CUBA
 
 

STATEMENT 

BY 

H.E. MR. FELIPE PEREZ ROQUE
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA

AT THE 
WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA 
3 SEPTEMBER 2002

Excellencies:

Unavoidable obligations within the country, derived from a colossal effort aimed at the social development of our people - particularly in the fields of education, culture, health and science - to multiply its capacity to cope with the blockade and the effects of the international economic crisis, preserve the Revolution and ensure its independence amid pugnacious policies, threats and risks, have prevented our President from traveling to Johannesburg this time.

Ten years ago, President Fidel Castro highlighted ideas such as these:

"An important biological species is in danger of disappearing due to the fast and progressive destruction of its natural living conditions: humankind.
stop it.
"[ ... ] We have become aware of this problem when it is almost too late to
"[ ... ] Consumer societies are fundamentally responsible for the brutal destruction of the environment.
"The solution cannot be to prevent the development of those who need it most [... ].
"If we want to save humankind from that self-destruction, we have to better distribute the wealth and technologies available on the planet. Less luxury and less waste by a few countries is needed so there is less poverty and less hunger on a large part of the Earth.
"Let us pay the ecological debt and not the foreign debt.
"Let hunger disappear and not humankind.
"Now that the alleged threat of communism has disappeared and there are no longer any more excuses for cold wars, arms races and military spending, what is blocking the immediate use of these resources to promote the development of the Third World and fight the threat of the ecological destruction of the planet? "

After ten years of new follies and more squandering for some - the minority - and more impoverishment, diseases and death for others - the overwhelming majority - those words echo in this hall on the conscience of quite a few. His questions are still unanswered.

However, it is fitting to pose three new questions:

The first: what results have we achieved from the Rio Summit up to now?

Almost none. A decade later things have not improved. On the contrary.

The environment is more threatened than ever.

While the Kyoto Protocol capsizes as a victim of an overbearing boycott, the emissions of carbon dioxide - far from diminishing - have increased by 9%; and in the country that causes the most pollution there has been a rise of 18%! The seas and rivers are today more poisoned than in 1992; the air is more polluted; 15 million hectares of forests are decimated every year: almost four times the size of Switzerland. The way of life in developed countries, that are the main predators, is as unsustainable as in the rest. The North pollutes by squandering, the South pollutes not to die.

A large portion of the population on the planet lives in critical conditions.

Evidence of the foregoing is found in the fact that there are 815 million hungry people, 1.2 billion people in abject poverty, 854 million illiterate adults and 2.4 billion people without basic sanitation. More evidence reveals 40 million human beings sick or having contracted the AIDS virus and that 2 million people die of tuberculosis and 1 million of malaria every year. Some 11 million children under 5 years of age will die this year of preventable causes - which in addition to being one more piece of evidence is also a crime.

The world is more unfair and unequal than ten years ago.

The gap has widened instead of decreasing. The difference in income between the richest and the poorest countries was 37 times in 1960, around 60 when we met in Rio - and it now stands at 74 times.

Second question: who is responsible for the current state of affairs?

First and foremost, the economic and political order imposed on the world by the powerful. It is not only profoundly unfair, but also unsustainable. It was left behind by colonialism and has resulted from imperialism; it continues to favor the handful of countries that attained development at the hard and painful expense of the overwhelming majority of the peoples on the planet. Its international financial institutions and the International Monetary Fund in particular. These serve the interests of the governments of a few developed countries, predominantly those of the most powerful among them, those of several hundreds of transnational companies and those of a group of politicians whose electoral campaigns have been financed by such companies. In order to defend those illegitimate and minority interests, most of the world population is subjected to poverty and hopelessness.

The International Monetary Fund - a public institution created on the basis of the explicit recognition of the role of the States and that the market could not solve the problems - has paradoxically been the main instrument for the imposition of neoliberalism on a globalized world. While the poor countries - the majority - had to accept the infamous Washington Consensus, the rich and developed - the minority - have afforded to breach it. They have not opened up their economies and have failed to eliminate subsidies.

Underdeveloped countries - the main victims of this new lost decade - have not been able to fight together to defend our rights, they have also failed to become allies of the millions of workers, non-governmental organizations and intellectuals that in developed countries are also demanding a profound change.

Third question: what should we do?

Two things are missing today: political will and access to financial resources.

Assuming that the political will arises, as a result of this Summit and of the notion that time is running out and that if this new Titanic sinks we will all perish, then the issue at hand is to seek the resources enabling our countries to procure fresh and stable financing on a concessional and non-conditional basis.

Cuba proposes that such funding be obtained from:
 

  • Putting in place a development tax of barely 0.1% on international financial transactions. Such action would generate resources amounting to nearly US$ 400 billion per annum, which could change the current situation if well managed by the UN and its system of institutions.

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  • Immediately canceling the foreign debt of underdeveloped countries, whose total amount has already been paid more than once. That would prevent our countries from setting aside in debt service payment no less than US$ 330 billion per annum, a fourth of our earnings through the export of goods and services.

  •  
  • Agreeing, as an immediate step, that 50% of what is currently earmarked for military spending be channeled to a fund available to the UN for sustainable development. That would instantly raise nearly US$ 400 billion - half of which would be contributed by a single country, the mightiest and richest, and also the one ultimately responsible for, the decimation of the environment.

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  • Guaranteeing prompt compliance by developed countries with their commitment of setting aside 0.7% of GNP as ODA. That would increase their contribution from US$ 53 billion in 2000 to nearly US$ 170 billion in 2003.


These are just some ideas. If we add to them the establishment of a new international financial architecture - including the demolition of the current IMF and its replacement with an international public institution serving everyone's interests - the development of a fair and equitable trading system that guarantees special and differentiated treatment for underdeveloped countries and the strengthening of multilateralism and the role of the United Nations Organization on the basis of full respect for its Charter, we could then say that this Summit has been worthwhile.

Thank you very much.