Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-95-050 Daily Report 14 Mar 1995 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Fidel Castro's UNESCO Address in Paris

FL1403232695 Havana Cuba Vision Network in Spanish 0100 GMT 14 Mar 95 FL1403232695 Havana Cuba Vision Network Spanish BFN [Address by President Fidel Castro to UNESCO, in Paris, on 13 March; Castro appears on video, dressed in a coat and tie instead of his traditional military uniform; from the "NTV" newscast -- recorded]

[FBIS Translated Text] My dear friend, UNESCO Director General Federico Mayor...[pauses] I was going to say ambassadors and ladies and gentlemen but believe it better to say dear friends and companions in the struggle, considering the battle we waged this afternoon. Not since the battle of Verdun has there been a struggle to advance a few meters and reach this hall. However, I fear that I may be deceiving you. Why? First, my address is prepared -- that is, the ideas I want to share with you are already on paper. Second, this address is a bit long for my taste...[pauses while crowd laughs] even though it is true that I have a reputation for delivering long addresses. I first did so at the United Nations. I was still green, the Revolution had just come to power, and I was filled with the rebel spirit. Although I stood there and spoke for two hours, the amazing thing is that they did not throw me out.

I spent all my energy drafting a six-minute address for the social development summit in Copenhagen. I have no energy left. The director general invited me to this very important event. The atmosphere was truly unreal. Some very positive things came out of Copenhagen, specifically documents, declarations, action plans, and promises. Of course, the texts say so much about today's problems. I mentioned a few of them.

All these documents reflect the disparity between what we want to do and today's reality. The heads of state and government spoke of poverty, unemployment, hunger, illiteracy, health care needs, and so on and so forth.

I truly recommend that everyone study and recall summit recommendations, resolutions, and other documents every time they have to draft developmental, cultural, and science budgets. It can be used as a pennant. While this does not mean that you will get the necessary funding, it will offer a strong case for receiving the necessary funds that should be allocated for that.

This is feasible. I began by quoting Calderon de la Barca, who said that everything in life was a dream and that dreams are but dreams. While this may have sounded pessimistic, I think I was being realistic. I believe that what was proposed at the summit can be achieved. I presented data and indexes on our own experience in Cuba, despite the fact that Cuba is a poor and developing country lacking extensive resources. I am fully convinced that we can develop socially in this world. I also said that this is feasible not only through the strength of individual countries but also through the strength and cooperation of all the countries of the world.

I will now read my prepared address to speed things up:

It is not easy for a small and besieged country to recount its own reality or to have the media -- due to its sophistication and reach, it has considerable influence on public opinion -- objectively reflect its reality. It is difficult -- yet essential and inexorable -- to fully experience all of the human dignity that is earned. Marti said: The first law of the Republic is to completely worship mankind's dignity. I repeat: to fully experience the dignity and nonnegotiable sovereignty that is earned.

The unipolar world in which we live tries to cheapen and standardize life -- as well as social and even individual behavior -- and impose models that are considered accepted and valid despite geographic borders, spiritual differences, diverse cultures, historic backgrounds, diverse philosophical and religious beliefs, and the hopes of nations and individuals.

The United Nations was established half a century ago. Today's world does not make us feel overly optimistic. We find ourselves on the threshold of the 21st Century, which should herald an era of peace among men, solidarity among nations, and greater prosperity for the poorest countries.

We face an economic, social, and ecological crisis unprecedented in mankind's history. The hopes for peace, stability, and cooperation aroused by the end of the Cold War and the end of the confrontation between the two superpowers that polarized the international scene following World War II are far from having been fulfilled. Only one major nation has been able to dominate the international scene since then.

By the way, is there a U.S. delegation here? Are they nearby? In the corner? In Paris? Or in Washington? I do not want to embarrass anyone by talking about a unipolar world.

The emergence of the unipolar world I mentioned earlier has not generated a more secure environment for the world's peoples but, instead, has created a situation in which we have one major nation exercising its hegemonic power without a counterbalance. We now have interventionism under the guise of multinational operations; small nations are left vulnerable; selfishness routinely characterizes international relations; and there is contempt for the principles of national sovereignty, equality among states, self-determination, nonintervention, and settling conflicts peacefully. An imperfect, yet preferable, balance was crushed.

