Cuba’s UN Ambassador Denounces NATO Occupation of Yugoslavia

Cuban Ambassador Bruno Rodriguez addressed the United Nations in late June on the subject of the recently ended war in Yugoslavia.

Below we reprint the full text of Rodriguez’s speech. It is followed by a reply by the U.S. representative to the UN and then by Rodriguez’s rebuttal.

Translation from the Spanish is by the Cuban newspaper Granma.

Mr. President:

The Security Council is late. The resolution it has just adopted will not change reality. This has been and will continue to be a US and NATO invasion. The disregard for the United Nations and disobedience to the Security Council are irreparable. The aggressors will never be impartial and will never reestablish the principles they have trodden upon.

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity-solemnly and hypocritically proclaimed-is absolutely unfeasible after the imposed conditions, and the forcible disintegration of a sovereign state is not being disguised.

Seven days have gone after the acceptance by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s government and the Serbian parliament of the peace proposal conveyed by the High Special Envoys.

In this time period, however, there have been 3684 NATO sorties and 996 strikes against a wide range of targets, including civilian targets, according to the latest available information. After the Serbian acceptance, innocent people continued to be killed or wounded, and the deliberate destruction of the country went on.

This week, after the demands presented by NATO-added to the envoys’ already draconian proposal-it has become more apparent that the United States and NATO were not seeking a political solution but rather the consolidation of a new world power mechanism, the destruction of Serbia, the liquidation of its government and the humiliation of its people. It is now confirmed that negotiation is not possible under the bombs.

There is no doubt now-if ever there was one- about the real goal of this disproportionate aggression. For 79 days, a colossal military, economic and technological force attacked with impunity a small developing country, carrying out 35,778 combat and support missions. The aggressors’ combined GDP is 1,163 times that of their victim: their population is 77-fold; their territory 226-fold, and their regular troops are 43-fold. The Serbian people’s resistance has been heroic, at the cost of thousands of civilians dead or wounded, enormous deprivation, the destruction of their country, the indelible trauma of the bombardments in their children’s minds. The aggressors deserve no laurels.

The Security Council’s silence will not erase the images of the bombed Grdelica Jorge passenger train; of the Djakovica-Pec convoy of Albanian refugees; of the civilian facilities in Belgrade and Novi Sad; of the Paracin, Kralijevo, Sremska Mitrovica villages; the Serbian television station; the Luzane bus; the Surdulica neighborhood; the Lucani factory; the power generators; the potable water grids; the Valjevo hospital; the Greek convoy near Vlac; the People’s Republic of China’s Embassy; the Nis marketplace and hospital complex; the Kosovar-Albanian Korisa village; 18 diplomatic premises; the Istok prison; tens of bridges, railways and roads.

It has been a genocide. The systematic actions to deprive millions of people of food, heat, drinking water and medical services; the deliberate and daily strikes on non-military targets where civilians were known to be; and the use of internationally banned weapons like the uranium-coated and cluster bombs; or the indiscriminate use of seismic bombs in urban areas and graphite bombs against power grids-so as to paralyze every vital service-cannot be described otherwise.

These acts are in violation of the Geneva Conventions, International Humanitarian Law and War Practices and Customs. Those responsible must be exemplarily punished. This war’s environmental impact on the region is really inestimable. The pretexts NATO politicians have stuffed their speeches with-lying to their own nationals while ridiculously smiling-cannot withstand any analysis.

They argued that they wanted to prevent a massive exodus of refugees and created a true and readily predictable humanitarian catastrophe: 860,000 refugees left their country after the bombings began. The main attacking countries have received only 30,703 refugees, 3.6 percent of the number they created by their bombings. The United States and the United Kingdom, as a whole, have received 0.9 percent. Two-thirds of the Bosnia refugees whose return had been planned for this year have not returned and nobody is in charge.

They wanted to defend the Kosovar-Albanian people’s human rights and prevent the so-called “ethnic cleansing”: those who are bombing have too many old and current sins for anyone to believe in their sincerity. They also have a double-standard tradition that morally disqualifies them.

The United States and some of its allies-breaching international sanctions-maintained the apartheid regime, tolerated atrocities in Cambodia and Central America and coexisted with the fascist military regimes in Latin America.

They remain impassive and silent to the crimes against the Arab peoples and to those now being flagrantly committed against the Palestinian people. Three hundred Muslims-half of them children under five-die every day in Iraq as a result of sanctions and aggressions. They do not get upset about or make any efforts to settle the conflicts in Africa, where 11 million refugees are currently living in a true humanitarian emergency situation.

