Addressing the UN as part of the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit in New York this Monday, September 24, President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez began by noting Cuba’s pride on having supported the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, and recalled the iconic embrace between the Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro and the anti-apartheid leader, Nelson Mandela, who visited Cuba in 1991, shortly after his release from prison.
Let us remember the political prisoner, the defender of human rights and the rights of his people, and the politician who changed history, Díaz-Canel stated in reference to Mandela. On remembering Mandela, we recognize the struggle of the South African people, led by the African National Congress, against the contemptible apartheid regime, he added.
The First Secretary of our Party, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, described Mandela as a prophet of unity, reconciliation and peace, the Cuban President noted. He added that the Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, defined him as an example of an absolutely honest man, with a firm, courageous, heroic, serene, intelligent and capable mind. Thus, the Cuban people remember Mandela, he said.
Moving on to comment on the current international scenario, Díaz-Canel stressed that recent announcements of increased military spending, which will launch the world into a new arms race, are alarming, and to the detriment of the enormous resources required to build a future of peace.
There can be no development without peace, and no peace and stability without development. There can be no peace and security for people suffering high levels of poverty, chronic hunger and malnutrition, poor health and poor access to drinking water, illiteracy, and high rates of infant mortality, the Cuban President stressed before the audience gathered at the UN headquarters.
In order to achieve a world in which peace prevails, and the peaceful solution of conflicts, it is urgent to address the root causes that generate them – the millions excluded by the international economic order, the displaced, the hungry, those fleeing from wars and the lack of opportunities. Much remains to be done to make Mandela’s dreams come true, Díaz-Canel stated.
At another moment of his speech, the Cuban President stressed that the only tribute worthy of Mandela’s memory is to promote the development of disadvantaged nations, through concrete acts rather than words; through cooperation, not intervention; through solidarity rather than the pillaging of their resources.
Cuba and Africa are united by ties of blood, and the impact of African cultural heritage on the Cuban idiosyncrasy is undeniable, he noted. The culture and the best values of the African peoples nurtured our own, they inspired us with their courage, nobility, wisdom and capacity for resistance, Díaz-Canel said.
Cuba’s cooperation with the peoples of Africa has been maintained for more than 50 years, as a priority of the foreign policy of the Cuban Revolution, he explained. International peace remains threatened by the philosophy of domination, and thus we make Mandela’s words our own, when he said that we also want to be the masters of our own destiny, Díaz-Canel added.
The Cuban President concluded by calling on the international community to work for the future of peace that belongs by right to our peoples, to truly and fully honor the unforgettable Mandela, whom the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, called the “Apostle of Peace.”