On the Bali conference and building a new society

Havana, Dec. 17, 2007

The news about the Bali conference confirms the importance of the international agreements and the necessity of taking them very seriously.

On that small island of Indonesia, there was a meeting of many heads of government of countries of the so-called Third World. They are fighting for their development and they demand fair treatment, financial resources and transfer of technology from the industrialized nations that were also represented there.

The UN Secretary General, faced with the tenacious obstruction by the United States in the midst of the 190 representatives meeting there, and after 12 days of negotiations, stated that the human species could disappear as a result of climate change.

That declaration transformed the conference into a shouting match. On the 12th day of pointless persuasive efforts, the American representative, Paula Dobriansky, after sighing deeply, said: “We join

the consensus.” It is obvious that the United States made moves to get around its isolated position, even though it didn’t change the empire’s dismal intentions one iota.

The grand show began: Canada and Japan attached themselves immediately to the American coat-tails, confronting the rest of the countries, which were demanding serious compromises on the emissions of gases that are causing climate change.

Everything had been planned ahead of time between the NATO allies and the powerful empire, which, in one fell swoop of deceit, agreed to negotiate during 2008 in Hawaii, U.S. territory, for a new treaty project that would be presented and approved at the Copenhagen Conference in Denmark in 2009 — this would take the place of the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to expire in 2012.

Europe played the role of savior of the world. Gordon Brown spoke, as did Angela Merkel and other leaders of the European countries, requesting international gratitude. What an excellent present for Christmas and the New Year! Just as if we were living in the best of all worlds, none of the eulogists mentioned the tens of millions of poor people who continue to die of diseases and hunger each year.

The Group of 77, which includes 132 countries that are struggling to develop themselves, had achieved consensus to demand from the industrialized countries a reduction of the gases that cause climate change — 20-40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2020, and from 60-70 lower by the year 2050, something which is technically possible. Furthermore, they were demanding that sufficient funds be allocated to transfer the necessary technology to the Third World.

We cannot forget that those greenhouse gases lead to heat waves, desertification, the melting of the glaciers and the rising levels of the seas, which could cover entire countries or a large part of them.

The other industrialized nations share the U.S. idea of converting foods into fuels for luxury cars, and other wasteful practices of these consumer societies.

On that very same Saturday, Dec. 15, it was announced that the President of the United States had asked the Senate for $696 billion for the military budget for the 2008 fiscal year; in this amount, $189 billion was earmarked for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I harbor no illusions.

My most profound conviction is that the answers to the current problems of Cuban society — which possesses an average educational level close to Grade 12, almost a million university graduates and the real possibility for its citizens to become educated with no discrimination whatsoever — require more varieties of answers for each concrete problem than those contained on a chess board. We cannot ignore one single detail, and we are not dealing with an easy path, if the intelligence of a human being in a revolutionary society truly is to prevail over instinct.

My fundamental duty is not to cling to positions, much less to stand in the way of younger persons, but it is to bring experience and ideas whose modest value comes from the exceptional era that I had the privilege of living in.

Reprinted, slightly abridged, from Granma. Translated by W.T. Whitney Jr.