REFLECTIONS OF FIDEL
Chávez, Evo and Obama
(Taken from CubaDebate)
I am halting the tasks which have been totally occupying my time recently to dedicate some words to the singular opportunity presented to political science by the 60th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The annual event demands a singular effort on the part of those holding the highest political responsibilities in many countries. For them, it constitutes a difficult test; for the aficionados of this art, more than a few given that it vitally affects everyone, it is hard to resist the temptation to observe the interminable but instructive spectacle.
In the first place, there exists an infinity of thorny issues and conflicts of interest. For a large number of participants, it is necessary to take a position on events which constitute flagrant violations of principles. For example: what position to adopt on the NATO genocide in Libya? Do some persons wish to place on record that under their leadership the government of their country supported the monstrous crime perpetrated by the United States and its NATO allies, whose sophisticated fighter planes, piloted or non-piloted, executed more than 20,000 attack missions on a small Third World state of barely six million inhabitants, alleging the same reasons as those previously used to attack and invade Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan and which are now threatening to do so in Syria or any other country in the world?
Was it not precisely the government of the UN host state which ordered the butchery in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the mercenary Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba, the invasion of the Dominican Republic, the "dirty war" in Nicaragua, the occupation of Grenada and Panama by the U.S. military forces and the massacre of Panamanians in El Chorillo? Who promoted the military coups and genocide in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, which resulted in tens of thousands of dead and disappeared? I am not talking about things which happened 500 years ago, when the Spaniards initiated genocide in the Americas, or 200 years ago, when the yankees exterminated native Indians in the United States or enslaved Africans, in spite of "all men are created equal," as stated in the Declaration of Philadelphia. I am talking about acts that have taken place in recent decades and which are taking place today.
These acts must be recalled and reiterated when an event of the importance and prominence of the meeting underway in the United Nations takes place, and where the political integrity and ethics of governments is put to the test.
Many of them represent small and poor countries in need of support and international cooperation, technology, markets and credits, which the developed capitalist powers have manipulated as they please.
Despite the shameless monopoly of the news media and the fascist methods used by the United States and its allies to confuse and deceive world opinion, the resistance of the peoples is growing, and this can be appreciated in the debates taking place in the United Nations.
More than a few Third World leaders, in spite of the obstacles and contradictions indicated, have expressed their ideas with courage. The very voices emanating from the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean no longer contain the servile and embarrassing accent of the OAS, which characterized pronouncements of heads of state in past decades. Two of them have addressed this forum; both of them, Bolivarian President Hugo Chávez, a mix of the races which comprise the people of Venezuela, and Evo Morales, of pure millenary indigenous origin, stated their ideas in the meeting, one in a message and the other directly, in response to the speech of the yankee President.
Telesur broadcast the three speeches. Thanks to the network, in the night of Tuesday the 20th we heard President Chávez’ message, read carefully by Walter Martínez during his "Dossier" program. As head of state of the UN host nation, Obama gave his speech on Wednesday morning and Evo gave his during the early hours of the afternoon of the same day. For the sake of brevity I will take essential paragraphs from each text.
Chávez was unable to attend the United Nations Summit in person, after 12 years of untiring struggle without resting for a single day, which placed his life at risk and affected his health, and who is now fighting selflessly for his full recovery. However, his message could not but approach the most decisive issue of the historical meeting. I transcribe it virtually in full:
"I address these words to the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization […] to confirm, on this day and in this forum, Venezuela’s total support of Palestinian statehood: the right of Palestine to become a free, sovereign and independent country. It is an act of historical justice to a people who have carried within themselves, always, all the pain and suffering of the world.
"The great French philosopher Gilles Deleuze […] states with the tone of truth: ‘The Palestinian cause is above all the compound of injustices which this people has endured and continues to endure.’ And it is also, I dare to add, a constant and unyielding will of resistance which is already written in the heroic memory of the human condition. […] Mahmoud Darwish, the infinite voice of the potential Palestine, speaks to us from the sentiment of the awareness of this love: ‘We do not need the memory/because Mount Carmel is within us/ and the grass of Galilee is on our eyelids/ Don’t say: let us run to my country like the river! / Don’t say it! / Because we are in the flesh of our country/ and she is in us.’
"Against those who fallaciously maintain that what has happened to the Palestinian people is not genocide, Deleuze argues with implacable lucidity, ‘In all cases there is an attempt to act as if the Palestinian people not only should not exist, but have never existed. It is, in other words, the degree zero of genocide: to decree that a people do not exist; to deny them the right to existence.’"
