A Cuban perspective on "globalization"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Thu Dec 2 12:51:11 MST 1999

Carlos Lage at the 2nd ACP Summit

We must not settle for specific advantages or  crumbs from an unjust and
merciless world order,  but instead transform it by demanding our rights


Your excellencies,

Distinguished guests:

First off, allow me to extend, on behalf of President Fidel Castro, a
cordial greeting to the delegations attending the 2nd Summit of the Group
of African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries, taking place in this beloved
Dominican Republic, which for Cubans is like an extension of our land, our
sky and our people.

One decade of globalization has intensified poverty and multiplied
inequalities. Today nobody denies it, and it is well known by those of us
who make up the three quarters of humanity living in our countries and in
the increasingly larger areas with Third World conditions in developed

The income ratio between the world's richest and poorest was 30 to 1 in
1960. In 1990 it had doubled; and in 1997 it was at 74 to 1. The gross
domestic product (GDP) of the seven most developed countries, with 685
million inhabitants, is triple that of all the underdeveloped countries,
whose populations surpass 4.5 billion people. The richest 20% of the
population living in developed countries controls 86% of the world's GDP
and 82% of the international export markets, has 74% of the telephone
lines, represents 93% of the Internet users and consumes 86% of all that is

The model of a globalized economy which has been imposed on us is
characterized by unbridled and uncontrollable financial speculation. For
each dollar that originates from production and productive work, there
circulates more than $50 USD arising from the financial market.

Latin America and the Caribbean have lost billions of dollars through the
deterioration of the terms of trade.

In 1998 alone, these losses surpassed $10 billion USD, despite the fact
that the volume of their exports grew by almost 8%.

It can be confirmed that the concepts and practices that were gained over
decades have virtually disappeared, such as tariff policies and
preferential treatment which protected our incipient industries.

We poor countries tolerate the suffocating burden of an external debt
exceeding $2.5 trillion USD, to which we dedicate payments representing
almost 25% of our exports; and the more we pay, the more indebted we become.

The widely announced decision on the part of the G7 nations to cancel the
debt only includes the 41 poorest and most indebted countries; and while
this has been talked about for more than three years in the mass media,
hardly four of those countries have been approved, and, if indeed that debt
is forgiven, it would erase less than 10% of the Third World's debt. It is-
let's get straight to the point- a propagandistic device which makes a
mockery of our countries.

One million scientists and professionals trained in Latin America, at a
cost of some $30 billion USD, live today in developed countries, and we
have to pay for, or do without, their innovations and scientific

We poor countries are the least responsible for, and the greatest victims
of environmental destruction. The United States, with only 4.7% of the
Earth's population, consumes 23% of the world's energy and is responsible
for 22% of the carbon dioxide emissions.

The reality is that the current process of globalization is not moving
toward solving these problems, but is instead aggravating them. It's not
about opposing or lamenting scientific and technological development, but
managing it according to the interests and the needs of the people.

Free trade, financial deregulation and transnationalization are concepts
that sound good, but must not be applied in an unjust and unequal world,
without profound and extensive measures of compensation.

A nation's currency can be substituted for a common one, but not for the
currency of another nation. Sovereignty can be given over to a greater
sovereignty, but not given up altogether. The rich countries can unite, but
not to impose rules on the rest of the world.

It's unjust that they try to give equal treatment to nations with different
and very unequal conditions in their economic and social development.

It's unjust that the destiny of our countries in this globalized world,
increasingly dominated by transnationals, could result in our becoming a
large duty-free zone and a cheap source of labor for maquiladoras, without
even levying taxes.

It's unjust that official development assistance is diminishing, and is
steadily plummeting below the figure of 0.7% of the First World's GDP,
which was once proclaimed as the goal. All the while, hunger and illness

It's unjust that the largest economic power in the world announces that it
will spend $17 billion USD in the production of a new fighter plane of even
greater destructive power, when 1500 people die every hour from infectious
diseases that are preventable or curable.

It's unjust that they place conditions on the access to credits and the
amount of credits on internal reforms which cause social damage of
incalculable consequences and which, in practice, make the wisest economic
policies inviable.

It's unjust that intellectual property is merchandise, and that the most
developed nations steal intelligence from us, and that our cultures are
disappearing amidst the imposition of the consumerist model and the
lifestyle practiced by the world's richest nation.

It's unjust that there exists a free flow of goods while obstacles on the
free movement of the labor force are increasing, and new non-tariff
barriers in the rich countries appear. Instead of free trade, we should be
talking about trade for development.

We must fight to preserve all the positive aspects of the Lomé IV
Convention and to reach a new agreement that recognizes the principles of
international law and consecrates the right to development.

The future convention has to offer the ACP countries technology transfers,
sufficient access to the European market, suitable cooperation and
financing, as long as they are necessary in the process of trade
liberalization, and it must take into account the differences in existing

There should be no limitations or conditions on respect of our sovereignty,
on our inalienable right to self-determination, and on the possibility of
deciding our development priorities and models.

We must defend these same principles before the World Trade Organization.

Our poverty or underdevelopment doesn't have to be an obstacle to express
our demands, but rather a reason to demand them. We poor countries must
have the last word.

We must not settle for specific advantages or crumbs from an unjust and
merciless world order, but instead transform it by demanding our rights.

Together we are a great force.

Thank you.

Louis Proyect

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