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Year 2001 No. 196, November 15, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

World-wide Opposition to US-led War and Neo-liberal Globalisation

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

World-wide Opposition to US-led War and Neo-liberal Globalisation

UN General Assembly:
Terrorism and Humanitarian Crisis Top the Concerns at High-Level Debate

Cuba's Statement to the General Assembly Debate

The US and the Peace Process in Colombia

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World-wide Opposition to US-led War and Neo-liberal Globalisation

In the past weeks, people around the world have been vigorously opposing the US-led aggression against Afghanistan and neo-liberal globalisation, which has resulted in the further impoverishment and enslavement of a majority of the world's people. On November 9, as delegates gathered in Doha, Qatar, for the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), hundreds of thousands of people around the world participated in actions to say "No to the WTO!" and "Another World is Possible!" as part of the International Day of Action Against the WTO.

About 65 members of Non-Governmental Organisations attending the WTO Ministerial in Doha, Qatar, blocked the door exiting the Nakhil hall at the Doha Sheraton Hotel. Robert B. Zoellick, the United States Trade Representative, gave a press conference in that room after the official accession of China to the WTO. Jose Bove, Vandana Shiva, Maude Barlow, and Walden Bellow stood toe-to-toe with the Qatari security, as they and over 60 others chanted (in French and English) "What's going on behind closed doors? Arm twisting! Arm twisting!" They held signs that said "Arm Twisting". The protest was organised 20 minutes before it happened – more protests took place during the next few days.

Vandana Shiva said, "The majority of countries are silenced systematically. The pretension of consensus goes on and an anti-consensus anti-democratic treaty that is shaped under machine guns, under security forces is not worth celebrating. We want a democratic treaty." Walden Bello challenged WTO Director General Michael Moore in an NGO briefing about the "mini-ministerials" held in Mexico and Singapore. Maude Barlow said at the protest that the same sort of exclusion continues at this official ministerial: "We are hearing terrible stories from the developing country delegates that they are being told what to do. They got brought into this meeting in the first place with a text they didn't agree. And the text was announced the first night as if it was agreed by everybody and it never was agreed. And now they're told they are not even going to have proper meetings with each other there's going to be somebody assigned to go get consensus." Zoellick announced at the press conference: "I believe that as this century unfolds and people look back on today, they will conclude that in admitting China to the WTO we took a decisive step in shaping the global economic and commercial system."

Thousands of people also took to the streets in Bolivia, the Philippines, Korea, Australia, India, New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Canada and the United States.

On the morning of November 9, a picket was held outside the Qatar embassy in London coinciding with the first day of the WTO meeting in Qatar, by the "IMF & World Bank! Wanted For Fraud!! Campaign" and Wages for Housework women's campaign among others. Chants at the protest picket included "Brick by brick, Wall by wall, We'll dismantle the WTO" and "Qatar will not hide you".

The same campaigns organised an event at the University of London Union on "World Trade / International Finance Fraud, Terrorism and Genocide" on Saturday, November 10. Speakers included: Mukhtar Rana - The Land Is Ours, Peace and Human Rights Card; Pat Budu, Trade Unionist and Pan Africanist; Maria Vasquez-Aguilar, Chile: Sports, Culture and Development Assoc. Sheffield; John Campbell, Sheffield Trades Council; George Monbiot, Author and Campaigning Journalist; Tony Benn, former MP; Selma James, International Wages for Housework Campaign.

In Bangor, North Wales, on Saturday, November 10, 150 people protested against the WTO. They heard speakers from a variety of groups condemn the WTO and also make the economic and political links between the corporate agenda, terrorism and the war in Afghanistan. Speakers included Rod Stallard from CND Cymru and Angharad Tomos from Cymdeithas y Iaith (the Welsh Language Society) who highlighted the need for threatened cultures and communities to come together in the face of the liquidating threat of the market economy. The crowd then marched up to the town centre temporarily blocking off traffic accompanied by excellent rhythm from Samba Bangor. Reception from passers-by was positive with many taking leaflets and stopping to discuss the issues in greater detail. This well attended and vibrant event – double the size of the Seattle solidarity demo in 1999 – highlights that opposition to the WTO is growing and organised. Bangor is having weekly vigils against the war which also have a high turnout. The movement against neo-liberal globalisation has not been silenced in the face of the events of September 11. Quite the opposite. This rally was organised by Cynefin y Werin/ Common Ground, a coalition of Welsh direct action and campaign groups.

At 4.30 pm on Saturday, November 10, a group of about 50 gathered to go on a whistle stop tour of the Newcastle to protest against the WTO. Armed with flags, banners, whistles and drums they targeted Nike, McDonalds, Starbucks and Esso. The atmosphere was very positive and hundreds of various leaflets were handed out explaining what the protest was about. The response from the public was very warm with quite a lot wanting to know more.

