ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL OF STATE AND MINISTERS OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, HIS EXCELLENCY RAUL CASTRO RUZ, TO THE MERCOSUR SUMMIT. COSTA DE SAUIPE, SALVADOR, BAHIA, BRAZIL, DECEMBER 16, 2008
Dear President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva:
Distinguished Presidents of the member countries and associates of MERCOSUR:
I appreciate the invitation extended to us to take part in this MERCOSUR Summit. First, allow me to convey the special greetings of comrade Fidel Castro who accompanied you during the 2006 summit held in Argentina. On behalf of Cuba, I reiterate our people’s friendship and solidarity.
It is with justified optimism that we have closely followed the commendable efforts of the nations in the south of the continent towards integration, economic complementation and in defence of their regional space.
We are well aware of the efforts demanded by such objectives when down the road they must face such major obstacles as the effects of a selfish and unfair international economic order favoring the developed countries and the interests of the large multinational corporations of which the current financial and economic crisis is the most seriours and palpable manifestation.
On the other hand, Latin America’s will to foster integration clashes with an uneven development and a flawed infrastructure, great social injustice and major income disparity.
We salute the member countries of MERCOSUR for their dedication to an integrated region and welcome the priority given to the social programmes and to those related to infrastructure, to economic and productive complementation and to cutting down asymmetries.
We have been called upon to take part, within a few hours, in a greater and more transcendental unitary endeavour. The Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development –the first to bring together every nation south of the Rio Bravo-- creates a propitious scenario to discuss both objectives in our own dimension and in accordance with our own concerns and common interests.
MERCOSUR, ALBA, CARICOM and the other integrationist schemes can rely on a well-deserved authority and experience. They have the possibility to serve as the basis of and the point of reference to everything we can build after the Summit, if we have the will to continue to advance and to go beyond the pleasure of having met.
Cuba would like to reaffirm its unlimited fraternity and its supportive spirit to work with you towards the unity of these nations that José Martí defined as Our America.
Thank you, very much.