Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Opens UN Congress on Crime Prevention
Havana Tele Rebelde Network
BRS Assigned Document Number:    000015106
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     FL2808152090
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-90-168          Report Date:    29 Aug 90
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     1
Report Division:     INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS    End Page:       3
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       27 Aug 90
Report Volume:       Wednesday Vol VI No 168


City/Source of Document:   Havana Tele Rebelde Network

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Opens UN Congress on Crime Prevention

Author(s):   Commander Fidel Castro, president of the Republic of Cuba's
Councils of State and Ministers, during the opening session of the
Eighth UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation at
Havana's Palace of Conventions--live]

Source Line:   FL2808152090 Havana Tele Rebelde Network in Spanish 1438 GMT 27
Aug 90

Subslug:   [Speech by Commander Fidel Castro, president of the Republic of
Cuba's Councils of State and Ministers, during the opening session
of the Eighth UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation at
Havana's Palace of Conventions--live]

1.  [Speech by Commander Fidel Castro, president of the Republic of Cuba's
Councils of State and Ministers, during the opening session of the Eighth UN
Congress on Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation at Havana's Palace of

2.  [Text] Esteemed Miss Margaret Joan Anstee, secretary general of the
congress; Mr. Personal Representative of the UN Secretary General;
distinguished delegates and guests: On behalf of the Cuban Government and
people I am pleased to give the warmest welcome of our country to all the
participants in this Eighth UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation
and express our sincere wish [Castro clears his throat] that this meeting's
discussions will end with all the success you hope for, and for which its
organizers have made such efforts in line with the importance of the subjects
you are going to discuss during the next few days.

3.  As far as Cuba is concerned, we are convinced that international
cooperation is a decisive element in advancing toward the understanding of
crime and its evolution in the world, which has been subjected to acute
contradictions, enormous pressures, and profound changes. Cubans can attest to
the fact that the exchange of information and experiences on the results each
country obtains in this complex problem is of great value to all the other
countries. It is not an exaggeration to say that the modernization of our
criminal justice system is also in part a result of international cooperation,
a result of these congresses and the enormous work of the United Nations in
this field.

4.  Our country is in the privileged situation of being almost free of many of
the more complex and aggravated forms of contemporary crime. Our society's
characteristics play a determining role in this; there are no great social and
economic differences between the various sectors of the population, and there
is a range of opportunities available to all the country's citizens. In Cuba
you will not find any kind of organized crime or the generalized climate of
violence that characterizes the vast majority of the societies of today and
which justifiably is of great concern to those who follow closely the
development of these phenomena.

5.  You will not see abandoned children in our cities' streets, and you will
not see the extreme poverty and helplessness that can be seen even in the
wealthy capitals of many developed powers. You will not see the presence of
drugs, gambling, prostitution, or beggars. In contrast, you will see a healthy,
hard-working, and united people.  All this, in short, is part of of a gigantic
social effort that Cubans have obvious reasons to feel satisfied about.

6.  Cuba also offers you our practical, concrete experience in the field of
criminal justice. I hope you will have the opportunity to get to know about
this. I am specifically referring to our experience in areas such as the
approach to crime as a phenomenon influenced by profound social causes, the
emphasis on the prevention rather than repression of criminal behavior, trial
guarantees, the role of the masses in crime prevention and rehabilitation, and
experience in the use of alternative sentences other than imprisonment.

7.  Our work in the fight against crime rests on prevention, early recognition
of pre-criminal attitudes, and concentrated efforts to resolve these attitudes
through differentiated treatment in each case. We give priority in our prison
system to the rehabilitation of those who have been sentenced by making
possible their integration into jobs at the same wage level as any other
individual for similar work, so that they may provide their families with the
necessary care and help, and by later facilitating their reintegration into

8.  We think the decision of the organizers of this congress to make the
central subject of discussion the link between crime and development is
particularly fitting.  Today no one doubts that among the major factors that
generate criminal behavior are poverty, deprivation, hunger, illiteracy, lack
of opportunity, and other traits that distinguish social underdevelopment,
poverty, and discrimination. We have always been convinced that in our poorest
countries, the fight against crime must be part of the fight against
underdevelopment and exploitation.

9.  To these circumstances we should add those external factors that worsen the
situation. The abyss of inequality between the levels of development of the
industrialized countries and the economically underdeveloped countries
continues to strengthen. The foreign debt has now become the major obstacle to
development, the most important tool for financial looting, and the most modern
form of neocolonial dependency for the underdeveloped countries.

