Thursday, 31 December 2009


Barack Obama's official statement on Kwanzaa
December 28, 2009
LA Times

Statement by President Obama and Michelle
Obama on Kwanzaa

Michelle and I send warm wishes to all those celebrating
Kwanzaa this holiday season.

This is a joyous time of year when African Americans and
all Americans come together to celebrate our blessings and
the riDemocrat president barack Obama in Hawaii 12-09chness
of our cultural traditions. This is also a time of
reflection and renewal as we come to the end of one year
and the beginning of another.

The Kwanzaa message tells us that we should recall the
lessons of the past even as we seize the promise of

The seven principles of Kwanzaa - Unity, Self
Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility,
Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith -
express the values that have inspired us as individuals and
families; communities and country.

These same principles have sustained us as a nation during
our darkest hours and provided hope for better days to
come. Michelle and I know the challenges facing many
African American families and families in all communities
at this time, but we also know the spirit of perseverance
and hope that is ever present in the community.

It is in this spirit that our family extends our prayers
and best wishes during this season and for the New Year to

We're dreaming of a black Christmas

Millions of African-Americans, including the Obamas,
will celebrate Kwanzaa next month. Will Britons join them?

The Independent
By Sophie Radice

When most of us will be slumped in front of the telly
eating leftovers or stuck on a motorway going to see those
relatives we didn't want to spend Christmas with,
increasing numbers of black British families will be making
Boxing Day the start of their celebrations. It's only been
around for forty-three years, but for millions (The
official festival website puts it at 40 Million) of black
westerners, the seven days of Kwanzaa is fast becoming a
more significant winter festival than Christmas.

Kwanzaa was established in 1966 by Dr Maulana Karenga, the
former chair of the black studies department at California
State University and a militant civil rights leader in the
1960s. A controversial figure, who led an LA-based militant
cultural organisation called US (United Slaves) and who
spent time in prison, Karenga's aim was to knit together
black communities pulled apart by racial injustice and
isolated from their African heritage. Karenga turned to
West Africa and the language of Swahili to coin the term
for a holiday celebration that means "first fruits of the

In North London, Marcia Laycy will be celebrating Kwanzaa
for the third year running, and named the youngest of her
three children Nia after the fifth Kwanzaa day ("and yes
she is very purposeful"). She sees it as "a lovely way for
the kids to calm down, turn off the telly and gather their
thoughts, particularly after all the activities, family
visits and overexcitement of Christmas. Kwanzaa gifts are
hand-made, so my kids think a lot about what they're going
to make for each other and for me. I always appreciate
these gifts so much more than presents from a shop, because
of the time and effort the kids put into them. They have a
lot of fun doing the presents, then decorating the house
with African cloth and statues, and streamers and balloons
in red, black and green. I want my kids to carry on with
Kwanzaa, celebrate it with their families and reflect with
pride on the values of family and community that are so
important for us all."

Those values are entrenched in Kwanzaa's seven principles.
The first day is dedicated to Umoja, unity in good times
and bad; the second day Kujichagulia, self determination;
followed by Ujima, collective work; next is Ujamaa,
cooperation; then Nia, purpose; Kuumba, creativity; and the
last day is to practice Imani, faith. These are
collectively called Njuzo Sapa, and each day a coloured
candle is lit and a homage made by the whole family to each
principle and the memory of their ancestors with a pouring
of the libation from the unity cup. On the last day, a
feast is prepared and home-made gifts handed out.

The election of President Obama has got the US thinking and
talking about Kwanzaa. Although former Presidents Clinton
and Bush thought it important enough to offer a Kwanzaa
greeting from the White House, there has been lots of
discussion in the press and on the internet about how the
first black president will handle Kwanzaa, particularly as
the festival has critics among black Christians and
right-wingers. Ann Coulter, the commentator who is the
darling of the neo-cons, called it a "communist, made-up
holiday" while the Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson of the
Brotherhood Organisation of a New Destiny said: "Kwanzaa
was designed to separate blacks from Christmas and
Christianity. Kwanzaa is anti-white and anti-American.
Black Americans need to choose between the Prince of Peace
and the Marxist Karenga."

It's not only religious conservatives and the right that
are hostile. When I ask black American life-coach and agony
aunt Jenni Trent Hughes whether she celebrates it, she
laughs and says: "The only thing I can compare it to is if
you started saying how morris dancing was something you
were going to take up because it is part of your heritage.
It has great comedy potential - you only have to watch
Chris Rock's Kwanzaa episode on Everybody Hates Chris,
where his dad tries to save money by introducing Kwanzaa
and awful home-made gifts. Kwanzaa is so folksy and
cringe-making, and even Obama, one of the coolest men in
the world, can't change that."

M K Asante Junior is the director of The Black Candle
(2008), the first feature film on Kwanzaa, narrated by Maya
Angelou, which looks at how the festival developed from the
black power festival into an established celebration with
Hallmark greeting cards, special stamps and gift-shops.

He says: "It will be interesting to see what Obama does for
Kwanzaa. What makes Obama different is not just his skin
colour, but his cultural exposure to Kwanzaa and the
African-American community. While at Trinity United Church
of Christ in Chicago for 20 years, a church whose mission
statement begins with 'We are Unashamedly Black and
unapologetically Christian', the Obamas were undoubtedly
exposed to Kwanzaa. Chicago is a hotbed of Kwanzaa activity
and Trinity has hosted Kwanzaa celebrations. The
African-American community expects Obama to go beyond what
the previous two presidents have done."

In the UK, playwright Kwame Kwei Armah thinks otherwise.
"He and Michelle will probably be filmed attending a
Kwanzaa event and handle it in their usual elegant,
understated way. The Right are always looking for ways to
undermine him and there will be critical comments, but I'm
sure he'll take it in his stride.' Kwei-Armah has
celebrated Kwanzaa for 15 years and has stopped celebrating
Christmas, although his kids continue to celebrate with
their grandparents.

"I am person of faith who got tired of the
commercialisation of Christmas. Kwanzaa is not a religious
festival but a cultural one, so it fits any religion. I
understand why Kwanzaa is mocked, because people are
embarrassed and self-conscious about cultural events,
particularly when they are comparatively new. Kwanzaa is an
important part of my family life. My kids become very
creative and thoughtful and write about the principles.
It's a great time for us."

Sophia Macdonald from Birmingham will be celebrating with
her family for the fifth year, starting off the events at
her local community centre on boxing day. Although she was
sceptical when she first heard about Kwanzaa, she says
there are elements of it that bring her family together in
a more powerful way than Christmas.

"When I first heard about it I thought it was too American
and a bit too hippyish. I couldn't dress up in African
clothes like a lot of people do, but I take the family
values and the lighting of the candles seriously. What I
enjoy is the simplicity of it - in America it is really
commercialised and quite mainstream, so perhaps here in
England we are truer to the original ideals. When people
say it's made up, I answer that all celebrations and
rituals were made up at some point. Just because it's new
doesn't mean it's not relevant and important for the black

The symbols of Kwanzaa: What they mean

Mazao: fruits, nuts, vegetables

Mazao, the crops, symbolises work. It represents the
foundation for Kwanzaa, the gathering of the people
patterned after African harvest festivals. Celebrants place
nuts, fruit and vegetables, representing work, on the

Mkeka: place mat

The mkeka, made of straw or cloth, comes from Africa and
expresses history, culture, and tradition.

Vibunzi: ear of corn

Represents fertility and the family's hopes. If there are
no children, two ears are still set on the mkeka because
each person is responsible for the children of the

Mishumaa saba: seven candles

A single black candle symbolises umoja (unity), the basis
of success, and is lit on 26 December. Three green candles,
representing nia, ujima, and imani, are placed to the
right; three red candles, representing kujichagulia,
ujamaa, and kuumba, are placed to the left. During Kwanzaa,
a candle is lit each day.

Kinara: the candleholder

The centre of the Kwanzaa setting; many celebrants create
their own from natural materials.

Kikombe cha umoja: unity cup

A special cup used to perform the libation (tambiko) ritual
during the Karamu feast on the sixth day. Family members
and guests drink from it to promote unity.

