Allow me to express our gratitude for convening this plenary meeting to pay tribute to the victims of one of the most gloomy and ignominious pages in human history – Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Slave trade and the terrible legacy of slavery are the root causes of profound social and economic inequality, hatred, fanaticism, racism and prejudice that continue to affect people of African descent.
At the World Conference against Racism held in Durban in 2001, which recognized that slavery and the transatlantic slave trade would today qualify as crimes against humanity, the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, stated: "The inhumane exploitation imposed on the peoples of the three continents, including Asia, affected the destiny and current lives of over 4.5 billion people living in the Third World whose poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and health rates as well as their infant mortality, life expectancy and other calamities --too many to enumerate in just a few words-- are shocking and horrifying. They are the current victims of that atrocity which lasted centuries and the ones who clearly deserve compensation for the horrendous crimes perpetrated against their ancestors and peoples”.
Full remedy and compensation to the peoples and groups affected by such horrific and imprescriptible crime is an inescapable moral duty. In that regard, Cuba supports the fair request of CARICOM Member States.
In like manner, it would be fair to expect special and differential treatment for developing countries, particularly Africa, in their international economic relations.
Developed countries and their consumer societies, liable for the accelerated and almost unstoppable destruction of the environment, have been the main beneficiaries of the conquest and colonization, slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, of the heartless exploitation and extermination of hundreds of millions of descendants of the peoples of the South. These countries have also been enriched with the unfair economic order imposed on humanity and with the international financial institutions created exclusively by them and for them as new forms of domination and subjugation.
It is imperative to educate present and future generations about the causes, consequences and lessons of slavery to ensure that this period of human history is never repeated.
As a result of the cruel trade, nearly 1.3 million Africans arrived in our island, mostly from the sub-Saharan part of the continent. The arrival of lucumi, carabali, congos, gangas, mina, bibi, yorubas and other ethnic groups had an immediate impact on the colonial society of the time. After a complex process of transculturation, the Cuban nationality emerged, which in essence is a mixture of Hispanic and African.
My country feels extremely proud of its African roots, present in our idiosyncrasy and cultural manifestations.
In the different stages of wars where the Cuban people were allowed to exercise self-determination, freed slaves and their descendants played a major role.
Despite the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba, our country will maintain its cooperation programs with African and Caribbean nations as well as with other third world countries, as part of the joint efforts to reverse the consequences of slave trade and other sad chapters of capitalism in its colonial, neo-colonial and financial transnational domination stages.
Slavery and the transatlantic slave trade are among the most serious crimes against humanity that have not been properly addressed, and their consequences have not been duly recognized in the current society.
We therefore reaffirm the importance of further strengthening the activities of the United Nations and other international organizations such as UNESCO on this matter. It is the least the international community can do to redress the crime against humanity committed through slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.
Thank you very much.