Letters and Messages

Message to the Round Table (2007)

Dear Randy:

I listened to the entire Round Table programme on Thursday the 13th, without missing one single second of it. The news about the Bali Conference, commented on by Rogelio Polanco, editor-in-chief of “Juventud Rebelde” newspaper, confirms the importance of the international agreements and the necessity of taking them very seriously.

On that small Indonesian island, a meeting was held that gathered many Heads of Government of the so-called Third World, who struggle for their development and demanded fair treatment, financial resources and technology transfers from the representatives of industrialized nations who were also present there.

The UN Secretary General, faced with the tenacious obstruction opposed by the United States before the 190 representatives who were meeting there, and after twelve days of negotiations, stated on Friday the 14th, Cuban time, when it was already Saturday in Bali, that the human species could disappear as a result of climate change. And then he went off to East Timor.

That declaration transformed the conference into a shouting match.  On the tenth day of pointless persuasive efforts, the American representative Paula Drobransky said, after a deep sigh:  "We join the consensus."  It is obvious that the United States made moves to get around its isolated position, although this in no way changed the empire’s dismal intentions.

The grand show began: Canada and Japan adhered immediately to the US stand, opposing the rest of the countries that were demanding a serious commitment to curtail the emissions of gases that are causing the climate change. Everything had been foreseen ahead of time by the NATO allies and the powerful empire which, in one fell swoop of deceit, agreed to negotiate during 2008 in Hawaii, a U.S. territory, a new draft agreement to be submitted toand  approved by the Copenhagen Conference in Denmark in 2009, that is intended to be a substitute to the Kyoto Protocol which is due to expire by 2012.

The theatrical solution reserved for Europe the role of saviour of the world.  Brown, Merkel and other leaders of the European countries took the floor claiming for international gratitude. What an excellent Christmas and New Year’s present! None of the eulogists made any reference to the tens of millions of poor people who go on dying of diseases and hunger each year as a result of the complex realities of the present, just as if we were living in the best of all worlds.

The Group of 77, made up by 132 countries that are struggling to develop, had achieved consensus to demand from the industrialized countries a 20 to 40 per cent reduction of the gases that cause climatic change by the year 2020, a rate below the level attained in 1990; and a 60 to 70 per cent reduction by the year 2050, something which is technically possible. Furthermore, they were demanding the allocation of enough funds for the transfer of technology to the Third World.

We should not forget that those gases cause heat waves, desertification, the melting of glaciers and the increase of the sea level, as a result of which entire countries or large parts of them could be left under the water.  The industrialized nations share with the United States the idea of turning foodstuffs into fuel for luxury cars and other wasteful practices of consumption societies.

All of this that I am stating was demonstrated on that very Saturday, December 15th, at 10:06 Washington time, when it was announced that the President of the United States had asked the Senate –and the Senate approved it- a 696 billion dollars military budget for the 2008 fiscal year, 189 billion of which was ear-marked for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A feeling of sound pride came over me as I remembered the dignified and serene way in which I responded to the hurtful proposals made to me in 1998 by the then Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.  I entertain no illusions.

I strongly believe that the answers to the current problems facing the Cuban society, which has, as an average, a twelfth grade education, almost a million university graduates, and a real possibility for all its citizens to become educated without their being in any way discriminated against, require more variables for each concrete problem than those contained in a chess game.  We cannot ignore one single detail; this is not an easy path to take, if the intelligence of a human being in a revolutionary society is to prevail over instinct.

My elemental duty is not to cling to positions, much less to stand in the way of younger persons, but rather to contribute my own experience and ideas whose modest value comes from the exceptional era that I had the privilege of living in.

Like Niemeyer, I believe that one has to be consistent right up to the end.