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'We Have Come to Accuse Those Who Lie'

by Felipe Pérez Roque

Statement delivered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba at the 57th session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Geneva, 27 March 2001.

Mr. Chairman: I am speaking on behalf of Cuba. We have come here to accuse those who lie, to tell our truths. And we have come armed with reasons: an arsenal of just ideas and the history of struggle of our people – the endeavor of which to achieve full justice cannot be subdued by nothing or no one; and that aggressions, blockades and slandering have not been able to crush its ironclad will of struggle or even dented its full independence.

The Commission on Human Rights is today more divided than ever and on the verge of reaching an irreversible point of disrepute. On the one hand, we have the representatives of the Third World: we are hostages to debt, victims of the unfair disorder imposed around the world; we only own our poverty and backwardness; we are the ones contributing millions of starving, poor, illiterate people; children and mothers who die; the ones who have grievously sustained, with our suffering, the opulence of our exploiters. At this Commission, we always stand accused. On the other hand, we have the representatives of the rich and developed countries: they are the creditors; those who consume almost everything that is produced; those who squander, pollute and forget that they owe their wealth to us. And, in addition, they are the ones pretending to become the accusers and judges of our countries. It is high time we swept hypocrisy and double standards away from the work of this Commission. Could the United States explain why they vote against considering famine –currently affecting nearly 1 billion people– as an outrage and a violation of human dignity? Could they explain that while an attempt is made to accuse Cuba they also refuse to condemn the flagrant, large-scale human rights violations committed by the Israeli army against the courageous Palestinian people?

The time has come to demand that an extensive reform and democratization process be implemented on this Commission. We discuss the issue every year - and several resolutions have been adopted for such purposes. But the truth is that the Commission on Human Rights continues being an instrument at the service of the interests of domination of the United States and its allies. Could this situation change? Of course. But it is required that you, the representatives of the developed countries, modestly accept the fairness of our demands. It is required that you recognize that you are not the absolute owners of the truth. It is necessary to renounce the racist notion that poor people cannot be also right.

We need a more democratic, tolerant world. Why does a small group of rich, powerful countries want to impose an increasingly less democratic and pluralistic world? Why don't we fight for greater tolerance –not only within countries but also in country-to-country relations? Why can't the existence of diverse models of civil and political ordering be accepted? What is the reason behind the attempt to have a single model of democracy prevail? Didn't we already agree at the World Conference on Human Rights that all peoples are entitled to self-determination and thus freely establish their political conditions under this right?

The work of this Commission can be useful only if resulting from respectful cooperation –never from dogmatic imposition and arrogance. Cuba will continue to demand that this Commission cease being a hostage to unjustifiable interests. Cuba will not give up its struggle as long as the right of all countries is not respected; as long as there is no guarantee for the pluralistic, transparent, objective and democratic functioning of this Commission.

Mr. Chairman: The United States accuses Cuba of human rights violations. As we all know, a genuine concern over the human rights situation in Cuba is not at stake in this accusation. What is really at stake is whether a small Third World country can or cannot choose its own path and build, in its own way, a future of equality and well-being for its children.

I reject and deeply despise the accusation against Cuba – fabricated by the United States and imposed on this Commission through extreme pressures. I steadfastly uphold, looking each of you in the eye, that there are no human rights violations in Cuba; that there is no justification whatsoever behind the attempt to single Cuba out at this Commission; that such assertion can only be possible on account of the pathological incapacity of the United States to accept Cuba as an independent country that no longer belongs to it.

After more than 40 years of a genocidal blockade and an economic war; invasions; terrorist acts; subversive attempts; sabotage; assassination plots against Cuban leaders; biological warfare and many other acts of aggression, the Commission on Human Rights is the most recent battlefield between the US oppressive design against Cuba and our desires for independence, justice and development.

I am not going to spend any time explaining the Cuban reality and proving the unfair, selective nature of the US accusations. There is really no need. You know it, whether you recognize it or not. I will just say that the United States is the country with the least moral authority to judge Cuba over human rights and democracy issues.

I cannot help asking: Has any one ever seen the police in Cuba beating up the workers or the students during a demonstration, shooting rubber bullets at them, sicking dogs or horses on them, throwing tear gas at them - as it happens on a daily basis in quite a few places of the world today? You know that in Cuba leaders demonstrate alongside the people.

Even the recent report of the US State Department on the human rights situation around the world –which, of course, I do not view as legitimate and in which, as we know, the only country that is not included is the US itself– recognizes that there are no politically motivated deaths or missing people in Cuba. Despite their deep-rooted hatred against our country, their obsession to condemn us and their lack of scruples, the United States has not dared to lie, at least, in this respect. So transparent and humane is our record, that it is impossible to deny it! Can anybody in this hall mention a single case of torture, murder or disappearance in Cuba? Does anyone in this hall know of a single case of journalists assassinated in Cuba, or of the kidnapping of children –other than the failed attempt to retain a Cuban child in the United States– or the sale of children, or child slavery?