Indiscriminate violence and internecine warfare wrack the world in which we live. Our era is one of brutal societal disintegration and mass emigration. Exploitation and the terrifying poverty of hundreds of millions of human beings whose hopes wither a little more each day mark our world.

There is no room for the naivete of those who believe that the world will end, considering the reality of the new international order. Mankind's history is synonymous with progress, and its ultimate goal is solidarity among men. Only those who view mankind's momentary setbacks with complacency and who want to replace solidarity with selfishness and the hegemonic spirit believe that the world will end. Yet, some are convinced that this is a transitional period. They are committed to upholding the pennants of human progress and brotherhood among men. On the contrary, these people believe that the world is far from ending. Although the period through which we are passing may be difficult, it is full of newer, richer, and even more promising experiences. While we certainly have reason to be hopeful, the peoples' essential worries have not abated. The danger of nuclear war has dissipated but not altogether disappeared. Although conditions today are more favorable for slowing the unbridled nuclear arms race, this process has yet to gain the needed strength. The major resources allocated to that end and the remaining mass means of destruction have yet to be channeled toward progress.

The hateful apartheid system has finally been defeated in South Africa, a moral and political victory of great importance in which Cuban blood was also shed. Yet, peace still eludes that continent. Poverty looms larger with each passing day. The hegemonic power's effort to establish itself as the world's policeman is just one of the great dangers of this unipolarity. We have already witnessed the consequences of such a development, particularly dangerous when it entreats the international community to join such operations in defense of imperial interests.

This trend must stop. Peacekeeping operations must not be used as vehicles for interventionism. They must count pacification among their interests. If we seek a world of peace and stability, we must democratize international relations and strictly respect the principles supporting the very spirit of the United Nations and UNESCO. A world of solidarity will never be born from intolerance, hegemonic aspirations, arrogance, and the political, social, and economic models being imposed as a universal straitjacket. The United Nations must truly help foster solidarity among nations and not promote the predominance of just some nations over the immense majority.

We will not accept the United Nations being used to impose a new colonial order. We will not accept the creation of new mechanisms, like ECOSOC [Economic and Social Council], that merely enhance the undemocratic workings of the system. We will not accept the granting of powers beyond those of major UN organs to the IMF, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. Democratizing the United Nations implies abolishing the Security Council's anachronistic veto privilege. We must also implement the principle of fair geographic representation in the Security Council, the standard for all other UN bodies. We must establish the practice of periodic elections of all its members without exception. We must also demand that the United Nations fulfills its responsibilities as stipulated in its Charter -- although ignored in practice -- and render account to the General Assembly. We must ensure that the Security Council does not intervene in matters that do not fall within its direct sphere of responsibility. We must end the practice of secret meetings without records or witnesses where the fate of the peoples is determined. We must end the arrogance of a few, unless we want the hopes for a world of justice and peace for all to go unfulfilled.

All the peoples of the world have been demanding peace for many years. Third World peace and development prospects have always been linked. Our peoples will develop only when there is peace. There will be no peace until development prospects are equal for all. This is why the end to threats of East-West confrontation is not good enough. We must work toward North-South peace and cooperation. Peace must be based on dignity. Cooperation must be based on equality and on respect for the sovereignty and self-determination of different nations, cooperation that does not discriminate between the big and the small and the poor and the rich. We must remember that one's cooperation is needed to further the development of others. It seems that the world is finally sitting up and taking notice following decades of warnings that economic growth does not necessarily imply social development and that the insane path that mankind has taken will lead it into a dead end alley of serious problems and a foregone ecological disaster.

We are getting closer and closer to the point of no return. The worldwide population explosion, increased poverty, and environmental decline must be addressed on an international scale. We either work to save everyone or face an end to everyone -- rich and poor.

