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Address to the 14th Summit of Heads of State of the Non-Aligned Movement
(closing address follows after)

by Raúl Castro Ruz

Havana, September 15, 2006

Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,

It is with satisfaction and pride that Cuba once again assumes the responsibility of hosting a Non-Aligned Summit. I would like to say how grateful I am that you have honored us with your presence and on behalf of our people I offer you a warm welcome.

We would all have liked these opening words to have been delivered by President Fidel Castro, who is not among us in this Hall today, for reasons known to us all. As he makes gradual and satisfactory progress, he has been following every aspect of the preparations for this momentous meeting, in order to ensure that it reaches levels of excellence and is a resounding success. Comrade Fidel has asked me to pass on to you his warmest regards and to thank you all for being here.

Dear friend, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia,

It is both our duty and wholehearted desire to pay tribute to your excellent work as President of the Non-Aligned Movement. Cuba, which now assumes this honorable responsibility, is convinced that with our combined efforts it will be possible to continue to revitalize and strengthen this forum of political coordination of the countries of the South. We represent almost two thirds of the members of the United Nations, but, with regard to international relations, we are not the decisive force that we could be.

This doesn't mean that we haven't made progress. Thankfully the period of uncertainty in the nineties, when quite a few people questioned the validity of the Non-Aligned Movement when the bipolar world order came to an end, is behind us.

The current international situation, characterized by the one superpower's irrational attempts to control the world, aided by its allies, shows that we need to be increasingly united in defense of the principles and purposes upon which the Non-Aligned Movement was established, which are those enshrined in the international law and the Charter of the United Nations.

Over recent years, several member countries have been the victims of inadmissible acts of aggression, basically motivated by an insatiable hunger for strategic resources, which have in turn taken their toll on international peace and security.

The announcement and immediate application of doctrines of preventive war and imposition on other States, the pretexts for which have been, inter alia, the fight against terrorism, the promotion of democracy or the existence of rogue states, has made the risk of attack and of successive wars of imperial conquest more serious and widespread than ever before.

We are speaking with the experience of a country that has withstood more than 45 years of blockade and aggression of all kinds. With the application of their irrational policy against Cuba, the United States has gone to the extreme of presenting an official plan aimed at destroying our social system, openly announcing that it has a secret annex containing measures and actions to achieve this end.

We assume that here present are the representatives of the majority, or maybe all of, the 'sixty or more dark corners of the world´, cited as possible targets of future attacks.

Only unity and solidarity, the united stance in defense of our common aims and interests offer an alternative to the overwhelming danger and challenges facing us.

Rather than worrying, we are proud that we form an amalgam of ideologies, religions, cultures, stages of development, past experiences and specific interests. It is precisely this diversity that should be a source of strength and creativity for us.

Building on its solid foundations of past victories in the struggle for de-colonization and the eradication of apartheid; using the abundant experience of our tireless efforts to secure a New International Economic Order, and campaigns for peace, disarmament and the true exercise of the right to development, the Non-Aligned Movement now has to wage courageous battles against unilateralism, double standards and the impunity granted to those in power; for a fairer and more equal international order in the face of neoliberalism, plundering and dispossession; and for the survival of the human race in the face of the effects of rich countries' irrational consumption.

Under the current circumstances, requisites for the Non-Aligned Movement are the defense of international law based on the Bandung Principles; the unlimited exercise and respect of the sovereignty and sovereign equality of all States; the defense of the peace and active opposition to war and threats; the essential democratization of international institutions, particularly the United Nations and its Security Council; the defense of our values and necessary plurality in this diverse world, in which the right of all peoples to choose the political, economic and social system that they consider best suited to national interests, and to preserve and develop their own culture, are respected.

The work of the Movement must include defending the rights of our immigrants in the industrialized world and fighting against exploitation, racism and xenophobia, as well as against the construction of shameful walls, symbols of a new apartheid.

In light of recent events in the Middle East, we must repeat our condemnation of the intensified aggression against the Palestinian people, the aim of which is to quell their will to fight, deprive them of the most basic means of survival and take the lives of many of their children.

We denounce the aggression against Lebanon, to whose people and government we offer our full support, and whose case offers us another example of the double standards prevailing in international relations and of the impunity enjoyed by some, however flagrant their crimes, even the use of arms prohibited by international standards.

