73 UNGA: Statement by Ambassador Anayansi Rodríguez Camejo, Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations, on item 119: "Commemoration of the abolition of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade". New York, 21 November 2018.

Madam Chair,      

We support the intervention made by the Bahamas on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Cuba engaged in negotiations and supported General Assembly resolutions 61/19 and 70/7, which commemorated the bicentenary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, designated this International Day and established the Permanent Memorial. My country attaches particular importance to the annual commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, a particularly sensitive issue for the Cuban people. 

It would be an unforgivable historic mistake to ignore or intend to forget the past. By introducing the slave trade into the Western Hemisphere, the once colonial powers committed a crime against humanity that does not prescribe.

The major beneficiaries of conquest and colonization, slavery and the slave trade must assume responsibility and provide compensation for the horrendous crimes committed.

Madam Chair,

The report submitted by the Secretary-General leads us to reflect on the importance of implementing the precepts set forth in the Durban Declaration, in particular paragraphs 98 to 102, as well as the activities included in its Programme of Action, relating to teaching and understanding the historical truth behind this tragedy. 

Some 1.3 million Africans arrived in Cuba as slaves. They and their descendants were key players in the various stages of our struggles for definitive liberation. The Cuban people are extremely proud of their African roots. From Africa, we inherited the fighting spirit, sensitivity, joy, strength in the face of adversity and love for freedom that characterize Cubans. No other people in the world had contributed as much to forging the Cuban nation as the African people.

On this basis, with the support and active involvement of civil society, the Cuban State has developed a broad program in the field of education and cultural promotion throughout the country from the central levels to the communities. The program aims not only at achieving the widest dissemination and understanding of a problem that is part of our own history, but also at maintaining and strengthening the cultural roots of African descent.

Madam Chair,

We welcome the fact that the report submitted reflects the implementation, under the auspices of the United Nations and at the national level, of a broad program of activities throughout the reporting period, with the active involvement of many countries, including Cuba.

However, this is not enough. More political will is needed, because slavery is not a phenomenon of the past. In the twenty-first century, nearly 40 million people are subject to similar conditions.

Accelerated progress towards fulfilling Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be postponed without intensified efforts to eliminate modern slavery.

The fair request for compensation by CARICOM member states must be addressed.

The special and differential treatment required by developing countries in their international economic relations, particularly African countries, should be applied.

Madam Chair,

Much wealth in today's world has been produced by the shame and opprobrium of slavery and the slave trade. The international community has a moral obligation to contribute to repair the crime committed and to ensure through educational campaigns targeting present and future generations that such crime is never repeated.

Thank you very much.