Open tribunal of youth and students, in the informative round table, with in-depth critical analyses of the principal governments and their accomplices responsible for the anti-Cuban Resolution presented at the Commission on Human Rights, which took place in Geneva on April 23, 2000.
(Shorthand Version – Council of State)
Carmen R. Báez – Good afternoon, esteemed viewers. And welcome to the Open Tribunal of youth and students, coming to you from studio 11 of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television, in a round table, as has been announced over the past few days.
This Sunday afternoon, our round table is going to be joined by panelists Reinaldo Taladrid, journalist with Televisión Cubana; Nidia Diaz, journalist with Granma newspaper; Arsenio Rodríguez, also from Granma; Lázaro Barredo, journalist with Trabajadores; Eduardo Dimas, journalist with Televisión Cubana; Marina Menéndez, journalist with the daily Juventud Rebelde; next to her the director of Juventud Rebelde, Rogelio Polanco, and Pedro de la Hoz, journalist with Granma.
Yesterday was a very glorious Saturday, the entire population rose with a smile on their faces, which was enough to make one cry.
With complete discretion, with great dignity, and full of pride, in the rooms of our houses, at the bus stop, in the street, we began to hear the words "Congratulations", or the expression "What a relief!", or "How did you find out?" "Have you heard?" All day long we heard these utterances, and in the afternoon, comments began to circulate about a photograph that showed a united family, which also summed-up our victory; people began to tell anecdotes about how, on waking up, they had heard the news that Elián was already with Juan Miguel, and in the afternoon, at the Open Tribunal held at the Australia sugar mill..., some of our young people expressed their opinions, as did our Commander-in-Chief, with the entire population.
They have just finished broadcasting that event, and allow me to recollect a very important sentence spoken by the Commander, when he said that today – referring to yesterday – was a day of truce, perhaps the only one in 41 years of Revolution, a day of truce with the United States.
That is why we are here, we return to the battle, because we know that what started out as the kidnapping of a child, could easily turn into the kidnapping of an entire family, if we do not make the necessary decisions, as soon as possible.
They are already starting to harass them, let us see when the final solution can be reached, bearing in mind that the mob, even the relatives in the United States, has started to try to harass them, and are carriyng on their campaign to prevent Elián from being reunited with the other part of his family: his grandparents and extended family – his people here in Cuba.
We are also at battle, and continue our battle, because the reasons behind this situation, and similar situations, have not been eradicated, and because – as our Commander-in-Chief rightly said – one of the things that most encouraged the mob and the Miami relatives, was the Resolution against Cuba that was approved in the Commission on Human Rights, in Geneva; because the hypocrites and lackeys – as our Commander in Chief also said – by voting against Cuba, put the boy’s life at risk, and that really is something that our people are not going to forget.
We also think that one of the fundamental reasons for being here today is that we still have not exhausted all the arguments that will show us who the people are that voted against our country. That is why I would like to begin this round table by recalling the results of the vote on the Resolution submitted by the Czech Republic against Cuba, at the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
If you recall, the Western European group voted as a block: in favour - Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. From Eastern Europe: the Czech Republic, of course, who submit the Resolution, together with Poland, Latvia and Romania voting in favour. With Russia voting against.
I wanted to remind you of this voting because, the first part of this round table is devoted to revealing who these countries are, on the inside, and their position in Europe.
I believe it would be a good idea to start this afternoon’s debate by looking at what specific stand these countries take against Cuba. Is it really that their stand is based purely on the status of human rights in Cuba, as they say, or are there other aspects which we could discuss?
In order to do this, I would like to start by asking Lázaro Barredo, who has also devoted himself for some time, in the National Assembly, to thoroughly analysing the stands of European countries, with respect to Cuba and who will help us to get started on the subject, by referring to this issue.
Lázaro Barredo:- As a matter of fact, the hypocrisy shown by Europe in relation to Cuba, is quite repellent. Their policy towards our country lacks ethics, lacks principles, has proved to be submissive, and incapable of operating independently, being dragged along by the United States.
I would go so far as to say that this submission is so vulgar, that it would not be an exaggeration to say that the governing principles of Europe’s policy towards our country, do not stem from the majority of European capitals, but rather from the Department of State in Washington, and later on I will prove my point.
When the U.S. Congress approved the Mack Amendment, at the beginning of the 90’s, and approved the Torricelli Amendment in 1992 – both senators well-know to our people, both corrupt and sold-out to the Miami mob – what did the Europeans say? They said, very definitely: We do not accept extraterritoriality.
Events showed that the governments of Europe were accomplices in the criminal economic war waged against our country right from the beginning of January 1959, not only because in Geneva they never brought the United States to trial – precisely what they are doing to Cuba – for their criminal policy of genocide, but also because they allowed that the U.S. subsidiaries, ensconced in their territories, be obliged, under threats and reprisals from Washington, to cut off all trade with us, at exactly the same time when the Soviet Union and socialism in Europe collapsed; within literally a few months, we saw our country’s traditional markets vanish, and the U.S. leaders believed, opportunistically, that the time had come to deal the fatal blow to our country, and force us, through hunger and disease, to surrender.
Europe was an accomplice in that policy, and made Cuba lose overnight approximately 800 million dollars worth of trade in food and medicines, that it maintained with these subsidiaries..Overnight, along with the disaster, or the collapse of the Soviet Union, this terrible blow was dealt to our country, and I repeat: Europe was an accomplice.
Then came the Helms-Burton Act, and what did the Europeans say? Before, during and after that monstrous legislation, they reiterated that they would not accept extraterritoriality, and that they would protect the interests of European businesses and citizens.
There was no political, government or parliament leadership – the declarations are there in the western media – that did not confirm state his her opposition to that despicable law. And it appeared to be true, because antidote laws were passed in response to the Helms-Burton Act; Cuba passed its Investment Law, approved its policy of opening up to foreign investment, and Europe immediately began to sign agreements to promote and protect investment in Cuba. There are agreements signed with Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Greece.
It also appeared to be true that they would not accept extraterritoriality, because when Clinton signed the law on March 12 1996, Europe immediately took the matter to the court of the World Trade Organization.
All of this gave the impression that, in reality, this time Europe was going to oppose an act of criminal aggression against our country, which is what the Helms-Burton Act was. However, I have to say – and it has also been recognised and discussed, even in the European Parliament – that in the most infallible anti-democratic practice...., secret discussions began to develop between the representative for foreign trade policy for the European Union, the British man with the gentleman’s title, Sir Leon Brittan, and Clinton’s special envoy, Stuart Eizenstat, who was also the man who had negotiated to resolve the problem of nationalizations in Eastern Europe, and had pretty good connections in Europe at that time. These are the two people who secretly initiated negotiations, apparently without any form of consultation with the governments or parliaments of the European Union They begin to reach and agreement, and it is this that, a month after the Helms Burton Act enters into effect, the first Understanding between the European Union and the United States is approved.
What was the content of that agreement? Well, Europe would withdraw its claim before the court of the WTO- in other words, it waived the claim – and begin to negotiate with the United States, also secretly, within the framework of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ) (OECD), the multilateral investment agreement (MIA), where certain rules were established concerning the nationalized properties. Europe was then endorsing, with this attitude, the investor-punishing principle of the Helms-Burton Act.
The Americans, on their part, committed themselves to continuing with the suspension of Title 3, and Clinton, who had already lost all his prerogatives in terms of foreign policy toward Cuba – for the first time in 200 years, a President renounced the constitutional decision on foreign policy, and handed the decision over to U.S. Congress – he thus committed himself to favouring this Agreement, to find a solution through Title 4th of the Helms-Burton Law, which is the punishment of investors, those who "traffic" with property in our country, their families; and all that.
What happened is that as Europe shamefully joined this agreement, the Americans kept prodding to find out if Europe was made of tender or tough meat, as Martí said, and they found the meat to be tender, and therefore carried on trying to subdue the European Union.
That is how Eizenstat came to be sent to Europe, to negotiate with the European governments, and get Europe to join an anti-Cuban crusade, under the pretext of promoting democracy in Cuba, so that Europe then joins Washington in this endeavour.
In my opinion, this is so immoral that I would have to say that, from that moment on, the European Track II, – I do not know now to classify it – was annexed to the subversive Track II of the United States policy of aggression because from that moment on Europe adopted the same policy of trying to destroy the Revolution.
Rogelio Polanco – Lázaro, it is important to remember which members of the European Union voted against Cuba; of those 15 members, 7 of them are part of the Commission on Human Rights – Germany, Great Britain, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg and Portugal. For this reason, I agree with you that, apart from the immoral act that was committed by implementing the Understanding, they committed another immoral act, by also using the issue of human rights against Cuba in the Commission on Human Rights.
Carmen R.Báez – I believe that it also says something about their the motives, that when Europe wanted to declare itself against the Helms-Burton Law that was not what really motivated them; it had not so much to do with their conscience regarding to what extent it was contrary to our sovereignty, against our own people, but rather whether the interests of Europe itself were at risk.
Polanco, now that you have spoken and expressed your opinion on this matter, and I think we can do it this way, enhancing what Lazaro said, I think it would be a very good idea to also talk about the common stance in Europe. From time to time, this is discussed, and it seems to me that for the benefit of the Cuban people, it would be better if we were more explicit, concerning what we mean when we refer to the common stance.
Rogelio Polanco – The so-called common stance that you have mentioned, was another of the numerous failed attempts by the European Union during recent years, to condition economic relations with Cuba by imposing unacceptable requirements of a political nature and of obvious interventionist interest.
It was at the end of 1996, with a severe economic blockade and the Helms-Burton Law in place - it is important to remember that - that the European Union member countries reached a consensus, which they called a common stance; which was nothing more than a unified front from which to attack Cuba, at that time; or rather, to use the possibility of signing a co-operation framework agreement with our country, to place demands on us regarding human rights. Note the shamelessness of this – those who accused us in Geneva, are the very same ones who said to us: if you do not comply with what I declare to be h uman rights and democracy, there is no chance of economic co-operation.
