Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Raul Castro at the ALBA Summit
Cuba reaffirms vocation of solidarity with the people of the Americas
• Speech by President Raúl Castro Ruz, in the public segment of the 5th Extraordinary ALBA Summit, Cumaná, Venezuela, April 16, 2009
Dear Presidents and heads of delegations from sister ALBA nations;
The economic and social crisis now is global in nature and is not only limited to the financial sector. It’s a world disaster with profound structural roots. It includes a sharp fall in stock market value and productive activity; the freezing of and higher cost of credit and the economic recession in the principal powers of the First World. It is accompanied by the withdrawal of world trade and an increase in unemployment and poverty. It is affecting and will considerably damage the lives and well-being of billions of human beings. The countries of the South with be, as always, the ones that suffer the most.
These are the consequences of irresponsible practices tied to deregulation, financial speculation, and the imposition of neoliberalism. Also present is the United States’ abusive use of the privileges bestowed on them in the current international economic order which allows them to finance a culture of war and unbridled consumerism, unsustainable no matter how you look at it, by printing money without backing.
But deep down, the crisis is a foreseeable result of the capitalist system of production and distribution. The neoliberal policies of the last three decades have increased its magnitude for the worse. In the search for solutions, those who are primarily responsible end up concentrating power and wealth even further, while the poorest and most exploited assume the majority of the costs.
The response cannot be a solution negotiated behind the back of the United Nations by the Presidents of the most powerful countries.
The crisis will not be resolved with either administrative or technical measures because they are by nature structural, have systematic reach and increasingly affect the economy of the globalized and interdependent planet. The role and the functions of financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund, whose disastrous policies have decisively contributed to the origin and reach of the current crisis, should be strengthened even less.
Nor does the G-20’s solution resolve the inequality, injustices, and unsustainability of the capitalist system. It is the same rhetoric of those solemn declarations by the Northern countries that they will not apply protectionist measures and that they will not allocate new aid, which does not change the foundations of the underdevelopment that condemns us.
The World Bank – which is not exactly a defender of socialist principals – already spoke about this six months ago at the previous G-20 meeting in Washington. It counted 73 protectionist actions applied by members of the G-20 itself. An increase in the Official Development Assistance has also not been visible.
The ALBA countries have the privilege of having a modest plan for integration, constructed on the foundations and principles of equality, whose very nature doesn’t allow for the practices that started this crisis. Our countries do not have the capacity, by ourselves, to structurally transform the international economic order, but we do have the power to establish new foundations and construct our own economic relations.
Our most important programs are not subject to the whims of financial speculation or the uncontrolled fluctuation of markets. The damage that we are suffering is undeniable. This is a crisis that nobody can escape from but today we have the instruments to partly counteract its effects.
In these efforts, the work that we have been carrying out in ALBA member countries and Ecuador (since November, 2008) is particularly significant; in order to create the Unique Regional Compensation Payment System (SUCRE) that will be a fundamental factor for boosting the trade and economic integration between us.
Today we can verify the advances achieved in the development of this initiative that is a first step toward the goal of having a common currency.
Cuba reaffirms the vocation of solidarity that has characterized its links with the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. The crisis presents us with enormous challenges, of incalculable and unpredictable dimensions. We have no other option than to unite with each other to face it.
Thank you very much.