stressed that the problem should be the object of discussions in the context of international negotiations conducted at the United Nations with the participation of all countries and linking the energy problem with all development problems, financial and monetary reforms, international trade and raw materials so that a global analysis can be made of the aspects dealing with the establishment of a new international economic order.

In reviewing the main problems which effect developing countries in the international economic arena, one could not disregard the operation of transnational companies. Once again their policies and practices were declared unacceptable. It was charged that they exhaust resources, disrupt economies and violate the sovereignty of developing countries in their search for profits. They undermine peoples’ rights of self-determination, violate the principles of noninterference in the internal affairs of states and frequently resort to bribes, corruption and other undesirable practices through which they try to do subordinate developing countries to the industrialized countries.

In view of the lack of sufficient progress at the UN to prepare the code of conduct that regulates the activities of transnationals, the conference reaffirmed the urgent need to conclude the code in order to give the international community a legal instrument to control and regulate the activities of transnationals in line with the goals and aspirations of developing countries. In referring to all the burdensome negative aspects of the international situation of developing countries, the sixth summit called attention to the problems affecting the less developed countries, which are at a disadvantage because they are landlocked, and those Mediterranean and other isolated countries and called for the adoption of urgent and special measures in order to (?mitigate) their situation.

This is, Mr. President and representatives, the pessimistic, somber and discouraging outlook that the nonalined countries had to face when they met in Havana. However, the nonalined countries did not allow themselves to be dragged to frustrating and desperate positions, which would be understandable. At the same time in which they drafted strategies that enable them to carry their struggle forward, the chiefs of state and government reiterated their demands and defined their positions. The first basic goal of our struggle consists of reducing and eliminating the unequal exchange prevalent today which converts international trade into a profitable instrument for the additional plundering of our resources.

Today we in the underdeveloped countries must work 10 hours to match 1 hour’s work in developed countries. The nonalined countries demand that serious attention be given to the integrated program for basic products which have been so far manipulated and disregarded in the so-called North-South negotiations. They also demand that the common fund, which was to be a stabilization instrument, be promoted in order to establish a permanent connection between the prices they receive for their products and the prices of their imports, a matter which has scarcely been integrated. For the nonalined countries this connection, which permanently ties the prices of the exports to the prices of basic equipment, industrial products, raw materials and technology imported from developed countries, constitutes an essential pivot for all future economic negotiations. The developing countries demand that the countries which have caused the inflation and encourage it with their policies adopt the necessary measures to control it, thus ending the negative results of the unequal exchange. The developing countries demand and will continue their struggle to insure that the industrial goods of their incipient economies have access to the markets of developed countries. They demand that the vicious protectionism, which has been reintroduced into the international economy and which threatens to lead us into a dismal economic war, be eliminated. They demand that the generalized and nonreciprocal preference system be applied for all without any deceptions as a way of permitting the development of their new industries without have them crushed on the international market by the superior technological resources of the developed countries.

The nonalined countries believe that the negotiations which are about to conclude on the Law of the Sea must not, as certain developed countries intend, ratify the existing imbalance regarding marine resources, but correct it.

The Conference on the Law of the Sea has once again served to show the arrogance and imperialistic stance of certain countries which, placing their technological possibilities ahead of the spirit of under standing and compromise that the developing countries request, threaten to unilaterally mine the ocean floor. The developing countries’ debt has already reached $335 billion. It is estimated that the total payment for servicing the foreign debt amounts to more than $40 billion each year with represents more than 20 percent of their annual exports. Furthermore, the average per capita income in the developed countries is now 14 times greater than that of the underdeveloped countries. This situation is already unbearable. The developing countries need new systems of financing through which they can receive the necessary financial resources for the continuous and independent development of their economies. The financing may be through long-range terms or at low interest rates.

The use of financial resources must be a the complete disposal of the developing countries so that they can establish the priority system which corresponds to their industrial development plans. These funds must not be absorbed, as is currently the case, by the transnationals which derive additional benefits by taking advantage of their alleged financial contribution to development in order to worsen the economic situation of developing countries and obtain maximum profits from the exploitation of the resources of these countries. The developing countries and the nonalined movement in their name demand that a large part of the great resources which mankind presently wastes in the arms race be devoted to development which will simultaneously help to remove the threat of war and facilitate an improvement in the international situation.