The European Union’s common stance towards Cuba was, of course, entirely unacceptable, due to its philosophy of interference. From the outset, Cuba rejected and refused to recognise their common stance, because it was based on a failure to recognise the legitimacy of our system of government. That common stance was selective, it was discriminatory towards our country, and it attempted to impose conditions, and apply models that would never be accepted by us. It was an obstacle which obviously did not help to build a normal relationship out of our links with Europe and, in particular, the European Union.
Its aim, which was ¨to promote a process which would lead to pluralistic democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms¨, coincided with the intentions expressed by the United States at that time, and, in that sense the common stance made it more difficult for the U.S. government to rectify its aggressive attitude towards Cuba, since in this way the United States was receiving the collective support of the European Union member countries, without any demands being made for an end to the blockade and the economic war being waged against our country, which ultimately conditions and hinders, to a great extent, the development of relationships with third countries, to this very day.
This co-operation framework agreement between the European Union and Cuba, which we have been talking about began to be negotiated, in the mid-90’s, at the request of the European Union, and Cuba was, and still is today, the only Latin American country that does not have an agreement of this sort. This also goes to show the discriminatory nature of this situation.
Let us recall that during those years we were visited by Manuel Marín, European Commissioner, who advocated the immediate approval of an agreement, with the same old humiliating conditions, which we firmly rejected.
Understanding, on that occasion, that there would be no compromise which would signify relinquishing our sovereignty, the signing of this agreement began to be indefinitely protracted ; and certainly, the same person, lacking in all ethics in his attempts to press Cuba, was one of the members of the European Commission, later accused of corruption by the European Parliament itself.
What sort of morale does he have, to place such demands on Cuba?
Finally, let us summarize with a few questions:
What is the morale of these countries, the seven who voted against Cuba, who are members of the European Union – Germany, Great Britain, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg and Portugal – that they can condemn Cuba on the issue of human rights, while violating our country’s sovereign right to decide how we wish to run our own society? What commission on human rights is going to condemn them? How much longer is Europe going to carry on with its arrogance, believing that it can teach other peoples? What is the reason for this discriminatory deal with Cuba? Why can Europe not talk on equal terms? What right do they have to haggle over economic co-operation? How much longer are they going to carry on acting like a metropolis? When are they going to understand that Cuba will not sell itself, that we will not be blackmailed? Why are they not accused of manipulating human rights, and using them as a form of political interference? Why condemn a Third World country such as Cuba, poor and subject to a blockade, that has done more an befalf of public-spirited co-operation and true solidarity with the rest of the planet, than any other country? How much longer will Europe continue to close ranks with the United States, even when it is against its own political and economic interests, by taking a common stance, not only amongst themselves, but also with the United States, that, at the end of the day, aims to destroy us?
Carmen R. Báez – Thank you very much, Polanco.
In the first part of this round table, I recall that we talked a bit about the mirror that they try to give to the Indian, in which they want him to see not what the Indians are like, but what the people that come to conquer them are like, and the years go by, and the centuries go by, and the rigid European colonial way of thinking continues. Lázaro, you had not finished talking about the Understanding.
Lázaro Barredo - I am glad you said that, and that Rogelio said what he did, because I believe that Europe is arrogant towards Cuba and towards Third World countries, but not towards the United States. I think we should be clear about this. The most paradoxical thing about this is that they see us as Indians in frock coats while the United Sates, in turn, looks upon them, and treats them as Indians in frock coats. That is what is so immoral about the political attitude of the European Union.
The proof of this is that with the first Understanding and the common stance accepted by Europe with nothing in return, the United States committed itself to resolving various problems through legislation, and what the extreme right in the United States did was to.give Europe a slap in the face, because what they did was to carry on approving new measures and new extraterritorial laws that openly and publicly slap them around before the eyes of international public opinion and humiliate them. That is where the D'Amato-Kennedy comes in, and I will talk about that swap later, about how Europe, arrogant Europe, behaved so outrageously in a situation like that.
Afterwards the Europeans, who commit themselves, who do not fulfill their commitments, despite all this, agreed to negotiate a second Understanding with the United States, and once again Brittan and Eizenstat secretly met to negotiate another Understanding, which was brought into force in May 1998.
I think that it is worth taking a brief look at the shameful nature of Europe's attitude when they accepted, as part of this second Understanding, to question the legitimacy of the nationalizations that Cuba has undertaken with the Agricultural Reform Law and the Nationalization Law in 1960. And I say that it is shameful because if anyone knows full well the political philosophy that Cuba was adhering to with the nationalizations, it is the Europeans, because many of their citizens were nationalized, many assets passed over to Cuba's hands, as part of these nationalizations, and nonetheless, they were the first to be compensated.
Cuba has compensated all the citizens from other countries. Citizens from the United States have not been able to receive compensation because the United States used the problem of compensation as a pretext for the blockade, and has built the entire economic war, has intensified it and approved all these extraterritorial laws under this pretext. But the Spanish, the French, the English, all the other proprietors received due compensation in the negotiations that took place among our countries.
It even urged the international institutions, fully aware - we are talking about 1998 - that the financial problem is crucial in Cuba's development at that time, and what it does is to join in the Understanding with the United States and urge the international financial institutions to join in discouraging investment in Cuba.
I ask myself if this is not criminal, if anyone can talk about human rights, given such difficult circumstances as those which our people have had to go through, our people who have resorted to foreign investment, who have resorted to all the economic reforms, and whom all of a sudden Europe tries to knock back, taking the same agressive stance as the United States.
For this reason, I ask myself, and I do not understand how, while on the one hand many countries and governments in Europe resort to the rhetoric against the Yankee blockade, in order to look good in the eyes of the public in their countries - who reject this criminal aggression - and nonetheless, those same European governments negotiate such specific measures, that are completely contradictory.
I already said it was a swap, because it really is a swap, in that Europe surrendered itself to the internationalization of the extraterritoriality of a U.S. law, such as the Helms-Burton, in order to temporarily avoid sanctions being applied to the European petroleum investors in Libya and Iran, under another extraterritorial U.S. law, the D'Amato-Kennedy, which was denounced by comrade Fidel himself the following day, because comrade Fidel was present at the opening session of the WTO, of the World Trade Organization, in Geneva, and the day after this Understanding was addopted, what did he say right there, to the European heads of state?
"The world has many reasons to feel humiliated and concerned - I am quoting what the Commander said - and the World Trade Organization must put a stop to the genocide. Whatever the differences between the United States and the European Union regarding the Helms-Burton, they must not be resolved at Cuba's cost, it would be an unthinkable disgrace for Europe. The agreements announced yesterday in London are confusing, contradictory and threatening for many countries, and not in the least ethical."
I think that the worst thing about all of this is that it is not only the way in which the U.S. right wing humiliated them, but also the Cuban-American mob.
The "ferocious she-wolf" has on various occasions, in front of the press, said things to the Europeans like this - and they were said in a threatening tone, and ultimately they were forced to give in: "In order for Congress to support Clinton we need to hear from the European Union that they are going to ban and penalize investors, as stated in the Helms-Burton Act."
And to bring this presentation to a close, I would like to comment on something that a European Parliamentary leader acknowledged - a man who is, what is more, a member of the most conservative political faction, or rather, the right-wing faction of the European Parliament. This man related how, for the purpose of the Understanding, they went to Washington to hold talks with Helms, Burton and with other members of Congress, among them, Lincoln Díaz-Balart, Ileana Ros and Bob Menéndez, and he came away so stunned by the barbarity of these people during the talks, that he realized afterwards that he, a right-wing man, for the first time in his life, felt himself to hold more left-wing views. So shocking was the meeting, and so reactionary the stand adopted by those people.
To conclude, I would like to present you with the proof that Europe behaved in a hypocritical manner towards our country. What I have here in my hands are the working guidelines - they are known as the Non papers - which friendly hands have delivered to us (he shows the document). These are the working guidelines that the Department of the United States, after the first Understanding with the European Union of April 11, 1997, has been using to direct work undertaken by European Embassies in our country. If you will allow me, I will read them:
The United States proposes that its European partners consider the following options: that the Unites States and the European Union work jointly, in accordance with the understanding, to encourage Latin American countries to take steps to promote democracy in Cuba, either by conditioning improved relations to fundamental changes, in a similar way to the common stance, or by means of other actions. The United States and the European Union can jointly approach the Latin American countries, or the European Union and its member States can undertake bilateral agreements, depending on what the most effective course of action can be.
The European Union member States can increase their contact with human rights activists in Cuba" – just as the Czechs say – "and offer the appropriate support. The possibility of posting human rights officials in Havana could be considered. The European Union could put pressure on the Cuban government to give legal status to independent organisations and human rights in Cuba. The European Union can urge the Cuban government to reform the Penal Code and to eliminate the provisions used to intimidate human rights activists.
The United States and the European Union can work discreetly and individually to promote businesses in Cuba, but not involving confiscated property, or consider involving themselves in moves to improve business practice, particularly in relation to the contracting and payment of workers.
European Union embassies in Havana could start to invite dissidents to meetings of the human rights working group, and establish this on a non-regular basis to encourage the dissidents to concentrate on producing reports, on monitoring and producing aims.
As a way of complimenting this programme of regular meetings with dissidents in Havana, members from the governments of European Union countries could consider periodically inviting Cuban dissidents to travel to Brussels, and other European capitals to promote the direct interchange of ideas.
The European Union will need to stress to the Cuban government the expectation that the said invited persons will be granted exit visas.
Furthermore, we would hope that high-level visitors from the European Union who travel to Cuba, including ambassadors from the European Union, not resident in Cuba make it a priority to meet publicly and openly with the dissidents, and demand that Castro begin the process of reform."
This is Europe's disgrace, and the mob-like behaviour in a despicable attitude against our country.
Carmen R. Báez - We began this round table by saying we wanted to take a good look at the actual stance of many countries in Europe, and in this case the European Union, with regard to our country; but this does not only affect Cuba, actions relating to economic aspects have a lot to do with many Third World countries.
I think that here we started to talk about Indians. When people talked about Indians when we were at school, I remember that the topic was associated with the colony, and from colony moved on to the neo-colony; but the fact is, that if we talk about colony and neo-colony, without talking about metropolis, we are missing out an important part of the causes, and we must also talk about consequences.