As part of the International Day of Action against the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the WTO, Globalise Resistance Dublin called for action on the streets of Dublin. The demonstrators met on O'Connell Bridge, the very centre of the city, with placards carrying the words of people from the Global South, distributing leaflets and gathering signatures, and engaging the public. Many different groups were represented. People took leaflets wondering what the WTO is about, and stopped to read the quotes that lined the bridge.

Under tight security measures, some 8,000 demonstrators gathered in the streets of Paris chanting slogans like "the world is not a commercial product" and "WTO, the mad cow of capitalism". According to the organisers, protesters were also demonstrating against the criminalisation of dissent.

Activists in Frankfurt Am Main, Germany, did a number of banner drops along highways while 10,000 people gathered in Berlin to oppose both the war in Afghanistan and the WTO. Actions in Frankfurt took place from November 8-10. In the early minutes of November 8, actions against capitalist globalisation began parallel with the WTO meeting in Qatar. In the afternoon, several thousand people gathered at Hermannplatz, in the South West of Berlin, to walk towards the Eastern part. The police stood in front of some banks and parked a water cannon nearby, but did not intervene. A huge banner saying "Capitalism Kills!" was hung up alongside the demonstration route in Berlin-Kreuzberg.

In Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi desperately attempted to organise a state march, which only attracted 40,000 in sharp contrast to 150,000 people who marched to oppose the WTO in Rome. This was despite Berlusconi laying on transport and using his media empire to throw weight behind promoting the US-led war in Afghanistan. He failed to mention the many Italian lives lost in the fascist terrorist attack that killed 83 people when the Italian Christian democrat government pursued the strategy of tension policy on August 2, 1980. A 3 km steel fence was erected through the centre of Rome to divide the groups, while 6,000 police forces were deployed, reports said. Protesters shouted slogans against NATO and Italy's participation in the war. Italy is sending 2,700 troops to Afghanistan. The anti-WTO and war march began in Piazza Repubblica. Protesters carried banners with slogans saying, "No to this military, social and economic war". Various immigrant groups were greeted with applause by people on the streets throughout the march. During the demonstration, the student movement targeted two banks financing the defence industry covering windows with posters saying, "not in my name" and "no war". In another action, students threw pink paint on the mathematical research institute "Centro ricerche matematiche del Cnr" and private school Santa Maria. The police in Rome took no action after global and national criticism of the oppressive tactics used in Genoa during the notorious G8 summit which ended with the death of 23-year-old protestor Carlo Guiliani. Anti-globalisation figure Luca Casarini called upon Italian soldiers to change their jobs on moral grounds and also promised to support any deserting soldiers.

A spectacular series of street theatre and carnival actions opposing the World Trade Organisation took place in Barcelona. The protesters took a "Show bus" to four central landmark buildings symbolising the impact of privatisation on the local communities.

Around 500 people gathered in the Gran Via of Bilbao (Basque Country) on Friday, November 9, to protest against the meeting of the WTO in Qatar. The demonstration marched through the main street and ended in the Arriaga theatre where a note from the organisers was read. Previously, a conference took place in the "Juan Larrea" centre where a panel of six speakers and an audience of 250 people discussed the implications of the fourth ministerial meeting of the WTO.

Meanwhile in Geneva, Switzerland, on Saturday, November 10, some 10,000 people gathered for a demonstration in front of the headquarters of the Credit Suisse Bank. Geneva is also the headquarters of the World Trade Organisation. The crowd was very mixed: groups participated from all over Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany and elsewhere, including Zapatistas, green party, squatters, farmers, students, anarchists, Kurds, Turks, socialists, workers, trade unionists and individuals. The demonstration was a success, ending in front of the headquarters of the WTO. About 300 people demonstrated in Bern against the WTO on November 9.

In Vienna, around 500 people protested against war and the WTO-round in Doha. A demonstration marched to the US embassy.

November 9 saw the downtown of Ljubljana (Slovenia's capital) shut down. Amongst others, anti-war and anti-WTO issues were raised. Up to 1,500 people occupied the main intersection.

Some 10,000 Turkish workers and students marched through the capital Ankara. They called on the government to step down, saying that it is blindly following International Monetary Fund (IMF) measures which are not in the interests of the people. They chanted: "Down with the IMF! Independent Turkey!" IMF officials are currently holding talks in Ankara over Turkey's 2002 budget, which dramatically cuts spending on social programmes. Many also expressed their opposition to the war in Afghanistan. "Everyone is saying no to war, but we are sending soldiers to Afghanistan," said a participant. "We want peace." The government deployed 5,000 riot police at the protest – including snipers on rooftops and officers on horseback.

