[Marxism] Felipe Perez Roque to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights
elishastephens at hotmail.com
Fri Mar 18 18:14:29 MST 2005
An excellent speech, online here:
Left I on the News
The Commission on Human Rights has lost legitimacy
Statement delivered by Felipe Prez Roque, minister of Foreign Affairs of the
Republic of Cuba, at the High-Level Segment of the 61st session of the
Commission on Human Rights
Geneva, 16 March 2005
(Original in Spanish. Check against delivery)
The Commission on Human Rights - despite the efforts by those who honestly
believe in its importance and wage a battle to return it to the spirit of
respect and cooperation of its founders - has lost legitimacy. It is not
credible. It allows the impunity of the powerful. It is handcuffed. In it,
there are plenty of lies, double standards and empty speeches by those who,
while enjoying their wealth, squander and pollute, look the other way and
pretend not to see how millions of human beings endure the violation of the
right to life, the right to peace, the right to development, the right to
eat, to learn, to work; in brief, the right to live in dignity.
We all knew that the Commission on Human Rights was victim to the political
manipulation of its work because the Government of the United States and its
allies have used the Commission as if it were their private property - and
have turned it into some sort of inquisition tribunal to condemn the
countries of the South and, particularly, those who actively oppose their
strategy of neocolonial domination.
But in the course of the last year, two events took place that change the
nature of the debate that we will hold these days.
The first was the European Union's refusal to co-sponsor and vote in favor
of the draft resolution that proposed to investigate the massive, flagrant
and systematic human rights violations still committed today against over
500 prisoners at the naval base that the United States keeps, against the
will of the Cuban people, in the Harbor of Guantnamo. The European Union,
that always objected to no-motion actions, was willing this time to present
it in order to even prevent any investigations whatsoever against its ally.
In terms of hypocrisy and double standards, it was the straw that broke the
camel's back. What will it do this year, after the dissemination of the
heinous pictures of tortures at the prison of Abu Ghraib?
The second event was the release of the report presented by the High-Level
Group on Threats, Challenges and Change, set up at the initiative of the UN
Secretary-General. It categorically states that "the Commission cannot be
credible if it is seen to be maintaining double standards in addressing
human rights concerns." Should we then wait for the representatives of the
United States and its allies to come up with self-criticisms at this plenary
session and undertake to work with us, Third World countries, to rescue the
Commission on Human Rights from disrepute and confrontation?
The guarantee of the enjoyment of human rights today depends on whether you
live in a developed country or not - and it also depends on the social class
that you belong to. Therefore, there will be no real enjoyment of human
rights for all as long as we fail to achieve social justice in the relations
among countries and within countries themselves.
For a small group of nations represented here - the United States and other
developed allies - the right to peace has already been achieved. They will
always be the attackers and never the ones under attack. Their peace rests
on their military power. They have also achieved economic development, based
on the pillage of the wealth of the other poor countries that were former
colonies, which suffer and bleed to death for those to squander. However, in
those developed countries, incredible as it may seem, the unemployed, the
immigrants and the impoverished do not enjoy the rights that are most
certainly guaranteed for the rich.
Can a poor person in the United States be elected Senator? No, they cannot.
The campaign costs, on average, some US$ 8 million. Do the children of the
rich go to the unjust and illegal war in Iraq? No, they do not go. None of
the 1,500 American youths killed in that war was the son of a millionaire or
a Secretary. The poor die there defending the vested interests of a
If you live in an underdeveloped country the situation is worse, because the
overwhelming majority, poor and hopeless as it is, cannot exercise their
rights. As a country, there is no entitlement to peace. It can be attacked
under the accusation of being terrorist, of being an "outpost of tyranny" or
under the pretext that it is going to be "liberated." It is bombed and
invaded to "liberate it."
Nor can the over 130 countries in the Third World exercise the right to
development. Beyond their efforts, the economic system imposed on the world
prevents so. They have no access to markets, to new technologies; they are
handcuffed by a burdensome debt that has already been paid off more than
once. They just have the right to be dependent countries. They are led to
believe that their poverty is the result of their mistakes. In those
countries, the poor and the indigent, who account for the majority, do not
even have the right to life. For that reason, every year we see the death of
11 million children under five years of age, a portion of which could be
spared with barely a vaccine or oral rehydration solutions - and also the
death of 600,000 poor women at childbirth. They have no right to learn to
read and write. It would be dangerous for the owners. They are kept in
ignorance to keep them docile. That is why this Commission should be ashamed
of the nearly 1 billion illiterate people in the world. That is why in Latin
America 20 million children endure ruthless exploitation as they work on the
streets instead of going to school.
The Cuban people strongly believe in freedom, democracy and human rights. It
took them a lot to achieve them and are aware of its price. It is a people
in power. That is the difference.
