Friday, March 6, 2015

Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba at the High-Level Segment of the 28th session of the Human Rights Council

Statement by the H.E. Mr. Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, at the High Level Segment of the Twenty Eighth Session of the Human Rights Council. Geneva, Switzerland, March 2, 2015.

Mr. President:

The 842 million persons who suffer hunger in the world, the 774 million of illiterate adults and the 6 million children who die every year of preventable diseases - those who, as a result of an exclusive, unjust and unequal international order, are not part of the particular vision that the countries of the North have about human rights and fundamental freedoms-, should be allowed to have a say in this room.

Those citizens who live in the pockets of poverty that exist in the industrialized world; the workers and students who are victims of the austerity programs; those who have lost their houses; the immigrants who suffer discrimination and xenophobia; those who suffer repression and police brutality and the children and youths without food, medical services or quality education should also be allowed to have a say.

Facts have indicated the convenience of resorting to a serious discussion, instead of a mere political rhetoric, about the increasing loss of legitimacy of political systems and parties, the collapse of electoral systems with high rates of abstentions, built upon the financial contributions and the manipulation of the media; and political corruption, particularly in some developed countries.

In our country, more than two thousand organizations and associations of an infinite diversity contribute very actively to the economic, social and cultural life. Since there is no time to engage in a debate about the nature of Civil Society and its relation with the State –something that has been very much manipulated today by political elites with the purpose of cooption-, it will be necessary to focus on what is essential, and that is, in our opinion, the participation of the people in the Governments’ decision-making processes, that is to say, in the Government itself, as was described by Lincoln, which has been the experience of the Cuban Revolution.

With a tradition of popular consultations that had its climax during a referendum called to approve the Constitution in force –which was adopted by an overwhelming majority-, in the year 2011, our people approved the economic and social program that is currently being implemented after a mass discussion, the introduction of 400 000 amendments and the modification of two thirds of the original text. More recently a new Labor Code was discussed following this same mechanism.

We have seen with great concern that some of the most important western economies show the lowest unionization rates –hardly 8 to 12 per cent of workers. Not all of them have ratified the Convention 87 of the International Labor Organization, related to Freedom of Association, or the Convention 98 of the same organization referred to the protection of the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining.

It is a well known fact that, for example, in those cases, labor laws and jurisprudence establish the laying-off of workers engaged in legal strikes; State laws severely restrict the right to strike for broad categories of workers; the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining are restricted in private universities. It is also well known that there are State laws that prohibit the negotiation of collective agreements in the public sector with associations made up by the worst-paid workers; and that there are judicial decisions which violate the right to freedom of association and prevent the access of illegal workers to a compensation for unlawful layoffs.

In our case, almost all workers - including those who work in small private businesses-, are unionized and protected by collective agreements. There are union representatives in the Council of Ministers as well as in the ministerial and corporate organs. In 1938, the workers’ movement in Cuba managed to found a Unitarian Workers’ Central, which today encompasses as many as 17 different unions and thousands of other grassroots organizations.

I would like to suggest to the Human Rights Council to hold discussions and expand international cooperation on these issues.

We hope that in the future summits of the G-7, NATO, the European Union, OSCE, IMF, the World Bank, the Central European Bank, and in particular the Climate Change Summit in Paris, the Civil Society is ensured broad access and requested to make its contributions; that its right to demonstrate is guaranteed and that no physical barriers or police repression are put against it, as has been frequently the case in the past.

It will be useful that the so called “Indignants” or “Occupy Wall Street” movements would also have a well-deserved presence in those fora.

The Republic of Cuba also has grave concerns, and is fully willing to engage in a debate and cooperation on the democratization of information and cyberspace. The fact that 7 gigantic private corporations control 65 per cent of the information that circulates around the planet today is indeed alarming. The countries of the South have hardly any participation in the generation of contents. The discussions held about Internet governance have not led to any concrete results when it comes to the democratization of this tool. The adoption of unilateral coercive measures in the field of information, telecommunications and information sciences should be proscribed.

It becomes indispensable to adopt urgent and effective measures to prevent the militarization of cyberspace and the launching of cyber-attacks through the illegal and covert use of systems based in third countries. The suggestion that cyber-attacks should be responded to with the use of conventional weapons is not acceptable, for this would undermine international peace and security.

The changes in the national defense and security doctrines of some States as well as of NATO, with emphasis in non-conventional wars or the so-called fourth generation wars, which have been applied in recent conflicts all the way from the Middle East to Europe, have led to the destruction of States and nations, seriously endangered regional and international peace and security and undermined the efforts made to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

The tendency to use the Human Rights Council to record new conflicts in the agenda of the Security Council and initiate legal processes at the International Criminal Court with the purpose of pursuing political and military objectives is very serious and dangerous.