In Thailand, the US embassy was under heavy guard as more than 1,000 people from various organisations including the Assembly of the Poor, AIDS organisations, environmentalists, agricultural networks and labour organisations marched on the complex. The coalition came together to press their demands on a range of issues that are being discussed at the WTO ministerial meeting, including agricultural products and drug patents. The group said the talks would harm farmers, people with AIDS and consumers in the developing world. "We want the WTO to end its role in world agriculture,'' said Ubol Yuwah, of the Alternative Agriculture Network, one of six groups participating in the protest march. He said small farmers in Thailand could not compete with low-cost products such as soybeans and corn that were allowed to flow freely into the local market. This was the result of free trade on agricultural goods introduced by the WTO since 1995 which forced members to cut tariffs and reduce subsidies to farmers, according to the People's Network Against Globalisation. The protesters accused the US of dominating the WTO and directing its policies, which are detrimental to Third World farmers and consumers. Wiboon Boonphatararaksa, a farmer from Roi Et, demanded the US end research to create new strains of jasmine rice to suit US conditions. He said that if the research was successful, exports of Thai rice would be cut and farmers hurt. Chiranuch Premchaiporn, of the Thai NGO Coalition on AIDS, wanted the US government to support the right of developing countries to produce cheaper anti-HIV drugs. Such a right was incorporated in the WTO's Trade-Related Intellectual Properties, she said, and could be invoked if there were urgent and compelling reasons. Ms Chiranuch said around 50 developing countries, including Thailand, wanted the WTO to grant the right and US support would make it easier to invoke. The groups submitted a letter addressed to US President George W. Bush which was accepted by Win Dayton, the US ambassador's assistant for economic affairs, who promised to forward it to Washington DC. Mr Dayton said he sympathised with the concerns of the protesting groups.

About 500 people marched through central Johannesburg, South Africa, to protest at the WTO's proposals to privatise basic services under the GATS treaty, and prevent the sale and distribution of cheap medicines under intellectual property rights agreements – a genocidal measure in a country like South Africa with a disastrous AIDS epidemic. In a separate protest, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) held a rally, attended by upwards of 600 people, in which they voiced their opposition to the WTO and privatisation.

In Tehran, Iran about 500 workers rallied, chanting slogans against the WTO. The demonstrators issued a statement at the end of the rally in which they said Iran's economic problems are a result of neo-liberal globalisation. "An ailing economy and repeated crises are souvenirs, gifted by the advocates of globalisation, who are not satiated yet and want to plunge the country further into a swamp in the name of accession into the WTO," the statement said. Demonstrators blamed the "the loss of 200,000 jobs, closure of 3,000 small and large-scale labour units" in Iran on the country's move towards privatisation. They also said that the situation would become worse as Iran attempts to join the WTO in the face of US opposition. "This is still a breeze, triggered by globalisation. With Iran's accession to the WTO a storm will rise and workers will be the first victims," a participant said.

On November 8, about 40 students in the Dutch city of Leiden occupied a building at the Rabobank University "against the commercial influence on education". Their demands included "no advertising at schools and universities, no sponsored teachers and students, no sponsored research and free education for all". It is reported that the students took down commercial billboards in the university cafeteria and took them to Amsterdam's Schipol airport, asking if the billboards could be sent to Qatar because "we don't want them in our university".

Militant demonstrations have also been taking place in Greece, Indonesia and Pakistan involving tens of thousands of people. On October 27, people from all walks of life in more than 75 US cities held rallies, marches and other events against the war in Afghanistan and the attack on civil liberties in the US.

People in Argentina maintained pressure on the government to oppose austerity measures and the WTO as this has led to 13 million of the 35 million population living below the poverty line. People in the capital Buenos Aires engaged in a protest to expose the crippling effects of similar proposals that the fourth ministerial round of WTO talks in Qatar is attempting to impose throughout the world. The action began in downturn Buenos Aires, after which it moved towards the centre of the city. The protest had a festive atmosphere but people wore black to represent how privatisation and economic policies have had a disastrous impact on the majority of people in Argentina. The protesters distributed leaflets and carried posters with slogans: "against the mass media... for the creation of our own media", "against the militarisation of our everyday life" and "against consumerism" as well as "down with the WTO".

About 400 protesters demonstrated in Sé Square, downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil. From Sé Square, they went to Sao Paulo Stock Market, the most important in South America.

In Seoul, South Korea, 20,000 marched on Sunday, November 11, for labour rights and in opposition to war and imperialist globalisation.

In Pakistan, where thousands of people gather daily to protest the US-led war, a number of protesters have been killed, including three on November 9 during a countrywide general strike. It is also reported that on November 7, police during anti-war protests in Bogota killed a Colombian medical student, Carlos Giovanni Blanco. Students continued protests in cities across Colombia to denounce the killing of Blanco and to oppose state repression against those opposing the war, independent news reports said.

Article Index

UN General Assembly:

Terrorism and Humanitarian Crisis Top the Concerns at High-Level Debate

The 56th session of the United Nations General Assembly began its high-level debate on November 10. The issue of the campaign against terrorism and the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan were at the forefront of concern. The general debate takes place over one week. Heads of state and government and foreign ministers have 15 minutes at the podium.

In their concern to support the fight against terrorism, there was often disagreement on where to look for its root causes. Leaders of predominantly Muslim countries warned against the tendency of the Western powers to associate terrorism with Islam, and spoke of the danger of creating an "us" versus "them" dynamic. It was pointed out that the world should look at what motivates such horrific acts, and take steps to heal the desperation, isolation and abandonment felt by many of the world’s people as they experience the gross inequalities in the distribution of wealth and failure of the rich countries to respect their basic human rights.