"[…] the resolution of the conflict in the Middle East must of necessity move through doing justice to the Palestinian people; this is the only way of winning the peace.
"It pains and angers us that those who suffered one of the worst genocides in history have become the hangmen of the Palestinian people; it pains and angers us that the inheritance of the Holocaust is the Nakba. And it angers us, bluntly, that Zionism continues to utilize the accusation of anti-semitism against those who oppose its outrages and its crimes. Israel has exploited and is exploiting, blatantly and vilely, the memory of the victims. And it is doing so to act, with total impunity, against Palestine. In passing, it is worth noting that anti-Semitism is a Western, European misfortune, in which Arabs do not participate. Let us not forget, moreover, that it is the Palestinian Semite people who are suffering the ethnic cleansing being practiced by the colonial Israeli state."
"[…] It is one thing to reject anti-Semitism, and it is a very different thing to passively accept that Zionist barbarity is imposing an apartheid regime upon the Palestinian people. From an ethical point of view, whoever rejects the former, has to condemn the latter."
"[…] Zionism, as a view of the world, is absolutely racist. In their terrifying cynicism, the words of Golda Meir are irrefutable evidence of that: ‘How are we going to return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to. There is no such thing as Palestinians. It was not, as is thought, that a people called Palestinian existed, that considers itself as Palestinian, and that we arrived, threw them out and took their country from them. They did not exist.’"
"Read and reread the document historically known as the Balfour Declaration of 1917: the British government assumed the legal authority of promising the Jews a national home in Palestine, deliberately ignoring the presence and will of its inhabitants. It should be noted that for centuries, Christians and Muslims lived together in peace in the Holy Land, until Zionism began to claim it as its entire and exclusive property."
"At the end of World War II, the tragedy of the Palestinian people was exacerbated, consummated by their expulsion from their territory and, at the same time, from history. In 1947, the ominous and illegal United Nations Resolution 181 recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state and a zone under international control (Jerusalem and Bethlehem).
[…] 56% of the territory was granted to Zionism for the constitution of its state. In fact, this resolution was in violation of international law and flagrantly ignored the will of the large Arab majorities: the right to self-determination of the peoples became a dead letter."
"[…] as opposed to what Israel and the United States would have the world believe via the communication transnationals, what took place and is still taking place in Palestine, let us say it with [Edward] Said, is not a religious conflict: it is a political conflict, of a colonial and imperialist stamp; it is not a millenary but a contemporary conflict; it is not a conflict that was born in the Middle East but in Europe.
"What was and what continues to be the crux of the conflict? The discussion and consideration of Israel’s security, but not in any way that of Palestine. This can be confirmed by recent history: suffice it to recall the latest genocidal episode unleashed by Israel with Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.
"The security of Palestine cannot be reduced to the simple recognition of limited self-government and police control in its enclaves of the West Bank of the Jordan Rover and in the Gaza Strip, leaving aside not only the creation of the Palestine state based on pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, the rights of its nationals and their self-determination as a people, but also compensation and the consequent return to the homeland of 50% of the Palestinian population dispersed throughout the entire world, as established in Resolution 194.
"It is incredible that a country (Israel), which owes its existence to a General Assembly resolution, can be so disdainful of resolutions emanating from the United Nations, denounced Father Miguel D’Escoto, calling for an end to the massacre of the people of Gaza at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009."
"It is impossible to ignore the crisis of the United Nations. Before this same General Assembly in 2005 we sustained that the United Nations model had been exhausted. The fact that the debate on the Palestinian question has been postponed and that it is being overtly sabotaged, is yet another confirmation of this.
"For a number of days now Washington has been stating that it will veto in the Security Council what will be the majority resolution of the General Assembly: the recognition of Palestine as a full member of the UN. Together with the sister nations which comprise the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), in the statement of recognition of Palestinian statehood, we have already deplored the fact that such a just aspiration could be blockaded in this way. As we know, the empire, in this and in other cases, is trying to impose a double standard on the world stage: it is the yankee double standard which violates international law in Libya, but allows Israel to do what it wants, thus making itself the principal accomplice of Palestinian genocide at the hands of Zionist barbarity. Let us recall some words of Said, which hit the nail on the head: ‘Due to Israeli interests in the United States, the policy of this country in terms of the Middle East is, therefore, Israeli-centric.’"
