UN speech: Venezuela's Hugo Chavez slams Bush

Issue 

The following is an abridged version of the address given to the 60th UN General Assembly on September 15 by Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's revolutionary socialist president.

This UN does not work. We have to say it. It is the truth... [T]he dream of an ever-lasting world peace, the dream of a world not ashamed by hunger, disease, illiteracy, extreme necessity, needs — apart from roots — to spread its wings to fly...

We are aware of a frightening neoliberal globalisation, but there is also the reality of an interconnected world that we have to face not as a problem but as a challenge. We could, on the basis of national realities, exchange knowledge, integrate markets, interconnect, but at the same time we must understand that there are problems that do not have a national solution: radioactive clouds, world oil prices, diseases, warming of the planet or the hole in the ozone layer. These are not domestic problems...

At the Porto Alegre World Social Forum last January, different personalities asked for the United Nations to move outside the United States if the repeated violations to international rule of law continue. Today we know that there were never any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The people of the United States have always been very rigorous in demanding the truth from their leaders; the people of the world demand the same thing.

There were never any weapons of mass destruction; however, Iraq was bombed, occupied and it is still occupied. All this happened over the United Nations. That is why we propose this assembly that the United Nations should leave a country that does not respect the resolutions taken by this same assembly...

Ladies and gentlemen, we are facing an unprecedented energy crisis in which an unstoppable increase of energy [consumption] is perilously reaching record highs, as well as the incapacity to increase oil supply and the perspective of a decline in the proven reserves of fuel worldwide. Oil is starting to become exhausted.

For the year 2020 the daily demand for oil will be 120 million barrels. Such demand, even without counting future increments, would consume in 20 years what humanity has used up to now. This means that more carbon dioxide will inevitably be released, thus warming our planet even more.

Hurricane Katrina has been a painful example of the cost of ignoring such realities. The warming of the oceans is the fundamental factor behind the increase in the strength of the hurricanes we have witnessed in the last years.

Let this occasion be an outlet to send our deepest condolences to the people of the United States. Their people are brothers and sisters of all of us in the Americas and the rest of the world.

It is unpractical and unethical to sacrifice the human race by applying in an insane manner the validity of a socio-economic model that has a galloping destructive capacity. It would be suicidal to spread it and impose it as an infallible remedy for the evils which are caused precisely by them.

Not too long ago, the president of the United States went to an Organisation of American States' meeting to propose Latin America and the Caribbean increase market-oriented policies, open market policies — that is, neoliberalism — when it is precisely the fundamental cause of the great evils and the great tragedies currently suffered by our people: Neoliberal capitalism, the "Washington consensus".

All this has generated is a high degree of misery, inequality and infinite tragedy for all the peoples on this continent.

What we need now more than ever is a new international order. Let us recall the United Nations General Assembly in its sixth extraordinary session period in 1974, 31 years ago, where a new international economic order action plan was adopted, as well as the nation-states' economic rights and duties charter by an overwhelming majority, 120 votes for the motion, six against and 10 abstentions.

Article 2 of that text confirms the right of states to nationalise property and natural resources that belonged to foreign investors. It also proposed to create cartels of raw material producers.

In Resolution 3021, May 1974, the assembly expressed its will to work with utmost urgency in the creation of a new economic international order based on — listen carefully, please — "the equity, sovereign equality, interdependence, common interest and cooperation among all states regardless of their economic and social systems, correcting the inequalities and repairing the injustices among developed and developing countries, thus assuring present and future generations, peace, justice and a social and economic development that grows at a sustainable rate".

The main goal of the new economic international order was to modify the old economic order conceived at Bretton Woods.

We the people now claim — this is the case of Venezuela — a new international economic order. But it is also urgent we see a new international political order. Let us not permit that a few countries try to reinterpret the principles of international law in order to impose new doctrines such as "pre-emptive warfare"...

And what about the "responsibility to protect" doctrine? We need to ask ourselves. Who is going to protect us? How are they going to protect us?

I believe one of the countries that requires protection is precisely the United States. That was shown painfully with the tragedy caused by Hurricane Katrina. They do not have a government that protects them from announced natural disasters...

These are very dangerous concepts that shape imperialism, interventionism, as they try to legalise the violation of the national sovereignty. The full respect towards the principles of international law and the United Nations charter must be the keystone for international relations in today's world and the base for the new order we are currently proposing.

It is urgent to fight, in an efficient manner, international terrorism. Nonetheless, we must not use it as an excuse to launch unjustified military aggressions that violate international law. Such has been the doctrine following September 11. Only a true and close cooperation and the end of the double discourse that some countries of the North apply regarding terrorism could end this terrible calamity.

In just seven years of Bolivarian Revolution, the people of Venezuela can claim important social and economic advances. One million, four hundred and six thousand Venezuelans learned to read and write. We are 25 million in total [population]. And the country will — in a few days — be declared illiteracy-free territory.

Three million Venezuelans, who had always been excluded because of poverty, are now part of primary, secondary and higher studies.

Seventeen million Venezuelans — almost 70% of the population — are receiving, and for the first time, universal health care, including medicine, and in a few years, all Venezuelans will have free access to an excellent health-care service. More that a million tonnes of food are channelled to over 12 million people at subsidised prices, almost half the population. One million gets them completely free, as they are in a transition period.

More than 700,000 new jobs have been created, thus reducing unemployment by nine [percentage] points. All of this amidst internal and external aggressions, including a coup d'etat and an oil industry shutdown organised by Washington, and despite the conspiracies, the lies spread by powerful media outlets, and the permanent threat of the empire and its allies — they even call for the assassination of a president.

The only country where a person is able to call for the assassination of a head of state is the United States. Such was the case of a reverend called Pat Robertson, very close to the White House: He called for my assassination and he is a free person. That is international terrorism!

We will fight for Venezuela, for Latin American integration and the world. We reaffirm our infinite faith in humankind. We are thirsty for peace and justice in order to survive as a species.

Simon Bolivar, founding father of our country and guide of our revolution swore to never allow his hands to be idle or his soul to rest until he had broken the shackles that bound us to the empire. Now is the time to not allow our hands be idle or our souls to rest until we save humanity.

[A full translation of Chavez's speech is available at <http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1555>].

From Green Left Weekly, September 28, 2005.

Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.