What Raul Castro Told the Sustainable Development Summit

From Progreso Weekly

HAVANA TIMES — In his first intervention at the United Nations, Cuban president Raul Castro had the following words to say on Saturday at the UN Sustainable Development Summit. Castro will address over a hundred heads of state and government at the plenary session of the UN General Assembly on Monday, Sept. 28.

Remarks by Cuban president Raúl Castro Ruz in his address to the United Nations Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, New York, Sept. 26, 2015. 

Raul Castro en Nueva York. Foto: cubadebate.cu

Esteemed heads of State and Government,

Distinguished heads of delegations,

Mister Secretary General of the United Nations,

Mister President,

The current instability prevailing in numerous regions of the world has its roots in the pervasive underdevelopment afflicting two-thirds of the world population.

Fifteen years after the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals progress is insufficient and unevenly distributed. In many cases, unacceptable levels of poverty and social inequality persist and even aggravate including the industrial nations. The gap between the North and the South widens, and wealth polarization keeps growing.

We realize that a long distance must still be covered to achieve a real world association for development.

No less than 2.7 billion people in the world live in poverty. The global infant mortality rate for children under five years of age is still several times higher than that of developed countries. Likewise, maternal death in developing regions is fourteen times higher.

Amid the existing economic and financial crisis, wealthy individuals and transnational companies are growing richer while the number of poor, unemployed and homeless people increase dramatically as a result of the harsh so-called “austerity” policies, and waves of desperate immigrants arrive in Europe escaping misery and conflicts that others have unleashed.

The resources needed for the implementation of the Agenda, lacking measurable commitments and timetables, are inadequate to meet the 17 objectives of sustainable development.

If we wish to make this a habitable world with peace and harmony among nations, with democracy and social justice, dignity and respect for the human rights of every person, we should adopt as soon as possible concrete commitments in terms of development assistance, and resolve the debt issue, a debt already paid several times over. It would be necessary to build a new international financial architecture, remove monopoly on technology and knowledge, and change the present international economic order.

The industrial nations should accept their historic responsibility and apply the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.” The lack of resources cannot be used as a pretext when annual military expenses amount to 1.7 trillion dollars; absent a reduction of such expenses neither development nor a stable and lasting peace will be possible.

Raúl Castro at the U.N. General Assembly, with Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez and Cuba’s chief delegate to the U.N., Rodolfo Reyes Rodríguez. (Photo from Juventud Rebelde.)

Mr. President,

The reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States of America, the opening of embassies and the policy changes announced by President Barack Obama with regard to our country constitute a major progress, which has elicited the broadest support of the international community.

However, the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba persists bringing damages and hardships on the Cuban people, and standing as the main obstacle to our country’s economic development, while affecting other nations due to its extraterritorial scope, and hurting the interests of American citizens and companies. Such policy is rejected by 188 United Nations member states that demand its removal.

Nevertheless, Cuba fulfilled the Millennium Development Goals and offered its modest cooperation to other developing nations in various areas, something we shall continue to do to the extent of our limited capabilities.

We shall never renounce honor, human solidarity and social justice, for these convictions are deeply rooted in our socialist society.

Thank you.


32 thoughts on “What Raul Castro Told the Sustainable Development Summit

  • …I think I know.

    But seriously have you ever seen a Cuban cow? In the U.S., cows in those conditions would be considered abused animals…all skin and bones!

  • It’s interesting to note that Havana Times en Español has few of any comments like evonodemocracy / John Goodritch. What do they know that John does not I wonder?

  • That wouldn’t ne John would it? Lol

  • IC et. al. Check out Bloomberg story on Luis Alberto Rodriguez. Amazing and fascinating!

  • Can’t help remembering that 6, 760 cattle went missing in Santa Clara within the last year. A demonstration of State management – not a clue where they went!

