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Year 2001 No. 146, August 22-23, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Former UN Inspector Accuses US in Documentary

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Former UN Inspector Accuses US in Documentary

The First International Meeting for Peace in Colombia

Final Declaration of the First International Gathering of Solidarity and for Peace in Colombia and Latin America

Address by Dr Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Republic of Cuba, upon Presentation of the Order of the Congress of Angostura, at Bolivar Square, Bolivar City, Venezuela

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Former UN Inspector Accuses US in Documentary

In a documentary film premiered at the United Nations last month, Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, accuses the United States of manipulating the United Nations to provoke a confrontation with Saddam Hussein as a pretext for US air strikes on Iraq.

Scott Ritter, a former US Marines intelligence officer, says in the 90-minute documentary that he did not provoke the confrontation the Americans wanted in March 1998, but fellow inspector Roger Hill did have a confrontation in December of that year. Days later, chief UN inspector Richard Butler declared that Iraq was not co-operating with weapons inspectors and the United States and Britain launched air strikes against Iraq in "punishment". UN inspectors pulled out of the country ahead of the bombing raids. Iraq barred them from returning. Richard Butler has accused Scott Ritter of making "a propaganda film".

"In Shifting Sands: The Truth About UNSCOM and the Disarming of Iraq" traces the history of the UN Special Commission, known as UNSCOM. The UN Security Council created the commission after the 1991 Gulf War to oversee the destruction of Iraq's biological and chemical weapons and the missiles used to deliver them. The council replaced it in December 1999 with a new agency, the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission.

By 1995, Scott Ritter said both he and former chief weapons inspector Rolf Ekeus believed Iraq was "fundamentally disarmed". He noted that the head of Iraq's weapons programmes told Ekeus after he defected to Jordan in August 1995 that all of Iraq's banned weapons had been destroyed.

Scott Ritter said, "This film will hopefully compel people to start ... taking a harder look at Iraq's disarmament" and then confronting the issue of lifting sanctions. He had resigned from UNSCOM in August 1998, denouncing the Clinton administration for having withdrawn support for the UN agency and undermining weapons inspection. He has since said Washington used UNSCOM to spy on Iraq. In the documentary, he has repeated the spying charge and made new allegations.

Ritter said he and Butler attended a meeting with then US Ambassador Bill Richardson at the US Mission to the United Nations on either February 28 or March 1, 1998, hours before he left for Baghdad to lead an inspection mission. Ritter said Butler drew a line on a blackboard with the UNSCOM timeline for the inspection on one side and the US timeline for military action on the other side, and then told him: "You have to provoke a confrontation ... so the US can start bombing" before March 15, a Muslim holy period.

Ritter said the Iraqis at first refused to allow his team to carry out orders to search the Ministry of Defence in Baghdad. At that moment, then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was attending a meeting in Paris, prepared to tell the French why the United States was undertaking military action, he told reporters later. But the military strikes were called off when the Iraqis later allowed the inspectors in, he said.

The documentary includes Iraqi footage of a confrontation nine months later between the UN inspector Roger Hill and an Iraqi official over conditions for entering the headquarters of the ruling Baath Party. The Iraqis ultimately barred Hill's team and UNSCOM used this as a key example of Iraq's non-cooperation, which led to the US bombing.

A report by Iraqi newspaper Al-Jumhuriyah on 25 July, referring to the documentary, pointed out that Scott Ritter, albeit rather late in the day, had acknowledged in his testimony to the world, and in particular to the United Nations and the Security Council, that UNSCOM was about espionage for the benefit of Israel's Mosad and America's CIA.

Most of the time, the newspaper said, the provocative inspection activities were acts of spying in all but name. Additionally, they were a virtual prelude to a fresh aggression to be mounted by a tyrannical United States and its sidekick Britain without the authorisation of the UN Security Council. The aggressions were carried out because Iraq was objecting, from a legal perspective, to the American espionage activities.

During his visit to Baghdad to prepare material for the documentary, Scott Ritter gave Al-Jumhuriyah an extensive interview. In the interview, he indicated that he was caught between the CIA which he, as a professional operative of his country's information gathering body, had to supply with intelligence, and the Israeli Mosad organisation, which had sought to enlist his services. The newspaper says that, therefore, it is possible to state unequivocally that Ritter to this day remains stuck in the same "shifting sands" in which he had placed himself to advance recompensed intelligence gathering objectives. It is not surprising to hear him say in self-defence that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had subjected him to a cross-examination on suspicion that he was spying for Israel.

