Declaration by the Cuban Revolutionary Government

As everyone knows, since it has been given wide coverage in the press, a very hard battle was fought yesterday, Thursday 27 May, in the discussion of the final document in Guadalajara. It was a battle against the stubborn intransigence of the European Union, which obstinately opposed a paragraph that strongly denounced and condemned the monstrous murder and torture practiced against Iraqi prisoners.

Humanity had not seen such disturbing images since the dismal days of Hitler at the end of the Second World War. Billions of people were able to see these images on movies and television screens, on the Internet and in newspaper photos, and were particularly horrified by the ghoulish delight and brutal sadism with which these acts were carried out. The methods used showed contempt and disdain for the culture and feelings of the Islamic peoples of whom there are 1.2 billion that through the Old Testament share some ethical and historical roots with Christianity and Judaism.

The paragraph on this subject, initially proposed by Latin America and the Caribbean, read:

"We strongly condemn all forms of abuse, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment used against prisoners of war or any prisoner or against any one, no matter where or by whom it is committed. We declare ourselves to be dismayed by the recently documented examples of this behaviour which are completely unacceptable and deserve our strongest condemnation. Such practices are and must remain forbidden at all times and in all places. In this context, we call on the governments concerned to impose all legal sanctions to all those responsible and call on them to ensure compliance with the ban on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in accordance with the UN Convention against Torture and with the Geneva conventions. Such practices constitute a serious violation of these international instruments".

The European Union completely refused to mention the subject or to include it in the Final Declaration. Then, as it found itself obliged to give up some ground, it refused to mention the word "torture", labelling what had happened "mistreatment". Later, it refused to talk about the recent cases of torture of Iraqi prisoners using a non-specific formula to condemn them, and most carefully avoiding any mention of the governments responsible for this torture. The discussion between the president of the European Union and deputy foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez, the second head of the Cuban mission who was leading our delegation at that point, was very heated and controversial. Resigned to defeat, they finally accepted the word "condemnation", but in a general not concrete sense, in reference to recent events, which they called only "mistreatment" of prisoners.

The fact that the subject was addressed at all and that much of the initial paragraph was included is considered a huge moral defeat for the European Union. Those who on this occasion were opposed to this condemnation represented countries which witnessed the Nazi concentration camps where millions of people died either because of their race or their religious beliefs. Now leaders of these countries yield to neo-Nazi methods, ideas and dangers which are a thousand times worse because of the almost infinite power of those who propound them, that is, the extreme right which is in control of the U.S. administration. The second big battle took place in the afternoon of Thursday 27; this time between the Cuban delegation, headed by our foreign minister, Felipe Pérez Roque, and representatives of the European Union on the thorny issue for the Europeans of the Helms-Burton Act and the new, recently announced measures against Cuba. The paragraph approved in the morning session yesterday Thursday 27 by the Latin American and Caribbean countries read:

"We reiterate our strong rejection of the use of unilateral, extraterritorial laws and measures that run contrary to international law, the freedom of the market, shipping and world trade. We agree that these measures represent a grave threat to multilateralism. We voice our profound concern about additional measures which reinforce and expand the scope of such policies and laws, for example, the Helms-Burton Act, and we therefore urge the government of the United States of America to cease using such laws and measures. We reject the use of coercive unilateral measures by any state whatsoever, since they jeopardize the sovereignty of other states and violate the principles and aims of the United Nations".

The European Union, acting once again as the U.S. government's ally and underling, responded to this clear and strong rejection of the United States government genocidal Cuba policy by presenting this timid, ridiculous proposal:

"We reiterate our firm rejection of all unilateral measures that run contrary to international law, including those which are extraterritorial in scope and run contrary to the commonly accepted rules of international trade. We agree that unilateral measures that run contrary to international law represent a serious threat to multilateralism".

In another fierce debate in which our foreign minister hurled accusations at, argued against and rebutted the European Union representatives position they, demoralized and devoid of authority, prestige and arguments proposed a new formulation. This is how it then read:

"We reiterate our firm rejection of all unilateral measures that run contrary to international law, including those (new measures) which are extraterritorial in scope and run contrary to the commonly accepted rules of international trade. We agree that unilateral measures that run contrary to international law represent a serious threat to multilateralism. We remind people of the stance taken in Resolution UNGA-58/7 of 18 November, 2003".

