Fidel Castro at the UN General Assembly (1960)
Fidel Castro at the U.N. General Assembly, September 26, 1960.
Source: No. 4. Issued by the Embassy of Cuba, Colombo.
Mr. President, Fellow Delegates
Although it has been said of us that we speak at great length, you may rest assured that we shall endeavor to be brief and to put before you what we consider it our duty to say. We shall also speak slowly in order to co-operate with the interpreters.
Some people may think that we are very annoyed and upset by the treatment the Cuban delegation has received. This is not the case. We understand full well the reasons behind it. That is why we are not irritated. Nor should anybody worry that Cuba will not continue to the effort of achieving a worldwide understanding. That being so, we shall speak openly.
It is extremely expensive to send a delegation to the United Nations. We, the underdeveloped countries, do not have many resources to spend, unless it is to speak openly at this meeting of representatives of almost every country in the world.
The speakers who have preceded me on this rostrum have expressed their concern about problems the whole world is concerned about. We too are concerned about those problems and yet, in the case of Cuba, there is a very special circumstance, and it is that, at this moment, Cuba itself must be a concern for the world, because, as several delegates have rightly said here, among the many current problems of the world, there is the problem of Cuba. In addition to the problems facing the world today, Cuba has problems of her own, problems which worry her people.
Much has been said of the universal desire for peace, which is the desire of all peoples and, therefore, the desire of our people too, but the peace which the world wishes to preserve is the peace that we Cuban have been missing for quite some time. The dangers that other peoples of the world can regard as more or less remote are dangers and preoccupations that for us are very close. It has not been easy to come to this Assembly to state the problems of Cuba. It has not been easy for us to come here.
I do not know whether we are privileged in this respect. Are we, the Cuban delegates, the representatives of the worst type of Government in the world? Do we, the representatives of the Cuban delegation, deserve the maltreatment we have received? And why our delegation? Cuba has sent many delegations to the United Nations, and yet it was we who were singled out for such exceptional measures: confinement to the Island of Manhattan; notice to all hotels not to rent rooms to us, hostility and, under the pretense of security, isolation.
Perhaps not one among you, fellow delegates, you, who are not the individual representatives of anybody, but the representatives of your respective countries and, for that reason, whatever happens to each of you must concern you because of what you represent, perhaps not one among you, upon your arrival in this city of New York, has had to under go such personally and physically humiliating treatment as that which the President of Cuban delegation has received.
I am not trying to agitate in this Assembly. I am merely telling the truth. It is about time we had an opportunity to speak. Much has been said about us for many days now, the newspapers have referred to us, but we have remained silent. We cannot defend ourselves from such attacks in this country. Our day to state the truth has come, and we will not fail to state it.
As I have said, we had to undergo degrading and humiliating treatment, including eviction from the hotel in which we were living and efforts at extortion. When we went to another hotel, we did all in our power to avoid difficulties. We refrained from leaving our hotel rooms and went nowhere except to this assembly hall of the United Nations, on the few occasions when we have come to General Assembly. We also accepted an invitation to a reception at the Soviet Embassy, yet this was not enough for them to leave us in peace.
There has been considerable Cuban emigration to this country. There are more than one hundred thousand Cubans who have come to this country during the last twenty years. They have come to this country from their own land, where they would have liked to remain for ever, and where they wish to return, as is always the case with those who, for social or economic reasons, are forced to abandon their homeland. These Cubans were wholly devoted to their work; they respected and respect the laws of this country, but they naturally harbored a feeling of love for their native country and its Revolution. They never had any problems, but one day another type of visitor began to arrive in this country, individuals who in some cases had murdered hundreds of our compatriots. Soon they were encouraged by publicity here. The authorities received them warmly and soon encouraged them, and, naturally, that encouragement is reflected in their conduct. They provoke frequent incidents with the Cuban population which has worked honestly in this country for many years.
One of such incidents, provoked by those who feel supported by the systematic campaigns against Cuba and by the authorities, caused the death of a child. That was a lamentable event, and we should all regret such an event. The guilty ones were not the Cubans who lived here. The guilty ones were, even less, we, the members of the Cuban delegation, and yet undoubtedly, you have all seen the headlines of the newspapers, which stated that “pro-Castro groups” had killed a ten-year old girl. With the characteristic hypocrisy of those who have a say in the relations between Cuba and this country, a spokesman for the White House immediately made declarations to the world pointing out the deed, in fact, almost fixing the guilt on the Cuban delegation. And of course, His Excellency, the United States Delegate to the Assembly, did not fail to join the farce, sending a telegram of condolence to the Venezuelan Government, addressed to the victim’s relatives, as though he felt called upon to give some explanation for something Cuban delegation was, in effect, responsible for.
