When countries run short of food, they need to find solutions fast, and one answer can be urban farming.
That was the remedy Cuba seized with both hands 30 years ago when it was confronted with the dilemma of an end to its vital food imports. And what worked then for Cuba could have lessons today for the wider world, as it faces growing hunger in the face of the climate crisis.
A possible blueprint for the survival of city populations in a warming world
When the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, most of Cuba’s food supplies went with it. To stave off severe malnutrition the people of the capital, Havana, found an imaginative answer: urban gardening. That’s now seen as a possible blueprint for the survival of city populations in a warming world.
The problem of hunger for the Cubans arose because during the Cold War they had stopped producing food of their own and turned over most of their farmland to sugarcane plantations to supply the Soviet Union. In return for these mountains of sugar Moscow provided Cuba with food, chemical fertilizers and fuel oil for its cars and tractors.
The Soviet collapse brought the breakdown of this trade, and food rationing for city dwellers. And Cuba lost its main food supply while it was still coping with strict US sanctions. Reverting to conventional farming would have taken time and was in any case difficult because the Soviet fertilizers, fuel and pesticides had also dried up.
So the highly-educated urban citizens, faced with rationing which reduced the average Cuban’s daily calorie intake from 2,600 in 1986 to 1,000-1,500 in 1993, organised themselves to grow their own food in improvised urban allotments.
At first, struggling with little know-how and without fertilizers, their yields were low, but by producing compost and other organic growing mediums, plus introducing drip-fed irrigation, they began to see improvements.
Short of chemicals, the gardeners resorted to biological controls like marigolds (where opinions today are mixed) to deter harmful insects.
By 1995 Havana alone had 25,000 allotments tended by families and urban cooperatives. The government, realizing the potential benefits, encouraged the movement.
Soil quality was improved with a mixture of crop residues, household wastes and animal manure to create more compost and soil conditioners. The extra fresh vegetables and fruit this provided quickly improved urban dwellers’ calorie intake and saved many from malnutrition.
In the Cuban climate, with irrigation changes and soils undergoing constant improvement from added organic matter, the allotments could produce vegetables all year round. Lettuce, chard, radish, beans, cucumber, tomatoes, spinach and peppers were grown and traded.
There is evidence as well that the extra exercise which these urban gardeners got from tending their allotments, plus the time they spent outdoors in the open air, benefited their health.
Eventually, realizing that self-sufficiency was the only way to feed the population, the government banned sugarcane growing altogether. Lacking fertilizer, many former plantations were turned over to organic agriculture. The shortage of oil for tractors meant oxen were used for plowing.
Cuba’s experience of urban agriculture inspired many environmentalists to believe that this is at least part of the solution to the food shortages threatened by climate change. By 2008 food gardens, despite their small scale, made up 8% of the land in Havana, and 3.4% of all urban land in Cuba, producing 90% of all the fruit and vegetables consumed.
As a result the calorie intake of the average Cuban quickly rose to match that of Europeans, relying on a diet composed mainly of rice, beans, potatoes and other vegetables – a low-fat diet making obesity rare.
Because of the climate, though, wheat does not grow well in Cuba, and the island still has to import large quantities of grain for bread. Meat is in short supply and also has to be mainly imported.
Despite this, Cuba’s experience since the Cold War ended in the 1990s shows that large quantities of fresh food can be grown in cities and that urban agriculture is sustainable over decades.
For other countries vulnerable to sudden loss of food supplies, Cuba’s experience suggests that urban farming can be one way of staving off potential famine when imports are restricted, expensive or simply unobtainable.
Speech by Miguel M. Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the VIII Meeting of the Association of Caribbean States, in Managua, Nicaragua, March 29, 2019, Year 61 of the Revolution
(Council of State transcript / GI translation)
Compañero Comandante Daniel Ortega Saavedra, President of the sister Republic of Nicaragua and of the VIII Meeting of the Association of Caribbean States;
Compañera Rosario Murillo, Vice President of the Republic of Nicaragua;
Distinguished heads of state and government and heads of delegations;
Her Excellency Ambassador June Soomer, general secretary of the Association;
Dear delegates and guests:
Our national poet, Nicolás Guillén, a singular voice among the great voices of this region, dedicated a short poem to the sea that joins us, with which I would like to greet you. It is entitled “The Caribbean” and goes:
In the aquarium of the Great Zoo,
swims the Caribbean.
This enigmatic marine animal
has a crystal crest,
a blue back, a green tail,
a belly of compact coral,
gray hurricane fins.
In the aquarium, this inscription:
“Be careful: it bites.”
