U.N. chief pitches democracy in Cuba
During a speech at Havana University on Tuesday, the second day of the
five-day summit, Annan said, "A state that denies itself open democratic
processes and institutions will thereby impede the development and progress of
its people, denying them the chance to interact fully with the wider world."
The 73-year-old Castro, wearing his trademark military uniform, sat in
audience of students and dignitaries.
Representatives of the world's developing countries are meeting in Cuba
for a greater share of the world's power and wealth.
By Monday, 122 member countries had sent delegations, as had 34 nonmember
countries and 35 international organizations.
While Annan didn't mention any country by name, Cuba has been a one-party
state led by Castro since a Communist revolution in 1959.
World poverty must be addressed, Annan says
Annan backed calls by G77 members for greater access to rich countries'
and for what they say would be a more just distribution of world income. He called
for changes to the U.N. Security Council and to the international financial system.
"I do not believe that the situation which exists between and within nations
we have extreme wealth and extreme poverty side by side can be sustained in the
long term without our attempting to do something about it," Annan said.
Third World leaders say their goals include keeping rich nations from hijacking
the World Trade Organization (WTO), forging closer stands on reducing their
debt burden and ensuring that they benefit from information technology.
Annan praised Cuba in his speech for guaranteeing its 11 million people
services despite a four-decade-old U.S. trade embargo.
"Notwithstanding the embargo, Cuba's achievements in social development
impressive given the size of its gross domestic product per capita," Annan said.
"As the human development index of the United Nations makes clear year after
year, Cuba should be the envy of many other nations ostensibly far richer."
In a brief reply, Castro praised Annan for doing "the most difficult job
world," but added that the United Nations itself needed to be "more democratic"
and take more account of the views of poor countries.
'They will be asking for the democracy dividend'
The organization's chairman, Arthur Mbanefo of Nigeria, told a news conference
Monday that it would look for ways to expand the benefits of globalization to
poorer nations and to help them fit into the modern information-based society
despite problems such as power and telephone shortfalls that make Internet
Mbanefo, his country's ambassador to the United Nations, also said, "We
like to see a situation where some of this debt is canceled."
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was voted into office last year
following 15 years of military rule, said creditor nations must understand that
people in fledgling democracies will demand that their new system delivers
"Sooner (rather) than later they will be asking for the democracy dividend,
this is purely an improvement in the quality of their life," said the ruler of Africa's
most populous nation.
"If you're asking me to pay 35 percent of my per annum on servicing the
how can I give Nigerians a democracy dividend?" he said.
Obasanjo said he hoped that rich nations would reward the progress made
countries like his own, which he said was striving to provide competent and
democratic government with full respect for human rights.
There are signs that rich countries, which already have forgiven debt owed
the very poorest, were beginning to see the wisdom of further cuts in the debt
burden, said Obasanjo, who said that unilateral debt moratoriums were