Zawadi: gifts

Imani is celebrated on the seventh day of Kwanzaa, when
meaningful gifts are handed out to encourage growth,
self-determination, achievement, and success. Handmade
gifts are encouraged.


PFLP: One year after aggression, resistance is necessary to break the siege on Gaza

PFLP website

The resistance and steadfastness of the people of Gaza
remains powerful and strong one year after the criminal war
and aggression on Gaza, said the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine on December 26, 2009 in a statement
marking the first anniversary of the assault. The
occupation massacres claimed the lives of nearly 1500
Palestinians and wounded and displaced tens of thousands,
demolishing tens of thousands of homes which still await
reconstruction today.

The Front's statement said that "it is clear to all, month
after month, and year after year, that the words of the
United States about 'peace' and 'negotiations' are nothing
more than meaningless sweet talk, false promises, and cheap
attempts at bribery of our people while the occupation
steals our land, violates our rights, slaughters our
people." At the same time, the noise of the so-called
'peace process' only hides the crimes of the occupier and
serves as a mechanism of the Zionist occupation and its
strategic ally in Washington to block our Palestinian
internal efforts to end the division, restore national
unity, and uphold our national rights, said the Front.

The statement went on to say that the leaders of the
occupation war machine believed that they could win
security and political victory and break the will of our
people to steadfastness and resistance, and our commitment
to our national rights through a massive display of
massacres and barbarism. However, in reality, they have
gained no political victory and no so-called security, and
their attempts to dislodge the resistance from Lebanon and
Palestine have utterly failed.

The Front's statement also said that the Gaza massacre
demonstrated clearly before the eyes of the world the utter
lies of any Zionist claims of "military ethics" or
"democracy" as it used internationally banned weapons,
including white phosphorus, to rain destruction and
devastation upon Gaza, noting that the people of the world
responded in horror at the occupation state and solidarity
with our Palestinian people, even as the official
international community remained silent and complicit.

It noted that the official United Nations report of Justice
Goldstone investigating the occupation war crimes in Gaza
laid bare the facts of the occupation's crimes, calling
upon the international community and the United Nations to
hold the occupation war criminals accountable and fulfill
their political, legal and moral responsibilities.

The Front's statement also greeted the Arab people and the
international progressive forces in the world, expressing
pride and gratitude in their ongoing solidarity and
strength that continues to defy all of the enemies of
Palestine in support of the rights of our people.

Comrade Dr. Maher Taher, member of the Political Bureau of
the PFLP and leader of its branch in exile, said further
that resistance is a necessity to break the siege of Gaza,
saying that human rights criticisms and humanitarian
projects are important, but insufficient by themselves, to
break the siege.

Comrade Taher said that the reports of international human
rights organizations were important, confirming and
documenting the major crimes committed before the eyes and
ears of the world. He noted that the Arab governments and
the official international community is silent and
complicit as 1.5 million Palestiniand in Gaza suffer under
siege, but forces, groups and institutions of conscience
have continually called for action, from the Goldstone
report, to international human rights organizations, to
massive grassroots solidarity mobilizations around the

He denounced the complicity of Arab regimes with the siege
on Gaza, saying that silence about the Israeli crimes
allows them to continue. He noted also that the siege is
not simply a humanitarian issue that is a crime against
humanity and affects children, the elderly and the sick,
but that the siege upon the Palestinian people is also a
political siege.

Comrade Taher said that "the Israeli enemy wants the
Palestinian people to raise flags of surrender, abandon
their resistance, and accept the terms and conditions of
the U.S. and Zionism, but the Palestinian people, despite
all, continue the fight, refuse to surrender and will
continue to raise the banner of resistance, whatever the

Tuesday, 29 December 2009


Why denouncing China is hypocritical

There are good reasons why China is likely to be impervious
to lectures from Europeans on the morality of the drugs

Michael White
The Guardian

I'm sorry too that the Chinese have just executed Akmal
Shaikh, an apparently mentally ill Briton. He was clearly
an expendable drugs mule, cynically exploited by
traffickers who are still alive and well today.

But I'm also sorry about the international clamour to
denounce China, which sounds at least as hypocritical and
insensitive as the act itself. Can Gordon Brown and David
Cameron – to name but two – hear what they sound like?

Let's start with the basics. Most of us (not all) deplore
the drugs trade – from cultivation to distribution and sale
– which is illegal in most countries (not all) and has
spawned a huge and lucrative global industry.

Some think the "cure'' – the worldwide campaign against the
trade – worse than the disease since it underpins major
criminal enterprises on all continents. It has long been
the case, though I would personally hesitate to risk
legalising it and hoping for the best.

Different countries tackle the problem in different ways.
China, which has a rising drugs problem as it enters the
modern consumer era, is one of those which takes a tough
line. As the Guardian's Q&A points out today it is one of
the few crimes to attract a mandatory death sentence.

Enter poor Akmal Shaikh, who seems to have gone off the
rails in middle age after leading a quiet family life as a
north London taxi driver. Someone who struck acquaintances
as very odd after he emigrated to Poland with grandiose
ideas, he falls into bad company which exploits his

So he ends up landing in Urumqi, northern China, in 2007
and being caught at the airport with 4kg of heroin in his
luggage. He told police he knew nothing about it. It's a
tragically familiar story and, in his case, it's probably

In the wake of his execution the Chinese authorities sound
quite angry at criticism of their judicial system. Shaikh
had a fair trial, complete with interpreter, they say. He
was deemed fit to plead.

Mental illness? Ah, that's a tricky one. But it's easy to
see how the Chinese might take a very different view of how
it is defined. So do many jurisdictions – as we all know –
on this and many other legal issues: "self defence",
"crimes of passion", "third degree homicide", "honour
killings", lots of scope for moral relativism in all of

Reprieve and other admirable campaigns which fight for the
rights of prisoners in foreign jurisdictions have the
virtue of consistency. Thus they oppose the death penalty
wherever it exists, including the US, where it was
abolished as a "cruel and unnatural punishment'' in 1972 –
and restored in 1976 when the supreme court changed its

Though they are pretty half-hearted about it compared with
China's 1,700 or so known executions (they are reported to
sell body parts for medical use) a year, southern US states
are keenest.

As governors both George W Bush and Bill Clinton – whom so
many of us admire – signed off on questionable executions
of vulnerable, marginalised people like Akmal Shaikh. A
high proportion of the 3,000 or so Americans on Death Row –
few actually executed – are black. Britain? We last
executed a man called Peter Allen at Walton jail on 13
August 1964 for murder – three years before the final
abolition of the death penalty.

Not so long ago really (our last Etonian PM, Sir Alec
Douglas-Home, was in No 10) and, as China's very smart UK
ambassador has probably told Beijing, capital punishment
still commands as much enthusiasm here 40 years later as it
does in China, ie lots.

So there's a sovereignty issue. China – like the US – has
the right to pass and implement its own laws and
governments, governments-in-waiting in Cameron's case,
should pause before getting too mouthy. Apparently 27
representations were made to China by Britain over the past
two years – mostly quietly, I assume, which is always the
best way.

But the execution took place during the Christmas news
lull: hence the sudden high profile. Thank goodness Ivan
Lewis, the junior foreign office minister put up to talk
about it today, saidL "I'm not going to make idle threats"
– or we might be starting 2010 going to war with China.

Talking of which, the really toe-curling fact, of which
neither Dr Gordon Brown with his PhD in history, nor David
Cameron with his 1st in PPE should be ignorant, is
Anglo-Chinese history.

When Europeans started forcing the reclusive China of the
late Ming and Qing dynasty to open its doors to trade in
the 16th and 17th century the visitors wanted more Chinese
goods – all that tea, silk and lovely porcelain – than the
Chinese wanted of ours.

Sounds familiar? What the Chinese would accept was silver,
a better bet than the US dollars they now hold in such vast
quantities. This was unsustainable and in the 19th century
the British East India Company hit on the idea of importing
Indian opium to China – though it was banned by imperial
Chinese law.

I hope you've spotted where I'm heading. If not here's
Wiki's starter kit on the Opium Wars of 1839-42 and 1856-60
which culminated in the so-called "unequal treaties" and
the eventual overthrow of the Qing in 1912.

