JOSÉ MARTÍ INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, HAVANA, SEPTEMBER 19, 2015
The Cuban people and government receive it with deep feelings of affection, respect and hospitality.
We are very honored with your visit. You will appreciate that we deeply love our homeland, for which we are able to make the greatest sacrifices. We have always been guided by the example of our America’s neighbours, who bequeathed dignity, courage, and generosity to us. For them we have been able to practice the martyrdom axiom that homeland is humanity.
The memorable meeting we held last May, in Vatican City, provided an opportunity to exchange ideas about some of the most important issues in the world in which we live.
The peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean have set out to move towards their integration, in defense of independence, sovereignty over natural resources and social justice.
However, our region remains the most unequal in the distribution of wealth. On the continent, legitimately constituted governments working for a better future face numerous attempts at destabilization.
We have followed your pronouncements very closely. The Apostolic Exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel”, on social issues, and the encyclical letter “Praised Seas”, concerning the future and care of the planet and humanity, have motivated me with deep reflection. They will be a reference for the forthcoming Post-2015 Development Agenda Summit, to be held at the UN this month, and for the XXI International Conference on Climate Change to be held in December in Paris.
They begin to have a growing echo in the world their analysis of the causes of these problems and the call to safeguard the planet and the survival of our species; the cessation of predatory action by rich countries and large transnationals, to eliminate the dangers to all of resource depletion and biodiversity loss.
As His Holiness points out: “Humanity is called to become aware of the need for lifestyle changes, production and consumption.”
The leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, in 1992, during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, raised the need to save humanity from self-destruction, better distribute wealth, knowledge, science and technologies, for sustainable development; “make hunger disappear and not man,” he said.
The current international system is unfair and immoral. He has globalized capital and made money his idol. It makes citizens mere consumers. Instead of spreading knowledge and culture, it aliens them with reflexes and patterns of conduct promoted by means that serve only the interests of their owners, transnational information corporations.
The deep and permanent crisis is unloaded brutally on Third World countries. Nor do those excluded in the industrialized world, minorities, unemployed youth and the underdogs escape from it, those seeking refuge from hunger and conflict. It offends human conscience what happens to immigrants and the poor. These are the indignants of the world who cry out for their rights and the end of so much injustice.
In his words to the two world meetings of the People’s Movements in October last year in Vatican City and July of the present, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, he reiterated the need to practice solidarity and fight together against the structural causes of poverty and inequality, for the dignity of man and referred to the right to land , to the ceiling and to work.
To conquer these rights, among others, the Cuban Revolution was developed. For them, Fidel claimed in his historic defense plea known as The Story will absolve me.
To achieve a fairer and more supportive society, we have worked hard and taken on the greatest risks since the revolutionary triumph.
We have made it blocked, slandered, assaulted, with a high cost of human life and great economic damage. We founded a society with equity and social justice, with wide access to culture and adherence to the traditions and most advanced ideas of Cuba, Latin America, the Caribbean and the world.
Millions of people have regained their health with Cuban cooperation: 325,710 employees have worked in 158 countries; today, 50,281 Cuban health workers serve in 68 nations. Thanks to the “I Can” programme, 9,376,000 people have been literate in 30 states; and more than 68,000 foreign students, from 157 countries, have graduated from Cuba.
We are resolutely advancing our economic and social model to build a prosperous and sustainable socialism, focused on the human being, the family and the free, democratic, conscious and creative participation of the whole society, especially young people.
Preserving socialism is ensuring the independence, sovereignty, development and well-being of the nation. We have the strongest decision to face all the challenges to achieve a virtuous and just society, with high ethical and spiritual values. As the venerable priest Felix Varela pointed out, “we want future generations to inherit from us the dignity of men and remember what it costs to recover it so that they fear losing it.”
Unity, identity and regional integration must be defended. The Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by the Heads of State and Government during the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, held in Havana in January 2014, enshrines a set of vital commitments, such as the peaceful settlement of disputes in order to banish forever the use and threat of the use of force in our region; not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other State and to observe the principles of national sovereignty, equal rights and the free determination of peoples; fostering relations of friendship and cooperation with each other and with other nations; and fully respect the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system as an essential condition for ensuring peaceful coexistence between nations.
For Cuba, the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations are in full force and effect. Only respect for these can guarantee increasingly threatened international peace and security.
We knew with great interest the words of His Holiness in the context of the commemoration of the 70th. anniversary of nuclear attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The existence of nuclear weapons is a threat to the very survival of human beings and an affront to the ethical and moral principles that should govern relations between nations. Its use would mean the disappearance of human civilization. Advocating for disarmament, and particularly nuclear disarmament, is not only a duty but a right of all the peoples of the world.
We have appreciated your support for the dialogue between the United States and Cuba. Restoring diplomatic relations has been a first step in the process towards normalizing ties between the two countries that will require solving problems and repairing injustices. The blockade, which causes human harm and deprivation to Cuban families, is cruel, immoral and illegal, must cease. The territory that usurpes the Naval Base at Guantanamo must be returned to Cuba. Other matters must also be settled. These righteous claims are shared by the peoples and the vast majority of the world’s governments.
We commemorate this year, Holiness, the 80th. anniversary of uninterrupted relations between the Holy Apostolic See and Cuba, which are good and develop favorably on the basis of mutual respect.
The Government and the Catholic Church in Cuba maintain relations in an uplifting climate, as with all religions and religious institutions present in the country, which instill moral values that the nation appreciates and cultivates. We exercise religious freedom as a right enshrined in our Constitution.
We give the presence of His Holiness in our homeland all its meaning. It will be transcendent and enriching for the nation to meet a hardworking, educated, selfless, generous people with deep convictions, patriotic values, ready to continue their heroic resistance and to build a society that guarantees the full development of women and men, with dignity and justice.
On behalf of this noble people, I warmly welcome you.
Thanks a lot.