Speech By Cuban President Fidel Castro

Wednesday, September 2, 1998

The President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, Mr. Vice President, President of the Inaugural Session, Heads of State and Government, Distinguished Delegates and Guests:

To endure the global struggle between the superpowers is bad. To live under total hegemonic domination by one of them is worse. Let us speak frankly.

It is not possible to resign oneself to a world order whose highest principals and objectives embody a system that colonized, enslaved and plundered us for decades. There is no swan-song, no close of history, no end to the struggle of this movement of non-aligned countries -- the group of peoples that during the Cold War fought, supported and defended the interests and just causes of Third World nations in the struggle for national liberation.

We do not have to ask permission or seek excuses from anyone to exist and to continue the struggle. Even the United States vehemently sought to be included in this summit as an observer. This way, the great emperor can see how its modest subjects behave.

The United Nations needs to be reformed and democratized. The dictatorship of the Security Council needs to end. The General Assembly needs to recognize its rights and bring together representatives from every country in the world. The Council should be enlarged in proportion to the current number of countries. Its permanent members should be doubled, even tripled if necessary.

Why the limitation on one representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, one for Asia and one for Africa? Whose idea was that? Who accepted it? Why not two or three representatives from each of these regions that together constitute the vast majority of the United Nations? If Western Europe has two members, why do more than four billion people of the Third World not have even one?

The right to veto should disappear. Moreover, it should be impossible and unacceptable to have members of two different categories. If they are not going to rotate, they will only exist to deceive, confuse, divide and diminish the qualifications of new members. Everyone should have the same rights.

The International Monetary Fund should also be transformed and democratized. It needs to cease being an overall political destabilizing agent and a financial gendarme in the interests of the United States. Nobody should have the power to veto its decisions. This applies to the World Bank as well.

The World Trade Organization, in which we are a majority, cannot be converted into a medium of deceit and division by using it as a tool to impose cruel, global neo-liberalism on the world. Nor can it be a party to a binding multilateral accord on investment which is a creation of the Organization for Development and Cooperation in Europe -- an exclusive club for the rich in which none of our countries participate but who are, nevertheless, forced to jump onto the bandwagon or be left out with numerous consequences. Freedom of movement should not only apply to capital and commodities but above all to human beings.

No more bloodied walls along the border between the USA and Mexico that costs hundreds of lives each year! End the persecution of immigrants and the accompanying xenophobia! Stop the hypocritical cries of protest when other nations attempt to build nuclear arms while your privileged nuclear capability becomes more and more potent, precise and deadly! This only stimulates interminable proliferation that will never truly lead to total nuclear disarmament.

The arms race has not slowed for one second -- not so much in volume as in quality. It serves only to guarantee the privileges of the new order and is a source of profitable and dishonest business. Armaments are increasingly more expensive. Developing nations ruin themselves and kill each other with them. Trafficking in arms is worse than trafficking in drugs.

Neo-liberal globalization is rapidly destroying our natural environment, poisoning our air and water, deforesting our lands, eroding our soils into wasteland, squandering our natural resources, changing our climate. How and with what shall 10 billion human beings live? International development aid is decreasing. The average Gross Domestic Product of 0.7 percent will never be reached and has dropped to an average of 0.25 percent. In the richest country on earth -- and we all know who that is -- it now stands at 0.2 percent.

They think of us as a huge, free trade zone filled with low paid workers where no taxes are paid to provide for children, the elderly and sick.

That fact that the population of Africa is left with AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy and dozens of old and new diseases is not an issue for the multi-nationals or the blind eyes of the world markets. Extracting oil, gold, diamonds, platinum, copper, bronze, uranium and other valuable resources are more important.

The unipolar world and its accompanying world order are wiping out sovereignty and independence. Interventions multiply. Terrorism -- which kills and wounds innocent people -- becomes a pretext for world powers to put into practice their own form of terrorism in dozens of countries in Latin America, Asia and America, including Cuba. Launching missiles in all directions without taking into consideration the innocent people who die or the legal ramifications, other than their own all-embracing will.

The world is becoming a Western in the style of old Hollywood movies. Such reprisals have neither moral nor legal justification. This is not the way to fight terrorism. On the contrary, terrorism is encouraged by such brutal actions. Only a universal awareness of the common struggles of the people can eradicate it.

End the economic blockades against other countries! Depriving millions of food, medicine, and other ways of life are terrorist acts of extreme cruelty and true genocide. Such acts must be considered war crimes and should be sanctioned by international tribunals.

End the abuses against the long-suffering Palestinian people and offer them the possibility of peace! Comply with the previously agreed peace accords and return to the Arab peoples the territories taken away from them! End the double standard on international questions! End hunger and poverty in the world! End the lack of teachers and schools, of doctors and hospitals! End the interminable pillage of foreign debt which, as more interest is paid more debt accrues, blocking our very development.

End unequal exchange such as that used by the Conquistadors when they bought gold from the Indians with mirrors and European trinkets! Pay up on the debt which those who exploited us for so many centuries have accumulated! End the policy of inundating the peoples of the world with the unsustainable life-styles of consumer society! End the destruction of our national identities and our cultures!

Many things must end but, first of all, disunity among us must end. As must the ethnic wars and conflicts among our peoples who are called upon to struggle for their development and right to survive and take their rightful place in tomorrow's world.

And someday, we won't distinguish between ethnic origins, we won't espouse national chauvinism, nor borders, nor rivers, seas, oceans, distances. We will be above that -- all human beings called upon to live in a world inevitably globalized -- truly just, filled with solidarity and peace.

We must struggle to achieve that day.

Thank you very much.