Honorable Leonel Fernández, President of the Dominican Republic,
Globalization is inevitable. It would be useless to oppose a law of history, but this one presently unfolding can, from an equally historical perspective, be transformed; and it should definitely be transformed, otherwise our species would not be able to survive. Perhaps, it is already late but it would be better not to wait until it is too late.
A small group of wealthy nations enjoys and advertises irrational and unsustainable consumer patterns while the overwhelming majority of the population, growing exponen-tially in the Third World, is enduring an increasingly humiliating and appalling poverty.
There is the intention to accord equal treatment to countries which differ greatly in their capabilities and development stages; that is terribly unfair. Our particularly backward and vulnerable economies - a logical consequence of centuries of colonialism, slavery and pillage - would never be able to successfully take part in the world economy in the absence of preferential schemes and of a great contribution in non-repayable foreign resources.
For 50 years, we have been deceived with the promise of reducing the extensive gap between the poor and the rich countries that has continued to widen every minute of this half century since the war.
The so-called reciprocity would be an outrageously arbitrary historical injustice. The developed countries which are demanding the implementation of that mean principle and the indiscriminate opening of our markets do not hesitate to use countless pretexts to keep in place and strengthen different kinds of protectionism, including tariff and non-tariff mechanisms.
Based on provisions by the World Trade Organization attempts are being made to do away with any instrument that protects the value of exports and may contribute to the comprehensive development of the Caribbean nations and the rest of the Third World countries. They dont mind if in the process we are stripped of our sovereignty and threatened with the devastation of our peoples identity and their rich, diverse and in some instances millennial cultural traditions.
The official development assistance, which to a certain extent could mitigate the harmful effects of the world economy present trends, is constantly diminishing. The external debt continues to grow as an excruciating burden on the countries striving for development. The increasing deterioration of the terms of reference, a subtle but ruthless form of plundering, is another obstacle for many of our countries on the way to progress.
Amidst these trends, the Caribbean region is facing the serious danger of a growing neglect. Some prevailing circumstances and perceptions are assigning our countries less important roles in the new global order that is shaping. It would seem that the very survival of our peoples lacks in significance. The banana issue is a case in point since the actions against the European import system moved by the selfish interests of two big American trans-national corporations might brutally sacrifice the economy of small Caribbean exporting nations whose output is hardly one percent of that product in the world trade.
An attempt is made at imposing an economic order in which our small and poor countries would have no choice but to become an immense free zone where the capital and industries of the powerful would find cheap labor force, destroy our environment, deplete our resources and multiply their profits without even paying taxes, when these countries no longer receive the modest custom benefits they used to obtain. How would they pay for education, medical services, social security, housing, drinking water and many other basic needs of the population?
We cannot accept the idea that the poor countries only choice is to continue competing among themselves in a wild race to make more and more concessions for attracting the capital and technology indispensable for their development.
The Multilateral Agreement on Investments presently under discussion at the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development - and exclusive club for the rich - intends to move capital all around the planet leaving the states helpless and turning the countries into half-way stations where they can obtain the most profits and destroy the environment.
Our countries recognize the role of the international capital in todays world economy but we cannot accept the dismantling of our sovereignty nor can we relinquish the possibility of having national development programs. Cuba finds it intolerable that the Multilateral Agreement on Investments would try something as absurd as the idea of turning the extraterritorial principles of the Helms-Burton Act - which the U.S. government wants to impose and the Caribbean nations so honorably reject - into a binding international legal code.
Likewise, our future is threatened by the artificial economy of wild financial speculation that neoliberal globalization has encouraged to such an extent as to make it insufferable for that very system speculating in stocks, bonds, national currencies or anything that can generate profits. Massive amounts of money are used to generate more money and multiply it without a production backup, without building new factories, with absolute disregard for real trade in goods or services. Such an artificial economy has turned the world into a large casino where everyday bets reach 1.5 trillion dollars, equivalent to the total value of the world economy gross product in over 15 days.
Thats why economic crises are unleashed, financial bubbles explode, massive migrations cannot be stopped, the climate changes, more people are victims of preventable diseases and social and political instability is not the exception but the rule.
Amidst so many difficulties, we admire the tenacious efforts by the CARICOM countries in favor of their peoples well-being and the development of their economies. Through multidestination, tourism might well become the driving force behind Caribbean integration, trading growth, investments and contacts among our countries. We might project our image to the world as the most appealing tourist destination, a unique and diverse destination, which would offer a good example on the preservation of the environment and our natural resources.
As for tourist development in our region Cuba is not, and will not be, a competitor but a close partner and collaborator. Our beaches and tourist facilities are open to Caribbean investors from countries in the region interested in taking part in Cuban tourism as we are willing to have Cuban investments in the Caribbean sister nations we feel so close to.
We are deeply appreciative of the Caribbean states for their support which has made possible our participation, as observers, in the forthcoming negotiations for a new agreement on the Lome Convention. We will always give a priority to the interests of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries signatories to that Convention. We will not do anything that may in a any way impair or reduce the preferences of the member countries; we shall work together with them, with our distinct devotion and loyalty, in order to preserve and expand those fair preferences.
Unity is the only real force available to the Caribbean region. Only if united we will be able to defend ourselves as a region and expand that unity to Central America, South America, Africa and the peoples of other continents.
Caribbean unity is also a blunt refusal to any attempt at division.
The problems of the Caribbean region cannot be separated from the problems of the Third World, much less from Humanity; and they all require global responses.
The Third World nations are our allies, particularly the Non-Aligned Movement member countries. Those who were yesterday discovered, fragmented, conquered and turned into colonies have today the possibility to act as a majority force in the different fora where the 21st century world is being decided.
The Caribbean region should be represented at the UN Security Council as the region deserves for its prestige, its history and its political capability, as it should also be present at the Human Rights Commission and in every forum where battles are being waged for the peoples right to life and well-being.
The future is in our hands.
What we are asking for, and should definitely fight for, is for the inevitable globalization taking place today according to the laws of history to be the globalization of fraternity and cooperation among all peoples, of sustainable development and a fair distribution and rational use of the abundant material and spiritual riches that man can create with his hands and mind, as an indispensable premise for the inescapably common homeland of a humanity that can, and should, endure.
Thank you, very much.