Cuba will never accept any preconditions or impositions

Source:  Granma,  | internet@granma.cu
September 22, 2017 16:09:30

Speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, during the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla

 

Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla sept 2017.jpg

STATEMENT BY H.E. Mr. BRUNO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, MINISTER OF

FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, AT THE SEVENTY SECOND SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY. NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017.

Mr. President:

Mr. Secretary General;

Allow me to reiterate to you Cuba’s, support to your work at the helm of the United Nations and as a guarantor and advocate of international peace.

Heads of State and Government;

Distinguished delegates;

I would like to express my deep condolences to the relatives of the deceased and the victims of hurricanes Irma and Maria, as well as our disposition to increase our cooperation, to the extent of our modest possibilities, with the brother peoples and governments of Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, small Caribbean islands which suffered a terrible devastation; with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Sint Maarten, Virgin Islands and Anguilla.

I call upon the international community to give the highest priority to this situation and mobilize resources to assist the small Caribbean Island States and territories which have suffered such devastation.

We would like to convey Cuba’s warmest feelings of solidarity to the government and people of Mexico, particularly to the victims and their relatives, who were affected by both earthquakes, and reiterate to them our disposition to assist the population and support the recovery works with our modest efforts.

We also want to express our sorrow to the U.S. people, as well as our heartfelt condolences to the relatives of the deceased and to all of the victims of hurricane Irma.

Mr. President:

I want to convey the testimony of the people of Cuba, who are currently carrying out a colossal effort to recover from the severe damages caused by hurricane Irma to housing, agriculture, the power system and other services. Despite the all encompassing preventive measures – which included the evacuation of more than 1.7 million persons- and the full cooperation of all citizens, we suffered the loss of ten persons.

Strengthening the unity and solidarity of our noble and heroic people

The painful damages to services as well as the loss of social and personal goods as well as the hardships endured by families that spent many hours without electricity or water, contributed to strengthen the unity and solidarity of our noble and heroic people.

The moving scenes of rescuers saving a girl and giving her back to her mother; of a little boy picking up a bust of Jose Marti from the rubble; of students helping families they had not met before; of soldiers from the Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior doing the toughest jobs; of local leaders heading the most difficult tasks have become all too familiar.

During a visit paid to the area that suffered the most severe devastation. President Raúl Castro issued an appeal which literally read, and I quote: “These have been tough days for our people who, in only a few hours, have seen how what was built with great effort has been destroyed by a devastating hurricane. The images received during the last few hours are too eloquent, just as much as the spirit of resilience and victory of our people that are reborn in the face of every adversity.”

On behalf of the government and the people of Cuba, I sincerely appreciate the genuine expressions of solidarity and affection expressed by numerous governments, parliaments, international organizations and representatives of the civil society.

I would like to convey my profound gratitude for the numerous offers of assistance that we have received.

Mr. President:

I still keep vivid and emotional memories of the imposing presence of Fidel Castro Ruz, the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution, and the great validity of the ideas he expressed before this Assembly.

On behalf of our people and government, I would like to express our gratitude for the feelings of respect, affection and admiration we have received from all latitudes.

Mr. President:

Inequality, poverty and hunger

On Tuesday last, President Donald Trump came here to convince us that one of his purposes is to promote the prosperity of nations and persons. But, in the real world, the wealth owned by eight men altogether is equivalent to the wealth shared by 3.6 billion human beings, who make up the poorest half of humanity.

In terms of turnover, 69 of the 100 biggest entities of the world are transnationals, not States. The turnover of the world’s ten biggest corporations is higher than the public revenues earned by 180 countries combined.

Seven hundred million persons live in extreme poverty; 21 million are victims of forced labor. In 2015, 5.9 million children died of preventable or curable diseases before reaching the age of 5. A total of 758 million adults are illiterate.

Eight hundred and fifteen million persons suffer from chronic hunger -tens of millions more than in 2015. Two billion are undernourished. Even if the precarious decreasing growth rate of recent years rebounds, 653 million persons will continue to face hunger by the year 2030, and this will not be enough to eradicate hunger by the year 2050.

There are 22.5 million refugees. Humanitarian tragedies associated to migrants flows worsen and increase amidst a clearly unjust international economic and political order.

Cruel and ineffective 

The construction of walls and barriers as well as the laws and measures adopted to prevent the waves of refugees and migrants have proved to be cruel and ineffective. There is a proliferation of exclusive and xenophobic policies that violate the human rights of millions of persons and fail to solve the problems of underdevelopment, poverty and armed conflicts, which are the main causes of migration and refugee claims.

Military expenditures have increased to 1.7 trillion dollars. That reality belies those who claim that there are not enough resources to eradicate poverty.

However, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development lacks the means for its implementation, due to the egoism and lack of political will of the United States and other industrialized countries.

What is the miraculous recipe that President Donald Trump recommends to us in the absence of the financial flows of the Marshall Plan? Who will contribute the resources for that? How can this be reconciled with the “America First” idea advanced by Presidents Reagan and Trump?

President Trump ignores and distorts history and portraits a chimera as a goal to be pursued. The production and consumption patterns proper of neoliberal capitalism are unsustainable and irrational and will inexorably lead to the destruction of the environment and the end of the human species.

Can anyone forget about the consequences of colonialism, slavery, neocolonialism and imperialism?

A new inclusive international economic order

Could the several decades of bloody military dictatorships in Latin America be referred to as an example of a successful capitalism? Does anyone know of any recipe of neoliberal capitalism that has been better applied than those which destroyed the Latin American economies in the 1980s?

It is both indispensable and urgent for the United Nations to work in order to establish a new participatory, democratic, equitable and inclusive international economic order, as well as a new financial architecture that take into account the needs and peculiarities of developing countries and the asymmetries that exist in world trade and finances as a result of centuries of exploitation and plundering.

Industrialized countries have the moral duty, the historical responsibility as well as sufficient financial and technological means for that.

Climate change

Not even the rich will enjoy the announced prosperity if climate change is not stopped.

Cuba regrets the decision taken by the government of the United States, which has been historically the principal greenhouse gas emitting government in the planet, to withdraw its country from the Paris Agreement.

In 2016, and for the third consecutive year, the average global temperature increase records have been broken, which confirms that climate change is a threat to the survival of humanity and the sustainable development of our peoples.

We reiterate our solidarity with the Small Island Developing States, particularly from the Caribbean and the Pacific, which are the most affected by climate change and for which we claim a just, special and differentiated treatment.

Nuclear weapons

Mr. President:

The U.S. government has come here to tell us that, in addition to prosperity, the other two “beautiful pillars” of international order are sovereignty and security.

We all share the common responsibility to preserve the existence of human beings in the face of a nuclear threat. An important contribution to the achievement of that goal was the historical adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons under the auspices of the United Nations, which proscribe the use and the threat of use of those weapons that have the capacity to annihilate the human species.

Obviously, the United States strongly opposed this treaty. It announced that it will invest 700 billion dollars in military expenditures and is developing an extremely aggressive nuclear and military doctrine based on the threat to use and the use of force.

NATO member States attempt against international peace and security and International Law by promoting military interventions and non-conventional wars against sovereign States.

As was pointed out by the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz: “Let the philosophy of plunder disappear and the philosophy of war will also disappear!”

Manipulating the concepts of sovereignty and security

The illegal imposition of unilateral coercive measures and the use of financial, legal, cultural and communication instruments to destabilize governments as well as the denial of peoples’ right to self-determination have become customary.

The covert use of ICTs to attack other States increases, while several developed countries strongly oppose the adoption of international treaties that would regulate cooperation in order to achieve a safe cyberspace.

The U.S. President manipulates the concepts of sovereignty and security to his exclusive benefit and to the detriment of all others, including his allies.

The attempt to resort to military threats and force to stop the irreversible world trend to multi-polarization and polycentrism will seriously jeopardize international peace and security, which should be defended and preserved through international mobilization.

The principles of sovereign equality, respect for the territorial integrity and non interference in the internal affairs of States should be observed. The UN Charter and International Law admit no re-interpretation.

The United Nations reform should pursue the principal goal of responding to the pressing needs of peoples and the great disadvantaged majorities. Multilateralism should be protected and reinforced in the face of the imperialist interests of domination and hegemony.

The democratization of the Security Council, both in terms of its composition and its working methods, is a most urgent task.

The strengthening of the General Assembly and the recovery of the functions that have been usurped from it are indispensable.

An exceptionalist and supremacist vision

Mr. President:

The “patriotism” invoked in the U.S. statement is a perversion of humanism, the love and loyalty to the homeland and of the enrichment and defense of national and universal culture. It embodies an exceptionalist and supremacist vision of ignorant intolerance in the face of diverse political, economic, social and cultural models.

In developed countries, the loss of legitimacy of political systems and parties worsens and electoral abstentionism is on the rise. Corruption, whether legal or illegal, has turned into metastasis. So is the extreme case of the so called “special interests” or corporate payments in exchange for benefits in the country that spends the highest amount of money in electoral campaigns and where, paradoxically, a candidate with the lowest number of popular votes can be elected or entitled to govern with a negligible support by voters.