Now we are going to go beyond Cuba, and we are going to do the same as our diplomats in the Commission on Human Rights, who not only talk for Cuba, but for the entire Third World, for this I think it would be very useful if journalists such as Dimas, Marina and Nidia, who have dealt with issues such as these in their papers, even Marina, in Haciendo Radio, has participated in this sort of discussion, could help us talk more about life expectancy, about the right that we have to development, about how the European Union, or the countries in this west European group that voted against Cuba, participate or involve themselves in the development of other countries.
I do not know which of the three would like to start off.
Marina Menéndez - I agree with you, and looking once more at the vote, this attempt to accuse Cuba of violating human rights once again begs the question that we have already asked several of us, to analyze who judges them, what moral right have they got to unfairly accuse Cuba, those who were responsible not just for the deaths that Taladrid talked about the other day, with plastic bullets, with plastic batons, deaths caused by police repression, but deaths adding up to hundreds of thousands in the Third World, and for which they are reponsible.
We are going to talk specifically about the richest countries in the world, about the so-called Group of 7: the United States, Canada, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy and Japan. They are the ones responsible. Who imposed and who maintains this unfair economic and financial international order which causes these deaths? An order which makes the gap between the rich and the poor ever wider, and causes the poor to sink still deeper into an existence of mere survival, not to mention the damage to the planet, which we can talk about afterwards. Do you not agree, Dimas?
Eduardo Dimas - There is one problem that has always struck me. It is a global trend, and it is the trend to separate human rights from economic problems, that is to say, it is very much in the interests of the developed capitalist world, of the Group of 7, of the centers of world economic power.
What is without doubt is that the global economic sytem has been constructed on the basis of these interests, and these interests are selfish, they are unequal and they are unfair. They are the interests of the centers of world economic power, headed by the Group of 7.
Now, they do not take into account in their propoganda, in all the analyses that they make, in the stands that they take, neither the economic rights nor the social rights, nor the cultural rights of the people, and they say that they take into account - because in practice they constantly violate them - the civil and political rights.
Lázaro related something to me which, with your permission, I am going to use as a basis, to show just how unjust the world economic order in which we live is.
A U.S. citizen annually consumes ten times more than a Mexican, and 36 times more than a person who lives in Bangladesh. Now, if the entire world, if all of us living on this planet consumed the same amount as a U.S. citizen, or one of the main countries of the Group of 7, we would need three planet Earths to meet the needs of all human beings, and we only have one planet, which we are, without doubt, destroying.
For the rich to live opulently, the poor have to live, as many of them do, in the most abject poverty. I am going to quote some figures, if you will allow me, Carmen Rosa.
The richest 20% of the planet's population, that is to say, that 20% who inhabit the developed world, consume 45% of all meat and fish that is consumed in the world; the poorest 20% only consume 4%. The richest 20% of the world's population consume 58% of all energy; the poorest 20% only consume less than 5%.
In order to provide maternal, reproductive health care for all women in the Third World, 12 billion dollars would be needed annually. In the United States and Europe, the famous defenders of human rights, 17 billion dollars are annually spent on food for domestic pets: cats and dogs, who seem to be valued more in those countries than human beings.
In order to provide primary education for everyone in the Third World -and these are plans that you hear spoken about year after year, and for which, in short, meetings and congresses are held: we are going to ensure that all human beings are literate, and when you come to look, they are not literate, everything carries on the same, and the number of illiterate people in the world increases.
Carmen R. Báez - Excuse me, Dimas, excuse me for interrupting you, but our colleagues from the ICRT are providing us with images.
Eduardo Dimas - These are recent images of the famine in the Horn of Africa.
Carmen R. Báez - That is what I wanted to say, do not think that we are talking about images from years ago; we are talking about what is happening in Africa today, at this very moment. They are problems that are being experienced today, you could say, at the same time as we are holding this round table. We are not showing archive images from years ago. We are in the year 2000.
Eduardo Dimas - At this moment, so that you have an idea, in that area of the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, that is to say, all the countries that make up the Horn of Africa, there are 12 million people at risk of starving to death, with one small detail: the aid that is arriving is insufficient to maintain them, and that aid should, of course, fundamentally be provided by the wealthy countries.
Carmen R. Báez - Excuse us for interrupting you, Dimas, and I think that the figures you were providing us with were very interesting, because they relate to what we are discussing.
Eduardo Dimas - In order to provide primary education for everyone in the Third World, six billion dollars is needed annually. In the United States eight billion dollars is spent annually on cosmetics.
In order to wipe out the foreign debt of these countries -and these are the countries that have foreign debt - of the entire Third World, all that is needed is 40 days worth of the gross national product from the countries that make up the Group of Seven.
Obviously, in order that the rich can live a life of luxury, there have to be images such as the ones that we have here on the screen. It shows the extent of selfishness, of how unjust it is; but, what is more, it shows why they do not want to link human rights to the economy. That is one of the proofs.
Marina Menéndez - Dimas was talking about aid for development, and I would just like to point out that, actually, not even the hypocritical aid for development promised has been fulfilled. With great difficulty we managed to get the richest countries in the world to commit themselves to giving what would amount to just 0.7% of their gross domestic product to help the poorest countries develop, and they have not even fulfilled that commitment.
In 1998 they gave just 0.23%, and the best period, according to the figure that I have here, was between 1979 and 1988, when it reached 0.34%; regardless of the fact that this would not resolve anything, because, above all, I think that what the rich countries are preventing, through the world order that they have imposed, is precisely the poor countries' right to development.
Of course, the images that we are looking at are current, but they are also from years ago. This is not a new story, this is a story which has its origin in a colonial past; it must not be forgotten that the foundations of capitalism are based in the workings of the colonial system, and to all those who have died of starvation and preventible diseases - which is what hurts most - we also have to add those who were left dead by the battles to achieve liberation from their former metroplis. Let us not forget the episodes in the French colonies, and the episodes in Portugal's African colonies - Mozambique and Angola.
I think that the only thing that has changed is the methods employed. Now we are talking about a neoliberal system which, what is more, is imposed by these very countries, precisely due to an economic dependency, which is what also enables them to supress them, and make these poor countries even more politically dependent.
I am talking to you, Dimas, I do not know if you will agree with me, about issues such as the conditions placed on any loan that, in effect, cause the poor countries to get even further into debt, and let us say that the debt already amounts to 2.5 trillion dollars; but, what is more, the enforcement, by these means, of other, newly-coined terms, that also violate international law, manipulating it, transforming it, violating it, such as governability - which is very fashionable - and transparency, which are little more than excuses to continue imposing political models on these governments and these peoples that, ultimately, are not in their interests, nor are they the ones that they chose.
I believe that now is the time to ask ourselves, once again, with what moral right, according to what law, and who is judging us.
Eduardo Dimas - There is one thing I would like to point out:
The famous liberalization of trade establishes equal opportunities for all countries. To put it bluntly, what type of equality can exist between two nations such as, for example, Uganda and Germany? What sort of equality of conditions and opportunities can Mozambique and France have? To give just two examples; there are dozens. Obviously, there is no chance of equal opportunities.
In Africa 91 children die for every 1,000 live birth; in Africa, 172 boys and 154 girls out of every thousand born die before they reach the age of five.
In Africa, life expectancy is just 49 years for men and 51 for women, while in Europe, the figures are 69 and 77 respectively. Incidentally, European men have a shorter life expectancy than Cuban men, because our life expectancy is 74 years, so we have got five years ahead of them.
Lázaro Barredo - I believe it is 75.
Eduardo Dimas - Well, I am going to live one year more.
In Africa, 940 mothers out of every 100,000 die in child birth, while in Europe it is only 59.
Five million people died as a result of infectious diseases and parasites, including tuberculosis, in the African continent, while in Europe, in the same period, the figure was twenty times less.
In the Third World, 48million people die every year from preventible diseases.
The difference in incomes between the richest fifth of the world's population and the poorest fifth is 74 to 1.
Ninety-eight percent of children who die under the age of five live in underdeveloped countries.
There are 900 million starving people in the Third World and 1.5 billion living below the poverty line.
What are we talking about here? Are we not talking about economic genocide? And in which commission on human rights is this genocide going to be discussed and condemned?
Carmen R. Báez - If we set out to make ourselves a list of questions today, I believe we would add to the ones that were left unanswered at the last round table, when we talked about NATO - questions that have required an answer for a long time now.
Eduardo Dimas - A little while ago I was talking about the fact that we would need three planets. This one is being destroyed in the interests of first world consumption; but, in addition to this, the truth of the matter is that it is being destroyed, that the environment is systematically suffering, as a result of everything that they have done to it, of all the depredation and degradation of the planet.
Nidia Diaz - Before dealing with that issue, which it seems to me is of interest, and which Dimas touched on, I would like to recall something which I believe, as never before: nobody would dare to contradict Marx when he said that capital comes into the world dripping blood and scum from all its pores. I believe that nobody who has a bare minimum of conscience could defy that wise appraisal that Marx made in his time.
Regarding what Dimas was saying, I believe that we also have to add the matter of the genocide that is being committed against our planet to the list of questions that they covered, from the point of view of the economy, the global world order, etc. It must be said that it is the main industrialised countries that are are accusing us in the Commission on Human Rights, that are the main producers of the carbon dioxide which poisons the atmosphere, which contaminates the planet, and which has even gone so far as to change the rhythm of nature itself. However, it must be noted, and it is only fair to do so, that certain efforts are being made in the world, to try and put a stop to this environmental deterioration, to try and put a stop to these so-called greenhouse gases, which are mostly emitted by these industrialized countries.
It is precisely the wealthy, industrialized countries, the First World countries, those who with their hypocritical policies, with their egotistical and insensitive policies, are turning these global efforts into a lucrative business, and I would like to give the example of Kyoto.
Many of our viewers will remember the Environment Summit, which was held in that Japanese city, and at which, in an attempt to put a stop to the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, a restriction was placed on each country to stop them from emitting more than a certain number of metric tonnes of gas into the atmosphere; however, what happened? The same people who made the law, made the loophole. In other words, Germany has its quota, Italy has its quota, France has its quota; but the Third World has a quota, a quota that it does not use, because the Third World emits a limited amount of greenhouse gases, in fact hardly any at all.
