The following speech given by Cuban President Fidel Castro to the Third Ibero-American Summit held July 13-16 in Salvador, Brazil.
We are meeting at a time of world crisis and conflicts of every kind. The hopes for peace, stability and development which arose when the Cold War ended have not materialised. We live in a world torn apart by ethnic violence, fratricidal wars, the traumatic fragmentation of states, interventionism, insecurity for Third World countries and growing disregard for the principles of national sovereignty.
People talk about a decade of hope beginning for Latin America because some indicators such as those relative to inflation, budget deficits, and the influx of capital have improved. But don't let's deceive ourselves. Never before have there been more poor and marginalised people on our continent; never before have Latin American countries been subject to greater pillaging. In the last 12 years, through service payments on the foreign debt and losses associated with unequal terms of trade alone, Latin America has lost 700 billion dollars. The famous debt, however, today has risen to more than 450 billion.
Trade deficits are reappearing: per capita output is scarcely what it was 15 years ago; capital inflows do not even remotely compensate for the sums of money that have flown and been sent abroad since 1980.
The measures that have been implemented have increased inequality and worsened living conditions for the great majority of people. Acute poverty has spread to almost half the Latin American population, unemployment has increased, real wages have decreased. More than eight million children under five suffer from malnutrition and nearly 700,000 die each year before reaching that age.
Population figures and the number of marginalised people in the major cities are increasing to the point of explosion. Environmental damage is speeding up. Violence and social insecurity are growing. Drug trafficking, encouraged from abroad by an insatiable and uncontrolled market, is establishing itself as a supranational crime and corruption system.
We want to thank Brazil very much for making development the central theme of this meeting and for its efforts to get concrete programs drawn up and approved. Why are economic growth and increase in output of goods desired if not to benefit the people, not a privileged part of the population but the whole population?
Most important goal
I have always wondered if the future is possible, if independence, security and development for our countries are possible; if their dreams of well-being and social justice are possible without an f their economies and their efforts. I always supposed, from the first summit in Guadalajara, and I continue to believe, that this has to be our most important goal. Even just getting together without asking for anyone's permission has been a great historic step and, although we can show concrete results, it does not seem to be fully clear yet what the main strategic aim of our efforts should be.
Our serious problems were not even given consideration at the Tokyo meeting. It's not a question of each country in our region trying to save itself by its own efforts, because that is an impossible dream in a world that is today dominated by industrial and political giants. We need to make a united effort to create a giant so that we can really develop and enjoy peace, independence and security.
Yesterday we were an enormous colony; tomorrow we could be a great community of closely linked peoples. Nature has given us riches, while history has given us roots, language, culture and other common bonds that no other place on Earth has.
Reforming the UN
There are over 400 million Latin Americans yet we do not have a single representative on the United Nations Security Council. It is from here that the mighty try to rule the world. Why does Latin America not play a more active role in the United Nations? Why doesn't it call for democratisation and reform within the organisation? When the UN was established there were barely 50 member countries. Countless nations were still under the yoke of colonialism. Today its membership numbers more than 200 independent states.
To make the United Nations and the Security Council democratic presupposes many things. Among them it would mean abolishing the unjustifiable veto and the holding of periodic elections for all members without exception. If at this time major changes are not possible it would be very logical, at least, to increase proportionately the total number of Security Council members. They would be distributed equitably by regions, tripling the number of permanent members so that Latin America, Africa and Asia could have two or more members each, as Europe has today. The right of the veto, in that case, would require the participation of several members and not just one country. Under any circumstances, however the Security Council should be required to meet its obligations, enshrined in the Charter but ignored in practice, and be accountable to the General Assembly.
Or perhaps you think that others will take just initiatives on behalf of Third World countries and other marginal and discriminated nations?
Excuse me for having dealt with such complex issues in such a short period of time.
I cannot forget Cuba, which is brutally blockaded, harassed and threatened because it is small, because it wanted social justice, because it will not surrender. I ask for solidarity from my Latin American brothers and sisters for a Cuba that continues to 55D>
[From Granma Weekly Review.]