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Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1999 23:49:04 -0600 (CST)
From: NY-Transfer-News@abbie.blythe.org
Subject: RHC WTO Special: Cuba Replies to the Lies 12/3/99
Article: 83692
Message-ID: <bulk.6093.19991204091542@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

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Cuba Replies to the Lies

Radio Havana Cuba Special Report
3 December 1999

E-mail: rhc@radiohc.org
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Replies to the Lies:



Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque met with the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donahue, on Thursday. Perez Roque and Donahue are both attending the Third Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Seattle, Washington.

Perez Roque responded to the head of the business organization, who said he would "work on the U.S. government" if the Cuban foreign minister would "work on the Cuban government" to bring about "changes."

Here is the transcript of Felipe Perez Roque's remarks:

I should say that we, my colleagues and I, represent the Cuban government. We believe that this irrational situation is not the responsibility of the two governments. It is absolutely and totally the responsibility of the U.S. government, which is the one that has to move forward and make the pertinent decisions.

We have the right to be an independent country. We respect the right of North Americans to build their country the way they want; and we assert our right -- although we are a small, poor country -- to be independent and to do things the way we think, on the basis of respect for Cuba's self-determination. We believe that Cuba is a unique country and that Cubans have the right to do in their country what they feel is appropriate. We believe it is possible to have respectful and friendly relations, mutually-beneficial in fact, despite our differences. It is the right thing to do and the most democratic thing to do.

We want a world in which democracy can prevail -- where respect for diversity can also prevail. There is no single model, no single history or culture. We want a world where there are options and each people can pick and choose what is best for them. The people from the East Coast of the United States once decided they wanted to be independent of Great Britain. They made their own decisions and that decision has been respected for 200 years.

We are a younger nation. We have never bombed New York. We've never sent an armed expedition against Miami. We are the ones who have 3000 dead people resulting from the events over the last 40 years, because of the stubbornness of a few people who would not allow Cuba to be different. We understand that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents 3000 local chambers of commerce and has relations with more than 80 in other countries. It expresses the diversity of the United States -- made up of small and large businesses, private and mixed-capital -- and is prepared, as few others, are to respect diversity and understand that respect for the rights of others brings about peace (as the famous Mexican Benito Juarez once said).

And honestly I could not say here before all these people and TV cameras that I am going back to talk to the Cuban government, because I AM the Cuban government, I am part of it. Nor could I make a commitment to go back and work on' Fidel, because I think the way he does and what I express here are his ideas.

The fact that Fidel has led the Cuban people for 40 years is our business; it shouldn't concern you. The U.S. didn't worry about how long King Hussein ruled Jordan or how long King Juan Carlos rules in Spain. Washington never had any problems with that. Nor did the U.S. have any problems with the years that Pinochet ruled Chile -- and Pinochet ruled Chile at the cost of great repression and thousands of dead and disappeared. The U.S. government didn't have problems with the apartheid government of South Africa; it doesn't have problems with the government of South Korea or with the current government of China -- so why should they have problems with Fidel?

That's not the issue. The U.S. should allow us, the Cuban people, to take care of the issue of who is our leader, what is our form of government. The U.S. has a lot to take care of within the U.S. itself, and a lot of other problems around the world. There could be friendly and respectful relations between Cuba and the U.S.

But I can undertake to work together with the Chamber of Commerce, an organization that we respect, whose leaders we respect, whose opinions we hear. Although we are not 100% in agreement with them, we agree on many things. There are some points on which we disagree but we don't feel that this represents an obstacle to our having a relationship with an organization we admire and respect. Mr. Donahue went to Cuba, made the decision to see for himself, returned to the U.S. and expressed his opinions here and we respect him for that. We highly appreciate the relations we have with the Chamber of Commerce.

I can make a strong commitment here from our government, from the head of that government, Fidel Castro -- who asked me to convey his regards and respect -- that we can work together.

What is the main objective of that? To change the policy of the U.S. government towards Cuba, since it is the United States who has the problem. To advance in our trade relations and friendship between the two countries. To develop the use of the Internet in Cuba, so that Americans can understand how the private sector operates in Cuba. And to advance our personal and institutional relations.

And we hope the Chamber of Commerce will help us to one day bombard the United States with Cuban cigars. (Laughter and applause)

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