We are ninety-five countries from all the continents, representing the immense majority of humanity. We are united by the determination to defend the cooperation between our countries, free national and social development, sovereignty, security, equality, and self-determination.

We are associated in our determination to change the present system of international relations, based as it is on injustice, inequality, and oppression. In international politics we act as an independent world factor….

We aspire to a new world order, one based on justice, on equity, and on peace. One that will replace the unjust and unequal system that prevails today, in which, as proclaimed in the final declaration of Havana, “wealth is still concentrated in the hands of a few powers, whose wasteful economies are maintained by the exploitation of the workers as well as the transfer and plunder of the natural and other resources of the peoples of Africa, Latin America, Asia, and other regions of the world.”…

That is why in Havana we resolved to reaffirm that “the quintessence of the policy of nonalignment, in accordance with its original principles and essential character, involves the struggle against imperialism, colonialism and neocolonialism, apartheid, racism, including Zionism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference, or hegemony as well as the struggle against great power and bloc policies.”

Thus it will be understood that the final declaration of Havana also linked the struggle for peace with “political, moral, and material support for the national liberation movements and joint efforts to eliminate colonial domination and racial discrimination.”

We condemn the persistent diversion of human and material resources into an arms race which is unproductive, wasteful, and dangerous to humanity… (Applause) and we demand that a substantial part of the resources now devoted to arms, particularly by the major powers, be used for economic and social development.

Expressing the position of all the developing countries, the Nonaligned countries call for the establishment of a new international monetary system, which will put an end to the disastrous fluctuations to which the main currencies used in the international economy, especially the United States dollar, are today subject. The financial disorder also hits the developing countries, monetary system are drawn up, they, as the majority of the countries in the international community, representing as they do more than 1.5 billion men and women, may be given a voice in the decision-making process.

Some try to explain the surprising economic fact that the international banking centers continue to provide funds to countries that are technically bankrupt by arguing that these are generous contributions to help those countries meet their economic difficulties. But this in not so. In fact, it is an operation for saving the international capitalist order itself. In October 1978, the Commission of European Communities admitted by way of clarification:

“The present balance of the world economy depends to a considerable extent on continuing the flow of private loans to non oil-producing developing countries…on a scale unprecedented prior to 1974, and any obstacle to that flow will endanger that balance.”

World financial bankruptcy would be very hard, most of all for the underdeveloped countries and the workers in the developed capitalist countries. It would also affect even the most stable socialist economies. But it is doubtful that the capitalist system would be able to survive such a catastrophe. And it would be difficult for the resulting dreadful economic situation not to inevitably engender a world conflagration. There is already talking of special military forces to occupy the oil fields and the sources of other raw materials.

But if it is the duty of everyone to be concerned over this somber prospect, it is first of all the duty of those who possess the greatest wealth and material abundance. In any case, the prospect of a world without capitalism is not too frightening to us revolutionaries. (Laughter and applause)…

The time has therefore come for all of us to join in the task of drawing entire peoples, hundreds of millions of human beings, out of the backwardness, poverty, malnutrition, disease, and illiteracy that keep them from enjoying full human dignity and pride.

We therefore must mobilize our resources for development, and this is our joint obligation.

The world is making an annual investment in military expenditures of more than $300 billion. With $300 billion you could in one year build 600,000 schools with a capacity for 400 million children; 60 million comfortable homes for 300 million people; 30,000 hospitals with 18 million beds; 20,000 factories with jobs for more than 20 million workers; or you could build irrigation systems to water 150 million hectares of land, which with appropriate technology could feed a billion people. Humanity wastes this much every year on it s military spending…

Mr. President, distinguished representatives, human rights are very often spoken of, but we must also speak of humanity’s rights.

Why should some people go barefoot, so that others may travel in expensive cars?

Why should some live only thirty-five years, so that others may live seventy?

Why should some be miserably poor, so that others are exaggeratedly rich?

I speak on behalf of the children of the world who don’t even have a piece of bread. (Applause) I speak on behalf of the sick that lack medicine. I speak on behalf of those who have been denied the right to life and to human dignity.

Some countries are on the sea, others are not. Some have energy resources, others do not. Some possess abundance of land on which to produce food, others do not. Some are so glutted with machinery and factories that even the air cannot be breathed because of the poisoned atmosphere….

In short, some countries possess abundant resources, others have nothing. What is their fate? To starve? To be eternally poor? Why then civilization? Why then the conscience of man? Why then the United Nations? Why then the world?

Bombs may kill the hungry, the sick, and the ignorant but bombs cannot kill hunger, disease, and ignorance. Nor can bombs kill the righteous rebellion of the peoples. And in the holocaust, the rich, who are the ones who have the most to lose in this world, will also die.

By Fidel Castro

(This is an excerpt of an address to the UN General Assembly on October 12, 1979)

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