Result: China was forced to accept the trade with
devastating social consequences. In fairness I should add
that the stuff was legal in Britain at the time – as
readers of Victorian novels can confirm. The Chinese
governor Lin Zexu became a hero for opposing the trade – as
did young William Gladstone at Westminster.

All the same, it is a pretty shameful story. Perhaps it
slipped your memory? It certainly hasn't slipped theirs and
is still unravelling: they only got Hong Kong back in 1997
and have never rebuilt the burned Summer Palace at Beijing
– their Windsor.

So, one way or another, poor Akmal Shaikh was the wrong man
in the wrong place. But China is likely to be impervious to
lectures from Europeans on the morality of the drugs trade.

As the world's rising power it's unlikely to be lectured
anyway, but that's another story – one we'll rapidly have
to get used to. No declaration of war this week, please


Reel Bad Arabs

Monday, 28 December 2009


'Israel resembles a failed state'

Al-Jazeera English
By Ali Abunimah

One year has passed since the savage Israeli attack on the
Gaza Strip, but for the people there time might as well
have stood still.

Since Palestinians in Gaza buried their loved ones - more
than 1,400 people, almost 400 of them children - there has
been little healing and virtually no reconstruction.

According to international aid agencies, only 41 trucks of
building supplies have been allowed into Gaza during the

Promises of billions made at a donors' conference in Egypt
last March attended by luminaries of the so-called
"international community" and the Middle East peace process
industry are unfulfilled, and the Israeli siege, supported
by the US, the European Union, Arab states, and tacitly by
the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah, continues.

Policy of destruction

Amid the endless, horrifying statistics a few stand out: Of
Gaza's 640 schools, 18 were completely destroyed and 280
damaged in Israeli attacks. Two-hundred-and-fifty students
and 15 teachers were killed.

Of 122 health facilities assessed by the World Health
Organization, 48 per cent were damaged or destroyed.

Ninety per cent of households in Gaza still experience
power cuts for 4 to 8 hours per day due to Israeli attacks
on the power grid and degradation caused by the blockade.

Forty-six per cent of Gaza's once productive agricultural
land is out of use due to Israeli damage to farms and
Israeli-declared free fire zones. Gaza's exports of more
than 130,000 tonnes per year of tomatoes, flowers,
strawberries and other fruit have fallen to zero.

That "much of Gaza still lies in ruins," a coalition of
international aid agencies stated recently, "is not an
accident; it is a matter of policy".

This policy has been clear all along and it has nothing to
do with Israeli "security".

Destroying resistance

From June 19, 2008, to November 4, 2008, calm prevailed
between Israel and Gaza, as Hamas adhered strictly - as
even Israel has acknowledged - to a negotiated ceasefire.

That ceasefire collapsed when Israel launched a surprise
attack on Gaza killing six people, after which Hamas and
other resistance factions retaliated.

Even so, Palestinian factions were still willing to renew
the ceasefire, but it was Israel that refused, choosing
instead to launch a premeditated, systematic attack on the
foundations of civilised life in the Gaza Strip.

Operation Cast Lead, as Israel dubbed it, was an attempt to
destroy once and for all Palestinian resistance in general,
and Hamas in particular, which had won the 2006 election
and survived the blockade and numerous US-sponsored
attempts to undermine and overthrow it in cooperation with
US-backed Palestinian militias.

Like the murderous sanctions on Iraq throughout the 1990s,
the blockade of Gaza was calculated to deprive civilians of
basic necessities, rights and dignity in the hope that
their suffering might force their leadership to surrender
or collapse.

In many respects things may seem more dire than a year ago.

Barack Obama, the US president, whom many hoped would
change the vicious anti-Palestinian policies of his
predecessor, George Bush, has instead entrenched them as
even the pretense of a serious peace effort has vanished.

According to media reports, the US Army Corps of Engineers
is assisting Egypt in building an underground wall on its
border with Gaza to block the tunnels which act as a
lifeline for the besieged territory [resources and efforts
that ought to go into rebuilding still hurricane-devastated
New Orleans], and American weapons continue to flow to West
Bank militias engaged in a US- and Israeli-sponsored civil
war against Hamas and anyone else who might resist Israeli
occupation and colonisation.

Shifting public opinion

These facts are inescapable and bleak.

However, to focus on them alone would be to miss a much
more dynamic situation that suggests Israel's power and
impunity are not as invulnerable as they appear from this

A year after Israel's attack and after more than
two-and-a-half years of blockade, the Palestinian people in
Gaza have not surrendered. Instead they have offered the
world lessons in steadfastness and dignity, even at an
appalling, unimaginable cost.

It is true that the European Union leaders who came to
occupied Jerusalem last January to publicly embrace Ehud
Olmert, the then Israeli prime minister, - while white
phosphorus seared the flesh of Gazan children and bodies
lay under the rubble - still cower before their respective
Israel lobbies, as do American and Canadian politicians.
But the shift in public opinion is palpable as Israel's own
actions transform it into a pariah whose driving forces are
not the liberal democratic values with which it claims to
identify, but ultra-nationalism, racism, religious
fanaticism, settler-colonialism and a Jewish supremacist
order maintained by frequent massacres.

The universalist cause of justice and liberation for
Palestinians is gaining adherents and momentum especially
among the young.

I witnessed it, for example, among Malaysian students I met
at a Palestine solidarity conference held by the Union of
NGOs of The Islamic World in Istanbul last May.

And again in November, as hundreds of student organisers
from across the US and Canada converged to plan their
participation in the global Palestinian-led campaign of
boycott, divestment and sanctions modeled on the successful
struggle against South African apartheid in the 1980s.

'Bankrupt' state

This week, thousands of people from dozens of countries are
attempting to reach Gaza to break the siege and march
alongside Palestinians who have been organising inside the

Each of the individuals traveling with the Gaza Freedom
March, Viva Palestina, or other delegations represents
perhaps hundreds of others who could not make the journey
in person, and who are marking the event with
demonstrations and commemorations, visits to their elected
officials, and media campaigns.

Against this flowering of activism, Zionism is struggling
to rejuvenate its dwindling base of support.

Multi-million dollar programmes aimed at recruiting and
Zionising young American Jews are struggling to compete
against organisations like the International Jewish
Anti-Zionist Network, which run not on money but principled
commitment to human equality.

Increasingly, we see that Israel's hasbara [propaganda]
efforts have no positive message, offer no plausible case
for maintaining a status quo of unspeakable repression and
violence, and rely instead on racist demonisation and
dehumanisation of Arabs and Muslims to justify Israel's
actions and even its very existence.

Faced with growing global recognition and support for the
courageous non-violent struggle against continued land
theft in the West Bank, Israel is escalating its violence
and kidnapping of leaders of the movement in Bil'in and
other villages [Muhammad Othman, Jamal Juma and Abdallah
Abu Rahmeh are among the leaders of this movement recently

Travel fears

In acting this way, Israel increasingly resembles a
bankrupt failed state, not a regime confident about its
legitimacy and longevity.

And despite the failed peace process industry's efforts to
ridicule, suppress and marginalise it, there is a growing
debate among Palestinians and even among Israelis about a
shared future in Palestine/Israel based on equality and
decolonisation, rather than ethno-national segregation and
forced repartition.

Last, but certainly not least, in the shadow of the
Goldstone report, Israeli leaders travel around the world
fearing arrest for their crimes.

For now, they can rely on the impunity that high-level
international complicity and their inertial power and
influence still afford them.

But the question for the real international community -
made up of people and movements - is whether we want to
continue to see the still very incomplete system of
international law and justice painstakingly built since the
horrors of the Second World War and the Nazi holocaust
dismantled and corrupted all for the sake of one rogue

What we have done in solidarity with the Palestinian people
in Gaza and the rest of Palestine is not yet enough. But
our movement is growing, it cannot be stopped, and we will
reach our destination.

Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of One Country, A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


Climate Change and China

London School of Economics
Ambassador Fu Ying
12 December, 2009

Professor Corbridge, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to talk to you on such an important subject
as climate change.

It's a special honour, because the LSE is well-known for
its scholarship on climate change and its crucial
contribution to this global debate.

China is a huge country with a population of 1.3 billion.
It has diverse climatic conditions and a fragile
environment. The effect of climate change is a very real
threat which we face everyday.

