75 UNGA: Statement by the Cuban delegation at the meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. New York, 25 March 2021.

Mr. President,

Observing the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade becomes vitally important in the current context, marked by alarming expressions of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia in some of the most developed societies.

For Cuba, this issue is particularly symbolic, because we feel highly proud of our African roots and heritage.

As a result of the ruthless and inhumane trade whose victims we remember today, around 1.3 million African slaves arrived in Cuba to replace, as manpower, the indigenous population virtually exterminated by the Spanish colonialism.

The Cuban nation, its culture, its idiosyncrasy and its popular religiosity, which are deeply multiracial, could not be explained without the African contribution. In our struggles for independence and self-determination, the freed slaves and their descendants played a major role.

Therefore, in paying tribute to the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, we, Cubans, also pay homage to the roots of our people.

Mr. President,

The crime against humanity committed against the people we honor today is linked to the situation of structural inequality, racial discrimination, prejudice and exclusion which continues to affect, in the 21st century, people of African descent.

As the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, expressed at the historic Durban Conference in 2001: " The inhuman exploitation imposed on the peoples of three continents, including Asia, changed forever the fate and the present life of over 4.5 billion people living in the Third World today which rates of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, health, infant mortality, life expectancy and other calamities --too many, in fact, to enumerate here-- are certainly awesome and harrowing. They are the current victims of that barbarism which lasted centuries and the ones who clearly deserve compensation for the horrendous crimes committed against their ancestors and peoples".

The full reparation and indemnification to the peoples and groups afflicted by this gruesome and imprescriptible crime is a moral duty. Developed countries and their consumer societies have been the beneficiaries of the conquest, colonization, slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, and are consequently, responsible for the extermination related to them.

Hence, we support the just request made by CARICOM Member States. Special and differential treatment for developing countries, particularly Africa, in their international economic relations would also be fair. As a rule, those of us who were colonies in the past are today subject to an unjust international order, which may have changed its name, but not its essence, since it continues to promote the wealth of just a few at the expense of the poverty of the large majority.

Mr. President,

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly revealed the disparities of the world we live in. How many doses of the millions of vaccines produced have been purchased by developing countries in Africa, Asia or Latin America and the Caribbean? And within developed countries, do people of African descent or migrants have equal access to those vaccines?

The most fitting tribute to the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade in the current scenario, in addition to the necessary remembrance, is certainly international solidarity with the countries from which those millions of people were forcibly uprooted.

For that reason, and based on our humanistic vocation, Cuba has continued to strengthen its international cooperation programs in the area of health. 

Despite the unprecedented tightening of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba, my country has been able to send more than 4,900 health professionals, in 56 brigades, to 40 countries and territories in support of its efforts to tackle the pandemic. Most of these professionals were sent to countries and territories in the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa.

Mr. President,

The tribute we pay today will be a mere formality, as long as we do not address and solve the root causes of inequality, exclusion, racism and discrimination that has outlived slavery, and which millions of people, and specially people of African descent, continue to suffer.

Thank you.