What do the wealthy countries do? Ah ha! I, Germany, a developed country, that has a consumer policy that poisons the environment, just like the United States, just like Italy, just like France, consume my quota, fulfill the Kyoto agreements, but I buy the Third World's quota off them. Think of any one of those Third World countries, I am not going to mention a name, that does not have the industrial capacity to use up their quota; it can be bought off them, and thus not only is the emission of gases not reduced, but in fact it increases, because those that were not going to be let into the atmosphere, because they had not been produced, are being emitted by the same people who have degraded the environment, the same people who have created this situation of genocide with the environment.
What we saw on television is not a result of the fact that it is hotter in Africa than in the rest of the world, but rather, it is because all these effects of greenhouse gases have upset the environment. Just as we saw a few weeks ago in Venezuela rains that were unlike anything seen before, the same thing is happening in the Horn of Africa, and is happening in other countries.
I think that this practice of buying quotas from Third World countries, allocated in an attempt to control the emission of greenhouse gases, is an illegal practice which they try to make appear legal; however, the wealthy countries, the industrialized countries are presenting it as a way of helping, in some form, the Third World, and these are, Carmen Rosa, precisely the ones who raise their finger accusingly at Cuba, they are the ones who hypocritically hide their policy of poisoning the environment, the ones who are subverting the world order, and the ones who deprive humanity of the chance to live on a healthy planet, a planet which suffers more and more natural disasters, of incalculable consequences, disasters that add to the precarious social situation in which the people in the Third World have to survive.
This is genocide, but what is more, it is a blatant violation of human rights. We should add to this list that is being made here, the role that the industrialized countries have played in the destruction of our planet, and, as Dimas said, we only have this planet, and we only have one life.
Reinaldo Taladrid - I want to bring together a few ideas that have been mentioned here, one thing occurred to me. For example, we talked about development, we talked about aid for development, about poverty, and I was reminded of something that I read a short while ago, which is the following: Seeing as we are also talking about international organizations, the United Nations has an organization that is called the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP. That was created, in essence, to combat the poverty which prevented Third World countries from developing.
Now, what has happened with it? I think that it was Marina who mentioned how aid for development has been declining. Developed countries were initially asked to give 0.7% - they have never given more than 0.3%, that is the fact of the matter; it is now about 0.2%.
This is also reflected, even if it is a different matter, in these organizations. Five years ago this United Nations Development Programme, which one assumes would promote projects to develop the economies of Third World countries, had 1.2 billion dollars to work with; today it has 680 million.
This UNDP has always been directed by a North American, since it was established, and now, for the first time, it seems that as a consolation prize or something, they have put an Englishman as director. Now - follow the tracks - where does this Englishman come from? This man is from the World Bank. Maybe that is why he had sufficient backing to manage the UNDP.
What does this man do, to give an idea of where this is going to end up? He says: "We need more money in order to get back to the situation we were in before. How am I going to please the wealthy countries, so that they give me more money?" And what did he come up with, or what did they tell him to do?, that is never known. "Well, we are going to organize projects that the rich people like." And what do the rich people like, or the Group of 7, or the usual suspects for every bad deed on this planet, or whatever you call them?
What do they like? Two types of project, and at the moment they are the majority of the projects that the United Nations Development Programme is proposing; note that I emphasize the word "development".
It is proposing two types of project: 1) Governability projects; 2) Political consultancy projects.
I come back to the name, the word is "development", and we are talking about "political consultancy and governability".
What does the Englishman say? Perhaps he aspires to becoming a Lord, like Leon Brittan, or something like that. He says that "the reason for poverty and all these problems is that there is so much corruption in Third World countries, and resources destined for development are stolen."
Now, there are two things there that I want to comment on, regarding what these people are doing: first, corruption is not the reason for poverty; the reasons for poverty have been stated here: international economic disorder, unequal exchange, the exploitation to which we have all been subjected for centuries, and foreign debt. Those are the real reasons for poverty, not corruption.
The second thing that I want to say is that another element should be added to the picture, one other final touch, with two purposes: one, to turn the United Nations into a type of senate of the current Roman Empire, which validates what the empire does, and one very subtle way is this: You have a Third World country, it has financial problems, it needs these projects, it initiates a project, and so you send them a political consultant.
That man is in the midst of it, he does what he pleases, and we all know whose interest he looks after, what he is going to suggest, and what he is going to propose.
I wanted to make that point with regard to everything to do with development, poverty, the United Nations and the usual suspects, who are the ones behind this.
But there is one thing that I do not want to overlook, which has to do with this: this problem of corruption, poverty and the wealthy.
I am not going to argue the point, that is not the issue here. We all know that there is corruption in the Third World as well, and there have certainly been cases of corruption known throughout the world; but here there is also a problem of racism. I am going to tell you why, in my opinion, there is a problem of racism. There is a problem of racism, because you first have to look at who invented corruption, and who introduced it to the Third World.
When the Spaniards arrived in America, there were plenty of criminals on those boats, there were plenty of people who left prison for the ships, and I do not know the exact figures, I do not know if anyone has them, but in Columbus's ships more than half the passengers, I am sure that it was much more than half, were criminals who had come out of prisons. It is not a gratuitous label, they were criminals who had been released from prison.
The Mayas, the Aztecs, the Incas, and the people who came here from the Orinoco to Cuba had a different way of organizing themselves, which did not yet involve prisons, criminals or corruption, none of these sorts of things; they were at a different stage, and you need to look at who brought corruption here. In Africa, you need to look at how many English, Dutch, etc. brought these types of habits with them, that already abounded in those countries.
We are going to come back to the present day, and look at something that very often happens. I have about five examples, let us just give one. I am not going to mention the recipient country, because it has nothing to do with the matter.
Development aid projects -that is what we are talking about , right?- cut backs in aid, politicization, attempts to crush national sovereignty, restrict sovereignty, introduce political consultants.
But that is not all: there is a certain country -I am not going to mention names, what I am going to say is fact- that receives a cooperation project from Canada.
Canada, despite the fact it did not have any colonies, has followed very closely the magnet below it, and continues down that path. So, Canada gives this country 500,000 dollars, for a project to modernize the banks, and the like. The country, intelligently, says to Canada that what it wants is informatics, a computing system, information technology, etc.
What happens? The Canadians involved in the project, when they travel from Canada to that country, travel first class; when they arrive they stay in suites, not just rooms, but suites, in a five star hotel; the per diems are very high, and often.. Well, they do a lot of things with per diems in those United Nations systems. So, they come once, they undertake a study, they go back, return with the report, and the project starts. By the time the project started, 200,000 dollars had already been spent on operational costs - let us call them that - travel, accommodation, per diems etc.; close to half was left.
So, since we are talking about corruption - about teachers, because all these people give classes on ethics and on human rights - one of the members of the project suggests to the officials of the recipient country that he has a friend who has a company that sells computers, that are very good quality, and he is earning his commission there, he is involving a friend's company, so that when the time comes to buy the computers, they buy the computers from his friend, and he receives his commission.
That is why I say that in all of these matters, apart from restricting sovereignty and all that, there is also racism and corruption.
Carmen R. Báez - Let us try and bring the topic to a close.
Marina Menéndez - I would not dare to disagree with Taladrid on the issue of racism; but yes, obviously transparency is nowadays demanded of countries, but they, the international organizations, do not offer any sort of transparency, they do not give any guarantee of fair and clean conduct. I believe that that is precisely where the trap lies for the poor people.
We did not talk about the IMF and the World Bank, at first; but unfortunately, if this is what has happened to the UNDP, which supposedly is an organisation that should be for development, what can we say about the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, organizations through which the rich countries exercise their power and dominate the poor?
You were talking about a suspect, almost always a suspect...
Reinaldo Taladrid - Let me clarify something. The example that I gave is a bilateral project, was a bilateral project. Nothing to do with the UNDP.
Carmen R. Báez - That is worth clarifying.
Marina Menéndez - In the IMF, for example, 50% of the votes are held by the wealthy countries, members of the Group of 7, and the United States, moreover, has the power to veto any decision. I believe that that corroborates your thesis that it is, as they say, an unequal law
Carmen R. Báez - Yes, it seems to me that in this issue that we have been dealing with, it should also be made clear to our viewers how these matters interlink, so that we do not lose the thread of this round table.
We are trying to analyze the countries in Western Europe, and also Eastern Europe, who voted against Cuba; but I think it is important to say that we often refer to these groups, or talk about organizations, like the Group of 7, the International Monetary Fund. All this is because these countries are involved in these organizations, and are the ones who fundamentally have influence within them, and control. That is why every so often we combine the situation of a certain country, the relationship of one country with another, and what happens when they are exercising their power in a certain forum or within certain international organizations.
I would like to suggest that we bring this topic to a close, because time is running out, and there are things we would like to clarify as much as possible. It seems to me that we are still left with several interesting aspects.
Nidia Díaz - To draw things to a close, I think that we have made it perfectly clear that the main violators of human rights are precisely the people who have imposed a new world economic order, which is also an unsustainable and unjust order, which, furthermore, is controlled by the main international financial organizations.
It is precisely this new world order that has been creating a world which lacks solidarity, where individualism and selfishness are increasing at a frightening rate.
I would like to ask them, those wealthy countries, those countries from the Group of 7, all the governments of the First World who voted against Cuba in that hypocritical Commission on Human Rights, what have they done for increasingly large sections of the population, especially in the Third World, who suffer from preventible or curable illnesses, who die from these sorts of illnesses, or for the 25 million Africans who have the AIDS virus? Which of them has provided specialized technical assistance to these Third World countries, in areas such as education, health, technological development, precisely those areas where, in recent years, colonialism, neocolonialism and neoliberal globalization have had a dramatic impact, causing a drastic increase in illiteracy, poor health, and technological backwardness? Well then, if they are not going to answer us, I could answer, obviously, or any of us here, any of our viewers could answer for them:
The Cuba which was accused, the Cuba which is being slandered for supposedly violating its people's human rights, is the same Cuba which, since 1963 until the present day, has contributed, in the form of specialized and technical cooperation, the help of 138,805 Cubans, in 130 countries.
So, I would like to ask those who have been judging us till now, those who accuse us, those who try to put us in the dock , what they have done in this respect. What have they done, for example, for the emergency aid for the hurricanes, floods, volcanic erruptions, apart from showing their faces a few days after the disaster; they turn up at these places amidst great publicity. However, Cuba has not left those same places, and will stay there as long as is necessary, and in some cases - and our people know this - we have been supporting those countries for years.
