Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-95-051 Daily Report 12 Mar 1995 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Fidel Castro's Solidarity Conference Address

FL1503201295 Havana Radio Rebelde Network in Spanish 1700 GMT 12 Mar 95 FL1503201295 Havana Radio Rebelde Network Spanish BFN [Address by President Fidel Castro at a solidarity conference in Copenhagen on 11 March -- recorded]

[FBIS Translated Text] Dear friends, can you hear? This is all so sudden. I was told that this ceremony would be cultural and that someone would speak before me so that I could have some time to get a feel for the mood, but everything has changed. I enter and see this multitude, so hospitable...[pauses] This one speaks Spanish. I will lose my voice if I speak louder...[pauses] Yes, it does matter. I must deliver an address tomorrow. Just so you know, I do not plan to wear this outfit to the summit. [applause]

I wore my traditional uniform so that you would be sure to recognize me. What can I say about such a warm ceremony? I heard on the radio that a huge ceremony would be held here if I visited Denmark. I told myself: That is one more reason to visit Denmark. [applause]

I was told that I had to come, so here I am. [applause]

I never miss a summit. It takes great fortitude to listen to over 120 addresses. My only concern was that I would be scheduled to speak at 1600. Fortunately, I am scheduled to speak tomorrow morning. The problem was solved, and I am able to be here. I am more attentive right now than when I am listening to address after address at every international summit. I am very glad to be here with you. [applause]

I have always said that what I like most about meetings are the recesses...[pauses as crowd laughs] except when I leave a meeting to attend a ceremony like this. This is the only thing that tops a recess.

The world summit is the focus of attention. I do not know how much you know about the summit. I do not know if you approve or disapprove. I do not know if you have read a little or a lot about it. The summit is ongoing. Of course, they will not let me in tomorrow if I speak poorly of the summit today. [applause]

This summit is special in that this is the first time that heads of state and government will meet to discuss social development. This will help increase awareness of this problem. I had the opportunity to participate in the Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro. Many heads of state and government who had never worried about the environment, global warming, the ozone layer, other environmental woes, or the environmental crisis surely got the chance to hear about it all. This boosted awareness.

We will now address social problems: unemployment; poverty; illiteracy; and medical needs worldwide, including those of developed countries. It may seem unreal or strange, but the fact is that it is taking place. You have to wonder whether we can truly overcome these difficulties, even if a number of world leaders are willing to do something about it. We speak of social development in a world where social development runs counter to every reality. While it is true that some nations are very rich and highly developed and get richer and more developed with each passing day, the immense majority of mankind is very poor and less developed and gets poorer and poorer with each passing day. The United Nations uses the grating term developing countries to describe them. They do not like the term underdeveloped. Of course, we speak of economically underdeveloped nations. This is also why the term developing countries is used. We are more like underdeveloped countries: The difference, the famous abyss between developed and underdeveloped countries, is widening and not narrowing. Developed countries are swamped with many different kinds of problems. One of the developed world's most difficult problems is unemployment. [applause]

This proves that this model is inadequate when it comes to solving certain problems. [applause]

Jobs are lost with the development of advanced technology, the increase in factory efficiency, and efforts to computerize and automate. [applause]

This is why unemployment is on the rise. There are many other problems, some more acute in some countries than others. All these problems -- violence, drugs, etc. -- are more acute in underdeveloped countries. [Words indistinct] the Third World was colonized and exploited for centuries. Capitalism was at the root of colonialism and underdevelopment. [applause]

They now speak of capitalism as if it were the answer to the underdevelopment problem. This is a huge paradox. [applause]

Some Third World problems are not even mentioned in the summit declaration and action plan. They mention the fight against poverty but not the unfair trading problem -- that is, Third World exports bringing in less and less while the cost of imports from developed countries rises. [applause]

The purchasing power of basic products is not even 30 percent of what it was before World War II. Third World countries are importing more and more and exporting less and less every day. The capital flight problem is not mentioned either. The underdeveloped world is truly financing the developed world. [applause]

They spend more money than they collect every year. How can they develop? How can they eliminate poverty? Capital flight is not the only problem. Minds are being stolen: The best minds and intellectuals have no research or work prospects in their own countries, so they move to the United States and Europe to [words indistinct] which today monopolize the sciences and technology.

As for natural resources, only their exploitation is mentioned. There is practically no mention of the world's basic products in these documents. There is little mention of foreign debt at the conference, except for some talk about suspending some of the debt payments of some of the poorest countries. The foreign debt amounts to more than $1.5 trillion and is growing every year. How can there be social development?