"I want to end with the voice of Mahmoud Darwish in his memorable poem:
‘On this earth there is something worth living for: on this earth is the lady of the earth, the mother of beginnings/the mother of ends. She was called Palestine. She is still called Palestine. / Lady: I deserve to live, because you are my lady, I deserve to live.’"
"She will continue to be called Palestine: Palestine will live and will win! Long life to free, sovereign and independent Palestine!
"Hugo Chávez Frías.
"President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela."
When the meeting began the following morning, his words were already present in the hearts and minds of those assembled there.
The Bolivarian leader has never been an enemy of the Jewish people. A man of particular sensitivity, he profoundly detests the brutal crimes committed by the Nazis against children, women and men, young and old alike in the concentration camps where Gypsies were also victims of atrocious crimes and an extermination attempt, which no one, however, remembers or mentions. Thousands of Russians likewise perished in those camps, as an inferior race within the Nazi racial framework.
When Chávez returned to his country from Cuba, the evening of Thursday, September 22, he spoke indignantly of Barack Obama's speech at the United Nations. Very rarely have I heard him speak with such vehemence about the leader whom he has treated with the utmost respect, given his history as a victim of racial discrimination in the United States. He never considered Obama capable of behaving as George Bush had and appreciatively preserved the memory of the words they had exchanged when they met in Trinidad and Tobago.
"Yesterday we were listening to an assortment of speeches, the day before yesterday as well, there in the United Nations, precise speeches such as that of President Dilma Rousseff; a speech of great moral value such as that of President Evo Morales; a speech which we could describe as a monument to cynicism, the speech of President Obama which his own face betrayed, his own face was a poem; a man calling for peace, just imagine. Obama calling for peace. With what moral authority? An historic monument to cynicism, the speech of President Obama.
"We were listening to precise speeches, clarifying ones, that of President Lugo, that of the President of Argentina, taking valiant positions before the world."
When the New York meeting began on the morning of Wednesday, September 21 – after the comments by the President of Brazil opening the discussion and the introduction de rigueur – the President of the United States took the podium and began his speech.
He began, "Over nearly seven decades, even as the United Nations helped avert a third world war, we still live in a world scarred by conflict and plagued by poverty. Even as we proclaim our love for peace and our hatred of war, there are still convulsions in our world that endanger us all."
It is not clear at what point the UN may have prevented the outbreak of a World War III.
"I took office at a time of two wars for the United States. Moreover, the violent extremists who drew us into war in the first place – Osama bin Laden, and his al Qaeda organization – remained at large. Today, we have set a new direction.
At the end of this year, America's military operation in Iraq will be over. We will have a normal relationship with a sovereign nation that is a member of the community of nations. That equal partnership will be strengthened by our support for Iraq – for its government and Security Forces; for its people and their aspirations."
What country is Obama really talking about?
"As we end the war in Iraq, the United States and our coalition partners have begun a transition in Afghanistan. Between now and 2014, an increasingly capable Afghan government and security forces will step forward to take responsibility for the future of their country. As they do, we are drawing down our own forces, while building an enduring partnership with the Afghan people. So let there be no doubt: The tide of war is receding.
"When I took office, roughly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this year, that number will be cut in half, and it will continue to decline. This is critical for the sovereignty of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s also critical to the strength of the United States as we build our nation at home. Ten years ago, there was an open wound and twisted steel, a broken heart in the center of this city. Today, as a new tower is rising at Ground Zero, it symbolizes New York’s renewal, even as al Qaeda is under more pressure than ever before. Its leadership has been degraded. And Osama bin Laden, a man who murdered thousands of people from dozens of countries, will never endanger the peace of the world again."
Who was Bin Laden's ally? Who trained him and armed him to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan? It wasn't the socialists, or revolutionaries from anyplace in the world.
"So, yes, this has been a difficult decade. But today, we stand at a crossroads of history with the chance to move decisively in the direction of peace. To do so, we must return to the wisdom of those who created this institution. The United Nations’ Founding Charter calls upon us, ‘to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.’"
Who has military bases all over the world? Who is the largest exporter of weapons? Who has thousands of spy satellites? Who invests more than one billion dollars a year in military spending.
"This year has been a time of extraordinary transformation. More nations have stepped forward to maintain international peace and security. And more individuals are claiming their universal right to live in freedom and dignity."
He then cites the situations in South Sudan and Ivory Coast. He doesn't say that in the first instance, U.S. transnationals have descended upon the oil reserves of this new country, whose president in this very UN General Assembly said that it was a valuable, but finite, resource which he plans to use rationally and optimally.
