14th Non-Aligned Summit in Havana: Oppressed stand up against imperialism

Between 14 and 17 September, barely 90 miles from the shores of the United States, delegates from 118 countries, representing the majority of the oppressed peoples of the world, gathered in Havana, Cuba for the 14th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. CAT WIENER reports.

Countries represented included Venezuela, Bolivia, Iran, Syria and North Korea, noted hate figures of the Bush administration. As Raul Castro put it in his opening address: ‘We assume that here present are representatives of the majority... of the “60 or more dark corners of the world” cited as possible targets of future [US] attacks’. There were delegates from Bangladesh, threatened with annihilation by rising sea levels, from African countries devastated by war, famine and disease, from the Middle East, subjected to threats and attacks from imperialism, from the plundered nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, all united by the desire to stand together against the rulers of the real dark corners of the world, US imperialism and its allies. One delegate described the summit as ‘the voice of the voiceless’, another as ‘a forum for change’.

President Hugo Chavez predicted that this would be the most important meeting of the movement to date, coming as it did at a moment when the balance of world forces is poised between the brutal attempts of the US to impose itself as world gendarme against a rising movement of opposition. How fitting, then, that the summit should have been held in Cuba, which has withstood and denounced imperialist aggression for 47 years and today, alongside Venezuela, gives a principled, anti-imperialist and socialist voice to the oppressed of the world.

And, despite Fidel Castro’s absence because of illness, it was clearer than ever that the voice of the Cuban Revolution still speaks out loud and clear. Raul Castro, Acting President of Cuba, took on the mantle of accuser of the US and its allies. After denouncing Israel’s ‘shameful wall, symbol of apartheid’ and the war on Lebanon, he continued:

‘We all know who provides economic and military support for the Israeli government, who time and again vetoes the proposed resolutions in the Security Council and hampers plans for this organ to meet and discuss their brutal conduct.

‘We also know who act as their accomplices, who keep silent about the grave violations against prisoners held in the jail operated by the United States in their naval base in Guantanamo, land which was illegally seized from Cuba; who have cooperated with the secret flights and clandestine prisons’.

The discussions addressed, in Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque’s words, ‘the principal political, economic and social issues of our time’. Resolutions were passed condemning Israel for its unlawful aggression against the Palestinians and demanding Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the release of all detained Palestinian officials and reparations for military damage. The summit also denounced Israel’s barbaric bombing and destruction of Lebanon, the illegal imperialist war in Iraq and the torture camps run by the US.

There were calls for a fairer and more equal economic order between the 20% of the world who comprise the population of the rich countries and the 80% who are poor, and the right of the countries of the South ‘to ensure that they have control over their natural resources, for the benefit of their peoples’.

Raul Castro highlighted the need for solidarity with immigrants organising in the industrialised nations against racism, poverty and xenophobia.

Other delegates spoke of the urgent need to act in the face of accelerating environmental degradation, of the widening gulf between rich and poor, of the HIV/AIDS pandemic ‘decimating entire nations from the underdeveloped world’, of the 876 million illiterate adults and 325 million children in the world today without access to schooling. Raul Castro pointed out how little, relative to the wealth of the developed countries, it would take to resolve these problems when $1 trillion a year is spent on weapons and troops and nearly as much again on advertising. ‘The belief that an economic and social order that has proved to be unsustainable can be maintained by force is simply ridiculous. As President Fidel Castro said...“Bombs may kill the hungry, the sick and the ignorant, but they cannot kill hunger, disease and ignorance”’.

Under Cuba’s presidency, the Non-Aligned Movement is emerging as a key rallying point for all those lining up against imperialism in a battle that is about the very future of humanity.

FRFI 193 October / November 2006

 

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