Unforunately, instability, insecurity, and injustice characterize today's world economy. The world economy is broken down into great blocs that focus on themselves and on mutual relations, trade, investment, credits, and technology. The reality of today's world economy and the triumphant image that major developed countries create have nothing in common. The growth and stability of the economies of self-proclaimed purely neoliberal societies are unsatisfactory; on the other hand, unemployment and social decay are on the rise.

The effects of extreme poverty in many of these countries is more and more noticeable, in contrast with uncontrollable consumerist trends. These societies are responsible for most global environmental deterioration, primarily as a result of their absurd squandering of resources. This plays a part in the rising poverty levels.

The forests are disappearing, the deserts are expanding, the soil is less fertile, ocean resources are decreasing, rivers are poisoned, seas are polluted, the air is sickly, and weather patterns are altered. Environmental destruction and deterioration continues almost three years after an alarm was raised at the Rio summit, bringing mankind to the brink of a situation that many believe to be irreversible.

Third World countries are home to 75 percent of the world's population, yet only receive 16 percent of the world's gross domestic product and account for only 23 percent of world exports. This is 5 percent less than in 1980. We can now refer to them as underdeveloped rather than developing countries: This is truly a case of underdevelopment. The gap between these countries and the rich nations is growing. These countries face a progressive worsening of their difficulties and a drop in their actual prospect to gain access to development. This is the outcome of the pressing suggestions to open up to the world. They want to reduce the state's role to merely providing services for multinational enterprises and to rely on completely unregulated markets to solve all their problems. Basic products continue to generate about 50 percent of the Third World's export revenues. To 57 African and Latin American countries, this proportion [words indistinct].

The drop in the price of basic exports and the increase in the price of imports from developed countries are worsening as a result of the push created by the thorough commercial opening and the removal of market regulations used in the past -- and believed today to be harmful to market freedom -- as well as the implementation of broad protectionist programs aimed at closing the markets of developed countries or expelling Third World exports from them.

The current prices on basic products are only 57 percent of what they were 15 years ago. Meanwhile, the rhetoric of commercial freedom spreads worldwide. We face the scandalous rejection of neoliberalist principles of efficiency. For example, the agricultural subsidies of developed countries amounted to $321 billion in 1991, more than 2.5 times the amount of world exports of agricultural, fishing, and forestry products.

The media reports on Third World foreign debt far less than it used to. They believe that the problem is just about solved and relegate it to the past. This debt actually amounts to a phenomenal $1.526 trillion today. Debt servicing payments amount to more than 20 percent of revenue earned from the underdeveloped world's exports. The Third World has made debt servicing payments in 10 years alone that are equal to the debt it has yet to repay. Foreign debt remains a major obstacle to the development of these countries and threatens to return as a major destructive factor for the entire world economy.

Many are experiencing the terrible consequences of having introduced neoliberal formulas from the north into the Third World. Macroeconomic growth and empty figures do not conceal the hard reality of unemployment, poverty, and hunger. What meaning can concepts such as the globalization of the economy have for the billions of illiterate adults and for the 500 million children who do not have any schools? What can the neoliberal discourse do for the 1.2 billion people who live in poverty? The call to fierce competition leaves no room for human solidarity. What do the billions of starving people care? The selfish principle of each man for himself cannot do anything for the 180 million children who are seriously undernourished, for the 1.5 billion people who do not have access to basic health care. The extreme poverty of the Third World and its dire consequences are an affront to mankind as he approaches the new millennium. This tragic situation confirms that true social development calls for the fairer redistribution of income, the improvement of the quality of life, and the rational and balanced use of the environment. It also implies the prevalence of solidarity among men and nations and the peoples' right to development and to choose their own strategy to attain it.

The basic demands set out in the UN program for a new international economic order remain valid 20 years later. An equitable and rational international economic order allowing for the production and consumption of enough food for all of the planet's inhabitants, protecting against environmental deterioration, [words indistinct] greed and exploitation, as well as poverty and ignorance. This shameful contrast must end: The top 20 percent of the world's richest nations consume 85 percent of the world's resources, while the poorest 20 percent only get 1.4 percent. What is 0.7 percent of the gross product of the richest countries to the development of exploited and victimized nations? Is this being fulfilled? Is this enough? It is less likely today that enough aid will be available to meet Third World demands dating back to the 1970s.