And I also ask myself what the old colonies, or the countries dependent on their metropolis, have achieved during these years? Well, nothing, or almost nothing.
We are not going to list figures, so as not to prolong the topic, but if we compare the figures from those countries with the figures which Cuba can provide, they are a long way behind us with respect to the achievements we have made in terms of social issues, education and health.
So I ask myself: What right have they got to accuse us? What do they know about what Cuba was, and what Cuba is? And the Cubans, who have made extraordinary achievements into daily events, it is not for nothing that we, from time to time, - with all the humility that characterizes our work and our solidarity in the world - also provide some figures and, above all, say what it is that the Cuban Revolution has done, and what it is that has enabled us to offer this fraternal help, in this individualistic and egotistical world.
I would like to quote just three or four sets of figures that show what Cuba was before the Revolution and what Cuba is after the Revolution.
Life expectancy in 1958 was 61 years in Cuba. As Dimas just said a few minutes ago, in the year 2000 we already have a life expectancy of 75. In 1958 there was 53% social security coverage in Cuba, and in this Cuba which is accused of violating human rights, there is 100% coverage.
The rate of literacy before the Revolution was 23.6%, and by just 1981, note how many light years we are away from that date, it was 1.9%. In 1958, the average level of schooling which our population received, in accordance with teaching grades, was second grade. In the year 2000, the year in which Cuba is accused of violating human rights, our people are educated to above the ninth grade.
There was previously one doctor per every 1,076 inhabitants in Cuba; today there is one doctor per 172 inhabitants.
After these figures, and after knowing that we are here, those who hear us, and those who hear us and say that they do not hear us, why has Cuba been accused? It seems to me that Europe, which in recent years has become used to obediency, should - before pronouncing a vote against the Cuban people, against the Cuban Revolution - be aware of these facts, that are the true facts of a people who really are independent.
Carmen R. Báez - I would like to suggest to the panelists, and also to the viewers who are with us today, that we move on to another topic, another topic that is also interesting, which we were talking about before, things that we could be discussing, and that I think would be very interesting, because it is not something we talk about every day.
Just a moment ago, Taladrid, and I would like to give the floor to him, said that he played a bit with words, and combined certain phrases that had been used in order to come up with an interpretation. Bringing ideas together - we talked about the environment here, and some years ago we were talking about the Cold War, about the arms race, there was talk of the harm we would cause to the planet if we continued down that route, and with the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the disappearance of the socialist bloc, it was hoped the world would change in such a way that many things that were previously criticized would disappear; it is true that the world changed, but not in the way that we wanted, the way they want us to think it changed.
I would like Taladrid to help me to go into this interesting issue of the development of nuclear arms in more depth. I know that Europe takes a very interesting stand, or at least the powerful countries take an interesting stand, which it would be useful to discuss.
Reynaldo Taladrid - Yes, the arms race has not ended, and very often we have talked about how many things could be done with just a small part of the money spent on arms.
But if we are going to talk about nuclear issues, I think there is one specific issue which it is worth while bringing up now, and that I think is a very illegal story, full of illegalities, a story which has been kept very secret, about which no one has spoken out, and which, what is more, in my opinion, is one of the most irresponsible things the United States and Western Europe have done in the past 50 years.
I am talking about how they created the conditions needed to develop a strong nuclear power in none other than one of the most tense and conflict-ridden areas on this planet, an area where very serious conflicts of all sorts - historical, political, territorial, religious - meet and converge; I am talking about none other than the Middle East.
What am I talking about? I am talking specifically about how the United States and some of its Western allies turned Israel into a major nuclear power. And if anyone doubts that it is "major", I would say to them that today, Israel is the sixth greatest nuclear power on the planet.
So, how did that happen? At the end of the fifties, the United States - I would like to clarify something: what I am describing here was not public knowledge, it was kept secret, and nobody spoke about it; what we are revealing today is the result of digging deep, and researching all these matters - supplied Israel with its first nuclear reactor. Not satisfied with this, and for certain reasons, in the sixties Israel signed a secret agreement with France, out of which a project arose, which was also kept secret, and was called Dimona.
That is when the technology started to arrive. You can introduce technology to a country in one way, and use it, in some cases, for other purposes, or you can use certain technologies in combination with other things. I say this in case any specialists are listening to me.
Add to this the fact that the United States has historically given Israel, specifically, material aid to the tune of millions every year, or rather, they give them money to develop technology or to buy military equipment from their own companies.
Just to give an idea, the United States currently gives five billion dollars a year to Israel in military aid. Consider this within the context of the characteristics that this State of Israel has had from very early on - policies of territorial expansion with its neighbours, developing a strong military element, and extremely aggressive. So, this country, Israel, where, incidentally, talking of human rights and the Commission on Human Rights, Israel is a country where torture was legal until just a few months ago; or rather, it was legal, in accordance with Israeli legislation, to torture. That was until just a few months ago. Obviously they tortured the Palestinians.
Precisely in this country, as a result of all these things that were kept secret, what was the outcome? Well, the outcome was that Israel today posesses, at this very time, no less than 300 nuclear arms. Comrades, we are talking about the sixth greatest nuclear power on the planet, we are not talking about an incipient thing. Now then, it is not only the 300 nuclear arms, no, no; it is the fact that Israel has sufficient missiles, vectors, fighter planes and bombers to use all these arms; or rather, it has the carriers to use them, it already has the means to transport them.
What is the limit of the scope or the danger of this major nuclear power that has been created? It covers the whole of the Middle East, all that area - I repeat - highly troubled, full of historical conflicts of various sorts, the Israeli missiles, that they call Jericho-2, the bombers, all those planes, will reach everywhere in this area. But not just there, the whole of North Africa as well, falls within the range of these arms, and the south of Europe. There are very troubled areas in the south of Europe, we only have to remember Yugoslavia, Turkey, a whole set of regions.
What happened then? All of this happened over a period of decades. The United Nations was in existence during that period, as was the Commission on Human Rights, the press, officials, organizations: Nobody, nobody denounced this, in any of the countries providing the technology, nobody denounced it, nobody condemned it, and it was an act of tremendous historic irresponsibility, quite simply to create a major nuclear power, I repeat, we are not talking about some incipient thing, in the midst of this region. Who did this? As you saw, the United States, our main prosecutor, France, and - remember that it is a project that was kept secret - I do not doubt that one day new evidence will come forth about who else supplied Israel with this technology, if there are others.
It does not end there. The fact that this had been developed in Israel was the link to, or made the way for something, in my opinion, even more ethically abhorrent, and that is that Israel was the trampoline, the base from which to, thankfully, turn apartheid South Africa into an incipient nuclear power. And I say thankfully because they crushed apartheid thanks, to a great extent, to the efforts of our troops, our international fighters; but, fortunately, it was only incipient. Israel was the trampoline for that.
There is something that I want to point out here, before embarking on the issue of South Africa. Think about it, we are talking about the irresponsibility of creating strong or incipient nuclear powers, but take a look at which two countries were converted into nuclear powers: Israel, one of the countries with the worst record of violating human rights, an aggressive country, a militaristic, expansionist country, and South Africa, the country of apartheid, of course, one of the most abhorrent and repudiated regimes in history. Those are the two countries which were turned into nuclear powers.
Now then, South Africa, what happened in South Africa? I repeat, all of this was also undertaken in secret, which is why it sometimes requires a lot of work to get to the bottom of matters, we have to dig down, and search.
During the most critical, most abhorrent periods of apartheid - we are going to use that word again, because apartheid really was utterly abhorrent - the group of African countries in the United Nations proposed that an investigation take place, and that a commission be established to expose, or reveal, South Africa's military capacity. This was taken to the General Assembly to be voted on, and it was approved; of course, it was approved with the usual votes against by the usual suspects, the United States and England, with the rest of the West abstaining, but it was approved. And this commission managed to make this investigation public, and I have it here, it is this document that I have down here, this document that I have here is the result of that investigation (he shows it).
That investigation revealed several things. And I am going to be precise, I have here the notes that I took from this report that I have here. Here is where it says:
Who are the countries that supplied South Africa with this technology?
1) Belgium and Canada, a company called Space Risecht Corporation of Belgium and Canada. That company built and sold 155 millimeter missiles, attached with rockets capable of carrying tactical nuclear arms, to the South Africans. Canada, one of our "public prosecutors", there it is.
2) Germany: German companies built two uranium enrichment installations, which are used for nuclear armaments. That is Germany, another one of our "public prosecutors".
3) The main one could not be missing: the United States. The United States supplied South Africa with its first nuclear reactor.
There you can see how it was done. What was the result of this?
Well, that in the eighties, South Africa undertook a test whereby it sent a missile 1,450 kilometers towards the South Atlantic, or rather, towards the south of South Africa.
We can already see how here, in this case, an incipient nuclear power is being created. Some things have been unearthed, even if not everything.
But what happened? We all know that Cuba provided international aid in Angola, we all know what happened, and I want to be very precise about what I am going to say. At the time, which we all remember, the Cuban and Angolan troops were advancing towards the south, that heroic moment of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, that decisive moment, which was the most important in bringing down apartheid, and which changed the course of the history of the Southern cone of Africa. At that time, and pay attention to what I am about to say - South Africa had seven nuclear bombs, South Africa had seven atomic bombs at that moment; but the worst of it is that at that moment, while the troops were advancing, as everyone remembers, the United States knew that South Africa had seven nuclear bombs, and what did the United States do?
First, they did not say anything, and they knew perfectly well; secondly, they were hopeful - and I fully intentionally use the word hopeful - all the time counting on South Africa using their nuclear bombs against the Cuban troops.
Now, you could ask yourself, well, how did that happen, did we know it, what was going on? Previously - and it is not the first time that this has been talked about - the Commander in Chief explained that in the face of strong evidence, all that which we have explained about the bombs that South Africa had, their nuclear potential, the Cuban-Angolan troops adopted special tactics, that consisted in creating powerfully armed tactical groups, of no more than 1,000 men. These tactical groups - I repeat, powerfully armed, and no more than 1,000 men - were supported by a significant airforce, of Mig-23 fighters and 1,000 anti-aircraft weapons, of various types; in other words, all this was also taken into account.
