Statement by the permanent representative of the Republic of Cuba, H.E. Ambassador Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, before the General Assembly under item: "Measures to eliminate international terrorism". New York, October 1, 2001
In a speech delivered just two days ago before one hundred thousand countrymen, President Fidel Castro stated:
"The unanimous shock suffered by all peoples of the world on September 11, due to the insane terrorist attacks against the American people, has created exceptional conditions for the eradication of terrorism without the need to unleash a useless and perhaps endless war.
"Terror has always been an instrument of the worst enemies of Mankind bent on suppressing and crushing the peoples’ struggle for freedom. It can never be the instrument of a truly noble and just cause."
Later on, he went on to add:
"Many seem not to have realized yet that, on September 20, before the United States Congress, the end of independence was decreed for every other state --without exceptions-- as well as the end of the United Nations’ role.
"Cuba was the first country to speak of the need for an international struggle against terrorism just a few hours after the tragedy brought on the American people on September 11. We also said that: ̀None of the present problems of the world can be solved by force. [...] The international community should build a world conscience against terrorism. [...] Only the intelligent policy of seeking strength through consensus and the international public opinion can decidedly uproot this problem [...] this unimaginable event should serve to launch an international struggle against terrorism. ...] The world cannot be saved unless a path of international peace and cooperation is pursued.
"I harbor no doubts that the Third World countries --I dare say almost everyone of them without exception, despite their political and religious differences-- would be willing to go alongside the rest of the world in this struggle against terrorism as an alternative to war.
"For these people, saving peace with dignity, with independence and without a war is the cornerstone of the struggle that we should wage together for a truly just world of free peoples."
International cooperation should be arranged to launch effective global actions, in accordance with International Law, the Charter of the United Nations and the relevant international conventions, based on the extraordinary power of consensus and the sovereign and combined will of all States.
Cuba has expressed: "It would suffice to return to the United Nations Organization the prerogatives that it has been deprived of and let the General Assembly, its most universal and representative body, be the center of that fight for peace --regardless of its limitations due to the arbitrary veto right of the Security Council Permanent Members, most of them also a part of NATO-- and for the eradication of terrorism with total and unanimous support from the world opinion. […] It is indispensable to return to the United Nations its role in the attainment of peace."
The United Nations Organization is precisely that universal coalition we need to fight terrorism. No amorphous and unpredictable coalition, NATO or any other military organization, or group of States –regardless of its power-- could replace the United Nations in a global and legitimate action against terrorism. The United Nations should not give up its functions or prerogatives in favor of something imposed by any country, nor should it indulgently serve hegemonic interests.
It befits the United Nations, and no one else, to address in a deep, calm, resolute and forceful way, the serious challenges of a globalized world, including terrorism as a matter of urgency.
The United Nations counts on the universal involvement of States. It has a historical and moral authority, as well as principles and rules accepted by all; and it is entitled to adopt and codify standards. It can act on all areas, and its numerous and diverse bodies have great potential.
We support the Secretary General’s statement that: "This Organization is the natural forum in which to build such a universal coalition. It alone can give global legitimacy to the long-term struggle against terrorism."
The United Nations even has the prerogative to use force to defend the principle of collective security. However, this exceptional prerogative must be used with utmost prudence and responsibility.
The United Nations has made great efforts to fight terrorism, as reflected in the existing Conventions and other recently adopted instruments, as well as the many resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and other bodies.
To move forward, we must address all forms and manifestations of terrorism in every corner of the world with absolute honesty and avoiding hegemonic interests or national ambition, and State terrorism cannot be the exception.
The overwhelming political will of States to fully implement international instruments must prevail without any double standards, or political selectivity, without treating differently those who live in affluent societies and without allowing States and their armed forces, especially the most powerful, to act in disregard of legislation and International Law.
We share the calls for prudence and moderation coming from all regions. One cannot respond to the September 11th terrorist attacks with vengeance and war actions that would lead to a still unimaginable spiral of violence and barbaric acts. The solution cannot be to pass legislation or decrees that condone summary executions, that let States kill foreign citizens or act covertly in other countries disrespecting laws and borders, or use force within other States. That would divert the world from its purpose of eradicating terrorism, and would mean the end of collective security mechanisms. It would mean the rule of force and the beginning of the end of the so often proclaimed rule of law.
