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Against the Decadent Empire

by Matthias Rup Saturday, Oct. 14, 2006 at 1:52 PM

The block free movement under Cuban leadership may develop into the crystallization point for globalization critics. "A Better World Is Possible." "Terrorism may not be equated witht he legitimater struggle of the people for national liberation against foreign rule and occupation."


Block Free Movement

By Matthias Rub, Havana

[This article published in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, September 15, 2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

Havana is the navel of the world these days. The access roads in the city, especially from the international airport in south Havana named after the national Cuban hero Jose Marti are richly decorated with flags and swept clean as a whistle. Escorted columns of cars zoom through the city. A person in uniform stands at every corner.

In the downtown area, whole hotels are filled with delegations from all over the world. The party newspaper “Granma” – named after the yacht with which Fidel Castro and 81 faithful landed on Cuba’s southeast coast from Mexico on December 2, 1955 and began the successful revolution on New Year’s Day – and the paper “Juventud Rebelde” (Rebellious Youth) are literally bursting with reports about the great event. The state television broadcast nearly around the clock from the summit even if only pictures of heads of state alighting from airplanes.


What did the 14th summit meeting of the block free movement that began with discussions of delegations and ended this Saturday with acceptance of the final declaration mean outside Havana? Doesn’t the movement founded in Belgrade in 1991 and meeting every three years at a summit with its changing membership survive like the “blocs” once led by the Soviet Union and the United States – and decay like Yugoslavia, the host country of the first summit?

The movement that manages without headquarters and a permanent secretariat has certainly lost significance since 1990. Still the protests of the Cuban host that the block-free today are more important than ever and must develop into a “pro-active movement” of global relevance are more than mere propaganda. After 1979 Cuba brought the summit to Havana for a second time and holds the3 chairmanship for the next three years.


After the summit of Havana, the movement will have 118 member states with the Caribbean newcomers Haiti, St. Kits and Nevis, three-fifths of the UN members. 53 member states of the block free movement are from the African continent, 38 from Asia and 26 in Latin America and the Caribbean. The only European member state is Byelorussia.

That its member states Cub, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were now chosen for the new UN Human Rights Council with headquarters in Geneva in a secret May vote in New York replacing the old UN Human Rights Commission criticized as compromised was due to the weight of the block free in the UN General Assembly.

Though the block free lands Iran and Venezuela did not gain the necessary 96 of 191 votes, the 136 votes for Cuba were a triumph. However Venezuela has another chance for a prestigious victory in the vote for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council from the Latin American group. That rival Guatemala, also a member of the block free movement, is supported by Washington may not help in gaining support at the summit in Havana.


The block free movement under Cuban leadership may develop into the crystallization point for globalization critics all over the world. “A Better World is Possible” was the motto of the summit chosen by the Cuban host. More than in the past, the summit may be a forum for the enemies of that “decadent empire” whose imminent downfall was prophesied by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez on his arrival in Havana.

People in Washington are accustomed to such things from Chavez who has long assumed the role of anti-American loudspeaker from Fidel Castro silent owing to illness. But events like Havana’s event are more than radical political folklore given the illustrious band of enemies of the “empire” at the block free summit and the miserable world press for the once-respected leading power of the free world.


While Chavez was seconded by the Bolivian president Evo Morales, the Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadineschad, zealously sought support for his country’s allegedly strictly peaceful nuclear program. North Korea’s representative from Pjongang will bring a similar mission to Havana. Especially in Teheran, people seem convinced that the “weakening” of the American position in the nuclear conflict and Washington’s readiness for direct discussions is the result of Iran’s successful “alliance policy” all over the world. America stands alone; we are not isolated.

In any case, our positions can be read in the 90-page final document of the summit adopted by 50 heads of state this Saturday.


“Terrorism may not be equated with the legitimate struggle of people for national liberation against foreign rule and occupation.” “The use of the term `axis of evil’ by a certain state as a pretext for combating terrorism” and “the unilateral listing of states allegedly supporting terrorism must be totally repudiated.” Finally “every politically motivated attempt to promote democracy must be rejected and condemned.” This is true for states friendly to Washington like India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Indonesia, countries “charged” in the terror struggle.

The whole week people in Havana wondered whether Fidel Castro recovering from a serious intestinal operation on July 31 would be able to receive more guests of the summit aside from UN secretary general Kofi Annan and open the banquet on Saturday. Still the summit of Havana bore Fidel Castro’s handwriting. The summit could be his historical legacy.

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