Speech by the President of the Republic of Cuba Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez at the UN General Assembly

Our people, who take pride in our history and are committed to the ideals and achievements of the Revolution, will resist and triumph

The attempts at imposing neocolonial domination on Our America by publicly declaring the present value of the Monroe Doctrine contravene the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace

reprinted from Granma
Sept. 22, 2020

Mr. Secretary General,

Mr. President,

A global pandemic has changed everyday life drastically. From one day to the next, millions of people are infected and thousands die, even though life expectancy is longer thanks to development. Hospital systems with high-level services have collapsed and the health systems of poor countries are affected by their chronic lack of capacity. Drastic quarantines are turning the most populated cities into deserted areas. Social life is non-existent except on digital networks. Theaters, nightclubs, galleries and even schools are closed or on limited schedules.

Our borders have been closed, our economies are shrinking and our reserves are dwindling. Life is experiencing a radical redesigning of age-old ways and uncertainty is replacing certainty. Even close friends cannot recognize each other due to the masks that protect us from contagion. Everything is changing.

As well as finding a solution to the pandemic, the democratization of this indispensable Organization is urgently needed, to effectively meet the needs and aspirations of all peoples.

The longed-for right of humanity to live in peace and security, with justice and freedom, the basis for unity among nations, is constantly under threat.

Over 1.9 trillion dollars are being squandered today in a senseless arms race promoted by the aggressive, war-mongering policies of imperialism, whose leader is the present U.S. government, which is responsible for 38 percent of global military expenditures.

We are referring to an extremely aggressive, morally corrupt regime that dismisses and attacks multilateralism, uses financial coercion in its relations with the UN system agencies and that, showing unprecedented arrogance, has withdrawn from the World Health Organization, UNESCO and the Human Rights Council.

Paradoxically, the country where the UN headquarters is located has withdrawn from fundamental international treaties such as the Paris Agreement on climate change; rejects the nuclear agreement with Iran reached by consensus; promotes trade wars; ends its commitment to international disarmament instruments; militarizes cyberspace; expands coercion and unilateral sanctions against those who do not bend to its designs and sponsors attempts to forcibly overthrow sovereign governments through non-conventional war methods.

This line of action, which ignores recognized principles of peaceful co-existence and respect for the right of others to self-determination as the guarantee of peace, the Donald Trump administration is also manipulating, with subversive purposes, cooperation in the sphere of democracy and human rights, while in its own territory practically uncontrolled expressions of hatred, racism, and police brutality abound, as well as irregularities in the election system and violations of citizens’ voting rights .

Reform of the UN is urgently needed. This powerful organization – which emerged after the loss of millions of lives in two world wars and as a result of a global understanding of the importance of dialogue, negotiation, cooperation and international law – must not postpone any longer its updating and democratization. The UN is needed in today’s world, just as much as it was needed when it came into existence.

Something very special and profound has failed, as evidenced by constant daily violations of the UN Charter’s principles, and by the ever-increasing use or threat of use of force in international relations.

There is no way to sustain any longer, as if it were natural and immovable, an unequal, unjust and anti-democratic international order, in which selfishness prevails over solidarity and the miserly interests of a powerful minority over the legitimate aspirations of millions of people.

Despite the dissatisfaction and demands for change, which we present to the UN along with other states and millions of citizens around the world, the Cuban Revolution will always uphold the existence of the Organization, to which we owe the little but indispensable multilateralism that has survived imperial arrogance.

More than once, in this very forum, Cuba has reiterated its willingness to cooperate with the democratization of the UN and the upholding of international cooperation, which only it is capable of saving. As stated by the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, and I quote: “The international community can always count on Cuba’s honest voice in the face of injustice, inequality, underdevelopment, discrimination and manipulation, and for the establishment of a more just and equitable international order, in which human beings, their dignity and wellbeing come first.” End of quote.

Mr. President,

Returning to the seriousness of the present situation, which many blame only on the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe it is imperative to note that its impact goes far beyond the health sphere.

