[News] Raul Castro - Address to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Feb 4 11:11:49 EST 2015


February 04, 2015
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/04/our-america/

*Address to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)*


  Our America

by RAUL CASTRO

Ever since the inception of the Community of Latin American and 
Caribbean States, Our America has entered a new stage and advanced 
toward independence; sovereignty over our natural resources; integration 
and construction of a new world order; and, social justice and democracy 
of the people, by the people and for the people. There is a stronger 
commitment to justice and the rights of the peoples today than in any 
other historical period.

Together, we make up the third world economy, the area with the second 
largest oil reserve, and the region with greater biodiversity on the 
planet with a remarkable concentration of the global mineral resources.

The development of unity in diversity, and of concerted action and 
respect for our differences shall be our primary purpose and inescapable 
necessity because the world problems tend to aggravate, and great 
dangers and robust challenges persist that transcend the national and 
even the sub-regional potential.

In the past decade, economic and social policies and sustained growth 
have enabled our countries to face the economic global crisis and 
facilitated a reduction of poverty, unemployment and unequal income 
distribution.

The deep political and social transformations carried out in various 
countries of the region have brought dignity to millions of families, 
which have left poverty behind.

But the Latin American and Caribbean region is still the one showing the 
greatest disparities. As an average, 20 percent of the lowest income 
households receive only 5 percent of the total revenues; 167 million 
people still endure poverty; one in five children under 15 lives in 
abject poverty; and, the number of illiterates exceeds 35 million.

Half of the youths in our countries fail to complete secondary education 
or finish their ninth grade, but in the lowest income segment that 
figure exceeds 78 percent. Actually, two thirds of the new generation do 
not make it to the university.

Meanwhile the increasing number of victims of organized crime and 
violence endanger the stability and progress of our nations.

What do the tens of millions of marginalized people think about 
democracy and human rights? How do they feel about political models? 
What do they think of election laws? Is this the civil society that 
international governments and organizations take into account? What 
would they say if asked about the economic and monetary policies?

There is little that many industrial nations can show our region in such 
areas since half their youths are unemployed, and the weight of the 
crisis falls on the workers and students they suppress. On the other 
hand, they protect bankers, prevent the organization of trade unions, 
pay women lower salaries for equal work and apply inhumane policies 
against immigrants. Meanwhile, racism, xenophobia, violent extremism and 
neo-fascist tendencies gain ground, and the people do not vote because 
they see no alternative to corruption in politics or because they know 
that election-time promises are soon forgotten.

In order to achieve social inclusion and environmental sustainability, 
we must come up with our own vision of the economic systems, production 
and consumption patterns, the relation between economic growth and 
development, and the efficacy of political models.

We should go beyond structural gaps, ensure a free and high-quality 
education, provide free and universal healthcare coverage, social 
security and similar opportunities to all, and the full exercise of all 
human rights by every person.

In the framework of such endeavors it shall be our primary duty to 
embrace solidarity with and advocate the interests of the Caribbean, 
particularly, of Haiti.

A new economic, financial and monetary international order is required 
where the interests and necessities of the South nations are not only 
included and given a priority, but also where those imposing 
neoliberalism and the concentration of capital cannot prevail.

The post-2015 Development Agenda should offer solutions to the 
structural problems of the regional economies and produce the changes 
conducive to a sustainable development.

Likewise, it is indispensable to build a world of peace, without which 
development is not possible, a world guided by the principles enshrined 
in the United Nations Charter and International Law.

The signing by the heads of State or Government of the Proclamation of 
Latin America and the Caribbean as a Peace Zone marked a historic step, 
and now provides a point of reference for our States’ relations with the 
rest of the world.

Solidarity will be of paramount importance in Our America to advance our 
common interests.

