Address by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba,         Mr. Roberto Robaina, at the resumption of the 50th session of the U.N. General Assembly

New York, March 6, 1996 

Mr. Chairman:

Distinguished delegates:

The Revolutionary Government of Cuba has requested the reopening of the session of the United Nations General Assembly to inform about the events concerning the repeated violation of our sovereignty by airplanes coming from the United States territory and to give notice to the international community and to the world's public opinion of the inadmissibility of these actions and their dangerous implications for regional peace and security. Coming to this Assembly, Cuba wants to express her deep gratitude to all who one way or another, have helped our country to have today the opportunity to express its opinions.

Cuba's critical position concerning the role of the main bodies of the United Nations is well known, particularly concerning the functioning of the Security Council. For that reason, and because we are certain that this General Assembly represents the international community much more fully, we come before you today .

In the case of the incident that took place off our shores the 24 of February last, we all are well aware of the tremendous pressures the members of the Council were subjected to by the United States delegation, interested in getting a fast and undeserved condemnation of Cuba and, in addition to that, abusively taking advantage of the fact that it was then holding the rotative presidency of that body. Cuba wants to express here her appreciation for the position maintained throughout this process by some of the members of the Security Council who disagreed with the evident manipulation they wanted them to participate in, and who made it impossible for the United States delegation to achieve in the end the absurd and unjust condemnation it had intended.

To understand this episode it is necessary to know the background. The history of aggressions against Cuba and actions in violation of her sovereignty and territorial integrity did not start this February 24, but 37 years ago. Also in South Florida, exactly as nowadays, one of the first acts of violence against the Cuban Revolution originated October 21st, 1959, when small pirate airplanes dropped subversive propaganda and bombed the capital of the country, an aggression that cost our people valuable lives. In the same Opa Locka base, even under the cover of a civil agency, part of the air force that went into action during the Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961, was trained and prepared, almost 35 years ago. This was a military air force, but in this case they had painted on the planes the emblem of the cuban air force, something as fraudulent as the repeated use of civilian airplanes for military aggression.

Throughout all these years, the expressions of a hostile policy toward Cuba by consecutive United States administrations have been innumerable, ranging from attempts of diplomatic isolation to a systematic policy of blockade and economic aggression, the promotion of domestic subversion, illegal radio and television broadcasts, infiltration of spies and saboteurs, plans to murder the leaders of our Revolution, the encouragement of terrorist activities, biologic warfare, the support of armed counterrevolutionary gangs, giving shelter to incursions of planes and boats coming to Cuba from U.S. territory to carry out aggressions, among many other actions. The highest points of this aggressive policy were the already mentioned armed invasion of our territory, organized by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States in April 1961, which later ended in a naval blockade and a threat of nuclear war which, to say it clearly, was the consequence of the measures that Cuba had to take in the face of the danger of a direct military invasion by the United States.

With the disappearance of the USSR and the socialist camp, with whose help Cuba was able to better resist the aggression and the blockade of the United States, the violent attempts against Cuba by groups of Cuban origin established in the city of Miami grew stronger. Since 1990 fourteen infiltrations and pirate attacks have taken place against our country, carried out with boats coming from the South of the United States, and dozens of terrorist plans were aborted by us. Some of the participants in the last serious actions were captured and any time now they will be able to explain in court how and with whose support they got weapons, explosives, boats and advanced location and communications equipment. In addition to all this, the anti-Cuban radio broadcasted a total of 4.480 hours monthly in 1995, inciting people to violence and to the subversion of the order established in the country, and Cuba has the distinction of being the only country in the world with a television station aimed against it, financed with federal funds of the United States.

The last pattern in all this long history of aggressions has been the provocations by the airplanes belonging to the so-called "Brothers to the Rescue" organization, which during the last twenty months has violated the Cuban airspace 25 times, always coming from the territory of the United States.

In September 1994, a bilateral meeting between the representatives of the civil aviation administrations of Cuba and the United States took place. At the meeting the American party expressed its concern in view of the information received from the Cuban authorities about the violations of the Cuban airspace, and admitted that those flights were also a threat to the security of the genuine efforts to rescue Cuban illegal emigrants, carried out by the U.S. Coast Guard

In brief, we will mention just a few of the violations committed after that meeting.

