75 UNGA: Statement by Cuba to the United Nations, at the General Discussion of the 59th session of the Commission for Social Development. New York, 11 February 2021

Madam Chair,

My delegation associates itself with the statement delivered by Guinea on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we were already living in a profoundly unequal world, marked by an unjust international order, unsustainable production and consumption patterns and reprehensible models of distribution of wealth. A single fact proves it: every year, a third of the food produced globally is thrown away, while 2 million people lack regular access to sufficient, nutritious and quality food.

Almost a year after the start of the pandemic, it is clear that the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19 will have a serious impact on the social development and well-being of people around the world, but as always, it will be the developing countries that will suffer the worst consequences.

As it is stated in the report of the Secretary-General on the priority theme of this session, “…the crisis has not only exposed pre-existing inequalities and vulnerabilities of current systems, but it has also exacerbated them…”

In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Secretary-General for presenting the reports of this session, which demonstrate the significance of the theme and the need to redouble our efforts to avoid a setback in the progress made in the fight against poverty and inequality.

Madam Chair,

The commitments undertaken at the World Summit for Social Development in 1995 and its Programme of Action maintain full validity. The Commission for Social Development must continue to play its irreplaceable role.

Eradication of poverty, the pillar of social development along with full employment and social inclusion, can only be achieved through multilateralism and international cooperation, including North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation.

It is essential that the most developed countries show greater political will to allocate the millions of dollars spent on arms production to sustainable development, including social development; assume their historical responsibilities regarding the serious environmental crisis; and honor their official development assistance commitments.

Unilateral coercive measures, which are only used against countries of the South and have a very negative impact on the development, well-being and quality of life of the peoples to whom they are imposed, must cease.

In this regard, we reiterate the importance of addressing and implementing the call made by the United Nations Secretary-General on 23 March 2020, aimed at suspending this type of sanctions in the context of the pandemic.

For 6 decades, my country has had to face the unjust economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States, which has been tightened in an unprecedented way in the context of COVID-19, demonstrating its hostile purpose and criminal nature.

This policy of asphyxiation is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and international law, and represents the main obstacle to the economic and social development of the country. The blockade constitutes a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of the Cuban people.

Between April 2019 and March 2020 alone, the blockade has caused damages to Cuba amounted to more than 5.5 billion dollars, distributed as follows: 160 million in the health sector, 428 million in agriculture and food, 21 million in education, 22 million in culture, 610 million in manufacturing and services, 312 million in transportation, 64 million in communications, and 161 million in the biopharmaceutical industry.

These damages have a direct impact on the quality of life of people, particularly children, adolescents and young people, the elderly and persons with disabilities.

Madam Chair,

Despite the effect of the US blockade, Cuba has made significant progress in the area of social development, in full compliance with the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action and other instruments in this matter.

Our public policies and social programs aimed at young people are characterized by having a comprehensive approach and by promoting social equity and the training of young people, with a high level of participation and decision-making capacity of young people in the political, economic, social and cultural sectors.

We have a National Action Plan to care for persons with disabilities, who represent 4 percent of the population, and to promote their social inclusion. A key component of this plan is to generate positive attitudes towards disability.

The elderly are a very significant component of our population. Health, safety and social assistance programs, as well as the social justice and protection environment, have allowed life expectancy to reach 78.45 years. Projections indicate that, by 2030, the elderly will represent 29.3 percent of the population, which poses important challenges for the State and society as a whole.

Our employment policies favor the incorporation of young people, women and persons with disabilities into the labor market, under decent conditions and without discrimination. The social security and social assistance systems continue to be improved.

Similarly, actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our territory, and to recover from its effects, have taken into account the particular needs of the most vulnerable people, as we have the political decision and the constitutional mandate to leave no one to their own devices.

However, we are not satisfied. As part of updating our economic and social development model, and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects, we will continue to pay particular attention to the issue of social development and the protection and inclusion of vulnerable people.

We are committed to building an increasingly just and inclusive society for all.

Thank you.