Little is said about the resources needed for development. One suggestion made long ago was that each country allocate 0.7 percent of its gross national product to development. Some smaller, developed countries, as well as some fairly developed countries, do indeed contribute 0.7 percent. We must say in all fairness that Denmark ranks first in this area: It contributes 1.02 percent of its gross national product. [applause]

Mitterrand said today that France contributes 6.3 percent to development. I think the United States contributes 0.35 percent. [crowd jeers]

Everyone thought that the Cold War's end meant that the resources poured into weapons could now be poured into development. The resources are there but are still being poured into weapons. Approximately $1 billion is spent on weapons every year. Why? The Cold War is over. [applause]

Some of you mentioned the environment. The amount of resources poured into weapons could truly reverse environmental trends, if we still have time. Those resources could be used to stop the expansion of the deserts, measures could be taken to prevent global warming, effective measures could be taken to stop acid rain, a program could be adopted to preserve the ozone layer, and other looming natural disasters could be prevented. Those resources could be poured into Third World economic development and worldwide social development. [applause]

Why do they insist on such a policy? These are today's realities. Speculative capital and investments are growing. These are not productive investments. They are beginning to cause catastrophes in certain countries. There was great panic in Europe over the last few days, following the drop in the value of the dollar and other currencies. No resources will be poured into development as long as these problems exist.

There is no mention of democratizing the United Nations or of the right to veto resolutions. There are almost 200 countries in the world. The General Assembly adopts accords, yet no one complies with them. One country can vote down the will of all the world's nations. The Security Council does not have a proportional regional representation. The United Nations is not becoming more democratic. There is even talk now about an Economic and Social Council with powers beyond the control of UN bodies.

There is no mention of the people's self-determination. There is no mention of national sovereignty. [passage indistinct]

We have built hospitals, schools, daycare centers. How can they tell us that it is possible to preach neoliberalism and social development at the same time? [applause]

Generally speaking, these are the major disparities between the commitment to social development and the realities of today's world. I jokingly told one of my colleagues that we will some day be accused of having been the greatest dreamers this century ever saw.

We must study the sugar-coated documents and consider each of the resolutions a pennant. We must think about it in terms of a poster bearing the resolutions of the Copenhagen summit, the Copenhagen declaration, the summit action plan. We will all sign the action plan tomorrow, despite these weaknesses and pitfalls. We will demand an end to poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, and insecurity. The ideas contained therein ought to benefit the peoples. We must demand this and demand they be fulfilled rather than forgotten. The world has the technology and resources to save itself, but these resources and technologies must be used to benefit the peoples. [applause]

The importance of these conferences -- the Earth Summit, the upcoming women's summit, and the social development summit -- lies in the awareness that they generate. It is quite rare for all of these governments to get together to discuss social development. There was a time when anyone who dared raise these issues was considered a communist. [applause]

If this summit had taken place 10 years ago, they would have said that a bunch of communists was meeting in Copenhagen to protest unemployment, poverty, and hunger. [applause]

This shows that fair and noble ideas are gaining ground despite today's realities. There is no need to expound on our accomplishments or on what we have been able to preserve despite the harsh conditions of the special period, under an ever more cruel blockade imposed on us. Not one Cuban teacher was laid off after the Socialist bloc and the USSR disappeared and we lost 70 percent of our markets and more than 70 percent of our imports. [applause]

On the contrary, we have more teachers. Not one doctor has been laid off. We turn out more and more doctors every day. Not one hospital, or school, or daycare center has been closed. Not one citizen has been forsaken, despite the fact that we are a poor country and are experiencing exceptional conditions. You cannot imagine the full impact of the blockade, the effort required to do anything and to foster Cuba's development. Yet, we have not taken any of those measures. We may have little, but what we do have is shared in all fairness. How different would the world be if everything it has or might have were shared in all fairness? [applause]

Why is Cuba blockaded? What country has done more for its people than Cuba? [applause]

It has done quite a bit for other peoples, too. The Revolution has sent teachers, doctors, and workers to many Third World countries without ever charging a cent. [applause]

Cuba shed its own blood fighting colonialism, apartheid, and fascism. We hardly ever hear mention of this. [applause]

The Revolution created a sense of solidarity not only with its own compatriots but also with other peoples of the world. [applause]

A total of 25,000 Third World students were on Cuban scholarship at one point. [applause]

Thousands of students from Africa and other nations continue to study in Cuba. Keep in mind that Cuba has also treated more children from Chernobyl -- more than 13,000 -- than all other countries combined. Keep that number in mind: More than 13,000 children from Chernobyl have been and are still being treated in Cuba despite our terrible difficulties. No one mentions that.