We want to express our strong condemnation of the unjustified and 
unacceptable unilateral sanctions imposed on the Bolivarian Republic of 
Venezuela, and of the continuous foreign interference intended to create 
a climate of instability in that sister nation. Cuba, who profoundly 
knows all these stories because it has endured them during more than 50 
years, reaffirms its strongest support to the Bolivarian Revolution and 
the legitimate government headed by President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

We join the Republic of Argentina in its demand over the Malvinas 
[Falkland], the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and the 
surrounding maritime space. We support the South American nation and its 
President Cristina Fernandez who is facing the attacks of speculative 
funds and the rulings of venal courts that impinge on the sovereignty of 
that country.

We reiterate our solidarity with the people and government of Ecuador, 
and the demands of President Rafael Correa for reparations on account of 
the environmental damages caused by the transnational company Chevron in 
the Ecuadorian Amazonia.

As we have previously said, the Community will be incomplete while 
Puerto Rico is not a member. The colonial situation of that country is 
inadmissible, and its Latin American and Caribbean nature are beyond 
dispute.

Concerning the peace process in Colombia, significant agreements have 
been reached by the Government and the Revolutionary Armed 
Forces-Peoples’ Army of that nation at the negotiating table in Havana. 
Never before so much progress had been made toward peace. Cuba, as one 
of the guarantors and the venue of such negotiations, shall continue 
offering the necessary facilities and contributing as much as possible 
to end the conflict and build a just and lasting peace in that fraternal 
nation.

We will provide our resolute support, as we have until now, to the fair 
claim of the Caribbean nations to receive reparations for the damages 
caused by slavery and colonialism. And, we shall definitely oppose the 
decision to deprive these countries of indispensable financial resources 
under the technocratic pretext of considering them middle-income economies.

We welcome the excellent progress made at the CELAC-China Forum and the 
region’s relations with the BRICS group.

We reaffirm our concern for the huge and growing military expenses 
imposed on the world by the United States and NATO, as well as for the 
intent to expand the latter’s aggressive presence up to the borders of 
Russia, a country we are bound to by historical, fraternal and mutually 
advantageous relations. We state our vigorous opposition to the 
unilateral and unjust sanctions imposed on that nation.

The increasing aggressiveness of NATO’s military doctrine and the 
development of unconventional wars, with their devastating effects and 
grave consequences, constitutes a threat to international peace and 
security.

As to Cuba, the principles of sovereign equality among States and 
self-determination of the peoples cannot be waived.

The United Nations General Assembly should exercise its power to 
preserve international peace and security in the face of the Security 
Council double-standards, excesses and omissions. It should wait no more 
to secure the full membership of Palestine, whose people count with the 
solidarity of the Cuban people and government. The Security Council veto 
providing impunity to Israel’s crimes must cease.

Africa, where our peoples have their roots, needs no advice or 
interference but the transference of financial resources, technology and 
a fair deal. We shall always defend the legitimate rights of those 
nations alongside which we fought colonialism and apartheid, and with 
which we have today fraternal relations and cooperation. We shall never 
forget their unshakeable solidarity and support.

Cuba will restlessly advocate the just causes and the interests of the 
South countries, and will be loyal to their common objectives and 
positions knowing that Humanity is Homeland. The foreign policy of the 
Revolution will always be faithful to its principles.

Dear friends and colleagues:

Last December 17th, we welcomed to our homeland the Cuban 
counterterrorist fighters Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio 
Guerrero, who alongside Fernando González and René González are to us a 
source of pride and an example of determination.

The President of the United States admitted the failure of the policy 
implemented against Cuba for more than fifty years, and the complete 
isolation it brought to his country as well as the impact of the 
blockade on our people. Additionally, he ordered the review of the 
obviously unjustifiable designation of the Island in the List of States 
Sponsors of International Terrorism.

That same day, he announced the decision to re-establish U.S. diplomatic 
relations with our government.

These changes are the result of nearly a century-and-a-half of heroic 
struggle and fidelity to its principles by the Cuban people. It has also 
been possible thanks to the new era we are living in our region, and the 
sound and brave demand of the governments and peoples of CELAC.