On November 10, 1994, two Cessna 337 airplanes, which took off from the naval base occupied by the United States in the Cuban territory of Guantanamo, flew over the eastern end of the country and dropped subversive flyers.

On April 4, 1995 another Cessna 337 aircraft entered the Cuban jurisdictional waters north of the city of Havana and flew over more than 40 kilometers along the coast, at a distance of from 5 to 10 nautical miles off shore.

On July 13, 1995, two airplanes again entered the Cuban jurisdictional waters north of our capital, went into a zone which is forbidden to air traffic and flew over the city at a very low altitude, dropping propaganda in support of the flotilla of boats carrying anti- Cuban elements which, having departed from Miami, had gotten together at some 22 kilometers northeast of Havana and had also entered our jurisdictional waters.

On Saturday, September 4 of the same year, five Cessna airplanes and five helicopters flew again in support of a similar flotilla, which was supposed to come from Miami to the north of the beach resort of Varadero in Matanzas province. That time the aircraft left the operations zone when the aggression was aborted due to the negligence of the participants, which caused the sinking of a boat and the death of one of them.

On January 9 and 13, 1996, two actions of particular relevance and importance occurred, which constitute the immediate precedent of the February 24 incident: airplanes belonging to "Brothers to the Rescue" dropped over the city of Havana tens of thousands of flyers with subversive propaganda exhorting the population to carry out actions against the Cuban constitutional order. This serious violation, like the other ones, was officially notified by the Cuban Government to that of the United States, but it was also highly publicized by its own perpetrators on the United States media.

And here I stop to make a very important point. Many people, even our own friends in the United States, ask us: why did you shoot those planes down precisely now?, that is, why has it happened at this delicate and dangerous moment when the mean and unscrupulous electoral race is in full swing in the United States, on the eve of the November elections?

The question is justified. But i should say, and beg to be understood, that this incident was not the result of a deliberate action by Cuba.

This is what happened: After the provocations carried out on January 9 and 13, for us the situation reached an intolerable point. The Cuban population reacted with indignation and concern about those flagrant violations of our airspace. And right after those events, the Cuban Government gave instructions to the air force, that what happened on January 9 and 13 could by no means be tolerated.

However, it did not limit itself to that, but although it had repeatedly warned the American authorities, publicly and by official notes, the American authorities, it decided to warn the United States Government, through serious and reliable channels, that the risk existed of a serious incident, given the increasingly aggressive and irresponsible actions of the airplanes which were violating our airspace.

We actually begged the United States Government to do all in its power to prevent those flights, which violated not only our laws, but also the laws of the United States. It was an additional and special request. Nothing was left for us to do to prevent the incident, except giving up our dignity and the sovereignty of our country. We can certify that our persistent request reached even the highest instances of the Government of the United States. We were assured that everything possible would be done to prevent it.

It was not us who could prevent those violations from happening. It was the Government of the United States, from whose territory the aggression originated, the only one who had the power to do so.

But we do not say this simply to be believed with no facts to support it. There is irrefutable evidence that the United States Government was also concerned about the actions of the above mentioned organization, concern that was expressed in the different notes that the American authorities sent to us during this time in response to our warnings.

In Note number 577 from the United States Interest Section in Havana, dated October 18, 1995, the Government of the United States informed the Cuban one that members of the above mentioned organization intended to approach the limits of the Cuban airspace the 21st of that month, with the purpose of "broadcasting television and short-wave radio signals to Cuba from boats located outside Cuban territorial waters, for a period of time of about a half-hour". In the same note it was pointed out that "Officials of the United States have warned the flotilla organizers of the provisions of international law and of the United States law regarding non-authorized broadcastings from ships or airplanes registered in the United States, and have urged them not to perform illegal broadcastings".

