Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-96-117 Daily Report 14 Jun 1996 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Cuba: Fidel Castro Addresses Istanbul Conference

PA1506171496 Havana Radio Rebelde Network in Spanish, 1700 GMT 14 Jun 96 PA1506171496 Havana Radio Rebelde Network Spanish BFN [Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at the UN Habitat Two Conference in Istanbul, Turkey; date not given; from the "National Radio News" newscast -- recorded]

[FBIS Translated Text] Mr. President and distinguished conference participants. Our problems are not the prestigious philosophers who lived in these regions. In contrast to the hundreds of thousands of years it took human species to reach only [words indistinct] million inhabitants, human species grew six times during this century. In five or six years we will surpass the 6 billion mark. This colossal demographic explosion has not taken place in a fair world but was preceded by centuries of colonialism, slavery, and economic exploitation. [Words indistinct] and others had nothing. The blood and sweat of those exploited served to create what today is called a consumer society, which is an insult to the four-fifths of the population who are the hungry and poor.

Medicine was able to save lives; politics and economy were not able to feed anyone or offer a decent livelihood. Those who have practically destroyed the planet and poisoned the air, the seas, and the land, are today the ones who are the least interested in saving humankind. How many developed countries' heads of state or government are attending this meeting today? Disillusionment is rampant in Third World countries; they are losing faith. Such vital problems discussed by the United Nations, such as the environment and social development, received other, but formal, responses.

Domestic and foreign migratory movements have their origin in this same unequal and unfair development, both inside and outside countries. How can we understand this? Nothing to do with human settlements and their possible solutions can be understood.

Today, much is said about global economy and technological advances. What good does all this do to solve man's problems if rich countries become richer and richer while poor countries become poorer and poorer? What resources will we have to give education, health, food, housing, and employment, not only to those now living in the world, but to the approximately 100 million new human beings every year? If developed capitalist countries themselves suffer from increasing unemployment, even with the industrial reconversion and technological revolution, what is left for us, the world's forgotten?

At this conference of human settlements we spoke basically of the cities. But we cannot forget the rural areas where food should be produced and where we have allowed the creation of settlements that are unfit for man, which have become more and more abandoned every day.

The unfair trade that takes place between the countryside and the cities is similar to the unfair trade that goes on between poor and rich countries. Desperate people from the countryside emigrate to the cities to live in slums, in depressing neighborhoods.

In Latin America, in just a bit over two decades, 85 percent of the population will live in overcrowded cities.

How are the people of Latin American and the Caribbean going to resolve the terrible problems that this alarming perspective represents? Where will we find the water fountains we need? How will we be able to guarantee the necessary food? What jobs can we offer to hundreds of millions of people? What kind of education will we be able to offer to these legions of human beings? What will be the standard of living of the vast masses? What [words indistinct] can we guarantee them?

How can we stop an irreversible deterioration of the environment? How can we control in huge cities the wild increase of crime, of drugs, the exploitation of children, and the moral collapse of society?

For how long will poverty, lack of health, death, hunger, and exploitation be allowed to exist in the big cities? Don't governments care about this? Does the state want to think it has no responsibility in the finding of a solution to these problems? Is it fair to think that housing is not an essential right of humankind?

Cuba joins those representatives of government and nongovernment institutions, who, in this conference, have defended the most correct positions and have expressed the most evident truth. It cannot be said that there are not enough funds. How could that be so, knowing that after the end of the so-called cold war, trillions are being spent on weapons and military activities, and that the industry of weapons has grown? How can these lies be told to humankind?

We must vigorously proclaim that we have the right to breath pure air, to drink uncontaminated water, to have a decent job, to eat healthy food, to receive an education, to receive medical attention, and to be less poor when others are becoming increasingly reach.

We must proclaim that we are not people who live in jungles because there are not even jungles any more.

It is fair that all families should have a decent domicile and that this be considered a universal right of man.

We have the right to live in peace and with honor, the right to be allowed to work for our people. Unjust and criminal economic blockades must not be condoned. We must not be exploited, looted, disdained, or treated with sickening xenophobia.

We will continue meeting, we will continue struggling, we will continue telling the world our truth. After all, we are the world and the world cannot have a master and does not stand for suicidal policies, and it cannot accept that an egotistical, crazy, and irresponsible minority lead us to extermination.

Thank you.