We all know who provides economic and military support for the Israeli government, who time and again vetoes the proposed resolutions in the Security Council and hampers plans for this organ to meet to discuss their brutal conduct.

We also know who act as their accomplices; who keep silent about the grave violations against prisoners held in the jail operated by the United States in their naval base in Guantanamo, land which was illegally seized from Cuba; who have cooperated with the secret flights and clandestine prisons to which Washington recently admitted, without the slightest hint of shame.

We defend the right of our countries to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Let us call for a general and complete disarmament, including nuclear weapons. Let us reject the dangerous US doctrine of the 'preventive' use of nuclear weapons, even against countries that don't have them and against supposed terrorist groups. Let us denounce the hypocrisy of the US government, which while supporting Israel's bid to increase their nuclear store, is threatening Iran in an attempt to prevent the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Non-Alignment also involves the struggle to change the current world economic order. This constitutes a system based on exploitation and plundering, the tendency of which is to propagate underdevelopment and increase the gap between a small group of rich countries, home to just 20% of the world population, and a vast periphery comprising our countries and home to 80% of humankind.

For the last 20 years, neoliberal discourse has tried to convince us that the key to economic success is unlimited privatization, minimum State intervention in the economy and the complete opening to the world market and transnational corporations.

Because of this, some 1,300 million [1.3 billion] people, the poorest of the poor, are responsible for only 1.3% of the world consumption expenditure. In other words, they are completely marginalized from the market that neoliberalism extols as the great generator of riches.

Some countries have paid the sum of their foreign debt several times over, which is now twice the amount they owed originally.

In this globalized and transnationalized world economy, controlled by huge corporations, free trade is a mere illusion.

The current situation regarding energy supplies is due, largely, to unlimited squandering and consumerism by wealthy countries. This is nothing new, comrade Fidel Castro alerted us to this situation and made specific proposals in this regard during the opening ceremony of the 6th Summit in 1979. The depletion of oil reserves is now a harsh reality in which the normal market rules cannot be applied to hydrocarbons and the prices shoot to unpredictable extremes, as do those applied to practically all of the goods and services that we have to import from the developed world.

Nowadays, Non-Alignment means supporting the right of the countries of the South to take the measures needed to ensure that they have control over their natural resources, for the benefit of their peoples.

We are also victims of the growing knowledge divide. Brain drain robs us of our qualified human resources. Approximately one third of all scientists trained in the Third World do not work in their countries of origin, and more than 50% of those who travel abroad to study for PhDs in North America and Europe never return home.

The outlook for our countries is becoming more terrifying by the minute. Someone from Sub-Saharan Africa lives an average of 33 years less than someone living in one of the most industrialized countries. Some 11 million children continue to die every year of causes which for the most part could have been avoided if just a few cents had been spent; the AIDS pandemic is decimating entire nations from the underdeveloped world, which is home to almost all of the 852 million starving people, the 876 illiterate adults and the 325 million children who have no access to schooling.

Nature is ruined, the climate is deteriorating, drinking water is being contaminated and is in short supply; the seas are running out of food for humankind; non-renewable vital resources are being squandered on luxuries and frivolities; the rising sea level poses a threat to the very existence of many insular countries.

The funds needed to resolve this problem are not large when compared to the riches and expenses of developed countries. Around one trillion dollars is spent every year on weapons and troops, at a time when the cold war is long behind us, and a similar amount is squandered on advertising.

The belief that an economic and social order that has proved to be unsustainable can be maintained by force is simply ridiculous. As President Fidel Castro said before the General Assembly of the United Nations in October 1979, "the sounds of weapons, of threatening language and of arrogant behavior in the international arena must cease. Enough of the illusion that the problems of the world can be solved by nuclear weapons. Bombs may kill the hungry, the sick and the ignorant, but they cannot kill hunger, disease and ignorance".

Your Excellencies,

We feel sure that a better and fairer world is possible and the struggle to achieve it should be the prime objective of the Non-Aligned Movement.

As always, the people and the Government of Cuba extend their most sincere sentiments of friendship and solidarity to each and every one of you, with whom we have shared trenches in the fight against colonialism, apartheid, disease and illiteracy, and from whom we have received support in the just endeavor to preserve the sovereignty and independence attained by our country following many years of bloody and courageous battle.