This verse of Guillen’s speaks of the crystal crest that makes our Caribbean fragile. And also of the fierce beast that lives here. Fragility and ferocity distinguish us. Fragility and ferocity unite us. And unity, we know well, makes us strong.
Born of this strength, sustained only by unity, is the very timely Managua Declaration adopted by this meeting, with the title: “Joining forces in the Caribbean to confront climate change,” an issue that has generated growing concern over the last few decades.
As the Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, warned almost 30 years ago, during the Earth Summit held in Río de Janeiro, in 1992, “An important biological species is in danger of extinction as a result of the rapid and progressive elimination of its natural living conditions: man.”
The Caribbean knows this well since it often suffers the impact. Surely for this reason, since its Second Summit in Santo Domingo, in 1999, the Association of Caribbean States has included among its lines of work agreement and cooperation on climate change and disaster risk reduction.
The causes of climate change have been identified by the scientific community and recognized by practically all governments.
But neither efforts made or international commitments in environmental matters are sufficient to stop the alarming increase in global temperature and stabilize it in the area of 1.5ºC, as developing countries demand.
More developed nations, who are mainly responsible for today’s unsustainable situation, must honor the commitment to provide at least 100 billion USD a year to support the work of developing countries.
The global commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must prevail based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, within a framework of international cooperation that ensures the resources and necessary transfer of technologies to developing countries.
Required is the modification of patterns of production and consumption that have been imposed on us, and the promotion of a fair, democratic, and equitable international economic order, to confront climate change and achieve sustainable development.
Each of us understands what is being talked about. The intensity and persistence of natural phenomena of various kinds in the Greater Caribbean constantly punish us with the adverse effects of climate change, particularly developing small island states.
Living with hurricanes has conditioned our lives; modifying our geographies and affecting migration. And it has also educated us in the need to devote more study to these phenomena that plague us and work to reverse the damage they cause. The Cuban Revolution was obliged to learn this lesson very early on, the hard way, during Hurricane Flora in 1963, which left the former province of Oriente under water and took the lives of more than a thousand people.
More recent history has shown that, in the worst moments, working together has saved us. We firmly believe that only our unity and mutual cooperation will allow us to face the dangers and effects of meteorological events and assume the subsequent recovery.
Solidarity must be a fundamental principle for the members of the Association of Caribbean States
Along this very line of thought, today, I would like to reiterate the unwavering support of Cuba, under all circumstances, to the right of small island states and developing nations to receive special and differential treatment in access to trade and investment.
We also support the just and necessary demand to receive cooperation according to a nation’s real situation and needs, and not on the basis of per capita income statistics that classify them as middle income countries and exclude them from access to financial resources, indispensable for development.
We welcome the election of Barbados as President of the Board of Directors of the Association’s Council of Ministers. We express our fraternal congratulations for this and for the country’s willingness to contribute during this period.
The President of the United States, the Secretary of State, and the National Security Advisor declare that the Monroe Doctrine is as relevant today as the day it was written, and that it is the country’s formal policy, as in the time of expansion and intervention of the United States in our region, of military aggressions and impositions.
These statements and consequent actions challenge our Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by heads of state and government, in January 2014, in Havana, on the occasion of the Second CELAC Summit.
We declared then our permanent commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes in order to banish forever the use of force, and threats to use force, in the region; to strictly comply with the obligation not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other state; to foster relations of friendship and cooperation among ourselves and with other nations, regardless of differences in political, economic, and social systems or levels of development; to practice tolerance and coexist in peace as good neighbors; to the intention of Latin American and the Caribbean states to fully respect the inalienable right of all to choose their own political, economic, social, and cultural system, as an essential condition for ensuring peaceful coexistence among nations; to the promotion in the region of a culture of peace based, among others, on the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Culture of Peace.
The Proclamation also urges all member states of the international community to fully respect these purposes and principles in their relations with CELAC member states.
In this context, our nations must continue working together. It is our duty to protect peace, amongst us all, and preserve what has been achieved, confident that the current situation of confrontation and threats will be overcome.
Cuba, in particular, has been subject to an irrational and perverse tightening of the blockade by the United States, whose administration has unleashed, at the same time, a campaign of distortions, lies, and pretexts to sustain a policy of persecution and harassment that the international community openly rejects and condemns.
I would like to express our profound gratitude to all the countries of the region for their opposition to this irrational, illegal, and cruel policy against our people.
Beyond political or ideological differences, I call on all Caribbean governments to defend peace and oppose military aggression and the escalation of coercive economic measures against Venezuela that seriously damage its citizens and put the stability of the entire region at risk.
We also reiterate our solidarity and support for the government of Reconciliation and National Unity of the Republic of Nicaragua in the face of destabilization attempts, and we celebrate the negotiation process to ensure peace and preserve the social and economic gains achieved in this sister nation.
