Key remarks by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the State Council and the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, at the ALBA Summit, Venezuela, March 5, 2017
Comrade Nicolas Maduro Moros, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,
Esteemed Heads of State and Government of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America,
Esteemed Heads of delegations and guests,
Dear people of Venezuela,
I would dare say that we are at a crucial time in our history, where a backward step at a regional level could have very negative repercussions for our peoples.
From Fidel we learned to be mindful of history, to be audacious but also realistic, and to think that what may seem impossible we can attain if we set out to do it, and work for it steadily and consistently.
The member countries of ALBA-TCP feel that integration with solidarity is an indispensable premise to move forward, and achieve development, vis-à-vis the perceived advance in the establishment of large blocs controlling the global economy. We believe it takes political will to give greater opportunities to commerce, investment and intra-regional cooperation, without which our progress will remain insufficient. We have also proven our capacity for concerted action.
ALBA would not have been possible when the Cuban Revolution triumphed. It was the civic-military rebellion of February 4, 1992, and the victory of the Bolivarian Revolution headed by the unforgettable Commander Hugo Chavez Frías, that made possible for such an initiative like this to come to fruition.
It was also important that Fidel and Lula’s ideas converged at the Sao Paulo Forum to receive and support Chavez.
Today, the sustained connection of the ALBA and the Sao Paulo Forum remains decisive to relations between revolutionary and progressive governments and popular movements, and with trade union, peasant, student and academic organizations as well as with the local intelligentsia.
Chavez always explained the complexity of trying to make a revolution in an oil-producing country, which depends on just one market, and where a corrupt financial oligarchy prevails; a nation whose people was imposed unsustainable habits of consumerism, and a neoliberal rentier economy that led the country to bankruptcy.
Chavez realized that to undertake the necessary transformations he should focus his efforts on the construction of a far-reaching civic-military unity, the same headed today by President Nicolás Maduro with the support of the followers of Bolívar and Chavez.
The construction of unity is the most important challenge faced by any true revolution.
As revolutionaries, we have many ideas and a vision of what path to pursue and how to do that successfully. However, the consolidation of unity demands acting with modesty, and putting aside everything that may divide or separate us.
It is thanks to unity that the Bolivarian Revolution has survived the constant pressure and harassment of its enemies.
Thanks to that unity, the revolution has survived the OAS despicable actions, the irritating and unjust American sanctions, and the recent accusations against its executive vice-president comrade Tareck El Aissami. All of these actions intend to deflect attention from the real problems and to discredit those committed to saving, developing and defending their homeland.
The agenda of the new U.S. Administration risks giving free reign to an extreme and selfish commercial protectionism that will have an impact on the competitiveness of our foreign trade. It will hurt environmental agreements to privilege the revenues of transnational companies, and persecute and deport migrants generated by the uneven distribution of wealth. As it will also increase poverty caused by the imposed international order.
The wall whose construction is intended along Mexico’s northern border is an expression of such irrationality not only against that sister nation but against our entire region. We state the solidarity of Cuba with the Mexican people and government. Poverty, catastrophes, and migrants cannot be contained with walls but rather through cooperation, understanding and peace.
Venezuela has made a great contribution to regional integration with its solidarity and generosity, especially with the peoples of Latin America, and particularly with those of the Caribbean, as it called on us all to join PETROCARIB, UNASUR and CELAC.
You are not alone. I reiterate the commitment made in our Declaration to accompany the defense of Venezuela and the brave, constructive and dignified stance held by President Nicolás Maduro.
Venezuela is today the decisive battlefield where sovereignty, emancipation, integration and development in Our America are at stake.
Such is the aspiration that we laid down in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace adopted by CELAC in its Havana Summit of January 2014. It is essential to abide by that declaration. There, we committed to honor “our obligation to not interfere, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other State, and to observe the principles of national sovereignty, equality of rights and the self-determination of the peoples.” Also, to resolve our differences peacefully and to respect “the principles and norms of International Law and the principles and objectives of the United Nations Charter.” Moreover, to respect “the inalienable right of all States to choose their political, economic, social and cultural system as a fundamental premise to ensure peaceful coexistence between nations.”
That historic document urges “all member States of the International Community to fully respect that Proclamation in their relations with the member States of CELAC.”
The defense of justice in the Greater Homeland concerns us all. We will never fail our beloved Caribbean brothers and sisters.
We reaffirm our support for their legitimate claim to reparation for the horror of slavery and slave trade as well as their demand to receive cooperation according to their necessities, and not based on indicators that rate them as middle-income countries. We support their demand for special and differentiated treatment concerning access to commerce and investments, and funds to help them adjust to the effects of climate change and to natural disasters, since they are small and vulnerable island states. At the same time, we condemn the unfair persecution brought against them by the centers of financial capital.
We reaffirm our solidarity with Dilma Rousseff, Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, three deservedly recognized leaders of Our America.
We shall continue supporting Correa and his comrade Lenín Moreno in Ecuador. We will never abandon Evo, for he is the true leader of Bolivia and of all native peoples. In addition, we shall keep accompanying Daniel and the Sandinista people of Nicaragua.