During the 6th Summit of our Movement, in this very Hall, President Fidel Castro made an invocation that I would like to repeat today, 27 years on, with even more conviction and experience, and completely certain that this is our only option. He said: "The strength of our united countries is very great (…) Those of us meeting here represent the vast majority of the people of the world. Let us close ranks and unite the growing forces of our vigorous Movement in the United Nations and in all other international forums to demand economic justice for our peoples and an end to foreign control over our resources and the theft of our labor. Let us close ranks in demanding respect for our right to development, to life and to the future".

Thank you very much.

***************************************

Closing Address to the 14th Summit Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement

by Raúl Castro Ruz

Havana, 16 September 2006

Your Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,

After many hours of uninterrupted and productive work, the time has come to try and summarize, in a brief speech, what, in our opinion, has been an excellent summit.

I would first of all like to thank the many Heads of State and Government and other leaders and officials of our Movement's member nations, whose active participation and valuable contributions have been decisive in the positive outcome of the conference.

We have approved important documents and initiatives. The reaffirmation of the non-aligned countries' stance with respect to the most pressing political, economic and social issues of our times and the regional and sub-regional problems that affect our nations most severely stands out among these initiatives.

The ratification of the purposes and principles and the role of the Non-Aligned Movement at the current international juncture gives us a solid framework for action based in those norms which the Movement deems should govern international relations in our efforts to build a fairer and more equitable world.

We have, as always, expressed our solidarity towards the cause of the Palestinian people, who, living under the harsh conditions of permanent aggression, needs it today more than ever.

In brief, the positions and initiatives we have considered and approved confirm the identity, raison d'etre and validity of the Non-Aligned Movement and will allow us to move forward in our common endeavor towards our goal: to revitalize the Movement so that it will play a role in the international arena that is in keeping not only with its current membership of 118 countries but also our history of battles in the name of the loftiest causes.

The future of the non-aligned countries is imperiled by the ever more pressing challenges posed by the current international situation. The use of force, threats, coercion and the violation of the principles of international law are ever present. Underdevelopment, poverty, marginalization, hunger, illiteracy, the spread of preventable diseases, the deterioration of the environment and the squandering of the planet's resources are persistent evils.

What became evident in our debates is that, if it was necessary and possible to create the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries more than four decades ago, today its further strengthening is more necessary than ever.

The fact that an atmosphere of understanding prevailed during this Summit and that we were able to reach solid consensuses, even in the most complex issues, clearly shows that we have decided to give priority to that which unites us, in order to face, together, the effects of the economic and political order imposed upon us by the powerful, an order which is not only profoundly unfair but also unsustainable.

Cuba is aware that it will have greater responsibilities from this moment on, having accepted the honour, which you have conferred upon us, of presiding over the Movement at a very difficult time.

As the holder of the Presidency, Cuba shall work for an inclusive and representative Movement, to advance towards a common agenda, in defense of our collective interests.

Our actions will always be based on the principle of solidarity, one of the cornerstones of the Non-Aligned Movement, and we shall never forget that in this globalized world, what affects a few today can be used against many tomorrow.

Two other important international meetings, the Summit of the Group of 15 and the Summit of Land-Locked Developing Countries, were held this past 14 September, parallel this Summit Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement.

We commend their participants for the excellent results obtained and we thank them for maintaining close ties to the Movement, as, in essence, we all defend common principles and goals, our struggle for the advancement of our peoples in particular.

This 14th Non-Aligned Summit, the success of which fills us with happiness and satisfaction, has been a grand experience for us. Its excellent results are owed to your collective work and to the cooperation among all delegations. This feels us with deep satisfaction and encourages us to continue down the road paved by the documents adopted.

On behalf of the people and the government of Cuba and, particularly, on behalf of President Fidel Castro, I want to express our sincerest gratitude for the support you have given to the development of the Conference and for your valuable contribution to its success. We are convinced that, in the coming months and years, the documents and decisions adopted here will enable the Movement to have a decisive influence in the debate and solution of the main challenges that face humanity and, in particular, the people of the South.

I declare the 14th Summit Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement closed.

Thank you very much.

 

 

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