The Cuban delegation opposed this maimed, ridiculous and cowardly proposition with all its might, since our country is today under threat from the murderous plans and the set of interventionist and genocidal measures announced by Mr. Bush last May 6

The European Union then agreed to mention the title of the resolution which Cuba introduces in the United Nations General Assembly and which reads: "The Necessity to Put an End to the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade Imposed on Cuba by the United States of America".

The European Union representatives, seething with arrogance and irritation at the strong Cuban response, threw down an ultimatum: either this formulation was accepted or they would not allow the paragraph to be included. The Cuban foreign minister rejected this ultimatum with the utmost dignity and replied that Cuba held to its position that these measures must be specifically condemned and that if the paragraph were to appear as drafted by the European Union, Cuba would prefer that there be no reference at all to the subject in the Final Declaration, but that the European Union would have to take full responsibility for it not being included. Here we are omitting various details in order to be brief. What Comrade Fidel said in point one of his Message to the Mexican People was fully confirmed:

"The European Union's complicity with U.S. crimes and aggressions against Cuba as shown by its disgraceful, hypocritical behaviour in Geneva and its shameful understanding and connivance with the Helms-Burton Act whose unacceptable, ignominious extraterritorial nature make it unworthy of being taken seriously by our people."

Another victory was to come later that evening and night. The European Union, giving all sorts of reasons, had already refused a week earlier to allow the principles of international law enshrined in the United Nations Charter to be included in the Final Declaration of this 3rd summit, although they had been cited and agreed to at the two previous summits. At small, secret meetings Europe's representatives had explained that they could not put their signature to these principles because they were unable to acknowledge that the principle of non-intervention was still valid. There had been an earlier clash between Cuba and the European Union over this issue.

In fact, the most important discussions had been taking place around these essential principles for several days. The European Union consistently tried to offer to exchange our agreement to not mention these principles in the Final Declaration for other of our interests, including a reference to the Helms-Burton Act. They even went so far as to state this publicly. They had requested that this paragraph be the last one to be discussed. And that was agreed to. Yesterday, as the night was drawing to a close they were so demoralized after the debate over the Helms-Burton Act which lasted for hours that they lacked the strength to enter into a second debate with our country's delegation which might have jeopardised the very existence of the whole document.

It was under these circumstances that the European Union, unexpectedly and just when it was the Cuban delegation's turn to address this subject, requested permission to make an announcement: it was withdrawing its opposition to any reference to the abovementioned principles, which had already been accepted in the previous two summits.

It is the view of many delegations that this was the most important battle at this summit. Our small country, which has been blockaded and attacked for 45 years, a victim of all the crimes of which the empire is capable -the same that rules the destinies of the world and consists of the most powerful state in history- did not hesitate to resolutely oppose it and its allies in the European Union. The latter have played a truly disgraceful and shameful role year after year, seconding the lies, invectives and perfidious resolutions the Empire uses in Geneva to justify the blockade and to destroy that which can never be destroyed: our Revolution. It may be fair to indicate that not all the States that are members of this Union are the same. There are countries with a long history and influence, such as France and Germany, and other smaller states, such as Belgium and Luxembourg and several others who were the driving force behind a reasonable idea which was met with sympathy by the world: the idea of encouraging a union of European peoples after the terrible experiences they went through after the Fascist assault on humanity in 1939 that used methods and concepts which, by the way, differ very little from those proclaimed in the doctrine of being ready to launch surprise, pre-emptive attacks on 60 or more countries. There is nothing strange in the maniacal opposition to an international court empowered to judge war crimes nor in the terrifying, sadistic images of torture which recently shook humanity. The United Kingdom was always reluctant to join this union and still is not part of the common currency; it tries to get all possible advantages and avoid any drawbacks. Today, it is the enthusiastic ally of the current U.S. administration and joins in its adventures and wars of conquest.

Others, like the government of Italy -and until very recently that of Spain- servilely put the empire's plans before the true interests of the rest of Europe. Today, the United States allies, who are opposed to the group favouring greater independence, are getting reinforcements from new members like Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Slovenia that are now the staunchest allies of the very empire which has hegemony over the world and intends to subdue Europe completely to its political and economic interests. The European Union is in fact much divided and the United States has a large majority there. The Union is still not a union. If this is not understood, it would be very difficult to explain how a group of 25 nations, many of them with long-standing historical and cultural traditions, could act in Guadalajara like a flock of lambs under Washington's thumb.

We sincerely wish all their peoples a better fate. In fact, countries like Cuba and other revolutionary third world countries that are prepared to die defending our sovereignty, our dignity and our liberty are also fighting for Europe's union and its independence.

The future will have the last word.

28 May 2004

 

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