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Castro: The Case for Development Aid

What did Cuba’s president tell world leaders about economic aid?

April 4, 2002

What did Cuba's president tell world leaders about economic aid?

Opinions vary widely about Cuba’s president, Fidel Castro. To the United States, he is both a dictator and a 40-year thorn in the side. Others see him as a symbol of resistance to U.S. “imperialism.” Mr. Castro’s public statements, however, are always provocative. In today’s Global Document, we offer an excerpt from his speech at the international development aid conference that was held in March in Monterrey, Mexico. The controversial Cuban leader lays out his worldview — and the case for wealthier nations to make the global economy more equitable.

The prestige of the international financial institutions rates less than zero. The world economy is today a huge casino. Recent analyses indicate that for every dollar that goes into trade, over one hundred (dollars) end up in speculative operations completely disconnected from the real economy.”

“As a result of this economic order, over 75% of the world population lives in underdevelopment, and extreme poverty has already reached 1.2 billion people in the Third World. So, far from narrowing, the gap is widening.”

“The revenue of the richest nations — that in 1960 was 37 times larger than that of the poorest — is now 74 times larger.”

“The situation has reached such extremes that the assets of the three wealthiest persons in the world amount to the GDP of the 48 poorest countries combined.”

“The number of people actually starving was 826 million in the year 2001. There are, at the moment, 854 million illiterate adults — while 325 million children do not attend school. There are 2 billion people who have no access to low cost medications, and 2.4 billion lack basic sanitation facilities.”

“No less than 1.1 million children under the age of 5 perish every year from preventable causes while half a million go blind for lack of vitamin A.”

“The life span of the population in the developed world is 30 years higher than that of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa. A true genocide!”

“The poor countries should not be blamed for this tragedy. They neither conquered nor plundered entire continents for centuries; they did not establish colonialism, or re-establish slavery, and, modern imperialism is not of their making.”

“Actually, they have been its victims. Therefore, the main responsibility for financing their development lies with those states that, for obvious historical reasons, enjoy today the benefits of those atrocities.”

“The rich world should condone their foreign debt and grant them fresh soft credits to finance their development. The traditional offers of assistance, always scant and often ridiculous, are either inadequate or unfulfilled.”

“Everything created since Bretton Woods until today should be reconsidered. A farsighted vision was then missing. Thus, the privileges and interests of the most powerful prevailed. In the face of the deep present crisis, a still worse future is offered where the economic, social and ecologic tragedy of an increasingly ungovernable world will never be resolved and where the number of the poor and the starving will grow higher — as if a large part of humanity were doomed.”

“It is high time for statesmen and politicians to calmly reflect on this. The belief that a social and economic order that has proven to be unsustainable can be forcibly imposed is really senseless.”

“As I have said before, the ever more sophisticated weapons piling up in the arsenals of the wealthiest and the mightiest can kill the illiterate, the ill, the poor and the hungry, but they cannot kill ignorance, illnesses, poverty or hunger.”

“It should definitely be said: “Farewell to arms.” Something must be done to save Humanity!”

” A better world is possible!”

This Globalist Document is adapted from a speech that Fidel Castro he presented at the International Conference on Financing for Development, in Monterrey, Mexico, on March 21, 2002. For the full text of his speech, click here.