The nonalined countries, expressing the stand of all the developing countries, demand a new international monetary system in order to prevent the disastrous fluctuations of the currencies which prevail in the international market, particularly the U.s. dollar. The financial disorder is an additional blow to the developing countries which hope that they will be included in the new monetary system and will participate in making decisions as representatives of the largest group of countries in the international community and of more than 1.5 billion men and women.

In summary, Mr. President and representatives, unequal exchange ruins our peoples and must cease. Inflation exported to our countries ruins our peoples and must cease. Protectionism ruins our peoples and must cease. The exiting imbalance in the exploitation of marine resources is abusive and must be abolished.

The insufficient financial resources developing countries receive should be increased. Arms expenses are irrational. They should cease and these funds should be used to finance development. The current international monetary system is bankrupt and should be replaced. The debts of countries which are relatively less developed and in disadvantageous situations are unbearable and cannot be resolved. They should be canceled. [applause]

Indebtness economically overwhelms the rest of the developing countries and it should be alleviated. Instead of narrowing, the economic abyss between the developed countries and those that want to develop is widening and it should disappear. These are the demands of the underdeveloped countries.

Mr. President, representatives: Attention to these demands, some of which have been systematically presented by the developing countries at international forums through the Group of 77 and the nonalined movement, would make it possible to change the course of the international economic situation. This would offer the developing countries the institutional conditions necessary to organize programs that would definitely place them on the path to development.

But even if all these measures were put into practice, even if the mistakes and vices of the present system of international relations were rectified, the underdeveloped countries would still lack a decisive element: external financing. All internal efforts all the sacrifices that the peoples in developing countries are making and are willing to make in the future, all the chances to increase their economic potential, obtained upon eliminating the inequalities between export and import prices and improving the conditions under which their foreign trade is carried out will nonetheless be insufficient.

In the light of their real and present financial situation they also need sufficient resources to pay their debts and to undertake the enormous international expenses that the leap toward development demands. Here too the figures are too well known to need repeating.

The sixth summit showed concern over the fact that not only is the underdeveloped countries’ debt practically unbearable but it grow each year at the galloping rate. And the data provided by a recent World Bank report–released at the time of our conference in Havana–confirm that the situation grows more serious each day. In 1978 alone the external public debt of 96 developing countries increased by $51 billion. This rate increases the debt to the astronomical figures mentioned.

Mr. President, we cannot resign ourselves to this somber panorama. The most respected economist, both Westerners and those who follow Marxist concepts, admit that the manner in which the developing countries’ international indebtedness system operates is totally irrational and that its maintenance threatens to bring about a sudden change that will endanger the entire precarious and unstable world economic balance.

Some people try to explain the surprising economic fact that the international banking centers continue to supply funds to countries which are technically bankrupt by alleging that it is a generous contribution aimed at helping those countries bear their economic difficulties. But that is not the case. It is in fact an operation to save the international capitalist system.

In October 1978 the Commission of European Communities by way of admission offered the following explanation: The current world economic balance depends to a considerable on continuing the flow of private loans to those developing countries that do not produce oil at levels unprecedented before 1974, and any obstacle to that flow will endanger that balance.

World financial bankruptcy would primarily be very hard for underdeveloped countries and for workers in developed capitalist countries. It would also affect the most stable socialist economies. But it is doubtful that the capitalist system could survive such a catastrophe. It would be difficult to keep the terrible economic situation that would result from inevitably leading to a world conflagration. There is talk already about special military forces to occupy the oil fields and raw materials sources. Although all should be concerned over this somber panorama, it should primarily be the concern of those who have greater wealth and material well-being. After all, we revolutionaries are not too scared by the prospect of a world without capitalism. [applause]

It has been proposed that instead of a spirit of confrontation we resort to a sense of world economic interdependence that would permit a conjunction of all economic forces in order to obtain common benefits. But this concept of interdependence is acceptable only when one first admits the intrinsic and brutal injustice of the present interdependence. The developing countries have rejected the proposal to impose on them interdependence based on acceptance of the unjust and arbitrary international division of labor, which modern colonialism imposed on them after the English industrial revolution and imperialism expanded.

