H. E. Mr. José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, President

24 September 2008

Statement Summary

JOSÉ MANUEL ZELAYA ROSALES, President of Honduras, commended the recent efforts of Central American leaders to bring integration.  Francisco Morazan, a martyr of that part of the world who had advocated liberal policies, had given his life for this cause.  Today, the peoples of Central America and Honduras continued to fight for those causes, as well as for unity and independence.

In recent years, Honduras had achieved sustainable growth rates of between 6 and 7 per cent.  As a result, it had reduced poverty and had sought to mitigate the impacts of climate change.  It had also become a tourist destination.  Yet these advances were now endangered by the current financial crisis.  The international scale of the fraud on the part of the multinationals had triggered rapid and devastating spikes in the price of food and energy, and in many countries, poverty and inequality were becoming more acute, exacerbating social ills.

In the last two centuries, he continued, the peoples of Central America had resisted the capitalist system.  Pope John Paul II had called that system “wild and savage”, and it was evident that the market’s laws were demonic, satisfying only the few.  It was like a sinister cat and mouse game, or, like the ancient god Saturn who devoured his own children.  Now with the fall of Wall Street and the bursting of the speculative bubble, it was paradoxically devouring its very creators.

Still, it was brutal and surprising to see how poor countries had become aligned with the major interests of the capitalistic system, he said, noting that the effects of that system’s crisis were widespread.  Over the last two decades, coffee growers in Honduras had increased their exports from $200 million to $600 million.  But in one year, the increase in costs of food and fuel prices had erased that progress.  On the international stage, the United Nations had, despite its adoption of the Millennium Development Goals and the target of halving poverty by 2015, fallen short of its aims.  For each dollar the international community contributed to eradicating poverty, it put 10 towards the creation of arms.  With just a third of the amount of money that was being earmarked to arrest the current financial crisis, poverty in Africa could be ended overnight.

The question at hand, he continued, was if we could save ourselves.  To do so, the international community would have to place capital at the service of building a fair society.  The major pharmaceutical multinationals should make their patents available to cure disease and heal the ill.  Unfair competition, including subsidies and tariff and non-tariff barriers, should be eliminated.

As had been said before, the developing world was grateful for the help extended by the developed world.  But its peoples did not want donations.  If aid was provided, conditions should not be attached.  Development should come through education and by the provision of greater health and basic services.  Developed countries should also be included in organizations of industrialized nations.  They could contribute ideas which might, ultimately, be more valuable than money.  He appealed to the United States and the countries of Europe to consider the rights of immigrants in their midst.  Immigration was a human right, not a crime, and should be addressed in that framework.

Taking up the expansion of the Security Council’s membership, he called for democratization at “home” –- at the very top of the United Nations.  With such a step, the Organization would serve as an example of the value of solidarity between human beings to the rest of the world.  It would further show that the centre of the world was not money or industry, but the human being.

[Source: GA/10751]