By Raul Castro*
Esteemed President Medina;
Esteemed Heads of State and Government of Latin America and the Caribbean;
Distinguished Heads of Delegations and guests:
At the Summit that gave life to this Community, in Caracas in 2011, we expressed the conviction that “unity and the political, economic, social and cultural integration of Latin America and the Caribbean constitute (…) a requirement for the region to successfully confront the challenges before us.”
Never has it been more necessary to effectively advance along the path of unity, recognizing that we have many common interests. Working for “unity within diversity” is an urgent need.
To achieve this, strict adherence to the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by Heads of State and Government in Havana in January 2014, is required, in which we commit ourselves “to strict compliance with their obligation not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other State,” and to resolve differences in a peaceful manner, as well as to “fully respect the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system.”
It is therefore essential that all members of the international community fully respect the principles of the Proclamation in their relations with CELAC countries.
It would be desirable for the new United States government to opt for respect for the region, although it is a matter of concern that intentions have been declared that endanger our interests in the areas of trade, employment, migration and the environment, among others.
It is therefore imperative to establish common courses of action and to make the organization of CELAC more effective.
Furthermore, a return of neoliberalism would increase poverty and unemployment, thus aggravating social conditions in Latin America and the Caribbean.
We reiterate our support to the Venezuelan people and government in the defense of their sovereignty and self-determination in the face of acts against the Bolivarian Revolution.
We will continue to contribute to the extent of our possibilities to the implementation of the Final Peace Accord between the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP and to supporting the peace talks with the ELN.
We reaffirm that the nation of Puerto Rico must be free and independent; we will continue to support the demands of Ecuador in the face of the refusal of transnationals to repair the serious environmental damages in the Amazon; we reject the political manipulation against the Bolivian government and the attempts to destabilize the country; we congratulate President Daniel Ortega for his recent re-election as leader of Nicaragua and also Vice President Rosario Murillo.
We reiterate our rejection of the parliamentary-judicial coup d’état perpetrated in Brazil against President Dilma Rousseff, to whom we express our solidarity, as well as to former president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva.
We reaffirm Cuba’s support for the sister Caribbean nations in the face of attempts to deprive them of access to financial resources, in the fight against climate change and in their legitimate claim for reparation for the damages of colonialism and slavery.
We reiterate our encouragement for the efforts of the Argentine Republic to recover the Islas Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
I wish to express Cuba’s willingness to continue negotiating pending bilateral issues with the United States, on the basis of equality, reciprocity and respect for the sovereignty and independence of our country, and to continue the respectful dialogue and cooperation on issues of common interest with the new government of President Donald Trump.
Cuba and the United States can cooperate and coexist in a civilized manner, respecting differences and promoting all that benefits both countries and peoples, but it should not be expected that to do so Cuba will make concessions inherent to its sovereignty and independence.
The economic, commercial and financial blockade persists, which causes considerable hardships and human damages that severely harm our economy and hamper development.
Despite this, we continue immersed in the updating of our economic and social model and we will continue to fight to build a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation.
I would like to express my deep gratitude to President Danilo Medina for his heartfelt tribute in remembrance of the Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, at the opening ceremony of this Summit, as well as to all those who sent us their condolences and messages of solidarity .
Let me conclude by thanking you and the Dominican people for your hospitality and warm welcome, and congratulating you for the work carried out in heading the CELAC Pro Tempore Presidency; and at the same time express our commitment of support and solidarity to El Salvador and its president Salvador Sánchez Cerén, in his administration on leading the Community during 2017.
Thank you very much.