REMARKS BY ARMY GENERAL RAUL CASTRO RUZ, PRESIDENT OF THE STATE COUNCIL AND THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA AT THE SPECIAL SESSION OF LEADERS OF SICA, ALBA AND THE RIO GROUP ON THE COUP D'ETAT IN HONDURAS. NICARAGUA, JUNE 29, 2009
Distinguished presidents and ministers:
I shall be brief since there are many Heads of State and senior government representatives who will also take the floor.
We have been called together by an extremely grave and transcendental event for Latin America and the Caribbean. We are all aware of the ill-treatment and abuses to which the president and foreign minister of Honduras were subjected, along with the ambassadors of Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba. The right of the Honduran people to political free expression has been trampled on.
Our first message to the Honduran people is one of solidarity and encouragement.
Cuba strongly condemns the brutal coup d’état perpetrated against the constitutional government of Honduras and its legitimate president and spurns the criminal attack on the popular sovereignty of this nation.
The aggression against the political constitutionality of a member country must be unanimously rejected in the strongest terms by the Rio Group.
Indeed, as President Chávez said last night, it is time to act according to our beliefs and to not lose a minute and expose those who express condemnation but later applaud under the table, as has so often been the case in our collective history.
Honduras has, and can only have, one single president. José Manuel Zelaya must immediately and unconditionally return to carry out his responsibilities. (Applause)
We are of the view that there cannot be any kind of negotiation with the putschists, nor can there be any conditions or demands placed on the legitimate government of President Zelaya.
The conflict between the aspirations of the people for a better future and the interests of the oligarchy bent on perpetuating an unjust and unsustainable order is being decided there. It is a conflict that transcends the borders of Honduras and an expression of the danger of a return to the past of military dictatorships which, with the support of the United States government, in a very recent past, terrorized Latin American peoples for decades, very particularly in Central America and the Caribbean, without hardly any exception.
Let us remember the most recent ones: Bolivia with Evo, threatened by separatism. Friendly governments rushed to his defense and played their role in halting that kind of aggression against a sovereign country and a president who, for the first time, represents those born on this continent who have carried on their backs most of the burden of exploitation. (Applause)
Earlier, it was against Chávez; the double coup, the typical coup d’état and when the people reacted and restored President Chávez to his place, the oil coup that cost Venezuela billions of dollars.
And now it is Zelaya in Honduras. I don’t know whether it is a coincidence that the three countries I have mentioned are members of the fledgling ALBA, which is a source of concern to many, even though they don’t say so.
Just these three examples show how the oligarchies and the external forces keeping them company still have great influence to slow down history.
I wonder what they will do with Correa in Ecuador. I’m afraid he might be the next candidate and that the next Rio Group meeting will be to congratulate Correa on his success in defending his country and its revolutionary process. (Applause)
I have only mentioned a handful of countries; I could mention others that belong to ALBA. For that reason the fascist coup against President Zelaya is an affront to all the peoples and governments of Latin America and the Caribbean, and it cannot go unpunished. Its authors will have to shoulder the responsibility for the crimes and violations that have taken place in that sister nation.
Also the media that collaborate with the aims of the putschists and bring confusion to the people should be held responsible as accomplices. Fortunately, we could have some news through the crucial work of Telesur. (Applause)
Just as responsible will be the oligarchic groups that attempt to legitimize a criminal act of this magnitude; and the hemisphere’s reactionary sectors that support the transgressors of constitutionality.
The government of the United States should act according to its statements and assume them with complete sincerity. I believe in the sincerity of President Obama and his foreign minister but they should prove it with deeds, not just with words.
No coup can survive without popular support and with the absolute rejection of the Latin American and Caribbean governments, and as Fidel said in his Reflections yesterday, the Honduran putschists do not even breathe without US backing or that of some of the power groups in the government of the United States.
To the Honduran people, its peasants and workers; to the professionals and teachers; to the healthcare workers; to the business sector; and to all the sons and daughters of the Homeland of Morazán, I reiterate the Cuban people’s message of solidarity and encouragement along with the commitment that we will be at their side in this battle for justice and dignity.
Thank you very much.