Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Speeches of Cuban President Raul Castro Ruz at the ALBA Summit

Havana December 14, 2009

United, we will be in a better condition to confront the crisis

Speech by General of the Army Raúl Castro Ruz, president of the Councils of State and Ministers at the opening of the ALBA Summit

Dear heads of state and government;
Dear delegates and invited guests;

IN giving you the most cordial welcome on behalf of the Cuban government and people, I transmit to you greetings from the leader of the Cuban Revolution, compañero Fidel Castro Ruz, who is closely following our meeting.

In the first place, I will take advantage of the occasion to express on behalf of everyone present the delight that we felt at the overwhelming victory of the Bolivian people last Sunday with their reelection, by an ample majority, of compañero Evo Morales Ayma for a new mandate as president.

Lamentably, we do not have with us the physical presence of the president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya. The people of that Latin American nation have been deprived of their constitutional rights and, with the support of the U.S. government, have had imposed on them a usurping coup government, which an electoral farce tried to make legitimate.

History will record with due recognition the attitude assumed by the member countries of the ALBA-TCP and by the majority of Latin American and Caribbean governments in their unequivocal condemnation of the military coup in Honduras. The record will also reveal the attitude of those who, bowing down to imperialism, ended up accepting the coup maneuver.

We send our warmest greeting to the Honduran people via Patricia Rodas, their legitimate representative as secretary of state, and present here.

Dear colleagues:

This 8th Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, which we are officially opening today, begins its sessions coinciding with the 15th anniversary of the first visit to Cuba of the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution and the 5th anniversary of the Venezuela-Cuba Joint Declaration, signed in 2004 by Presidents Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro, which marked the official birth of the ALBA, known as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas.

There have been five years of intensive work, of common searching, in which we have achieved encouraging results in the social order, which we can still surpass, and which it is just to mention and celebrate at this particular moment.

The tremendous significance represented by the declaration of a territory free of illiteracy in three ALBA member countries: Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, is one step in the ongoing battle to eradicate that social disaster in all the member countries of this new kind of integration mechanism.

Operation Miracle has improved or restored the sight of more than one million patients within the ALBA. At the same time, more than 2,000 doctors from our countries have graduated from the Latin America School of Medicine and 6, 653 young people are currently studying under the new Medical Training Program, with concepts of integrality, internationalism and humanism.

Currently underway in Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia is a genetic, psycho-social study for people with disabilities, a project of exceptional human value that pursues direct attention, the search for solutions and the social integration of the afore-mentioned persons.

The last summit in Cochabamba saw the signing of the Single Regional Payment Compensation System (SUCRE) Agreement, a financial mechanism that, from 2010, will begin to operate to promote trade via payment compensations without having to use the dollar, via an accounting unit called the SUCRE. A prior step was the constitution in June 2007 of the Bank of ALBA, with the objective of financing programs and projects of economic and social development. Various grannacional (grand-national) enterprises are today a reality, and others are in the starting-up process, to the benefit of our peoples.


The agenda that we have proposed gives us the possibility of deliberating – beyond the successes and results of ALBA during these last five years – ways of making more profound the development, improvement and impact of our alliance.

We are obliged to propose for ourselves daring goals and objectives, based on a realistic comprehension of the circumstances, obstacles and dangers posed by the current international conjunction and which demand our priority attention.

The current economic crisis, which began in the United States and was originated by the profound contradictions of the capitalist system, is continuing to have a forceful impact on the real economy, society and world environment. More than a few experts have proclaimed with unjustified optimism an imminent end of the recession.

However, the only certainty is that the destructive effects of the crisis will be around for a long time. The most recent estimates note than the number of unemployed people throughout the world would increase by 50 million this year, while those living in extreme poverty could approach the alarming figure of 300 million.

United we will be in a better condition to confront the crisis, by taking advantage of the potential that the ALBA countries’ market offers us and by efficiently utilizing the complementary aspects of our economies to access third markets.

The times in which we live reflect that the confrontation between two historic forces is becoming more acute in Latin America and the Caribbean. On the one side, a dependent, elitist and exploitative political and economic model inherited from colonialism and subordinated to the interests of the empire. On the opposing side, the advance of revolutionary and progressive political forces, which represent the traditionally dispossessed classes and those to have suffered discrimination; committed to social justice, to the genuine independence of the peoples of the region, and to the aspiration of a just distribution of the immense riches of the continent.

In essence, it is about the historical fight to make concrete the realization of the Bolivarian and Martí vision of Our America.

The establishment of military bases in the region is an expression of the hegemonic offensive that the U.S. government is deploying and constitutes an act of aggression against all of Latin America and the Caribbean. There is an evident intention to make concrete its political-military doctrine of occupying and dominating at any price the territory that it has always considered its "natural backyard."

The reactivation of the 4th Fleet, with announced operative-strategic maneuver capacities even within the interior waters of the countries of the region, demonstrates that there will be no limits in order to achieve its plans, apart from the imposition of the resistance that we are capable of offering.

The ALBA-TCP cannot ignore that reality. In the sessions awaiting us we shall exchange our views on these and other issues, such as control of the mass media.

