World financial system a 'large casino'- visiting Cuban Foreign Minister

Guyana Chronicle
February 22, 2000

VISITING Cuban Foreign Minister, Mr Felipe Ramon Perez Roque has dubbed the world's financial system "a large casino" worth trillions of dollars daily.

"Russia knew the effect too well, Brazil knew the effect, Latin America and the Caribbean know well," he said in a lecture at the Foreign Service Institute in Georgetown yesterday.

Perez Roque, here as part of a Caribbean visit, yesterday met President Bharrat Jagdeo, Foreign Minister Clement Rohee and was at lunch with other Foreign Ministers attending a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) meeting here.

In the lecture, he called for the reform of the Bretten Woods institutions, stressing that the international economic and financial system is profoundly unfair and untenable.

His lecture was on Cuba and the international situation.

"It is an unfair system because developed countries with 20 per cent of the world's population, control 86 per cent of the world's Gross Domestic product", he noted.

"...The rest, over 100 countries, have 14 per cent of the world's GDP," he said.

Perez Roque argued that the wealthiest 20 per cent own 24 per cent of all telephone lines and are 93 per cent of all internet users.

He emphasised there should not only be talk about free trade, but fair trade because small underdeveloped countries depending on a single export product cannot compete with large multinational companies which undergo mergers every day in deals amounting to tens of millions of dollars.

According to him, in 1990, Latin America's foreign debt amounted to US$500 billion, but it is now almost US$900 billion, and from 1990 to now, Latin America has paid US$890 billion in foreign debt servicing.

The minister noted that foreign debt servicing in Latin America accounts for 25 per cent of exports, while official development aid continues to decrease.

Perez Roque observed that aid from the United States to the Caribbean has declined in the last nine years from US$223M to US$23M per annum.

He restated Cuba's support for the Caribbean over the banana row with the U.S. emphasising the need for preferential treatment to maintain these small regional economies.

The Cuban minister pointed out that CARICOM has played a pivotal role in the creation of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and has continued actively in the work of such organisations with the aim of contributing to their development and solidification.

As chairman of the tourism committee of the ACS, Cuba endorses the creation of a sustainable tourism area in the Caribbean Sea, he assured.

Commenting on Cuba's role in economic ventures in the Caribbean, Minister Perez Roque said his country will always be an ally and not a competitor.

"Despite the doubt and the confusion that our enemies are trying to spread, Cuba's tourism development is not to compete with our Caribbean brothers and sisters...Cuba will always be an ally and never a competitor".

He stated that the policy of the United States is to deny the right of the Cubans to self-determination on their own existence through the imposition of a genocide blockade.

Minister Perez Roque told the gathering that although the blockade has been rejected by the international community, it continues to be applied and has already lasted 40 years.