Many countries spoke of the need to differentiate between criminal terrorism and legitimate struggles against oppression, and stressed the need to define what is meant by "terrorism". Some of the European countries stressed the importance of enforcing existing legal instruments in the struggle against terrorism.

Many leaders expressed concern about the welfare of the Afghan people, while a number voiced the hope that the future political system in Afghanistan would not be imposed from the outside, but instead created and led by the Afghan people, in order to ensure its sustainability.

African leaders stressed the link between social development and peace. They voiced concern at the exploitation of their countries’ raw materials, and noted that fair prices need to be paid for African products. Debt relief was crucial, they said.

In opening the debate, Assembly President Han Seung-soo of the Republic of Korea noted that it was postponed from its traditional September schedule after the terrorist attacks against the US.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his statement at the outset of the debate said that at this current juncture the world clearly understood the need to resist the looming danger of divisions within the human family. "We face two possible futures: a mutually destructive clash between so-called ‘civilisations’ based on the exaggeration of religious and cultural differences; or a global community, respecting diversity and rooted in universal values," he said.

Outlining fundamental guiding principles for the UN, the Secretary-General pointed out that it must always stand for the rule of law, "in international and domestic affairs". In addition, it must make full use of its multilateral institutions and procedures while placing people at the centre of everything it did, enabling them to meet their needs and realise their full potential. "That can only be achieved in a world of effective, accountable states, which use sovereignty as a means to ensure the security of their peoples, and to uphold – not violate – their rights," he said.

Addressing the issue of the fundamental needs of developing countries, and Africa in particular, he pledged to ensure that the UN fully supports the priorities established by African leaders themselves, in the New Partnership for African Development.

He said, "The world’s peoples will judge us by our ability to perform specific tasks – not by the resounding speeches we make, or the number of decisions we reach, but by the quality of those decisions, and of the service we provide." The Secretary-General concluded: "For the sake of all those whom we hope to save – whether from terrorism, from war, from poverty, from disease, or from environmental degradation – let us resolve that only the best is good enough, and let us equip ourselves so that, in future, the best is what we give."

Leading off the debate, Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso pointed out that the process of globalisation was tainted by an undeniable sense of unease. He said that the motto should be "globalisation in solidarity" rather than the asymmetrical globalisation of today. President Cardoso appealed for an enlargement of the Security Council, saying that its membership should no longer be a reflection of arrangements among the victors of a conflict that took place over 50 years ago.

The President of Uruguay, Jorge Ilbañez, said that the fight against terrorism required the prevention of poverty, marginality, abandonment and hopelessness from settling into people’s souls. This was echoed by Fernando De La Rua, the President of Argentina, who drew attention to uneven economic distribution, creating the conditions for the outbreak of conflicts and confrontations. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that the struggle for peace should be a priority, and that the "fight against terrorism should be transformed into a war against war". President Alejandro Toledo of Peru said that his country was determined to fight terrorism in the context of respect for religions of the peoples and their ethnicity. He said that human rights violations and corruption were two faces of the same coin: impunity.

South African President Thabo Mbeki said that it seems obvious that the fundamental source of conflict in the world today was the socio-economic deprivation of billions of people across the globe, co-existing side by side with islands of enormous wealth and prosperity. President Mbeki said that, as the recent World Conference against Racism in South Africa had pointed out, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance remain a critical part of the practices that serve to alienate billions of people and contribute to mutual antagonisms among human beings.

Speaking in his capacity as the current Chairman of the OAU, President Chiluba of Zambia said that Africa was not asking for charity, but wanted its resources freed from the debt burden so as to be used for measures which will reduce poverty. The Senegalese Foreign Minister, Cheikh Gadio, also demanded the breaking of the cycle of debt in Africa, which he alluded to as a scourge similar to slavery. Aichatou Mindaoudou, Niger’s Foreign Affairs Minister, also pointed to the need for cancelling debt, and hoped that next year’s UN Conference on Financing for Development would be a turning point on the road to a more equitable world economic order. Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tuliameni Kalomoh, highlighted the "tremendous step" taken by African countries in the adoption of the New African Initiative, which would bring about a closer integration of the continent and make it more competitive in global markets. In his contribution, Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi emphasised the need to tackle the crippling poverty afflicting millions of people across the world, and also spoke of the need for better terms of trade and market access.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stanislaus Mudenge of Zimbabwe said that all UN member states must redress the inherited colonial imbalances that persisted in developing countries, and referred to his country’s racially skewed land ownership structure which was the legacy of the racist policies and laws of successive colonial regimes. The Liberian Foreign Affairs Minister, Monie Captain, stressed that African culture and its value system stood the risk of being lost in the sea of ethics based on Western values, and that Africans should not lose the opportunity of the new African Union to achieve meaningful integration. He said that Liberia is a victim of war and poverty, but also of punitive sanctions imposed by the Security Council, which have had an adverse effect on the living standards of ordinary people.