The United States currently maintains the segregation of its own indigenous people in keeping with the best of traditions in ethnic cleansing formerly used to exterminate them. Today, immigrants are brutally persecuted; there are atrocious cases like those of Louima and Diallo; and there is a differential ethnic pattern in society, justice, the penal system and the application of the capital punishment.

Nor do the authors of dirty wars, extraterritorial laws and genocidal blockades have the morality to teach humanitarian lessons. It is quite conspicuous that NATO has not done or said anything about the horrible exodus of numberless Serbs, among them 500,000 only from Krajina-according to United Nations official figures-that unleashed the premeditated disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, promoted by a part of Europe and unanimously supported by the West.

Formerly, in 1941, the fascist government of Ante Pavelic, imposed on Zagreb by Adolf Hitler and controlling Croatia, Bosnia, Hercegovina and part of Voivodina up to the threshold of Belgrade, established the famous “doctrine of the three thirds”: one-third of the Serbs was to be expelled; another third assimilated and forcibly converted to the official religion; and the third, physically eliminated. Many of the converts were eventually eliminated, and as deportation became difficult, extermination became the general formula applied. Some 675,000 Serbian civilians, of every age and sex, were murdered by Pavelic’s ustachas, according to the British Admiralty’s well-documented archives.

That holocaust took place scarcely 7 years before NATO was founded. Is Europe not ashamed over the thousands of terribly destructive bombs that NATO has just launched upon the Serbian people?

The current genocidal war, rather than helping harmony, has stirred hatred and exacerbated ethnic and religious wars in Kosovo and the Balkans. It is also noteworthy that NATO’s new “humanism” does not go as far as NATO’s pockets.

Battle-hardened leaders of the most solvent attacking powers have said without a flush that they will allocate no funds until Serbia “becomes democratic.” The interpretation is self-evident. Apparently, “Phase IV” of the operation, with less puritan goals, is being decreed. Nor are there any concrete commitments to the damages, estimated at $100 billion. Reconstruction is the international community’s moral duty and should be a legal obligation for the aggressors.

Cuba wishes to ratify its willingness to participate-to the extent of its modest ability-in any project for the reconstruction of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, on humanitarian aid for the Kosovar-Albanians, and renews the offer made as early as 5 April-12 days after the strikes began-to cooperate by sending, free of charge, some 1000 doctors to take care of refugees in their camps and after their return home, as well as of those who might be in need in Kosovo, in the rest of Serbia and Montenegro.

The survival of Europe’s stability has also been seen as an objective of the unleashed war. However, it is obvious that the region’s instability has grown. The occupation of Kosovo cannot be forever, nor does the invaders’ command offer any guarantees whatsoever. The neighboring countries will have to face the consequences of what has happened, at the cost of high risk for new conflicts or the aggravation of those already underway.

In strongly condemning the crime committed against the Serbian people, the Cuban government supports, also, the Kosovar-Albanian people’s right to be fully guaranteed their national, cultural and religious identity, and to enjoy the widest autonomy and, even, independence, if-once a just and lasting peace not imposed on Serbia by an atrocious war of aggression has been reached-Kosovars of all ethnic groups and the Republic of Serbia should peacefully and democratically come to that decision.

The path to peace goes through guaranteeing absolutely equal rights and security for all national groups and through healing the hatred exacerbated by aggression. A concrete program for reconstruction, peace, security and stability in the region will be required. It is our sincere hope that the neighboring countries will develop-with intelligence, tolerance and altruism-the ability to avoid new conflicts on the grounds of respect for the rights of all national groups.

Mr. President:

Europe, paradoxically, has also been a victim. Although the objective was to consolidate and establish NATO’s offensive capabilities against the rest of the world, what has actually been consolidated and established, in a humiliating and lessening way for the European sovereignty, is the United States’ hegemony over the old and cultured Europe. It has been treated ostensibly as a minor partner. It is the United States that makes all the decisions, lays out the strategy, exerts command, makes use of the necessary military means and tests its new and criminal technology in the European range.

The United States contributed 74% of the fighter planes, and 97% of the airborne refueling planes. Ninety percent of the bombs were laser-guided, all of them US-made. It used thousands of cruise missiles, deployed for the first time its B-2s, and spent billions of dollars financing almost the entirety of the operation.