Before, in a State Department Note delivered on August 28, 1995, the Cuban Government was informed that the Federal Aviation Administration was investigating the possible violation of Annex 2 of the Civil Aviation International Convention by the head of that organization. On October 5 of the same year, by way of Note 553 of its Interest Section in Havana, the United States Government notified the Cuban Government that the Federal Aviation Administration was accusing that person of "having violated federal aviation regulation (FAR 91.703) by piloting an airplane with a U.S. registration number within a foreign country without complying with the regulations of that country, and regulation 91.13 by negligently or recklessly piloting an airplane, thus endangering other people's lives and property." That same Note added that "the Federal Aviation Administration requests from the Cuban Government evidence which may prove relevant to these accusations" against the main leader of that organization.

On February 16, 1996, a week before the incident at hand, besides thanking the Cuban Government for the information it had supplied, the United States Government, by means of a State Department Note, informed Cuba that the Federal Aviation Administration was continuing its investigations concerning the head of the aforementioned organization, who "is facing the charges of violating federal aviation regulation (FAR 91.703)."

As can be clearly seen, the U.S. authorities were fully aware of the existence of a group organized in U.S. territory, in possession of airplanes, engaged in carrying out activities different from the legal rendering of international air service, who were using these airplanes with clearly provocative purposes, failing to recognize Cuban sovereignty and ignoring the very regulations of the State where those airplanes are registered and where the licenses to fly them were issued to their pilots.

If we are to be blamed for any mistake concerning our behavior in the events of last February 24, that mistake would be to have trusted that a country as powerful as the United States had the ability to stop groups of irresponsible people from performing perfectly avoidable actions which could even drag it into a genocidal war against our people.

On the morning of that day, airplanes belonging to the "Brothers to the Rescue" organization flew north of Havana and entered our airspace. These flights did not conform to international and national civil aviation standards, since their take-offs and flight patterns had at no time been reported, and, besides, before entering our flight information region no communication had been established with our aeronautical authorities. For that reason, at 10:40 the Cuban authorities requested information from the Miami Air Traffic Control Center and it replied that it had no information whatsoever. In view of this, aircraft of the Cuban air force took off and the pirate airplanes withdrew.

On the afternoon of that same day, again three aircraft, violating their flight plan, began to penetrate a dangerous activated zone, despite warnings given by the Havana Traffic Control Center. The chief of the band, which was taking part in the action, answered that he knew it was prohibited to fly in that zone, but that they would do it nevertheless, and from another plane it was pointed out that they were heading for Havana.

Under these circumstances two intercepting fighters of the Cuban air force took off, performed the preventive warning pass and, as there was no response and, according to the Cuban pilots and air command, two of the pirate planes were at a distance of from 5 to 8 miles from our coasts, with the possibility of repeating the actions of January 9 and 13, the Command Post of antiaircraft defense, in view of the instructions that had been received since mid January and the powers vested in it -since these actions occur in a matter of minutes-, ordered the fighters to shoot down the two planes. The third one, which by then was out of our airspace and flying away, was not pursued any further.

The Cuban Government fully assumes the responsibility of the patriotic action carried out in legitimate defense of the sovereignty and security of our country.

Our helicopters and surface units of our Border Guard Troops immediately began activities for the search and rescue of possible survivors which were continued through February 25. And at 10 a.m. that day, at a distance of 9.3 miles north of the Havana coastline, a group of technical objects were found, among them navigation charts, a traveling bag and a portable battery charger.

The Cuban Government was the first to publicly regret the loss of human lives which occurred on February 24 as a result of irresponsible and criminal actions against our people, before the Government of the United States did and long before the Security Council. The same day the events took place, the first statement issued by our Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the matter informed that Cuba had immediately accepted the request for units of the United States Coast Guards to enter our territorial waters to participate, together with Cuban units, in search and rescue activities at the place where the two planes had been shot down, which, on the other hand, also allows us to infer that the U.S. authorities themselves realized from the very first that the event had taken place within Cuban territorial waters.

