Address to the United Nations General Assembly (Chávez, 2006-09-20)

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Address to the United Nations General Assembly  (2006) 
by Hugo Chávez
This speech was given to the 12th Plenary Meeting of the Sixty-first session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2006. The speech was given in Spanish: this translation is taken from the Official Records, document A/61/PV.12.

First I very respectfully invite all those who have not done so to read the book that I am holding, one of the most recent by Noam Chomsky, who is among the most prestigious American and world intellectuals. The book, Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance, is an excellent work to help us understand what happened in the world of the twentieth century and what is happening now, which is the greatest threat looming over our planet: the hegemonistic claims of American imperialism, which threaten the very survival of the human species. We continue to warn about this danger and to appeal to the people of the United States and the world to halt this threat, which is like the sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.

I had considered reading a chapter from the book, but to save time I shall confine myself to a recommendation. The book is very good, an easy read. I am sure, Madam President, that you are familiar with it. It is published in English, German, Russian and Arabic. The first people who should read it are our brothers and sisters in the United States, because the threat is in their own house. The Devil is there; the Devil himself is in the house.

The Devil came here yesterday, right here. It still smells of sulphur today. Yesterday on this rostrum the President of the United States, whom I refer to as the Devil, talked as if he owned the world. It would be appropriate to have a psychiatrist analyse yesterday’s address by the President of the United States. As the spokesman of imperialism he came to share his prescriptions for preserving the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world. It was like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I would even propose a title: “The Devil’s Recipe”.

As Chomsky says here clearly and in depth, American imperialism is doing all it can to consolidate its hegemonistic system of domination. We cannot allow it to do that. We cannot allow the establishment and consolidation of world dictatorship. The address of the world tyrant, cynical and full of hypocrisy, shows the imperialists’ intention to control everything. They say that they want to impose a democratic model, but it is the democratic model of their own conception: the false democracy of elites, and furthermore an original democratic model imposed by bombs, bombardments and invasions. What a strange democracy! It would be necessary to revise the ideas of Aristotle and the other Greek pioneers of democracy in the face of this model, imposed by marines, invasions, aggression and bombs.

The President of the United States told us yesterday in this Hall, “everywhere you turn you hear extremists who tell you that you can escape your misery and retain your dignity through violence and terror and martyrdom.” Wherever he looks he sees extremists, and when he looks at your colour, my brother, he thinks “You are an extremist”. Mr. Evo Morales Aima, the worthy President of Bolivia, looks like an extremist to him. The imperialists see extremists everywhere.

No, it is not that we are extremists. What is happening is that the world is waking up and people everywhere are rising up. I tell the world dictator “I have a feeling that the rest of your days will be a living nightmare, because everywhere you will see us rising up against American imperialism, demanding freedom, equality of peoples and respect for the sovereignty of nations.” Yes, we may be described as extremists, but we are rising against the empire, against the model of domination.

The President also said, “I would like to speak directly to the people across the … Middle East: my country desires peace.” That is true. If we walk through the streets of the Bronx, New York, Washington, San Diego, California, San Antonio and San Francisco—anywhere in the United States—and speak to individual citizens, we shall find that the country does want peace. The difference is that the Government of the United States does not. It wants to impose its system of exploitation and pillage and its hegemony through war. If it wants peace, what is happening in Iraq? What happened in Lebanon and Palestine? What has happened over the past hundred years in Latin America and in world? Now there are new threats against Venezuela and Iran.

The President spoke to the people of Lebanon, saying “Many of you have seen your homes and communities caught in crossfire.” What cynicism! What a capacity to lie shamelessly! Was it crossfire when bombs were dropped on Beirut with millimetric precision? He was thinking of a Western, where men shoot from the hip and somebody gets caught in the crossfire. This was imperialist fire, fascist fire, the fire of an assassin, the genocidal firing of the empire and Israel on the innocent people of Palestine and Lebanon. That is the truth.

Now it is said that we are suffering because we see homes destroyed. Early this morning I was looking at some statements in preparing my remarks, and I have brought with me a document in which I note that the President of the United States came to talk to the peoples. He said “To the people of Afghanistan”, “To the people of Lebanon”, “To the people of Iran”. He addressed them all directly. One wonders what those peoples would tell him if they were given the opportunity. What would they have to say? I know what is in the soul of the peoples of the south, the oppressed peoples. They would say “Yankee imperialist, go home!” That would be the cry of the peoples of the world if they could speak with one voice to the American imperialists.

That is why last year when I came to this Hall, as I have been doing for the past eight years, I said something that has now been fully confirmed. Hardly anybody here can defend the United Nations system. Let us be honest and accept that the system born after the Second World War has collapsed. It is worthless. It is true that it serves to bring us together once a year to meet, make statements, prepare long documents, reflect and listen to good speeches like those yesterday by President Evo and President Lula and the ones we have just heard from the President of Sri Lanka and the President of Chile. But the Assembly has been turned into a merely deliberative organ, with no power to make any impact on the terrible situation in the world.

That is why Venezuela once again proposes here today, 20 September, that we re-establish the United Nations. Last year we made four modest proposals that we felt were crucially important for discussion by heads of State and Government, ambassadors and representatives.

The first—President Lula said this yesterday—is the expansion of both the permanent and nonpermanent membership of the Security Council, with developed and under-developed countries of the third world as new permanent members. That is the first step.

Secondly, there must be effective methods to address and resolve world conflicts, with transparent debate and decision-making.

Thirdly, it is essential that, as everyone demands, there be an immediate end to the anti-democratic mechanism of the veto that is exercised when decisions are made in the Security Council. Let me give a recent example. The immoral veto of the United States, blocking a resolution, allowed the Israeli forces to destroy Lebanon with impunity before our very eyes.

