Pit Schultz on Fri, 18 Sep 1998 08:19:55 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Fidel replies

Speech delivered by his Excellency Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the
Council of State and of the Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, to the
South African Parliament, in Cape Town, September 4, 1998. 

Translated by Florencia Belvedere, FOCUS-Gauteng **This is an unofficial

Honourable Mrs. Frene Ginwala, President of the National Assembly;
Honourable Mr. P. Lekota, President of the National Council of Provinces;
Members of the South African Parliament; Distinguished guests: 

As you can see, everything has happened differently.  Nobody has
headphones.  Instead, this will be a direct translation. (Points to the
interpreter).  We have to do this paragraph by paragraph, and idea by
 However, interruptions will be minimal.  This goes to show, once again,
that one should not be discouraged by difficulties encountered, as
everything has a solution. (Laughs and applause.)


What is the point of telling us about macroeconomic indicators and other
forms of eternal deceit, such as the recipes and prescriptions from the
International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation? Why tell us
of the miraculous properties of the blind laws of the market and of the
wonders of neo-liberal globalisation? (Applause.) Why aren't these stark
realities accepted once and for all?  Why aren't other formulae found and
why isn't it recognised that man is capable of organising his life and his
destiny in a more rational and humane way? (Applause.)

An unavoidable and deep economic crisis, perhaps the worst in history, is
threatening all of us today.  The world, which has become an enormous
gambling house, is seeing everyday speculation in the range of $1.5
trillion which has absolutely no relation, nothing to do with the real
economy. (Utterances of "Yes" and applause.) Never before did world
economic history see anything like this. The value of stocks in the US
stock market has been rising to absurd levels.  It was only historical
privilege, associated with a set of factors, which made it possible for
the wealthy nations to be the only ones in the world to issue the reserve
currencies of every central bank in every country.  The dollar stopped
having gold backing when that country suppressed the exchange rate
established at Bretton-Woods.  As was the dream of so many alchemists in
the Middle Ages, paper was converted into gold.  Ever since then, the
value of the reserve world currency has simply become a matter of
confidence. It should be said that wars like that in Vietnam, which was
waged at a cost of $500 billion, paved the way for this enormous deceit.
To that we should add the colossal build-up without taxes, which raised
the US public debt from $700 billion to $2.5 trillion in only eight years. 

Money became a fiction.  Values no longer had a real and material basis.
In recent years, American investors purchased $9 trillion through the
simple mechanism of unbridled multiplication of the stock prices in their
market. We find this colossal growth of trans-national corporations'
investments in the world or even in their own country, the US, at the same
time that they have had unrestrained growth of domestic consumption.  This
has been artificially feeding an economy that seems to grow and grow
without inflation and without crises.  However, sooner or later, the world
will have to pay the price. 

The most prosperous nations of south-east Asia have been ruined.  Japan,
the second world economy, can no longer stop recession.  The yen keeps
losing value; the yuan is being sustained not without great sacrifices by
China, whose high growth will be reduced to less than 8 per cent this year
- a figure dangerously close to the tolerable limit for a country that has
conducted an accelerated radical reform and an extraordinary
rationalisation of its labour force in its productive enterprises. 

The Asian crisis is coming back.  The economic catastrophe that is
emerging in Russia, when that country is trying to build capitalism, is
the greatest social and economic failure in history. (Applause.) All that
despite enormous economic assistance and the recommendations and advice
given to them by the best minds in the West. (Laughs.) And there is still
another danger.  At this moment, the major political danger is that a
situation has been created in which a state with thousands of nuclear
warheads has not paid the operators of the strategic missiles their
salaries for five months. (Laughs and applause.)

The stock markets in Latin America have lost, in only a few months, more
than 40 per cent of the value of their stocks. The ones in Russia have
lost 75 per cent of their value.  And this phenomenon tends to expand
everywhere.  The basic commodities of many countries, such as copper,
nickel, aluminium, petroleum, and many others, have lately lost 50 per
cent of their prices.  The US stock market has begun to shake.  As you
very well know, they have just had what they call a black Monday.  I don't
know why they call it black, (Applause) since it actually was a white
Monday. (Applause.)

No one knows exactly when and how general panic will be unleashed.  Can
anyone at this point be certain that there won't be a repetition of the
1929 crash?  Neither Rubin, nor Greenspan, nor Camdessus, nor anyone can
assure it.  The tentativeness worries everyone, including the most eminent
economic analysts.  It's just that between that time and now, there is an
enormous difference.  In 1929, there was no $1.5 trillion involved in
speculative transactions and only 3 per cent of Americans had shares in
the stock market. Today, however, 50 per cent of the American population
have their savings and their retirement funds invested in those stock
markets. It's not a fabrication of mine. Neither is it a fantasy.  Just
read the newspapers. 

Add to that, if you so desire, that the new world order is destroying in
an accelerated fashion the world in which we live, we the 6 billion people
living on this planet now.  This is the same world that should provide a
living for the 10 billion people that we will be in only 50 years' time. 

I have discharged my duty.  I have just described for you what crossed my
mind at 10,000 metres' altitude. (Laughs and applause.) You should not ask
me for solutions.  I am not a prophet. I only know that great crises have
always delivered great solutions. (Applause.) I have confidence in the
intelligence of people and of man.  I have confidence in the need for
humanity to survive.  I trust that you, distinguished and patient members
of this Parliament, will meditate on this subject.  I am confident that
you understand that this is not a matter of ideology, race, colour,
personal income, or social category. Rather, it is for all of us who are
sailing in the same boat, a matter of life or death. 

Let there be more generosity, more co-operation, and more humanity.  Let
South Africa become a model of a more just and more humane future.
(Applause.) If you can do it, we will all be able to do it. (Applause and
utterances of Fidel! Fidel! Fidel!)

Thank you very much (Standing ovations.)

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