Statement by Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of the Republic of Cuba at the thirty first Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in response to the Covid-19 pandemic
Mr. Secretary General;
Distinguished Heads of State and Government;
Heads of delegations;
I would like to thank the Republic of Azerbaijan, the current president of the Non-Aligned Movement, for the initiative to convene this Special Session of the General Assembly.
An articulated response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, consistent with the protocols and good practices established by the World Health Organization, can only be promoted at the global scale by this body, which is the most universal and representative of the United Nations system.
It is a sad and undeniable fact that the pandemic has exacerbated the serious problems and colossal challenges that humanity had been already facing before the outbreak of this disease.
We are referring to the wars, including non-conventional wars; the use and threat of use of force and the implementation of unilateral coercive measures, but also about the absence or precarious situation of health services, education and social security under the blind rules of the market and the unequal exchange that has prevailed in the world.
The signs of what some experts have described as the worst economic recession since the Second World War have become dramatically visible today; and no one doubts that the brunt of the crisis will be borne by the countries of the South, which are already affected by the abuse of neoliberal policies that has amplified the ravages caused by poverty.
The foreign debt of developing countries, which has been paid several times before and ha grown bigger as a result of the pandemic, thus severing right off the aspirations of economic and social well-being, is unpayable and should be condoned.
Under the present circumstances, the establishment of a just, democratic and equitable international order is an imperative. It is a condition for the survival of the species in an ever more interconnected and paradoxically unequal world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the human cost of that inequality and has revealed the urgent need to strengthen national health systems; promote universal and free access to basic medical services and guarantee an equitable distribution of vital resources.
The world watches in shock, for example, how the United States, responsible for 38 per cent of the global military budget, is unable to take responsibility for the more than 11 million infected persons and the more than 238 who have died from COVID-19 in that country.
When looking at the harsh situation caused by infections, new outbreaks and the collapse of health services in nations with an enviable prosperity, one question arises: Why is the enormous budget that is currently being dilapidated in the arms race not used instead to confront this and other much older pandemics, such as hunger and poverty?
Since the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and in view of the possibility that it might become a pandemic, Cuba designed a National Program aimed at its prevention and control. Its implementation is supported by the strengths of our country’s health system –of proven quality standing and universal coverage- and scientific development.
Today, in a spirit of modesty, and also with wholesome pride, we can explain to the world how this was possible.
In Cuba, we have implemented a government management system based on science and innovation, which has furthered up interconnections among such areas as knowledge, production and social services.
This is an inclusive, participatory, systemic, cross-cutting and intersectoral system that crystallizes and achieves its best results in the robust protocols applied in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and the responsible attitude adopted by our people.
In other words, what we do is to give practical expression to the way in which the social system operates in Cuba and is capable of solving or successfully tackle very complex problems, while human beings are the top priority of the government’s work.
The role of science and its articulation with government management has been crucial. The relevant achievements attained by the medical and pharmaceutical industry and biotechnology allow us to be in a better position to cope with the disease. Two Cuban candidate vaccines that are currently going through the clinical trial phase have been included among the 47 registered by the World Health Organization.
Faithful to our humanist vocation, 53 Cuban medical brigades have helped to cope with the disease in 39 countries and territories, which joined those that were already offering their services in 59 nations.
That has been possible even under the heavy burden of the criminal and unjust blockade imposed by the government of the United States –which has been tightened in an unprecedented way- and a cynical disparagement campaigned launched against our international medical cooperation.
Here we denounce that aggressive behavior against Cuba and other sovereign nations as well as the announced attempt to re-enact the Monroe Doctrine, which is a violation of International Law and the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.
Our commitment to the purposes and principles of this Organization remains unaltered. We remain firmly and resolutely committed to continue working in favor of multilateralism, solidarity, human dignity and social justice.
This global emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic sounds like a new call to the world’s awareness. This time we should listen to it. Yes, we can. Cuba is an example of that.
Thank you, very much