We also have on our agenda an analysis of the failure of the negotiations that should have concluded in Copenhagen within a few days with concrete, real and verifiable commitments to confront the effects of climate change.

It is already known that there will be no such agreement and it is merely about awaiting a political statement. We in the ALBA-TCP countries have to defend a strong position on this issue, decisive for the future of the human species.

We have the conviction that the ideas and cooperation of all of you in this 8th Summit will constitute a significant contribution to the strengthening of our Alliance.

Thank you very much.

Translated by Granma International

Havana December 15, 2009

In these five years of existence the successes of our organization are unquestionable

Speech given by General of the Army Raúl Castro Ruz, president of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, at the closing session of the 8th Summit of the ALBA-TCP at the International Conference Center, December 14, 2009

Dear heads of state and government:

Dear invited guests:

Compañeras and compañeros:

WE have reached the end of this 8th Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America. There has been a very productive exchange in the analysis of the undisputed advances achieved and the challenges that our Alliance faces.

The Declaration that we adopted contemplates agreements of magnitude. For their significance to the benefit of our peoples, I will mention just two:

In these five years of existence the successes of our organization are unquestionableWe decided to undertake a project of great impact in all the Alliance countries: a genetic psycho-social clinical study of people with disabilities, utilizing the most advanced scientific techniques and with the proposition of reaching the poorest and most unprotected communities in the region. Only the ALBA could conceive of and instigate a project of such profound human sentiment which, in its first stage, has already contributed clear and heartening results in some countries of the Alliance.

We have also committed ourselves to constituting a Science, Technology and Innovation Network directed at promoting capacities for the generation and transfer of knowledge and technologies in key sectors of socioeconomic development.

At the same time, the Declaration expresses our political vision of events in the region and definitions, procedures and attributions of ALBA’s principal agencies.

I must highlight the Special Communiqué on Climate Change that we agreed in this Summit in the face of the upcoming world summit in Copenhagen.


As has already been noted, this meeting is taking place as we commemorate today the fifth anniversary of the Declaration of December 14, 2004 which gave rise to the ALBA.

In these five years of existence, the successes of our organization, born of the clear and daring integrationist vision of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro and President Hugo Chávez that December 14, 2009, are unquestionable. At that time, the FTAA, an instrument of hegemonic domination promoted by Washington, had not as yet been formally buried and an emancipating undertaking based on the legacy of the leaders of genuine Latin American independence was initiated in our region.

Its emergence at that precise moment was possible because the Venezuelan people defeated the military coup of April 2002, because they subsequently overcame the oil strike, and because the Bolivarian Revolution strengthened and consolidated itself as a new socialist alternative to the neoliberal model that imperialism was attempting to impose on Latin America.

It was possible, moreover, because the Cuban Revolution had shown itself able to resist, defend its sovereignty and socialist system and promote a program of cooperation and solidarity in the midst of brutal and persistent aggression.

That December 14 also marked the 10th anniversary of the first visit to Cuba by compañero Hugo Chávez, and today, the 15th anniversary of that visit. It would have seemed extremely daring to have predicted in 1994 or even in 2004, how far our region would advance in a relatively brief lapse of time.

The ALBA was born in 2004 as a result of the development of relations between Venezuela and Cuba, with links of a new kind, fortified by Latin American and Caribbean fraternity, to the benefit of their peoples.

The subsequent adherence of Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador, the fruit of decisions in accordance with their respective revolutionary processes, and the significant incorporation of Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda, which enrich us with a Caribbean perspective, have consolidated this scheme and extended its projections.

The ALBA is also proud of having the membership of Honduras and the contribution of President Manuel Zelaya, violently removed from power; first by a military coup last June 28, executed with the complicity of the most reactionary circles of the United States, and then, on November 29, via spurious elections organized in the midst of brutal repression on the part of the coup perpetrators and the overt or dissimulated backing of retrograde forces in the region.

Honduras is an example of the fact that the alleged commitment to democracy on the part of Washington and its allies is no more than pure demagoguery and opportunism. In Honduras the political will of the people has been castrated and the perpetrators have always known that they could count on the backing of their political masters on the continent.

In Latin America and the Caribbean today, the contradictions between progress and reaction, between the rights and demands of the historically vilified peoples and the interests of transnational corporate capital and the traditional oligarchies have been manifested with particular clarity. It is an antagonistic contradiction that cannot be resolved overnight and which cannot be confronted with ingenuousness or lack of care.

Being part of ALBA implies the proposition of constructing rational, efficient societies living in harmony with nature and procuring social justice for our peoples. That is the cooperation and integration that we are promoting and that undertaking demands a revolutionary spirit.

José Martí taught us that – I quote: "We are seeking solidarity not as an end, but as a means directed toward ensuring that our America fulfils its universal mission" – end of quote.

For his part, Bolívar stated: "More than anything else, I desire to see formed in America the greatest nation of the world, less on account of extension and riches, than on account of its liberty and glory."

In this struggle, as member countries of our Alliance, we are staking our all on an ideal and shared commitment, that of "A better world is possible."

Thank you very much.

Translated by Granma International

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