Europe needs to take a fresh look at our region. You should accustom yourselves to treating us as equal partners

Speech by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, minister of foreign affairs, at the meeting of foreign ministers at the 6th European Union- Latin America and Caribbean Summit, Madrid, May 17, 2010.

I would like to thank Spain and Foreign Minister Moratinos for the conditions they have created for this Summit.

Your browser may not support display of this image. I remember the first European Union- Latin America and Caribbean Summit in 1999 in Río de Janeiro. Acknowledged European leaders proposed the idea of establishing a bi-regional strategic association and there were some optimists among our countries. Curiously, Europe was coming direct from the NATO Summit in which, in the face of so-called global threats, a new doctrine was adopted that treated Latin America and the Caribbean like “the Euro-Atlantic periphery.”

In 2004, at the European Union- Latin America and Caribbean Summit in Guadalajara, there no longer remained any hope of that dream of strategic association.

No one can blame the Spanish government or foreign ministry if this Summit does not bear much fruit.

Realistically, what essentially separates Europe from Latin America and the Caribbean is not the Atlantic Ocean, but our different nature.

Across the table are the old colonial powers and on this side, those who suffered colonialism and its consequences. As a result, you are the creditors and we are the debtors. The global economic crisis was generated in the developed countries, many of them European ones, and its effects are now being offloaded onto Latin America and the Caribbean.

Emigrants travel from our countries to Europe where they face exploitation and discrimination. The flows of trade and investment demonstrate that our resources continue to be extracted to finance development in Europe.

You cannot ask any country in Latin America and the Caribbean to sacrifice its development in order to advance towards a low-carbon economy while there is a technological and digital gap between our regions. You cannot forget that deforestation occurs in poor countries so that people can eat.

None of these problems are going to be resolved by the market. We can only find common ground between our regions with a greater political will on the part of European governments and recognizing, through actions and deeds, the historic debt that the Europeans owe us.

An educated Europe should understand that its patterns of production and consumption are irrational and will lead to the destruction of the planet. It should also understand that without equity and stability in our countries, there can be no long-term prosperity in Europe. We are all heading towards the abyss, although some are traveling in first class and others in economy class.

Europe needs to take a fresh look at our region. It must accustom itself to treating us as equal partners, as a group of over 500 million inhabitants living in a region with enormous resources and potential. In order to develop a new relationship with Our America, the young generations of Europe have to comprehend that we are no longer the backyard of the United States, but independent and sovereign countries.

Translated by Granma International

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