Al-Jumhuriyah writes that Ritter was angry that two people, his immediate boss Richard Butler and his successor Rolf Ekeus, had manipulated him – both having chaired the buried UN Commission. In the course of the interview Ritter touched on his intelligence sources – US, British, Mosad and even French. He talked about the substance of this co-operation on which he had founded what came to be known as the cover-up theory. This theory misled the Security Council, courtesy of Richard Butler's reports, and has seen the world body keep the sanctions in place.

Scott Ritter had volunteered his services in this exercise, hence the title of his book, "The end of a game". When he found that the "shifting sands" were about to suck him up, he had no choice other than to put an end to the game, at which point he fell into the trap set for him by the FBI in the form of the documents that they could use to incriminate him.

Ritter proceeded to disclose the manipulation of the Special Commission to advance the interests of spying on Iraq. And so he had his documentary shown at the Press Club, thereby opening the floodgate for political analysis. We do not think, the newspaper says, that Ritter had escaped from an obsession to remain embroiled in eavesdropping on Iraq. The material in the documentary is such that it could be used in the Security Council, provided there is the will to do that, at an open session at which Ritter could supply evidence that could incriminate the CIA and all the other players that had given misleading information to the special commission with the aim of keeping the sanctions in force.

Scott Ritter's story supplies enough legal, political and other evidence that the UN Security Council is engaged in espionage activities. If a country on good terms with Iraq wanted to talk about the inspection committees, the newspaper concludes, it needs do nothing more than look at Ritter's and other people's testimony and see his "shifting sands".

Article Index

The First International Meeting for Peace in Colombia

The First International Meeting of Solidarity and for Peace in Colombia and Latin America was held in San Salvador, El Salvador, from July 20 to 22, 2001.

A resolution convoking the gathering was put forward by the following signatories: José Saramago - Nobel Prize for Literature, Portugal; Adolfo Pérez Esquivel - Nobel Peace Prize, Argentina; Bishop Pagura - President of the World Council of Churches, Argentina; Professor Heinz Dieterich – President of the Forum for the Emancipation and Identity of Latin America, Mexico; Professor James Petras – New York State University; Professor Noam Chomsky – MIT; Doctor Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General; Mumia Abu-Jamal – Political Prisoner, USA; R. James Sacouman – Professor of Acadia University Wolfville, Nova Scotia; Henry Veltmeyer – Professor of Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada; Ahmed Benbela – Ex President of Algeria and President of the Arab Parliament of Algeria. The resolution runs:


1. That Plan Colombia means direct USA military intervention in the internal matters of a sovereign Latin American state, the republic of Colombia, along the lines of the Monroe Doctrine, of the Roosevelt Corollary, the overthrow of the legitimate government of Salvador Allende in Chile, of the continued aggressions against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, of the direct participation in the war in Central America, and its continued hostility towards Cuba through maintaining the criminal blockade despite the annual declarations by the United Nations.

2. That the said intervention constitutes a blatant violation of international law, of the right to self-determination of a people and a threat to the peace and stability of the region.

3. That by its nature of counterinsurgency, Plan Colombia is directed primarily against the civil population of Colombia and it has long-term and immediate objective to neutralise or destroy resistance by any individual opposed to the project of the neo-liberal restructuring of the Colombian and Latin American economies.

4. That Plan Colombia in reality is a military plan that involves the countries of the region, commits them in various ways to intervention and is directed without any doubt to gaining control of the Amazon Basin, affecting the sovereignty of the countries that form it. It threatens the consolidation, in Venezuela, of the process led by commandante Hugo Chavez and it affects the Central American countries committed to democratic development by means other than war.

5. That Plan Colombia as a plan of war constitutes the principal obstacle in the search for alternative solutions to the war in the resolution of the Colombian conflict.

6. In addition, it produces massive displacement of the civil population that occupy attached areas to neighbouring countries.