Faithful to our vision of defending unity within diversity, as on innumerable occasions the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, Army General Raul Castro Ruz, has asserted in forums like this one, we call on you to continue working together, concentrating on all that unites us, incomparably superior to the little that separates us, and to prioritize the fulfillment of agreements reached by the XXIII Council of Ministers regarding the strengthening and revitalization of the Association.
The Association of Caribbean States must continue to be the mainstay of Greater Caribbean unity, which is the only alternative given the enormous challenges we face.
Member states of this organization share the responsibility to avoid damaging the consensus that we have built together over the years, and to continue fostering solidarity, as an indispensable premise to develop actions on all the issues that are part of the organization’s mandate.
Cuba will continue working in favor of this unity and for the consolidation of our Association, and hope that this important meeting will contribute decisively to the effort.
The situation in France may be reaching a showdown between the Macron government, which is now considering using the Army against the Yellow Vests, and the social movement, to whose demands the regime continues to turn a deaf ear.
In the last week, we have seen a nation-wide strike of High School and other students demanding immediate government intervention to stop the global warming that threatens their future lives. The government response: police brutality against teenagers.
On Saturday, there was a massive March for the Climate all over France, perhaps 150,000 demonstrators, which converged with the “19th Act” of the weekly Yellow Vest demonstrations, which have just celebrated their fourth monthly anniversary. Again, much police brutality, but only against the Yellow Vests, not the Climate people.
On Tuesday (Mar 19th) the CGT and a coalition of other unions sponsored a one-day nation-wide interprofessional strike, which the Yellow vests supported and joined in the name of “convergence” and common goals: restore public services, retirement, social security, salaries, and a demand to be listened to.
Radio silence from Paris.
Simultaneously, the Macron government has hastily passed several new repressive laws making demonstrations all but illegal. Macron has fired the Police Prefect for being too soft on demonstrators (!) and for not using enough of the Flashballs that have already killed an old woman on her balcony and seriously injured (blinded) over a hundred demonstrators, thousands of whom have been arrested. These weapons, made in Switzerland and labeled as weapons of war there, have been proclaimed ‘medium crowd control defense weapons’ by France, despite the protests of Michelle Bachelet and the European and UN Human Rights groups.
Black people should see the Green New Deal as an arena of self-determination, communal repair, and justice-creation.
“In its broad outlines, the Green New Deal is a transformative program that calls for democratic reconstruction of U.S. society.”
The debate over some form of Green New Deal is destined to dominate political discourse in the coming decade, as the clock ticks toward a United Nations panel’s 2030 deadline to avoid climate catastrophe by holding global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade. A Green New Deal bill –actually, a non-binding resolution — submitted last month by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, so far has 89 co-sponsors in the House and 11 in the Senate including endorsements from Democratic presidential hopefuls Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris. Bernie Sanders backs the resolution and promises to develop his own Green New Deal plan.
With 80 percent of registered voters generally in favor (92 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of Republicans), the Ocasio-Cortez/Markey Green New Deal is at least as popular as Sanders’ signature proposals on Medicare for All and free public college tuition. But the oligarchic .01% beats super-majorities every time under the two-corporate-party electoral system, and the oligarchy demands that there be no retreat from austerity and eternal warfare. The Democratic presidential contest sets the stage for an empire-shaking confrontation between popular forces demanding protection from the terrifying insecurity and unfairness of madhouse capitalism versus the political servants of the rich. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was caught red-handed plotting with insurance companies to sabotage Sanders’ Medicare for All bill (see BAR, Feb 13), and is sure to treat every austerity-threatening measure as a poison pill, no matter how popular in the polls. But Pelosi’s billionaire bosses will be driven apoplectic by the Green New Deal, the drumbeat for which will grow louder and louder as humanity approaches the next of many climatic points of no return.
“The oligarchic .01% beats super-majorities every time under the two-corporate-party electoral system.”
Of all the supermajority-backed proposals on offer, the Green New Deal has the potential to mobilize the broadest and deepest popular forces to challenge the political hegemony of the Lords of Capital. In its broad outlines, the Green New Deal is a transformative program that calls for democratic reconstruction of U.S. society in defense of the global homeland: the biosphere. Derived from the Green Party’s New Deal plan and its “Economic Bill of Rights,” first put forward in 2006, the Ocasio-Cortez/Markey resolution calls for achieving “global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from human sources of 40 to 60 percent from 2010 levels by 2030…and net-zero global emissions by 2050” by overhauling the industrial and agricultural structures and habitats of the nation, at breakneck speed, while simultaneously redressing the injustices inflicted on “frontline and vulnerable communities” (mainly people of color) in the course of U.S. history.
