I would like to congratulate you on your election to preside over the sessions of the Committee. You and the other members of the board can count on our support for the success of the work of the Committee.
Cuba joins the statements by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and by El Salvador on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC.
We would like to extend our condolences and solidarity to the peoples and especially the relatives of the victims of the hurricanes that recently devastated the Caribbean and some areas of the United States. In particular, our support for the member countries of the Decolonization Committee: Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica, to the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGT) of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the United States Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands, as well as to the people of Puerto Rico. We hope that the administering Powers will provide the necessary attention, not only during the emergency, but also at a subsequent stage that will allow these territories to return to normal.
We extend our condolences and support for the people and Government of Mexico for the unfortunate human loss and destruction caused by the earthquakes that occurred in September.
The past year in terms of decolonization has had two significant moments. The special message by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the beginning of the 2017 session of the Committee on Decolonization, expressing his commitment to the process of decolonization, and classifying the topic as one of the Organization's main mandates, while endorsing its support for the work of the Committee.
Another moment of singular importance was to receive in the Committee last June the Puerto Rican independence fighter, Oscar López Rivera, who, after 36 years of confinement in North American prisons, and to be commuted his sentence, brought to the Committee with clear and firm voice his commitment to the struggle against colonialism, and to the self-determination and independence of his homeland.
Even though we are aware of the work done so far, thanks to which more than 80 territories have left behind their colonial past and are now full members of the United Nations; in commemorating 72 years of the founding of the United Nations, we regret that 56 years after the adoption of the historic Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 1514 (XV), there are still 17 territories that live the tragedy of colonialism, called "non-autonomous territories".
Nor can we fail to mention occupied and besieged Palestine, whose people have the inalienable right to self-determination and to the existence of an independent and viable State with East Jerusalem as its capital; Palestine that wishes not to extend for another 50 years the nightmare of the foreign occupation lived by its people. The United Nations, especially the Security Council, are indebted to the Palestinian people.
Likewise, Cuba defends the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination on the basis of respect for the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and relevant UN resolutions. We reiterate our support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to reach a mutually acceptable political solution between the parties which provides for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV).
We express once again the unrestricted support for the legitimate right of the Argentine Republic in the sovereignty dispute concerning the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, which are part of the national territory of that brother Latin American country. We reiterate the call for a negotiated, just and definitive solution to the question of the Falkland (Malvinas) in the shortest possible time, taking into account both the respect for the territorial integrity of Argentina and the recognition of the interests of the inhabitants of the Islands. We also emphasize that until a final settlement of the dispute through negotiations can be achieved, there should be no unilateral acts to introduce changes in the situation of the Islands.
July of this year marks the 117 anniversary of the intervention of the United States in Puerto Rico. The colonial question of that sister Caribbean island has been considered for more than 40 years at the Special Committee on Decolonization and as a result, 36 resolutions and decisions have been adopted.
The Special Committee on Decolonization adopted a new resolution this year, which among other provisions reaffirms the inalienable right of the Puerto Rican people to self-determination and independence, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), and the applicability of the fundamental principles of that resolution to the question of Puerto Rico.
The resolution once again calls upon the Government of the United States to assume its responsibility to accelerate a process that will enable the people of Puerto Rico to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, in accordance with already mentioned resolution 1514 (XV) and with the relevant resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee.
The new act approved by the President of the United States last year for the Oversight, Management and Economic Stability of Puerto Rico, known as PROMESA, does not address the serious economic and social problems of the country. The imposed Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico by the US federal government violates the limited power of the Puerto Rican government over its budget, fiscal and other matters. In fact, it has forced the authorities to cut budgets in all spheres.
The Attorney General of the United States made it clear to the Supreme Court of that country, stating that Puerto Rico remains a territory under the sovereignty of the United States and subject to the plenary powers of the Congress of his country.
It is outrageous the dramatic humanitarian situation that the brother Puerto Rican people live today after the devastation left by Hurricane Maria and the response given by the colonial government.
There is no doubt about the colonial status of Puerto Rico, these actions are clear evidence of the bloody colonial domination that prevails in this sister island and the political farce established more than half a century ago.
The Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC, reiterated the Latin American and Caribbean character of Puerto Rico at the Summit of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, in January 2017. We hope that the region of Latin America and the Caribbean will be a territory free of colonialism.
On the other hand, the Non-Aligned Movement reiterated at the 17th Summit of Isla Margarita, Venezuela, its support to a Puerto Rico that exercises its right to self-determination.
The Cuban Revolution has maintained a permanent commitment to solidarity with other peoples and, to the extent of its possibilities, has collaborated with the inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories, based on the Marti’s premise that "The Homeland is Humanity" and sharing what we have and not what we have left, despite the brutal economic, commercial and financial blockade that the Cuban people has had to face.
In Cuban schools and universities, for example, hundreds of young people from Western Sahara have studied. Cooperation with the inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories is essential for their collective well-being and for the necessary economic and social development of these territories. We urge all Member States to contribute to this important task.
Cuba reiterates its unwavering commitment to the eradication of colonialism and recalls that as long as there is only one people under that condition, the work of the Organization will be unfinished.
Thank you very much