Raul Castro Speech at Cancun Summit

HAVANA TIMES, Feb. 25 — Cuba supported the creation of a new political consensus mechanism between the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean without the tutelage of the United States or Canada.  The following is the complete speech by Cuban President Raul Castro pronounced in Cancun on February 23.

There is no reason why Latin America and the Caribbean should not have their own body of political consensus

Raul Castro at the Latin American and Caribbean Unity Summit in Cancun, Mexico on Feb. 23.

Most Honorable Señor Felipe Calderón, president of Mexico:

Esteemed presidents, prime ministers and heads of delegations:

I wish to begin with a fraternal message to the sister Mexican people, whose land gave shelter to many Latin American fighters, among them the initiators of the Cuban Revolution, and to whom we are linked by close ties of friendship.

Thank you for the warm hospitality with which you have received us.

Esteemed colleagues:

The decision that we have just adopted to create the Community pf Latin American and Caribbean States is of great historical significance.

Cuba considers that the conditions are present to rapidly advance toward the constitution of a purely Latin American and Caribbean regional organization, comprising and representing the 33 independent nations of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The majority of the world’s regions have their own organization, independently of the fact that some of their members belong to other subregional groupings or to bodies that cover more than one geographical area. There is no reason why Latin America and the Caribbean should not have their own body of political consensus, economic coordination and cooperation and integration.

There would be no sense in delaying that process. Let us be consistent with the disposition expressed at the Salvador de Bahía Summit.

The next summit, in Caracas in 2011, will be a propitious moment for concluding the preparatory work for the new organization and setting it in motion. In that context, we consider it advisable to undertake efforts to promptly define its statutes and modus operandi in such a way that these contain the collective interests in relation to the greater integration and unity of our region. It corresponds to Venezuela to preside over the preparatory labors, including the drafting of the documents.

Being an independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean is an essential condition for joining the new body, which must be characterized by respect for cultural diversity, for distinct geographic and economic dimensions, for the political system that each country adopts, for disparities in natural wealth, and for different levels of social development.

Cuba considers that the Declaration proposed on this theme is positive. It contains the necessary elements to open up a period of work and preparation. Our aspiration is that the constitutional document of the new body will be drawn up with efficiency and agility in order to be able to approve it at the next Summit.

Cuba will work with dedication to that effect.

I am profoundly grateful for the adoption of a special communiqué which demands an end to the unjust economic, commercial and financial blockade of my country by the United States, as well as the statements of solidarity made here by some of the speakers who have preceded me.

Poverty in Haiti is a product of colonialism and subsequent neocolonial domination. It was in that long-suffering nation that the first social revolution was produced, which made it, during that period, into the only independent territory of Latin America and the Caribbean. As we all know, it was moreover the sole victorious social revolution led by slaves in the history of humanity.

The response of the international community to the earthquake, and particularly of the Latin American and Caribbean countries, has been commendable. But, the major challenge begins now, when the press headlines abandon Haiti, the moment of emergency is over, and the supposed “threat” of a wave of emigration is diminishing. Aid in solidarity in the face of the disaster must not go down in history as a fleeting and sudden gesture of generous “charity.”

That sister country requires and deserves a major international effort for its reconstruction; altruism, and full respect for Haiti’s sovereignty and its government, and urgent, long-term determination, under the authority of the United Nations, with the sole presence of the MINUSTAH.

The solidarity of the Cuban people did not arrive in Haiti with the earthquake. It has been present there for more than a decade.

During that period, Cuban doctors have given 14 million consultations, performed 200,000 surgeries, attended 100,000 deliveries, and performed 45,000 ophthalmological operations.

A total of 165,000 Haitians learned how to read and write; 917 young people graduated at higher education levels, and 660 Haitians were studying on scholarships in Cuba.

At the moment of the disaster, more than 400 Cuban international cooperation workers were there. Our doctors immediately began to provide their services.

At the present time, 1,429 health collaborators are providing medical services on the ground there, including 406 Haitian resident physicians, interns and fifth-year medical students who were studying in Cuba; 224 doctors from 22 Latin American and Caribbean nations, and seven doctors from the United States who are graduates of the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba, all of whom comprise a large international contingent.

Venezuela, President Hugo Chávez — with his special sensibility and generosity — Cuba, and the other ALBA countries, are proposing to maintain and increase that effort and are prepared to cooperate with all nations — without exception — to help the Haitian people and government, based on what we have in terms of human resources, experience and the appropriate initial infrastructure on the ground.

I would like to share with you a Chinese proverb engraved in the Chapel of Humankind, created by the great Ecuadorian painter Oswaldo Guayasamín, which left a strong impression on me when I visited it last August during the investiture of our friend Rafael Correa. I quote: “I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a child who had no feet.”

This profound reflection made me think with pride of our people, of Martí, who taught us that “homeland is humanity.” I am also thinking of the Cuban Revolution in these 50 years of struggle, and of Fidel, who with his teachings, has educated us in the generosity and strength of solidarity.

I assure you that Cuban collaboration and its modest efforts will remain in Haiti for as many years as necessary, if the government of that nation so chooses. Our country, subjected to an ironclad blockade, has no surplus of resources; rather, it is lacking in everything, but it is disposed to share its poverty with those who have less; in the first place, with those on the continent who need it the most at this time.

Esteemed presidents and prime ministers:

Cuba, together with the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean, has always supported the just demand of the Republic of Argentina in relation to the Malvinas Islands and other territories in the vicinity. Now, we firmly back the legitimate right of that sister nation to the natural resources of its continental platform, and the demand for an end to foreign activities of hydrocarbon prospecting and exploitation. These actions, which have the authorization of the British government, entail serious violations of international law. The Argentine people will not lack our support in this noble struggle.

Cuba likewise supports the Ecuadorian government in its just claim against the Financial Action Task Force and its attempt to award itself the authority to qualify or disqualify sovereign governments without any basis whatsoever. It reminds us of the spurious U.S. Department of State lists of countries which allegedly sponsor terrorism.

Another issue that claims our attention is climate change, which constitutes the principal threat that humanity is confronting. What happened in Copenhagen was antidemocratic, lacking in transparency and imposed via an exclusive negotiations format which ignored the majority of the states party to the Convention.

Our country proposes to work with dedication and a constructive spirit in the process of preparing for the 16th Conference of the Parties, defending the position that this should be a transparent and inclusive negotiating process which gives rise to a broad and legally binding agreement.

Cuba sustains that we must safeguard the Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol; we must defend the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, and respect the negotiating mechanism stipulated in the Bali Road Map. We believe that the Latin American and Caribbean countries, despite our diverse characteristics, are committed to these principles and that we have the strength to defend them.

Thank you very much, Mr. President and other colleagues.

(Translated by Granma International)