Fourthly, as we have always said, the role and powers of the Secretary-General must be strengthened. Yesterday the Secretary-General practically gave us his farewell speech. He recognized that in the past 10 years serious world problems such as hunger, poverty, violence and human rights violations had worsened and become more complicated. That is a terrible consequence of the collapse of the United Nations system and American hegemonistic pretensions.

A few years ago Venezuela decided to wage this battle within the United Nations, recognizing the United Nations, as Members, and lending it our voice and our thinking. Our voice is an independent one representing dignity, the search for truth and the reformulation of the international system, with denunciation of persecution and of the aggression of hegemonistic forces against peoples of the planet.

That is how Venezuela, the homeland of Bolivar, came to put itself forward for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council. The United States Government launched open, immoral aggression throughout the world to try to prevent Venezuela being freely elected to a seat on the Security Council. The empire is afraid of the truth, of independent voices. It calls us extremists, but it is the extremist.

I should like to thank all those countries that have announced their support for Venezuela even though the ballot is secret and there is no need to make an announcement. I believe that the open attack by the United States empire has increased the support of many countries, and that support strengthens the morale of Venezuela, our people and Government. Our brothers in the Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR), for example, have expressed their support as a bloc. With Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, as well as many other Latin American countries, such as Bolivia, Venezuela is now a full member of MERCOSUR. The Caribbean Community has expressed its support for Venezuela, as has the Arab League. I am immensely grateful to our Arab and Caribbean brothers. The African Union, almost all of Africa, has expressed support for Venezuela, as have countries such as Russia, China and many others.

On behalf of Venezuela and its people, and of the truth, I thank them all most warmly. With a seat on the Security Council, Venezuela will make not only its voice but that of the third world and all peoples heard throughout the world. We will defend dignity and truth.

Over and above all this, there are reasons to be optimistic—a poet would say “hopelessly optimistic”. Beyond the threats, the bombs, the wars, aggression, preventive war and the destruction of entire peoples, we can see that a new era is dawning. As Silvio Rodriguez sings, “the era is giving birth to a heart”. New trends are developing, alternative ways of thinking, alternative movements. Young people think differently. As has been shown in scarcely a decade, the idea of the end of history has been shown to be totally false, as has that of the Pax Americana and the establishment of the capitalist neo-liberal model, which creates poverty and is rejected.

Now we must define the future of the world. The dawn is breaking all over: Latin America, Africa, Europe and Oceania. I want to emphasize that optimistic vision, so that we may strengthen our will and our readiness to fight to save the world and build a new and better world.

Venezuela joins that struggle, and that is why we are threatened. The United States has already planned, financed and set in motion a coup in Venezuela, and it continues to support coup attempts and terrorism there. President Michelle Bachelet Jeria reminded us a short time ago of the horrendous assassination of the former Chilean Foreign Minister, Orlando Letelier. I would simply add that those who perpetrated that crime, in which an American citizen also died, are free. And they are Americans themselves, CIA terrorists.

We should also recall that in a few days there will be another anniversary: 30 years will have passed since another horrendous terrorist act, the destruction of an airliner of Cubana de Aviación in which 73 innocent people died. Where is the biggest terrorist of this continent, who masterminded the blowing up of the plane? He spent a few years in prison in Venezuela, but thanks to the CIA and Venezuelan Government officials at the time he was able to escape. Now he lives in the United States, protected by the Government. He confessed and was convicted of his crime, but the United States Government has double standards and protects terrorism when it wants to. I say this to make the point that Venezuela is fully committed to combating terrorism and violence, and joins those peoples that are fighting for peace and a world of equals.

I have just spoken of the Cuban airliner. Luis Posada Carriles is the name of the terrorist concerned. He is protected here, as are very corrupt people who have fled Venezuela. A group of terrorists bombed various embassies and assassinated people. During the attempted coup they kidnapped me and were going to shoot me. But God intervened, as did a group of loyal soldiers and the people, who took to the streets. So by a miracle I am here today. The leaders of that attempted coup and those terrorist acts are living in this country today, protected by the United States Government. I accuse the American Government of protecting terrorists and of holding a completely cynical discourse.

I mentioned Cuba. I was very recently in Havana for a few days, and I left it feeling happy because the birth of a new era could be seen. The Non-Aligned Movement summit adopted a historic final document. Do not worry; I shall not read it out. It contains a set of resolutions adopted after open and transparent debate. More than 50 heads of State attended, and Havana was the capital of the south for a week.

We have now relaunched the Non-Aligned Movement. If there is anything I could ask of all those here, my partners and brothers and sisters, it is that they lend their good will to strengthen the Non-Aligned Movement, which is important for the birth of the new era and the prevention of hegemony and imperialism. The Assembly will know that we elected President Fidel Castro Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement for the next three years, and we can trust him to lead us very efficiently. Those who hoped that Fidel would die were disappointed, and they will continue to be disappointed, because he is back in his olive-green fatigues and is now not only President of Cuba but Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement. A very strong movement has been born: that of the South. We are men and women of the South.

With these documents, ideas, criticisms and reflections, I am now closing my file and taking the book with me. Do not forget that I recommend it very warmly and very humbly to all those present. I have tried to put forward ideas to save our planet, to save it from the imperialist threat. I hope that in this century, in the not too distant future, we shall see our children and grandchildren living better, in a world of peace based on the fundamental principles of the United Nations—a renewed and relocated United Nations. I believe that it must move to another country, to a city of the South. That is what we in Venezuela have proposed. The Assembly knows that my personal doctor and chief of security had to stay on a locked plane. Neither was allowed to come to the United Nations. This abuse we regard as a personal insult by the Devil. It smells of sulphur here, but God is with us, and I embrace you all. May God bless us all.

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