Hope that the Cold War's end would make it easier to replenish the enormous resources wasted on the arms race has withered away. Everyone knows that these resources, invested in destruction and death, could actually meet the essential goals of social development and help preserve our planet. However, the Third World still awaits military spending cuts to have real impact on developmental aid levels.

Despite this very gloomy context, Cuba is pleased with UNESCO's efforts in the development of cooperation programs in the context of its sphere of responsibilities. This makes it possible to build close relations between the countries. Cuba is pleased to have participated with UNESCO in many educational, scientific, and cultural cooperation programs. Allow me to express Cuba's gratitude to UNESCO for remaining alert to our needs, our demands, and the Cuban people's efforts over a 30-year period. We can take pride in sharing that understanding and trust and can show the world the results.

In Cuba's case, the abrupt end to most of our international economic relations and the fierce blockade that the world's major power maintains against us compound our development problems today. This blockade is a brutal violation of an entire people's human rights and constitutes the most flagrant expression of intolerance. It runs counter to the ideals that the international community -- including UNESCO -- has advocated in this international year of tolerance. Despite all these difficulties, the poor nation of Cuba has shown that men can work to better mankind and that much can be achieved with enough willpower and social organization.

We have been able to help many Third World countries. We send them doctors to provide free service. As you all know, you can count on any doctor you could ever need being available. Your medical needs can always be met. Cuba has the greatest number of doctors per capita in the world, more than the United States, Canada, and many of the most highly developed countries.

Cuba has virtually wiped out illiteracy. The average Cuban has reached at least the ninth grade level. We have one teacher per 45 inhabitants and three students. [sentence as heard]

Cuba has the most teachers per capita. We continue to turn out teachers and doctors [words indistinct]. We still have universities. We have slowed the pace, but we have not [words indistinct]. Not one teacher or doctor is unemployed. Not one child is prevented from attending school or left without a teacher, despite our enormous needs. That is why I say that it is possible to achieve many things when there is a just distribution of goods and services. There is always enough for everyone, even if resources are limited.

We have one university graduate for every 15 workers and one midlevel technician for every eight. The truth is that this is almost out of hand. We can maintain this and even provide them with social protection, despite all our difficulties. Our universities, as well as our vocational schools, continue to turn out professionals. This cannot stop. We are not about to cease our efforts. The greatest development potential in tomorrow's world lies in training our people.

The medicinal needs of all children under 11 and 92 percent of children 12 to 14 are covered. Doctors visit the schools to treat the children. There are different factors [words indistinct].

Education, like all other basic social services, is freely available to every citizen. All of you know how costly a university education can be in some countries. It can be astronomical. In Cuba, social security covers 100 percent of the working population. This benefit is already enjoyed by more than 10 percent of the population, despite the criminal U.S. blockade that I already mentioned.

[Words indistinct] applied against apartheid. Everyone knows that they sold arms to South Africa, they provided refuge to the [words indistinct] the development of at least eight atomic bombs. When we were fighting alongside the Angolans and the [words indistinct] in Cuito Cuanavale [words indistinct] 52,000 Cuban fighters. This was a very high figure, but we could not make a real contribution with a small force from such a distance. In fact, the apartheid troops [words indistinct]. We deployed our troops despite concerns that they might deploy nuclear weapons. There were large concentrations of them deployed tactically, taking all the necessary measures. We, the Angolans, and the Namibians happened to clash with a country equipped with nuclear weapons.

[Words indistinct] the Argentine military government made 30,000 or 40,000 people disappear; in Guatemala, where the number of people who have gone missing since the mercenary intervention against the [word indistinct] government which was organized by the CIA reaches 100,000; nor in Chile, after the coup d'etat in which Salvador Allende was killed, was there a blockade on any collaboration [words indistinct]. What did Cuba do? Our opposition to the blockade aside, the fact of the matter is that the blockade is a criminal act. It cannot be justified under any circumstances -- even if the worst of all governments is in power -- because the people -- children, women, the elderly, the sick -- are the ones who suffer. The blockade should be eradicated as a weapon [words indistinct] it is used selectively.

