(On behalf of the Group of 77 and China)



His Excellency Mr. Hugo Chávez Frías
President of the Republic of Venezuela

at the 
International Conference on Financing for Development

Monterrey, Mexico 
21st March 2002

One of the most distinguished people of Monterrey and one of the greatest humanists of America was undoubtedly the poet Alfonso Reyes, who wrote his romance of Monterrey in 1911 in the midst of the turbulent Mexican Revolution and almost at the same time that Francisco Madero and Pancho Villa went through Monterrey with their troops and dreams. In the distinguished romance of Monterrey the poet wrote a verse that I want to cite here today, perhaps having been motivated by our friend and brother, President Fox, when he referred to the spirit of Monterrey almost a century later.

“Monterrey of the mountains, 
You who are level with the river, 
I do not know why you do not raise a cry to God 
to correct the situation and strengthen sense, 
and tell nature to straighten what is twisted.”

That is what the poet said. From this rostrum, having the privilege and the honour of addressing all the peoples of the world, I ask all leaders and representatives present to raise a cry to God so that, as Alfonso Reyes said, we will strengthen sense and straighten what is twisted.

That is the first idea that I want to express here in my capacity as Chairman of the Group of 77 and China and particularly on behalf of the poor of the planet - not just on behalf of the 1.5 billion absolute poor of the Third and Fourth Worlds, but also of the over 200 million who live in the First and Second Worlds. Many of them are aware of this summit meeting, although I am sure that the majority do not even know we are here. But their fates and lives depend to a large extent on what we have begun to debate here today.

The first idea has to do with the need for us all to acknowledge, not only on paper or through the written or spoken word, but in the deepest part of our consciences, that the world is not only twisted; I would say, along with Eduardo Galeano, that the world is upside down. In addition to the cry of God and the cry to God, the leaders of the world meeting here can and must do a great deal to straighten it out.

The second idea has to do with precisely that. We must do, not just say what we are going to do. What better scenario is there than this, with the presence of leaders and Heads of State or Government of the world, to make real decisions to transform the world, to save the world, because the world as it is, in my judgement, is not viable in the long term. We are destroying the world.

We have many poor examples of what we have said and have written and of what we have not done. There was the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro ten years ago, in 1992. An evaluation made in recent years shows that from that Summit to date we have continued to destroy tropical forests and the once-fertile soil which is now desert. Over 250,000 plant and animal species have become extinct. They were extinguished. The environment continues to be polluted. The climate is experiencing the most atrocious changes that have occurred in the past 10,000 years, as has been acknowledged by scientists. The Millennium Summit was a year and a half ago. We made a Declaration. We should wonder a year and a half later what have we done to begin to fulfil those noble challenges that we set ourselves to achieve by 2015, to reduce poverty by one-half and to see to it that all boys and girls receive free education and the right to life and health. Have we taken any crucial decisions over the last year and a half? We have not seen them anywhere. Real decisions that change the world have not yet been made.

Regarding the third idea on Financing for Development, what type of development are we talking about? We must define that. The Johannesburg Summit to be held in a few months’ time will be timely, because the development model of the North very often has been the cause of the underdevelopment of the South. It has been shown in some cases that if the entire world acquired the standard of living of the most developed countries of the world, 10 planets similar to the Earth would be necessary to sustain life on the planet. So we should define well where we are going, what kind of development we are talking about and what we are going to finance and develop.

Of course, the United Nations has been guiding development. The United Nations Development Programme is a wonderful instrument. We recommend that Heads of State or Government follow it carefully. Certainly that is the development that we must finance with urgency. We must address human development with urgency. As we all know, the United Nations Development Agency has established three basic variables for human development: first, life expectancy and health; second, education, school enrolment and quality of education; and third, the level of real family income. These are three variables on which we have to work very hard today, not tomorrow. They continue to deteriorate.

