My delegation appreciates the convening of this important meeting to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was a historic victory in the struggle of these peoples to gain recognition of their ancestral rights.
We appreciate and commend the presence of the fraternal President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales, and his encouraging and committed address.
Cuba cosponsored Resolution A / 61/295 which appended the Declaration and was adopted by the General Assembly.
It is hard to believe that certain States with large indigenous populations that were asked for a vote, voted against a document that established a universal framework of minimum standards for the dignity, well-being and rights of the indigenous peoples of the world; which addressed, among other issues, the individual and collective rights, including issues related to cultural identity, education, employment and language; which condemned discrimination against indigenous peoples and promoted their full and effective participation in all matters affecting them and guaranteed their right to difference and to achieve their own priorities regarding economic, social and cultural development! Cuba co-sponsored and voted in favor of the document.
The Declaration was a great achievement and a historic debt to the indigenous peoples, who for centuries have suffered discrimination, plundering and dispossession of their wealth and rights. In the case of Cuba, the massacre was of such magnitude that it resulted in the total extermination of our native peoples.
The Declaration sends a clear message to the international community in favor of the survival and well-being of indigenous peoples, especially in favor of their minority cultures and languages and their right to promote their own view of economic, social and cultural development.
We highlight and support the recognition stated in the text of the Declaration on the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination and, by virtue of it, to freely determine their political status.
Likewise, Cuba supports the right of those communities to preserve their tradition and culture and, as part of this stance, we reiterate our support for the right of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to defend and protect the coca leaf chewing as a tradition of their native communities.
As in the past, Cuba will continue to support the just claims of indigenous peoples for the effective realization of their rights and the free exercise thereof.
Thank you very much.