There cannot be democracy without social justice. There is no possible
freedom if not based on the enjoyment of education and culture. Ignorance is
the cumbersome shackle squeezing the poor. Being cultivated is the only way
to be free! - that is the sacred tenet that we Cubans learned from the
Apostle of our independence.
There is no real enjoyment of human rights if there is no equality and
equity. The poor and the rich will never have the same rights in real life,
proclaimed and recognized as these may be on paper.
That is what we Cubans learned long ago and for that reason we built a
different country. And we are just beginning. We have done so despite the
aggressions, the blockade, the terrorist attacks, the lies and the plots to
assassinate Fidel. We know that the Empire is chagrined by this. We are a
dangerous example: we are a symbol that only in a just and friendly society;
that is, socialist, can there be enjoyment of all rights for all citizens.
Therefore, the Government of the United States attempts to condemn us here
at the Commission on Human Rights. It is afraid of our example. It is strong
at the military level but weak on the moral front. And morality, not
weapons, is the shield of the peoples.
Perhaps this year President Bush will find some Latin American country - of
the few docile ones that are left - to present the notorious resolution
against Cuba. Or perhaps it will return to an Eastern European government
like the Czech, which enjoys as nobody else its condition of satellite of
Washington and Trojan Horse within the European Union. Or perhaps it will be
presented by the very Government of the United States, which is now
blackmailing, threatening and counting endorsements to know if Cuba's
condemnation can be achieved.
Everybody in this hall knows that there is no reason to present a resolution
against Cuba at this Commission. In Cuba, there is not a single - and there
has not been ever in 46 years of Revolution - an extrajudicial execution or
a missing person, not even one! Let anyone come up with the name of a Cuban
mother who is still looking for the remains of her murdered son or daughter!
Or a grandmother searching for her grandchild handed over to another family
following the parents' murder! Let anyone here come up with the name of a
reporter killed in Cuba - and 20 of them were murdered in Latin America only
in 2004! Let anyone come up with the name of a prisoner vexed by his
keepers, a prisoner ordered down on his knees, prey to terror, in front of a
dog trained to kill!
President Bush has a plan for Cuba, but we Cubans have a plan of a different
sort. We Cubans have a clear idea about our course. And nobody will move us
away from it. We will build an even more just, more democratic, more free
and more cultivated society. In brief, more socialist.
And we will do so although President Bush threatens us with aggressions, to
return to colonized Cuba, to oust Cubans from their homes, their land and
their schools to turn them over to the former Batista-style owners who would
come back from the United States. We will do so despite his plan to
privatize health and turn our doctors into unemployed beings; we will do so
despite the plan to privatize education and make it accessible only to the
elite, as it was in the past; we will do so despite the plan to auction off
our wealth and the heritage of all the people to US transnational
corporations. Despite the plan to remove the rewards from our retirees and
pensioners to force them back on a job, according to the so-called Plan of
Assistance to a Free Cuba.
The Cuban people are entitled to defend themselves from aggression and they
will. And I must say it clearly: in Cuba, we will not allow the
establishment of organizations and mercenary parties financed by and at the
service of the US Government. We will not allow newspapers and TV networks
funded by the US Government to uphold its policies of blockade and its lies
among ourselves. In Cuba, the press, the radio and the TV are owned by the
people and serve and will serve their interests.
We will not cooperate with the Representative of the High Commissioner or
with the spurious resolution behind her. Why is it not such a prestigious
lawyer appointed Special Representative of the High Commissioner to the
Guantnamo Naval Base? Why is she not asked to investigate the flagrant
violations of the rights of five courageous and pure Cuban youths imprisoned
in the United States and their families? Because it cannot be done. Because
it is about the human rights violations committed by the United States and
they are untouchable. It can be done against small Cuba but not against the
But Cuba will not give up on its fight, Excellencies. Nor will it surrender.
Nor will it make concessions or betray its ideals.
And we will see if a free, cultivated and united people can be defeated! We
will see if they can overthrow a government of the people, whose leaders
walk among them with the moral authority derived from the total absence of
corruption and the full dedication to their duties!
We will see if they can deceive everybody all the time!
The Commission on Human Rights before us today is illustrative of the unjust
and unequal world in which we live. There is no longer nothing left in it
from the friendly and respectful spirit that brought its founders together
after the victory over fascism.
Therefore, the Cuban delegation will cease to insist that we must transform
the Commission. What we have to change is the world, go to the roots. A
Commission on Human Rights without selectivity, politicization, double
standards, blackmail and hypocrisy will only be possible in a different
Cuba does not consider that to be a dream, but a cause well worth fighting
for. That is why it fights and it will continue to do so.
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