Nor did Obama indicate that peace was established in the Ivory Coast with the support of colonialist soldiers from an eminent member of the bellicose NATO alliance which has just dropped thousands of bombs on Libya.
A bit later he mentions Tunisia and takes credit for the popular movement which overthrew the government in that country, which was an ally of imperialism.
Even more astonishingly, Obama fails to acknowledge that the Untied States was responsible for the installation of the tyrannical, corrupt government in Egypt of Hosni Mubarak who, absconding with the principles of Nasser, allied himself with the imperialists, stole billions from his country and tyrannized his valiant people.
"One year ago," Obama said, "Egypt had known one President for nearly 30 years. But for 18 days, the eyes of the world were glued to Tahrir Square, where Egyptians from all walks of life — men and women, young and old, Muslim and Christian — demanded their universal rights. We saw in those protesters the moral force of non-violence that has lit the world from Delhi to Warsaw, from Selma to South Africa — and we knew that change had come to Egypt and to the Arab world.
"Day after day, in the face of bullets and bombs, the Libyan people refused to give back that freedom. And when they were threatened by the kind of mass atrocity that often went unchallenged in the last century, the United Nations lived up to its charter. The Security Council authorized all necessary measures to prevent a massacre. The Arab League called for this effort; Arab nations joined a NATO-led coalition that halted Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks.
"Yesterday, the leaders of a new Libya took their rightful place beside us, and this week, the United States is reopening our embassy in Tripoli.
"This is how the international community is supposed to work — nations standing together for the sake of peace and security, and individuals claiming their rights.
"All of us have a responsibility to support the new Libya — the new Libyan government as they confront the challenge of turning this moment of promise into a just and lasting peace for all Libyans.
"The Qaddafi regime is over. Gbagbo, Ben Ali, Mubarak are no longer in power. Osama bin Laden is gone, and the idea that change could only come through violence has been buried with him."
Notice the poetic language with which Obama dispatches the subject of Bin Laden, despite whatever the responsibility this one-time ally might have been, shot in the face before his wife and children, his body thrown into the ocean from an aircraft carrier, ignoring the customs and religious traditions of more than a billion believers, as well as elementary principles recognized by all legal systems. These are not methods which are, or will ever be, conducive to peace
"Something is happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way that they will be. The humiliating grip of corruption and tyranny is being pried open. Dictators are on notice. Technology is putting power into the hands of the people. The youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship, and rejecting the lie that some races, some peoples, some religions, some ethnicities do not desire democracy.
"The promise written down on paper – ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights' – is closer at hand. The measure of our success must be whether people can live in sustained freedom, dignity, and security. And the United Nations and its member states must do their part to support those basic aspirations. And we have more work to do."
He immediately takes up another Islamic country where, as is well known, his intelligence services along with those of Israel, systematically assassinate the most outstanding scientists involved in military technology.
Next he threatens Syria, where U.S. belligerency could lead to a massacre even more frightening than that of Libya.
"As we meet here today, men and women and children are being tortured, detained and murdered by the Syrian regime. Thousands have been killed, many during the holy time of Ramadan. Thousands more have poured across Syria’s borders.
"The Syrian people have shown dignity and courage in their pursuit of justice — protesting peacefully, standing silently in the streets, dying for the same values that this institution is supposed to stand for. And the question for us is clear: Will we stand with the Syrian people, or with their oppressors? The United States has imposed strong sanctions on Syria’s leaders. We supported a transfer of power that is responsive to the Syrian people. And many of our allies have joined in this effort. But for the sake of Syria — and the peace and security of the world — we must speak with one voice. There’s no excuse for inaction. Now is the time for the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime, and to stand with the Syrian people."
Has, by chance, any country been exempted from the belligerent threats of this illustrious defender of international security and peace? Who granted the United States such prerogatives?
"Throughout the region, we will have to respond to the calls for change. In Yemen, men, women and children gather by the thousands in towns and city squares every day with the hope that their determination and spilled blood will prevail over a corrupt system. America supports those aspirations. We must work with Yemen’s neighbors and our partners around the world to seek a path that allows for a peaceful transition of power from President Saleh, and a movement to free and fair elections as soon as possible.
"In Bahrain, steps have been taken toward reform and accountability. We’re pleased with that, but more is required. America is a close friend of Bahrain, and we will continue to call on the government and the main opposition bloc — the Wifaq — to pursue a meaningful dialogue that brings peaceful change that is responsive to the people. We believe the patriotism that binds Bahrainis together must be more powerful than the sectarian forces that would tear them apart. It will be hard, but it is possible."