There has been and increasing and unheard-of use of science and technology to exercise hegemony, mutilate national cultures and manipulate human behavior, as is the case of the so called “big data” or psychometry, used for political and advertising purposes. Seven consortia keep a strict control of whatever is read, watched or heard in the planet. Technologies are being monopolized. The governance of digital networks is dictatorial and discriminatory and, despite appearances, the digital divide between rich and poor countries is increasing.

The opportunities and rights of youths, migrants and workers are curtailed and their human rights are openly and systematically violated.

Pattern of systematic violations of human rights

The day before yesterday, the U.S. Vice-president, Michael Pence, ridiculously ignoring the functions of the Security Council and attempting to establish new prerogatives, said that this organ should modify the composition and methods of the UN Human Rights Council, which “doesn’t deserve its name” because “a clear majority of the Human Rights Council members fail to meet even the most basic human rights standards”. I suppose he is not including, in this case, his own country, which will in fact deserve to be included because of its pattern of systematic violations of human rights, namely the use of torture, arbitrary detentions and imprisonment -as occurs at the Guantanamo Naval Base-, the assassination of African Americans by law enforcement agents, the killing of innocent civilians perpetrated by its troops and the xenophobia and repression against immigrants -including minors- as well as its scarce adherence to international instruments.

Mr. President:

We reaffirm our strongest condemnation against all forms and manifestations of terrorism and reject the double standards in combating them.

The urgent search for a just and lasting solution to the conflict in the Middle East is based on the exercise of the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the existence of a free and independent State within the pre-1967 borders, with Eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

The situation in Western Sahara requires an effort in conformity with the UN resolutions to guarantee the Saharan people’s exercise to self-determination and respect for their legitimate right to live in peace in their own territory.

Cuba reaffirms its support to the search for a peaceful and negotiated solution to the war in Syria without any foreign interference and with full respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The threats to international peace and security resulting from the expansion of NATO’s presence along the Russian borders are on the increase. We continue to reject the unilateral and unjust sanctions imposed against that country.

We demand respect for the so called Nuclear Agreement signed with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

War is not an option

We reject the threat to totally destroy the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the home to 25 million human beings. War is not an option in the Korean peninsula; it would threaten the existence of hundreds of millions of persons in this area as well as in neighboring countries; it would lead to a nuclear war of unpredictable consequences. Only through dialogue and negotiation would it be possible to achieve a lasting political solution that should take into account the legitimate concerns of all the parties involved. We support the total denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, without any foreign interference, with absolute respect for sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States and strictly abiding by the principle of not using or threatening to use force.

Threats to Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace

Mr. President:

New threats are hovering over peace and stability in Latin America and the Caribbean, in open disrespect for the “Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace” signed in Havana by the Heads of State and Government of our region in January, 2014, on the occasion of the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

We reiterate what was expressed by President Raul Castro Ruz about the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on July 14 last:

“The aggression and putschist violence against Venezuela harms all of Our America and only serve the interests of those set on dividing us to exercise their control over our peoples, unconcerned about causing conflicts of incalculable consequences in this region, like those we are seeing in different parts of the world.

The Bolivarian and Chavista Revolution

“Today we warn that those attempting to overthrow the Bolivarian and Chavista Revolution through unconstitutional, violent and putschist methods will shoulder a serious responsibility before history.

We strongly reject the military threats against Venezuela, the Executive Order that designates it as a threat to the national security of the United States and the unilateral, unjust and arbitrary sanctions applied against it.

We reiterate our unwavering solidarity with the Bolivarian and Chavista government and people and its civic-military union led by the constitutional President Nicolas Maduro Moros.

We denounce and condemn the NICA Act Initiative, promoted in the U.S. Congress as part of an interventionist behavior which is intended to impose an economic blockade against the people and the government of Nicaragua, to whom we reiterate our support.

We express our solidarity with former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, victim of a political persecution intended to prevent him from running for direct elections by means of a judicial disqualification. Lula, President Dilma Rousseff, the Workers*

Party and the Brazilian people will always find Cuba on their side.

We reiterate our historical commitment with the free determination and independence of the Puerto Rican people.

We support the legitimate claim of Argentina for the sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands.

Cuba will continue to contribute, to the extent possible, and at the request of the parties involved, its efforts to achieve a stable and lasting peace in Colombia.

We will uphold our commitment to share our modest achievements with the peoples of the South, including the efforts of the 41 652 cooperation workers deployed in 63 countries to struggle for the life and health of human beings.

A setback in U.S.-Cuba bilateral relations

Mr. President:

On June 16 last, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, announced the new Cuba policy of his administration, which is a setback in U.S.-Cuba bilateral relations and undermines the bases established two years ago to advance towards a new type of relation between our countries, characterized by respect and equality.