Specifically, the GND aims to “promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.”
“The GND aims to ‘promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression.’”
The GND’s authors recognize that Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal actually strengthened the racial caste system by favoring whites, as did the post-war GI Bill and the federally subsidized suburbanization of the nation — the greatest makeover in U.S., and possibly world, history. This time around, the repair and upgrading of the infrastructure and housing stock of the nation and the provision of “high-quality education, including higher education” for all, is to be accomplished “with a focus on frontline and vulnerable communities” as “full and equal participants in the Green New Deal mobilization.”
The Resolution promises to direct economic development investments in ways that “build wealth and community ownership, while prioritizing high-quality job creation and economic, social, and environmental benefits in frontline and vulnerable communities, and deindustrialized communities.” High-quality retraining and education will be accomplished with “community-defined projects and strategies.”
The goal is restorative justice that addresses past crimes against communities that were repeatedly destabilized and made into sacrifice zones for the benefit of capitalists and to satisfy the demands of white privilege. The GND is committed to “ensuring the use of democratic and participatory processes that are inclusive of and led by frontline and vulnerable communities and workers to plan, implement, and administer the Green New Deal mobilization at the local level.”
The plan envisions creation of 20 million new jobs at living wages while “strengthening and protecting the right of all workers to organize, unionize, and collectively bargain free of coercion, intimidation, and harassment.”
“The GND is committed to ‘ensuring the use of democratic and participatory processes that are inclusive of and led by frontline and vulnerable communities.’”
The Green New Deal is not designed to be a plaything of the oligarchs, but will ensure “a commercial environment where every businessperson is free from unfair competition and domination by domestic or international monopolies.” And care will be taken that “the public receives appropriate ownership stakes and returns on investment.”
This is fine language, but even if the words survive the congressional process they mean nothing unless the “frontline and vulnerable communities” – communities that have been abused by U.S. capitalism during booms and busts, through periods of industrialization and de-industrialization, suburbanization and urban disinvestment, and now gentrification and mass Black expulsion — aggressively engage the Green New Deal process and assert their human rights, including the right to self-determination.
“The plan envisions creation of 20 million new jobs at living wages.”
The Green New Deal was clearly conceived as a “nation-building” as well as biosphere-saving project. Black people should see it as an arena of self-determination, communal repair, and justice-creation. The best available guideline for waging that struggle is the National Black Political Agenda for Self-Determination put forward by the Black Is Back Coalition after two years of development and ratification by community participants in cities across the nation. Many of the Agenda’s 19 Points have immediate and critical relevance to the national makeover project, particularly Point Number 11:
“Halt Gentrification through the empowerment, stabilization and restoration of traditional Black neighborhoods. Black people have the right to develop, plan and preserve our own communities. No project shall be considered ‘development’ that does not serve the interests of the impacted population, nor should any people-displacing or otherwise disruptive project be allowed to proceed without the permission of that population. Peoples that have been displaced from our communities by public or private development schemes have the Right to Return to our communities, from New Orleans to Harlem.”
“The Green New Deal was clearly conceived as a ‘nation-building’ as well as biosphere-saving project.”
If the GND is to fulfill its mission while “promoting “justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression” then it must respect the self-determinist rights of the “frontline and vulnerable communities” — mainly people of color, who must be the principal planners in the new ecological order. And since the Green New Deal does not envision a transition to socialism as inherent in the project, the Black Political Agenda for Self-Determination’s Point Number 12 is highly relevant:
“Black Business must be nurtured by public development banks and protected from strangulation by corporate chains and monopolies. Black community planning agencies must protect and give preferential access to local entrepreneurs and cooperatives willing to operate in harmony with the community’s developmental plans, with a special emphasis on agriculture. Accordingly, we demand immediate Reparations for Black Farmers and an end to the land theft and discriminatory laws and practices used against Black farmers in the U.S.”
Ocasio-Cortez and Markey’s Green New Deal mandates that high-quality retraining and education will be accomplished with “community-defined projects and strategies.” Black communities will likely consider that a green light for community control of such institutions of learning, as is their self-determinationist, democratic right.
The oligarch-owned Democratic leadership and corporate media (the same folks that brought us Russiagate) will wage relentless, dirty war against the Green New Deal and the other super-majority-supported healthcare, education and living wage measures, likely resulting in the breakup of the Democratic Party – a welcome and necessary outcome. The rupture could be set in motion this election cycle if the Lords of Capital instruct their media and party operatives to treat the Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez agenda as an existential threat. Every passing day, however, more Americans awaken to the reality that the rule of the rich must end, so that the Earth can live. The current system is rigged for mass extinction. We need a whole new deck of cards. Black folks would like to get free before the lights of the world go out.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
The Green New Deal has its origins long before the newest, youngest and most diverse U.S. Congress in history took their oaths of office at the start of 2019. However, the concept is getting more traction and entering the national consciousness thanks to the progressive Democrats, giving it the potential to become the most influential policy to come out of the United States in more than a century.