10.  Unequal terms of trade are worsening, and protectionism is spreading. 
External flows of financing for development are being drastically reduced. What
Third World countries have paid to service the foreign debt since 1980 amply
exceeds the current total debt itself, which at the end of 1989 had reached the
fabulous figure of 1.28 trillion dollars. Already since 1985 we have been
sounding the warning that the foreign debt of the underdeveloped world is
unpayable and it is necessary to find a solution to this unbearable situation.
We said then that if recessive-type adjustment measures continued to be applied
in the midst of an ever more desperate crisis, uncontrollable social
disturbances could occur.

11.  Now today no one--neither creditors nor debtors-- disputes the fact that
the foreign debt of the underdeveloped countries is not only unpayable but
uncollectable.  The effects of the economic situation of the Third World
countries can be seen in the serious deterioration in their living standards.
Even though they are well known, the figures are still impressive. Almost 60
percent of the economically active population is unemployed or underemployed,
and more than 75 percent are insufficiently paid and do not have a minimum of
social security.  There are more than 950 million human beings who live in
conditions of absolute poverty. There are 195 million children under age five
who go hungry. There is an infant mortality rate 10 times higher on average
than that in the developed countries. There are 4,000 children dying every day,
most of them for preventable reasons or from malnutrition. There are 900
million adult illiterates, and hundreds of millions of children who have no
school to go to or who live in the most absolute poverty.

12.  The crude reality is that today in the underdeveloped world there are more
hungry people, more sick, more poor, more unemployed, more ignorant, more human
beings without hope. This is the most favorable breeding ground for crime. In
addition, the countries suffocated by the debt and the inequality of the
international order can make little progress in preventing this crime, as they
lack the resources to do so.

13.  The current international political crisis and the threat emanating from
events in the Persian Gulf of a war that would destroy incalculable numbers of
human lives and enormous wealth multiply the negative economic indicators for
the immense majority of Third World countries. Already the price of fuel has
risen by more than double. The duty of the international community to find a
nonviolent solution to the conflict has to do not only with the sacred
interests of peace but also with the lives of tens of millions of human beings
who could die as a result of hunger, in addition to those who are already dying
now for that reason.

14.  Delegates, I ask myself if the current framework of international economic
relations, as far as the Third World countries are concerned, is not in and of
itself a well-defined group of criminal elements such as usury, extortion,
fraud, and who knows how many more things.  This is why the fight against crime
at this level also includes the struggle in favor of a more just international
economic order.

15.  Certainly, as is stated in all the preparatory documents for this
congress, we are witnessing an accelerated process of the internationalization
of crime. The attempt to begin to find an answer to this singular phenomenon of
our age is very praiseworthy. But what is becoming more and more evident is the
need to confront not only the most common forms of transnationalized crime,
such as economic crimes, drug trafficking, terrorism, or crimes against the
environment. Any analysis of this must necessarily include the actions of those
who act or try to act with absolute disregard of the standards established in
international law, such as nonintervention, or with the absurd and dangerous
expedient of the extraterritoriality of a nation's internal legislation.

16.  The dramatic reality of our time is that no small country feels safe today
as long as the powerful countries' ability of dictating and doing things at
will or at their convenience is in fact accepted. This is also a form of
international crime, the most serious and dangerous for the entire human race,
and it cannot be ignored in any analysis of this subject that one tries to make
with a minumum level of objectivity. In this regard, the greatest scope and
meaning of international cooperation will be given by the specific actions that
the international community may take as a whole against these manifestations of
abuses and criminal violence in international behavior.

17.  The rise in transnational crime concerns all of us, as we observe how it
is spreading rapidly, diversifying, and becoming more complex because of
technological development, how it is becoming institutionalized through the
rise of almost omnipotent supranational organizations that have colossal
financial and logistical resources, and how it rests on corrupt procedures,
penetration, violence, and terror which try to undermine nations' internal
stability and will to resist.

18.  Without a doubt, of all the types of organized transnational crime the
international community is facing in our time, none has attained the magnitude
and extension, the volume of resources, and the cost in social and human terms
of drug trafficking. Delegates, I do not intend to give details you already
know very well about the particularly serious, pernicious, and explosive nature
of the problems originating from drug production, trafficking, and consumption.

19.  In this regard, I would like to assert to you unequivocally that Cuba is
one of the countries in the world that is most free from drugs. In our country,
this disastrous phenomenon is not a problem for society. The current laws
severely sanction any activity related to international drug trafficking, and
we are considering the possibility of putting even more severe laws into
effect. In those cases in which activities of this type have been detected, we
have acted with the greatest firmness. However, the number of acts connected
with the possession and consumption of drugs is insignificant.

20.  Our geographic position makes us an area of obligatory transit for
thousands of airlines, companies, or aircraft that fly on normal routes and
cannot be inspected in the air. Nevertheless, the systematic pursuit of any
suspicious activity in our national skies or waters has led-- between 1970 and
June 1990--to the seizure of 73 boats and 30 planes, and the arrest of 422
traffickers of various nationalities, as well as the seizure, between 1985 and
June 1990 alone, of more than 125 tons of marijuana and 5,941 kg of cocaine,
all headed for the United States.