  • Hi econdemocracy, prior to you starting to post your comments, Chomsky was made into a bit of a laughing stock in these pages by Mr. Goodrich who used him to support his arguments along with continuously writing that Cuba was neither socialist or communist but state monopoly.
    To Mr. Goodrich, socialism or communism has yet to be practised anywhere. Cuba is apparently state capitalist. So Russia, the USSR, North Korea, Syria, China, Vietnam and Cuba are in the Goodrich view not communist and not socialist.
    MInd you Mr, Goodrich’s views are based totally upon reading the views of others including Chomsky, he has no knowledge whatsoever of the reality of Cuba as he has never been there. The result is a series of Alice in Wonderland contributions – not worthy of response.

  • Interesting analogy, but like Washighton who did not free his slaves before his death, Castro is unlikely to move in a democratic direction while still alive. As Washington’s deaths was required before his slaves could be emancipated, so too will the Castros need to be dead and buried for any hope of democracy to come to Cuba.

  • That’s what I say. But ol exonodemocracy dragged in that particular cat. I just thought the cat reminded me of something else.

  • Yup! It’s a failed system and the powers to be have fallen into the same abyss that
    so many in the past have done after winning a revolution. I was 9 when Castro came to power but grew up in a house full of newspapers and politics so knew, without
    any coaxing from my family that he was a full fledged communist. The US tried everything in its power to topple him and the rest is history. Obama has taken
    away the bitterness and hopefully, and I’m an optimist, the present rulers in Cuba
    will shift the balance towards a more centered economy and a more democratic
    way for electing it’s representatives. Long shot but our first president signed the fugitive slave act, one of the most despicable acts in the long history of a blight that still haunts us and yet he realized, before his death, how wrong slavery was.
    How is this related? People can change and I’ve seen that time and time again throughout my life!

  • IC, was it necessary bringing Chomsky into the fray? Now I won’t sleep at all tonight!

  • After a while one even forgets that this is the Havana Times, such is the concentration upon endeavoring to attack the United States.
    Did you notice econdemocracy that no Cubans were amongst your claimed crowd of sane people. That is because they have to endeavor daily to exist under the Socialismo state for which you posses such a deep admiration! Laughs are the business of comedians – the totalitarian dictatorship of the Castro family regime is not a laughing matter for any humanitatian.

  • “economic empowerment to the people” In Cuba?
    What blethering nonsense!

  • Every country supports its favorite dictators, thus you have Cuba supporting The Kim’s in North Korea, the Assad’s in Syria, and Kadalfi not that long ago, to name only a few.

    Regardless, it’s not necessary to re-live history, in a parallel universe, to know the outcome of your little experiment. A very similar experiment already took place in the Cold War conflict only couple of decades removed. Colloquially known as East and West Germany, these two countries competed economically and militarily. One had a democratic government that turned over its leaders regularly and one did not. one had a capitalist economy that provided for its people and one did not, and suffered food material shortages on a regular basis. One needed a wall to keep its people from fleeing and the other did not. One survived the other failed…spectacularly. Today a similar comparison can be seen in North and South Korea. I think I can guess which of those two you would rather live in.

    Minus the embargo Cuba would most certainly be better off. Indeed I am in favor, for the most part, in having it removed as a failed policy. Whether Cuba would be successful is another matter. An example perhapse can be drawn from the Cuban agricultural sector, specifically the Cattle induatry. Today 55 + years after the revolution, there are less than half the amount of cattle than before the revolution. This industry is for the most part outside the effects of the embargo. Indeed with the amount of arable land available in Cuba food scarcity should not be a problem. My informed guess is that Cuba would still be a failure under the Castro regime, in this or any other world.

  • Interestingly enough Chomsky’s attempted analogy dovetails nicely with what the Russian government is doing in Ukraine. ….glass houses

  • The US embargo does not violate international law. There is disagreement with regards to its extraterritorial impact, but so far no legal challenge to the embargo has prevailed.