This has come as a vindication to Our America, which has together 
defended this objective at the United Nations Organization and in every 
other forum.

The debates that took place in the Summit of the Americas held in Port 
of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2009, against the background of the 
ALBA Summit held in Cumaná, Venezuela, led recently elected President 
Barack Obama to speak of a new beginning with Cuba.

In 2012 Cartagena, Colombia, provided context to a strong discussion and 
a unanimous and resounding stance against the blockade, occasion that 
compelled an important United States official to call it as the great 
failure of Cartagena or disaster –this is the exact term-, and against 
Cuba’s exclusion from such events. In protest, Ecuador had decided not 
to attend while Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, with the support of 
Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, stated that they would not attend another 
summit in the absence of Cuba. The Caribbean Community adopted a similar 
position, and so did Mexico and the other nations present at the 
meeting. Likewise, before his inauguration, Panamanian President Juan 
Carlos Varela announced his decision to invite Cuba, on equal footing 
and with full rights, to the 7th Summit of the Americas, and he has 
acted on that statement. Cuba immediately responded that it would be there.

Martí’s assertion that “a just principle from the depth of a cave is 
more powerful than an army” has been proven right.

To everyone here I convey Cuba’s deepest appreciation.

To the 188 States that vote against the blockade at the United Nations, 
to those that raise a similar demand in the General Assembly and 
International summits and conferences, and to all the popular movements, 
political forces, parliaments and personalities who labored restlessly 
to that end I express the sincere gratitude of our nation.

To the American people that recently manifested its growing opposition 
to the policy of blockade and hostility lasting more than five decades, 
I also reiterate our appreciation and friendly feelings.

These results prove that governments with profound differences can find 
solutions to problems, through a respectful dialogue and exchanges based 
on sovereign equality and reciprocity to the benefit of their respective 
nations.

As I have repeatedly affirmed, both Cuba and the United States should 
learn the art of civilized coexistence based on respect for differences 
between our governments, and on cooperation in areas of common interest 
that may contribute to tackling the challenges facing the hemisphere and 
the world.

However, no one should expect that to achieve that Cuba would renounce 
its ideals of independence and social justice or abandon any of our 
principles, or give in an inch in the defense of our national sovereignty.

We shall not yield to provocations but neither shall we accept any 
indication of advices or pressures in matters concerning our internal 
affairs. We have made great sacrifices and taken major risks to earn 
that sovereign right.

Can diplomatic relations be re-established before financial services cut 
off as a result of the financial blockade are restored to the Cuban 
Interests Section and its Consular Offices in Washington? How can the 
re-establishment of diplomatic relations be explained without rescinding 
Cuba from the List of States Sponsors of International Terrorism? What 
will the behavior of the U.S. diplomats in Havana be from now on 
concerning the observance of the standards set by the International 
Conventions for Diplomatic and Consular Relations? This is what our 
delegation said to the State Department during last week discussions, 
and more meetings will be necessary to deal with these issues.

We have shared with the President of the United States our disposition 
to move forward to the normalization of bilateral relations, once the 
diplomatic relations have been re-established. This involves the mutual 
adoption of measures to improve the climate between the two countries, 
the resolution of other pending issues, and advances in cooperation.

The current situation opens up a modest opportunity for the hemisphere 
to find new and better forms of cooperation that can benefit the two 
Americas. This would help in the solution of pressing problems and the 
opening of new avenues.

The text of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a 
Peace Zone becomes an indispensable platform to that end, including the 
recognition that every State has the inalienable right to choose its 
political, economic, social and cultural system without interference 
from any other State, an unwavering principle of International Law.

The main issue still stands unresolved. The economic, commercial and 
financial blockade causing enormous human and economic damages to our 
country constitutes a violation of International Law, and must cease.

I remember a memorandum of April 1960 from Assistant Secretary Mallory 
where he said that in the absence of an effective political opposition 
in Cuba, a situation of hunger, suffering and despair should be created 
to bring about the ousting of the revolutionary government. Now, the 
objective seems to be fostering an artificial political opposition by 
economic, political and communication means.