P.J. Patterson, the Jamaican Prime Minister, said that the process of globalisation, deregulation and privatisation had swept the world, so that an increasingly affluent world current co-existed with a marginalised underclass. Although focus on the current effort against international terrorism was warranted, there were other dimensions of the global agenda that should command the world's attention, said Pierre Charles, Prime Minister of Dominica. That agenda included a wide range of economic, social, political and humanitarian problems faced on a daily basis by the poor and disadvantaged of the world. Anthony Rolle, the representative of the Bahamas, said that the small economies of the Caribbean had experienced massive disruption after the terrorist acts since these economies were vulnerable to external shocks and are dependent on tourism. CARICOM had moved quickly to assess the implications and then issued the Nassau Declaration on International Terrorism in October, which set out actions governments could take to mitigate the impact of the damage. Louis Straker, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, also pointed to the bleak economic outlook after September 11 as the tourist industry suffered.

Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee said that the passion for globalisation had to be tempered by compassion for its victims. "Sadly," he said, "this thought has not penetrated into the thinking of the developed economies."

The Emir of Qatar pointed out that, in the context of defining "terrorism" so as to distinguish it from legitimate struggles to end illegitimate occupation and subjugation, it is "extremely urgent to put an end to the tragedy of the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces". The Emir also appealed to the international community to help save the lives of millions of Afghan people who are facing a desperate situation. Foreign Affairs Minister of Jordan, Abdel-Elah Khatib, emphasised that a truly effective international effort to eradicate terrorism required a just and acceptable resolution of the question of Palestine. The Syrian Foreign Affairs Minister, Farouk Al-Shara’, recalled the terrorist practices of Israel, "who expelled the Palestinians from the homes and lands and who perpetrated so many massacres starting with Deir Yassin in 1948 and reaching the Massacre of Beit Reima a few weeks ago".

President Khatami of the Islamic Republic of Iran said, "The disaster in the United States is so tragic and grave that it implores all thinkers to engage in deep reflection and dialogue on its real causes." He stressed that a definition of terrorism is needed in order to differentiate between "blind criminal terrorism and the legitimate defence" against violence and occupation. Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalghem, Secretary of the General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Co-operation of Libya, also stressed the need for international agreement on a definition of terrorism, and called for the convening of a special session of the General Assembly on terrorism to examine the issue in all of its dimensions.

Iraq’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Naji Sabri, condemned the aggression and sanctions against his country as state terrorism directed against an entire people. He said, "‘Terrorism’ as a designation is also true of the use by the United States and Britain of more than 300 tonnes of depleted uranium ammunitions against the people of Iraq in 1991." He said that such acts violated the principles of international law.

Slovenian President Milan Kucan said that the world had to make every effort to avoid dividing cultures, races, religions and nations into those civilised and those barbaric, and ascribing fundamentalism a priori to any religion or civilisation. Croatian President Stipe Mesic said that the threat of terrorism was not due to a clash of cultures or religions, but was a confrontation of civilisation and non-civilisation. He said that the world should move beyond the dichotomy of choosing between terror-imposed anarchy on one side and autocracy as a response to the threat on the other, and pointed out that it "will not be difficult to encourage fanatic behaviour … as long as people suffer from inequality as a result of unresolved regional crises anywhere in the world". While speaking on the same theme, Prime Minister Lagumdzija of Bosnia and Herzegovina called for equal geographic participation of states and peoples to meet the challenge of the democratisation and modernisation of the UN.

On the reform of the Security Council, Hor Manhong, Senior Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation of Cambodia, said that it is unacceptable that two-thirds of the world population is not equitably represented in that body. The Vietnamese representative, Nguyen Thanh Chau, pointed out also that official development assistance (ODA) was declining at a time when fuller and equitable participation in international economic life should be intensified. He said that the embargoes imposed on Cuba, Iraq and Libya should be lifted to enable them to concentrate on development and national reconstruction, and that the ASEAN countries are co-ordinating their efforts to cope with regional and global challenges, which will promote peace, stability and development in the region and the world. Li Hyong Chol, the representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea said that one of the major challenges to the United Nations today was that of global poverty that had resulted from colonialism in the past and continued to be aggravated due to the inequitable monetary systems and neo-colonial policies. It had also become a factor that spawned conflicts, diseases and hunger and hampered the independent and creative life of people and their enjoyment of the right to development.

For General Musharraf, President of Pakistan, the root causes for terrorism were the unresolved political disputes such as in Bosnia, Kosovo, Palestine, Kashmir and other places, and he said that the lack of progress in resolving these disputes had created a sense of deprivation, hopelessness and powerlessness among those affected.

Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan of China said that the UN had an "irreplaceable role" in international co-operation in response to globalisation.