If one want to prevent confrontation and struggle, which is the only path apparently open to the developing countries–a path with offers long and difficult battles whose proportions cannot currently be predicted–we must all search and find formulas for cooperation and solve the big problems. Although these problems affect our peoples, they cannot be solved without affecting the more developed countries in some way.

A few years ago we said that the irrational waste of material goods and the subsequent squandering of economic resources by developed capitalist countries was inexcusable. What else cause the dramatic energy crisis which we are experiencing? And who bears the worst consequences of this crisis? The underdeveloped countries which do not produce oil. These views on the need to end the squandering by the consumer societies are not generally held. A recent document of the UN Industrial Development Organization states that current lifestyles, particularly in the industrialized countries, may have to undergo a radical and painful change.

It is clear that the developing countries cannot and do not expect that the changes that they seek and the financing that they need will come as gifts as a result of mere analyses of international economic problems. In this process, which involves contradictions, struggles and negotiations, the nonalined countries have to depend first of all on their own decisions and efforts.

This position clearly emerged from the sixth summit. In the economic section of the final declaration, the chiefs of state or government recognized the need to bring about the necessary structural changes in the social and economic fields in their countries in view of the fact that this is the only way to eliminate their economies’ current vulnerability and to convert simple statistical growth into true development. Only in this way, the chiefs of state admit, would the people be willing to pay the price that would be demanded of the main protagonists of the process. As we said on that occasion, if the system is socially just, the possibilities of survival and economic and social development are incomparably better. My country’s history is an irrefutable example of this.

The growing and undelayable need to solve underdeveloped makes us return, Mr. President, to the problem which we touched upon a short while ago and which we want to be the final one which we bring up at this 34th UN General Assembly. I refer to international financing. One of the most serious phenomena that accompany the increasing indebtedness of developing countries is, as we said, the fact that these countries are forced to use most of the money they receive from abroad to cover their trade balance and current account deficits, to renew debts and to pay interest. If we take the example of the nonpetroleum exporting developing countries–whose situation I referred to in the Havana conference–in just the past 6 years they have accumulated deficits in their trade balances which amount to over $200 billion.

In view of this, the investments which the developing countries really need are huge. They need them precisely and without exception in fields and products of little profit which do not attract private foreign investors and lenders. In order to increase food production to eliminate the malnutrition of these 450 million persons which we have mentioned, new land and water resources will have to be developed. According to specialized estimates, the total cultivated land of developing countries has to be increased by 76 million hectares in the next 10 years and irrigated lands by more than 10 million. Forty-five million hectares must be prepared for irrigation. It is for this reason that the most modest estimates show that international financial aid–and we refer to aid and not the total flow of resources–must annually amount to from $8 million to $9 million to achieve an agricultural growth rate of 3.5 of 4 percent in developing countries.

If we examine industrialization, the estimates greatly exceed those parameters. The UN Conference on Industrial Development, on drawing up the goals which we mentioned, in its Lima meeting determined that financing must be at the center of international development policy and that in the year 2000 it must reach levels of $450 million to $500 million a year, of which one-third, that is $150 million to $165 million, must be foreign financing.

But development, Mr. President and representatives, is not just agriculture and industrialization. Development deals mainly with human beings who must be the protagonists and the goal of any development effort. To take the example of Cuba, I will point out that in the past 5 years our country has spent an average of almost $200 million a year in constructive investments for education. The investments in construction and equipment for public health amount to an average of more than $40 million a year. And Cuba is only one of the almost 100 developing countries and one of the smallest with regard to geography and population. Therefore, it can be estimated that in the investments for education and public health services developing countries will need to have tens of billions of dollars more a year to over come underdevelopment.

