Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel highlighted the role of science and innovation in Cuba, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and defended the government of his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolás Maduro, during his speech at the 27th Iberian-American Summit in Andorra.
At the forum, held this Wednesday in virtual format, the island’s president affirmed that Cuba “has experiences to show” and attaches “special importance” to the theme of the event, which on this occasion was “Innovation for Sustainable Development – 2030 Goals. Iberian-America in the face of the coronavirus challenge.”
The also First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), a post to which he was elected to take over from former President Raúl Castro during the recently concluded 8th Congress of the organization, affirmed that the island’s economic and social development national plan until 2030 is “aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals” and “gives a leading role to scientific research.”
Díaz-Canel pointed out that in Cuba “the links between government structures with the sectors of knowledge and the production of goods and services have been strengthened to promote innovation based on economic and social development with emphasis on social development” and said that the country “today has 229 scientific, technology and innovation entities,” according to the official newspaper Granma.
In addition, he stressed that the island has five COVID-19 vaccine candidates, two of which are already in phase III of clinical trials and confirmed that his government hopes to “immunize the entire Cuban population before the end of 2021 with its own vaccines.”
The Cuban president highlighted the role of the Caribbean nation’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, as well as the free public health system, which, he said, has allowed the country to face the pandemic despite the fact that the United States embargo has been “brutally” intensified in recent times.
He also denounced Washington’s support and financing of “dangerous acts of violence and disrespect for the law to promote social and political instability” in Cuba, as well as the campaigns “to discredit and boycott the island’s medical collaboration” in the fight against COVID -19 in 40 countries and territories, which, he asserted, “did not tarnish our vocation for solidarity and cooperation.”
— Presidencia Cuba (@PresidenciaCuba) April 21, 2021
Support for Maduro government
Díaz-Canel considered it “useful and sincere” to recognize the failure of the United States’ strategy with respect to Venezuela, which has had the support of several nations in the region, and asked that “the government headed by constitutional President Nicolás Maduro Moros be respected.”
“It would be useful and sincere to recognize that the U.S. design of intervention in Venezuela failed miserably and placed other countries that supported it in an unsustainable political and legal situation,” said in his online speech the island’s president, which marked the presence of a Cuban president in the Iberian-American Summit after two decades.
He also stated that “it is unfair to blame the Venezuelan government for the economic and social situation” it is going through, for which he blamed the United States and “several of its allies” for having applied “cruel unilateral measures.” “Those who claim to respect the will of the Venezuelan people should recognize that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a sovereign state,” he added.
Venezuela is Cuba’s main political ally in the region and one of its biggest economic partners since the arrival of the late Hugo Chávez to the presidency. This alliance has been continued by Maduro, first during the mandate of Raúl Castro and now during that of Díaz-Canel, despite the crisis that both nations are going through.
Maduro, who was appointed as the representative of Venezuela in the Iberian-American forum over the opposition leader Juan Guaidó, whom several countries in the region recognize as president, finally decided not to participate and delegated responsibility to his vice president, Delcy Rodríguez.
An inclusive Iberian-America
In his speech, the Cuban president also called for “an inclusive Iberian-America that takes into account the development interests of all the members of this conference could favor the advancement of our nations” and affirmed that “sustainable development demands political will, solidarity, cooperation, financial and economic transfers from developed countries, and equitable access to those resources that takes into account the inequalities.”
He affirmed that “the pandemic has laid bare” as “an indisputable truth” that “the health and social protection systems, education, science and technology and the material resources available must be placed in the function of all and not at the mercy of a few” and pointed out that “until a just, democratic and equitable economic order is established that allows us to learn more about the root causes of inequalities to advance towards the sustainable development goals, these will continue to be chimeras for most of the countries of the world.”
In addition, Díaz-Canel called for the abolition of the developing countries’ foreign debt, which he said has already been “paid a thousand times over” and called for more “financial and technology transfers from developed countries” to countries that have fewer resources to ensure the “sustainable development” of the latter.