He does not mention at all that one of the region's largest military bases is located there and that U.S. transnationals control and access at will the vast oil and gas reserves of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
"We believe that each nation must chart its own course to fulfil the aspirations of its people, and America does not expect to agree with every party or person who expresses themselves politically. But we will always stand up for the universal rights that were embraced by this Assembly. Those rights depend on elections that are free and fair; on governance that is transparent and accountable; respect for the rights of women and minorities; justice that is equal and fair. That is what our people deserve. Those are the elements of peace that can last.
"Moreover, the United States will continue to support those nations that transition to democracy — with greater trade and investment — so that freedom is followed by opportunity. We will pursue a deeper engagement with governments, but also with civil society — students and entrepreneurs, political parties and the press.
"We have banned those who abuse human rights from traveling to our country. And we’ve sanctioned those who trample on human rights abroad. And we will always serve as a voice for those who’ve been silenced."
After this extended lecture, the eminent Nobel Prize winner delves into the thorny issue of his alliance with Israel which, of course, is not among the privileged owners of advanced systems of nuclear weapons and the means to reach distant targets. He knows perfectly well how arbitrary and unpopular this policy is.
"I know, particularly this week, that for many in this hall, there’s one issue that stands as a test for these principles and a test for American foreign policy, and that is the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. One year ago, I stood at this podium and I called for an independent Palestine. I believed then, and I believe now, that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that a genuine peace can only be realized between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves. One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences. Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May of this year. That basis is clear. It’s well known to all of us here. Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state. Now, I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. I assure you, so am I. But the question isn’t the goal that we seek – the question is how do we reach that goal."
He then launches into a long lecture explaining and justifying the inexplicable and unjustifiable.
"Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations — if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians — not us –- who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem. Ultimately, peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together long after our speeches are over, long after our votes have been tallied.
"There’s no question that the Palestinians have seen that vision delayed for too long. It is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and so much effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can deliver a Palestinian state. But understand this as well: America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. "The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth…
"Each side has legitimate aspirations — and that’s part of what makes peace so hard. And the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in the other’s shoes; each side can see the world through the other’s eyes. That’s what we should be encouraging. That’s what we should be promoting."
In the meantime, the Palestinians remain exiled in their own land, their homes are destroyed by monstrous machines and a hateful wall, much higher than the one in Berlin, separates some Palestinians from others. The least Obama could have done was acknowledge that Israel's own citizens are tired of the squandering of resources invested in the military, denying them peace and access to the basic means of life. Like the Palestinians, they are suffering the consequences of policies imposed by the United States and the most bellicose, reactionary sectors of the Zionist state.
"Even as we confront these challenges of conflict and revolution, we must also recognize – we must also remind ourselves – that peace is not just the absence of war. True peace depends on creating the opportunity that makes life worth living. And to do that, we must confront the common enemies of humanity: nuclear weapons and poverty, ignorance and disease."
Who understands this gibberish from the President of the United States before the General Assembly?
He immediately thereafter presents an unintelligible philosophy:
"To lift the specter of mass destruction, we must come together to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Over the last two years, we’ve begun to walk down that path. Since our Nuclear Security Summit in Washington nearly 50 nations have taken steps to secure nuclear materials from terrorists and smugglers."
Is there greater terrorism than the aggressive, bellicose policy of a country with an arsenal of nuclear weapons which could destroy human life on the planet several times over?
"America will continue to work for a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons and the production of fissile material needed to make them," Obama continued promising us, "and so we have begun to move in the right direction.
"And the United States is committed to meeting our obligations. But even as we meet our obligations, we’ve strengthened the treaties and institutions that help stop the spread of these weapons. And to do so, we must continue to hold accountable those nations that flout them. … The Iranian government cannot demonstrate that its program is peaceful."
He's back to the upbraiding. This time, Iran is not alone, the Democratic Republic of Korea is included.
"North Korea has yet to take concrete steps towards abandoning its weapons and continues belligerent action against the South. There’s a future of greater opportunity for the people of these nations if their governments meet their international obligations. But if they continue down a path that is outside international law, they must be met with greater pressure and isolation. That is what our commitment to peace and security demands."
I will continue tomorrow.
Fidel Castro Ruz
September 25, 2011
Translated by Granma International