  • You have been hoodwinked. Here’s an example. Raul agreed to finally allow Cubans to buy and sell cars. However, he priced a $28k Peugeot at more than $238k! Raul allows Cubans to own restaurants limited in the number of tables and employees with no wholesale market to buy supplies. The Castros now permit Cubans to buy real estate but limit them to at most 2 properties. You have read the headlines without knowing the details. Raul’s tepid reforms severely limit the power of the individual to grow succesful financially. Your characterization of the embargo as economic strangulation is overblown. The fact is that the Cuban economy does not have the horsepower to do any of the things that the Castros claim they could not do because of the embargo. They can’t grow enough food to feed themselves. Any claim that the embargo has limited their ability to export fruits and vegetables is just lying.

  • ….and the better choice on this or any other planet is what. We have seen socialism run its course. While US capitalism has it’s flaws, as you so ably have pointed out, it remains the best system that mankind has come up with so far.

  • I agree with your insistence that there be no foreign state influence in future Cuban elections. This not only means the US, but also Russian and Chinese involvement. However, the influence of Cuban nationals who live abroad is unavoidable. These people are Cuban citizens who have every right to vote in Cuban elections. Their economic might is undeniable. Cuba will be much better off as a democracy despite the inherent flaws and difficulties that come with expanded freedom.

  • The end of embargo will happen in next couple of years. The primary obstacle is resolution of old property claims. A mix of tax credits, development rights and investment and aid from US is the deal that will be worked out. The embargo will then be ended by congress. The private market in Cuba will do very well as has happened in every other country where state control of the economy has been rebalanced to allow for private ownership.

  • Fantasy. Free markets have brought more humans out of poverty than any other system. The Soviet Block collapsed 25 years ago. All former members that moved towards more balances economies saw gains.

  • If I posted a criticism of any other country and 90% of it was “psychoanalyzing what I claim the motives are of its leaders, you would not be impressed. About 90% of your post are claims you make about what is in the minds of the Cuban leadership…The idea that the most powerful country in history using decades of economic strangulation is somehow minor does not deserve even a laugh..but, as for the one small part that talks about policies, you say:

    ” There is much that the Castros could have done, even as a socialist regime, to improve the economy. However to have done so would have economically empowered regular Cubans. This would have undermined the Castros iron grip on power. The Castros have no interest in doing anything that undermines their tyrannical rule.”

    A very interesting statement, since you surely must know that the Cuban government HAS empoewred regular Cubans, and furthermore, this was done in a way that (you are right) *did* undermine the power of the Cuban government. These policies did empower local, and private over government. And yet the Cuban government took those exact steps, which *did* give more power to the private and to the local, including critically, in the area of food (but not only that area) and which gave this economic empowerment to the people at the expense of the more centralized and non-private parts of the economy..and yet the government still did it, took those steps that empowered those sectors at the expense of the government..Very interesting, no?

    Now, if we want to engage in the passtime, and want to psychoanalyze the government of Cuba and its motives, these above facts, they tell you something…but what it tells you is not exactly the two dimensional caricature of tyranny that has been loudly disseminated and millions of U.S. dollars spent to spread that image.

    P.S.: I know that any facts that do not meet the caricature will be dismissed as “propaganda” by many. Those who are actually interested in actual independent and factual info, don’t stop as googling for small businesses that are allowed, that’s only one part – for other parts, see the documentary The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil (2006 documentary) by The Community Solution directed led by Faith Morgan.

