Remarks by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee, and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, during the 17th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, held on Margarita Island, in Venezuela, Septemeber 17, 2016, Year 58 of the Revolution
Esteemed compañero Nicolás Maduro Moros, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela;
Heads of state and government;
Esteemed ministers, delegates, and guests;
Ladies and gentlemen:
We are 120 non-aligned states and moreover we have the Bandung, with the Declaration on Purposes, Principles, and Role of the Movement Non-Aligned Countries in the Current International Conjuncture, approved by the 14th Summit in Havana. Our enormous strength, when we act jointly, cannot be underestimated.
In the very Summit of 2006, we denounced “regime change” and called on all countries to refrain from resorting to aggression or the use of force.
Also in Havana, in January 2014, the heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) signed the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace thus reaffirming our commitment to the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and International Law as well as to the peaceful settlement of disputes and full respect for the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system, as an essential premise to ensure coexistence among nations.
We are however, witnessing increasing attacks on Venezuela’s sovereignty and self-determination. Cuba reaffirms its unconditional support to the Venezuelan Government and people, to the civic-military union and to constitutional President Nicolás Maduro Moros.
We strongly repudiate the judicial-parliamentary coup d’état engineered against President Dilma Rouseff, in contempt of the sovereign will of the people who elected her with more than 53 million votes.
Our sister nation of Colombia may count on the full support of Cuba as it moves forward along the challenging path of implementation of the agreement, and the consolidation of the stable, fair, and lasting peace that Colombians deserve.
We express our confidence in the people of the Arab Republic of Syria for we know that they are capable of resolving their differences by themselves, without foreign interference aimed at promoting ‘regime change’.
It is unacceptable that the Palestinian people are still victims of occupation and violence, and that the occupying power continues preventing the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with its capital in East Jerusalem.
Every attempt to secure the self-determination by the abused Saharawi people has failed, thus the international community must make an effort to resolve this issue.
We affirm our solidarity with the historical demand of the Puerto Rican people for self-determination and independence.
We also maintain our solidarity with the claim of the Republic of Argentina over the Falklands, South Sandwich and South Georgia Islands.
Esteemed compañero Maduro,
To Cuba, non-alignment means to struggle for the radical modification of an international economic order imposed by the great powers, the same that has allowed 360 persons to accumulate an annual wealth exceeding the income of 45% of the world population. The gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow. Technology transfer from the North to the South countries remains an elusive goal, while globalization basically privileges a special group of industrial nations. Meanwhile, the debt of Southern countries, which never ceases to expand, now amounts to over 1.7 trillion dollars.
At the moment, 2.9 billion people are forced into unemployment and extreme poverty, and millions of children perish every year from hunger and preventable diseases; nearly 800 million people remain illiterate, while more than 1.7 trillion dollars are destined to military expenses.
Non-alignment also means to struggle for the reduction of the knowledge gap, and for the possibility to use information and communication technologies for development and cooperation. We reject the growing militarization of these technologies and their aggressive use against other countries.
Climate change continues to worsen while in the developed countries’ irrational production and consumption patterns persist, and threaten the conditions required for the survival of our species.
On the other hand, the realization of human rights remains a dream for millions of people all over the world. The United States and Europe resort to manipulation, double standards, selective criteria, and the politization of this issue, while waves of refugees are amassing at European borders, waiting a for just, stable, and permanent solution that can protect their lives and dignity.
Esteemed President Maduro,
Twenty-one months have passed since our simultaneous announcement with President Barack Obama of the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States.
There has been some progress, mostly in the diplomatic area and cooperation on issues of mutual interest, but the same cannot be said of the economic or commercial spheres due to the limited, albeit positive, scope of the measures so far adopted by the U.S. government.
Cuba will persevere with its demand to have the economic, commercial and financial blockade lifted, a blockade that brings so much damage and hardship to our people, and which also has a negative impact on many other countries due to its extraterritorial implementation. By the same token, Cuba will continue urging the return to our sovereignty of territory illegally occupied by the United States Naval Base in Guantanamo.
There will not be normal relations before this issue is resolved, and other policies harmful to Cuba’s sovereignty still in force are terminated, such as interventionist and subversive programs.
We reaffirm our disposition to engage the United States government in a civilized relationship, but Cuba will neither renounce any of its principles nor compromise on its sovereignty and independence. Cuba will not cease defending its revolutionary and anti-imperialist ideals, or supporting the self-determination of all peoples.
We wish our sister Republic of Venezuela full success in the leadership of non-aligned nations. At the same time, we congratulate the Islamic Republic of Iran on its good work during this past term at the head of the Movement.
Our only alternative given the enormous dangers and challenges we face is unity and solidarity,y in defense of our common objectives and interests.
Thank you, very much.