7. That the use of the most modern technology of war, including biological weapons, against coca plantations, constitutes an unpredictable and grave danger for the ecology of the most important zone of biological diversity in the world – The Amazon.

8. That the ‘Colombia’ Plan of Regional Military Intervention so weakens the integration and good relations between neighbours and prepares the scene for new wars, creating uncertainty and anguish to the peoples of the region.


1. To draw international public opinion and democratic forces of the world to support the International Meeting for Peace in Colombia which will take place in San Salvador, El Salvador, 20 – 22 July, 2001.

2. To denounce and to reject Plan Colombia and its extension to the Andean Initiative as plans of US military intervention that negatively affect the peaceful co-existence, the democratic stability and the economic development of the Latin American countries.

3. To promote international solidarity of peoples and governments with the struggle of the Colombian people, that looks for a different option to the war and the currently existing social conflict.

4. To generate possibilities for the strengthening of the bonds of friendship, integration and good will that allow a search for the development of social justice and peace.

5. To support the processes of dialogue between the Colombian government and the insurgent forces.

6. To support proposals for the replacement of illegal farming plantations and the fight against drugs without the use of war. This currently signifies an economic and social phenomenon that affects all of humanity.

The Organisers

Organised by the committee of solidarity for the struggle of the Colombian People composed of: CISPES – Comité Internacional de Solidaridad con el Pueble de El Salvador (International Committee of Solidarity with the People of El Salvador); CIS – Centro Internacional de Solidaridad (International Centre of Solidarity); FUNDASPAAD Fundación Salvadoreña Para la Democracia y el Desarrollo Local (Salvadorian Foundation for Democracy and Local Development); FMLN – Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional y otras organizaciones salvadoreñas (Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation and other Salvadorian organisations)

The Proposed Papers for Debate:

The effects of Plan Colombia regarding democratic processes – A.L Schafik Handal;

Impact of Plan Colombia in regional politics – James Petras;

The Plan Colombia and the Latin American economy – Heinz Dieterich;

The social aspects of the effects of Plan Colombia – Noam Chomsky;

The Plan Colombia in relation to ecology and the environment – Angel Ibarra;

The Plan Colombia and its repercussions in the regional military sphere – Colonel Lucio Gutiérrez.

Article Index

Final Declaration of the First International Gathering of Solidarity and for Peace in Colombia and Latin America


Plan Colombia means death!

Our Plan means life!

Final Declaration of the First International Gathering of Solidarity and for Peace in Colombia and Latin America

The efforts of a great variety of social movements, political forces, solidarity and human rights organisations, progressive personalities and outstanding intellectuals from all continents have come together in this beautiful and fruitful First Gathering of Solidarity and for Peace in Colombia, Latin America and the Caribbean, held July 20, 21 and 22, 2001, with the participation of 35 countries, 50 organisations, 320 international delegates and more than 100 from El Salvador.

We underline that this First Gathering has been an outstanding expression of international unity and solidarity, of the Americas and the world, in the face of the continual imperialist aggressions against the peoples that are fighting against neo-liberalism for liberation, social justice, participatory democracy and for the sovereignty of the peoples.

Plan Colombia is a project of interventionist war by the United States against the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, for the purpose of crushing the diverse and growing expressions of struggle, rebellion, popular and patriotic victories, and impeding the appearance and consolidation of participatory democracies contrary to the hegemonic plans of that imperial power and its aim of imposing the so-called Free Trade Agreement (FTAA).

Closely tied to Plan Colombia and the FTAA are the ominous processes of dollarisation, concretely manifest in El Salvador and Ecuador, and the installation of various American military bases, concrete cases being in Aruba, Curazao, El Salvador (Comalapa) and Manta in Ecuador.

The turning back of these imperialistic and re-colonising initiatives is an unavoidable duty. It is as unavoidable as is the rejection of the onerous payments of the external debt.

With all this, and the culmination of the privatisations extended to ports, airports, water, electricity, scientific reserves, forests, coasts, etc., the United States is trying to make the re-colonisation of the continent irreversible.

The pretext with which the justification of this new military escalation in the continent of America is being attempted, is the so-called "war on the narcotics traffic". In this framework, the United States not only includes the guerrilla movements, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army (FARC-EP) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), but also the other forms of struggle and popular and democratic expression that openly confront imperialism.