But what does this policy entail? The truth is, it would not be just one simple law — it would be a culmination of policies forming a political philosophy that could tilt the agenda towards a more progressive, environmentally sound social agenda for the country, with implications for the world.
This article seeks to explain what the Green New Deal is and why, from its nascency among leftists and environmentalists, is garnering more and more support in mainstream circles.
“The New Deal”
Breaking it down into its composite elements, it’s important to understand the historical context of the New Deal, a policy pushed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt (U.S. president from 1933-1945). It has power over the psyche of U.S. citizens.
It began as nothing more than a campaign slogan that communicated a simplified message of interventionist economics in which the government would take responsibility for economic development through targeted spending, but in the end, it changed the face of the United States for generations.
Before this policy was enacted, the U.S. had suffered its deepest and longest economic depression in its history, leaving scores of the population destitute within the context of a country living under a regime of severe income equality. People were broke, starving, and losing their land and livelihoods.
The New Deal regulated the financial industry, increased public works via government spending, gave farmers and tenants protection from landlords, guaranteed labor rights, and created a social safety net to protect the most vulnerable citizens.
The generation of U.S. citizens that lived through that time and later through World War II, was dubbed the Greatest Generation. Their struggle and the overcoming of that struggle gave U.S. citizens and identity, and idea which still has significant sway over self-perception of U.S. history and lore.
Why “Green”? Why Now?
The U.N. has warned that the world has less than 12 years to avert the worst effects of climate catastrophes. To be clear, the world is already experiencing climate change in the form of more intense storms, more severe droughts, and other extreme weather conditions, but according to the dates, it will get much, much worse.
Action from the world, especially the United States, which has historically contributed up to 27 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the biosphere, has been much too slow. We’re in a situation in which corporate profits supersede people’s individual dignity and the integrity of land, water, and other natural resources, leaving them up to plunder. In this context, evironmentalism, the environment, becomes an afterthought, and a liability.
At the same time that the environmental pictures is becoming dire, income inequality in the United States has skyrocketed to levels not seen since the Gilded Age when robber barons interested only in self-enrichment left people vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
What is the Green New Deal?
The person most credited with making the Green New Deal part of the national dialogue and who has become its face it, is the 29-year-old freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She frames her banner climate policy through the lens of “American exceptionalism,” saying, “This is going to be the New Deal, the Great Society, the moon shot, the civil-rights movement of our generation.”
While the specific policy measures are still being worked out, the concept is to take the force of government on a grand scale and use it to create jobs, industry, inventions, and interventions, all with the aim of creating a truly sustainable model built on ecological principles.
It’s a philosophy that runs contrary to the traditional philosophy of finance that posits neverending consumption for economic growth regardless of the rampant, irreversible destruction of land, forests, habitats, and animal species. It also rejects the dominance of the “free market” and the “invisible hand” which has failed both the environment and the people who live in it.
The proposal also aims to have the United States become a completely fossil free country within 12 years, which some have called a radical proposal. Regardless, many of the new progressive Democrats in the U.S. Congress are pushing for these policies in practical ways:
The #GreenNewDeal would create millions of good paying jobs and bring prosperity to communities left behind. If we want to save the planet for future generations, we need bold, not incremental, action on climate change.
“Only Radicals Have Changed the Country”
Ocasio-Cortez posits that the Green New Deal would require massive change on a rapid schedule, but the U.S. economy, just like the vast majority of countries in the world, is dependent on fossil fuels, and changing the status quo and the technology of today based on current norms would undoubtedly affect quality of life.
In order to address this challenge, proponents of the policy, focus the government’s role in creating new technologies to address both the questions related to quality of life that arise and economic activity.
Investment is required by the government comparable to the amount of money spent developing military technology throughout the 20th century, and with as much single-mindedness as the creation of the atomic bomb during World War II. Essentially, progressives liken it to being in a war with time when it comes to the environment, and the United States should start acting like it.
The capitalistic model however refuses to make the investments or risks required to make such a rapid change. In an interview on 60 minutes, Ocasio-Cortez proposes increasing the tax rate on top earners:
“People talk often about the infrastructure investment that has to happen, and new technology,” Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff. “But there’s also an industrial plan that needs to happen to build entirely new industries. It’s sort of like the moonshot. When JFK said America was going to go to the moon, none of the things we needed to get to the moon at that point existed. But we tried and we did it.” The Green New Deal, he added, “touches everything — it’s basically a massive system upgrade for the economy.”