US President George W Bush, for his part, said that every nation had a stake in the fight against terrorism and that the time for action had arrived, and referred to the Security Council resolution that required all countries to co-operate on terrorist financing and sharing intelligence, among other measures. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw spoke of the consensus in the Security Council that there should be a broad-based government in Afghanistan, and that the UN was the only institution that could deliver a better future for the country.

Louis Michel, President of the Council of Europe and Belgian Vice Prime Minister, stressed the central role the UN must play in creating the co-ordinated strategy for a new global dynamic. He saw the establishment of the International Criminal Court as particularly essential now to enforce international law. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said that the world needed to solve the problem of the coexistence of peoples and create a concept of globalisation with a "human face", while German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer pledged Germany’s support for the economic and social reconstruction of Afghanistan.

The debate continues.

Article Index

Cuba's Statement to the General Assembly Debate

In his statement to the general debate of the 56th session of the UN General Assembly, on November 13, Felipe Perez Roque, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, said that the war in Afghanistan must be stopped. The government of the United States must acknowledge that it has made a mistake and must halt its ineffective and unjustifiable bombing campaign against the people.

Cuba’s Foreign Minister pointed out that this war has targeted children, the civilian population and the International Red Cross hospitals and facilities as enemies. As to its methods, no honest voice would rise to defend an endless slaughter – with the most sophisticated weaponry – of a dispossessed, starving, helpless people. As to its doubtful purposes, the war will never be justified from the point of view of ethics and international law. Those responsible for it will one day be judged by history, he said.

He pointed out that Cuba has opposed the war from the very beginning as an absurd, inefficient method to eradicate terrorism, and reiterated that it can only bring more hatred and ever-increasing dangers of new terrorist actions. No one has the right to continue murdering children, aggravating the humanitarian crisis, and visiting impoverishment and death on millions of refugees, he said.

If the United States obtained a military victory by eliminating all regular and irregular Afghan resistance – something that is not at all easy in practice and extremely costly at the moral level, for it would represent a real genocide without attaining the objective that we must pursue – the world would be farther away than ever from achieving peace, security and the eradication of terrorism, the Cuban Foreign Minister said.

Cuba's discourse is not founded on ill feelings against who has been our most embittered adversary for over forty years, he said. It is inspired by a sincere constructive spirit and a sense of respect for and sympathy towards the people of the United States, which sustained the unjustifiable and atrocious terrorist attack. It is also based on the aspiration of peace and justice for all the peoples of the world.

What Cuba expresses with full openness to the General Assembly, the speaker said, may not be to the liking of those who run the United States today, but it will be understood one day by the American people, whose generosity and sense of justice were proven to the Cuban people when it had the support of 80% of the public opinion in the US in Cuba’s struggle to prevent a kidnapped Cuban child from being uprooted from his family and subjected to ludicrous political manipulations and cruel psychological tortures.

What Cuba says from this rostrum, Felipe Perez Roque spelled out, is what many people rumour in the corridors of the UN building. He asked: What international coalition are we talking about? What is its legitimacy based on – if it has started by stridently disregarding the General Assembly of the United Nations? The United States has not fostered international co-operation. It has rather imposed its war on a unilateral basis and unwontedly stated that whoever does not second them is with terrorism. How long will the precarious support obtained last – not resulting from harmonised objectives and voluntary agreement, but from imposition through threats and pressures?

One can be the strongest, but not necessarily right, the Foreign Minister emphasised. One can cause dread, but not sympathy and respect. Only from genuine international co-operation – in which all countries, big and small, participate with a full understanding of everyone's positions; with broadmindedness and tolerance in the methods used; in the framework of the United Nations Organisation and unflinchingly abiding by the principles enshrined in its Charter – can a truly effective and lasting alliance emerge to fight terrorism.

The world was surprised to learn of the official announcement of the United States to the Security Council that it reserved the right to decide on an attack against other countries in the future, the speaker said. He asked: What is left of the United Nations Charter after this? Can this unprecedented threat by any chance be interpreted as an exercise of the right to legitimate defence, enshrined in the Charter as the right of a State to deal with acts of aggression until the Council adopts the necessary measures and not as a vulgar excuse to unleash attacks against other countries? Is or is not this announcement the proclamation of the right of a superpower to trample upon the already wobbly and incomplete standards governing sovereignty, security and the rights of the peoples?

The Cuban Foreign Minister declared that his country rejects that language with poise and steadfastness. We have not done so out of concern for our own security, he said, because there is no power in the world that can subdue our spirit of independence, freedom, social justice and the courage to defend it at any cost. We did so, he continued, because we believe that it is still possible to halt the escalation of a useless, brutal war that threatens to further plunge the poor peoples of the planet into hopelessness, insecurity and death – who are by no means responsible for any act of terrorism, but will be – and already are – the main victims of this senselessness.

Only under the leadership of the United Nations will we be able to defeat terrorism. Co-operation and not war is the way. The co-ordination of actions and not imposition is the method. Our objective must be to obliterate terrorism by removing its root causes – and not the hegemonic assertion of the strength of a superpower, thus turning us into accomplices to its haughtiness and highhandedness.