This plan underway forms part of a global strategy of economic, political and military re-colonisation by US imperialism, for the purpose of dominating the peoples and nations of our sub-continent in an absolute and permanent manner.

It will also have ominous consequences for our countries since it aims to impede processes toward real democracies; that is, participatory democracies with social justice and national sovereignty. As well, it is blocking the reconstruction of their economies devastated as much by the economic crisis as by natural disasters, diverting efforts and resources to feed an absurd war that gravely compromises the security and sovereignty of our nations and is creating great centres of military tensions. These generate an uncontainable arms race from which the big arms producing and trafficking enterprises are making profits.

Plan Colombia and its chemical warfare component would destroy the Amazonian forest, resulting in the disappearance of the planet's main lungs and the world's largest reserve of fresh water.

The aerial spraying and the official violence practised by the interventionist, local and paramilitary forces, which are one in the same, are aggravating the problem. For these reasons, we condemn Plan Colombia - the Andean Initiative. We demand that it be annulled for the sake of continuing the pursuit of a political solution to the social and armed conflict Colombia is experiencing, by means of the paths of dialogue at the Table of Dialogues.

The struggle against the plague of the narcotics traffic must be fundamentally directed to prevent the growth of demand in the countries of principal consumption, to punish and expropriate the big chiefs of the international Mafias who move around freely with their capital in the world of finance and investment, to control the flow of the chemicals required by this sinister industry, to destine more resources to the medical recovery of the sick; to substitute illicit crops by manual, voluntary eradication arranged with the poor peasants and workers who carry on this activity as a means of subsistence. It requires policies that guarantee to raise the standard of living of the rural inhabitants.

In this way it would be totally unnecessary to use military means to confront a problem with profound social and economic roots.

To persist with Plan Colombia is equal to escalating the war and involving more of the continent's governments in support of this destructive policy that immediately targets the heroic Colombian insurgency and is opposed to the Bolivarian revolution headed by President Hugo Chavez and the significant growth of the popular and patriotic struggles in other countries of the continent.

All of this falls within the United States' pretension to exercise perpetual and universal domination over the planet. In today's reality, this constitutes a dangerous threat against humanity and is generating a crisis of civilisation and of survival for the immense majority of the earth's inhabitants.

Nevertheless, since the causes that determined the great revolutionary changes in world history have not disappeared and instead have sharpened, the resistances and struggles of the peoples at this beginning of the 21st century are confirming the relevance of the revolutionary ideals and the necessity of an alternative world to the system in force, one that guarantees development, justice, human dignity, democratic participation and peace for the peoples.

And therefore, we, the organisations, entities, persons and movements participating in this gathering, declare before the Americas and the world our resolute solidarity with revolutionary Cuba and with the struggle against the criminal blockade imposed on it by the United States, our solidarity with Bolivarian Venezuela, with the Zapatista rebellion and the democratic forces of Mexico, with the heroic insurgency and all the progressive sectors of Colombia, with the Puerto Rican patriots who are fighting to remove the Yankee troops from Vieques and achieve the independence of Puerto Rico, with the struggle of the aboriginal peoples for their inalienable rights, with the beautiful rebellion of the women and of all the sectors subject to discrimination, with the fighting social and political movements in Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and other countries, with the patriotic and popular struggles of the left and progressive political forces of the continent, with the anti-globalisation and anti-neo-liberal movements impacting on Europe and the US and with the efforts of the political parties and movements working for change who are achieving new advances and electoral victories.

At the same time, we condemn the shameless interference of the government of the United States of America in the Nicaraguan electoral process in favour of the Liberal Party and likewise, we reject similar although more discrete interventions put in motion in other countries where the left and progressive forces are advancing toward new electoral triumphs. Consequently, we demand that the United States cease its policy of blackmail in the face of the possible Sandinista victory in Nicaragua and we demand the sovereign right of the peoples of the continent to elect their governments freely, without pressures and interference.

We demand liberty for all the political prisoners, beginning with Mumia Abu Jamal and the five Cuban patriots in the United States, the Argentines of the Tablada, headed by Roberto Felicetti and already sentenced Emilio Ali and the 2,500 social fighters who have been tried and are threatened with aberrant sentences. We demand liberty for the Peruvian, Puerto Rican and Colombian political prisoners.

