Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of Cuba, Ambassador Ileana Núñez Mordoche, under agenda item “ The New Partnership for Africa’s Development: Progress in implementation and international support”. plenary of the general Assembly. New York, thursday 12 october 2006.
For some people in the world, Africa is still just a myth and a true mine of resources to obtain huge profits, disregarding the high cost and catastrophic consequences which this centuries-long exploitation and plundering process has brought to the African peoples.
This erroneous vision has prevented them from understanding and getting a real awareness of the hardships that this continent is undergoing and of the need to pay off the incalculable historical debt that the entire humanity has with Africa.
Many of those who now express their concern for the grave economic and social problems affecting the African countries have not been able to show a true political will to change this gloomy landscape and its structural causes.
Now they think that lukewarm and meager initiatives will solve the severe situation in the African countries and disguise the low level of fulfillment of the commitments that they have made.
The harsh reality has proved otherwise. Not only Africa does continue marginalized and in total disadvantage in the international economic relations, but also its poverty levels continue growing at an alarming rate, along with a surge of armed conflicts and propagation of diseases which, like AIDS, are decimating entire populations of the African continent.
The economic and financial policies and the frenzied privatization waves which come with the neoliberal process imposed by the developed countries, are the ones that have taken it upon themselves to consolidate the precarious situation that plagues the African countries, and not the weaknesses of their institutions as we have been brought up to believe.
A few data suffice to illustrate the aforementioned.
In the last 20 years, the imposition of trade liberalization has cost the African countries some 272 billion dollars, an amount which would have been enough to pay off the continent's debt. Moreover, it has provoked a serious deterioration of the terms of trade and an increase of capital flight, which nowadays is the largest in the world in regional terms.
With 11% of the world’s population and the largest natural reserves of the world, Africa contributes only 1% of the world GDP and its participation in the world trade is barely 2%.
However, the developed countries’ commitment to a 50 billion dollars increase of the assistance on a yearly basis for 2010 has not been fulfilled and the seeming increase if such assistance in the last few years, mainly due to debt cancellation grants and emergency assistance, is still far from the amount needed for the African countries to attain the Millennium goals.
While some sources indicate that the flow of foreign direct investment increased in some African countries, there was a clear decrease in others and, moreover, most of this increase was only concentrated in the area of the exploitation of natural resources.
It is time for the international community, particularly the developed countries, to go from stating their concerns to implementing solutions and meeting their commitments.
For Cuba, Africa is very close, it is part and parcel of what we are. It is one of the nutrients of our identity and culture. Great part of the Cuban population’s roots are there.
More than a million African were taken to Cuba by force, after being pulled out of their homelands, coming from different ethnic groups such as the Yoruba, Congo, Carabali, and others, they worked under the whip in the hell of the sugar plantations to the benefit of the Island’s landowners and the colonial Metropolis.
The slaves’ uprisings and their running away from their masters' oppression (a concept known in Spanish as cimarronaje), nurtured our vocation for liberty. Our independence wars had the mass participation of afro descendants, who were moreover brilliant chiefs of our Liberation Army.
The Cuban nation germinated from the fertile mix of African, European and Chinese blood, and it was born proclaiming the pride for its African roots and the emancipation of its children of African origin.
Since the very year of its triumph, the Revolution offered and continues to offer its support of and solidarity with the African peoples on the basis of the consequent practice of internationalism and solidarity with the peoples of the world, a major principle of our foreign policy.
Despite being a country of scarce resources and submitted for over four decades to a cruel and genocide economic, commercial and financial blockade by the United States, Cuba has trained more than 30 000 African students; and 1 661 youths from 43 African countries are currently studying in our universities, 708 of which study medical sciences.
More than 2 433 Cuban cooperators provide their selfless services in 33 African countries, 1 893 out of them in the area of healthcare.
As a result of the Comprehensive Health Care Delivery Program, our doctors have saved the lives of more than 729 000 Africans and a literacy campaign is currently being implemented in several African countries to help tackle the critical situation that this continent is suffering.
Our cooperation with the African countries proves that significant results can be attained fro a serious political will.
Cuba only took from Africa the mortal remains of its dead. Cuba has no properties there, no mines, and no oil wells.
We reaffirm our determination to continue providing our selfless aid to our African brothers and sisters and sharing our main wealth: human capital.
The African peoples do not need to be reminded of their problems and suffering. They need no alms. Africa does require resources and concrete actions.
Let us act jointly. Let us save Africa.
Thank you very much.