Statement by the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cuba, Ambassador Orlando Requeijo Gual, at the Open Debate of the Security Council on the situation in Haiti. New York, 26 February 2004.
Cuba is following with attention and concern the current events taking place in Haiti, a brotherly Caribbean country we are linked to by close historical bonds.
Cooperating with Haiti becomes a duty to all of us. Let us not forget that the struggle of our Caribbean and Latin American peoples for their freedom started right there 200 years ago.
The international community should help Haiti in this crucial moment of its history. The old problems derived from colonialism and exploitation are compounded by new, pressing difficulties relating to the unjust and excluding international economic order.
Cuba has abided by and will strictly abide by its principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of any country, including Haiti.
We support the efforts of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), for the achievement of a peaceful and just settlement as regards the current situation in Haiti. We firmly condemn all acts of violence taking place in that country and regret the ongoing casualties and material damages.
The personnel of Cuban collaborators, currently in Haiti, abide by and will strictly abide by the principle of not interfering in the internal affairs of this country.
This personnel's security should be fully guaranteed, as well as, the integrity of the Cuban Embassy and its personnel remaining in Port-au-Prince.
Cuban collaborators continue working in their positions in Haiti, despite the critical situation in the country. Cuban doctors, particularly, continue to assist on an ongoing basis the Haitian population who needs it so much nowadays.
As we speak, Cuba has a medical brigade in Haiti composed of 525 cooperators, 332 of which are doctors. They are scattered in all of the country's departments and are responsible for 75% of the 8.3 million Haitians. In order to have an idea of the importance of their work, it must be known that Haiti relies on fewer than 2,000 physicians and almost 90% of them render their services in the capital of the country.
In the last five years, the Cuban doctors have seen nearly 5 million Haitians in medical appointments, assisted almost 45,000 deliveries and performed 59,000 surgeries. In the areas covered by the Cuban doctors, the infant mortality rate in children under 1 year of age has dropped from 80 to 28 per 1,000 live births - and in children under 5 years of age, the rate has fallen from 159 to 39 per 1,000 live births. The maternal mortality rate dropped from 523 deaths to 259 per 100,000 live births. In these years, over 370,000 people - 80% children - have been immunized. It is estimated that nearly 86,000 human lives have been saved by the Cuban health workers in Haiti. However, to have an idea of how much work needs to be done, I must recall that in Cuba, for example, the infant mortality rate in children under 1 year of age is 6.3 per 1,000; in children under 5 years of age is 8 per 1,000 and the maternal mortality rate is 39 per 100,000.
In light of the current domestic tensions in that brotherly country - which are known to you and which caused the departure of a number of foreign residents - last Tuesday the 10th, our Government gave express instructions to our Embassy in Port-au-Prince to maintain in their positions, working on an ongoing basis, all the members of the Cuban medical brigade, anywhere in the country where these may be.
Besides, given the obstacles that may arise in the availability of medications, on the 11th, Cuba sent a shipment of 12.2 tons, including 525 special sets of nearly 80 medications so that each Cuban medical cooperator can guarantee the fulfillment of their tasks. The Cuban medical personnel - that strictly abides by the principle of not interfering in the internal affairs of Haiti - is honorably complying with their noble mission of tending to the health of the Haitian people.
On the other hand, some 2,169 broken-down medical devices were repaired by the Cuban technicians.
Twenty Cuban professors are providing advisory services for a radio-based literacy program that has been designed by our specialists. Some 110,000 Haitians have already become literate - and the program will continue to grow. Cuba also donated the teaching materials, including the handbooks in French and Creole. A total of 247 Haitian youths are currently studying in the Medical School founded in such country by Cuban professors, while another 372 are enrolled on medical scholarships in Cuba, whose universities are currently accommodating over 3000 Caribbean youths.
The Cuban technical assistance was instrumental in the reconstruction of the sugar mill of Darbonne, currently in its fourth sugar harvest with the support of 30 Cuban specialists. The sugar mill generates employment for 2000 people and guarantees electricity supply during the harvest period for a population of 5000 families of the area.
Twenty Cuban veterinarians and technicians are putting in place a sanitary control program and training Haitian staff; another 10 technicians are helping consolidate the national aquaculture program, for which Cuba has freely delivered 42 million larvae already planted in the country's dams and has also trained specialized personnel in this area. Another 11 Cuban agricultural specialists are also working in Haiti as part of FAO's Food Security Program. Our country is also cooperating in other areas, such as culture and road construction.
If all of the above is a proof of what a small and blockaded country is able to do for Haiti, other States with huge economic and financial resources will be able to do even more in terms of providing cooperation and official development assistance for this brotherly Caribbean country.
The people of Cuba, particularly, feel that they are fulfilling their duty and also honoring a debt of gratitude to the peoples of the Caribbean, that have been so steadfast in their unflinching friendship and solidarity towards Cuba.
Once again, we reiterate Cuba's steadfast intention to continue contributing, with all possible means within its reach, to fulfilling a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the situation in Haiti. It is our hope that given the serious situation this brotherly country is undergoing, the United Nations together with the international community will manage to rise to the occasion as it deserves.
Thank you very much.