Our solidarising will today stand with all the just causes in the world, among which the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people against Israeli-imperialist genocide has unique stature. At the same time, we reject all the imperialist aggressions and blockades such as the ones the United States persistently exercises against Libya, Iran and Iraq.

Likewise, we stand in solidarity with the struggles of the peoples of Africa, Asia and Oceania.

We take up as a whole the legacy of the Liberator, Simon Bolivar, and of the heroes and heroines of our first independence and we commit to make their aims and dreams reality.

We express our sincere gratitude for the hospitality and affection displayed by the Salvadoran people and organisations that sustained this event. We salute their effort for the success of this First International Gathering of Solidarity and for Peace in Colombia and Latin America, carried out in difficult conditions in view of the destructive results of the recent earthquakes which significantly affected the economy and conditions of life, and in the face of the persistent obstacles created by the embassy of the United States in its stubborn desire to impede this fruitful gathering. All this increases the value of this gesture of internationalist solidarity generously unfolded by the Salvadoran brothers and sisters. We express our sincere recognition to all those who have made this success possible.

July 22, 2001, San Salvador.


We, the participants in this First Gathering of Solidarity and for Peace in Colombia and Latin America, commit to put into practice its agreements, contained in its final declaration as well as in the specific resolutions of the various work commissions, which we undertake fully.

As well, we promise to carry forward the convocation, organisation and realisation of the Second International Gathering of Solidarity and for Peace in Colombia and Latin America, for which we undertake the following commitments:

1. Maintain the offices of Eventopaz in Mexico and El Salvador in operation as means for permanent contact, exchange and distribution of materials.

2. Reproduce this final declaration, circulate it, collect signatures of endorsements for it; send it to governments, parliaments, media and social and political organisations.

3. Form preparative committees for the Second Gathering in each country, which would denounce Plan Colombia and carry forward all the activities that would guarantee the Gathering's success.

4. The choice of the country for this Second Gathering will be made by means of consultation with the present participants and sponsoring committees, in a democratic form. This will begin four months before the event. Tentatively, we are marking the month of March 2002 for this event.

5. For the purpose of making use of the work already done and experience accumulated, the same organisations that originally organised the First Gathering shall act as organisations responsible for international co-ordination of the Second Gathering, while encouraging the inclusion and assistance of other forces that wish to contribute to its rising development.

San Salvador, July 22, 2001.

Article Index

Address by Dr Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Republic of Cuba, upon Presentation of the Order of the Congress of Angostura, at Bolivar Square, Bolivar City, Venezuela

August 11, 2001

Honourable Mr President;

Authorities and citizens of the State of Bolívar;

Beloved Venezuelan people:

I am trying to imagine that man who, on February 15, 1819, just a few meters from this site, 182 years ago, strove to unravel the mysteries of history, in order to undertake the most difficult task ever faced by humankind in its brief and tumultuous history: the laying of stable, efficient and lasting foundations for its own government.

I can imagine him, drawing on his wealth of historical knowledge, evoking Athens and Sparta, Solon and Lycurgus; reflecting on the institutions of ancient Rome, praising its achievements and merits, yet not hesitating to add, almost immediately, a government whose sole inclination to conquest did not seem destined to consolidate the happiness of its nation; analysing the political characteristics of the great colonial powers, such as Great Britain and France; recommending that the best be taken from each historical experience; extolling the virtues of the people of the 13 colonies recently freed from British colonial power, yet shrewdly adding, with enormous foresight, that ... regardless of the effectiveness of this form of government with respect to North America, I must say that it has never for a moment entered my mind to compare the position and character of two states as dissimilar as the English-American and the Spanish-American, that it would be most difficult to apply to Spain the English system of political, civil, and religious liberty but that, it would be even more difficult to adapt to Venezuela the laws of North America. It would be a great coincidence, he noted, if the [laws] of one nation were to conform to another; that laws should correspond with a country’s physical characteristics, climate, quality of land, location, size, the way of life of its peoples [...] the religion of its inhabitants, their preferences, their wealth, their number, their commerce, their customs, their manners. Here is the code we should consult, he exclaimed, not that of Washington!