This is the big problem we are facing. Gentlemen, this is not only our problem. The problem of those countries which are victims of underdevelopment and insufficient development is a problem of the entire international community. On more than one occasion it has been said that we have been forced to be underdeveloped by imperialists, colonialism and neocolonialism. The task of helping us overcome undeveloped is therefore an historic and moral obligation on those who benefited from the plunder of our resources and the exploitation of our men and women during decades and centuries. [applause]

It is also a task for mankind, as the sixth summit meeting has started. The socialist countries did not contribute to the plundering of the world no are they responsible for the phenomenon of underdevelopment. However, they understand and assume the obligation of helping to overcome it because of the nature of their social system in which international solidarity is a premise. Similarly, the world expects the developed countries which produce oil to also contribute to the flow of resources that would encourage foreign financing for development. Its expectation is not based on historical obligations and duties which nobody could impose on them but on a hope and duty of solidarity among underdeveloped countries. The great oil producing countries must be aware of their responsibilities, even the better developed countries must contribute. Cuba, which does not speak here on behalf of its interests and is not defending a national goal, is willing to contribute to the extent of its means, thousands or tens of thousands of technicians, doctors, teachers, agronomists, hydraulic engineers, mechanical engineers, economists, medium-level technicians qualified workers and so forth. For this reason it is time for all to unite in the task to bring complete nations and hundreds of millions of human being out of backward state, misery, malnutrition, disease and illiteracy which deprive them of fully enjoying the dignity and pride of calling themselves men. [applause]

We must organize the resources for development and that is our joint obligation, Mr. President, there are so many special, multilateral, public and private funds whose objective is to contribute to one or another aspect of development whether agricultural, industrial, or to compensate deficits in the balance of payments that it is not easy for me–in bringing up the economic problems discussed at the sixth summit meeting here at the 34th assembly–to make a specific proposal for the establishment of a new fund. However, there are no doubts that the problem of financing must be carefully and thoroughly studied in order to solve it.

Aside from the resources already available through the various channels–banks, lending organizations, international organizations and private financial institutions–we must discuss and decide the way in which the strategy for development will include the additional contribution of at least $300 billion based on 1977 real values in order to start the new decade. This figure will be distributed in annual amounts that should not be less than $25 billion during the first few years and should be invested in underdeveloped countries. [applause]

This aid must be made by way of donations and long-term soft loans at minimal interest. It is very important to mobilize these additional funds as a contribution from the developed world and the countries with resources to the underdeveloped world over the next 10 years. If we want peace, these resources are needed. Without them there will be no peace. Some might think that we are demanding too much; however, I think that the figure is still modest. According to statistics and as I stated at the inauguration of the sixth nonalined summit, the world currently invests more than $300 billion in military expenditures every year. With $300 billion we could build in 1 year 600,000 schools for 400 million children or 60 million comfortable houses for 300 million persons or 30,000 hospitals with 18 million beds 20,000 factories with jobs for more than 20 million workers or irrigate 150 million hectares of land which, with adequate technology, could feed 1 billion persons. Mankind squanders that much money every year in military expenditures. Let us consider the large number of human resources, who are very young, the scientific and technical resources, the fuel, raw materials and other goods which are squandered. This is the great price for not having a true climate of trust and peace in the world. The United States alone will spend six times that figure in military-related activities during the 1980-1990 decade.

For 10 years of development we are demanding less money than is currently spent every year by the war ministries, and much less than will be spent in military expenditures 10 years from now. Some may think that this demand is irrational but the truly irrational thing is the madness of our times and the risks threatening mankind. The enormous responsibility of studying, organization and distributing these resources should fall completely on the United Nations.

The international community itself should administer those funds under conditions of absolute equality for each country, be it a contributor or a beneficiary, without political conditions and without the amount of donations have anything to do with the power of certain groups to decide on the right time to grant a loan or on the destination of the funds.

Although the flow of resources should be considered in financial terms it should not be based exclusively on them. It should also be based on equipment, fertilizer, raw materials, fuel and complete plants evaluated in terms of international trade. Aid in the form of technical personnel and the training of technicians should also be considered a contribution.