Therefore, he said, Cuba – that has already responded to the Secretary-General's appeal by deciding to immediately ratify all of the international legal instruments on terrorism – determinedly supports the adoption of a general convention on international terrorism. Of course, he said, this would only be possible in the context of this General Assembly – now absolutely ignored by the promoters of the new campaign, but which in the last ten years, with the silence and apathy of the Security Council, has seen the effective adoption of the main resolutions and declarations calling for an outright fight against terrorism.

That will finally allow us, the Foreign Minister said, to define terrorism with accuracy. We have to prevent a few people with vested interests from trying to label as such the right of nations to fight for their self-determination or against foreign aggression. It must be clearly established that the support, abetment, financing or concealment of terrorist actions by a State is also an act of terrorism.

The Cuban Foreign Minister said that his country, while working to have its own anti-terrorism law in a short period of time, unreservedly endorses the announcement of an international conference on terrorism, under the aegis of the United Nations. This has been an old aspiration of the Non-Aligned Movement – and must enable us, he said, as a result of open discussions, collective actions, respectful and non-discriminatory agreement, and not threat, terror and force, to find the way to fully eliminate terrorism and its causes – not only if committed against the United States, but also if undertaken against another country, even from the territory of the United States or with the leniency or complicity of its authorities, as has been Cuba's painful experience for over four decades.

Felipe Perez Roque continued: Only four days ago, the Pakistani media attributed to a rather well-known, very familiar character in the United States, a statement supposedly made from Afghan territory saying that he is in possession of chemical and nuclear weapons and threatening to use them against the United States if similar weapons are used by that country against Afghanistan.

Everybody knows, the speaker said, that Afghanistan does not have the slightest possibility to produce and launch nuclear or chemical weapons. Only a terrorist organisation or leader could come up with the idea of executing an action of this kind with nuclear or chemical weapons. That is theoretically possible as it is also one of the consequences of the irresponsible behaviour of major nuclear powers and of the arms trade, corruption and illegal traffic in all sorts of military technology. Several of these powers have acted as accomplices to and taken part in the traffic in fissionable material and the transfer of nuclear technology, as it suits their interests. However, under the concrete conditions of the war in Afghanistan, it would be ridiculous to resort to those threats and whoever did that would be signalling an enormous political and military ignorance. Lacking such means would make it a dangerous bluff, and having them would be an absolute madness to threaten to use them.

If such statements published by two Pakistani newspapers were true, they would deserve the strongest condemnation, even if such weapons were eventually used against Afghanistan. It would be a stupid reaction since in that scenario that suffering, impoverished country would only have the possibility to count on the universal rejection of the use of such weaponry. Such threats only serve the interests of the extremist and warmongering forces within the United States, which favour the use of the most sophisticated weapons of mass destruction against the Afghan people. The best weapon for a country under aggression is to earn and preserve the sympathy of the world, and not to allow anyone to violate the ethical principle that no one has any right to kill children, not even when others do it. There is no justice in killing innocent people to avenge the death of other innocents.

Cuba has stated, unhesitatingly, Felipe Perez Roque explained, that it is opposed to terrorism and that it is opposed to war. Cuba, that is not under obligation to anyone, will continue to be consistent with its positions. Truth and ethics should prevail above all else.

The unfolding of events, and the multiplication of hatred, passions and potential dangers have come to show that it was absolutely right to assert that the war was not, is not and will never be the way to eradicate terrorism.

The Foreign Minister of Cuba continued: The most critical socio-economic crisis that our planet has undergone, created halfway through the last decade by the strident and irreversible failure of neo-liberalism and neo-liberal globalisation, has been dramatically aggravated by this war imposed by one, but whose consequences we all have to bear.

This war must be stopped not only for its consequences to the Afghan civilian population, but also for the dangers of destabilisation in that region; not only to save thousands of Americans – particularly the young – Afghans and other nationals from a pointless death; not only to preserve an atmosphere of international peace and stability, but because this conflagration renders entirely impossible an objective proclaimed by the United Nations fifteen years ago: the right to development for all and the equality of opportunities to attain it. Because it renders obsolete the decision made only a year ago to work together in order to eliminate poverty from the face of the Earth.

"Will we be willing to organise a coalition against poverty, famine, ignorance, diseases, the scourge of AIDS that is currently decimating the African continent; a coalition in favour of sustainable development, in favour of the preservation of the environment and against the destruction of the planet?" the Minister of Foreign Affairs asked.

He pointed out that a coalition has been summoned to avenge the grievous death of over 4,000 innocent people in the United States. Let us come together to seek justice against this major crime, he declared, and let us do so without a war; let us come together to save from death the hundreds of thousands of poor women who every year die at childbirth; let us come together to save from death the 12 million children who die of preventable diseases every year in the Third World before the age of five; let us come together to take medications against AIDS to the 25 million Africans who are hopelessly awaiting death; let us come together to invest in development at least a portion of the billions already spent to carpet bomb a country where almost nothing has been left standing.