Extreme times call for extreme measures, and the United States under Trump, has become nothing if not extreme. The blowback against the Trump administration and the slow realization that the United States has regressed to the point where a small oligarchy, the new robber barons, control many media outlets and are pushing policies that have crushed the so-called American dream for so many. Right-wing elements are already mobilzing against the idea but so far, their criticism are on the fringe. The Green New Deal enjoys broad support, because it may be the last chance the United States has to act for the environment before major catastrophes ensue.
Ernesto Araujo (r), Brazil’s new foreign minister does not believe in
climate change. | Photo: Reuters
Brazil’s new Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo believes that climate change is a ploy by “cultural Marxists” to asphyxiate Western economies and protome China’s growth. He also characterized climates science as “dogma”. His appointment was confirmed by Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro Wednesday.
“This dogma has been used to justify increasing the regulatory power of states over the economy and the power of international institutions on the nation states and their populations, as well as to stifle economic growth in democratic Capitalist countries and to promote the growth of China,” he wrote in his blog post in October.
While attacking the Workers’ Party (PT), Araujo wrote in another post, “criminalizing everything that is good, spontaneous, natural and pure. Criminalizing the family on charges of patriarchal violence. Criminalizing private property. Criminalizing sex and reproduction, saying that any heterosexual act is rape and every baby is a risk to the planet because it will increase carbon emissions.”
Climate experts had expressed their disappointment over Bolsonaro’s choice, hoping for a more pragmatic pick.
“Brazil has played a very significant role in the Paris agreement. It would be really bad for the country’s image if he brings with him his ideology,” said Carlos Rittl, the executive secretary of the Brazilian Climate Observatory.
For Rittl, Brazil is not the United States and if the country “becomes a pariah on the global climate agenda, it would be extremely bad for our business, especially agribusiness. When they go to Europe to negotiate a deal, climate safeguards will be on the table.”
It is impossible to be here, speak from this rostrum on behalf of Cuba, and not recall historic moments of the General Assembly which are also part of our dearest memories: Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Raúl Castro and the “Chancellor of Dignity”, Raúl Roa, just to mention the most significant, have brought here not only the voice of our people but also the voice of other Latin American and Caribbean, African, Asian, non-aligned peoples, with whom we have shared more than half a century of struggles for a fair international order, which is still far off being attained.
It is absurd but consistent with the irrationality of a world in which the richest 0.7% of the population owns 46% of all the wealth, while the poorer 70% of the population can access only 2.7% of it; 3.460 billion people survive in poverty; 815 million go hungry; 758 million are illiterate and 844 million lack basic services of drinking water. All these figures, by the way, are prepared and regularly used by global organizations, but it seems that they have failed to raise sufficient awareness of the so-called international community.
These realities, Madam President, are not the result of socialism, like the President of the United States said yesterday here. They are the consequence of capitalism, especially imperialism and neoliberalism; of the selfishness and exclusion that is inherent to that system, and of an economic, political, social and cultural paradigm that privileges wealth accumulation in the hands of a few at the cost of the exploitation and dire poverty of the large majorities.
Capitalism consolidated colonialism. It gave birth to fascism, terrorism and apartheid and spread wars and conflicts; the breaches of sovereignty and self-determination of the peoples; repression of workers, minorities, refugees and migrants. Capitalism is the opposite of solidarity and democratic participation. The production and consumption patterns that characterize it, promote plundering, militarism, threats to peace; they generate violations of human rights and are the greatest danger to the ecological balance of the planet and the survival of the human being.
No one should be deceived by anybody claiming that humanity lacks enough material, financial and technological resources to eradicate poverty, hunger, preventable diseases and other scourges. What is lacking is the political will of the industrialized countries, who have the moral duty, the historical responsibility and the abundant resources to solve the most pressing global problems.
The truth is that while it is claimed that there is a shortfall in funding to attain the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda or address the increasing impact of climate change, 1.74 trillion dollars were wasted in military expenditure in the year 2017, the highest figure since the end of the Cold War.
Climate change is another unavoidable reality and a matter of survival for the human species, particularly for Small Island Developing States. Some of its effects are already irreversible.
Scientific evidence indicates there is an increase of 1.1° C relative to pre-industrial levels, and that 9 out of 10 persons living in urban areas breathe polluted air.
However, the United States, one of the major polluters of yesteryear and today, refuses to accompany the international community in the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change. It thus endangers the lives of future generations and the survival of all species, including humans.