The fourth idea I want to place on the record is a question. What are we going to do? There are some very positive ideas in the Monterrey Consensus, but I think that we have to give them time and space. We have to begin with the highest priorities, the most pressing items. At the Millennium Summit and the Americas Summit, Venezuela made a proposal to declare a social emergency. We referred to America, but I think it applies to the world. We must recognize that the world is experiencing a very serious social emergency, we must declare that and we must act accordingly. I would like to propose that while the International Monetary Fund exists, it is not the tool necessary for the struggle of the lives of billions of people. No, it was not created for that.

I propose that we discuss with urgency the creation of new tools. Why not consider an international humanitarian fund? We would only change a few words - Monetary to Humanitarian. How would we nourish that international humanitarian fund right now? A percentage of foreign debt? We are not talking about debt relief. That is like treating a mortal illness with paper towels for the peoples of the planet. Of the foreign debt of the developing world, of the world of the poor, 10 per cent could be targeted right now at saving billions of lives; 10 per cent of the world’s military expenditure would save billions of people. If tanks, smart bombs and aeroplanes were no longer built, I think that we would save many lives immediately. A percentage of drug traffic confiscation, international corruption and, something very important that has been debated but has never been decided, a world tax on speculative transactions and tax havens could also be used. But it is time to make decisions, not just talk. We must act. We have an emergency in the world.

I will not speak at great length. I will just recognize the effort of the Group of 77 and China after lengthy deliberations to reach a consensus, which we have brought here. But behind that consensus, there are truths. Consensus cannot be absolute. Absolute consensus does not exist. It is impossible. There are a few important ideas. Every country is asked to take the national initiative of mobilizing resources for development; that is true, relatively speaking. There is a set of countries in the world where 500 million people live that do not have the ability to mobilize a cent for development. That is true. 

However, the mobilization of international resources has been requested – that is the second item of this Conference and Consensus. We must change how we mobilize international resources. We have to change the terms of conditions. For example, the President of the International Monetary Fund says that it is reviewing its structures. We welcome that. The structural packages of the International Monetary Fund have often been mortal poison for our peoples. The so-called structural adjustments have caused rebellions, coups d’etat, wars, uncertainty and death for the peoples of the third and fourth worlds. We must review that urgently. We must treat countries in accordance with their degree of development or underdevelopment.

President Fox says that my time is up. I will end in a minute, but the Presidents of the international financial institutions also ran over their time, did they not? They talked a lot. I think we heads of State have much to say here. I am sorry to answer you, Mr. President, in that way, but I have come to talk on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. We have much to say, but I will finish in a minute. I promise. I ask for a cry to God.

On international trade, how long will the first world continue to subsidize its agriculture? The agricultural subsidy in the first world is billions of dollars a day, and it demands that we subsidize ourselves. That is not just unfair; it is immoral. We also need a new ethical architecture in the world. How can what is not done be demanded and what is not done be claimed? The world of the South demands that the subsidies for production in the First World end.

Finally, we will comply with the 0.7 per cent target of the gross domestic product agreed to more than 30 years ago, which would give us approximately $200 billion; enough resources for human development. The same applies to foreign debt. Truly, many peoples of the world cannot pay their foreign debt. In three years Venezuela has paid $13 billion, despite our poverty and our disaster. We are paying the debt, and we are responsible for it, but the same is not true for many other peoples of the world. In the past few years, the South has paid $800 billion in interest to the North and has paid another $800 billion in capital. The debt continues to be the same. It does not decrease. If anything, it increases. Debt is a strange monster. We continue paying. It does not decrease; it continues to grow.

I bring all these ideas on behalf of the peoples of the South, which has been my privilege to voice. I give voice to criticism to find consensus on differences and to move on with the spirit of Monterrey, the spirit of Mexico, the spirit of justice and the spirit of Simon Bolivar. Let justice triumph, and freedom will triumph.

* The text of this statement has been transcribed from audio recordings as the original was not submitted to the Secretariat.

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