First and foremost, we welcome the reports presented by the Secretary-General on both agenda items and sub-items.
Cuba believes that the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is undoubtedly one of the most praiseworthy initiatives ever produced in the African continent over the last decades. The purposes of NEPAD reflect the commitment of the political leaders of the region to the continent´s political, economic and social progress.
This Secretary-General´s report on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development is a reflection of the economic and social transformations currently experienced by Africa. However, it has to be acknowledged that there are persistent challenges on the way to sustainable development. In many cases, the chronic lack of resources for public investment hinders the full implementation of NEPAD´s development plans. In terms of international trade, African countries face numerous structural obstacles to access global markets. In like manner, insufficient trade financing, tariff and non-tariff barriers in developed country markets, including trade-distorting subsidies, continue to prevent Africa from achieving its export potential.
The continuing decline of Official Development Assistance (ADO) is another area of concern for Africa´s development initiatives. All of this linked together with the unfavorable economic conditions worldwide during the period under review, constitutes a challenge for implementing the Agenda 2030, the African Union Agenda 2063 and jeopardizes the progress attained in implementing the MDGs.
We therefore call upon all developed countries to fulfill their Official Development Assistance commitments and to strengthen their support to NEPAD.
Cuba has always defended the historic and moral responsibility of the international community to the African development, after centuries of colonialism, plundering and drain of Africa´s wealth.
According to some people in the world, Africa remains only a myth and a real mine of resources to obtain juicy profits, no matter the high cost and catastrophic implications of all this process of exploitation and plundering for African peoples.
In order to address the African issues, it is necessary to purge the win and dispossession at all cost philosophy, behind the unjust international economic order imposed on the world.
Africa not only remains marginalized and fully disadvantaged in international economic relations, but also its poverty levels continue to grow at an alarming rate, together with the increase in armed conflicts and the spread of diseases that are decimating entire nations of the African continent.
It have been the economic and financial policies and the waves of unhampered privatization accompanying the neoliberal globalization process imposed by the developed countries that have consolidated the precarious situation experienced and suffered by the countries of the African region and not the weakness of their institutions, as some would have us believe.
As set out in the Secretary-General´s Report, during the year 2015 the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development was implemented, whereby recognizing the concrete problems of Africa and reaffirming the importance to support the Agenda 2063 and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. Both agendas share similar strategic principles, focusing on people, peace, justice, human rights, prosperity, environmental sustainability and mutually responsible partnerships.
Cuba strongly believes in the capacity of African leaders, in the context of NEPAD, to resolve conflict situations that currently represent an additional obstacle to achieve the economic and social development goals of the region.
Cuban people are direct and natural heirs of Africa´s courage, bravery and culture of resistance. We have heroically faced challenges and issues for centuries, for what we pride ourselves.
For Cuba, Africa is something very close, an essential part of what we are. It is one of the nutrients of our identity and our culture. That is where the roots of most of Cuba´s population are.
The deepest internationalist convictions of the Cuban Revolution have made it possible for our country to have always been alongside with Africa, from the unconditional support for anti-colonial struggles to cooperation projects in numerous areas of the continent´s economic and social development.
In the context of South-South cooperation, our country continues to provide human capital and experience in collaboration with the countries of the continent.
Just to mention some significant examples, more than 2,600 African scholars are taking university degree courses in Cuba, including medical sciences.
More than 5,000 Cuban collaborators are rendering services in 34 African nations, in order to promote their development in such diverse areas as public health, education, agriculture, sports, construction and others.
Over 27,000 African patients have retrieved sight through the Cuban-Venezuelan Program known as “Operation Miracle”.
For its part, Africa has always been at Cuba’s side. Over these 50 years of economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed against our country, African governments and peoples have closed ranks to demand the right of the Cuban people to decide its destiny.
In addition, Cuba has been present in all efforts of the African continent to eradicate malaria, through the malaria vector control program, including the construction of biolarvicides factories in territories of the region, staff capacity building, training of community workers and educational talks about environmental rehabilitation.
Significant results have been achieved through the malaria control program, as it has reduced infant and maternal mortality rates. This is a relevant aspect if we consider that 90 per cent of malaria deaths worldwide take place in that continent, and most of them are children under the age of five years.
Cuba will maintain its efforts to further support the fight of the African continent to eradicate this epidemic.
Our country will continue to support the African Union and all regional coordination mechanisms in their endeavour to find their own solutions to Africa's problems, and will continue to advocate respect for the sovereignty of that continent and non-interference in internal affairs of African countries.
It is our hope that the General Assembly, when analyzing African issues, will address the profound and actual root causes of the challenges faced by that continent, the consequences of decades of colonization and plundering.
African countries urgently need a special and differentiated treatment, access to markets, stability of commodity prices, foreign debt relief, access to technologies, substantially increased Official Development Assistance and the necessary financial resources without any interference or conditions.
Africa cannot continue to wait. Let us act now!
Thank you very much.