Statement by Ambassador Rodolfo Benítez Verson, Deputy Permanent Representative of Cuba to the General Assembly Third Committee, at the debate on agenda item 27: Social Development, a) Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly, b) Social development, including questions relating to the world social situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family, c) Follow-up to the International Year of Older Persons: Second World Assembly on Ageing, d) United Nations Literacy Decade: education for all. Third Committee, 4 October 2010.
Allow me to congratulate you and the rest of the Bureau on your election, and convey our support to the statement by Yemen on behalf of the G-77.
After the General Assembly’s reviewing of the commitments undertaken in the 1995 World Summit for Social Development, we realize the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals is a chimera for most of the countries.
The economic and political international order remains highly unfair and unsustainable. The social problems suffered by the world are aggravated by the economic and financial crisis, the serious food and energy crisis, and the negative impact of climate change. What is more alarming is that the most affected countries are the less responsible for the crisis.
The inequality gap continues to widen. The population living in extreme poverty added 36 million people between 1990 and 2005. The number of hungry people worldwide rose to the record figure of 1.020 billion in 2009, while the number of illiterate people amounts to 796 million.
The world invests 1 531 trillion dollars in military expenditures, whereas 2 billion people suffer malnutrition. As half a trillion dollars is wasted on illegal drugs, today the difference in the life expectancy between rich and poor countries is 40 years.
The international cooperation does not nearly meet the commitment of 0.7% of the GDP to the Official Development Assistance. Why is not a small part of the trillions of dollars devoted to bail out banks and speculator companies, used to promote the development of the countries of the South? Why is not foreign debt, which has been paid more than once by taking millions of dollars away from development, cancelled?
In Cuba, almost all Millennium Development Goals have been attained, and some have been met beyond expectations. Since 1959, we have been undertaking social and economic transformations in order to build a society based on social justice and solidarity, the priority of which is the well-being of the people; all this despite the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the US Government against Cuba for over 50 years, the negative consequences of powerful hurricanes, and the current world crises.
The infant mortality rate in Cuba is 4.8 per 1,000 live births, being one of the lowest worldwide. There are no illiterates in our country, and more than 95% of the country have access to the national power grid. Our life expectancy is 77 years, higher than that of many developed countries. Over two thirds of the State’s budget is destined to improve education, health care, social security and welfare, culture, sports, as well as scientific and technical research, among others.
We have shared the modest resources we have with other Third World nations through international cooperation. We have implemented numerous cooperation programs in 157 countries, with no exclusion or conditions. In the last academic year, 30,478 scholars from 125 countries were trained in Cuba as technicians and professionals. Nearly 80% of them studied medicine.
The Cuban Literacy Campaign Yes, I can has been recognized by UNESCO and guaranteed the literacy of thousands of people in the world. There is also a program through which hundreds of thousands of patients with eye problems from other countries, have undergone surgery and given back the sight, free of charge.
Cuba reaffirms its decision to continue sharing, within its possibilities, its major resource: the human capital created by the Revolution and its best experiences.
There is much to be done. Let us join our efforts motivated by the principles of solidarity and social justice, in order to achieve that better world we all hope for.