The U.S. Government has decided to tighten the economic, commercial and financial blockade by imposing new obstacles to the already limited possibilities its business community had to trade with and invest in Cuba as well as additional restrictions on U.S. citizens willing to travel to our country.

Those decisions ignore the support from broad sectors in the U.S., including the majority of Cuban émigrés, to the lifting of the blockade and the normalization of relations. They only serve the interests of a group of Cuban origin, based in South Florida, which is an ever more isolated and minoritarian group that insists in harming Cuba and its people for having decided to defend, at all costs, the right to be free, independent and sovereign. Today we reiterate our condemnation of the measures aimed at tightening the blockade and reaffirm that any strategy intended to destroy the Revolution will fail.

Likewise, we reject the manipulation of the human rights issue against Cuba, which has a lot to be proud of and has no need to receive lessons from the United States or anyone.

This time we would like to express our strongest condemnation of the disrespectful, offensive and interventionist statement against Cuba and the Cuban government, made three days ago at this rostrum by President Donald Trump. We remind him that the United States, where flagrant human rights violations are committed, which raise deep concern among the international community, has no moral authority to judge my country. We reaffirm that Cuba will never accept any preconditions or impositions, nor will it ever renounce any of its principles.

Regarding the alleged incidents that would have affected U.S. diplomatic officials in Havana we categorically affirm that the Cuban government rigorously and seriously abides by its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in relation to the protection and the integrity of all diplomats without any exception, including those from the United States. Cuba has never perpetrated nor will it ever perpetrate actions of this sort. Cuba has never allowed nor will it ever allow its territory to be used by third parties with that purpose.

The Cuban authorities, based on the preliminary results of the priority investigation that is being carried out with a high technical component, following instructions from the top level of our government, has taken into account the data contributed by the U.S. authorities and so far has found no evidence whatsoever that could confirm the causes or the origin of the health disorders referred to by U.S. diplomats and their relatives. The investigation to clarify this issue continues, and in order to be able to arrive to a conclusion, it will be crucial to count on the cooperation of the U.S. authorities. It would be unfortunate if a matter of this nature is politicized.

As was expressed by the Cuban President Raul Castro Ruz, Cuba is willing to continue negotiating all pending bilateral issues with the United States, on the basis of equality and absolute respect for the sovereignty and independence of our country; and maintaining a respectful dialogue and cooperation in areas of common interest with the U.S. government.

Cuba and the United States can cooperate and coexist, respecting their differences and promoting everything that benefits both countries and peoples, but no one should expect Cuba to make concessions that affect its sovereignty and independence.

The lifting and total elimination of the blockade

Mr. President:

The Cuban people will not cease in their legitimate claim for the lifting and total elimination of the economic, commercial and financial blockade and will continue to denounce the strengthening of that policy. On November Cuba will once again present to the United Nations General Assembly the draft Resolution entitled

“Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.” While inequality, the opulence of a few and the marginalization of many are growing in today’s world, the Cuban people will keep up its struggle to achieve the most just society possible. We will continue to steadily advance down the path of revolutionary transformations that has been sovereignly chosen by all Cubans to further improve our socialism.

Thank you, very much.

 

ALBA Bank to Donate $2 Million to Barbuda for Reconstruction

Source:  TeleSUR
September17 2017

alba bank donates.jpgHomes in Codrington, Antigua and Barbuda were completely torn apart by
the storms powerful winds. | Photo: AFP

The Bank of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America has pledged to allocate US$2 million for the reconstruction of Barbuda.

RELATED: Venezuela Sends Aid to Hurricane Irma-Struck Antigua and Barbuda

jorge arreaza venezuela.jpgSpeaking during a televised broadcast, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, said the funds will be accompanied by a commission of Venezuelan technicians who will participate in the reconstruction of homes adapted to face future climatological phenomena.

The island, comprising the duo Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, took a direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Irma, destroying over 90 percent of building structures.

A joint venture

Arreaza stressed that the program will be a joint venture with the government of Antigua and Barbuda and Petrocaribe and ratified the willingness of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to assist the people of Barbuda to overcome the destruction.

“President Maduro was in contact with the Prime Minister of Barbuda Gaston Browne during this episode,” adding that Venezuela is prepared to do all it can in the name of solidarity with sister countries of the Caribbean.

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Amid Antigua and Barbuda’s devastation, Venezuela sent over 10 tons of supplies to the Caribbean islands, including mattresses, medicine, boots, and cases of water, as well as a roster of rescue personnel.

The Bolivarian National Armed Forces also transported 20 firefighters and 34 civil defense personnel to the hurricane-struck islands.