The concrete objective of the Angostura Congress was the drafting and proclamation of a new constitution for the Third Republic of Venezuela. Bolívar, however, could not leave aside his belief that a new and decisive stage in world history was emerging at those very moments, a stage in which our hemisphere was destined to play a major role. He spontaneously voiced many of his innermost political thoughts and concerns as an eminent and farsighted statesman. He spoke there the way he always did: like a Latin American patriot. He understood like no one else the possibility and necessity of unity. He had already stated it in the Pamplona Proclamation, on November 12, 1814: As for Us, the Americas is our Homeland.

Months later, on September 6, 1815, in his famous Jamaica Letter, he wrote: More than anyone else I want to see the greatest nation in the world take shape in America, and for its greatness to owe less to its size and wealth that to its freedom and glory. [...] Since it is one in origin, one in language, one in customs and religion....

The greatness of the Liberator can be measured by the courage, tenacity and boldness with which he strove for this union, at a time when it could take three months for a message to get from Caracas to Lima; he fully comprehended the enormous difficulties involved.

In his speech at the Congress of Angostura, he said: Upon separation from the Spanish monarchy, the Americas found itself in a situation similar to that of the Roman Empire when its enormous framework fell to pieces in the midst of the ancient world. Each Roman division then formed an independent nation in keeping with its location or interests; but this situation differed from that of the Americas in that those members proceeded to re-establish their former associations. We, on the contrary, do not even retain the vestiges of our original being. We are not Europeans; we are not Indians; we are but a mixed species of aborigines and Spaniards. Americans by birth and Europeans by law, we find ourselves engaged in a dual conflict: we are disputing with the natives for ownership titles while struggling to remain in the country that saw our birth against the opposition of the invaders. Thus, ours is a most extraordinary and complicated case.

At another point in his speech, he bluntly and frankly stated: Subject to the three-fold yoke of ignorance, tyranny, and vice, the American people have been unable to acquire knowledge, power, or [civic] virtue. The lessons we received and the models we studied, as pupils of such pernicious teachers, were most destructive. It is with deceit rather than force than we have been subdued; it is rather by vice than by superstition that we have been degraded. Slavery is the daughter of darkness: ignorant people become blind instruments of their own destruction. Ambition and intrigue abuse the credulity and inexperience of men lacking all political, economic, and civic knowledge; they assume pure illusion to be reality.


There are many systems for managing men, but they all are intended for oppression.

Yet nothing could discourage a man who had made the impossible possible on more than one occasion. He resigned from all of his official posts and took up his sword to pursue his goal. He marched to Apure, crossed the Andes, and crushed the Spanish hold on New Granada at Boyacá. He immediately proposed to the Congress of Angostura, in December of that same year, a constitution for the Republic of Colombia, which included Ecuador that had yet to be freed from Spanish rule. He had the rare privilege of being a man ahead of his times.

Only 10 months had passed since he had delivered his message to the Congress on February 15, 1819.

It should not be forgotten that almost two centuries have passed since Bolívar's address at Angostura. Unforeseeable events have developed in our hemisphere since then that surely would not have taken place if Bolívar's dream of unity among the former Ibero-American colonies had become a reality.

In 1829, a year before his death, Bolívar had rightly indicated: The United States of America [] have apparently been destined by divine intervention to spread misery through the Americas in the name of freedom.

Almost since its inception, the federation formed by the 13 former British colonies set out on an expansionist course that would have drastic consequences for the rest of the peoples of our hemisphere. After they had robbed Native Americans of their lands, killing them by the millions in the process, they continued to advance westwards, trampling rights and stealing vast tracts of territory from Hispanic America. Slavery remained a legal institution almost 100 years after the 1776 Declaration of Independence recognised all men to be free and equal. The United States had not yet become an empire, and was far from constituting the dominant, hegemonic world-wide superpower that it is today. Then, throughout its conception, over the course of more than 180 years following the Congress of Angostura, it directly or indirectly intervened on countless occasions in the fate of the weak and divided nations of our hemisphere and in other parts of the world.