Terrorist acts are usually carried out by extremist groups, and even by lone individuals. Faced with an event of this nature –however grave-- the right to self-defense must not be invoked by a powerful State to unilaterally unleash a war that could go global and have unpredictable consequences bringing the death of an unthinkable number of innocent people. Instead, that right must be exercised as the right of all to the common defense of all. The South countries would eventually be the potential victims of actions of force if today we accept war under the pretext of fighting terrorism.
Cuba supports the many ongoing initiatives and those under discussion, which might contribute to UN actions, including those submitted by the Non-Aligned Movement, such as the call for a high level conference on international terrorism, the creation of an international cooperation center, and the negotiation of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. We are also willing to consider constructively other initiatives that might contribute to the struggle against terrorism and might have the legitimacy invoked by the Secretary General.
While the Security Council has made specific efforts and adopted several resolutions in the past, terrorism has been an area in which prudence has prevailed. In the few cases where specific acts of terrorism have been addressed, this has been done to meet the specific interests of some of its Permanent Members.
On the other hand, Cuba appealed to the Security Council to act in 1976 when Cubana Aircraft CU 455 was blown up in flight, killing 73 people on board. However, draft resolution S/23990 submitted by Cuba was not even considered.
I have just reviewed that draft resolution once again, comparing it to the one the Security Council adopted last Friday night, and I have found that although ours was more moderate, it proposed some of the concepts and measures contained in the recent one.
In its preamble, the Cuban draft considered the suppression of international acts of terrorism essential for the preservation of international peace and security. It emphasized the need to deal effectively with terrorism. It reaffirmed that it was every State’s duty to refrain from organizing, instigating, assisting, participating in and consenting to terrorist acts within its territory. Our text took note that one Permanent Member of the Security Council had stated that it had evidence in its possession relating to that act. It also took into account the fact that the mastermind of the terrorist act, Orlando Bosch, resided in the territory of that same State, where –by the way-- he still lives; and that the co-author, Luis Posada Carriles, had been later employed by the Government of that same State after the appalling crime. The Cuban draft resolution also urged the Council involvement in the struggle against international terrorism, invoking Chapter VII of the Charter.
The Resolution did not ask for the use of force or sanctions, but simply asked the Council to condemn the bombing of the passengers’ aircraft in flight; to indicate the obligation to clarify the crime and to punish the guilty parties. It asked the State concerned to provide all the information and evidence in its possession relating to the past and current residence of the terrorists who were in its territory, and to adopt effective measures to prevent its territory from being used to prepare, organize and carry out terrorist acts against Cuba. And it asked the Council to keep that matter under consideration.
After Cuba spoke, the Permanent Member concerned took the floor for five minutes only to state the following: "I frankly cannot help but wonder why we are here … By meeting today … we lose our most valuable commodity: time." And that was the end of the meeting.
However, after a quick and not particularly transparent negotiation, the Security Council has recently adopted a resolution that orders States to work on urgent legislative modifications, that demands immediate reports and creates a sort of antiterrorist general headquarter.
The Council has decided to fight terrorism in many different areas, from economic and financial areas to illicit drug trafficking, border control, money-laundering, forgery of documents, traffic in explosive materials, nuclear, chemical, biological and other weapons. It also deals with issues relating to transnational organized crime, weapons of mass destruction, communications technologies, and the exchange of intelligence information on individuals and entities that practice terrorism.
The implementation of that resolution requires the previous identification of those persons and a clear definition of what is to be considered a terrorist act. It is not difficult to guess where those interpretations will come from.
The Security Council has been pushed to give legal support to hegemonic and arbitrary decisions made by the ruling Power, which violate the Charter and International Law, and that trespass on the sovereignty of all States. To achieve that, it usurps once again the functions of the General Assembly, the only body whose universal composition and democratic method could legitimize such far-reaching decisions. The Council uses the unbelievable method of making it mandatory for all States to accept some rules contained in conventions against terrorism, which are up to every State to decide whether they want to be signatories or not.
The Security Council, a hostage of the veto right, could only exercise a selective, capricious, arbitrary and ineffective dictatorship, instead of the moral leadership required for a comprehensive struggle against terrorism in a globalized world.
