Cuban opinion on East Timor
Following correspondence from readers in Portugal and some other countries, Marelys Valencia Almeida in the Cuban newspaper Granma International explained Cuba's position on the UN peacekeeping force in East Timor. I would like to present to you some elements demonstrating Cuba's recognition of East Timor's independence, but pointing to a tendency toward humanitarian intervention efforts which are not always very humanitarian. A recent note issued by the Cuban embassy in Portugal discusses this issue. "Cuba feels there is a need, as an exceptional case, for the deployment of an international peacekeeping force under the strict supervision of the United Nations — taking into consideration what has happened recently in other conflicts, such as that of Kosovo — without hegemonic pretensions on the part of regional powers or power groups from outside the region." The note goes beyond this point and expresses Cuba's disposition, as long as these requisites are met, to participate in the mission with a medical unit for the care of military personnel and the civilian population. Once this multinational force completes its mission, we would be willing to send civilian medical brigades in sufficient numbers to continue providing services to the East Timor population for as long as necessary. At the same time, "Cuba feels that the results of the August 30 referendum should be respected, so that the citizens of East Timor can achieve their independence on the basis of their sense of national identity, with a common culture and common interests." Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' report to the National Assembly of People's Power, warned against foreign interference in certain conflicts. Recalling the aggression against Yugoslavia, based on the pretext of "humanitarian intervention", he said there is an attempt to convince the world of the thesis that certain internal humanitarian considerations — usually within a Third World country — justify foreign intervention, always with the United States at the lead. In the case of East Timor, as I already explained, Cuba supports in this exceptional case the arrival in that territory of a multinational peacekeeping force coordinated by the United Nations. Cuba's recognition of the legitimacy of East Timor's independence is sincere. In my personal opinion, that sentiment is in sharp contrast to the interests lurking behind the actions of some powerful countries, in the name of defending humanitarian rights.
Back to index page