According to Chinese scientists, the average temperature in
China has risen by 1.1 degrees centigrade in the last 5

It is higher than the reported global average. We are
seeing more frequent bouts of extreme weather in many parts
of the country. Last spring, for example, the most severe
drought in 50 years hit northern China affecting the
livelihood of 4 million people.

Environmental damage and climate change is a reality for
us. Out of the world's most polluted 20 cities, half are in

70% of Chinese rivers are polluted to some degree. China
has become the largest carbon emitter of the world.
How have we got here? China has reached this stage when it
is making great endeavours to lift people out of poverty.
Unlike you here, we have condensed 2 centuries of
industrialization into only 30 years.

Now, the Chinese people have woken to the threat and, with
the same zeal that we have embraced industrialization, we
are embracing cleaner development.

In China, climate change is not just a topic for
discussion; It's backed up with policy and action
throughout the country. Let me share some examples with

First, on the legal and policy front. China set forward a
voluntary reduction program for 2006 to 2010 period,
including 20% reduction in energy intensity per unit of

To achieve this, we amended the Law on Energy Saving and
the Law on Renewable Energy. We've also set up a strict
evaluation system for energy efficiency. This enables the
central government to hold provincial leaders accountable
for meeting energy efficiency targets.

Last month, the evaluation result for 2008 was released on
the web for all to access. Out of 31 provinces and regions,
26 fulfilled emission reduction targets. One can't
underscore enough the importance of having such
transparency as it places great pressure on those who are
not meeting the target.

Beijing is doing better, over-fulfilling its target for
2008, with over 7%. I am sure the Olympics helped. It has
already achieved over 17% for the 20% target of 2010. At
the bottom, you can see Xinjiang. It is lagging far behind
and looks unlikely to meet the target and would need a lot
of help.

Secondly, now the industries have to take very tough
decisions to achieve clean development. Projects with high
emission can no longer go ahead and some existing high
emitters are being phased out.

It is understandably difficult to push through such reforms
and there is, inevitably, resistance. Being a developing
country, shutting down factories means job losses for many
who need them.

For example, we have achieved cutting down the average
consumption of coal per unit of power by 20%, by
demolishing the high-polluting and inefficient power
plants. But it led to the loss of 400,000 jobs.

So the third point is that we have increased and will
continue to increase the percentage of cleaner alternative
energy sources. Low-carbon and energy conservation have
become new growth sectors in China. Many British companies
are actively involved in clean development projects in

In the first 9 months of this year, clean energy
contributed a third of China's newly added power capacity.
China now ranks as first in the world for solar heating and
photovoltaic generation, as well as installed hydro power
capacity. You may be surprised to know, 1 in 10 families in
China already use solar energy. That includes my family.

Many new buildings in Chinese cities are equipped with
solar energy. The fact that the Chinese people are so keen
to adopt clean energy is an excellent indicator of our
dedication to a better future.

Next, let's talk about trees and reforestation. We all know
how trees can absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Chinese
people have really taken tree-planting to heart. It has
even become fashionable for young couples to plant trees to
mark their wedding. China has planted more trees than any
other country in the world, with 2.6 billion trees planted.
That is 2 trees per individual, an incredible number.

Last but not least, the only means for China to really
achieve its ambitious plan is through science and
technology. This is why China is investing heavily in
research and development. The country has become a giant
laboratory for testing all kinds of clean energy

In the latest stimulus package worth 400 billion pound, 15%
was invested in addressing climate change. I am sure you
will agree that it is a huge amount by any standard,
especially during the financial crisis.

Thanks to all these efforts, China is well on track to
reach our targets set for 2010. That would mean a reduction
in CO2 emissions of 1.5 billion tons in five years by 2010.

This is an achievement that compares well with the efforts
of other countries.

At the UN climate change summit last September, President
Hu Jintao stated that China would take even further steps
to counter climate change. To follow up, the Chinese
government has announced its targets for 2020 based on 2005

They include:

- bringing down CO2 per unit of GDP by 40-45%,

- increasing the ratio of non-fossil energy to 15%,

- expanding forest coverage by 40 million hectares, that is
bigger than one and half times the size of United Kingdom.

We will make all these into compulsory and verifiable
targets, within the framework of our domestic development
program. I hope you will appreciate that achieving these
targets and further reducing emission will get increasingly

Let me elaborate on that point. We have already closed down
many of the old and high energy consuming factories, That
is to say, the easier part is done.

Between 1990 to 2005, the per unit GDP energy consumption
came down by 47% and between 2005 to 2010 it will again
come down by 20%. The next will be raising the energy
efficiency of the remaining plants. It's going to cost more
and involve more sacrifice to reduce further.

This is why investing in research and development is so
critical for us, as only innovation can help China to make
that leap. And this is why we are looking to developed
countries for technology transfer and capacity building.
According to the International Energy Agency, if China
fulfils its target for 2020, it will have reduced its
emissions of CO2 by 1 billion tons. That will be a great
achievement, given that we are a developing country and we
have equally pressing survival priorities.

If you would allow me, I'd like to expand on this point;
China may soon become the 2nd largest economy in the world.

Yet it remains a developing country. This is something that
many people often forget. China's per capita GDP has just
passed 3,000 US dollars. UK and US are 13 to 15 times that
of China. China is behind Jamaica and Namibia.

Now, let me ask you all a question: In which year in
history do you think Britain was at the same income level
China now is at? According to British economist Angus
Maddison, the answer is the year 1913.

In per capita GDP terms, China only ranks at 104th place in
the world. It might be a surprise to some of you that China
has 135 million people living under one dollar a day.

Sometimes even the most basic things that we take for
granted, like water, are beyond the reach of some Chinese

Take for example, in China's northwest, water is so scarce
that farmers in a village in Gansu province only take three
baths in their entire life, at birth, at marriage and at

When discussing climate change, we tend to talk mostly
about facts and figures, but we should not forget that,
there is also the human dimension. Imagine when electricity
reaches this Gansu village, which is what China has been
doing, bringing electricity to every village, not only are
the farmers able to drill deeper for water, but also their
children would be able to watch TV for the first time and
see the wonderful outside world. They of course will dream
about a better life and all the things that come with it.
Who are we to tell them, that they have no right to have
what we have? Who are we to tell them that they can't live
like the people in Shanghai or London they see on TV? Why
can't they have ipods, laptops and refrigerators, or even

This is the human dimension, and this is the challenge.
China's difficult mission is to enable all of its 1.3
billion people to have the opportunity to realize their
dreams, but to achieve it in an environmentally responsible

Now let's come back to the point about China being the
world's biggest CO2 emitter. If you look at the figures in
per capita terms, an average Chinese person's emission is
4.6 tons. An average American emits 20 tons and Britain 8.7
tons. You can hardly call China energy greedy, can you?

Yet, according to an FT survey, 63% of Americans believe
that China is not doing enough and that it should undertake
more emission reduction. It feels like a person taking 4
pieces of bread asking the person who got the first piece
of bread to go on diet.

Between 1750 and 2005, developed countries accounted for
80% of the world's CO2 emissions. Even today, with only 20%
of the world's population, developed countries pump more
than 55% of the total emissions into the atmosphere. So
when it comes to emissions, developed and developing
countries can't be compared like for like, not to be
painted in the same brush. This is why we attach so much
importance to the UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change, which set out the principle of common but
differentiated responsibilities.

This is ultimately about fairness and equal right to

The Copenhagen conference will commence in 5 days' time. It
will be a major milestone in the global effort to tackle
climate change and the people of the world have high hopes
on its outcome. For Copenhagen to be successful, China
believes several things need to happen.

First, developed countries should undertake to achieve
substantial emission reduction targets for the second
commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. Countries that
have not signed up to the Kyoto Protocol should formulate
similar reduction targets.

Second, effective mechanisms should be set up to ensure
that developed countries provide financial and
technological support to developing countries.

Third, developing country should also adopt mitigation
measures according to their national conditions, within the
framework of sustainable development and with financial and
technological support from the developed countries.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will attend the conference.

China is willing to play a constructive role in bringing
the negotiations to a successful conclusion. We look
forward to close cooperation with the UK and the rest of
the world in this process.