Given its nefarious consequences, the shocking number of deaths, damage to the world economy, and the deterioration of social development, the pandemic’s continued proliferation over the last few months has caused anguish and despair among leaders and citizens in practically all nations.

But the multidimensional crisis it has unleashed clearly shows the erroneous nature of the dehumanizing policies imposed by the dictatorship of the market.

Today, we are witnessing with sadness the disaster to which the world has been led by the irrational, unsustainable production and consumption patterns of capitalism, decades of an unjust international order, and the implementation of ruthless, unfettered neoliberalism, which has exacerbated inequalities and sacrificed the right of peoples to development.

Unlike exclusionary neoliberalism, which casts aside and divides millions of human beings and condemns them to surviving on the leftovers from the banquet of the richest one percent, the COVID-19 virus does not discriminate, but its devastating economic and social effects are lethal for the most vulnerable and those with lower incomes, whether they live in the underdeveloped world or in pockets of poverty within large industrial cities.

According to projections by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the 690 million people going hungry in 2019 will be joined by another 130 million as a result of the economic recession caused by the pandemic. Studies by the International Labor Organization (ILO) indicate that over 305 million jobs have been lost and that those of more than 1.6 billion workers are at stake.

We cannot confront COVID-19, hunger, unemployment and growing economic and social inequality between individuals and countries as unrelated phenomena. Urgently needed is the implementation of comprehensive, integrated policies that prioritize human beings, not profits or political interests.

It would a crime to postpone decisions needed yesterday, and today. It is imperative to promote solidarity and international cooperation to mitigate the impact.

Only the UN, with its global membership, has the required authority and reach to resume the just struggle to cancel the uncollectable foreign debt which, aggravated by the social and economic effects of the pandemic, is threatening the survival of the peoples of the South.

Mr. President,

The emergence of SARS-COV-2 and the early signs that it would bring a pandemic did not catch Cuba off guard.

With decades of experience in facing terrible epidemics, some of which were provoked deliberately as part of the permanent war against our political project, we immediately implemented a series of measures based on our principal strengths and capabilities, namely, a well-structured socialist state that cares for the health of its citizens, highly-skilled human capital, and a society with a high level of participation by the people in making decisions and solving problems.

The implementation of these measures, combined with the knowledge accrued over 60 years of great effort to create and expand our high-quality, universal healthcare system, as well as scientific research and development, has allowed us to preserve the right to health of all citizens, without exception, and put us in better condition to confront the pandemic.

We have been able to do so in spite of the harsh limitations created by the longstanding economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. government, which has been brutally tightened over the last two years, even during these times of pandemic, clear evidence that it is the fundamental component of the U.S. government’s hostile policy toward Cuba.

The aggressiveness of the blockade has reached a qualitatively higher level that further confirms its role as a concrete, determinant impediment to the functioning of our economy and the development of our country. The U.S. government has intensified, in particular, its harassment of Cuban financial transactions and, beginning in 2019, has adopted measures that violate international law by depriving the Cuban people the possibility of purchasing the fuels needed for everyday activities and development.

With the intention of damaging and demonizing the Cuban Revolution, and others it defines as adversaries, the U.S. has published spurious lists, with no legitimacy whatsoever, assuming the right to impose unilateral coercive measures and unfounded categorizations on the world.

Not a week goes by that this administration does not issue a statement attacking Cuba or imposing new restrictions. Paradoxically, it has refused to describe as terrorist the attack on the Cuban embassy in Washington on April 30, 2020, when an individual armed with an assault rifle fired over 30 rounds on the diplomatic mission and later admitted his intention to kill.

We denounce the double standards of the U.S. government in the fight against terrorism and demand a public condemnation of this brutal attack.

We demand an end to the hostility and slanderous campaign against the altruistic work of Cuba’s international medical cooperation that, with much prestige and verifiable results, has contributed to saving hundreds of lives and reducing the impact of the disease in many countries. Prominent international figures and highly prestigious social organizations have acknowledged the humanistic work of the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade for Disaster Situations and Serious Epidemics and called for awarding them the Nobel Peace Prize.

