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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Miguel Díaz-Canel speaks at People's and CELAC-EU summits in Brussels

Miguel Díaz-Canel speaks at the People's Summit in Brussels, July 17 - All images via PCC

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who had been visiting Europe over the last several days, made speeches at both the Peoples' Summit and the III CELAC-EU ( Community of Latin American and Caribbean States-European Union) Summit in Brussels, Belgium.

On July 17, he addressed a large crowd at an event being held by the People's Summit at which Luis Arce, President of Bolivia and Gustavo Petro, President of Colombia also spoke. The People's Summit is "organized by a broad coalition of more than 100 organizations, collectives, unions, political parties, and movements throughout the two regions, such as ALBA Movimientos, INTAL, CELAC Social, IPA, Jornada Continental for Democracy Against Neoliberalism, the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity (REDH), Party of the European Left, and others." It is a popular counterpoint to the "official" CELAC-EU Summit.

Luis Arce at the People's Summit

He praised the large numbers of young people in attendance as well as the tremendous expressions of solidarity that the summit had made with Cuba. Díaz-Canel noted it "is on behalf of the Cuban people that I am deeply grateful to the People's Summit for dedicating a workshop today to the cruel and illegal policy of siege, harassment and persecution against Cuba and that, as a result of that workshop, it has been agreed to convene an International Tribunal against the Blockade of Cuba next November here in Brussels."

Of the summit itself he reflected:

We are certainly very honoured to share with you this important People's Summit.
We are here by principle, by conviction, because this is a truly plural, open and participatory space. This is a meeting place between representatives of Latin American, Caribbean and European civil society. Therefore, this is the best of summits, because here the peoples speak.

He continued:

I have spoken to you about the issue of human rights because it has been one of the most manipulated issues in relation to Cuba, as part of the construction of pretexts to justify the policy of pressure against our country.
We are not the only victims of this other perverse game that accuses the victim to justify the abuse. Other progressive nations, with policies sovereign, independent and defiant of imperial hegemonism know very well the cost of these manipulative practices that arise with constant campaigns of disinformation and lies, slanders that point, in the first place, to the political leadership that they want to sweep away.
They try to isolate us, to silence us, to prevent us from continuing to denounce with dignity the hegemonic policies of blackmail and punishment against those who do not submit. But here before you we express our conviction that no one should expect us to lower our arms, to kneel to ask forgiveness for defending the right to difference.

On July 18 he spoke at the "official" summit. He began by stating:

In 1999, with great expectations, we agreed to move towards a Strategic Partnership between Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe. An honest assessment would conclude today that, outside of speeches and dreams, such a Strategic Partnership is virtually non-existent.
In all this time, Latin America and the Caribbean have not been a real priority for the European Union, and a clear demonstration is the eight years that have passed without summits.

Other highlights from his speech included:

- Latin America and the Caribbean is no longer the backyard of the United States. Nor are we former colonies that require advice, nor will we accept being treated as mere suppliers of raw materials.
We are independent and sovereign countries, with a common vision of the future. We built the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), as a unified and representative voice of our unity in diversity.
Colonial plunder and capitalist plunder turned Europe into creditors and Latin America and the Caribbean into debtors.
The European Union's financial policies continue to impose barriers to the development of our region.

- We are concerned about the insistence on replacing commitment to the UN Charter and international law with a so-called "rules-based" international order that has not been negotiated, let alone agreed upon by all States.
The principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in the internal affairs of States must be respected in all circumstances. Respect for the inalienable right of each country to decide its own political, economic and social system, without impositions of alleged cultural, democratic and human rights paradigms, must prevail in our relations.
The only alternative to the current international disorder is a more cooperative, just and united world order.

On a more positive note Díaz-Canel said "We appreciate the solid position of our region and the European Union in rejecting the tightened blockade imposed by the United States against our country for more than 60 years and the inclusion of Cuba in the fraudulent and unilateral list of countries allegedly sponsoring terrorism."

Speaking at the "official" summit

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