Cuba demands, Felipe Perez Roque said, that this General Assembly, the Security Council and the United Nations Organisation as a whole deal once again, as top priorities, with the debate of these problems – which are crucial to the 4.5 billion inhabitants of the Third World, whose rights and hopes have also been buried under the rubble of the Twin Towers.

The Cuban Foreign Minister went on to reiterate Cuba’s outright condemnation of the terrorist action committed last 11 September. Cuba reiterates its condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Cuba reiterates that it will not allow its territory to be ever used for terrorist actions against the people of the United States or of any other country.

Cuba has the morality to do it, he said, because for over forty years it has suffered from terrorist actions; because in Cuba there are still relatives of the nearly 3,500 Cubans killed as a result of aggressions and terrorist acts; because justice is still demanded by over 2,000 Cubans rendered disabled by aggressions and terrorist acts. Some of its sons and daughters, who have fought terrorism, have been victims of cruel persecutions, relentless treatment and unjust and slanderous proceedings.

The people of the United States are a victim not only of terrorism and panic, but also of the lack of truthful information, manipulation and the questionable limitation of their freedoms. Cuba does not nurture any hatred towards the American people – and does not hold them accountable for our terrorism-related suffering, the aggressions and the unfair economic war that we have been compelled to withstand almost a lifetime; and with which it shares the aspiration of one day having relations based on respect and co-operation.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba concluded by saying: "If anyone here takes offence at these words, uttered on behalf of a small generous, courageous people, I apologise. We speak in a straightforward manner. Words exist to uphold the truth, not to conceal it. We are rebellious against injustice and oppression. We have morality; we defend our ideas at the price of our lives. Our support for any fair cause can be obtained, but we cannot be subdued by force or through the imposition of absurd formulas or embarrassing adventures."

Felipe Perez Roque declared that for many years now the Cuban people have proclaimed that for them the historical dilemma is: "Motherland or Death!" "Thence," said Felipe Perez Roque, "our confidence and security that we are and will continue to be a worthy, sovereign and fair people."

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The US and the Peace Process in Colombia

WDIE is reproducing herewith the Communiqué from the Central General Staff of the FARC-EP of November 5, 2001.

In the national and foreign mass communications media, on various occasions, we have heard the political position of the US government with respect to the peace process and the internal social and armed conflict Colombia is experiencing.

In the wake of the events of September 11 in the cities of New York and Washington, the public pronouncements about Colombia and about its revolutionary organisations and struggles have become more frequent on the part of civilian and military spokespersons of the American government. President George W. Bush, his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and Ambassador Anne Patterson are the most active functionaries in this campaign of public declarations in relation to which the FARC-EP point out:

1. Response to the events of September 11 that require a solution of a political nature in no way justifies a disproportionate military aggression by the US and Britain and does not have our support. As such, this is an action against the impoverished people of Afghanistan, which threatens to spread to other countries, including Colombia, under the pretext of the struggle against terrorism.

2. The FARC-EP are a revolutionary organisation that fights for political, economic and social changes using the path of armed struggle due to the historical impossibility of advancing this fight by unarmed means, given the undemocratic and terrorist nature of the Colombian state, bi-party regime and its successive governments.

3. We, the parties sitting at the Table of Dialogue, concur in characterising the Colombian armed conflict starting from its economic, social and political roots. Any comparison being made with other conflicts in the world does not correspond to reality. It is not possible to compare either the origin or the character of what is happening in Colombia with what is taking place between Palestine and Israel, in Afghanistan, Northern Ireland or Spain, among others.

4. The national government that President Andres Pastrana leads and the FARC-EP are pursuing a process of dialogue and negotiation toward finding political solutions to the grave internal social and armed conflict Colombia is experiencing.

5. We call for a new world order wherein the states base their relations on the principles of respect and mutual benefit, self determination of the peoples, non intervention in the internal affairs of the nations and respect for their sovereignty.

6. We are participants in the anti-capitalist movement expressed in the mobilisations in the cities of Seattle, Quebec, Genoa and Porto Alegre and in the struggle of the progressive, democratic and revolutionary movements of Latin America and the world to achieve a new international order with social justice. We call for unity against capitalism and its imperialist policies, for the defence of national sovereignty and for the recovery of the liberating ideas of the great universal thinkers, which were raised in America by the Liberator, Simon Bolivar.

7. The rulers of the United States and of Colombia lack the moral authority to characterise anyone as terrorist. The response to the so-called "war against terrorism" with which the US is concealing its renewed imperial plans, must be the unity and struggle of all the peoples, governments and states for world peace with social justice.

8. The solution for the grave problems of the contemporary world and capitalism’s economic recession is not the war being promoted by the big powers in alliance, nor greater exploitation of the planet’s workers sanctified by the struggle against terrorism, in order to extend and consolidate their geo-strategic domination of the various continents. The situation of poverty and misery of the majority of the world’s inhabitants demands social investment from the rich countries, not bombs.


Mountains of Colombia, Nov. 5, 2001.

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