We do not really think that the United States Government wished to provoke the February 24 incident and the conflict that might have resulted from these developments. What we affirm is that the United States did not take the effective measures to timely avoid those events from occurring. The decisions adopted by President Clinton in the last few days and carried out by the U.S. authorities on Saturday, March 2, were able to prevent another provocation planned for that day by the very same perpetrators of the previous violations. If those decisions had been adopted and executed earlier, these events would not have taken place; we would not have to regret the loss of human lives.

It has even been stated that "Brothers to the Rescue" had a humanitarian purpose. This Assembly should know that that band, founded in 1991 and officially registered as a "nonprofit organization without any political interests", is actually financed by the shady money of the extremist Miami mobsters. It would be interesting to investigate the links between the Cuban-American National Foundation and that group, or to go deeper into the intense negotiations carried out by congressperson Ileana Ros-Lehtinen so that the United States Defense Department would donate or cheaply sell the group three planes of the type used against Cuba.

Cuba knows the main leader of that organization, Jose Basulto, quite well. He was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency, trained in Panama and later infiltrated into Cuba before and after the Bay of Pigs invasion. In 1963 he was again infiltrated as the radio operator of a terrorist commando, and in 1966 he worked for the CIA in Brazil. The Cessna 337 airplane which he personally uses in his misdeeds against Cuba has the number 2506 painted on it in big characters. This was the number of the mercenary brigade which under U.S. orders invaded our country at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, which gives us an idea of his political and moral caliber. This is the record of an individual who wants to present himself as a champion of humanitarian causes.

After Cuba and the United States signed the migratory agreements which put an end to illegal emigration, the apparent purpose of the aforesaid organization -promoting illegal emigration to the United States- ceased to exist. That was how the provocation, planning and execution of terrorist actions became its sole, evident purpose. They began to use their planes to act in a more overt, hostile and dangerous way in Cuban territory. To carry out their actions, they have used twin-tail Cessna airplanes of military design from the United States armed forces, which were used for exploration and combat actions in the Vietnam War. If any doubts remain concerning this matter, one can always consult the July 19, 1992 issue of El Nuevo Herald of Miami and observe the photo of a "Brothers to the Rescue" airplane which still has the acronym of the United States Air Force.

Cuba has more than enough proof that this organization made plans to dynamite high tension towers in Havana, to sabotage the Cienfuegos oil refinery and to carry out attempts on the lives of the main Cuban leaders, among other actions. All these antecedents must be borne in mind in order to understand the reasons for the Cuban decision of not allowing the planes of that organization to fly over Cuba with impunity. This band's aggressive plans leave no room for doubt that it is a paramilitary, terrorist organization in open war against our country.

Its activities do not only constitute hostile and provocative actions against the Republic of Cuba, with the seriousness and dangerousness they imply and their flagrant violation of the sovereignty and integrity of a State. It must be stressed that all the activities carried out by this organization also constitute violations of the norms which regulate international civil aviation and, consequently, may endanger the lives and safety of many people and airplanes.

Let their intention of making radio and television broadcasts from international airspace, denounced as I have said by the U.S. authorities themselves, be proof of this. Also the altering of the flight plans which they must present to the aeronautical authorities of the country where they come from, the flights at low altitudes or over unauthorized zones of the very territory of the United States, the use of radio communication for purposes other than those they are intended for. Let also be proof of this the dangerous, irresponsible, uncontrolled, not regulated intrusion of this organization's planes, for purposes other than rendering air service, in a zone of important international civil aviation activity, where one of the most active international air corridors of the western hemisphere is located.

Around 400 regular commercial flights go through the Cuban air corridors every day, to which our aeronautical services offer the necessary support and cooperation. Thousands of American citizens and citizens of other nations cross the Cuban skies daily without any risks or difficulties. There has never been a single incident which has affected civil transportation through Cuban airspace. We are, in short, one of the world's countries which renders more aeronautical services to the companies and travellers of the country which, nonetheless, not only blockades us but also hinders the normal development of Cuban activities in this sphere, and from whose territory hostile actions violating international air navigation standards have been carried out throughout the years and continue to be carried out at present. What is more, we are the country which they are trying to condemn without having any grounds for crimes which it has not committed but of which it has been the victim.