We are sure, Mr. President and representatives, that if the UN secretary general with the aid of the president of the Assembly, with all the prestige and weight carried by this organization supported at the outset, moreover, by the influence that the developing countries and the Group of 77 would lend to this initiative, convoked the various sectors we have mentioned in order to begin discussions in which there would be no place for the so-called North-South antagonism or the so-called East-West Antagonism but rather in which all forces would be in attendance sharing a common task, a common duty, and a common hope. This idea we now present to the General Assembly could be crowned by success. This project would not just benefit developing countries. It would benefit all nations. As revolutionaries, confrontations do not scare us. We have faith in history and in the people. But as spokesman and interpreter for 95 countries we are responsible for fighting on behalf of collaboration among the peoples and if the collaboration is achieved on new and just bases, it will benefit all countries which today comprise the international community and it will particularly benefit world peace.

Development can be, in the short term, a task which requires apparent sacrifices and even contributions that might seem unrecoverable. But the vast world which today lives in backwardness, lacking purchasing power and with its capacity for consumption extremely limited, will incorporate upon its development a torrent of hundreds of millions of consumers and producers, the only ones capable of rehabilitating the international economy, including that of the developed countries which today are causing and suffering from the economic crisis.

The history of international trade has shown that development is the most dynamic factor of world commerce. The greatest part of the trade carried on at present is carried out among countries which are fully industrialized. We must insure that to the extent that industrialization and world progress expands, there will also be an expansion in commercial exchange that is beneficial to all. That is what we ask, in the name of the developing countries, and we support the cause of many countries. We are not asking for a handout. If we fail to find adequate solutions, we will all be victims of the catastrophe.

Mr. President, distinguished representatives: Human rights are often spoken of, but we must also speak of humanity’s rights. Why should some people walk around barefoot so that others may travel in expensive cars? Why should some live only 35 years so that others may live 70? Why should some be miserably poor so that others may be exaggeratedly rich? I speak on behalf of the children in the world who do not even have a piece of bread. [applause] I speak on behalf of the sick who lack medicine. I speak on behalf of those who have been denied the right to life and human dignity.

Some countries are on the sea; others are not. [applause] Some have energy resources; others do not. Some possess abundant land on which to produce food; others do not. Some are so glutted with machinery and factories that even the air cannot be breathed because of the poisoned atmosphere; [applause] while others have nothing more than their emaciated arms with which to earn their daily bread. In short, some countries possess abundant resources; others have nothing.

What is their fate? To starve? To be eternally poor? Why then civilization? Why then the conscience of man? Why then the United Nations? [applause] Why then the world? One cannot speak of peace on behalf of tens of millions of human beings all over the world who are starving to death or dying of curable diseases. One cannot speak of peace on behalf of 900 million illiterates.

The exploitation of the poor countries by the rich countries must cease. I know that in many poor countries there are both exploiters and exploited. I address myself to the rich nations, asking them to contribute. And I address myself to the poor countries, asking them to distribute. Enough of words. We need deeds. [applause]

Enough of abstractions. We need concrete action. Enough of speaking about a speculative new international economic order that nobody understands. [applause] We must speak of a real, objective order that everybody understands.

I have not come here as a prophet of revolution. I have not come here to ask or to wish that the world be violently convulsed. I have come to speak of peace and cooperation among the peoples. And I have come to warn that if we do not peacefully and wisely resolve the present injustices and inequalities, the futurewill be apocalyptic. [applause] The sounds of weapons, of threatening language, and of prepotent behavior on the international arena must cease. [applause]

Enough of the illusion that the problems of the world can be solved by nuclear weapons. Bombs may kill the hungry, the sick, and the ignorant, but they cannot kill hunger, disease, and ignorance. Nor can they kill the righteous rebellion of the peoples. And in the holocaust, the rich — who have the most to lose in this world — will also die. [applause]

Let us say farewell to arms, and let us in a civilized manner dedicate ourselves to the most pressing problems of our times. This is the responsibility and the most sacred duty all the world’s statesmen. This, moreover, is the basic premise for human survival.

I thank you. [applause]

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March 3, 2009 - Posted by | A - Best of Fidel Castro

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