• Michael Laxer

Daily LIFT #497


Fidel Castro addresses the United Nations, 1979 -- Daily LIFT #497


Mr. President, distinguished representatives, there is often talk of human rights, but it is also necessary to speak of the rights of humanity. Why should some people walk around barefoot so that others can travel in luxurious automobiles? Why should some live for 35 years so that others can live for 70? Why should some be miserably poor so that others can be overly rich?


I speak in the name of the children in the world who do not have a piece of bread. I speak in the name of the sick who do not have medicine. I speak on behalf of those whose right to life and human dignity have been denied. Some countries have access to the sea; others do not. Some have energy resources; others do not. Some have abundant lands on which to grow food; others do not. Some are so saturated with machines and factories that one cannot even breathe the air of their poisoned atmosphere; others have nothing more than their emaciated arms with which to earn their bread.


In other words, some countries have abundant resources; others have none. What is the destiny of the latter? To starve to death? To be eternally poor? Of what use, then, is civilization? What is the use of man's conscience? Of what use is the United Nations? Of what use is the world?


It is not possible to speak of peace in the name of tens of millions of human beings who die yearly of hunger, of curable disease throughout the world. One cannot speak of peace in the name of 900 million illiterate persons. The exploitation of poor countries by rich countries must cease. I know that in many poor countries there are also exploiters and exploited.


I am addressing the rich nations, asking them to contribute. I am addressing the poor countries, asking them to distribute. Enough of words. Deeds are needed. Enough of abstractions. Specific actions are needed. Enough of talk about a speculative new international economic order which no one understands.


It is necessary to talk of a real and objective order that everyone understands. I have not come here as the prophet of revolution. I have not come to request or express the desire for violent upheaval in the world. I am here to talk of peace and cooperation among nations. I am here to warn that either injustice and inequalities are solved peacefully and wisely, or the future is going to be apocalyptic. - from Fidel Castro's UN speech, 1979

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