All in all, climate change is a global challenge, which can
only be resolved through global cooperation. As a mother, I
do hope my daughter and the future generations will breathe
clean air and live in a good environment. So countries
should work together as partners to make sure that our
children inherit a better world.

Thank you.

Sunday, 20 December 2009


Know Your Enemy lyrics

Yeah, we're comin' back then with another bombtrack
Nigga know its all a that
Hey yo, so check this out
Know your enemy!

Come on!

Born with insight and a raised fist
A witness to the slit wrist, that's with
move into '92
Still in a room without a view
Ya got to know
Ya got to know
That when I say go, go, go
Amp up and amplify
I'm a brother with a furious mind
Action must be taken
We don't need the key
We'll break in

Something must be done
About vengeance, a badge and a gun
so rip the mic, rip the stage, rip the system
I was born to rage against 'em

Fist in ya face, in the place
And I'll drop the style clearly

Know your enemy
Know your enemy!

Hey yo, and get with this...uggh!
Word is born
Fight the war, fuck the norm
Now I got no patience
So sick of complacence
With the D the E the F the I the A the N the C the E
Mind of a revolutionary
So clear the lane
The finger to the land of the chains
The land of the free?
Whoever told you that is your enemy

Now something must be done
About vengeance, a badge and a gun
So rip the mike, rip the stage, rip the system
I was born to rage against 'em

Now action must be taken
We don't need the key
We'll break in

I've got no patience now
So sick of complacence now
I've got no patience now
So sick of complacence now
Sick of sick of sick of sick of you
Time has come to pay...
Know your enemy!

Come on!
Yes I know my enemies
They're the teachers who taught me to fight me
Compromise, conformity, assimilation, submission
Ignorance, hypocrisy, brutality, the elite
All of which are American dreams (8 times)
All of which are American dreams
All of which are American dreams
All of which are American dreams
All of which are American dreams
All of which are American dreams
All of which are American dreams
All of which are American dreams



Expression Direkt (rap group)
Mon Esprit Part en Couille

Saturday, 19 December 2009


100,000s of Palestinians in Gaza come out for the
anniversary rallies of Hamas (22 years old) and the Marxist
Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine (42 years old)


Reflections of Fidel:
The Moment of Truth

Translated by Granma International

NEWS arriving from the Danish capital paints a picture of
chaos. After planning an event in which around 40,000
people were to participate, the hosts have no way of
keeping their promise. Evo, who was the first of the ALBA
presidents to arrive there, expressed certain profound
truths emanating from the millenary culture of his people.

According to the news agencies, he affirmed that he had
received a mandate from the Bolivian people to oppose any
agreement if the final declaration fails not meet
expectations. He explained that climate change is not the
cause but the effect, that we have an obligation to defend
the rights of Mother Earth against the model of capitalist
development, the culture of life against the culture of
death. He spoke of the climate debt that the rich countries
must pay to the poor countries, and the return of
atmospheric space seized from the latter.

He described as "ridiculous" the figure of $10 billion
dollars offered per year up until 2012 when, in reality,
hundreds of billions of dollars are needed every year. He
also accused the United States of spending trillions of
dollars on exporting terrorism to Iraq and Afghanistan and
establishing military bases in Latin America.

The president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
addressed the Summit on December 16th, at 8:40 a.m. Cuban
time. He made a brilliant speech that received tremendous
applause. His remarks were categorical.

Contesting a document proposed to the Summit by the Danish
minister chairing the conference, he stated:

"…it is a text that comes from nothing, we do not accept
any other text unless it comes out of the working groups
which are the legitimate texts that have been discussed
with such intensity during these two years."

"There is a group of countries which believe themselves
superior to us from the South, to us from the Third World…"

"…we are not surprised: there is no democracy in the world
and we are here, once again, in the face of powerful
evidence of a world imperial dictatorship."

"…I was reading some of the slogans painted in the streets
by the young people…One: ‘Let’s not change the climate,
let’s change the system’…Another: ‘If the climate was a
bank, they would have saved it already.’"

"Obama… received the Nobel Peace prize virtually the same
day that he was sending an additional 30,000 soldiers to
kill innocent people in Afghanistan."

"We were raising our hands to accompany Brazil, India,
Bolivia and China, in their interesting position … but,
well, we were not given the floor…"

"The rich are destroying the Earth… do they have plans to
go to another planet?"

"Climate change is, without any doubt, the most devastating
environmental problem of the present century."

"The United States could amount to possibly 300 million
inhabitants; China has a population that is almost five
times larger than the United States. The United States
consumes more than 20 million barrels of oil per day. Chine
barely reaches 5 or 6 million barrels per day. One can’t
ask the same of the United States and China."

"… reducing contaminating gas emissions and achieving a
long-term cooperation agreement […] seems to have failed,
for now. What is the reason for that? […] the irresponsible
attitude and the lack of political will on the part of the
most powerful nations of the planet."

"…the gap that separates the rich countries from the poor
is still expanding despite the existence of the Millennium
Goals, the Monterrey Summit on finance, all of these
summits – as the president of Senegal said, denouncing a
great truth, promises and promises and promises that have
been unfulfilled, while the world continues along its
destructive path."

"…The total income of the 500 richest individuals on the
planet is greater than the income of the 416 million
poorest people."

"Infant mortality stands at 47 per 1,000 live births; but
the figure for the rich countries is just 5 ..."

"…For how long are we going to allow millions of children
to continue dying from curable diseases?"

"Some 2.6 billion people live without health services,"

"Brazilian Leonardo Boff wrote: ‘that the fittest survive
over the ashes of the weakest.’"

Jean Jacob Rousseau [sic] said: ""Between the weak and the
strong, it is freedom which oppresses." For this reason,
the empire talks of freedom, in order to invade, to murder,
to annihilate, to exploit, that is its freedom. And
Rousseau goes on: "it is the law which sets free."

"For how long are we going to allow armed conflicts that
massacre millions of innocent human beings, with the aim of
awarding the resources of other nations to the more
powerful ones?"

"Almost two centuries ago, Simón Bolívar, the Liberator

‘If nature opposes, we will fight against her and make her
obey us.’"

"This planet is billions of years old, and has existed for
billions of years without us, the human race: that is to
say, it does not need us to exist. Now, we cannot live
without the Earth…"

Evo addressed the conference in the morning of today,
Thursday. His speech will also never be forgotten.

He very candidly opened his remarks by saying: "I wish to
say how upset we are over the lack of organization and the
delays in this international gathering…"

His basic ideas were the following:

"When we ask the hosts what is going on, […] we are told it
is the United Nations; when we ask the United Nations what
is going on, they say it is Denmark, so we don’t know who
is disorganizing this international event…" "…I’m very
shocked because only the effects and not the causes of
climate change are being discussed."

"If we fail to identify where the destruction of the
environment is coming from […] we will never be able to
solve this problem…"

"…two cultures are under discussion here: the culture of
life and the culture of death; the culture of death, which
is capitalism. We, the indigenous peoples, say that it is
living better, better at the cost of others.’"

"…exploiting others, plundering their natural resources,
assaulting Mother Earth, privatizing basic services…"

"…living well is living in solidarity, in equality, in
complementation, in reciprocity…"

"These two different ways of life, these two cultures of
life are in debate when we it comes to climate change, and
if we do not decide which is the better way of living or of
life, it is certain that we are never going to resolve this
issue, because we have problems with life: luxury and
consumerism damage humanity and sometimes we don’t want to
admit the truth in this kind of international event."

"…in our way of life being truthful is sacred, and we are
not practicing the truths here."

"…in our Constitution it reads ama sua, ama llulla, ama
quella, which means do not steal, do not lie, do not be

"…Mother Earth or Nature exist and will continue to exist
without the human race, but human beings can’t live without
planet Earth, therefore, it is our duty to defend the right
of Mother Earth."

"…I applaud the United Nations because this year, it has
finally established the International Day of Mother Earth."

"…a mother is sacred, a mother is our life; a mother cannot
be rented, cannot be sold or assaulted, she must be

"We have profound differences with the Western model, and
that is under discussion at this moment."

"We are in Europe, and you know that many Bolivian
families, many Latin American families come to Europe. Why
do they come here? To improve their living conditions. In
Bolivia, they might be earning $100 or $200 per month; but
that family, that person comes here to take care of an
elderly European grandfather or grandmother and earns
$1,000 a month."