Now, you could say: Well, this is a bit exaggerated. The Americans knew this. In reality their irresponsibility is so great that they were counting on nothing less than the use of atomic bombs. Some of you might doubt that, it is only human to doubt. I am going to read you something.
Chester Crocker was, during all that time, the Under-Secretary of State for the United States, responsible for affairs on the African continent, in other words, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Relations in the United States, for Africa. He was a man who was very well informed about everything that was going on in Africa, and had many connections in the region. After he stood down from the post, Chester Crocker wrote a book, and I am going to read you what that man wrote in his book, I repeat, the Under-secretary for State for African Affairs, in the United States at that time. Chester Crocker says: "If Cuba had got through the South African border, the result would have been a new Korea, with the difference that they would have used very powerful weapons".
So, if you were left in any doubt, this sentence will rid you of it: first, they knew perfectly well, they cannot claim ignorance, nor that the South Africans did not tell them, etc, they knew perfectly well; secondly, they knew perfectly well - and it can be seen in this sentence - that they let things run their course, or hoped, or dreamed that nuclear weapons would be used against the Cuban troops.
Some might say that this speaks for itself, I myself would say: Draw your own conclusions. But the fact is that here, maybe I am going to go a bit against what I always say. The thing is that this is one of the most irresponsible things that I can remember in recent times, that a country which one expects to act more responsibly, which is said to be permanently negotiating strategic arms limitation treaties, which warns of the dangers of nuclear weapons, which says that this is one of the reasons for possible NATO intervention in any situation, as part of its new strategy, that this country has been shown to count on nuclear arms being used against an army that was prepared, but not armed with nuclear weapons. That is so irresponsible...They have been used only once, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and of course, they were the ones that used them; but here they were counting on them being used.
Finally, seeing as we are talking about human rights, the United Nations and respect for the law, I would like to say something, to be more precise, I am going to read it to you.
These countries that voted against Cuba: the United States, Germany, France etc., just look at what they did: first, in the United Nations, during that period, a resolution is presented which said the following:
"Resolution against military and other collaboration with South Africa.
"The United States and the United Kingdom voted to approve a resolution prohibiting military collaboration, and other forms of collaboration with apartheid South Africa", in other words, they did it secretly, and helped secretly; but when it came to voting publicly, they did not even pass the resolution, even though it would be hypocritical, they did not even approve it. The rest of the western European countries and Canada abstained from this resolution against military collaboration.
This is even more incredible:
A resolution that condemned and prohibited relations between South Africa and Israel - for all that scandalous nuclear maneuvering etc. - it was put to the vote, and all the countries, the United States, the United Kingdom, their European allies, voted against the resolution, knowing that Israel had served as a bridge and direct transfer point for the technology which would enable South Africa to use nuclear weapons.
Finally, if there is any remaining doubt about this, there is a treaty called the Treaty for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and all this that they started to do throughout decades, that was done in secret, was nothing other than that, regardless of what is thought of the treaty - we are talking about hypocrisy, about the hypocrisy of the United States and the West, that is what I want to refer to, to the Western European allies - there is no doubt that this attitude resulted in: one, a strong nuclear force being created, and an incipient development - which, I repeat, fortunately, did not become anything more -; two, the risk, the irresponsible way in which the United States managed the whole affair.
Anyway, one could ask: they violated a treaty, they voted against resolutions, which were only attempting to prevent catastrophes, avoid problems, they voted against this. Who said anything, who asked any questions? What United Nations Commission bothered about this? The press hardly touched on it. Who is responsible for this?
I, Carmen Rosa, would like to finish off by saying to you that here, in these round tables, after the vote in Geneva, they have begun to speak out forcefully, making accusations regarding specific issues. We are talking about executions, we are talking about the proliferation of nuclear powers, about irresponsible actions. The secret Agreement has been spoken of; violations of the law have been discussed and, nevertheless, nobody, neither the press, nor officials, nor governments, answer.
The other day the issue of silence was discussed here, and silence is sometimes used as a tactic, silence can be used, shouting is not the only way. Accusing is not the only way. Sometimes silence is the instruction that they give to journalists, of which there are many out there, paid, by many people.
It is very strange that you should make accusations, and then at times they dedicate pages to insignificant things, they dedicate dozens of pages to fabricated things, dozens of dispatches, they pay for satellites, they pay for everything; but nonetheless very specific accusations are being made here, and look, silence.
Carmen R. Báez - I think that what you have said is very important, Taladrid, in relation to what we wanted to achieve through these round tables, because these round tables, comrades, are often taking place, and wires are arriving reporting what has been said, replying, and it is true what you say, although, silence also bears witness.
Reynaldo Taladrid - I would like to challenge anyone who doubts this - it could be that some people have their doubts - in the nicest way, we challenge them to challenge us; that we will show them if that is how so or not, if there is a secret Agreement, if there are instructions from one country to another in embassies, if nuclear powers are irresponsibly created in regions of high-level conflict, if people are killed by the State without a trial; challenge us to prove it. We will do it with great pleasure, and if you do not do it, in that case it would be a confession...Silence would be a confession, and when there is confession there is no further need for proof.
Lazaro Barredo – Anyway, just to add a postscript. Listen, regardless of whethre they challenge us or not, we have said things here that call for a lot of explaining, because they are very specific. They are data, aspects, facts, and facts deserve to be answered.
Carmen R. Báez - We have a guest here in the audience, Iroel Sánchez, president of the Cuban Institute of Books, and I think it would be very important to ask him his opinion, because he fought in Angola, and all that Taladrid was saying, about when our troops were there and the development of nuclear weapons in South Africa, he was one of those veterans who were there in Angola, offering their collaboration.
I think it would be most interesting to hear your opinion at this round table, and also your experiences there.
Iroel Sanchez - I would have to say, in all truth, that the issue of the West's hypocrisy concerning Africa, specifically their complicity with the apartheid regime, transcends the nuclear issue, it also has to do with conventional weapons, and has to do with the chance that South Africa had to re-arm itself after the defeat that it suffered in 1975 and 1976, and the severe blow that it was dealt by the Cuban troops.
They developed new weapons, for example, they were very impressed by the BM-21, and built a copy of it, which is the Backcri, a reactive multiple missile launcher, and they had the financial and material support of the West to do that. They were able to develop sufficiently sophisticated weapons, and were able to acquire, for example, Mirage fighter-bombers, that were not produced in the Third World; they were not produced in Burundi, nor in Malaysia, they were produced in France, the same France that has just voted against us in Geneva. If proof were needed, there is no better proof than the Mirage planes that were shot down by our troops, the last of which has a very special significance, it was shot down in the southern part of the city of Menongue, near an area called Cuatid, that is on the river, and it was the last plane to be downed. After that the South Africans did not fly again, and that was the prelude to the defeat which they suffered on March 23, in Cuito Cuanavale, where the South African tanks fell in the mine fields, which gave place to that paradox that the Commander in Chief was talking about, when he said: the South African tanks flew, and the planes stayed on the ground.
But it also has to be said that the hypocritical attitude of the Western powers has a historical basis, because it was these colonial powers that over the centuries made millions of men and women into slaves, they were the ones who promoted the trafficking and trade of slaves across the Atlantic, they were the ones who encouraged tribal rivalry among those peoples, so that they could pursue their colonial interests, they were the ones who in 1885 divided this continent at the Berlin conference, drawing up arbitrary borders, that even today are causing the ethnical and territorial problems and conflicts, that we see every so often in this continent; and it was also the West that made mercenary practices into a systematic method for dealing with the liberation movements in those countries.
What is more, it has to be said that the crimes and human rights violations committed by the mercenaries would be enough for thousands of resolutions in Geneva. They should be asking for forgiveness from those people instead of fabricating slander.
Every so often an apology is heard from them, and I think very fair, to the Jewish people, for the Holocaust; but there is a holocaust that millions of men and women on this continent have been suffering for centuries, added to which is what the mercenaries did, and nobody is apologizing to those people.
It is also known, and it is documented, how the CIA prepared and carried out with their puppets such as Chombe, Mobuto, Kasavuvu, the assassination of the Congolese Prime Minister, that was in 1961, and afterwards used the Europeans, in particular the Belgians, to put a stop to the advance, in 1964, of the patriotic Lumumba followers.
It has to be said that on August 11, 1964, in the United States National Security Council, and this is recorded, the records exist, under the leadership of president Johnson it was agreed, in collaboration with Belgian Prime Minister, Spaak, to contract European mercenaries to ensure that Americans did not appear in the intervention in Congo-Zaire. That is there, you can look for it, it is called NCC Mitin File, Box No.1, Lyndon Johnson Library.
Any similarity with what they are doing today with the Czech Republic, who are the European mercenaries on this occasion, is not, like in the movies, pure coincidence.
The question should be asked, what was Cuba doing in Africa during those years. Several months afterwards, in January 1965, in Congo, Che met with the president of Congo Brazzaville, in Bazemba de Bat, and he met with the president of the MPLA, Agostinho Neto, and Cuban collaboration with the liberation movements in black Africa began, and I intentionally say black Africa, because in 1963 a Cuban brigade of more than 700 men had already been to Algeria, putting a stop to the expansionist desires of Morocco towards the newly-formed Algerian Republic, which had just waged a liberation war which shook the world, and Morocco had its eyes on territories that had important mineral deposits.
The CIA intervention in 1975 should also be remembered, I think we are seeing images of Cuba's participation in that, the CIA intervention via the racist South Africans, UNITA, the FNLA, Mobuto's army and also mercenaries, in order to plot against Angola's independence. John Stockwell, who was the CIA officer heading that operation, has written a book called In Search of Enemies, which recounts the whole thing very well, how the United States, in complicity with European governments, organized that operation, frustrated by the involvement of the Cuban internationalists there.
It should be mentioned that since then more than 300,000 Cubans, combatants, fought the apartheid regime there, and together with the - as Taladrid said - Namibian patriots, and the Angolan patriots, managed to deal a strategic defeat to the apartheid regime. But those 300,000 Cubans were also there defending the human rights of millions of men and women, whose only crime is to have skin which is a different color from the skin of those who want to set themselves up as models of behavior, and who were accomplices of that dishonorable regime, which was the apartheid regime.