It was an American war, although some allies contend for credits, or attempts on an impossible leadership. However, it will be Europe that will have to pay the consequences of the conflict, that will have to take on the humanitarian problems created by the air strikes, that will probably have to provide the eventual resources for reconstruction, and that will especially suffer the more unstable conditions generated in the Balkans.

The currency of an integrated, politically independent, economically powerful and cultured Europe has suffered a huge damage. The Euro is already paying for these mistakes in the stock exchange market. Europe will have to rethink its objectives now that its subordination has consolidated. It has been proved that it hurts them as the Bremen Conference and now the EU Summit have agreed to create a “European identity and defense capability.”

On the other hand, NATO’s “New Strategic Concept” and “Defense Capability Initiative” consecrate its right to military intervention at a world level. In Kosovo, the doctrine was put into practice before it was even born. It turns out that NATO, whose only value was its defensive nature and whose only virtue had been its inactivity, is now declaring itself and acting like the world gendarme.

Without a Cold War or a real enemy, it becomes an offensive alliance, announces that it will act beyond its Member States’ borders, that it will attack without being attacked, when it deems its interests at stake, and that it will act outside the UN when the latter becomes indocile.

We are promised that, by cannon shots, it will cope with “global threats” like terrorism, drug trafficking, the existence of weapons of mass destruction and human rights violations (curiously enough, there is no mention of hunger and AIDS), and it will reserve the right to decide what a threat is, and where and when it would call for becoming a target of its missiles.

The concept of the “diplomacy of force” is proliferating. The new “NATO humanitarianism” is just the right to “humanitarian intervention,” which nobody has defined nor has the United Nations agreed upon.

The developing countries must look at Kosovo as the place where we have been made collectively weaker against the powers’ hegemonism and military threat. The frivolous rhetoric on the globalization “opportunities,” the myth of the “new financial architecture” or the “United Nations reform” mirage has been exposed in the Balkans.

Today, the risks and challenges are clearer. No one will give us anything away. It is not a consolation that our creditors, passengers on the same boat, will go down with us. Developing countries, together, will have to forge by ourselves our common future in a globalized world.

Mr. President:

The Security Council’s prolonged silence will not erase the images of the bombardments. The Alliance owns the aircraft and the newspapers. The war show is another commodity. The war and the information market have found in Kosovo common interests and huge revenues. NATO’s war has filled the coffers of smart weapons manufacturers and producers of silly TV shows. The epidemic violence of the societies that have bombed the FRY cannot be detached from this war. Children are shooting in United States schools, following, in essence, the same logic their parents have followed in Serbia.

Mr. President:

We are now witnessing the manipulation of the United Nations and the Security Council. After 79 days of disobedience and contempt, they are being used today to try to give the aggression an appearance of legality. The UN Charter was ignored, and it is invoked now, even though it has been replaced, in fact, with NATO’s New Strategic Concept. The collective security mechanism has been replaced-for the sake of the powerful-with the law of the jungle.

The International Court of Justice did not declare the bombings illegal, thus rendering International Law helpless. It is not new or exceptional for the Commission on Human Rights to be manipulated, but it is serious that it did not say that the air campaign is a massive, flagrant, feverish and systematic violation of human rights.

The developing world suffers unipolarism the most and takes the greatest chances with the weakening of the United Nations. The only beneficiary is the United States. The only choice is to struggle against these imperial practices, defend the United Nations, restore respect for and implementation of the Charter, preserve the principles of non-intervention, non-aggression, no threat or use of force and respect for sovereignty.

The fact that NATO has had to come now to the Security Council signals that this battle is still possible, and that if developing countries use their strength, which is considerable when united, we will be able to save the United Nations.

Thank you.


U.S. Representative Replies

Mr. President:

I am so astounded by the comments and observations of the Cuban representative that I wish to make a brief point on it. Of course, as the representative of the United States here, it would be hard not to be astounded by his comments.

However, although we are used to the tired rhetoric and the antiquated analysis of the Cuban representatives here in the United Nations and normally do not respond, this afternoon, I believe that a comment is important. I was so astounded that he totally avoided any acknowledgment of the human realities in Kosovo prior to the start of the NATO air campaign on March 24 that I wished to point this out in my reply.

