During her remarks opening the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean’s 37th period of sessions, May 7, in Havana’s International Conference Center, the group’s executive secretary Alicia Bárcena presented a summary of the tour conducted alongside the formal meetings.
She stated that if Cuba and ECLAC have anything in common, it is the idea that “Economic growth and equality are not incompatible.”
“Equality, she insisted, goes hand-in-hand with growth in Cuba.”
She emphasized Cuba’s efforts to replace imports with domestic products, and cited the accumulation of internal capital as a shared interest across the region, in the face of limitations on participation in the international market.
Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, Cuban minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, reiterated that the country’s commitment to regional integration is part of the historic process of developing the country’s national identity.
He stressed the role of ECLAC in ongoing support for initiatives promoting the region’s economic and social development. During the foreign investment seminar, “Opportunities for Business and Sustainable Development for Cuba,” Malmierca Díaz explained that investment is an essential component of Cuba’s development strategy through 2030.
The European Union Commission’s director general of cooperation, Stefano Manservisi, also spoke, stating, “Being here is a way to recognize the leadership of Cuba.
“Our new initiatives are focused around a conception that transcends the concept of donor and receiver,” he continued, noting that “proposals reflect joint work, an agenda for all.”
On another note, the regional instrument “Facilitation for Development in Transition,” that will have an impact on the design and implementation of public policies to meet Sustainable Development Objectives, was signed by Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC executive secretary; Stefano Manservisi, director general of International Cooperation for the European Commission; and Mario Pezzini, director of the Development Center associated with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, within the framework of 37th period of ECLAC.
Meanwhile, as part of the panel entitled “Implementing the 2030 Agenda: Sustainable Development with Equality,” Fermín Quiñonez Sánchez, president of the Cuban United Nations Association (ACNU), emphasized that we cannot talk about sustainable development as long as wars of conquest, military interventions, and imperialist interests undermine the sovereignty, integrity, and independence of nations.
In the case of Cuba, he added, it will be much more difficult to advance in the implementation of sustainable development objectives if the criminal U.S. economic, financial and commercial blockade remains in place.
Since the beginning of the Revolution in 1959, Quiñonez said, the reaching of objectives and development goals has been based on the essential combination of political will and the accompaniment of the UN system of organizations.
He added that the organization of the event itself was coordinated by ACNU, an example of the involvement, commitment, and unity in action of Cuban civil society and national institutions, to build an increasingly more just society and advance in perfecting Cuba’s socio-economic model, with world peace and cooperation as the pillars that have always guided the Revolutionary government.
Likewise, the panel on South-South cooperation, entitled “Opportunities and lessons learned from the Cuban experience,” Alicia Bárcena referred to the topic of regional integration as a constant on Cuba’s and the ECLAC’s agendas, saying that, “Cuba has become an example of South-South cooperation.”
We have been able to get South-South cooperation on the road, she indicated, emphasizing that Cuba has never renounced its “soul of equality.”
In this sense, she said, “I will never forget Fidel’s speech in Brazil when he said that the problem was not hunger, but rather human beings, who were in danger of extinction.”
“It’s good to recognize social progress,” she said, recalling the significant steps Cuba has taken in its efforts to achieve social objectives such as the training of highly qualified human resources, despite the countries limited material resources, emphasizing the thinking that prevails here, and noting the existence of “much talent.” She cited the development of scientific centers, which by as early as 1992, made Cuba a reference in the field.
On the same panel, Cuba’s deputy minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Ileana Núñez, spoke of the disinterested help the Cuban government has offered, even when facing needs here, noting the generous spirit of the Cuban people as key to moving forward in regional integration and sustainable development in Latin America.
Jorge Chediek, director of the UN’s South-South Cooperation Office, concluded saying, “Thank you for what you are doing for the world. May the international community follow the example of Cuban doctors, who I have seen in Peru, in Brazil, arriving where others have not.”