In addition, and as if there were not enough threats to humanity and its dazzling creations, it is a fact that the military and nuclear hegemonism of imperialism is perpetuating itself and expanding to the detriment of the hopes of the majority of peoples for a general and complete disarmament. Cuba shares this ideal and, as testament of its commitment with this goal, on January 31, it became the fifth State to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
In this organization that was born out of the human desire to overcome the destruction left by a terrible war with the dialogue between nations, it is not possible to keep quiet about the danger looming over all of us, with the exacerbation of local conflicts, wars of aggression disguised as “humanitarian interventions”, the forceful overthrow of sovereign governments, the so-called “soft coups” and interference in other States’ internal affairs, recurrent forms of action by some powers, using the most diverse excuses.
The international cooperation for the promotion and protection of all human rights for all is a must. However, its discriminatory and selective manipulation with claims of domination, violates the rights to peace, self-determination and development of the peoples.
Cuba rejects the militarization of outer space and cyberspace, as well as the covert and illegal use of the information and communication technologies to attack other states.
The exercise of multilateralism and full respect for the principles and rules of International Law to advance towards a multipolar, democratic and equitable world, are required in order to ensure peaceful coexistence, preserve international peace and security and find lasting solutions for systemic problems.
Against that logic, the threat or use of force, unilateralism, pressures, retaliations and sanctions which increasingly characterize the behavior and rhetoric of the U.S. government and its abusive use of the veto power in the Security Council in order to impose their political agenda, pose huge challenges and threats within the United Nations itself.
Why don’t we just implement the promised strengthening of the General Assembly as the main organ of deliberation, decision and representation. The reform of the Security Council must not be delayed or prevented, as this organ is in need of adjusting to the times by democratizing its membership and working methods.
Today we have come to reiterate what Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz said on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the UN, which summarizes the most noble aspiration of the majority of humanity, and I quote: “We want a world without hegemonistic practices, without nuclear weapons, without interventionism, without racism, without national or religious hatred, without violations of the sovereignty of any country, with respect for independence and the free self-determination of peoples, without universal models that do not take into account the traditions and cultures of all components of humanity at all. Without cruel blockades that kill men, women, children, the young, and the elderly like silent atomic bombs”.
More than 20 years have elapsed since that demand was made and none of those ills have been cured; in fact, they have exacerbated. We have every right to ask why. And we have the duty to insist on effective and equitable solutions.
Our America is currently undergoing a stage of persistent threats, inconsistent with the “Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace”, signed in Havana by the Heads of States and Government on the occasion of the 2nd Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, in 2014.
The current U.S. administration has proclaimed the relevance of the Monroe Doctrine and, in a new deployment of its imperial policy in the region, is attacking Venezuela with special cruelty.
It is in this threatening context that we wish to reiterate our absolute support to the Bolivarian and Chavista Revolution, the civic-military union of the Venezuelan people and its legitimate and democratic government, led by the constitutional President Nicolas Maduros Moros. We reject the intervention attempts and sanctions against Venezuela, aimed at suffocating her economically and hurting Venezuelan families.
We likewise reject the attempts at destabilizing the Nicaraguan government, a country of peace that has made remarkable social, economic and public safety progress in favor of its people.
We denounce the politically-motivated imprisonment of former president Luiz Incicio Lula da Silva, and the decision to prevent the people from voting and electing Brazil’s most popular leader to the Presidency.
We stand in solidarity with the Caribbean nations who demand legitimate reparation for the horrible effects of slavery as well as the fair, special and differential treatment that they deserve.
We reaffirm our historic commitment with the self-determination and independence of our brother people of Puerto Rico.
We support Argentina’s legitimate sovereignty claim over the Malvinas Islands, South Sandwich and South Georgia Islands.
We reiterate our unrestricted support to a comprehensive, just and lasting solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, on the basis of the creation of two States, allowing the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination and to have an independent and sovereign State based upon the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We reject the unilateral action of the United States to establish their diplomatic representation in the city of Jerusalem, which heightens even more the tensions in the region. We condemn the barbarities of the Israeli forces against the civilian population in Gaza.
We reaffirm our steadfast solidarity with the Saharan people, and support the search for a final solution to the question of Western Sahara, which will allow the exercise of self-determination and to live in peace in their territory.
We support the search for a peaceful and negotiated solution to the situation imposed in
Syria, without foreign interference and with full respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity. We reject any direct or indirect intervention, carried out without the legitimate authorities of the country.
The continued expansion of NATO towards Russian borders is causing serious threats, worsened by the imposition of arbitrary sanctions, which we reject.
We demand compliance with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear deal.
We welcome the process of rapprochement and dialogue among the Koreas. This is the way to achieve a lasting peace, reconciliation and stability in the Korean peninsula. At the same time, we strongly condemn the imposition of unilateral and unfair sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and foreign interference in Korean internal affairs.