It would appear that the well-documented phenomenon of massive ethnic cleansing, the use of terror and brutality against the civilian population is not allowed to register in the minds of Cuban officials. I believe that the reason for this amazing intellectual incapacity is clear to everyone in this room.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Rebuttal by Rodriguez

Thank you, Mr. President:

I have referred to irrefutable historical facts in an objective, exact and respectful manner. I haven’t had the least intention of blaming any one country and far less any one people. I have solely referred to facts that history has recorded in an indelible manner and which have been lamentably omitted in this meeting.

For the benefit of the participants and the record, I should state that the data I utilized in relation to the so-called exodus from Krajina are contained in a recent report to this very same Security Council on June 2, by the assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

Mr. President: One cannot bomb innocent civilians in the name of human rights. One cannot murder peoples in the name of international law. One cannot avoid the exodus of refugees with warfare and the destruction of the means of sustenance, of emergency medical services, of food and water supplies to the population.

One cannot create hundreds of thousands of refugees with criminal and irresponsible policies and then remain unconcerned about them. One cannot launch a war in the name of peace and stability. One cannot commit acts of genocide in the name of freedom.

The United States commits brutal acts and then its representatives fear the words that describe them. Let the minutes confirm it and our all colleagues hear it: the bombardment of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) is an ongoing and deliberate act of genocide.

In the strictest legal sense, an act of genocide is systematic action directed at depriving a defenseless population of its means of sustenance. So is a campaign of air strikes on civilian targets, and prior knowledge of the presence of innocent persons within such targets, which implies a deliberate intent to cause their death because they are there.

It would seem that two distinct wars are being talked of here. That’s logical.

One is the “virtual” war launched from the technological superiority of the United States, from its abundant money, opulence, superiority and hegemonism. It’s a “no-loss” war, a “television” war which intoxicates people while it continues voraciously consuming as if nothing was happening.

The other, of which I spoke, is the real war, where innocent civilians die, where children are torn apart, where hospitals, schools and factories are destroyed. Where people suffer from lack of water, energy, foodstuffs, operating rooms. Where there is no radiotherapy or dialysis, where premature babies die, where trains, buses, refugee convoys, prisons and diplomatic missions are reduced to ashes.

Mr. President, how can the continuation of the bombardment and the deaths and wounding of innocent civilians be explained in the wake of the FRY’s acceptance of the so-called peace conditions? Militarily it was unnecessary, ethically it is unacceptable and, from the humane point of view, it is criminal.

History will never pardon the phrase “collateral damage,” which has been employed so much in recent months to refer to the destroyed bodies of innocent children.

Stating the truth as it is now, we have to avoid the United States and NATO filling us with military interventions and occupying our countries in the South on any pretext whatsoever and whenever it takes their fancy, just as in earlier centuries that nation filled our continents with misery and calamity. We don’t have anything to learn from the country of the war in Viet Nam, police brutality, the buying and selling of politicians, and where Lincoln’s bedroom is rented out.

It was NATO, not Cuba, that flagrantly violated a member state’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

It was NATO, not Cuba, that betrayed the UN Charter and usurped the Security Council’s faculties.

It was NATO, not Cuba, that violated all international conventions, destroyed an embassy and damaged more than one dozen diplomatic missions. It was NATO, not Cuba, that effected over 35,000 combat and support flights and launched thousands of bombs and tons of explosives.

It is NATO, not Cuba, that is the author of the genocide and which bears the responsibility for the death and wounding of thousands of innocent civilians.

Now, the United States and NATO have come to the Security Council. What are they coming for, Mr. President? They are coming to manipulate it. The United States isn’t paying (its debt to) the United Nations and wants to treat it as if it was its fief. When the Security Council, almost always at its service, doesn’t give in, then there’s contempt and disrespect. When the subjects fail to bow down it bombards them.

It ignores the Charter, by stating in this meeting that it is obsolete. It has to be defended, Mr. President. It’s not merely a bunch of papers. It is the fundamental base of the UN, it is the raison d’être of this organization. In order to forget it one would have to have forgotten the bombardment of Rotterdam and the persecution of the Jews in Amsterdam.

Mr. President: I am not going to respond to the personal allusions of the distinguished representative in reference to that “tiny little country” as it was called in an unfortunate joke during a recent Group of Eight press conference.

However, I should state that the Cuba can come here and state the truth, with its head held high, because it has earned that right through its total independence, its heroic resistance in the face of a dirty war, constant aggression and a genocidal blockade mounted by the United States. Cuba can do so because, at the time, it took the decision, ratified today, to defend the Revolution it made for itself to the final consequences.

Thank you very much.

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