It should also be said that today, while Cuba invests in sending thousands of doctors to Africa, in establishing universities to train doctors there, the transnationals from that same West, extract resources from there worth millions and millions of dollars, and do not give a cent towards solving the serious problems faced by that continent. We have talked about some of them here, among them, the 23 million infected with AIDS, who are condemned to death by the same system that we have been talking about here.
I propose that we take a look at the best resumé that has been produced of Cuba's battle for human rights in Africa, which is the thanksgiving party for our people, which was Fidel's presence in the South African Parliament.
Thank you very much.
(A video is projected with a speech by Fidel Castro)
Cuba is a small island situated next to a very powerful neighbour, but 26,294 professionals and technicians have graduated from its teaching centers (Applause), and 5,850 students from African countries have been trained (Applause).
A total of 80,524 Cuban civilian collaborators, of them 24,714 doctors, dentists, nurses and health technicians, who along with tens of thousands of professors, teachers, engineers and other professionals and skilled workers, have provided internationalist services in Africa; and 381,432 soldiers and officers have kept guard or fought alongside African soldiers and officers in this continent, for national independence, or against foreign aggression, for more than 30 years. A figure which adds up to 461,956 over a short period of history. From the African lands, in which they have voluntarily worked and fought without self-interest, on returning to Cuba all they took with them was the remains of their fallen comrades, and the honor of a duty fulfilled."
(The video plays with images of the African population singing to Fidel Castro)
Carmen R. Báez - It always moves me when I see these images, because it is not just the song to Fidel, it is the song to a symbol that also sums up how a people pays tribute and cooperates with the countries whence we originated, all of us carry something of them in our blood; and that song is also the gratitude of those peoples for the sacrifice made by ours. It is summed up in that. And to see that they are representatives of that people, with that heartfelt song, is moving.
And talking of Africa, talking of Europe, and talking of racism, I believe that we should devote a few minutes to an issue such as this one. This has been discussed here on several occasions, we have two journalists on our round table who could help us to take a bit more of an in-depth look at an issue such as racism and Europe.
I would like to ask Pedro de la Hoz and Arsenio to help us to bring to a close this space that we have dedicated to Europe, with a topic as interesting as this one.
Pedro de la Hoz - I think that it is worthwhile trying, because racism and xenophobia are issues which are very deep-rooted in the history of the countries which voted against Cuba in Geneva.
The most terrible discriminatory theories have proliferated in those countries. From secular anti-Semitism through to these crazy, delirious and horrible theories which establish ethnic superiority on the basis of skin color, and what they have sometimes called the supposed pureness of blood.
These racist models, were certainly present, as an essential component, in the ideology that accompanied the establishment of colonial exploitation in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and we all know that. The brutal and prolonged plundering by the colonies was accompanied by the extermination, the subjugation, and the cultural degradation of the native peoples of the colonized territories, action which, as we are also all aware, they tried to justify with, or tried to base on, the arrogant assumption of the superiority of their race and civilization, which is not supported by even the most fundamental scientific argument, nor the most precarious moral backing.
We should never forget, comrades, how in our America - not to go very far - civilizations that had achieved truly outstanding levels of social organization, knowledge and spiritual development, were annihilated, broken up, and suppressed by European invaders, who were ahead of them in military technology and the use of the horse.
For those Europeans - it is also worth remembering -, that brought terrible diseases, which had not existed here, and who decimated entire populations with those diseases, the native Americans did not possess a soul, were not even human. For them, the Africans, who were torn away from their lands by force to be enslaved, were not people who could be considered as humans either. And that, to me, is terrible.
When one reads the chronicles from that period, one realizes that being black amounted to being a wild beast; they even called them pieces of ebony, or sacks of coal, in the language of the slave trade, terms which are quite simply abhorrent.
Sure, some might think that I am talking ancient history; but I believe, Carmen Rosa, that it was necessary, to at least devote a few minutes to put in context where this comes from, to place the origins.
Racism and xenophobia are not ancient history in this case, they are daily practices in the countries that accuse us of violating human rights, above all, the European countries.
Many people think that these racist and xenophobic tendencies are dying out, because of course we talk about multiculturalism, multiracialism, and there are even political and legal policies regarding this; but, unfortunately, racism and xenophobia persist, and persist in that paternalistic look, with which the North looks, over its shoulder, towards the South - which we were talking about here - a look which entails a racist perception of the world order; just as it persists inside those countries, where every day discrimination and xenophobia are subtly, and sometimes not in the least subtly, accentuated, like a virus that has fully penetrated the social fabric of those societies.
Of course, we could spend hours presenting a long list of the racist and xenophobic abuses that have been recorded and are recorded in those countries, of which the victims are - and this really is something I want to make very clear - not only native citizens from the old colonial territories, not even just the people who have obtained citizenship, or those who have arrived from Africa, Asia and Latin America and obtained citizenship in these European countries, but rather people who are Europeans of second and third generation, the only thing is that they have a different skin pigment, and a different ethnic origin.
Well, I also believe that it is worth pausing to consider, even if only briefly, another matter that is very true, and is a question which many of our television and radio audiences ask, which is this: What are so many Africans, Asians and Latin Americans doing in Western Europe, and why do they remain there, if they are discriminated against?
Well, firstly, we have to bear in mind that these people come from countries that have been plundered, from under-developed, poor countries, ex-colonies, and that they see Europe, the ex-metropolises, as offering the opportunity for survival, an opportunity to send money to their families back in their countries, and this is what we have to bear in mind.
Secondly, Europe attracted many of these people, both the older generations and those who have arrived more recently, when it needed cheap labor to undertake work that the Europeans themselves did not want to do. Of course, now there is a problem: with scientific-technical progress, with new technological resources and with the sharp increase in productivity that has taken place, with information technology and the mechanization of recent years which have, of course, raised unemployment among European citizens themselves, this western Europe has introduced immigration restrictions, which is a paradox: at one time they needed these immigrants, and now they place restrictions on them. There is a very tense relationship between emigration and acceptance of immigrants in present-day Europe.
And thirdly, you have to take into account, in the case of the Africans and the Asians, those displaced by violent conflicts; conflicts in which Europe has on many occasions backed the United States, who is, obviously, principally responsible. Many of these displaced people obviously go to Europe.
In the case of the Latin Americans, I want to specify something, and it is that there are thousands of Latin Americans who established themselves there in the sixties, and in the eighties, during the time of the military dictatorships which were supported by the United States. Many European governments, it should be noted, at that time offered them asylum and shelter, and that is why there are so many Latin Americans settled there. But there are also many more who are also attracted by a Europe which does not suffer the effects of the neoliberal catastrophe in the same way as the Latin American countries are suffering, and turn up with the illusion in mind of those policies of social welfare and solidarity, which their compatriots benefited from years ago, but which have long since disappeared; and of course, they hope to settle themselves there in Europe, and become part of the Latin communities that are already established in the old continent.
I repeat - racist and xenophobic policies are exercised towards these Africans, Asians and Latin Americans.
In Great Britain - to go very quickly through the examples - a country that voted against Cuba in Geneva - we have the case of Stephen Lawrence, a black man who was the victim of an unprovoked racist attack in the south of London, in 1993. When the Metropolitan Police arrived at the scene, they found him with his throat cut and let him bleed to death; five years later, they had still not clarified what happened with those responsible for the death of Stephen Lawrence, that is one case.
The scandal caused by this case was so great that the London Metropolitan Police had to establish a so-called Special Force for Racist and Violent Crimes, which, however, up until last year had not managed to clear up the case of the musician, of Caribbean origin, Michael Menson and of Ricky Reele, who were lynched at the hands of white neo-nazi youths, or youths with fascists ideas.
Let us take a look at another country, France - France who added its vote to the anti-Cuban Resolution -; Cases which I am going to talk about: September 1998 Sri Lankan citizens who hoping to enter France as immigrants, were gagged and beaten by the immigration authorities when they were thrown out; they had to take their case to international organizations, because the French police paid no attention to them.
Right now, you can look in the newspapers, and it has also been on the Television News in the past few days: April, 2000, just one week ago: Disturbances and demonstrations took place in the streets of the French city of Lille. What was the reason? the racially motivated murder of an Algerian.
Let us briefly move on to another country, Germany - who also voted in favor of the anti-Cuban Resolution in Geneva. I have here a report by the UN Committee against Torture, which in 1999 expressed its concern regarding the low rate at which claims of poor police treatment of immigrants and citizens of foreign origin were processed. The German authorities gave no reply to this accusation by the UN.
I believe that our television and radio audiences will not forget the harassment and burning of a Turkish family, which was one of the most horrific things seen on television. It took place in Solingen, at the beginning of the nineties, and was the most loathsome expression of xenophobia to which the Turkish population in Germany has been subjected, as we all know, and the Germans themselves are all too well aware of.
Is this, or is this not, racism? Are these not xenophobic actions which are taking place in the present day? I believe that we need to discuss this, and discuss it bluntly and at length.
Arsenio Rodriguez - Now that Pedro has spoken about racism, I would like to consider something, and add a few of the things that came my to mind while I was watching the television images, images that do not precisely originate from this situation in Europe, but are rather, very recent, from just a few weeks ago, a few days, and as we see, repression of blacks, mulattos, gypsies etc. exists
So, let us say that what is much more dangerous than the repression that takes place on the streets, is the racist views of many of these governments towards the largest part of the world's population - the people who live in the Third World.
For many of these governments, who conceal these racist concepts in a demagogic discourse, we, the people who live in the Third World, are incapable of developing our own countries, or even governing ourselves. History shows that this is very dangerous, and we know that nazism existed on the planet thanks to this way of thinking, and with nazism came the concentration camps, and with the concentration camps, the physical extermination of millions of human beings, who were also considered to be inferior.
Similar racist concepts - as has already been discussed here – with Europe’s, the United States’ and other developed countries’ complacency, enabled the criminal apartheid system to exist, which, as was also explained here, did not disappear due to the good intentions of those governments, but rather, quite simply, for reasons that have already been explained here.