While the U.S. government ignores appeals to combine efforts to fight the pandemic and is withdrawing from the WHO, Cuba, in response to requests received and guided by the profound solidarity and humanistic vocation of our people, is expanding cooperation, sending over 3,700 professionals in 46 medical brigades to 39 countries and territories facing COVID-19.

In this context, we condemn the gangster extortion with which the United States has pressured the Pan-American Health Organization in an attempt to utilize this regional agency as an instrument of its obsessive aggression against our country. The strength of the truth will always overpower lies, and history will put events and leaders in their rightful place. Cuba’s example will prevail.

Our dedicated health workers, the pride of a nation raised in José Marti’s conviction that homeland is humanity, will be awarded the prize their noble hearts deserve, or not; but years ago, they won the recognition of the peoples blessed by their healthcare work.

The U.S. government is not hiding its intention to enforce new and harsher aggressive measures against Cuba during the next few months. We state once again before the international community that our people, who take pride in our history and are committed to the ideals and achievements of the Revolution, will resist and triumph.

Mr. President,

Attempts to impose neocolonial domination in Our America by publicly declaring the current relevance of the Monroe Doctrine contravene the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.

We wish to restate publicly, in this virtual forum, that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will always have the solidarity of Cuba in the face of attempts to destabilize and subvert their constitutional order and the civic-military unity and destroy the work begun by Comandante Hugo Chávez Frías and continued by President Nicolás Maduro Moros to benefit the Venezuelan people.

We also reject U.S. actions intended to destabilize the Republic of Nicaragua and reaffirm our invariable solidarity with its people and the government led by Comandante Daniel Ortega.

We reiterate our solidarity with Caribbean nations, which are demanding just reparations for the horrors of slavery and the slave trade, in a world in which racial discrimination and repression in Afro-descendant communities is on the rise.

We reaffirm our historical commitment to the self-determination and independence of the sister people of Puerto Rico.

We support the legitimate claim by Argentina to sovereignty over the Malvinas, the South Sandwich and South Georgia islands.

We reconfirm our commitment to peace in Colombia and the conviction that dialogue between the parties is the road to achieving stable, lasting peace in that country.

We support the search for a peaceful, negotiated solution to the situation imposed on Syria, with no foreign interference and full respect of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

We demand a just solution to the conflict in the Middle East, which must include the real exercise by the Palestinian people of the inalienable right to build their own state within its pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. We reject Israel’s attempts to annex more territory in the West Bank.

We state our solidarity with the Islamic Republic of Iran in the face of escalating U.S. aggression.

We reaffirm our invariable solidarity with the Sahrawi people.

We strongly condemn unilateral and unjust sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

We restate our rejection of the intention to expand NATO’s presence to Russian borders and the imposition of unilateral and unjust sanctions on Russia.

We reject foreign interference in the internal affairs of the Republic of Belarus and reiterate our solidarity with the legitimate President of the country, Aleksandr Lukashenko, and the sister people of Belarus.

We condemn interference in the internal affairs of the People’s Republic of China and oppose any attempt to infringe on its territorial integrity or sovereignty.

Mr. President,

Today’s disturbing circumstances have led to the fact that, for the first time in the 75-year history of the United Nations, we have been obliged to meet in non- presential format.

Cuba’s scientific community – which has been a source of pride for the nation since the triumph of the Revolution of the just announced to the world our intention to be a country of men and women of science – is working non-stop on one of the first vaccines in the world to begin clinical trials.

Its creators and other researchers and experts, in coordination with the public health system, have developed protocols for treatment of infected persons, recovered patients and the at-risk population, which have allowed us to maintain epidemiological statistics with approximately 80% of infected persons recovering and a mortality rate below the average in the Americas and the world.

“Doctors, not bombs,” was once demanded by the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution and chief promoter of scientific development in Cuba: Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz. This is our maxim. Saving lives and sharing what we are and have, no matter the sacrifice; this is what we are offering to the world from the United Nations, of which we only request change as required by the gravity of the moment.

We are Cuba.

Let us strive together to promote peace, solidarity and development.

Thank you very much.