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Raul Castro: This first-world economic crisis will hurt the developing world

I greatly appreciate the invitation extended to us to take part in this Mercosur [Southern Common Market] Summit. Let me convey the special greetings of comrade Fidel Castro, who accompanied you during the 2006 summit in Argentina. On behalf of Cuba, I reiterate our people's friendship and solidarity. It is with justified optimism that we have closely followed the commendable efforts of the nations in the south of the continent towards integration, economic complementation and in defence of their regional space.

We are well aware of the efforts demanded by such objectives when they face such major obstacles as the effects of a selfish and unfair international economic order favouring the developed countries and the interests of the large multinational corporations, of which the current financial and economic crisis is the most serious and palpable manifestation.

On the other hand, Latin America's will to foster integration clashes with an uneven development and a flawed infrastructure, great social injustice and major income disparity.

We salute the member countries of Mercosur for their dedication to an integrated region and welcome the priority given to social and infrastructure programmes.

We have been called upon to take part, within a few hours, in a greater and more transcendental unitary endeavour. The Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development – the first to bring together every nation south of the Rio Bravo – creates a propitious scenario to discuss both objectives in our own dimension and in accordance with our own concerns and common interests.

Mercosur and other such integrationist schemes can rely on a well-deserved authority and experience. They have the possibility to serve as the basis of and the point of reference to everything we can build after the summit, if we have the will to continue to advance and to go beyond the pleasure of simply meeting.

Cuba would like to reaffirm its unlimited fraternity and its supportive spirit to work with you towards the unity of these nations that José Martí defined as Our America.

The Cuban President, Raul Castro, was addressing the 36th Southern Common Market summit on Tuesday