  • It violates international law: “The UN has, since 1992, passed a resolution every year condemning it..and declaring it to be in violation of the Charter of the United Nations
    and [on violation of] international law. In 2014, out of the 193-nation assembly, 188
    countries voted FOR” the resolutoin…voting against other than the U.S. itself? Only
    Israel voted against and tiny weak easy to threaten countries: Pacific island nations Palau, Marshall
    Islands and Micronesia abstained”

    Even Washington does not believe its own words: for not just China buy also one-party Communist Vietnam trade will “make things better” but for Cuba, the opposite. Obviously, they think Cuba is small enough to bully and control, like the right-wing dictatorships and brutal human rights violators the U.S. supported for decades (making it obvious how seriously to take the solemn words in Washington by our leaders about how much they care about democracy and human rights) so long as obedient, right-wing brutally murderous dictatorships were supported, even CIA-installed. And undemocratic Communist countries like China and Vietnam? “Yes, let us make more profits there” says Washington. But Cuba is an ideological thorn to Washington: it wants to teach the world that small countries cannot do anything but obey, and that it control and owns its “backyard”…that’s been the position for a half century plus, and we know how well that turned out…

  • And do we support “free elections” in Cuba? Yes, and let’s remember what that includes: it certainly includes something we do not have in the U.S., namely a system in which billionaires and millions from corporations do not have such an overwhelming influence over the elections.

    It also includes the part the asker presumably intended: namely equal opportunity for competing parties to organize without being harassed (“organize” does not mean “secretly accepting funds from a hostile nation which is trying to overthrow the government” – the U.S. would never accept if China spent hundreds of millions of dollars or billions, funding some “independent” party in the U.S. to try to kick out the Democratic-Republican corporate oligopoly in power) and with equal access to media etc. That would be a good thing.

    Not that free elections are accepted by our leaders here in Washington when the outcome isn’t to their liking: hence the laughable complaints about the intenationally supervised and cleared as free elections in 1984 in Nicaragua, but tantrums here in Washington because the “wrong” outcome.

    But there is something else we forget that is necessary for elections to be free. By this definition, the 1990 elections in Nicaragua were definitely not free, with both economic and military guns held to the heads of the Nicaraguan people and U.S. politicians announcing loud and clear that if the “wrong” outcome took place in the elections, the guns would be fired. As Chomsky puts it:

    “Suppose that the
    USSR were to follow the U.S. model as the Baltic states declare
    independence, organizing a proxy army to attack them from foreign
    bases, training its terrorist forces to hit “soft targets” (health
    centers, schools, etc.) so that the governments cannot provide social
    services, reducing the economies to ruin through embargo and other
    sanctions, and so on, in the familiar routine. Suppose further that
    when elections come, the Kremlin informs the population, loud and
    clear, that they can vote for the CP or starve. Perhaps some
    unreconstructed Stalinist might call this a “free and fair election.”
    Surely no one else would. ”

    This this condition – not “gun to the head of the voters” by a hostile foreign country – that is my question: will those loudly complaining for “Free elections” in Cuba say loudly that this “no foreign economic etc guns” threatening Cubans,

    is a condition they support? If they do, they have my respect. In many cases, their response to this question, of whether they truly support free elections, which must include all, including this third condition, their answer in many cases will be: silence.

  • To reply to Carlyle’s question..The most powerful economy on the planet has been economically strangling Cuba, the most powerful military power in human history has been threatening Cuba, the most powerful economy has been using carrots and sticks against other countries and companies saying “you better NOT work with Cuba”, a country whose population is 3,000% of the Cuban population, has been strangling Cuba for decades, and you want to know whether all the problems of the Cuban economy (never mind the positive
    ones, like free education, free healthcare which put to SHAME what far
    richer politicians here under the “Regime” called Washington, are too
    cheap to provide) but you are asking after all this decades of economic
    strangulation by a country with 30 times the population, the most
    dangerous military, and with it’s strings all over the globe demanding
    other countries avoid helping Cuba, you are asking, do we agree that all
    the problems of the Cuban economy are “predominantly” the FAULT of the
    Cuban government, is that what you’re asking? Sorry it’s hard to hear
    your question over the roar of laughter by a large crowd of sane

    But I will not presume to answer a definite “no” to mirror your “definite yes” answer, I will not claim to know the definite answer and instead will say, let’s make a deal: let’s create two Earths, and go back in time…one Earth, will have you in power in Cuba, with decades of economic assault by the globe’s most powerful country against you, and another Earth, where it’s not, and then we’ll
    return and I’ll ask whether the problems of Cuba’s economy under the
    first copy of Earth are “predominantly” your fault, ok?

