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Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the United Nations

Nov 9, 2021
09-11-2021-CONSEJO-DE-SEGURIDAD-DE-NACIONES-UNIDAS-NUEVA-YORK-ESTADOS-UNIDOS

Speech by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the United Nations Security Council

Your Excellency, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations;

Permanent members and non-permanent members of this UN Security Council;

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I do not come to speak of security as a synonym for military might or as an argument for the use of force against anyone. Instead, my approach is based on what was formulated by that titan of freedom, according to Pablo Neruda, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, when the United Nations was created: the right to a life free from fear and misery, which remains the most solid foundation of security for all societies and States.

The main obstacle to the exercise of this right is corruption in all its expressions: transnational powers, opulence and frivolity as a way of life for the elites; the neoliberal model that socializes losses, privatizes profits and encourages the plundering of natural resources and the assets of peoples and nations.

It is corruption when courts punish those who have nothing with which to prove their innocence and protect the powerful and large business corporations that steal from the treasury or do not pay taxes; it is corruption when those who hide and cover up illicit funds in tax havens go unpunished; and it is also corruption when shareholders and managers of the so-called vulture funds practice usury, without even losing their respectability.

It would be hypocritical to ignore that the planet’s main problem is corruption in all its dimensions — political, moral, economic, legal, fiscal, and financial. It would be foolish to fail to recognize that corruption is the main cause of inequality, poverty, frustration, violence, migration, and serious social conflicts.

We are in decline because never before in the history of the world has so much wealth been accumulated in so few hands through influence peddling and at the expense of the suffering of others, privatizing what belongs to all or what should not have an owner; adulterating laws to legalize what is immoral; distorting social values to make the abominable seem like acceptable business.

Let’s take, for example, what happened with the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. While private pharmaceutical companies have sold 94 percent of the vaccines, the COVAX mechanism, created by the UN for poor countries, has barely distributed 6 percent. This is a painful and resounding failure.

This simple fact should lead us to admit the obvious. In today’s world, generosity and a sense of the common good are being displaced by selfishness and private ambition. The spirit of cooperation is losing ground to the profit motive and, as a result, we are sliding away from civilization toward barbarism and walking as if we were alienated beings, forgetting moral principles and turning our backs on humanity’s pain and suffering.

If we are not capable of reversing these trends through concrete actions, we will not be able to solve any of the other problems that afflict the peoples of the world.

What are we doing in Mexico?

We have applied the formula of wiping out corruption and allocating all the money freed up to the welfare of the population, based on the criterion that “for the good of all, the poor come first”.

Choosing to be on the side of the poor also implies accepting that peace is the fruit of justice and that no country can be viable if marginalization and misery persist and increase. Therefore, we maintain that the key solution to be able to live free from fear, risks, and violence is to put an end to unemployment, to encourage the incorporation of young people into the job market and schools, to avoid family disintegration, social decomposition, and the loss of cultural, moral, and spiritual values.

In Mexico it may take time for us to pacify the country, but the surest formula is to address the root of the problem, as we are doing so, for example, in providing young people with study and work options to prevent them from being pulled into crime. The real victory over criminal gangs will always consist in depriving them of their breeding ground and their reserve army.

We are addressing the migration phenomenon with the same criteria. The key actions are not coercive in nature but rather those that enable all individuals to study, work, have access to health care and well-being in the places where they were born or reside, so that they are not forced to leave their villages due to hunger or violence and that only those who wish to do so emigrate. In other words, migration should be optional and not forced; an individual decision and not a phenomenon of demographic proportions.

Recently, I respectfully presented President Biden with a new way of dealing with the migratory question. Without ignoring the need to order the flow of migrants, to avoid losing control of the situation and violence, and to guarantee human rights, I proposed the immediate application of two programs in three sister nations that we are successfully carrying out in Chiapas, a state bordering on Central America.

Today we are planting 200,000 hectares of fruit and timber trees there and this program provides work for 80,000 peasant farmers. By the same token, 30,000 young people are working as apprentices in this southeastern Mexican state, receiving a minimum wage to be trained in workshops, companies, and other productive and social activities. If these two actions were applied immediately in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, it would be possible to ensure that some 330,000 people who today are at risk of emigrating due to lack of work would remain in their countries.

I think that these proposals should be implemented by the UN in order to get to the bottom of the problems in poor countries. The most important body of the international community must shake off its lethargy and emerge from its routine, from its formalism. It must undertake internal reforms and denounce and fight corruption worldwide. It must fight against inequality and social unrest that are rampant on the planet. With more decisiveness, more depth, playing a greater central role, with more leadership.

Never in the history of this organization has anything really substantial been done for the benefit of the poor, but it is never too late to do justice. Today is the time to act against marginalization by addressing the causes and not just the consequences.

In line with this idea, in the next few days, Mexico’s representatives will propose to the United Nations General Assembly a World Plan of Brother and Sisterhood and Well-Being. The goal is to guarantee the right to a decent life to 750 million people who survive on less than two dollars a day.

Mexico’s proposal to establish the World State of Brother and Sisterhood and Well-Being can be financed with a fund from at least three sources: the collection of an annual voluntary contribution from the planet’s thousand richest people of 4 percent of their fortunes. A similar contribution from the 1,000 largest private corporations measured in terms of global market value, and a contribution of 0.2 percent of the GDP of each of the G-20 countries. If this revenue goal was reached, annually the fund would have about a billion dollars at its disposal.

In its annual report, the UN could set aside a day to bestow honorable mention awards or certificates of solidarity to individuals, corporations and governments that stand out due to their humanitarian calling in helping to finance the World Plan of Brother and Sisterhood and Well-Being.

The resources of this fund must reach the beneficiaries directly, without any intermediaries, because when funds are supposedly given to non-governmental organizations of civil society or to other types of organizations, to help the poor, and I do not want to generalize, but in many cases, the money remains in bureaucratic apparatuses, in paying for luxury offices, in maintaining advisors, or it is diverted and ends up not reaching the beneficiaries. That is why, I repeat, the resources for the beneficiaries should arrive directly, without any intermediaries, by means of a bank card or a personalized electronic wallet.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund could collaborate in the creation of the required structure and, starting next year, conduct a census of the world’s poorest people and once the target population has been defined, in each country, begin to disperse resources for the granting of pensions to senior citizens and children with disabilities; scholarships to students; support to peasant farmers and young people who work as apprentices in productive activities, as well as providing free vaccinations and medicines.

I do not believe, and I say this with sincerity, that any of the permanent members of this Security Council will oppose our proposal, because it does not refer to nuclear weapons or military invasions nor does it put the security of any State at risk. On the contrary, it seeks to build stability and peace through solidarity with those who most need our support. I am sure that all of us, rich and poor, donors and beneficiaries, will have a clearer conscience and will live with greater moral fortitude. Here I would like to recall what Adam Smith said: ” How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it”. In other words, only by being good can we be happy.

And let us never forget that it is the collective duty of nations to offer each of their children the right to food, health-care, education, work, social security, sports, and recreation.

I would like to close by recalling two patriots and liberators of our America: José María Morelos y Pavón, Servant of the Mexican Nation, who slightly more than two centuries ago demanded: “that deprivation and opulence be tempered”; and, almost at the same time, Simón Bolívar who declared that “the most perfect system of government is that which produces the greatest possible amount of happiness, the greatest amount of social security, and the greatest amount of political stability”.

It is an honor to be with you, permanent and non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, which is the closest thing to a world government and which can become the most effective body for combating corruption and the noblest benefactor of the poor and forgotten of the earth.

Thank you very much.

New York, New York, New York, November 9, 2021

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