The re-establishment of diplomatic relations is the beginning of a 
process toward the normalization of bilateral relations, but this will 
not be possible while the blockade remains in effect; the territory 
illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base is not returned; the 
radio and television broadcasts breaching international rules and 
regulations do not cease; and, adequate compensation is not paid to our 
people for the human and economic damages sustained.

It would not be ethical, fair or acceptable to ask Cuba anything in 
exchange. If these issues are not resolved, a diplomatic rapprochement 
between Cuba and the United States would not make sense.

It can neither be expected of Cuba to negotiate the above-mentioned 
absolutely sovereign issues related to its internal affairs.

It was possible to advance in the recent negotiations because we treated 
each other with respect, and as equals. Future progress demands that 
this remains so.

We have followed with interest the announcement made by the President of 
the United States of some executive decisions aimed at modifying certain 
aspects concerning the implementation of the blockade.

The measures made public so far are very limited. The prohibition stands 
with regards to credits and the use of the dollar in our international 
financial transactions; the individual travels of Americans with license 
for so-called people-to-people exchanges are prevented and conditioned 
to subversive purposes; and maritime travels are also forbidden. Another 
standing prohibition, among many others, restricts the acquisition in 
third markets of equipment or technology with more than 10 percent of 
American input as well as the U.S. importation of goods containing Cuban 
raw materials.

President Barack Obama could use with determination his extensive 
executive powers to substantially modify the implementation of the 
blockade. This is something he can do even without Congressional approval.

He could allow other sectors of the economy to do what he has authorized 
in the field of telecommunications with the clear objective of 
exercising political influence in Cuba.

His decision to promote a debate with Congress towards the removal of 
the blockade is significant.

On the other hand, the spokespersons of the U.S. government have clearly 
stated that the methods are changing but not the objectives of their 
policy, and insisted in actions that interfere with our internal 
affairs, something we will not accept. The American counterparts should 
not pretend to relate with the Cuban society as if a sovereign 
government did not exist in the Island.

No one would even dream that the new policy announced accepts the 
existence of a Socialist Revolution 90 miles away from Florida.

There is the wish that the so-called civil society is present at the 
Summit of the Americas in Panama; that is a wish that Cuba has always 
shared. We protest what happened at the World Trade Organization 
Conference in Seattle, at the Summits of the Americas in Miami and 
Quebec, at the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen or at the G-7 and IMF 
meetings, where the civil society was confined tens of miles away from 
the venues, and kept behind steel fences and under brutal police repression.

Of course, the Cuban civil society will attend, and I hope there will be 
no restrictions against our country’s non-governmental organizations, 
which are not interested in any status at the OAS but are definitely 
recognized by the United Nations.

I hope to see in Panama the popular movements and NGOs that advocate 
nuclear disarmament and environmental protection; those that oppose 
neoliberalism; the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Indignant of this 
region; the university and secondary school students; the peasants, 
trade unions, original peoples, and organizations that oppose shale 
contamination; the advocates of immigrants’ rights; those who denounce 
torture and extrajudicial executions, police brutality and racist 
practices; that demand equal pay for women for equal work; and those 
advocating reparation for damages from transnational companies.

The announcements of last December 17th have elicited world recognition 
and extensive support for President Obama in his own country, however, 
certain forces in the United States will try to derail this process that 
is just beginning. They are also the enemies of a U.S. fair relationship 
with Latin America and the Caribbean, the same that jeopardize the 
bilateral relations of many countries from our region with that nation. 
They are always blackmailing and exercising pressure.

We are aware that the path to the removal of the blockade will be long 
and difficult and will require the support, mobilization and resolute 
action of every person of goodwill in the United States and the world; 
the approval by the UN General Assembly in its next session of the 
resolution demanding the end of the blockade; and, especially, the 
concerted action of Our America.

/*Raul Castro Ruz* is the president of Cuba./

-- 
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