Democracy Now interview with Father Miguel D’Escoto aired today, April 26. Watch full interview on video . Partial transcript appears below.
INTERVIEW with Miguel D’Escoto
One of the higher-profile participants at the Cochabamba climate conference was the former president of the United Nations General Assembly, Father Miguel d’Escoto. A Roman Catholic priest from Nicaragua, d’Escoto served as foreign minister in Daniel Ortega’s government from 1979 to 1990. He joins us to talk about the failures of the UN, the importance of the Bolivia climate summit, why Latin America doesn’t need the United States, and much more. [includes rush transcript–partial]
Miguel D’Escoto, former president of the United Nations General Assembly and former foreign minister of Nicaragua.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re back in New York, broadcasting from our Democracy Now! studios after a week in Bolivia, where we brought you on-the-ground coverage of the World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Thousands of indigenous leaders, environmental activists and grassroots organizers met for three days of talks in Cochabamba. Working groups on seventeen topics discussed a variety of issues, and a summary of their conclusions was put into a six-page Agreement of the People.
The agreement calls on developed countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2020, recommends the creation of an international climate tribunal, and calls for an international referendum on the environment to coincide with the next Earth Day on April 22nd, 2011. The government of Bolivia has pledged to bring the results of the World Peoples’ Conference into the negotiating halls of the United Nations and to highlight the demands at the next UN climate meeting in Mexico in December.
One of the higher-profile participants at the Cochabamba conference was the former president of the United Nations General Assembly, Father Miguel d’Escoto. A Roman Catholic priest from Nicaragua, d’Escoto served as foreign minister in Daniel Ortega’s government from 1979 to 1990. In September of 2008, he was elected to serve as president of the UN General Assembly. A year later, he held a ceremony at the presidential palace in La Paz honoring Bolivian President Evo Morales, naming him World Hero of Mother Earth.
On the last of the summit, I had a chance to sit down with Father Miguel d’Escoto on Earth Day for an extended conversation. I began by asking him for his thoughts on the Bolivia climate summit.
- FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: You know, I think it was a really great inspiration. This was as a response to the farce of Copenhagen by President Evo Morales. When he realized that the developed countries were up to no good and that they couldn’t care less about what is happening to Mother Earth, he said, “This cannot stand this way. We are going to have a summit of the people.” And, you know, I think the time has come. Remember that the United Nations does not belong to the few who think that they own it. The United Nations was created in the name of we the people. And I think it’s about time that we the people take over. The United Nations is a dictatorship from which nothing good comes, because they find a million ways to prevent anything from happening.
- AMY GOODMAN: That’s amazing that you, as the former president of the United Nations General Assembly, would call the UN a dictatorship. FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: It is what I called it always, and I always spoke about the need to democratize the United Nations. And I remember, prior to my becoming president, many representatives of different countries wanted to meet with me. And I can never forget Lord Sawers, the permanent representative from the United Kingdom. He came over to my office, and he says, “Father, I would like to know what is on your agenda, what are some of the main things that you would like to promote.” I said, “I would like the democratization to work for the democratization of the UN.” “Well,” he says, “how much more democratic can it be? After all, one country, one vote.” “You have a very little understanding of democracy, Lord Sawers, because a vote that is not taken into account doesn’t mean anything. Democracy means having the possibility to join in the decision-making process.” And even if you want to reform the United Nations, then the Charter tells you how you can proceed to reform it. They say you have to call a general conference and how you have to call it and the approval that you have to have from the Security Council. But at the end, when all is said and done, when you have decided what reforms you want to make, they have a veto power over it. So it’s a farce. It’s a fraud. AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean they—
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: The United Nations is a fraud.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean they have veto power over it? Who’s “they”?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: The Security Council.
AMY GOODMAN: And the countries, in particular, on the Security Council?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: Within the Security Council, there are five countries that have veto power. But without a doubt, the most influential country in the United Nations is the United States. And it’s really, really amazing the most warmongering country in the history of mankind is put there in charge to make sure that there is peace. And then they go ahead and launch one of the most atrocious—they call it war, this aggression against Iraq, for the only purpose of obtaining the petroleum of that country. It is hard to say how many people have died, but it’s over 1,300,000 now. If you ask people in the United States—I did many times—I said, “How many people do you think have died in Iraq by now?” And they say, “Well, Father, I’m not sure, but I have an idea that it’s coming close to 4,000.” And what is the rest? Cockroaches? They have been—it has been ingrained in their heads that the rest of human beings don’t count, they’re not people. They have been trained to think that if you invent a name for whatever crime you are making, then that’s OK. The crime has been baptized. And so, Madeleine Albright would say, for example, “Oh, that’s collateral damage.” So, you say, “Well, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it was that. So that’s OK. Let’s go to the next one.”
No, it’s really something terrible, what is happening in the world. We need a United nations. They are killing it. They are killing it because it’s not united. It’s a subjugated nations. And they’re killing it. It’s easy to see. For example, here in Cochabamba, I think it was yesterday or the day before, this very, very nice lady who has very wonderful ideals and who is very competent, head of CEPAL, the Latin America—the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America that is in Chile, when she spoke, thousands of people manifested repudiation through different sounds. Terrible. They were manifesting repudiation to the UN. The level of approval of the United Nations by the man in the street is at the lowest level ever, only comparable to the level of approval of the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: Father Miguel d’Escoto. He’s the former president of the UN General Assembly and former foreign minister of Nicaragua. We’ll continue our conversation that we had on Earth Day in Cochabamba in a minute.