Date: Sat, 22 Aug 98 14:54:32 CDT
RHC Special: Fidel Castro Remarks in Santo Domingo Aug 21
Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit
Excerpts of Cuban President Fidel Castro's address at Cariforum Summit
Santo Domingo, Friday 21 August 1998
Cuban President Fidel Castro delivered a speech Friday at the CARIFORUM Summit. During his address, the Cuban leader dealt with the issues of globalization, unequal development, the global economy, the fact that the Caribbean is assigned to play almost no role in today's globalized world and the need for regional unity to face current and future challenges.
President Fidel Castro said that globalization is unavoidable, stressing that humanity cannot survive without it -- but in the world that is currently being shaped, equal treatment is being given to countries with very different development levels and capabilities. The Cuban leader called such practices profoundly unjust.
"Our economies -- which are especially backward and vulnerable as a consequence of centuries of colonial rule, slavery and looting -- would not be able to successfully participate in the world's economy without preferential plans and a considerable contribution of non-renewable resources coming from abroad.
"For 50 years, we have been deceived with the promise that the gap between the rich and poor will be reduced, an abyss that has not stopped growing for even one minute during the post-war period. The so-called reciprocity would be historically unjust and brutally arbitrary.
"On the basis of the rules and regulations of the World Trade Organization, they intend to get rid of any instrument that protects the value of exports and contributes to the integral development of Caribbean nations and the rest of the Third World, without concern that such practices take away our sovereignty piece to piece and that they are threatening to sweep away the identity of each of our peoples and their rich, varied and in some cases, centuries-old, cultural traditions."
The Cuban leader went on to say that aid earmarked for development is being reduced, despite the fact that it could somewhat mitigate the negative effects of current world economic trends. The foreign debt continues to grow, said the Cuban President, calling the increasing deterioration of terms of exchange, a subtle way of plunder and another obstacle for the development of many countries.
"Amid these tendencies, the Caribbean faces the serious danger of growing marginalization. Some facts and predominant perceptions give countries a less important role in the new global order that is currently being shaped. The survival of our peoples would seem to have no meaning.
"The banana issue is one example. The economies of the small, Caribbean exporting countries -- whose participation merely amounts to one percent of world trade in that product -- could be sacrificed to benefit two big U.S. transnationals. They want to impose upon us an economic order in which our small and poor countries will have no other future but that of being a free zone where the industries and capital of the powerful will obtain cheap labor, destroy our environment, waste our resources and multiply their profits without paying taxes -- when those countries won't even have the modest custom duties that they obtained before. What will be left to meet the most pressing needs of our people?
"We cannot resign ourselves to the idea of continuing to compete with each other in a mad race to make more and more concessions in order to attract foreign capital and indispensable technologies for our development."
The Cuban President lashed out at the multi-lateral investment agreement currently under discussion by the Organization for Cooperation and Development, which, in his words, intends to move capital all over the world, annulling states and turning countries into warehouses where they grab as much profit as possible and destroy the environment. He went on to say that although the Caribbean recognizes the role of capital in the world's economy, the region cannot accept the dismantling of sovereignty and national development programs. He said that the multilateral investment agreement is unacceptable to Cuba since it intends to turn the extraterritorial principles of the anti-Cuban Helms-Burton Law into an international norm.
President Castro then referred to the economic and financial speculation that today's neo-liberal globalization has encouraged, where an immense amount of money is being spent to look for more money without producing anything, without any relation to real trade in goods and services -- unleashing crisis, mass migration, diseases and political and social instability.
"In the midst of so many difficulties, we admire the resolute efforts of CARICOM for the well-being of our peoples and the development of our economies. Tourism and multi-destination could become the main promoter of Caribbean integration, stepped up trade, investment and contacts among our peoples. We should project our region to the world as the most attractive tour destination, a unique and diverse destination that at the same time, provides an example of how our environment and natural resources can be preserved.
"As far as the development of tourism in our region is concerned, Cubans are not and will not be competitors, but close partners and friends in cooperation. We deeply appreciate the support Cuba has received from Caribbean countries, which has made it possible for our participation as observers in the upcoming negotiations for the new accord of the Lome Convention. We'll always prioritize the interest of the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries that make up that convention. We have no intention of getting anything that even slightly affects the preferences of member countries and we will work with them, with dedication and loyalty, to maintain and increase such just preferences."
President Fidel Castro said that unity is the only weapon that Caribbean countries have to face today's challenges and called on them to extend that unity to Central and South America, Africa and other continents. He stressed that the problems the Caribbean faces today are common to those of the Third World and all of humanity, requiring global solutions.
"The future depends on our own efforts. Globalization is inevitable and historical. But we must fight for a globalization of fraternity and cooperation among peoples, of sustainable development, of just distribution and the rational use of the plentiful material and spiritual wealth that men and women are capable of creating with their hands and intelligence. This is an indispensable condition for an unavoidable common homeland and a humanity that can and must endure."
The preceding were excerpts from the speech delivered by Cuban President Fidel Castro on Friday, 21 August 1998, at the CARIFORUM Summit in Santo Domingo.
[c] 1998, Radio Habana Cuba
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