Mr. President:

We support the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to a State of their own, on the pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. The United Nations General Assembly should act with resolve and guarantee, without further delay, the full membership of Palestine. The supply of weapons and the veto in the Security Council which ensure the impunity of the crimes committed by Israel, particularly in Gaza, should come to an end.

We reiterate our strong condemnation of the unacceptable and unjustifiable unilateral sanctions imposed against the sister nation of Venezuela and the continued foreign interference with the purpose of creating a climate of instability in that sister nation. We ratify our firmest support to the Bolivarian Revolution and the legitimate Government headed by President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

Mr. President:

Cuba upholds its commitment to a genuine international cooperation based on the indivisibility of human rights, non-selectivity and non-politicization. We likewise uphold our commitment to the struggle for the establishment of a more just, democratic and equitable international order that would remove the obstacles that hamper all national efforts that are made to guarantee the exercise of all human rights.

We maintain a high level of cooperation and interaction with the procedures and mechanisms of the United Nations when it comes to universal human rights and a positive dialogue with the organs crated by virtue of international treaties.

It is in that spirit that we are conveying an invitation to the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons so that they pay a visit to our country.

We have also reached an agreement with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to resume the High Level Bilateral Political Dialogue and we will continue to engage, based on the previously agreed reciprocity, sovereign equality, mutual respect, non-interference in the internal affairs of States and respect for the legal systems of the parties involved, in the negotiation of a Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Cuba.

Aware of the fact that we have profound differences with the US Government in terms of political systems, democracy, human rights and International Law, and with an unwavering determination that both countries are able to establish a civilized relationship, despite those differences, we suggested, in July last year, to hold a mutually respectful bilateral dialogue on the basis of reciprocity. In recent days the State Department announced its acceptance and such dialogue will be initiated in the next few weeks.

Cuba will attend that dialogue in a constructive spirit, deeply attached to its convictions, ready to engage in an international cooperation, and will adopt a respectful and transparent attitude when expressing its serious concerns about what is going on in the United States with regard to human rights.

Cuba believes that the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed against it is a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of the human rights of all Cubans.

And so it will continue to address this issue, for as long as it exists, both in this Council and at the United Nations General Assembly, through the presentation of the corresponding resolution. In expressing to the nations represented here our profound gratitude over their continued support, I am likewise requesting from you to renew that same support through your vote and your participation in the sessions that will take place during the fall this year.

The Cuban Government appreciates the statement made by President Barack Obama when he acknowledged that the blockade was harmful to the Cuban people and expressed his willingness to engage the Congress of his country with the purpose of eliminating it.

I am grateful about the important and timely Special Declarations adopted at the Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and at the African Union Summit that was held at the end of the month of January this year, which urged the lifting of the blockade and that the US President resorts to his ample executive powers to substantially modify its implementation with the purpose of eliminating it.

Mr. President:

The Universal Periodic Review has been validated as a useful mechanism to support international cooperation. We should not allow the reinstatement of practices such as the political persecution against the countries of the South with the aim of infringing upon their sovereign rights, while the crimes and tortures that were being committed in Abu Ghraib and the Guantanamo Naval Base -a territory that has been usurped from my country-, were kept under cover, which discredited and caused the implosion of the old Commission on Human Rights.

Mr. President:

Despite its deficiencies and difficulties, Cuba has shared and will continue to share its achievements and experience with other nations, with which we have made a selfless contribution to the exercise of human rights by other peoples of the world.

In this regard, thanks to the cooperation project known as “Miracle Operation”, 3.4 million persons from 34 countries have undergone eye surgery free of charge. Likewise, 9 million persons have already graduated from the literacy program “Yes, I Can”, and 1 million 113 thousand persons have graduated from the follow-up program “Yes, I Can Continue”.

Today, more than 51 000 Cuban health cooperation workers are offering their services in 67 countries of the world.

We will continue offering our cooperation in the struggle against the Ebola virus in Africa. More than 250 voluntary and specialized health cooperation workers of the medical brigade “Henry Reeve” are taking part in this struggle in the most affected regions. Another 4 000 Cuban health cooperation workers are participating in the prevention program that is being implemented in 32 African countries.

Mr. President:

The Cuban Revolution will continue to defend, tirelessly and with the same determination, the just causes, knowing that Homeland is Humanity.

On the occasion of the Seventieth Anniversary of the United Nations, the Principles and Purposes that were enshrined in the Charter and supported its creation are more valid than ever. As was recently stated by President Raúl Castro Ruz: “we will never renounce our ideals of independence and social justice, or abandon a single one of our principles, nor cede a millimeter in the defense of our national sovereignty. We will not accept any pressure regarding our internal affairs. We have earned this sovereign right through great sacrifices and at the price of great risks.”

Thank you, very much.