And Cuba deserves to be blockaded? Cuba has the highest number of teachers per capita in the world, including the developed countries. [applause]

Cuba has the highest number of doctors per capita in the world. There is one doctor -- a truly good doctor -- for every 214 people. [applause]

Cuba has the highest number of art teachers and sports instructors per capita in the world. This shows the effort being made. The Cuban infant mortality is less than 10 -- that is, below the average of developed countries -- despite the blockade. [applause]

Our life expectancy is more than 75 years. Why blockade Cuba? Why commit such a crime against Cuba? No one blockaded apartheid South Africa. [applause]

No one blockaded Pinochet's Chile. [applause]

No one blockaded Guatemala, where more than 100,000 people have vanished since the United States invaded during the Arbenz period. No one blockaded Argentina when the military regime did away with approximately 30,000 people...[pauses] no one knows the exact number. No one blockaded other genocidal governments. Why blockade Cuba, when no other country has done more for its people? Why harbor such hate for the ideas Cuba advocates? So much hate is being directed at Cuba and the resistance it has mustered. [applause]

International solidarity is priceless. It is hard to imagine a ceremony like this, with so many people gathered in Denmark -- in this northern realm, in Copenhagen -- in so much friendship and solidarity. [applause]

It was not just the hard currency or dollars that we had that allowed us to send a number of delegates from nongovernmental organizations and correspondents to the summit: Thanks to you, they can stay in your homes rather than hotels, eat at your tables, and receive your support. [applause]

We will never forget this. This shows that there is something out there that is more valuable than money. This must be stressed in today's world, a world that prefers to eat money, wear money, and bathe in money. It is important that we be able to say that there are things in this world -- where money is everything -- that are much more valuable than money: peoples' souls, peoples' hearts, peoples' honor. [applause]

Your support will boost the drive and strength of those of us who struggle tirelessly across the sea. You are living proof that there is a better world out there and that it is possible to live in that better world. [applause]

You are proof that virtue cannot be torn from the human heart and that mankind thrives on virtue. You have demonstrated this not just in ceremonies like this: We also know that for almost 30 years, Nordic brigades have visited, worked, and shared in our sacrifices, efforts, and hopes in Cuba. You have demonstrated to us and to those who believe that we are alone and isolated that we are not alone or isolated and that there are many people like you worldwide...[pauses as crowd applauds] people who boost our commitment, who boost our fighting spirit, and who boost our hopes. The hopes of all good men and women in the world will grow. Doubt not that we will build a better world. [applause]

Thank you, very much. [crowd applauds and chants in Danish]

I noticed that dear Comrade Mandela was very upset during our meeting this morning. He was afraid that he would get caught up in his many appointments and miss this gathering. I was worried about appearing here alone. You were more interested in seeing Mandela. [crowd shouts: No!]

I was worried about appearing here alone. I know that he was upset about missing this meeting and that he feels great affection and love for you and infinite gratitude for all the solidarity you have shown all these years. I would have liked to have shared this moment with him. We are sharing feelings and friendship.

He faces a terribly difficult task. He is discharging his duties with great wisdom, intelligence, and perfection. He is tackling difficulties following the great victory over apartheid. He must maintain unity for there are many factors at play. That is his great commitment. I saw during my trip to South Africa to attend his inauguration the great burden upon his shoulders, the great accumulated poverty which cannot be solved overnight. South Africa has great natural resources and, thanks to his wisdom, could make great progress in the future. We are aware of all the difficulties he must overcome.

I remember chatting with the hotel manager in the hotel dining room on the last day of my stay in South Africa, a German who owned businesses in Chile for many years and spoke perfect Spanish. He mentioned something I had never heard before during our discussion on his staff: White and black workers are not paid the same. A white cook is paid one wage, while a black cook is paid a different wage. I never imagined that apartheid had reached such extremes. I asked him how he managed to keep workers. He answered that he had certain deference toward the workers and that when a relative of the black worker dies, he presents him with some gifts, animals for the funeral rites. I was aware of apartheid and discrimination, but I had no idea of its true scope. Two men hold the same post, yet are not paid the same.

The ANC would have liked to quickly eliminate that problem, but it is impossible to do that overnight. They must carry out their social development program slowly in an effort to prevent chaos nationwide. His plan includes important social development programs. I can affirm that the South African revolutionaries are truly patriotic, combative, and intelligent. I am not speaking on behalf of Mandela, because I really never got a chance to speak with him.

At the last minute...[pauses] They wanted a group photo of all the visiting leaders, a gathering of this large collection of heads of state and government. They said they could print posters if we wanted. If any of the measures are fulfilled, then....[pauses] However, they did not allow the translators to participate. My English is not up to par, although I studied it as a kid and knew basic English and grammar and all that. While the blockade has been unable to stop the Cuban Revolution, it seems to have finished off my English. [applause]

I was unable to talk with Mandela. I wanted to ask his permission to relay a message to you from him. They suddenly snapped this prehistoric-like picture, prehistoric-like because the camera reminded me of the kind you would see in my grandparents' day. We were told to smile, and then the camera went bang! I do not know who came up with that technology. They bunched us together and told us -- I understood this much -- 12 times, with six seconds in between shots, or something like that. Then, bang! It was a bit strange. Who can smile for six seconds straight? Then, again and again.

When it was over, they took us to....[pauses] One of the good things about these summits is that they make us experience things like we were one of the masses. We become one of the masses and, as such, are taken here and there. We do not even have union rights. Mandela was suddenly gone. I was unable to see him again; therefore, I cannot relay a message from him. I would have done so with pleasure. [applause]