"These are the asymmetries that exist among continents and
we are obliged to discuss ways in which to achieve a
certain equilibrium, […] reducing these profound
asymmetries that exist among families, among countries, and
especially continents."

""When […] our brothers and sisters come here to survive or
to improve their living conditions they are expelled. There
are papers which are known as repatriation documents […]
but when those elderly Europeans arrived in Latin America
all those years ago, they were never expelled. My families,
my brothers do not come here to seize control of mines, nor
do they possess thousands of hectares in order to become
landowners. In the past, no visas or passports were
required to come to Abya Yala, now called, America."

"…the rich nations should welcome all migrants who are
affected by climate change instead of forcing them to
return to their countries as they are doing at the moment…"

"…our obligation is to save all of humanity and not half of

"…the FTAA, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, […] is not
a Free Trade Area of the Americas, but a free colonization
area of the Americas…"

Evo suggested the following questions, among others, for a
worldwide referendum on climate change:

"..Do you agree to reestablishing a harmonious relationship
with Nature, recognizing the rights of Mother Earth...?"

"…Are you in agreement with changing this system of
excessive consumerism and waste, that is, the capitalist

"…Do you agree that the developed countries should reduce
and reabsorb their greenhouse gas emissions…?"

"…Do you agree on transferring everything that is currently
being spent in wars to create a budget higher than the
defense budget to tackle the problem of climate change…?"

As is widely known, the UN Agreement on Climate Change was
signed in the Japanese city of Kyoto in 1997. This protocol
obliged 38 industrialized nations to reduce their
greenhouse gas emissions by a certain percentage in
relation to those emitted in 1990. The countries of the
European Union committed themselves to 8%, a move which
came into effect in 2005, when most of the signatory
countries had already ratified it. George W. Bush, then
president of the United States – the largest producer of
greenhouse gases and responsible for a quarter of total
emissions – had rejected the agreement from mid-2001

The other members of the United Nations continued with
their efforts. The research centers continued with their
work. It is now evident that a major disaster is
threatening our species. Perhaps the worst aspect is that
the blind egotism of a privileged and rich minority is
attempting to lay the burden of the necessary sacrifices on
the vast majority of the planet’s inhabitants.

That contradiction is reflected in Copenhagen. Thousands of
people are there, fiercely defending their points of view.

The Danish police are resorting to brutal methods to crush
resistance; many protesters are being preventively
arrested. I spoke on the phone with our Foreign Minister
Bruno Rodriguez, who was at a solidarity rally in
Copenhagen with Chávez, Evo, Lazo and other ALBA
representatives. I asked him who those people were that the
Danish police suppressed with such hate, twisting back
their arms and beating them repeatedly across the back. He
said they were Danish citizens and people from other
European nations as well as members of the social movements
who were demanding from the Summit an immediate solution to
deal with climate change. He also told me that debates in
the Summit were to continue until midnight. It was already
night in Copenhagen when I spoke with him. The time
difference is six hours.

Our comrades in the Danish capital have informed us that an
even worse situation is expected tomorrow morning, Friday
18th. At 10:00 a.m. the UN Summit is to be adjourned for
two hours while the Danish prime minister meets with 20
heads of state invited by him to discuss "global problems"
with Obama. That is what they have called the meeting,
which is aimed at imposing an agreement on climate change.

Even though all of the official delegations are to take
part, only "invited guests" will be allowed to express
their views. Of course, neither Chávez nor Evo are among
those entitled to express their opinions. The idea is to
give the illustrious Nobel Laureate an opportunity to read
his previously drafted speech, preceded by the decision to
de adopted in that meeting to postpone the agreement until
the end of next year in Mexico City. The social movements
will not be permitted to attend. After that show, the
"Summit" will resume in the plenary hall until its
ignominious closure.

As television channels have broadcast the footage, the
world has been able to see the fascist methods used against
the people in Copenhagen. The protesters, young people in
the main, who have been repressed, have earned the
solidarity of the peoples.

Despite the maneuvers and unprincipled lies of the leaders
of the empire, the moment of truth is drawing closer. Their
own allies are increasingly losing confidence in them. In
Mexico, as in Copenhagen or anywhere else in the world,
they will be met by the growing resistance of the peoples
who have not lost the hope of surviving.

Fidel Castro Ruz

December 17, 2009

6:46 p.m.


Africa is getting a better deal from Beijing

By David Pilling
Financial Times

A few years ago, Lukas Lundin, a mining executive, rode his
motorbike 8,000 miles from Cairo to Cape Town. His journey,
which took just five weeks, meandered through 10 countries,
including Sudan, Ethiopia, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana. He
was amazed to discover that 85 per cent of the roads he
travelled were tarred and of high quality. Many had been
built by Chinese companies.

That was 2005. Since then, China’s interest in Africa has
intensified. In November 2006, Beijing hosted a lavish
Sino-African summit at which it promised more than 40 of
the continent’s leaders a new era of co-operation. Giant
elephants and giraffes appeared on hoardings across the
capital to mark the occasion.

Beijing has offered more than long-necked symbolism. In
2006 alone, it signed trade deals with African countries
worth $60bn. Investments, which often include a
resources-for-infrastructure element, have poured in thick
and fast. China’s stock of foreign direct investment has
shot well past $120bn (€81bn, £74bn). In 2006, Angola
temporarily overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s main supplier
of oil, and Africa now accounts for nearly 30 per cent of
China’s oil imports.

Nor is China’s interest limited to oil and minerals. In
2007, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the biggest
bank in the world by deposits, paid $5.6bn for a fifth of
South Africa’s Standard Bank. Only last month, at yet
another Sino-African jamboree, this one in Egypt, Beijing
pledged $10bn of new low-cost loans to Africa. It also
promised to eliminate tariffs on 60 per cent of exports and
to forgive the debt of several countries. Trade between
Africa and China has already risen spectacularly: last
year, it jumped 45 per cent to $107bn, a tenfold increase
over 2000.

Beijing’s engagement with Africa has caused much
hand-wringing. Western donors decry Beijing’s supposedly
scruples-free approach to investing in countries such as
Sudan. In some African countries, too, China’s growing
shadow has provoked anger. Nigerian radicals likened an
attempt by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation
(CNOOC) to secure 6bn barrels of oil to being attacked by

Such objections are overdone. They are often disingenuous.
China is no philanthropist, but its rise may still
represent Africa’s best hope of escaping poverty. In the
eight years to 2007, before the financial crisis, African
countries were growing, on average, by more than 4 per cent
a year, far higher than previously. That was thanks partly
to better economic management, debt relief and increased
capital flows (some from China), but also to the higher
commodity prices driven by Chinese demand. Dambisa Moyo,
the Zambian economist who riled western donors with her
book Dead Aid, says: “China’s African role is wider, more
sophisticated and more businesslike than any other
country’s at any time in the postwar period.”

Much of the criticism of China’s influence rings hollow. As
Chinese – and Japanese – officials point out, the west’s
record is less than exemplary. European contact with Africa
can best be summed up as decades of naked rapaciousness
followed by a spectacularly unsuccessful attempt to make
amends. During the cold war western governments supported
dictators and kleptomaniacs across the continent, from
President Mobutu Sese Seko of what was then Zaire to
Uganda’s murderous British-trained Idi Amin. More recently,
in the name of conditionality, benefactors have rammed
frequently disastrous economic fads down the throats of
hapless recipients. With donors like that, who needs

China’s pragmatism may produce better results. First, an
emphasis on infrastructure means that, even if deals are
corroded by corruption, at least the recipient country ends
up with a road, port or hospital. (OK, or perhaps a soccer
stadium.) Much Asian growth, including that of China
itself, was predicated on infrastructure. Officials in
Tokyo often contrast Japan’s own business-oriented approach
to south-east Asia – where countries such as Thailand,
Malaysia and Indonesia benefited greatly from Japanese
trade and investment – with dubious development strategies
pushed by the west in Africa.

