Cuban VP in Cochabamba: To Defend Life We Must Abolish Capitalism

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Speech by Esteban Lazo Hernández, vice president of Cuba’s Council of State, at the closing session of the People’s World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, at the Félix Capriles Stadium, Cochabamba, Bolivia, April 22, 2010.

Translation by Granma International

Viva the struggle of the peoples of Latin America and of the world! (Exclamations of “Viva!”)

Viva the struggle for Mother Earth! (Exclamations of “Viva!”)

Dear brother Evo Morales, president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia and today, before this great event, we must say, from the bottom of our hearts, the undisputed leader of this noble and heroic people of Bolivia (Applause);

Compañeros of the Bolivian government;

Other authorities present at this historic event;

Participants in the conference that concludes today;

Brother and sister defenders of Mother Earth, of Pachamama committed to the survival of the human species;

President Evo’s initiative to convene this Conference in order to initiate a direct, frank and constructive dialog with the social, indigenous, scientific and world people’s movements and organizations, with the aim of analyzing the real causes that provoke climate change, is an act of extraordinary importance and exceptional human meaning.

A few minutes ago, we heard the reading of the excellent and profound document drawn up as a result of this first summit, and I can assure all of you of our firm and resolute support for that document, which was read out in the afternoon of today. (Applause and exclamations)

I should also like to transmit fraternal greetings from President Raúl Castro and the leader of the Cuban Revolution, and our Commander in Chief Fidel Castro (Applause), who have been attentively following the development of this historic meeting, which has demonstrated our people’s awareness of climate change and their determination to contribute to the search for real solutions to this crucial phenomenon that is threatening humanity’s survival.

Compañeras and compañeros:

During the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, 1992, the Commander in Chief stated, and I will repeat it for its actuality:

“If humanity is to be saved from that self-destruction, there has to be a better distribution of the wealth and technology available on the planet. Less luxury and less squander in a few countries so that there is less poverty and less hunger on a large part of the Earth.”


Today, the struggle for the defense of life today must indisputably include the necessity of abolishing the capitalist system with its lifestyle and patterns of production and consumerism that are ruining the environment and leading humanity into a headlong race to its own destruction.

It is intolerable that the total income of the 500 richest people in the world is superior to the income of the 416 million poorest people in the world.

How can it be explained that one third of the world population lacks the medical attention and medicines essential to preserving health – a situation that is being aggravated as climate change and the scarcity of water and food become greater – in a globalized world in which the population is growing, forests are disappearing, agricultural land is diminishing, the air is becoming unbreathable and the human species is running the real risk of disappearing.

How is it possible that $12 trillion is being directed to rescuing bankrupt banks and to recompense speculators, while the planet’s resources are needed to save Mother Earth, to which we all belong, and humanity. (Applause)

That demonstrates the priorities of the industrialized countries, which are not, precisely, to combat climate change and its irreparable consequences for human beings with the entire force of their resources

The failure of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which took place in Copenhagen last December, is a motive of profound concern for everyone. It failed due to the lack of political will of the most developed nations to achieve ambitious commitments to reducing their emissions, and the fraudulent and exclusive practices that prevailed there.

The so-called Copenhagen Agreement was the result of exclusive negotiations and political manipulation on the part of the nation primarily responsible – both historically and now – for climate change; it does not reflect the requirements supported by science, nor does not respond to the political imperative of halting the advance of this global phenomenon.

It is a necessity that the social, indigenous, scientific and world people’s movements and organizations unite, as was discussed this morning. We have to demand of the developed countries that they acknowledge and settle their climatic debt to humanity.

The wide-ranging participation in this event is an expression that people are becoming aware of the need to fight for that objective, in which the life of all of us is at stake.

It is essential to promote a genuine process of citizens’ participation and consultation with society, and an open dialogue with and among the peoples, with the aim of undertaking urgent actions to avert greater damage and suffering to humanity and to Mother Earth, as proposed in the conference that ended this morning.