Cuba quickly expressed its willingness to collaborate with ICAO, because no one is more interested than Cuba in totally clarifying these developments and above all in ensuring that they are not repeated. We request that the United States also facilitate all the investigation and clarification work.

By coincidence the ICAO Council is in session today in Montreal, Canada, and although our representatives there will present Cuba's position, I would like to share with the General Assembly some relevant points. Cuba is a founder of the ICAO and its airline Cubana de Aviaci"n is the oldest in the world. Cuba has never been taken to task by that organization for any reason whatsoever. On the contrary, our country gives adequate and satisfactory aeronautical services to airplane companies and their passengers from around the world. In the entire history of Aviation, Cuba has never violated the airspace of any country, much less the airspace of the United States.

We are in New York city, one of the cities of greatest air access in the world, however it would be difficult for you to imagine the distance covered by a Cuban plane to get from our island to this city. Cuba is prohibited from using the international air corridors that cross over The United States.

To judge the legitimate reaction of Cuba in defense of its sovereignty over its airspace, a legal instrument was invoked that, as it was never ratified in the time frame required, is completely without legal force.

Article 3-bis is nothing more than a proposal identified as Resolution A 25-1, agreed upon at the Twenty Fifth Special Session of the ICAO which, at the time agreed that the aforementioned amendment in accordance with Article 94 of the Chicago Convention would only take effect after being ratified by 102 members of the Organization. It has only been ratified by 82.

It is with great surprise that we discover that a body meeting in an emergency session questions a State by invoking a legal precept that in a strict sense is not in force.

In this decision that directly affects my country, fifteen States of the Security Council are participating, nine of whom have never signed the above mentioned document. Neither has it been signed by Cuba or The United States.

With regard to the incident occurring on February 24 last, in official statements by American spokespersons and in diverse media a concerted effort was made to arbitrarily identify the actions against Cuban territory as activities appropriate to civil aviation and to stress the civil status of the downed planes. However, a simple look at the facts and the events leading up to them and their context show clearly that this pretense is completely without foundation.

With alleged civilian aircraft, Havana and other places in Cuba have been bombarded and machine-gunned on many occasions. With alleged civilian aircraft, incendiary devices and explosives were dropped on our cane fields and other economic targets. With alleged civilian aircraft, biological warfare has been waged against Cuba. In all this long list of aggression including the most recent events, these airplanes have changed their identity from that of civilian aircraft to that of craft involved in military actions.

Would The United States have tolerated provocations of the sort that Cuba has had to tolerate? Would the US authorities have accepted aircraft coming from Cuba, or any other country for that matter, entering illegally in their airspace to drop subversive flyers? What would have happened if civilian aircraft coming from Cuba had disobeyed the instructions of US air traffic controllers? Could Cuban civilian aircraft penetrate with impunity the security zones of Andrews or Fort Meade air bases close to Washington D.C? Would The United States have permitted the implicit threat to its air defenses and to the protection of its borders? What would have been the reaction of the US public opinion in the face of such a boast of impunity by such incursions?

The answer does not require a big effort of imagination. But it is not even necessary to make this effort. The answer was given a few days ago by a spokesperson of the US Defense Department who, when asked by journalists what the US reaction would have been, declared that they would not have permitted it.

Mr. Chairman and distinguished delegates:

My country has every right to not tolerate the inadmissable. We exercise the same sovereign right of all States to defend the territorial integrity of our country. No one has the right to play with the freedom and independence of Cuba much less belittle and make fun of them with impunity.

There is no moral leg to stand on to require from us explanations especially in the light of the fact that the country which does so, The United States, protects within its borders the material and intellectual authors that masterminded and executed the bombing in 1976 in Barbados of a Cuban civilian aircraft that extinguished the lives of 73 people. The same country went out of its way to prevent the Security Council from examining the case. If humanitarian concerns which are voiced today were genuine, if there had been the slightest interest to do justice, considering only the dimensions of the tragedy, a few hours in this Council would have been enough to take action against one of the most damnable and shameful crimes in the long list committed against our country.

