71 UNGA: Cuba at the Third Committee debate on Social Development.

Madam Chair,

Cuba endorses the statement delivered by the Dominican Republic on behalf of CELAC.

My delegation is grateful to the Secretary-General and to the Director-General of UNESCO for their reports on items a) and b), respectively.

The reasons for the creation of the United Nations include the need for promoting social progress and increasing standards of living. Such noble goal remains an illusion today as  793 million people cannot read and write; 74.5 million young people are unemployed; 250 million school-age children are not receiving basics of reading and mathematics and 17 thousand children die every day from curable diseases.

The eradication of poverty, the promotion of full employment and social integration are three pillars to achieve social development.

My delegation recognizes the progress made in poverty reduction. However, this progress has been uneven; the social and economic disparities persist and, in many cases, have become even worse.

The international economic and political order continues to be strongly unfair and unsustainable, and turns inequality into its essence. We, the countries of the South, continue to suffer from its effects, excluding our legitimate interests, and its social and political consequences are felt in all continents. As a result of this immoral and inhumane order, 836 million people are living in extreme poverty, 795 million people suffer from chronic hunger, some 18 thousand children die every day due to poverty, among other terrifying figures. The commitments undertaken at the Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen and the 2030 Agenda will result in a dream if the current economic and political order persists.

It is impressive that in light of the failure to fulfill the Official Development Assistance commitments and the lack of new, predictable and sufficient financial resources to promote genuine international cooperation without any political conditions and strongly aimed at addressing the most serious problems faced by humanity, the annual military spending worldwide amounts to 1.7 billion dollars.

My delegation recalls the necessity to implement lasting and inclusive public policies that encourage the various aspects of social development, considering the major role played by the States in this matter, with the involvement of others. We must foster policies that favor the sustainable development of our nations.

Madam Chair,

Cuba is making some progress towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals with the moral strength of having met the Millennium Development Goals and the satisfaction of having provided cooperation to other developing countries in a number of sectors. Cuba will continue to do soto the extent of our modest possibilities.

We have attained such result despite the persistence of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed against Cuba for over half a century, which causes damages and hardship to the Cuban people. It is the main obstacle for the economic development of our country and affects other nations due to its extraterritorial scope; at the same time, it continues to harm the interests of US citizens and companies.

The infant mortality rate in Cuba is 4.3 per a thousand live births, among the lowest worldwide, and life expectancy at birth is 78 years.

In the year 2015, Cuba was the first country to validate the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV-AIDS and congenital syphilis. This goal demanded orderly and high-quality sexual and reproductive health services.

In Cuba, there is no illiterate, and we have a universal, accessible and free health care system for the entire population. Likewise, our vaccination program encompasses thirteen diseases with coverage of 100% of our children. More than two thirds of the State budget is allocated to raise levels of education, health, social security and assistance, culture, sports, scientific and technical research, among other sectors.

Cuba is also facing the challenge of population ageing. Within few years, average age will increase from 38 to around 44 years. Moreover, nearly 26 % of our population will be aged 60 years or over, with a high absolute growth of 80 years and over. It is estimated that by 2030 in Cuba there will be 3.3 million people aged 60 years and over. Therefore, in our country adult care has become a priority, conducting multidisciplinary and cross-sector work to ensure the quality of life of this sector of the population.

As pointed out, Cuba has shared its modest resources with sister nations through international cooperation. Over the last five decades, 325 thousand Cuban health workers have delivered assistance in 158 nations of the South, including 39 African countries where there are more than 76 thousand collaborators. In addition, 38 thousand doctors from 121 countries were trained for free, and 3,392 of them came from 45 African nations; all without any exclusions or conditionings.

Similarly, we have taken the “Yes, I can” Cuban literacy program to 28 countries and we have restored sight to over three million people in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa through the Cuban-Venezuelan program known as Operation Miracle.

Madam Chair,

Based on our own experience, we take the view that only giving due priority to social development, as the core of our public policies, and making a strong commitment to solidarity and genuine cooperation among all countries, we will enable for the social development goals of the 2030 Agenda to gain real substance and a positive and concrete impact on the life of millions of human beings, for whom a decent life and access to services and basic opportunities remain an illusion.

We reiterate that we will never renounce dignity, human solidarity and social justice, which are profound convictions of our socialist society. We will continue to share, to the extent of our possibilities, human capital trained by the Revolution and our best experiences.

Thank you very much.