The violations of the rules of international trade and the sanctions against China, the European Union and other countries will bring about harmful effects, particularly for developing States.
We favor dialogue and cooperation, thanks to which we can report today that the Cuba-EU Agreement on Political Dialogue and Cooperation has provisionally entered into force and is a good foundation to develop beneficial ties between the Parties.
The government of the U.S. maintains an aggressive rhetoric towards Cuba and a policy aimed at subverting the political, economic, social, and cultural system in my country. Contrary to the interests of both peoples and giving in to the pressures of minority sectors, the new U.S. government has devoted itself to artificially fabricate under false pretexts, scenarios of tension and hostility that serve nobody’s interests.
This in contrast to the fact that we have formal diplomatic relations and mutually beneficial cooperation programs in a limited number of areas.
Our peoples share increasingly closer historic and cultural bonds, which are expressed in the arts, sports, science, the environment, among others. The potential for a fluent business relationship is well known and a genuine and respectful understanding would be in the interest of the entire region.
However, the essential and defining element of the bilateral relationship continues to be the blockade, which seeks to suffocate the Cuban economy in order to generate hardships and disrupt the constitutional order. It is a cruel policy, punishing Cuban families and the entire Nation.
It is the most comprehensive and long-standing system of economic sanctions ever implemented against any country. It has been and continues to be a major obstacle to the country’s development and to the realization of the aspirations to progress and well-being of several generations of Cubans.
As has been said for so many years in this same place, due to its aggressive extraterritorial implementation, the blockade seriously damages the sovereignty and interests of all countries.
On behalf of the Cuban people, I would like to thank this General Assembly for the virtually unanimous rejection of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against my country.
Nevertheless, the actions of the U.S. government against my country go farther. They include public and covert programs of gross interference in Cuba’s internal affairs. To this end, tens of millions of dollars that are officially allocated in its budget are used, in violation of the standards and principles upon which this organization rests, and in particular, of Cuba’s sovereignty as an independent nation.
Cuba stands ready to develop respectful and civilized relations with the U.S. government on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect. This is the will of the Cuban people and we know this is a shared aspiration by most U.S. citizens and, particularly, by Cubans living there.
We shall continue to tirelessly demand the end of the cruel economic, commercial and financial blockade, the return of the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base and adequate compensation to our people for the thousands of dead and disabled and for the economic and property damages caused to Cuba over so many years of aggression.
Cuba will always be willing to engage in dialogue and cooperate on the basis of respect and an equal footing. We shall never make concessions affecting our sovereignty and national independence, we shall not negotiate our principles nor shall we accept conditionalities.
In spite of the blockade, the hostility and the actions carried out by the United States to impose a regime change in Cuba, the Cuban Revolution is right here, alive and strong, faithful to her principles!
The generational change in our government should not raise the hopes of the enemies of the Revolution. We are the continuity, not a rupture. Cuba has continued taking steps to improve its model of economic and social development in order to build a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable Nations. This is the path that our people has freely chosen.
The country will not go back to the opprobrious past that it shook off with the greatest sacrifices during 150 years of struggle for independence and full dignity. By the decision of the overwhelming majority of Cubans, we shall continue the work that started almost 60 years ago.
In this conviction, we began a constitutional reform process, a truly participatory and democratic exercise, through popular discussion of the draft which will eventually be approved in a referendum. I am certain that there will be no changes in our strategic objectives and that the irrevocable nature of socialism will be ratified.
The principles of foreign policy will remain unchanged. As the First Secretary of our Party, Raúl Castro Ruz, said in his statement on the occasion of the 70 anniversary of the United Nations, and I quote: “The international community will always be able to count on the Cuba’s sincere voice against injustice, inequality, underdevelopment, discrimination and manipulation; and for the establishment of a fairer and more equitable international order, truly focused on human beings, their dignity and well-being”.
The Cuba on behalf of which I speak today is the proud successor of that independent, sovereign, fraternal and solidarity policy with the poorest of this world, producers of all the wealth on the planet, although the unequal global order has sentenced them with dire poverty on behalf of words like democracy, freedom and human rights, words which the rich have actually emptied of meaning.
It has been exciting and pleasant to take the floor at the same rostrum from which Fidel expressed powerful truths 58 years ago that still continue to shake us, in front of representatives of more than 190 nations who, rejecting extortion and pressures, every year fill the voting screen of worthy green lights of approval for our demand for the end of the blockade.
I bid you farewell in the hope that the noble aspirations of most of Humanity will be achieved before younger generations take this rostrum to demand the same as we do today, and our historic predecessors did in yesteryear.