[R-G] Cuba at the Johannesburg Summit
mstainsby at tao.ca
Thu Sep 5 14:42:48 MDT 2002
Granma. 4 September 2002. Cuba's four proposals for the Johannesburg summit.
Speech given by Felipe Perez Roque, Cuban Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the
World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Unavoidable obligations in our country, derived from a colossal effort for our
people's social development, particularly in the educational, cultural, health
and scientific spheres, which is multiplying its capacity to face the blockade
and the effects of the international economic crisis, preserve the Revolution
and guarantee its independence in the midst of bellicose policies, threats and
risks, have prevented our president from traveling to Johannesburg on this
Ten years ago, President Fidel Castro noted the following ideas:
"An important biological species: the human being, is at risk of disappearing
due to the rapid and progressive liquidation of its natural living conditions.
"...We are becoming aware of this problem, as it is becoming almost too late to
"...Consumer societies are fundamentally responsible for the atrocious
destruction of the environment.
"The solution cannot be to halt the development of those who need it mostS
"If we want to save humanity from this self-destruction, wealth and available
technology must be better distributed, there has to be less luxury and squander
in a few countries in order to decrease poverty and hunger on a large part of
"Let the ecological debt be paid and not the foreign debt.
"Let hunger rather than people disappear.
"Now that the alleged threat of communism has disappeared and there is no longer
a pretext for cold wars, arms races and military costs, what is preventing us
from immediately devoting those resources to promote Third World development and
combat the threat of the planet's ecological destruction?"
After 10 years of more insanity and extravagance for some -the minority- and
more poverty, illness and death for others - the majority - those words in this
room resonate on our conscience. His questions remain unanswered.
However, it is fitting to ask three new questions:
First: what results have we achieved since the Rio Summit?
Virtually none. One decade later things have not improved. On the contrary.
The environment is more threatened than ever.
While the Kyoto Protocol is being shipwrecked, victim of an arrogant boycott,
carbon dioxide emissions, far from diminishing, have increased by 9%, and in the
ost polluting country by 18%. Today, the seas and rivers are more contaminated
than in 1992; the air is more contaminated; 15 million hectares of forest are
devastated every year, almost four times the surface area of Switzerland.
The way of life in the developed nations, as the main predators, is as
unsustainable as that of the others.
The North contaminates by squandering, the South in order to survive.
A large part of the planet's population is living in critical conditions: 815
million hungry, 1.2 billion people in extreme poverty, 854 million illiterate
adults and 2,400 million people without basic sanitation are proof of this.
Forty million suffering from or infected by the AIDS virus, two million deaths
from tuberculosis and one million from malaria per year, are further proof.
Eleven million under-fives will die this year from preventable causes, which in
addition to being yet more proof, is also a crime.
The world is more unjust and unequal than 10 years ago.
The breech, far from closing, has widened. The income gap between the rich and
poor countries was 37-fold in 1960, 60-fold when we met in Rio and is currently
Second question: who is responsible for this state of affairs?
The economic and political order imposed on the world by the powerful.
This is not only profoundly unjust, but also unsustainable. The heritage of
colonialism and the fruit of imperialism continue to privilege a small number of
countries that were developed on the blood and sweat of the immense majority of
the world's peoples.
Their international financial institutions and especially the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) respond to the interests of the governments of a few
developed nations, particularly the most powerful ones; to various hundreds of
transnationals; and to a group of politicians whose electoral campaigns have
been financed by them. In order to defend these illegitimate and minority
interests the majority of the world's population is subjected to poverty and
The IMF, a public institution born of an explicit acknowledgment of the role of
the state, given that the market was unable to solve problems, has paradoxically
become the main instrument via which neoliberalism was imposed on a globalized
The poor countries - the majority - had to accept the infamous Washington
Consensus. The rich and developed countries - the minority - have given
themselves the luxury of defaulting on it; they have not opened up their
economies, nor have they eliminated subsidies.
We, the developing countries, the principal victims in this new lost decade,
have been unable to struggle in unison to defend our rights, we have not known
how to ally millions of workers, non-governmental organizations, and
intellectuals in the developed nations who have also called for major changes.
Third question: What should we do?
There are two things that we lack today: political will and access to financial
Hypothetically assuming that the political will is going to break forth as a
result of this Summit and the idea that time is running out, and that if this
new Titanic sinks then we will all perish, the question then rests on
guaranteeing the resources that will allow our countries to obtain fresh, stable
finances on concessionary and unconditional bases.
The Cuban proposals to obtain this are:
1. To introduce a development tax of just 0.1% on international financial
transactions. This would generate almost $400 billion USD per year, which,
through good administration by the UN and its system of institutions could
change the current situation.
2. To immediately condone the foreign debt of the developing countries, which
have repaid the amount more than once over. This would mean that our countries
would not have to spend $330 billion USD each year on this, a quarter of our
income from the export of goods and services.
3. To take the immediate step of agreeing that 50% of military spending budgets
will be placed in a fund made available to the UN for sustainable development.
This would mean a sum of almost $400 billion USD, half of which would originate
from one country alone - the most powerful and wealthy one, and also the one
most responsible for contaminating the environment.
4. To guarantee the immediate fulfillment by the developed countries of their
commitment to dedicate 0.7% of their GDP as official development aid. This would
up their contribution of $53 billion USD in 2000 to almost $170 billion in 2003.
These are only a few ideas.
If we then add the establishment of a new international financial structure that
includes demolishing the current IMF and replacing it with an international
public institution that would respond to the interests of all, the development
of a fair and equal trade system guaranteeing special and differentiated
treatment for the developing countries, plus the strengthening of
multi-lateralism and the role of the UN based on unrestricted respect for its
Charter, we may than say that this Summit has been worthwhile.
Thank you very much.
In the contradiction lies the hope.
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