Precisely today, April 22, the United Nations is celebrating International Mother Earth Day, proclaimed last year at the initiative of President Evo Morales. (Applause)

We should take advantage of this commemoration and every opportunity that presents itself to work to reestablish harmony with nature and give value to the principles of solidarity, justice and respect for life.

The developed countries carry on their shoulders the weight of 76% of the emissions accumulated in the atmosphere and, therefore, must assume full responsibility for the historical and current impact of their economies and lifestyles on the global climatic equilibrium.

The most recent statistics show that greenhouse gas emissions from the highly developed countries increased by 12.8% from 1990 to 2007.

In that same period, the United States experienced a 15.8% increase of its emissions and concentrated 55% of the total growth of all the emissions of all the developed countries.

The United States cannot continue holding the international community hostage to its domestic policy and must submit to the same rules as the rest of the developed countries. (Applause)

It is unjust and unacceptable to the peoples, movements and social organizations of the South that the developed countries are attempting to transfer the cost of their reductions in greenhouse gas emissions – the result of their historic responsibility in terms of climate change – to the impoverished economies of the underdeveloped countries.

We demand that the Southern nation’s right to development be respected and that this development takes place in a healthy and ecologically balanced environment.

The developed countries must commit themselves to contributing new and additional resources needed for the execution and promotion of national programs aimed at adapting to and mitigating climate change in the developing countries.

Insufficient promises that hardly ever materialize or, when made concrete, remain at levels inferior to those initially promised, are not enough.

The shameful scenario of Copenhagen, marked by the brutal repression of peaceful demonstrations and demands from the social movements and those of the civil society in general, cannot happen again. (Applause)

Dear compañeras and compañeros:

Compañero Evo Morales can be proud of the fact that his resounding victories in the elections of last December and the recent April 4th elections have now been joined by the resounding success of this Conference and his world leadership in this important battle. (Applause)

The democratic and cultural Bolivian revolution constitutes an example for many countries of the world, which see in this process a hope for the construction of societies with new principles and values, directed at generating social well-being and protecting nature and the resources that she generously offers us.

Just three days ago, in Venezuela, the bicentenary commemoration of the beginning of the independence struggle culminated in Caracas with the 9th Extraordinary Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, an event that gave continuity to a new kind of relations of cooperation and solidarity among our countries that are part of this mechanism and which concluded in an important prelude for this summit that we are holding today.

Being here in this beautiful Bolivian land necessarily brings to our minds one of the greats of Latin America, Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara (Applause and exclamations), who gave up his life for an independent Latin America, the owner of its wealth and its fate; as Che did yesterday, today Cuban doctors and teachers are covering the most remote areas fighting for life and for a better future for the Bolivian people and for other peoples in our America. (Applause)

Today, humanity’s enemies are having recourse to lies and infamies and are redoubling their threats against our peoples, against all those who are fighting for sovereignty and independence, for life and for Mother Earth.

I should like to reiterate, in this historic place and at this historic conference, in the name of its people and government, that Cuba will not yield to the coercion and pressure of United States imperialism (Applause and exclamations) and that of its European allies, who cannot resign themselves to accepting that Cuba has the right to exist in freedom and sovereignty. Cuba will never permit external impositions or interference! Cuba will never again return to being a yanki colony! (Exclamations of “No!” and applause)

In the name of the Cuban people, I express our gratitude for the constant solidarity of Bolivia and its people and the peoples of Latin America toward our people.

Compañeras and compañeros:

We have experienced unforgettable days in Cochabamba. Here, our commitment to Mother Earth, to our planet, has been renewed. In this struggle, there is still a long road to be covered, with swiftness and firmness, however arduous it may be, because, as compañero Fidel also stated at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992: “Tomorrow will be too late to do what we should have done a very long time ago.”

Thank you very much.

¡Patria o Muerte! ¡Venceremos! (Applause)