Now then, what happened? In all these nations that voted against Cuba in Geneva, there are neo-nazi groups, racist and xenophobic groups, which, what is more, are not just groups of delinquents and misfits, but rather also make up political parties that, in some countries such as France, Germany and Italy, have even managed to gain seats in recent elections.
And in fact, specifically, in Austria, they make up part of the coalition government.
The essence of this phenomenon, what it shows, is that, quite simply, this phenomenon exists in these countries, and it is not dealt with, because the governments are part of it.
Nowadays, the official history of these nations does not, unfortunately, explain to the new generations the criminal colonial past of exploitation and plundering of our nations, the destruction of our cultures, as Pedro was saying, the massacre of our aborigines; we are, quite simply, and I reiterate, because it is their official point of view, inferior peoples.
I would like to quote from a recent survey undertaken by the European Commission, which is the directive body of the European Union, which states - and I quote - that "more than 33% of Europeans consider themselves to be racist, or very racist". This is what justifies the inauguration, in Vienna, capital of Austria, just a few days ago, of what they call the European Observatory for Racism and Xenophobia, and the fact that the president of this commission, the Italian Romano Prodi, classified this institution as a means of obtaining objective and reliable information.
In my opinion, I think that the first case that this institution is going to analyze, is the attempt to murder a black 17 year old adolescent, called Christopher Barton, in London, who was peacefully making his way home, when a group of white people tried to set fire to him. Barton did not die, but he had to receive medical attention for several burns.
As you see, Carmen Rosa, these are just a few examples of specific human rights violations in those nations which are now attempting to condemn us.
Carmen R. Báez - Pedro, you and I have, on several occasions, spoken of personal experiences that you have had. I think that we still have a bit of time in which we could, perhaps, share with our viewers, experiences that you have had when covering cultural events, when you have been in Europe.
I think it would be very useful if we could share these, and perhaps many viewers will find similarities with things that they, or their families, have experienced.
Pedro de la Hoz - I can give two examples, I could give more, but two examples which I have witnessed.
One of them happened in 1993, when I was covering an international tour by the Exaudi choir, an excellent choir, which I am sure almost all our viewers have heard of. We were going from Bulgaria to Germany, we arrived at Munich. At that time the choir was made up of 10 men and 10 women, because it was the extended choir. When we came to enter, the immigration authorities picked out - note what a coincidence - the three black men and the only black woman in the choir. Since it was taking some time, I went to find out what was going on, and with an appallingly cynical and cold tone, the person in authority said to me; "They are detained here because, seeing as they are blacks and arriving from Bulgaria, we have to check them out thoroughly, because our experience tells us that it is possible that they could be drug traffickers or mules carrying drugs". That is one tale.
The other: I am in Madrid, in 1997, when Harold Gramatges received the Ibero-American "Tomas Luis de Victoria" Music Award. I am in a restaurant, at the Madrid de los Austria, and I see two black women who are going to come in to the restaurant, and a couple of doormen ask them for their identification, take their identification and let them go. Then the owner of the restaurant comments to the regular customers who are eating there: "Well, at least they were tourists, because seeing as they were Dominicans, just imagine, if they manage to get residency here........because prostitution is the national industry of the Dominican Republic, and is the main product that they export to Spain."
I do not think I need say more, it is something truly abhorrent.
Now, before concluding, or to bring the topic to a close, I would like to mention something that I have here, that I do not want to let go by, and it is a final comment regarding a non-western European country - because, well, we also made public the voting list, at the beginning of the program - that voted against Cuba in Geneva, and I am talking about Romania, and we are not going to bring up old history, but rather very recent history, too recent: June of last year, in the city of Sruleti: Dozens of police agents broke into the houses of gypsies, beat the women and children, one gypsy fled and three agents shot him in the back. Nothing happened, nobody paid any attention to the case.
One other, and the last one: January, 1999 - in other words, one year and a few months ago - the scene: a disco in Bucharest. The owner refuses entry to three couples, young blacks with Romanian girls. On hearing the discussion, a gang of drunks come out of the place and beat them up, they beat these three couples black and blue.
This is what is significant: There is a video-enthusiast who is filming the scene with his camera, filming a video, the police notice him and ask for the video tape as evidence, to use in a trial, which still has not taken place. The fact is that this enthusiast, had fortunately made a copy of the tape, and sent it to a festival of documentaries, which is the only place it has been seen.
I believe that with this evidence, which is nothing more than the tip of an enormous iceberg of inequalities and violations of human rights, we can certainly illustrate that racism and xenophobia are burning issues in the present day.
Carmen R.Báez - Thank you very much, Pedro. Lázaro is asking me if he can speak.
Lázaro Barredo - I would like to add to this by saying that that racism and that xenophobia are demonstrated in much more criminal and sophisticated ways, today in that cultured Europe, that insensitively voted against us, as has already been explained here.
I know - and I published a report in Juventud Rebelde some time ago - the story of the "fattening houses", which was something that had a tremendous impact on me, because it really was an outrage.
What is a "fattening house"? It is, quits simply, an incredible racist movement in Europe: it is well known in various European capitals, that children are being kidnapped in the Third World, mainly in Thailand and Latin America, and more recently in European countries, above all, for their eyes.
They are children that have been abandoned, street children, paupers, that these people, secretly, or trafficking human beings, take to European capitals, start to treat them, have doctors ready to look after them, feed them, make sure they are healthy, and then begin to traffic their organs. They sell the child's eyes, they sell the child's liver, they sell his/her kidneys, they sell various parts of these children's bodies, they mutilate them, until only the scraps are left, something to be thrown out with the garbage, until they have done away with these childrens' lives. And this exists within the European culture, this is a display of racism, which racially benefits the upper classes.
I published that article in Juventud Rebelde.
I first began to find out about the story, precisely at the World Summit on Human Rights, in Vienna, in 1993, and it was an issue that I subsequently followed, and it is a much more criminal manifestation of that racism which we were talking about.
Carmen R, Báez - When we were in the process of preparing our round table, and we were thinking about the issues that we could cover, we fully intended that racism be one of the topics that would bring today's session to a conclusion, and when we were choosing, with our colleagues at Television Cubana, we decided that there is an issue which, for us, summarizes this topic, and also Europe's attitude towards Third World countries.
The South Summit was held very recently in Havana, and during it, our Commander in Chief expressed his opinion with regard to this. I would like our colleagues at the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television to allow us to view, one more time, one part of that closing speech from the South Summit, held here in Havana. Please.
(Video is shown)
The wealthy world hopes to forget that the causes of under-development and poverty were slavery, colonization, the brutal exploitation and plundering to which our countries were subjected for centuries. They view us as inferior peoples. They attribute the poverty which we suffer to the supposed inability of the Africans, the Asians, the Caribbeans and the Latin Americans, in other words, the Blacks, the Amerindians, the Orientals and the mixed-race, in order to control our development, and even to govern us. They talk of our defects as if it was not they who instilled our clean and fine and noble ethnic groups with the vices of those who colonized and exploited us.
They also forget that when Europe was populated by those people who the Roman Empire called barbarians, in China, India, the Far and Near East, north and central Africa, there were civilizations who created what are today known as the Wonders of the World, and developed the written language before the Greeks knew how to read and Homer had written the Iliad. In our hemisphere, the Mayas and the pre-Inca civilizations had gained knowledge that even today astounds the world.
I am thoroughly convinced that the current economic order, imposed by the wealthy countries, is not only cruel, unjust, inhuman and contrary to the inevitable path of history, but that it also carries a racist view of the world, just like those who in their time inspired Europe to the nazism of the holocausts and the concentration camps, that are today, in the Third World, called refugee centers, and that are really concentrates of poverty, hunger and violence; the same racist concepts that in Africa created the monstrous apartheid system.
Carmen R.Baez - That is, in our opinion, the most powerful condemnation made during the South Summit; but I believe that it would also be a good idea to see the reaction of the participants at the said Summit.
(Video is shown)
That is the only way in which we can prevent the boat that I talked about in my welcoming speech, from hitting the iceberg and causing us all to drown.
That is the only way that we can look forward to life and not death.
Thank you very much
(The Commander in Chief's speech received a standing ovation)
Carmen R.Báez - That is the Third World.
During these days, in these two round table sessions, esteemed viewers, we have been analyzing who is in that group from western Europe, and other States that voted against Cuba in the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva: Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Portugal, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, have been mentioned time and again here when we have been talking about new forms of intervention, when we have been talking about the stand that NATO and Europe take regarding the war in Yugoslavia, when we have been talking about NATO and Europe's stance with regard to sovereignty, when we have been talking about Europe's stance with regard to the blockade of Iraq, and when we have talked about the United Kingdom and the United States role in the bombing of Iraq.
We have talked about the daily policies of Europe internal and external: we have talked about extrajudicial executions, about racism, police brutality. But we have also been talking, at these round tables, about a Europe that is on the arm of, or we could say hand in hand with, which is not the same thing, even though it may appear to be, the United States; a Europe which often allows itself to be led by the United States regarding Cuba, the Agreement, the common stance - issues which we have covered here, this afternoon.
We have talked about Europe, about NATO, the new strategic concept, about double standards with regard to the development of nuclear arms in countries such as Israel and South Africa; we have talked about Europe and its "willingness" to help under-developed countries, the countries which they themselves dare to judge, and to condemn in the Commission on Human Rights, in Geneva.
The oh-so cultured, civilized and powerful Germany - and excuse me for repeating this again, but I believe it is very important - Canada, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, along with a few others, have unarguably, an index finger that is a symbol of accusation, of scolding oftentimes, or of indication, that is too worm-eaten to believe that a people such as ours is going to yield to their convictions in the face of such arrogance.
We are bringing to a close a part of the analysis that we have made of the vote undertaken in Geneva, in the Commission on Human Rights.
We know, esteemed viewers, that you are anxious to have news of Elian, of Juan Miguel, of Nercy and Hianny. The Cuban Television National Newsreel has everything prepared to bring you up to date on the latest events.
We, on our part, continue the battle alongside you, and tomorrow, in another round table, we will continue to analyze the injustices that are committed in this world. We will continue our fight for the return of Elian's family, and the complete reunion here in their homeland, and also continue the dissection that we have begun of all those who voted against Cuba in the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
Thank you very much everyone.