    We all know how much Washington “hates dictatorships” (hence support for
    Saudi dictatorship) and how much it hates “communist dictatorships”
    (support for China) and how much it loves “human rights” (hence funding
    Death Squads, and supporting the second largest proportional genocide of
    the 20th century, supporting Suharto’s genocide in East Timor) and we
    all know how much Washington wishes there was a way to keep elections
    and democracy while doing some reforms to the economy away from
    oligarchy (hence the U.S. should have LOVED Arbenz and supported him as a
    model in later years to show how much better that is than one-party
    Cuba) and we know how dedicated our U.S. leaders are to human rights –
    hence they proclaim the right to assassinate anyone anywhere without
    trial, based on “signature” (male over a certain age, next to someone,
    who we think might know someone else, and that someone else has
    committed no crime, no trial, but we think this this person might want
    to commit violence against U.S. or it’s “interests”) and holding for
    “indefinite detention without trial” as O.k. here in the U.S….

    I believe in a third way, not Central Planning by One Party, and not the
    so-called “Free market” that is really Central Planning by Corporations
    and these corporations have economies larger than some countries so yes
    it is Corporate Central Planning! One statistic: about “half” of so-called “trade” between U.S. and Mexico is in fact intra-company (within the company) transfer from one subsidiary of the same mega-corporation to another subsidiary, one study in 1990s found, in other words, it’s about as much “trade” as when a business owner moves a loaf of bread from one end of the shop they own, to another corner of the shop they own, it’s central planning under corporate capitalism. But the third way of decentralized democratic planning, Washington fears and hates even more than the Cuban model. With Cuba, they love the fact that they can complain about the lack of multi-party elections (while continuing to make love to China in the same breath, these U.S. politicians) and they love that… so they can continue our Corporate Feudalism system world-wide which wants to own and copyright and control every tree, every plant, every animal, every bit of DNA, every school privatized etc, they are more totalitarian in their vision, than Stalin….more centralized and wanting more control and even ownership of every last bit of life….there have been terrible and undemocratic Communist parties that want huge control…the Corporatocracy wants that times 100, and is working hard to get it – privatizing every atom in your body, privatizing and controlling and owning the air you breath -everything.

    The dictator Stalin if alive would feel, “darn, these folks make me look like an amateur by comparison to these control freaks” of so-called “free market” really Corporate Feudalism. They are not the opposite of communism, they are the other side of the same coin – only more powerful and thus more dangerous.

  • Hi blueskyonrainydays,
    Curiosity, have you read the conditions laid down by the US Congress for the ending of the embargo?
    Secondly do you favour open free elections, freedom of the media and the recognition of human rights in Cuba?
    Thirdly, do you agree that the Cuban economy is in a mess and that that is predominantly a consequence of the policies adopted by the Castro family supported by the Communist Party of Cuba.?

  • You have to love the outfits Carlyle! Fidel should consider a Nike wardrobe but Raul is looking very Italian! All I can write is I’m not on the island and so many Cubans are living tough lives but I am tired with the pace that is needed to get Cuba back into
    the real world. If I’m exhausted I can’t imagine how the average Cuban feels.
    Hopefully there will some miracles in the coming weeks so in the meantime
    I’ll continue to be pray for our neighbors ninety miles from Miami and remain a
    believer that the glass is half full! Also, thanks to all the writers at Havana Times for sharing their experiences, strengths and hopes! I won’t mention the founder as he is too humble!

  • “It was never a legitimate thing to do in the first place”. Really? Says who? The US Congress disagrees with you. It is VERY legitimate. You may not agree with the embargo and possibly consider the sanctions immoral but it was and is legal.