Hurricane Harvey and the Dialectics of Nature

Source: Counterpunch
September 1 2017

by LOUIS PROYECT

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Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us.

hurricane harvey 7.jpgBetween 1872 and 1882, Frederick Engels worked on a book titled “The Dialectics of Nature” that sought to apply Marxist dialectics to the natural world. Although it was never completed and is filled with dated ideas about science, it is a work that has earned the respect of some of the most important scientists on the left such as Stephen Jay Gould who praised its best known chapter that was issued separately as a pamphlet—The Part played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man. Long before people such as Barry Commoner and Rachel Carson were laying the groundwork for the eco-socialism of today, Engels anticipated the kind of contradictions that have led to three disastrous hurricanes: Katrina, Sandy and now Harvey. Engels wrote:

Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. The people who, in Mesopotamia, Greece, Asia Minor and elsewhere, destroyed the forests to obtain cultivable land, never dreamed that by removing along with the forests the collecting centres and reservoirs of moisture they were laying the basis for the present forlorn state of those countries.

If you understand that the prairies surrounding Houston, the wetlands to the south of New Orleans and the brush that grew across the coastline around greater New York were closely related to the forests of the earliest class societies that Engels refers to, you will realize that “each victory” will bring us closer to the ultimate defeat of civilization itself. Just consider the words that follow those above:

When the Italians of the Alps used up the pine forests on the southern slopes, so carefully cherished on the northern slopes, they had no inkling that by doing so they were cutting at the roots of the dairy industry in their region; they had still less inkling that they were thereby depriving their mountain springs of water for the greater part of the year, and making it possible for them to pour still more furious torrents on the plains during the rainy seasons.

Furious torrents. Are there any words better matched to the pictures of Houston seen on television every night?

Read more at:  Hurricane Harvey and the Dialectics of Nature

Bolivia’s President Morales Says Hurricanes are Product of Capitalism

Source:  TeleSUR
September 9 2017

evo morales sept 2017.jpgThe Bolivian President Evo Morales speaks during a ceremony in
Potosi, Bolivia. | Photo: Reuters

Morales has long identified the system as the root cause of climate change.

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales says the devastating hurricanes hitting Caribbean nations over the last week are caused by pollution created by the capitalist system, and is urging countries to implement the policies of the Paris Climate Deal.

RELATED:   Bolivia’s Morales Says ‘Most Polluted, Industrialized’ US Cannot Deny its Environmental Damage

“It is urgent to retake the Paris Agreement,” Morales wrote on his official Twitter account. “The world calls for peace between brotherly peoples and not walls against human beings.”

The Bolivian president also welcomed the comments made by Pope Francis during his visit to Colombia, calling for “a reconciliation with Mother Earth.”

Morales said the world is demanding peace between peoples, and not walls, such as the one that President Donald Trump wants to build on the U.S.-Mexican border.



In June, Trump announced that the U.S. is withdrawing from the 2015 Paris agreement.

He said moves to negotiate a new “fair” deal that would not disadvantage U.S. businesses and workers would begin.

Only three sovereign nations are not part of the accord, which aims to stem global warming.

Of the other two, Nicaragua feels the agreement does not go far enough, and Syria remains mired in a civil war.

“It is urgent to retake the Paris Agreement. The world calls for peace between brotherly peoples and not walls against human beings.”

At the the COP 21 Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015, Morales had blamed capitalism for environmental destruction, calling it “the formula that has destroyed our species.”

Just back in July, the Bolivian leader had also remarked that “the U.S., the most industrialized and most polluted country in the world, cannot deny its responsibility for the damage it causes to the environment.”

A Lesson for the US: Cuba’s Response to Hurricanes

Source:  TeleSUR
August 28 2017

texas aug 2017.jpgResidents struggle through flood waters from tropical storm Harvey in Beaumont Place, Texas, August 28. | Photo: Reuters

How a small Caribbean island with few resources manages to protect its people from extreme weather better than some of the richest countries.

A hurricane evacuation plan

Preparedness and prevention are hallmark qualities of the Cuban Revolution. They’re evident in the Caribbean island’s medical sector, educational system, environmental policies and at Playa de Giron in 1961. However, an often overlooked area where these two qualities safeguard the well-being of Cuban families is the development of a hurricane evacuation plan.

IN PICTURES:  In Cuba’s East, Solidarity Proves Crucial to Hurricane Recovery

As one-time hurricane, now tropical storm, Harvey continues to wreak havoc in Houston and other areas of Texas and Louisiana, and on the eve of the 12-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, teleSUR spoke with Gail Reed. She is executive editor of the Medicc Review, a peer-review journal about health and medicine in Latin American, Caribbean, and other developing countries, and a journalist who has spent more than three decades in Cuba. We wanted her insight into Cuba’s local preparation and prevention plans, compared to U.S. disaster relief efforts, and how these distinct measures save lives as well as property during severe storms.

