Cuban foreign minister speaks in Harlem

NEW YORK – Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Felipe Pérez Roque made a powerful indictment of the United States’ role in harassing and blackmailing the Cuban people and government throughout the last 40 years when he spoke at the Church of the Intercession in Harlem on Sept. 27.

In an environment that was brimming with solidarity, hundreds of people of all races and beliefs listened to Pérez Roque speak about the true nature of Cuba’s foreign policies.

At the beginning of his speech, Pérez Roque said, in reference to the five Cubans held prisoner in different U.S. penitentiaries, “The unfair and biased trials held against my fellow countrymen were flagrant violations of each of their rights, of human rights, as well as international rights.”

He continued, “The jury selected for this trial was not done impartially, but in a selective manner, so that the trial only served the interest of the Miami Cuban mafia, which has kidnapped U.S. policies in regards to Cuba. That was so open that the federal court in Atlanta is reviewing an appeal against that ignominious trial, to appeal the decision, so that an independent jury can be the one that will make a decision in the case.”

He denounced the unequal treatment of anti-Cuban terrorists and the “Cuban Five,” whose only “crime” was to monitor right-wing terrorist groups in Miami so as to prevent an attack on the island.

Pérez Roque said that in 1973 a Cuban airline plane was blown apart in midair. The plane was full of passengers, including the Cuban fencing team. He said that the perpetrators of this horrendous crime were a group of CIA agents headed by one of the most despicable of terrorists, Luis Posada Carriles.

“These criminals were sentenced to a few years in prison because of the enormous international pressure which the Cuban government made through international forums, including the United Nations. Nevertheless, they were freed in a few years and today they walk around freely, with all of their rights, and protected by their ‘front men,’” he said.

The Cuban Foreign Minister denounced the double standards of the U.S. government. He said the U.S. talks about its fight against terrorism all over the world and proclaims itself the champion of that fight on one hand, and then protects terrorists on the other hand. He denounced the U.S. government for refusing on more than one occasion to sign an agreement proposed by Cuba against terrorism, noting that the U.S. has also opposed treaties against drug trafficking and illegal immigration.

Pérez Roque acknowledged that the U.S. embargo against Cuba has adversely affected its development, and has limited, for example, the amount it can spend on health, education, and other social priorities. Even so, he said, Cuba is doing better than many places in the U.S., including Harlem, where the infant mortality rate is more than 14 for every thousand, while in Cuba it is 6 per thousand.

Regarding education, he said that Cuba has the best educational system in the world, with the smallest class size and the lowest per capita level of illiteracy. He said that 99 percent of school-age Cuban youth finish primary, secondary and intermediate education.

Pérez Roque said that Cuba will continue to fight against the embargo because it has no legal nor moral standing, and that the whole of humanity is united with Cuba and its government against this abusive and unjust policy.

He said there needs to be a profound reform of the United Nations, so that no single country can assume for itself the right to act as master of the world, no matter how powerful it is. He observed that many people thought the world would be a more peaceful one with the collapse of the Soviet Union because there would be no more “Soviet threat.” But, on the contrary, there are more armaments, more wars, and more military occupations, as in the recent case of Iraq.

Pérez Roque ended his presentation saying that one proof that Cuba will win, and that justice will reign in the world, is that, last year, during the sessions of the UN, 173 states voted against the embargo, while only three voted for it. In spite of this, he said, the U.S. is stubbornly set upon maintaining the embargo against Cuba and against humanity. “Cuba will win. Of that we are sure.”