KEY REMARKS BY ARMY GENERAL RAUL CASTRO RUZ, PRESIDENT OF
THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, AT THE RIO+20 SUMMIT, JUNE 20-22, 2012
Mrs. Dilma Rouseff President of Brazil:
Mr. Ban Ki-Moon Secretary General of the United Nations:
Twenty years ago, on June 12th, 1992, in this same hall, Fidel Castro Ruz,
leader of the Cuban Revolution, said: “An important biological species is at risk
of disappearing due to the rapid and progressive elimination of its natural
That which could have sounded alarmist then is today an irrefutable reality. The
inability to transform unsustainable production and consumption patterns is
challenging the balance and the renewal of the natural mechanisms that nourish
the diverse forms of life on the planet.
The impact cannot be hidden. The species are extinguished one-hundred times
faster than those found in the fossil records. Over five million hectares of forest
are lost every year while nearly 60 percent of the ecosystems are impoverished.
Although the UN Convention on Climate Change was a landmark, the carbon
dioxide emissions grew by 38 percent from 1990 through 2009, and currently
we are experiencing a rise of global temperature threatening, first and foremost,
the integrity and the very existence of numerous developing island states with
serious consequences for countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
A profound and thorough investigation conducted in the past five years by our
scientific institutions basically matches the reports presented by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and confirms that, if the current
trends prevail, the present century will see a gradual but marked rise of the
average sea level in the Cuban archipelago. The forecast includes the
intensification of such extreme weather events as tropical storms and the
increased salinization of underground water. These will have a grave impact all
along the coastline; we are thus adopting the necessary measures.
Such phenomena would also have serious repercussions on the geography,
demographics and economy of the Caribbean islands which must also tackle
the inequities of an international economic system that leaves out the smallest
and most vulnerable.
The fact that the negotiations have failed to reach an agreement that would help
prevent the global climate change is a clear indication of the lack of political will
and of the inability of the developed nations to act according to the obligations
stemming from their historic responsibility and current standing.
Poverty spreads, hunger and malnutrition become greater and inequality
increases, all of these aggravated in past few decades as a result of
In the course of the past twenty years, new types of wars have been launched
in the pursuit of energy sources. Such was the case in 2003, under the pretext
of weapons of mass destruction that never existed, and more recently in
northern Africa. The aggressions that now threaten Middle East nations will be
followed by others aimed at controlling access to water and other resources
headed for depletion.
It must be denounced that an attempt at a new distribution of the world will be
conducive to a spiral of conflicts of unpredictable consequences for an already
In the past two decades, total military spending has mounted to the
astronomical figure of 1.74 trillion USD, almost twice that of 1992, dragging to
the arms race other states whose safety is jeopardized. Two decades after the
end of the Cold War, who will be the targets of such weapons?
Let’s put justifications and selfishness aside and work for solutions. This time
everyone, absolutely everyone, will suffer the consequences of climate change.
The governments of the industrial nations behaving inconsistently should avoid
the grave mistake of believing that they will be able to live a little longer at our
expenses. The waves of millions of hungry and desperate persons moving from
the South to the North, and the peoples’ rebellion in light of such indolence and
injustice would be irrepressible. At that point, no hegemony will be viable. May
plundering end; May the war end; let’s move towards disarmament and destroy
the nuclear arsenals.
We are impelled to produce a transcendental change. The only choice is to
build societies with more justice and to establish a more equitable international
order based on respect for everybody’s rights; to ensure sustainable
development, particularly to the South nations, and to apply the achievements
of science and technology to the salvation of both Earth and human dignity.
Cuba hopes that common sense and human intelligence will prevail over
irrationality and barbarism.