Our conversation began with Reed expressing solidarity with the people of Texas and Louisiana, as well as first responders, stressing that their predicament faced with the catastrophic flooding occasioned by tropical storm Harvey is “unforgivable.”

She proceeded to detail Cuba’s intersectoral preparedness and response to hurricanes, which include education, drilling and how the country’s relatively small civil defense force is deployed at provincial, municipal and local community levels when a storm is first detected.

RELATED:  Catastrophic Flooding After Hurricane Harvey as Venezuela Expresses Solidarity

Reed stressed that while “Hurricanes give you several days warning” the Cuban government “gives seven days warning,” during which time local communities are given ample opportunity to prepare for the worst.

Constant drills

She noted that local leaders are the protagonists of “disaster warning processes based on constant drilling,” which takes place under the rubric of “risk-reduction” in every province, city, town and village.

These constant drills are coupled with an integrated response from local fire departments, health, transportation and other vital public services. Above all, Cuba places “tremendous emphasis on educating the population” to keep communities and families, particularly the most vulnerable, safe.

“A taxi driver can tell you what a hurricane 5 is on the Saffir-Simpson scale and they will give you a whole lecture on what they need to do to prepare,” said Reed.

The journalist also pointed out that Cuba no longer talks about evacuation, but rather focuses on “protection,” which includes reinforcing “a local school” capable of accommodating local communities and pets.

She said that, unlike the people of Texas and Louisiana affected by tropical storm Harvey, all of whom must apply for federal aid, Cubans, despite the country’s vastly inferior economic resources, do not feel as though they will be abandoned “no matter what,” nor subjected to market-driven price gouging of vital supplies as witnessed in Texas today.

Cuba’s “small loss of life and property,” Reed emphasized, is usually significantly less than that seen in major disasters like Hurricane Katrina and now tropical storm Harvey. And the reason is this level of preparation.

RELATED:  One Dead as Mudslides and Heavy Rains Continue in Haiti

According to Reed, the Cuban approach to prevention policies demonstrate a thoughtful insight into the sheer power of nature and the impact of climate change. The U.S. philosophy of disaster relief, on the other hand, is more of an afterthought, which fails to recognize human frailties.

Reed recalls how in 2005, Cuba, which has suffered over half century of a U.S. economic blockade, offered to send 1,500 medical professionals from the Henry Reeves Brigade to help the people of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The former U.S. President George W. Bush, swiftly rejected the offer.

cuban medical personnel assemble for Katrina 2.jpg

Cuban medical personnel assembled and ready to assist Louisiana after
Hurricane Katrina; the US did not take up its neighbour’s offer of help

 

Raul: We cannot remain indifferent to disturbances in Latin America and the Caribbean

Source:  Granma
June 4, 2016

Full text of remarks by Raul Castro Ruz, President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, opening the 7th Association of Caribbean States Summit, June 4,2016

by: Raúl Castro Ruz | internet@granma.cu

7th acs summit Havana.jpg

Photo: Alejandro Ernesto

Distinguished Heads of State and/or Government,

Esteemed Ambassador Alfonso Munera Cavadia, Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States,

Distinguished delegates and guests,

CUBA-HAVANA-ACS-SUMMITFor the seventh time, we are meeting as Heads of States and/or Government, alongside other high representatives of the States and territories of the Association of Caribbean States, ACS. On this occasion we have gathered for a deep exchange on the theme “Together to confront the challenges of sustainable development, climate change and peace in the Caribbean”.

Our deliberations will also be aimed at strengthening the organization on the basis of its foundational principles, as a mechanism of coordination, cooperation and concerted action.

We welcome the French Overseas Collectivity of Saint Martin, a new Associate Member, and salute the adherence as Observers of the Multinational State of Bolivia, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Eastern Republic of Uruguay and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA-TCP), the same as the presence of representatives of nations and organizations as Observers.

Puerto Rico

We hope one day to be able to count with the adherence of all of the Caribbean territories, including the sister island of Puerto Rico, as an independent and sovereign nation.

When in July 1994, the Heads of States and/or Government of 25 independent nations met in the city of Cartagena de Indias, along with delegates from other Caribbean territories, embracing the historic initiative of CARICOM to establish the Association of Caribbean States, it was our purpose to work together in defense of our identities, cultural heritage and common interests; to reinforce political coordination and cooperation; and to advance with sustainable development, and the integration of our peoples.

