Statement by Ambassador Rodney López Clemente, Deputy Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations, at the 59th session of the UN General Assembly Plenary, under agenda items 38 a) and b): "New partnership for Africa's development: progress in implementation and international support" and "causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace in Africa". New York, 19 October 2004.
For Cubans, Africa is far from being just a location in geography lessons and constitutes an item of imperative attention.
The deep impact of the heritage of those Africans brought to the Island by Spanish colonizers, on the foundation of what we currently know as the Cuban nation, is no secret for anyone.
The Cuban fields of that time heard their suffering caused by forced family separations, as well as, the crack of the whips by those who became wealthy on the work of those men and women.
There were similar scenes almost all along the entire American continent and the West Indies. The slave trade was an intrinsic part of the gaunt exploitation and impoverishment of the continent. Nowadays, many intend to ignore, justify, or even worse, erase this sad part from Contemporary History.
Cuba has been a singular witness of Africans and their descendants' spirit of rebelliousness. Their contribution to independence wars and to the creation of a true national culture is a motive of pride for us all.
Very much has been spoken about Africa's current living conditions and the accumulated needs of the region, after centuries of exploitation and plundering.
As to Cuba, as long as the current political and economic order continues to be in force, where a few consume almost everything, and the majority of the planet's population is left alienated from the so-called benefits of neoliberal globalization, Third World problems, especially those of African countries, will not be solved.
Current international economic relations leave Africa in total disadvantage. Only enormous inequality makes the African population, comprising 18.5% of the world population and holding the greatest global natural resource reserves, have a global GDP of only 1% and 2% of the world trade.
The initiatives outlined in the Report of the Secretary General on the progress of the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, note discreet advances in issues as debt relief and the offer to official development assistance.
Notwithstanding, the document contains conclusive data: only in 2002, African nations received 22, 230 million dollars on development assistance from donor countries; whereas they paid 39,530 million on debt service to creditors, that is, the donors themselves. And the debt continued to grow.
Africa, just like the rest of the Third World and as a result of the unjust international order we endure, continues to finance the opulence of the rich countries.
Along with the economic and social situation, the heritage of colonial distribution continues to be in force: more armed conflicts take place in Africa than in any other region, becoming an additional hindrance to achieve the millennium development goals, as they generate devastating effects for the economic and social development in the region.
Regional settlement efforts have not been few and they especially require a UN comprehensive approach for the solution of problems relating to peace, security and development of the continent.
African peoples need the support of the international community. They have to devote their resources both to pay the external debt and to reach development. Africa currently spends four times more in debt service payment than in education and healthcare altogether.
This situation is unsustainable and cooperation shall be disposed of all kinds of conditionings and interferences. It shall be aimed at urgently achieving a special and different treatment, access to markets, stability in commodity prices, total and immediate debt cancellation, access to technologies and substantive increase of Official Development Assistance and the needed financial resources.
A cardinal principle of the Cuban foreign policy is the consistent practice of internationalism and solidarity with other peoples in the world.
The collaboration policy towards African countries, implemented since the early years of the Cuban Revolution, has been a genuine expression of this.
Cuba has offered and materialized its solidary and transparent cooperation to almost all the countries in the African continent, being healthcare, education, sports, agriculture, fishery, construction, water resources and physical planning the main collaboration sectors.
Thereby, between 1963 and 2003, a total of 86,395 Cuban collaborators have offered their services in 38 countries in the region. By mid-2004, a total of 2,407 collaborators were assisting 29 African nations.
The Comprehensive Healthcare Delivery Program, the Special Programme for Food Security, the Literacy Programme, the AIDS Prevention and Control Programme, Malaria and other diseases Control Programmes and the Human Resources Training Programme are among the ones in which Cuba participates. There are also other collaboration programmes in some countries which focus on other specific socioeconomic sectors.
All this, despite being Cuba a country of scarce resources, submitted to a strict economic, commercial and financial embargo for more than four decades, which has been strengthened and its extraterritorial implementation widened during the last year.
Africa deserves respect first of all, solidarity and respect. Africa does not need more pieces of advice to solve its problems or foreign recipes to attain development.
The African peoples do not require paternalisms, but financial resources, training of human capital and access to markets and technologies.
Once and for all, Africa deserves the settlement of the historic debt of centuries of exploitation and plundering.
Thank you very much.