[DEBATE] : Address of H E José Ramón Machado Ventura to conference on world food security
dominic.tweedie at gmail.com
Wed Jun 4 11:40:26 BST 2008
Key address by the head of the Cuban delegation, his excellence José
Ramón Machado Ventura
To the high-level conference on world food security:
The challenges of climate change and bioenergy.
Actions required to attain worldwide food security
Two years ago, in this very hall, the international community agreed
to eradicate world hunger. The aim to halve the number of malnourished
people by 2015 was set. That modest and inadequate goal is bound to
strike us as a pipe-dream today.
The world food crisis is not a circumstantial phenomenon. Their
serious and recent manifestation, in a world that produces enough food
for all its inhabitants, clearly reveals the systemic and structural
nature of the crisis.
Hunger and malnourishment are the result of an international economic
order that maintains and deepens poverty, inequality and injustice.
The North countries have an unquestionable share of responsibility for
the hunger and malnourishment of 854 million people. They imposed
commercial liberalization upon a world with patently unequal actors
and advanced financial recipes calling for structural adjustments.
They brought ruin to many small producers in the South and turned
self-sufficient and even export nations into net importers of food
The governments of developed countries refuse to eliminate their
outrageous agricultural subsidies while imposing their rules of
international trade on the rest of the world. Their voracious
transnational corporations set prices, monopolize technologies, impose
unfair certification processes on trade and manipulate distribution
channels, sources of financing, trade and supplies for the production
of food worldwide. They also control transportation, scientific
research, gene banks and the production of fertilizers and pesticides.
The worst of it all is that, if things continue as they are, the
crisis will become even more serious. The production and consumption
patterns of developed countries are accelerating the planet's climate
change, which threatens humanity's very existence. These patterns must
be changed. The irrational attempt to perpetuate these disastrous
forms of consumerism is behind the sinister strategy of transforming
grains and cereals into fuels.
At the Havana Summit, Non-Aligned Countries called on peoples to work
towards a peaceful and prosperous world and a just and equitable
international order. This is the only path to follow if we're to put
an end to the food crisis.
The right to food is an inalienable human right. At Cuba's instance,
this has been ratified by successive resolutions approved by the
former Commission on Human Rights since 1997 and, later, by the Human
Rights Council and the UN General Assembly. As the representative of
the Non-Aligned Movement, with the support of more than two thirds of
UN member states, our country also promoted the calling of a seventh
special session of the Human Rights Council, which has just called for
concrete actions to address the world food crisis.
Hunger and malnourishment cannot be eradicated through palliatives,
nor with symbolic donations which —let us be honest—will not satisfy
peoples' needs and will not be sustainable.
At the very least, agricultural production in South countries must
first be rehabilitated and developed. Developed countries have more
than enough resources for this. What's required is the political will
of their governments.
If NATO's military budget were reduced by a mere 10% a year, nearly
100 billion dollars would be available for spending elsewhere.
If the foreign debt of developing countries, a debt they have paid
several times over, were cancelled, South countries would have at
their disposal the 345 billion dollars they annually devote to service
If developed countries honoured their commitment to devote 0.7 % of
the Gross Domestic Product to Official Development Aid, South
countries would be able to rely at least on an additional 130 billion
dollars a year.
If only one fourth of the money squandered each year on commercial
advertisement were devoted to food production, nearly 250 billion
dollars could be destined to fight hunger and malnutrition.
If the money destined to agricultural subsidies in the North were
destined to agricultural development in the South, our countries would
have around a billion dollars a day at their disposal, to invest in
This is the message brought by Cuba, a country ferociously blockaded
but standing proud on its principles and the unity of its people: yes,
this food crisis can be successfully confronted, but we should target
the root of the problem, address its real causes and repudiate
demagogy, hypocrisy and false promises.
Allow me to conclude recalling the words of Fidel Castro, when he
addressed the UN General Assembly in New York in October 1979:
"The noise of weapons, of the menacing language, of the haughtiness on
the international scene must cease. Enough of the illusion that the
problems of the world can be solved by nuclear weapons. Bombs may kill
the hungry, the sick and the ignorant, but bombs cannot kill hunger,
disease and ignorance."
Thank you very much.
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