The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, issued the following statement:
The Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food completed his official mission to Cuba from 28 October to 6 November 2007 on the realization of the right to food in that country.
The Special Rapporteur expresses his great appreciation to the Government of Cuba for the full cooperation extended to him during his visit.
The Special Rapporteur held meetings with His Excellency Mr. Carlos Lage, Vice-President of the State Council, Mr. Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, President of the National Assembly and Mr. Felipe Roque, Minister for Foreign Affairs. He benefited from constructive dialogue with a number of other Government Ministers, including the Minister of Agriculture, Economy and Planning, Education, Food Industry, Fisheries, Internal Commerce, Labour and Social Security as well as senior staff of other ministries. In addition, the Special Rapporteur held useful meetings with UN agencies and the diplomatic community. He also met with civil society organizations.
He travelled extensively throughout the country, including in the provinces of Granma, Santa Clara and Piñar del Rio where he met the Presidents of the Provincial Assemblies as well as other senior provincial government officials and visited other locations such as Santa Cruz del Norte. The Special Rapporteur also met with members of various food and agriculture production cooperatives, visited shops for subsidized food, health care centres for pregnant women, day care centres for the elderly, a hospital and two prisons.
The Special Rapporteur welcomes the efforts that, since the “Special Period”, the Government has made to increase agricultural productivity and decrease dependency on food imports with a view to guaranteeing availability and affordability of food. These endeavours are carried out under difficult external circumstances such as the US – initiated economic and financial “blockade”.
The Special Rapporteur will elaborate a report on his findings which will be presented during the seventh session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2008.