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Brussels - Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, First Vice President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, speaking at 2nd CELAC-EU Summit in Brussels, June 10-11, calls on Europe to support development in Latin America and the Caribbean

Honorable heads of state and government:

For Latin America and the Caribbean, this 2nd CELAC-EU Summit constitutes a challenge, since here we must establish the objective of re-thinking ties between the two regions, so that they, in fact, have the desired impact on economic, commercial and cooperative relations.

History shows that under-development in Latin America and the Caribbean began with colonial plunder, the extermination of millions of persons among the original peoples, and the horrors of slavery. The structural deformities of our economies were worsened by neo-colonial exploitation; industrialized nations and transnational companies imposed their interests; capitalism established irrational and unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. The United States appropriated our territory and took sovereignty of our natural resources, violating the independence of nations in the region, even resorting to bloody military dictatorships. Neoliberals erased a decade of progress. The global economic crisis and financial speculation spread to our economies.

Despite the progress made, Latin America and the Caribbean is the (world’s) most unequal region in terms of the distribution of wealth and the persistence of poverty, inadequate access to education, healthcare and knowledge.

In June of 1999, during the Río de Janeiro Summit, the European Union proposed a “strategic bi-regional association.”

In Santiago de Chile, in January, 2013, CELAC reiterated its desire to cooperate and extend bi-regional relations based on “respect, equal sovereignty and no external interference.”

In Havana, in January of 2014, CELAC approved the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, establishing guiding principles to govern ties between countries in the region - applicable to our relations with the rest of the world.

I evoke this Proclamation to express solidarity with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and its President, Nicolas Maduro Moros, given the unfounded, arbitrary executive order issued by the President of the United States, imposing sanctions which our region has demanded be rescinded.

While, in fact, we share important historic and cultural ties, our region continues to occupy a marginal position within the economic-commercial priorities of the EU. Asymmetries are reinforced, and cooperation with small Caribbean states is being mechanically and unjustly withdrawn.

The Millennium Development goals continue to be unreachable. Without another international economic and financial order, the Post-2015 Agenda is an illusion, and will increase dependency and the North-South gap. Political models and the welfare state in Europe are in crisis. Cutbacks and austerity programs have seriously hurt workers, families and immigrants. Significant numbers of an entire generation have not found their first job.

To survive it is imperative to detain climate change, with a legally binding, ambitious, just and equitable agreement, which guarantees financing, technology and cooperation in the areas of adaptation and mitigation, on the basis of shared but differentiated responsibility, and recognition of the historic debt owed by the developed countries.

Growing threats to peace and international security, conventional and non-conventional wars and poverty, which devastate nations and destroy states, are pushing waves of desperate human beings to seek refuge. Very early on, we warned that NATO’s expansion to the borders of the Russian Federation would imply a serious threat to peace, security and stability, internationally and in Europe itself. We reiterate our opposition to sanctions against that country.

Despite the historic decision by Cuba and the United States to reestablish diplomatic relations, the economic, commercial, financial blockade of Cuba remains in place, with the same intensity. The moment has arrived for Europe to advocate for its total elimination, and an end to the unethical understanding with the United States, from November of 1996, accepting the international application of the legislation upon which it is based, the Helms Burton Act.