Has any one ever heard of a death squad in Cuba? Has any one seen in Cuba a demonstration of mothers and grandmothers crying out for their murdered or missing children and grandchildren? Has any one of you heard that the Cuban Government, by deceiving its people, has imposed an IMF adjustment program or given the country's riches away to transnational corporations? Have you not wondered why after 40 years of blockade and 10 years of dire economic constraints we retain, increasingly, the overwhelming support of our people? The answer is that the Revolution belongs to the people, not to a power-obsessed elite.

Leaders in Cuba view our responsibilities as a duty, an attitude to life, not a lifestyle. Our authority is not only based on our democratic and transparent election, with no money or corruption involved, but on our people's conviction that we do not steal; that we are not above their needs and dreams; that we share their difficulties; that we will not stop living an austere, committed life.

Should it be interpreted then that we think of ourselves as a perfect society? No, we are not satisfied. We are only beginning. We are trying to obliterate centuries of marginalization and injustices. We intend to raise education and culture to levels that have never been achieved by our people. We are striving to pass down to our children levels of equality, social justice and citizen participation never before attained by any other society.

We will do our utmost to continue improving our achievements, to make our political system more efficient and participatory, which is - we know it well - by far more democratic than the one of our fallacious accusers. In Cuba, we struggle for an increasingly tolerant and humane society. We dream of an increasingly cultivated and educated people - which translates into a freer people. We look forward to instilling all possible knowledge in our people, not only for a select group. We dream of a people with profound social sensitivity, devoid of selfishness, with deep-rooted humanist convictions. We dream of - and are ever closer to - fulfilling those dreams, with a people for which Homeland means Humankind. A society likes ours, in which men and their dignity is the cornerstone, does not agree with violence, repression or deceit.

No pressure can be exerted on us. We do what we think is fair and convenient. We have ethics. We have morale. And I should be emphatically clear about this: We do not and will not accept either pressures or threats!

This is a time of definition. Whoever seconds the United States in its wicked maneuvers against Cuba has no moral authority to talk to us about human rights. One cannot reject the blockade against Cuba while colluding with the United States in the manipulation used to justify it. We have the encouragement and sympathy of the peoples of Latin America - who know that our struggle is also for their rights; who recall Cuba's solidarity and support at a time when US-sponsored dictatorships tortured, murdered and caused the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of people in Our America.

We also know that Cuba's struggle is in favor of the respect for the rights of everyone in the Third World - so that contempt and disregard can cease over our right to a more equitable and just world, over our right to development and life.

Mr. Chairman: The United States is upset about Cuba wanting to be free and independent. And Cuba is not going to cease being ever free and more independent! The United States is upset about Cuba being socialist. And Cuba is going to be increasingly socialist!

The United States is upset about the fact that it is the people who rule in Cuba. And in Cuba our people will increasingly determine its destiny! The United States is upset about Cuba curtailing their imperialist and hegemonic designs. And Cuba will increase its anti-imperialism and solidarity towards just causes!

The United States wants to organize the party calling for the annexation to the United States in a fragmented, weak Cuba. And Cuba will continue to have the party of unity and independence, of social justice and dignity, of real equality and true solidarity among all men and all peoples - without which there can be no liberty, democracy or peace!

Forty years of heroic endurance underpin our ideas, our reasons, our truths, our invincible strength, and our unflinching and indestructible freedom! Rulers in the United States no longer know what to do about Cuba. In one field or another, they will continue to sustain one defeat after the other. What they are trying to achieve at this Commission, on the basis of humiliating pressures on its members and a very high political cost, reveals that they have forgotten that famous thought of King Pyrrhus: "With another victory like this, I am lost."

They have turned us into the freest people on Earth; no longer dependent on their trade, their credits and their investments. We currently enjoy the rare and almost unique privilege of being able to tell them the whole truth and destroy each and every one of their lies, from this or any other rostrum.

We are not accusing their people, capable of being noble and idealistic; we are accusing a hegemonic system of domination and a selfish, rapacious political and economic order imposed on the world that is, in addition, unsustainable.

There are some who ask a gesture from us in order to please the United States. The gesture that I make, on behalf of my people, is to raise my fist and loudly proclaim the words that for forty years all Cubans have uttered in light of each of their crimes and acts of aggression against Cuba:

Fatherland or Death! We shall overcome!

 

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