Rich countries abuse power at expense of the poor Cuba says at

José Ramón Machado Ventura, First Vice-President of his country’s Council of State and Ministers, told delegates at the second day of the Assembly’s annual high-level debate that the gap between rich and poor “widens with every passing day.”He said “the very modest Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) constitute an unreachable dream for the vast majority,” referring to the eight anti-poverty targets which world leaders agreed in 2000 to try to achieve by 2015.The situation had become especially acute for some countries in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Mr. Machado Ventura said, because of the combined impact of the spike in food and fuel prices over the past year.“Our nations have paid, and they will continue to pay the cost and the consequences of the irrationality, wastefulness and speculation of a few countries in the industrialized North who are responsible for the world food crisis,” he said.“They imposed trade liberalization and the financial prescriptions of structural adjustment on the developing countries. They caused the ruin of many small producers; they denied, and in some cases destroyed, emerging agricultural development in the countries of the South, turning them into net food importing countries.”The First Vice-President added that those same countries “maintain obscene agricultural subsidies while they force their rules on international trade. They set prices, monopolize technologies, impose unfair certifications and manipulate the distribution channels, the financing sources and trade. They control transportation, scientific research, genetic banks and the production of fertilizers and pesticides.”He called, among other measures, for the cancellation of the foreign debt of developing countries “since it has been already paid more than once” and for the money saved to be channelled into economic development and social programmes.The funds spent by rich nations on farm subsidies should also be directed to agriculture in the developing world, Mr. Machado Ventura said.“By doing this, our countries would have about a billion dollars per day available to invest in food production.” 24 September 2008Poor countries continue to bear the brunt of “the irrationality, wastefulness and speculation” of some wealthy nations that wield unfair economic and technological power and perpetuate deep inequalities, Cuba’s First Vice-President told the General Assembly today.

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