Not a single power had ever been the absolute master of the international financial institutions. None enjoyed the privilege of issuing the worlds reserve currency with no hard cash backing whatsoever; or controlled vast transnational companies whose grasping tentacles suck up the natural resources and cheap labour of our peoples; or held the monopoly on technology, finances and the most destructive and sophisticated weapons. No one could have imagined the US dollar on the verge of becoming the national currency of numerous countries in our region. There was not yet a colossal foreign debt exceeding by far the export revenues of most Latin American countries, nor hemispheric plans for an FTAA that would result in the annexation of Latin America and Caribbean countries to the United States. The environment and natural resources essential for the survival of our species were not endangered. The era of neo-liberal globalisation would come many, many years after the time of the Congress of Angostura. The worlds population was several hundred million, a far cry from the 6.2 billion human beings who now inhabit the planet Earth, the vast majority of them living in the Third World where the deserts keep expanding, the soils are downgraded, the climate changes and harrowing poverty and disease have become a pervasive scourge.

In our times, humanity is facing problems that transcend the decisive issues put forward by Bolívar as essential for the lives of the peoples of our hemisphere, which unfortunately were not timely resolved, as he had wished. It is our duty to actively seek for solutions to the dramatic problems currently facing the world that put in jeopardy the survival of even the human specie.

Despite the enormous changes experienced in this long and intense historical period, there are truths and principles put forward by Bolívar in Angostura that are as fully relevant as ever.

We must not forget his profound statements, when he said that: Men are all born with rights equal to the assets of society.


Popular education must be the firstborn concern of the paternal love of the Congress. Morals and enlightenment are the pillars of a republic; morals and enlightenment are our primary needs.


Let us grant our Republic a fourth power [...] Let us establish this Areopagus to ensure the schooling of our children, and the education of the whole nation; to purify what has been corrupted in the Republic; to denounce ingratitude, selfishness, the lack of patriotic love, laziness and negligence in our citizens; to censure corrupt principles and pernicious examples; correcting behaviour with moral punishment.


The appalling and ruthless practice of slavery covered the land of Venezuela with its black cloak, and our sky was filled with tempestuous clouds, which threatened a deluge of fire.


You know that one cannot be a free man and a slave at the same time but in violation of natural laws, political laws and civil laws.


I beg for the confirmation of the absolute emancipation of slaves, just as I would beg for my life and the life of the Republic.


Unity, unity, unity, that must be our motto.

There is nothing more moving and powerful than his final words in that speech, a full-length portrait of Bolívar's thoughts and feelings:

Travelling into the future, my imagination can visit the coming centuries, and as I watch from there, in awe and amazement, the prosperity, splendour and new life given to this vast region, I feel overwhelmed, and it seems that I see it now at the heart of the universe, spreading along its lengthy coasts, between those two oceans that nature has separated, and that our homeland reunites with long and wide canals.


I can see it now, passing its precious secrets to the wise men who do not realise that the sum of all enlightenment is far superior to the sum of all the riches that nature has bestowed upon it. I can see it seated on the throne of freedom, holding the sceptre of justice, crowned with glory, showing the old world the majesty of the modern world.

Was he a dreamer? Was he a prophet?

We do share his dreams and prophecies.

We Cubans also had a dreamer and a prophet. He was born 24 years after the Congress of Angostura, and lived when the turbulent and brutal empire was already a tangible and dreadful reality, at the end of the century. He was the greatest admirer of the Father of the Venezuelan Nation, and the words he wrote about him will live on forever:

You cannot speak calmly about someone who never lived that way: You can speak about Bolívar from the top of a mountain or amidst bolts of lightning, or with a handful of free peoples in your fist and the decapitated body of tyranny at your feet!


There is Bolívar in the sky of the Americas, watchful and frowning, still seated on the rock of creation, with the Inca at his side and the sheaf of flags at his feet; there he is, still wearing his combat boots, because what he left undone has yet to be done today: because Bolívar still has things to do in America!


Those who have a homeland must honour it and those who do not have a homeland must conquer it: these are the only tributes worthy of Bolívar.

I do not deserve the immense honour of this Order you have presented to me today which I accept only on behalf of the people whose heroic struggle against the powerful empire is proving that it is possible to realise the dreams of Bolívar and Martí.

Nothing can compare with the privilege you have accorded to me to speak to you here today from this sacred place in the history of the Americas.

On behalf of Cuba, I wish to express to you and to all of the Venezuelan people, our imperishable gratitude.

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