21.  As you can see, it is unlikely that there exists in the world a less
attractive country than ours for international drug trafficking. I will take
advantage of this occasion to repeat Cuba's complete willingness to cooperate
in whatever serious and consistent efforts are undertaken in the fight against
drug trafficking, based on respect for the sovereignty of nations and a full
understanding that the problem cannot be solved solely or even primarily
through measures applied in the producing areas, but that the fundamental
responsibility rests on the great centers of drug consumption.

22.  Another of the subjects that will be considered in this meeting, which
concerns juvenile delinquency, also has exceptional importance in our opinion.
Young people are the sector that is most vulnerable to the growing spiral of
crime in our time. In those countries where crime in its most organized and
violent form is increasingly spreading to different sectors of society, the
young are the basic instrument in the spread of these activities and the raw
material on which criminal organizations feed and develop.

23.  In the developed countries, social, economic, and even racial factors
influence this situation. They make it possible, within these sometimes wealthy
societies, for considerable groups of the population to live in deprivation,
poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and discrimination. This explains the high
rate of violent crime in the capitals and large cities of highly developed
countries. It also contributes to an explanation of the occurrence of homicide
among young people between ages 15 and 24.  Because of its magnitude and
seriousness, some have called it the epidemic of death, and it has been
considered a serious health problem.

24.  It is unquestionable that as long as this enormous difference in social,
economic, and cultural conditions exists within a society, it will be very
difficult to eliminate crime among young people. Only the creation of
opportunities for education in a climate of equality and participation, access
to jobs and culture by the young people in the poorest levels of the
population, along with the repression and control of criminal organizations,
mainly those devoted to drug trafficking and consumption, will make it possible
for these countries to solve this extremely serious problem.

25.  In Third World countries, the participation of young people in criminal
activities has other characteristics.  Here also poverty and the lack of
opportunity, the scarcity of social possibilities, generate tensions and
contribute to the commission of crimes. But in most cases this is not a
question of participation in criminal organizations that promote the most
serious forms of violent crime and drugs. Under these conditions, socioeconomic
factors, opening up opportunities for education and technical training, and the
assurance of a job, are the most formidable support in the great battle to
prevent juvenile delinquency and protect the young.

26.  In Cuba, as you will surely hear during the discussions, the rate of
crimes committed by minors is extremely low.  This is due in part to the fact
that the major role in preventing criminal behavior is played by society as a
whole, but above all the determining factor is the enormous opportunities and
possibilities created by the education and training of all minors, true
equality of opportunity, and the exceptionally high priority attention provided
in the country to young people and children.

27.  These social factors, along with our concept of separating the handling of
juvenile delinquency from the ordinary penal system and applying an especially
reeducational approach, determine the result that in the first six months of
this year only 1,330 minors were tried for crimes committed. Their handling is
part of the set of measures applied in the country in cases of juvenile
offenders, which in many cases does not include imprisonment and in all cases
includes reeducation.

28.  Delegates, I have felt obliged to touch on these issues because of their
direct connection with the problems this congress must discuss. But I do not
want to impose on your patience and kindness, nor take away one minute more
from the start of your discussions. I know that you have a lengthy agenda, that
the documents to be discussed and the proposals on which you must make
decisions are many and very complex, and that the schedule is tight.

29.  But in addition to working, we would like you to be able to enjoy your
stay in our country. Nothing would please us more than to give you the
opportunity to see our country and our people. We are a small nation that must
fight every day to survive and develop in very adverse conditions. Since the
crisis in the socialist countries of Europe, pillars of our international
economic relations, it has become much more difficult.

30.  We have not lived in abundance, but neither have we lacked anything
essential. We need many things, but we have also set forth many things. We are
impatient and unsatisfied, but we believe in people and the future we are
building day by day with heroism and determination. No test, however difficult
it may be, will be able to defeat us.

31.  The only thing left to say is that Cuba is willing to cooperate
energetically in the noble undertaking the United Nations has set forth in
crime prevention and rehabilitation, because we are convinced of the importance
of this work and the need for this cooperation. This is why we deplore the fact
that there are those who do not see this need and subordinate it to petty
political considerations.  We are glad to verify that all our efforts in the
field of legal and institutional reform with respect to crime prevention and
rehabilitation have been consistent with the postulates and hopes of these
congresses and the other UN organizations specializing in these issues.

32.  Once more I want to express our gratitude to the organizers of this event
for their tenacious effort to create truly optimal conditions to carry out this
work, and express our confidence that the discussions of this meeting will
result in significant benefit for all our peoples. Thank you very much.