Today we are asking this Assembly if the sovereign right to defend the borders and national security of countries is only a prerogative of the powerful and not of poor and small countries. If the world tolerates what has happened to Cuba it would be tantamount to giving a license to freely violate national sovereignty and to convert all nations of the international community into potential victims.

These events suspiciously converge on one point: the passing in the US Congress of the infamous piece of legislation directed toward blockading Cuba from the rest of the world when over 35 years of cruel and ever stronger economic, commercial and financial blockade have failed, having been condemned on consecutive years by this very sovereign Assembly. It is evident that what was initiated was a mean conspiracy of the Cuban-American ultra-right in complicity with the most extremist sectors of the Congress of the United States not only against Cuba but also against that country's administration to drag it into serious contradictions and problems even of a warlike character in the midst of a ferocious electoral fight for the presidency of that nation. The first serious consequence would be their passing of the criminal Helms-Burton bill. The US Government, which now is adopting measures against Cuba, should realize that these provocations are also directed against it.

We want to make it perfectly clear that one of these measures that has just been passed in the heat of recent events, like the one that supports the Helms-Burton bill, is an open challenge to the majority condemnation that this very Assembly has made in recent years against the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed upon my country. We want to make it perfectly clear that the Helms-Burton bill is not only directed against Cuba but also against humanity. It is a law that is directed against you all, against all those who desire to exercise their right to have relations with, trade with and invest freely in Cuba. It elevates the contempt and disregard for the sovereignty and self-determination of nations to incredible heights and from that height rehearses a new world government that those people responsible for the bill have reserved for the rest of us in the coming century. It also constitutes a test of how far the agenda of the ultra- right can be imposed on the political system and society of the United States.

The extraterritorial dimensions of the Helms-Burton bill is also an effort at legislation that goes well beyond national boundaries and violates the laws of many countries which have had nothing to do with promulgating the law. It also curtails the freedom of commerce that seemed to be a sacrosanct principle of the contemporary economic system and it creates legal international precedents through its Title III, the effects of which no country on earth would seem to be able to escape from.

If one were to go over each and every one of the measures taken during these last days, they all seem to satisfy the political appetite of the Cuban-American mobsters of Miami. This Cuban- American mobsters rave in frustration at the efforts and results that my country is obtaining in the strengthening of its democratic institutions and its dignity and the recovery of its economy, in the consolidation of the Socialism that it chose as the present and future for our people. We have no doubt that this Cuban-American minority will continue to be against everything we do and for it everything done by us will be insufficient.

They are outraged that the world is opening itself up to Cuba and that Cuba has done so to the world. They are offended that the community of nations condemns year after year and in ever-growing numbers the flagrant and massive violation of the right to life of 11 million Cubans, and that it is just what this blockade against Cuba means. They find it galling that with each tourist and businessman who visits the island, the wall of lies that for years was maintained around my country is being taken down brick by brick.

For all those who long ago declared without merit any legal provision of a foreign country against their businessmen and citizens, we send a message of hope: Cuba is an island of daring people, we are not going to turn back from the road we have taken, we are not going to disappoint you, the hopes and trust of friends, nor the partners of Cuba, in spite of threats or bilateral or multilateral measures that some government might want to impose upon us.

We are steadfast and confident in our position. We learned a long time ago that faced with an arrogant and bullying neighbor there is no place for weakness. Living without fear is what has allowed us to survive up to now. We know very well that that challenge is a price we have to pay in order to live free and without a master. We do not raise our voice, we do not make use of unjustified insults, name- calling and vulgarity, we have no need of hysteria or mendacious rantings.

We know very well, after 37 years of resistance, that the force of truth lies not in the tone in which it is proclaimed but rather in the convictions and the principles on which it is based. We are a small country but our sky, our sea, our soil and our flag will never be violated, humiliated or mocked by anyone ever.

Much blood was shed during the almost hundred year struggle that Cubans waged in order to free themselves from all types of colonialism and build the independent, sovereign, democratic and free country we have today. Our history, our dead and our heroic people deserve great respect and especially in the light of the peace and tranquility that we desire so fervently to give to our children. We will never renounce our vigilance in maintaining our sovereignty.