A country that has done so much for its people and for other peoples...[pauses] More than 10,000 Cuban doctors have performed service abroad free of charge. We had 25,000 students from Third World countries on grants at one point, more than any other country. The aid we pulled together to help victims of the Chernobyl disaster proved much more than all other countries combined; in addition, our doctors treated 13,000 children who were at Chernobyl. This is hardly ever mentioned. Why should anyone mention it? I mention this to demonstrate [words indistinct] most inspired feelings of our policy. The other countries of the world combined did not treat 13,000. We continue to treat the children of Chernobyl despite the blockade.

We have worked with great altruism not only for our own people but also for others. We feel and experience their suffering. We know what is happening worldwide and in the Third World, in particular. Our relations with other nations improve with each step they take to isolate us even more. We have never understood this almost exclusive blockade of Cuba.

They could never forgive us for rebelling. Millions are being invested in the PRC -- which makes us happy -- and billions more in countries like the ROK. While they receive two, powerful, 2,000-megaton nuclear reactors, Cuba is not even allowed one aspirin. We have been refused everything, including treatments for tetanus. Why Cuba? What is it about us that makes us so different from other countries? We are working in many fields, research, etc. We are making efforts in biotechnology and medicine. Attempts have even been made to hamper this research effort. Why all these efforts against Cuba? Why so much hatred?

I think I already mentioned that 70 percent of our trade has been blocked. We face major difficulties. However, today I can count on the vast majority of Cuban citizens' unconditional support. A revolution with a weapon as powerful as this to resist a country as powerful and politically influential as the United States can overcome anything. The Cuban people have made considerable effort and considerable sacrifice. Many people believed that the Socialist bloc's collapse meant Cuba's end. However, we are still here. Cuba is here. The United States is unable to understand what has happened, even with all those computers on hand.

The attitude of the U.S. people and the U.S. press toward Cuba is improving. A total of 300 editorials were recently published on Cuban achievements in all fields, including education and science. Many intellectuals have spoken out against the blockade from which my country suffers today. We resist and will continue to do so, as resistance is the key to victory when the cause is just. Those who do not have a just cause cannot make headway and cannot remain on course for long.

There is no racial discrimination or sex discrimination in Cuba. The drug problem was eradicated long ago. We do not have a drug addiction problem. Figures on crime are among the lowest on the continent. No one has to sleep on the streets, and no one is left homeless. Every child is guaranteed a liter of milk, despite all of the difficulties.

In the midst of the difficult economic situation, we have launched an organized process of transformations and measures related to the operation of our economy in the search for a formula that allows us to achieve greater efficiency when implementing the prioritized tasks which we have set for our country -- that is, to preserve the levels of social protection which we have achieved, to increase production, and to attempt to replace imports. The firm steps we have taken have yielded positive results.

In 1994, we recorded the highest growth rate in recent years. [Words indistinct] productive sectors to which we can add measures to reestablish the balance of the internal finances. We stimulated the self-employment sector and cooperatized production establishments. We have also succeeded in attracting an increasing amount of foreign capital and in creating conditions for [words indistinct] as a source of capital in [words indistinct]. Scientific development efforts have reached unprecedented levels in our country. The results appear to be very promising today.

Cuba knows that its national identity and independence must be preserved. We are preserving our revolutionary soul. The Cuban people's sacrifices over 30 years of socialist revolution have yielded their fruit today. Jose Marti, who received many UNESCO tributes on the 100th anniversary of his death, stressed the importance of sovereignty to dignified men and women who would never renounce their liberty. Being educated and literate is the only way to be free, and what he said then shall never be forgotten.

Our country will never surrender. Why? We prefer to lose our lives rather than lose our fatherland. We are convinced, as Jose de la Luz y Caballero used to say, that until the stars themselves fall from the sky, until the vault of heaven collapses, if there is justice, we shall continue to live. Thank you. [applause]