  • Raul pointed out what supporters of free enterprise capitalism must always omit: that under the free enterprise economies enforced upon lesser nations by the United States (economic) empire for about 100 years , somewhere around 1/3-1/2 of all humans live on less than US$2.00 per day .
    Millions starve to death in a world that last year produced practice. % of all the food needed for every human being on the planet but which because it is distributed to only those who have the money under capitalism, millions die needlessly.
    If we share , we have enough for all to live a good life .
    Capitalism DICTATES that we do not share.
    Terry, “uses it as and escape goat” should have been: “uses it as a scapegoat”.
    This from the primitive tribal custom in the Middle East around the time of Christ when a tribe would pile the figurative sins of the tribe onto a goat and drive it out into the desert to die of thirst/starvation, thereby relieving the tribe of its sins.
    The practice was/is called scapegoating .
    The Christians took scapegoating one or two better by “scapegoating” the son of God but used the same principle of killing an innocent to absolve us of our crimes.
    A preposterous and immoral thought, IMO..

  • Way past the time to remove the embargo on Cuba.It was never a legitimate thing to do in the first place. The US as usual is good at acting like the bully on the
    block . Sanctions should be removed NOW.

  • As one who has constantly expressed opposition to the US embargo and who actually lives most of the year in Cuba as a member of the community I recognise that the embargo does have some negative effect upon the lives of the Cuban people. I have argued for its removal to enable the Castro family regime’s inadequacies to be fully exposed without having all its faults credited to the embargo.
    There is as we all know, nothing new in the Castro family regime arguing “fervently” for removal of the embargo – they have done so for fifty years whilst utilising it for their own purposes.
    What is new, is Raul Castro Ruz arguing for: “democracy and social justice, dignity and respect for the human rights of every person”. For a dedicated communist to address the rights of the individual rather than that of the mass, is astonishing. To do so at the UN is even more astonishing. Raul on the road to Damascus?
    However, Raul is somewhat guileless when as if a third party, he speaks about expenditure on “annual military expenses”, this from a man who as head of Cuba’s military has supervised military intervention in thirteen other countries and has more people serving in the military than Canada. “The lack of resources cannot be used as a pretext when annual military expenses……..” Who speaks?
    Although recognising that the embargo is a problem for the people of Cuba, that is stretched to the extreme by Raul when he says that it is: “standing as the main obstacle to our country’s economic development”. No word of the major effects of his regime nationalising everything in sight, of the incompetent administration, of the ever declining agricultural production, and of the opposition to any form of capitalism. Raul properly draws attention to 2.7 billion people living in poverty – defined by the UN he is addressing, as less than $1.9 per capita per day, omitting to say that in Cuba the figure is 33 cents.
    As a politician Raul Castro talks of the faults of others, without the slightest hint that he himself may have faults. To hold the embargo responsible for those faults shared with his brother is naïve.
    But I liked the smart black suit and silk tie.

  • Terry, please read this carefully: Raul Castro is first and foremost interested in preserving power. He is fully aware that to demand the lifting of the US embargo, no small feat, is to continue to divert attention from the failed Castro revolution. If by magic the embargo were to be lifted tomorrow, and conditions in Cuba were to continue to wallow in failure, the regime would simply change the nature of their whining. You would likely be quick to support their rants that the EFFECTS of the embargo are to blame. Cubans understand that the embargo is not the only problem the economy must overcome. Indeed, the embargo is not even the most serious problem the Cuban economy faces. There is much that the Castros could have done, even as a socialist regime, to improve the economy. However to have done so would have economically empowered regular Cubans. This would have undermined the Castros iron grip on power. The Castros have no interest in doing anything that undermines their tyrannical rule.

  • To all those who have continually argued that the Cuban government hides behind the economic embargo and uses it as and escape goat to explain their economic limitations to the Cuban people… why then would Raul argue so fervently for the prompt removal of the economic embargo so that his government can, in truth, better serve the people of Cuba? And please, don’t tell me that all of the economic benefits would only be enjoyed by the Cuban government. That would be absolute nonsense.

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