Cuba's foreign minister at UN: exploiters owe Africans "a historic debt"

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Fri Sep 27 17:40:14 MDT 2002

Cuba News
Cuba Urges Africa's Exploiters to Accept Their Historic Debt

Story Filed: Thursday, September 26, 2002 5:27 PM EST

Sep 25, 2002 (The Post/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- THOSE who
benefited and still benefit from the exploitation of Africa must humbly
accept their historic debt to the Africans, Cuba's foreign affairs minister
Filipe Perez Roque has said.

In a statement delivered at the special session of the United Nations
General Assembly on the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) in
New York endorsing the Africans' programme, Roque told world leaders that
for NEPAD to succeed, Africa needed specific commitments and not rhetoric.

Roque further stated that Cuba fully supported the inception of NEPAD
envisaged and guided by Africans themselves. He said Africa needed facts
and specific commitments.

"Those who benefited and still benefit from the exploitation of Africa must
humbly accept their historic debt to the Africans," he said. Roque said
there was need for the world to make the commitment towards the support of
NEPAD for the betterment of the continent as failure to achieve this would
mean more empty promises and new frustrations.

"While listening here to the remarks of African leaders who represent
sister nations that used to be plundered colonies whose basic human rights
have been violated for centuries, while remembering that only a few years
ago there was no independent Namibia, that the territorial integrity of
Angola was not secure and that South Africa sadly lived under the loathsome
Apartheid regime, I emotionally call up the memory of the 350,000 Cubans
who went to Africa on a voluntary basis to fight against colonialism and
particularly the nearly 2,000 Cubans who died for those ideals," he said.
Roque said his nationals who perished did not die in vain and today while
Cuba did not own any oil, diamonds or land in Africa, the country took
pride in preserving and cherishing, as its most prized treasure, the warm
and admiration of the African peoples.

He told the world leaders that Cuba did not see Africa as a promising land
for investment and easy profits, but sisterly people to which his country
owed much of its history and culture. Roque said it was essential that all
of Africa's debt was cancelled if NEPAD was to have a future. He noted that
Africa exports more capital than the assistance and financing it received
and observed that the continent was a net exporter of capital.

"Even all African countries refrained from eating, dressing, receiving
education and tending their health for a full year, all their Gross
National Product (GNP) would not be enough to pay off their foreign debt,"
he said. Roque called for a special differentiated treatment, access to
markets and fair prices for the continent's exports if NEPAD was to succeed.

He questioned why despite its abundant and valuable natural resources,
Africa only accounted for two per cent of global trade.

"Would developed countries accept a fair treatment for Africa at the next
round of negotiations or will they persist in their short-sightedness while
defending vested interests of their transnational companies?" he asked.

Roque said also paramount on Africa's needs was access to technologies and
the training of human resources. He urged the developed countries to
immediately halt the brain drain, especially now that they were even
targeting athletes. Roque said in the sphere of technology, half the
Africans did not even know what electricity was while there were more
telephones in Manhattan than the entire sub-Saharan Africa.

He said Africa needed increased financial resources free of interference or

He said the world should not forget that Africa was currently spending four
times more to pay off its crippling foreign debt stock than towards crucial
sectors like education and health care.

"Do the leaders of the G 8 (world's industrialised nations) by nay chance
think about this when they criticise the problems caused largely by
centuries of colonialism and exploitation?"

Roque questioned.

"Do they know that more than half of the Africans live below the poverty
datum line and that there will be 1.150 billion people without any hopes
whatsoever in 2010?"

Roque questioned the industrialised countries' failure to contribute 0.7
per cent of their GNP as official development assistance and increase their
annual contribution from the current US $53 billion to US $170 knowing that
it was only a yearly US$64 billion required for financing NEPAD. On the
AIDS pandemic, Roque called for support in the fight against HIV/AIDS which
had affected 25 million of the continent's population.

He also asked what hope was there was for the over 13 million Africans
orphaned by the AIDS pandemic and pledged his country's continued
assistance towards supplying professors needed to set up 20 medical schools
on the continent. Roque pledged that Cuba could send 4,000 doctors and
health care workers to create infrastructure required to supply the
necessary drugs with prescriptions to the population.

Cuba would among other undertakings also supply antiretroviral treatment
for 30,000 patients per year.

by Joe Kaunda

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KEYWORD: PanAfrica

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