Our readiness to enter into dialogue has been demonstrated time and again in the course of the development of our relations with the United States. Cuba has given ample proof of good faith and her desire to make headway in the search of ways to resolve the conflicts that have been present in these relationships, as well as her willingness to comply with all her commitments. We have demonstrated this by scrupulously complying with the accords reached at the termination of the war in Angola, after fulfilling our duty to support with our generous blood the sovereignty of that country, the implementation of Resolution 435, the independence of Namibia and the end of Apartheid. We have demonstrated this by complying with the travel arrangements between Cuba and The United States and other forms of communication, by furthering the establishment and development of relationships with the Cuban community abroad, and by following the accords reached on migratory issues, only to mention a few examples.

In these and other cases, it is perfectly clear that the problems in bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States can be resolved if there is a will to do so through appropriate procedures. Cuba maintains that will. We are not interested in any sort of confrontation nor is that our attitude. If the Government of the United States is really interested in eliminating or reducing the points of friction or conflict between our two countries through discussions and negotiations, we emphatically reiterate here that Cuba is and always will be ready to advance in this direction.

But if, on the contrary, the pretense here is to try to pressure or threaten Cuba with sanctions or condemnations, let it be understood that we have never retreated in the face of pressures or threats. We did not do so when our people were faced by the imminent threat of nuclear annihilation in the October Missile Crisis of 1962. We will not do so now.

This is the time to show truly whether or not the world wants the peace, the well-being and the right to freedom with justice that we Cubans have given ourselves or if the world is going to back up those who under a disguise of civility instigate war and prevent the relations of good neighbors between Washington and Havana, the normal and healthy connection that is the desire of the majority of Cuba's children who live in the United States.

Cuba has come to the General Assembly to inform without misrepresentations or errors about the events that have taken place and to explain her point of view about a situation that affects her directly. Nonetheless, we are convinced that the question goes beyond Cuba. Today Cuba is the target but tomorrow any of us could fall victim to this kind of manipulation.

From my country's point of view, the role of the United Nations is not to serve as an instrument for the powerful to promote their political options. Its true objective should be to forge a world in which the right to life with peace and dignity is respected by all countries equally, where development takes the place of the poverty, human misery and ignorance that beleaguer the vast majority of the human race.

Its goal should be a world where cooperation is no longer a senseless concept and becomes a common practice; where justice and equality in international relationships become the highest law of a different way of life, on a planet whose limited resources we all share.

Its goal should be a world where peace does not result from the force of arms but naturally from the equal development of all countries and where international law is applied equally to all nations.

Its goal should be a world where principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, national independence, sovereign equality and non- interference in the internal affairs of States are respected without limitations or restraints, with the spirit that should prevail in the "Decade of the United Nations for International Law".

In the struggle that we all wage to obtain these objectives, the international community has counted on Cuba in the past and can continue to count on her unwavingly.

Our country has embarked upon a titanic struggle for its own development in the midst of very difficult circumstances that result from the iron-clad blockade imposed upon us for the last 37 years by the government of the United States. Why does the Security Council act so diligently in the case of the two planes that violated our airspace, shot down on February 24, and has never acted to consider the blockade against Cuba which has been condemned no less than four times by overwhelming vote in the General assembly? Why does the Security Council not deem it worthy to discuss the present plans within the US government to harden and extend the blockade against Cuba and to criminally aggravate its brutal effects on Cuba's people? Why does it not analyze the behavior of a member State that disregards, disdains and rebuffs the decisions of the General Assembly of the United Nations?

We trust that this time the same double standard to which we are unfortunately accustomed will not rear its ugly head: that is, that the attempt will be made to condemn and sanction the victims and not the aggressors.

Threats have meant nothing to us nor the abuse of power that corrupts and humiliates those who join and submit to it. Ever since the time that the generation of our parents started the final battle to win our freedom, we have learnt the lesson that there is no brute force that can reduce to abject obedience a people who were born and learned to walk in this world with their heads held high.

Thank you very much!