Terrorism cannot be eradicated if some terrorist acts are condemned while others are silenced or justified. It is an ethical imperative, for example, to put an end to the use of veto to prevent international actions from protecting the Palestinian people against the countless State terrorism acts they are suffering.
It is Cuba’s opinion that any use of force against terrorism should require explicit and previous authorization of the Security Council, as provided by the Charter. Cuba also believes that neither of the two resolutions adopted by the Council in the wake of the September 11 attacks could be invoked to unleash unilateral military or force actions.
Despite some arbitrary methods and decisions by the Security Council, our country will cooperate, as always, in good faith with the Council in accordance with the Charter, and will enforce its own legislation sovereignly adopted by our people according to international law, and which strongly and firmly opposes any act of terrorism, whoever its perpetrator might be, as well as other serious international crimes being committed in the world.
This statement we can make with the full moral strength that emanates from our straight behavior. Our finances are transparent and our banks do not treasure any laundered or illegitimate money. Our institutions are not involved in illegal sales of information or technology nor do we tolerate the traffic in arms or dangerous substances. Likewise, our borders do not protect transnational crime.
The specific measures put forth in the resolution adopted by the Security Council and that Cuba supports must be applied first of all to the large banks where, as everyone knows, money is laundered.
I must categorically state that Cuba will never take part in any military action.
In my memory today are the 3478 Cubans who have died the victims of acts of aggression and terrorism, and the claim for justice of 2099 people who are disabled due to those same acts.
In my mind is also Felix García, a diplomat with the Cuban Mission to the United Nations, who was murdered here in New York, exactly on September 11, 1980. His murderer was arrested last November in Panama, together with Luis Posada Carriles, during an Ibero-American Summit. They had been working on a plot to assassinate President Fidel Castro and to that end they were to blow up a university auditorium where thousands of students would be gathered. Posada Carriles and his group have neither been extradited nor punished. There are reasons to fear their escape even before they are taken to a court of law or with total impunity.
In the 1990’s alone, a total of 68 terrorist acts were perpetrated against Cuba, 33 of them in the last five years.
Our country speaks with full moral authority because it has never committed any terrorist act, not even the attempt to eliminate –in an act of legitimate self-defense-- the direct perpetrators and authors of such abominable crimes, financed and carried out against our people by the Cuban American National Foundation and other mob groups in Miami. However, over the last few years, bombings, assassination attempts against Cuban leaders and attacks against crucial facilities for our economy have been organized with total impunity from abroad.
Only our people’s consideration and respect for the victims of the September 11 attacks, as well as the seriousness of the current situation that brings us together to seek for constructive solutions, have inspired me to contribute to the spirit of this debate by avoiding any mention of the origins of terrorism against Cuba, by not making specific reference to the real causes, the accomplices, the real culprits, the financial flows, the venal courts that absolve criminals and the territories where terrorist organizations acting against Cuba are based.
I share the hope that the September 11 tragedy will lead to reflection and, in line with the desire of the American people, to changes in those policies that encourage and basically justify terrorism against my people. Terrorism against Cuba must be brought to an end.
I must state that, in face of impunity, Cuba has every right to defend itself against terrorism. The five Cuban youth, who are unjustly incarcerated and enduring a humiliating treatment in Florida, do not repent of having saved heroically the lives of both Cubans and Americans.
As President Fidel Castro has indicated: "Cuba, with the moral authority of being the country that has suffered the most and the longest from terrorist actions, the one whose people are not afraid of anything because there is no threat or power in the world that can intimidate it, claims that it is opposed to terrorism and opposed to war. Although the possibilities are now remote, Cuba reaffirms the need to avert a war of unpredictable consequences whose very authors have admitted not to have the least idea of how the events will unfold. Likewise, Cuba reiterates its willingness to cooperate with every country in the total eradication of terrorism.
"Whatever happens, the territory of Cuba will never be used for terrorist actions against the American people and we will do everything within our reach to prevent such actions against that people. Today we are expressing our solidarity while appealing to peace and calmness.
Finally, the President of our country, expressing the unanimous sentiment of our people, stated:
Our independence, our principles and our social achievements we will be defend with honor to the last drop of blood, if we are attacked!
Thank you very much.