Second, China’s approach is built on trade. Ms Moyo argues
that genuine business opportunity is more likely to
catalyse development than government-to-government aid that
is prone to being siphoned off. Robert Zoellick, president
of the World Bank, told the FT there was Chinese interest
in helping to create low-cost manufacturing bases in

Third, and crucially, China is not alone in seeking
opportunities on the continent. As well as the west, India,
Brazil and Russia are also vying for business. That ought
to give resource-rich African countries the ability to
haggle for better terms, though of course there is no
guarantee that increased funds will not simply line bigger

It would be wrong to be wide-eyed about China’s
investments. Some Chinese businesses are rightly condemned
for lax safety standards and for shunning African labour.
Critics are doubtless right that Chinese money has helped
prop up unscrupulous regimes in Khartoum and Harare. Yet
China is hardly alone in dealing with thieves and villains.
Whatever its side-effects, a scramble to invest in Africa
has got to be better than the European precedent; a
scramble to carve it up.

Friday, 18 December 2009


Socialism is the course for the
salvation of the planet

Speech given by Hugo Chávez Frías, president of the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, at the United Nations Climate Change Summit, Copenhagen, Denmark, December 16, 2009

Translated by Granma International

Mr. President; Gentlemen; Ladies; Your Excellencies;

I promise you that I am not going to speak longer than the
person who has spoken the most here this afternoon.

Please allow me an initial comment, which I should liked to
have made as part of the previous point exercised by the
delegations of Brazil, China, India and Bolivia – we were
there asking to speak, but that was not possible.

The Bolivian representative said – greetings of course to
compañero President Evo Morales – who is here (Applause),
president of the Republic of Bolivia – among other things –
the following – note this – "The text presented is not
democratic, it is not inclusive."

I was just arriving and we were sitting down when we heard
the president of the previous session, the minister, saying
that a document was coming here, but nobody knows anything
about it. I have asked for the document; we still don’t
have it; I don’t think anybody knows about that top secret
document. Now, the Bolivian comrade definitely said it: "It
is not democratic, it is not inclusive."

Now, ladies, gentlemen, is that not precisely the reality
of this world? Are we actually in a democratic world? Can
we hope for something democratic, inclusive from the
current world system? What we are experiencing on this
planet is an imperial dictatorship and from here we
continue condemning it: Down with the imperial dictatorship
and long live the peoples, democracy and equality on this
planet! (Applause)

What we are seeing here is a reflection of that: exclusion.
There is a group of countries which believe themselves
superior to us from the South, to us from the Third World,
to us the underdeveloped or, as our great friend Eduardo
Galeano says, we, the countries run over by a train that
ran over us in history.

And so, we shouldn’t be surprised by that, we are not
surprised: there is no democracy in the world and we are
here, once again, in the face of powerful evidence of a
world imperial dictatorship.

Two young people got up on the platform here; fortunately,
the agents of order have been decent, a bit of shoving and
pushing, and they cooperated, right?

There are many people outside, you know? Of course, they
can’t fit in this hall. I have read in the press that some
of them have been arrested, some intense protests here on
the streets of Copenhagen, and I want to salute all those
people who are out there, most of them young people
(Applause). Of course, they are concerned young people,
rightly, I believe and much more than us, for the future of
the world. The majority of us here have the sun behind us;
they have the sun before them and they are very concerned.

One could say, Mr. President, that a phantom is sweeping
Copenhagen, paraphrasing Karl Marx, the great Karl Marx. A
phantom is sweeping the streets of Copenhagen and I believe
that that phantom is moving silently through this hall,
moving here and there among us, it gets into the corridors,
comes out downstairs, it is climbing. That phantom is a
terrifying one, hardly anyone wants to name it. Capitalism
is the phantom! (Applause); hardly anyone wants to name it,
it is capitalism. The people are praying out there, they
can be heard out there.

I was reading some of the slogans painted in the streets
and I think I heard some of those slogans of these young
people when they were moving around out there. There are
two that I took note of; among the others, two powerful
slogans could be heard: One: "Don’t change the climate,
change the system" (Applause) and I take it as ours: Let’s
not change the climate, let’s change the system and, as a
consequence, we shall begin to save the planet. Capitalism,
the destructive model of development is doing away with
life, it is threatening to definitively do away with the
human species.

The other slogan calls for reflection, very much in keeping
with the banking crisis that spread throughout the world
and is still striking it, and the way in which the
countries of the rich North came to the aid of the bankers
and the big banks; the United States alone… well, the
figure got lost, it is astronomic, to save the banks. In
the streets they’re saying the following: "If the climate
was a capitalist bank, one of the largest ones, they would
have saved it already," and I believe that that is the
truth (Applause). If the climate was a capitalist bank, one
of the largest, the rich governments would already have
saved it.

I believe that Obama hasn’t arrived, he received the Nobel
Peace prize virtually the same day that he was sending an
additional 30,000 soldiers to kill innocent people in
Afghanistan, and now the president of the United States is
coming to present himself here with the Nobel Peace Prize.

The United States has a little machine for printing bills,
for making dollars and it has saved… well, they believe
that they’ve saved the banks and the capitalist system.

Well, this commentary on the margins, which I wanted to
make there, because we were raising our hands to accompany
Brazil, India, Bolivia and China, in their interesting
position firmly shared by Venezuela and the countries of
the Bolivarian Alliance; but, well, we were not given the
floor, so please don’t discount these minutes from me,
President, it was for that. (Applause)

Well, look, I had the pleasure of meeting here this French
writer, Hervé Kempf. I recommend this book, I recommend it,
it can be obtained in Spanish – Hervé is somewhere around
here – in French as well, definitely in English, How the
Rich Are Destroying the Earth, by Hervé Kempf. That is why
Christ said: "…it is easier for a camel to go through the
eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of
God." Christ our Lord said that (Applause).

The rich are destroying the Earth. Could it be that they
are thinking of going to another one when they have
destroyed this one, do they have plans to go to another
planet? To date one cannot see any on the horizon of the

This book has only just come into my hands – Ignacio
Ramonet, who is also here in this hall, gave it to me –
and, at the end of the prologue or preamble, this sentence
is very important. Kempf says the following: "We will not
be able to reduce material consumption at global level if
we do not force the powerful to descend the ladder a number
of rungs, if we do not combat inequality; what is needed is
for us to add to the ecological principle, so useful at the
moment of becoming aware, the principle imposed by the
situation: to consume less and to distribute better." I
think that is good advice from that French writer Hervé

Well, Mr. President, climate change is, without any doubt,
the most devastating environmental problem of the present
century: flooding, drought, severe storms, hurricanes,
melting ice caps, a rise in average sea levels, the
acidification of oceans and heat waves; all of that is
sharpening the impact of the global crises that are lashing

Current human activity is in excess of the thresholds of
sustainability, thus endangering life on the planet; but in
that we are profoundly unequal, I wish to recall that. The
500 million richest people, five hundred million! this is
7%. Seven percent! Seven [in English] percent of the world
population. That 7% is responsible, those 500 million
richest people are responsible for 50% of contaminating
emissions, while the poorest 50% are responsible for just
7% of contaminating emissions. For that reason it strikes
me that it is a little strange to put the United States and
China on the same level here. The United States could
amount to possibly 300 million inhabitants; China has a
population that is almost five times larger than the United
States. The United States consumes more than 20 million
barrels of oil per day. Chine barely reaches 5 or 6 million
barrels per day. One can’t ask the same of the United
States and China. There are issues that have to be
discussed here. I wish that, as heads of state and
government, we could sit down and really, really discuss
these issues.

So, Mr. President, 60% of the planet’s ecosystems are
damaged, 20% of the earth’s crust is degraded. We have been
the impassive witnesses of deforestation, land conversion,
desertification, alterations to fresh water systems,
over-exploitation of marine resources, contamination and
the loss of biological diversity. Exacerbated utilization
of land is 30% in excess of its regeneration capacity. The
planet is losing its self-regulation capacity, the planet
is losing that; every day more waste is released than can
be processed. The survival of our species is hammering on
the consciousness of humanity.

Despite the urgency, two years of negotiations for
concluding a second period of commitments under the Kyoto
Protocol have passed by and we are attending this meeting
without any real and significant agreement.