The Program Declaration of our 1st Summit in Trinidad and Tobago defined Tourism, Transportation and Commerce as strategic areas. Then, cooperation to cope with natural disasters was later added to these. The Declaration of the 6th Summit held in Merida, Mexico, in April 2014, commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the ACS, and the Petion Ville Plan of Action adopted at the 5th Summit the year before in that city of the Republic of Haiti, reaffirmed unquestionable achievements but also enormous challenges still ahead.

The high cost and economic difficulties of connecting by air and sea

The issue of connection by air and by sea, its high costs and economic difficulties, largely the consequence of the global crisis– jeopardize commerce and investments between our countries. Therefore, it is urgent to find creative and viable solutions beneficial to all, mindful of the special and differentiated treatment required by smaller states.

The development of multi-destination tourism, the diversification of markets, increases in the quality and diversity of tourist services and the training of skilled personnel also stand as priority areas.

Allow me to avail myself of the occasion to underline that Cuba is especially interested in enhancing and consolidating cooperation with our Caribbean brothers and sisters in the tourism sector.

Climate change 

On the other hand, the occurrences associated to climate change, such as the rising of sea level that threatens the very existence of small islands; the more frequent and increasingly powerful hurricanes; and, the intensive rainfalls, coastal erosion and extensive droughts bring considerable human and economic damage to our nations. That is why the development of cooperation to reduce the risks of disasters, and mitigate their effects, is a pressing necessity for our governments, and should take central stage in our plan of action for the future.

The agreement reached at the Paris Summit on Climate Change stands as a significant starting point, but we should continue our work to have it implemented, and to enlarge its scope, always on the basis of common but differentiated responsibilities, and recognizing the vulnerabilities of the least developed countries, particularly the small island states.

Irrational production and consumption patterns

We advocate the principle that irrational production and consumption patterns should be modified, and insist that the political will of the industrial nations is required to cut down emissions of greenhouse effect friendly gases, and to make serious pledges in terms of funds and technological transfer.

Sovereignty over our natural resources

Another issue demanding priority attention concerns sovereignty over our natural resources, which constitute a guarantee for the future and a source of wealth for our peoples. Allowing their unrestricted exploitation by foreign interests, with negligible profits for our nations, is tantamount to compromising development and adding to existing dependence.

In the past few years, the ACS has concentrated its main efforts on advancing cooperation in the previously mentioned strategic areas. This is certainly positive, and we should continue working on it, but never losing sight of the fact that the current circumstances pose severe challenges that we also need to confront together.

The imperialist and oligarchic counteroffensive unleashed against popular and progressive governments

We cannot remain indifferent to disturbances in Latin America and the Caribbean resulting from the imperialist and oligarchic counteroffensive unleashed against popular and progressive governments, which emerged after the failure of the neoliberal wave. This constitutes a threat to peace, stability, unity and indispensable regional integration.

The situation demands the reinforcement of consultation and coordination mechanisms in conformity with the precepts contained in Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by the Heads of States and/or Government attending the 2nd Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (CELAC), held in Havana in January 2014. We should also urge others to respect those principles in their relations with our countries.

The commitment to not interfere, directly or indirectly

The commitments of States in the region to not interfere, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other State, and to abide by the principles of national sovereignty, equality of rights and the free determination of the peoples; to promote friendly and cooperative relations between them, and with other nations; to exercise tolerance and live in peace; and, to fully respect every State’s inalienable right to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system are unavoidable conditions to peace, harmony, development and the integration of our countries.

Unconditional solidarity with the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro

I reaffirm our strongest and unconditional solidarity with the fraternal people of Venezuela, with the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro, and with the Bolivarian Revolution initiated by Commander Hugo Chavez Frias. They are firmly resisting the destabilizing thrust, and the economic and media warfare undertaken by those who intend to sweep away the political, economic and social conquests that have brought benefits to millions of people who for centuries lived in conditions of poverty, injustice and inequality.

It is a source of deep concern, the unacceptable attempt by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States to apply the so-called Inter American Democratic Charter to interfere with the internal affairs of Venezuela. The statement published by our Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains Cuba’s position and releases me of offering details.

The OAS is, and will continue to be, an instrument of imperialist domination

I would only reiterate our view that the OAS, from its inception was, as it is and will continue to be, an instrument of imperialist domination, and no reform whatsoever can change its nature or its history. That is why Cuba will never return to the OAS.

Solidarity to the Brazilian people and their Constitutional President Dilma Rousseff

We also extend our solidarity to the Brazilian people and their Constitutional President Dilma Rousseff, who is bravely confronting the parliamentary coup d’état promoted by the right-wing and neoliberal oligarchy, intent on reversing the social achievements scored during the governments headed by the Workers Party.

