Miguel Marion Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, the President of Cuba, underlined the importance of multilateralism and the UN in his speech to the high-level General Debate at the General Assembly on Thursday, during which he condemned the foreign policy of the United States.
Mr. Bermúdez, appearing via a pre-recorded video, said that the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have rendered the United Nations even more important, at a time when international cooperation has been insufficient, and “neo-liberal formulas” have reduced States’ capabilities to meet the needs of their populations.
“The most vulnerable have been left unprotected, while rich nations, the elites and the pharmaceutical transnational corporations have continued to profit”, he declared.
The Cuban President pointed to forecasts by the UN labour agency, ILO, which predict that there will be 205 million people unemployed in the world by 2022, and raised fears that the UN goal of eradicating poverty by 2030 will not be reached. He went on to note that the vast majority of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in middle or high-income countries, and that hundreds of millions of persons in low-income countries are still waiting to receive their first dose.
Mr. Bermúdez suggested that an answer could be a transformation of what he called the “unequal and antidemocratic international order”. Developed countries, he continued, are mainly responsible for the current situation, and have a moral obligation to take responsibility.
The Cuban people, he declared, have the right to live in peace and security, development, wellbeing, and social justice, adding that “a revitalized, democratized and strengthened United Nations is called to play a key role in this effort.”
A ‘schism headed by the United States’
Mr. Bermúdez went on to denounce the foreign policy of the United States which, he said, is promoting a “dangerous international schism…through the pernicious use and abuse of economic coercive measures”.
According to the Cuban President, the US pressures countries to speak and act against adversaries, overthrows legitimate governments, and breaks trade agreements. “It is a kind of behaviour associated to ideological and cultural intolerance, with a remarkable racist influence and hegemonic ambition purposes”, he declared.
Mr. Bermúdez claimed that US attacks against Cuba have “exceeded all limits, referring to the US Government’s maintenance of his country on a list of countries that sponsor terrorism.
The US, said Mr. Bermúdez, is projecting a false image of Cuba, and has done everything to “erase the Cuban Revolution from the political map to the world”. He declared that the country would continue to stand its ground.
Solidarity during the pandemic
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, continued the Cuban President, Cuba has shown solidarity with other countries, sending more than 4,900 health workers to 40 countries and territories affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He described them as “the pride of our nation and a symbol of its vocation for justice.”
Some 15.8 million vaccines developed in Cuba have been administered, and around 37.8 per cent of the country’s population is now fully vaccinated, said Mr. Bermúdez, adding that the government expects the entire population to be fully immunized by the end of 2021.
He went on to express solidarity with the governments of Venezuela and Nicaragua, support for Caribbean nations’ claims for reparations for the slave trade, and reaffirmed Cuba’s belief that Puerto Rico should be independent.
He went on to reiterate Cuba’s commitment to peace in Colombia, an end to foreign interference in Syria, and a just solution to the Middle East conflict. The President condemned the “unilateral coercive measures” imposed against Iran, and the “unilateral and unjust” sanctions against North Korea, and reaffirmed solidarity with the Saharan people.
Mr. Bermúdez concluded by turning to Afghanistan. He said that the last two decades have shown that terrorism cannot be prevented or fought with bombs, that occupation only leads to destruction, and that no country has the right to impose its will on sovereign nations. “It became obvious”, he said “that wherever the United States intervenes, instability, death and hardships increase, leaving behind long-lasting scars.”