Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, upon being invited to the Assembly of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. Honorable Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia and President of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States; Honorable Rene Baptiste, President of the Assembly of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States; His Excellency Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States; Dear Heads of Government; Distinguished Opposition Leaders; Dear Parliamentarians: I appreciate the invitation to visit the Assembly of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and the opportunity to share with you the celebration of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the first independent States of the Caribbean, and of this visit to Antigua and Barbuda. I assure you that the Cuban delegation has felt at home and we have proven at every moment the mutual affection between our nations.
We appreciate that despite the devastating impact of extreme weather events that recently affected several of our islands, including Barbuda, it has been decided to keep these appointments. We assume it as a confirmation of the brotherhood that unites us.
Today we have before us a new and urgent challenge, whose outcome depends on the survival of the human species. The confrontation to climate change is a priority that cannot be postponed for all humanity, especially for our peoples, who have suffered in the flesh their devastating effects and which weigh the most worrisome forecasts derived from our geographical situation and the high vulnerability to natural disasters extremes, like hurricanes.
The climate is changing with a proven impact on the increase of the intensity and destructive power of natural phenomena.
International efforts to stop and reverse the damage caused to the planet have been shown to be insufficient. The time to mitigate this situation is exhausted.
It is time to close ranks and undertake ambitious and immediate actions to stop the continued deterioration of Mother Earth. If we do not act urgently, the objectives that we set ourselves in 1992, when adopting the Framework Convention on Climate Change, will be nothing more than an inert letter, and the goal agreed in Paris to prevent the increase in global temperature by more than 1, 5 degrees Celsius, it will not be a chimera.
We cannot allow our countries to be devastated and their citizens become victims, while the irrationality of production and consumption patterns of developed countries, responsible for the degradation of the environment, persists.
They have the obligation to fulfill their international commitments through ambitious mitigation goals and the transfer of financial resources and necessary technologies to developing countries with absolute respect for national sovereignty.
It is essential to promote an international environment that favors the development of the countries of the South, and in particular of the Small Island Developing States.
The special vulnerabilities of our nations to the dangers posed by climate change and the increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, are an irrefutable argument to claim a differentiated strategy towards the Caribbean.
Hence, the relevance of the designation by the United Nations of the Caribbean Sea as a "Special Zone in the context of sustainable development".
In the field of disaster reduction, which is a task of the first order for all, it is imperative to strengthen national and collective capacities to cope with natural phenomena.
Our nations have all the political will to advance more and better in the preparation and confrontation of these events.
This requires substantial resources, of which we do not have. The main obstacle is underdevelopment, and the unjust and selfish international economic order that conditions and sustains it.
A significant increase in international cooperation and the transfer of resources, technologies and knowledge to the Caribbean countries are indispensable, with the aim of strengthening their national strategies.
In the spirit of solidarity that has characterized our relations, the modest experiences of Cuba in these areas have been made available to several countries in the region. For example, the Cuban model of Integral Risk Management Centers for Disasters is applied in several Caribbean countries, tempered to their specific realities.
As in several Caribbean nations, in Antigua and Barbuda and in Dominica, dozens of Cuban health workers were already working, when they suffered the devastating impacts of hurricanes "Irma" and "María".
They were joined, after their passage, by additional specialists from the International Contingent of Physicians Specialized in the Disaster Response and Serious Epidemics "Henry Reeve", rescuers, builders, technicians in electrical networks and other human resources and materials as a small but useful contribution to recovery.
In the framework of the VI Cuba-Caricom Summit, Cuba presented a proposal for a Program for the development of cooperation in the field of disaster reduction and confronting climate change for the 2018-2020 triennium, in which we hope that the Member States of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States can participate actively.
Today, I reaffirm Cuba's unequivocal will to continue sharing with Caribbean brothers and sisters the benefits of our modest achievements in terms of adaptation to climate change and in disaster risk reduction. We assume it as the duty that unites brotherly peoples. The Caribbean can always count on Cuba. That's how it has been and it will be!
We will preserve the principles of respect and solidarity as essential values of our relationships.
And finally, I want to thank you, all of you, for the simple and profound homage that a moment ago was given to the Head of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz.
Thank you very much.