I reaffirm our satisfaction with the progress attained in the Colombian peace process, and reiterate that we shall keep up the effort to contribute to achieve the completion of an agreement that can definitely put an end to the armed conflict in that sister nation.

Peace, justice, equity and the sustainable development

The preservation of peaceful coexistence and stability makes it indispensable to prevent the aggravation of territorial disputes inherited from colonial days. These should be settled through dialogue and negotiation, and with the full awareness of the historic responsibility that we have to our peoples for the future of peace, justice, equity and the sustainable development that we all aspire to build.

This conference offers propitious occasion to restate our steadfast determination to continue cooperating and sharing our modest achievements with our Caribbean brothers and sisters, despite the economic challenges we face.

Commitment to Haiti

Likewise, we are fully committed to support the reconstruction and development of the fraternal Republic of Haiti, the birthplace of the first revolution for independence and slave emancipation in Our America.

I reaffirm our support for the legitimate demand of countries of the Caribbean Community to be compensated for the horrors of slavery and slave trade. By the same token, I reiterate our resolute support for the right of small and vulnerable states to be accorded a special and differentiated treatment, in terms of access to commerce and investments, and their just demand to receive cooperation according to their real needs and not on the basis of indexes of per capita income that classify them as middle income countries, thus preventing their access to indispensable financial resources.

We shall never forget

We shall never forget that when the ACS was established, in July 1994, our Caribbean brothers and sisters defended our membership in the bosom of this united family. At the time, Cuba was undergoing an extremely challenging situation, since our economy had fallen by 35%, due to the sudden loss of its major markets, in the aftermath of the demise of the European socialist camp and mounting imperialist pressures to corner and destroy the Revolution.

The blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States

We shall neither forget the unrelenting support that every government represented here has provided to our just demand for the removal of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States; a blockade that remains in force, despite the fact that it has been rejected 24 times at the United Nations General Assembly, and other important fora, like the Summit of the Americas held in Panama last year; and despite positive but insufficient measures adopted by the current U.S. Administration.

US Naval Base in Guantanamo

We also appreciate the support displayed at the 4th CELAC Summit with respect to our demand for the return of the Cuban territory unlawfully occupied by a U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo, against the will of our people and government.

Norman Girvan

Before concluding my remarks, I wish to pay tribute to the memory of an outstanding Jamaican intellectual, Professor Norman Girvan, a restless combatant for progress in the Caribbean, and for regional integration, and a great friend of Cuba, who served as Secretary General of our Association.

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Photo:  Norman Girvan (centre) with Fidel

We should also acknowledge at this point, the remarkable work of Ambassador Alfonso Munera Cavadia in these four years as Secretary General of the ACS, and express our satisfaction over the election of Saint Lucia’s Ambassador June Soomer, the first woman to assume this responsibility, and to whom we wish the greatest success.

Now, without further delay I pronounce the 7th Summit of the Association of Caribbean States open.

Related information

 

Climate Emergency:’ February Temperatures Hottest in a Century

Source:  TeleSUR
March 142016

Experts have warned that earth is entering a “climate emergency” as NASA announced that the month of February was the hottest on record in decades.

female villager 2.jpgA female villager walks after collecting water from the base of a dried-up reservoir, due to the long dry season, at Kedung Sumber village, Indonesia. | Photo: Reuters

The world is entering a “climate emergency” as global surface temperatures across land and sea were 1.35 C warmer in February than the average temperature for this time of year month, making it the hottest in a century, NASA said Sunday.

The previous record was set in January, which was 1.14°C warmer than the baseline average for that month, NASA said.

climate emergency 2.jpg

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“We are in a kind of climate emergency now,” Stefan Rahmstorf, from Germany’s Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, told the Sydney Morning Herald Monday. “Governments have promised to act [to curb greenhouse gas emissions] and they need to do better than what they promised in Paris” at the global climate summit last December, he said.

Analysing the results for Weather Underground, weather experts Jeff Masters and Bob Henson wrote, “we are now hurtling at a frightening pace toward the globally agreed maximum of 2.0°C warming over pre-industrial levels.”

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They added that the result was “another reminder of the incessant long-term rise in global temperature resulting from human-produced greenhouse gases.”

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Experts say that the El Nino phenomenon is considered to have contributed to the current record of global temperatures. It causes an increase in the area of warm surface water across the Pacific, allowing global oceans to transfer heat more readily into the atmosphere.

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However, compared with the El Nino record of 1997-98, global temperatures are around 0.5 degrees hotter, meaning that other factors such as greenhouse gases are contributing to the increase in global warming.