And, doubtless, referring to the text that is coming out of
nothing – as some have described it, the Chinese
representative – Venezuela says and the ALBA countries, the
Bolivarian Alliance, say that we do not accept it, we have
said that already, no other text unless it comes out of the
working groups of the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention,
and are the legitimate texts that have been discussed with
such intensity during these two years and in the last few
days. I believe that you have not slept; moreover, that you
have not had lunch, you haven’t slept, eh? It does not seem
logical to me that a document should come out of nothing,
as you are saying.

The scientifically sustained objective of reducing
contaminating gas emissions and achieving a long-term
cooperation agreement, evidently, today, at this hour,
seems to have failed, for now. What is the reason for that?
We are not in any doubt, the reason is the irresponsible
attitude and the lack of political will on the part of the
most powerful nations of the planet. Nobody should feel
offended, I will have recourse to the great José Gervasio
Artigas when he said: "With the truth I neither offend nor
am afraid;" but, in truth, it is an irresponsible attitude,
of marches, of counter-marches, of exclusion, of an elitist
management of a problem that is of all of us and that only
all of us can solve.

The political conservatism and egotism of the major
consumers, of the richest countries, denotes an elevated
insensibility and lack of solidarity with the poorest, with
the hungry, with those most vulnerable to disease, to
natural disasters.

Mr. President, there is an indispensable need for a new and
sole agreement applicable to absolutely unequal parties,
given the magnitude of their economic, financial and
technological contributions and capacities and one that is
based on unrestricted respect for the principles contained
in the Convention.

The developed countries must establish binding commitments
which are clear and concrete in respect of a substantial
reduction of their emissions and assume their obligations
of financial and technological assistance to their poor
countries, in order to confront the destructive dangers of
climate change. In that context, the particular situations
of island states and the most underdeveloped countries must
be fully recognized.

Mr. President, climate change is not the only problem
affecting humanity today; other scourges and injustices
await us, the gap that separates the rich countries from
the poor is still expanding despite the existence of the
Millennium Goals, the Monterrey Summit on finance, all of
these summits – as the president of Senegal said,
denouncing a great truth, promises and promises and
promises that have been unfulfilled, while the world
continues along its destructive path.

The total income of the 500 richest individuals on the
planet is greater than the income of the 416 million
poorest people. The 2.8 billion people who live in poverty,
earning less than one dollar a day, and who represent 40%
of the global population, 40% of the global population!,
receive just 5% of the global income.

Today, some 9.2 million children die before they reach
their fifth birthday, and 99.9% of those deaths occur in
the poorest countries. Infant mortality stands at 47 per
1,000 live births; but the figure for the rich countries is
just 5 per 1,000 live births. The average life expectancy
around the world is 67 years of age, in the rich countries
it is 79, while in the poorest countries it is just 40
years of age.

In addition to this, there are 1.1 billion people who do
not have access to clean potable water; 2.6 billion without
health services; more than 800 million illiterate
individuals and 1.02 billion starving people. This is the
global scenario.

Now, the cause, what is the cause? We’re talking about the
cause, we cannot shirk our responsibilities, we cannot
evade the seriousness of this problem. The cause, without
doubt – I’m going back to the same issue – of this entire
disastrous panorama is the metabolic, destructive system of
capital and its embodied model: capitalism.

I have a quote here that I would like to read to you, from
the great liberation theologian Leonardo Boff, as we know,
a Brazilian, from Our America.

On this subject, Leonardo Boff says the following: "What is
the cause? Ah! The cause is the dream of seeking happiness
through the accumulation of material wealth and unending
progress, using science and technology to achieve this, and
with which all of the Earth’s resources can be exploited,"
and I will now mention Charles Darwin and his natural
selection, the survival of the fittest; but we know that
the fittest survive over the ashes of the weakest.

Jean Jacob Rousseau —— we must also remember him – said
about that: ""Between the weak and the strong, it is
freedom which oppresses." For this reason, the empire talks
of freedom, in order to invade, to murder, to annihilate,
to exploit, that is its freedom. And Rousseau goes on: "it
is the law which sets free."

There are certain countries which are playing with the fact
that there is no document here, precisely because they do
not want a law, they do not want an agreement, because the
nonexistence of this agreement allows them to wield their
exploiting freedom, their overpowering liberty.

Let’s make an effort, put pressure on ourselves, here and
out on the streets, so that a commitment comes out of this
conference. So that a statement is released demanding a
commitment from the richest countries on the Earth!

President, Leonardo Boff asks the question – do you know
Boff? I’m not sure whether Boff could come; I met him
recently in Paraguay; we have always read his work: "Can a
finite Earth withstand an infinite project?" The doctrine
of capitalism: infinite development, is a destructive
model, we have to accept that.

Then Boff asks us: "What can we expect from Copenhagen?"
Just this simple confession: we cannot continue as we are
at present, and one simple proposal: "Are we going to
change our path? Let us do it, but without cynicism,
without lies, without double agendas, with meaningless
documents, with the truth striding ahead."

Up to what point, we ask ourselves in Venezuela, Mr.
President, ladies and gentlemen, up to what point are we
going to allow so many injustices and inequalities? For how
long are we going to tolerate the current international
economic order and the market mechanisms in force? Until
what point are we going to allow fierce epidemics such as
HIV/AIDS to devastate entire populations? For how long are
we going to allow hungry people to starve and prevent them
from feeding their own children? For how long are we going
to allow millions of children to continue dying from
curable diseases? For how long are we going to allow armed
conflicts that massacre millions of innocent human beings,
with the aim of awarding the resources of other nations to
the more powerful ones?

Stop the aggression and the wars, we, the people of the
world are calling on the empires, on those who are
attempting to continue dominating the world and exploiting
us! No more imperial military bases or coups d’états. Let
us build a more just and equitable social and economic
order. Let us eradicate poverty. Let us bring an immediate
end to high levels of emissions, let us halt environmental
destruction and prevent a climate change catastrophe. Let
us join together in the noble objective of being more free
and driven by solidarity!

Mr. President, a Venezuelan who made his name almost two
centuries ago, the liberator of nations and the precursor
of consciousness, left a resounding maxim for posterity:
"If nature opposes, we will fight against her and make her
obey us." That was Simón Bolívar, the Liberator.

From Bolivarian Venezuela where, on a day like today, in
fact, exactly 10 years ago, we experienced the greatest
climatic tragedy in our history, the tragedy of Vargas,
that it how it is known; from that Venezuela whose
revolution is attempting to secure justice for all of its
people, the only road forward is that of
socialism…Socialism, the other phantom of which Karl Marx
spoke, is moving around here too; rather, it’s like a
counter-phantom. Socialism, that is the way forward, that
is the path for the salvation of the planet, I have not the
slightest doubt whatsoever about that. And capitalism is
the road to hell, toward the destruction of the world.

Socialism, from that Venezuela which is confronting the
threats of the U.S. empire, from the countries that make up
the ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance, we are calling for, I
respectfully ask for but, from my heart, I am calling on,
on behalf of many people on this planet, the governments
and the peoples of the world, in paraphrasing Simón
Bolívar, the Liberator: if the destructive nature of
capitalism opposes, then we will fight against it and we
will do what we must; we cannot wait with our arms folded
for the death of humanity.

History is calling us to unite and to fight. If capitalism
resists, we are forced to fight a battle against capitalism
and open the way for the salvation of the human species. It
is up to us, raising the standards of Christ, of Mohammed,
of equality, love, justice, humanism, of real and profound
humanism. If we do not do that, the most marvelous creation
of the universe, namely human beings, will disappear! They
are going to disappear!

This planet is billions of years old, and has existed for
billions of years without us, the human race: that is to
say, it does not need us to exist. Now, we cannot live
without the Earth, and we are destroying Pachamama (Mother
Earth) as Evo says, as our indigenous brothers and sisters
in South America say.

Finally Mr. President, now to conclude, we hear Fidel
Castro when he says: "There is an endangered species:
humans". We hear Rosa Luxemburg when she said: "Socialism
or barbarism." We hear Christ, the Redeemer, when he said:
"Blessed are the poor, for theirs shall be the kingdom of

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, we are capable of
ensuring that this Earth will not be the grave of humanity;
we can make this earth a heaven, a heaven of life, peace
and sisterhood for the whole of humanity, for the human

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, thank you and bon
appetit. (Applause).