But that was not all. When we were forced to leave one of the hotels in this city, and came to the United National Headquarters while efforts were being made to find accommodation for us, a hotel, a humble hotel of this city, a Negro hotel in Harlem, offered to rent us rooms [where Castro met Malcolm X]. The reply came when we were speaking to the Secretary General. Nevertheless, an official of the State Department did all in his power to prevent our staying at that hotel. At that moment, as though by magic, hotels began appearing all over New York. Hotels which had previously refused lodgings to the Cuban delegation offered us rooms, even free of charge. Out of simple reciprocity we accepted the Harlem hotel. We felt then that we had earned the right to be left in peace. But peace was not accorded us.
Once in Harlem, since it was impossible to prevent us from living there, the slander and defamation campaigns began. They began spreading the news all over the world that the Cuban delegation had lodged in a brothel. For some humble hotel in Harlem, a hotel inhabited by Negroes of the United States, must obviously be a brothel. Furthermore, they have tried to heap infamy upon the Cuban delegation, without even respecting the female members who work with us and are a part of the Cuban delegation.
If we were the kind of men they try to depict at all costs, imperialism would not have lost all hope, as it did long ago, of somehow buying or seducing us. But, since they lost that hope a long time ago — though they never had reasons to sustain it — after having stated that the Cuban delegation lodged in a brothel, they should at least realize that imperialist financial capital is a prostitute that cannot seduce us — and not precisely the “respectful” type of prostitute described by Jean Paul Sarte.
Now, to the problem of Cuba. Perhaps some of you are well aware of the facts, perhaps others are not. It all depends on the sources of information, but, undoubtedly, the problem of Cuba, born within the last two years, is a new problem for the world. The world had not had many reasons to know that Cuba existed. For many, Cuba was something of an appendix of the United States. Even for many citizens of this country, Cuba was a colony of the United States. As far as the map was concerned, this we not the case: our country had a different color from that of the United States. But in reality Cuba was a colony of the United States.
How did our country became a colony of the United States? It was not because of its origins; the same men did not colonize the United States and Cuba. Cuba has a very different ethnical and cultural origin, and the difference was widened over the centuries. Cuba was the last country in America to free itself from Spanish colonial rule, to cast off, with due respect to the representative of Spain, the Spanish colonial yoke; and because it was the last, it also had to fight more fiercely.
Spain had only one small possession left in America and it defended it with tooth and nail. Our people, small in numbers, scarcely a million inhabitants at that time, had to face alone, for almost thirty years, an army considered one of the strongest in Europe. Against our small national population the Spanish Government mobilized an army as big as the total forces that had fought against South American independence. Half a million Spanish soldiers fought against the historic and unbreakable will of our people to be free.
For thirty years the Cubans fought alone for their independence; thirty years of struggle that strengthened our love for freedom and independence. But Cuba was a fruit — according to the opinion of a President of the United States at the beginning of the past century, John Adams — , it was an apple hanging from the Spanish tree, destined to fall, as soon as it was ripe enough, into the hands of the United States. Spanish power had worn itself out in our country. Spain had neither the men nor the economic resources to continue the war in Cuba; Spain had been defeated. Apparently the apple was ripe, and the United States Government held out its open hands.
Not one but several apples fell in to the hands of the United States. Puerto Rico fell — heroic Puerto Rico, which had begun its struggle for independence at the same time as Cuba. The Philippine Islands fell, and several other possessions. However, the method of dominating our country could not be the same. Our country had struggled fiercely, and thus had gained the favor of world public opinion. Therefore the method of taking our country had to be different.
The Cubans who fought for our independence and at that very moment were giving their blood and their lives believed in good faith in the joint resolution of the Congress of the United States of April 20, 1898, which declared that “Cuba is, and by right ought to be, free and independent.”
The people of the United States were sympathetic to the Cuban struggle for liberty. That joint declaration was a law adopted by the Congress of the United States through which war was declared on Spain. But that illusion was followed by a rude awakening. After two years of military occupation of our country, the unexpected happened: at the very moment that the people of Cuba, through their Constituent Assembly, were drafting the Constitution of the Republic, a new law was passed by the United States Congress, a law proposed by Senator Platt, bearing such unhappy memories for the Cubans. That law stated that the constitution of the Cuba must have an appendix under which the United States would be granted the right to intervent in Cuba’s political affairs and, furthermore, to lease certain parts of Cuba for naval bases or coal supply station.
In other words, under a law passed by the legislative body of a foreign country, Cuban’s Constitution had to contain an appendix with those provisions. Our legislators were clearly told that if they did not accept the amendment, the occupation forces would not be withdrawn. In other words, an agreement to grant another country the right to intervene and to lease naval bases was imposed by force upon my country by the legislative body of a foreign country.
It is well, I think, for countries just entering this Organization, countries just beginning their independent life, to bear in mind our history and to note any similar conditions which they may find waiting for them along their own road. And if it is not they, then those who came after them, or their children, or grandchildren, although it seems to us that we will not have to wait that long.
Then began the new colonization of our country, the acquisition of the best agricultural lands by United States firms, concessions of Cuban natural resources and mines, concessions of public utilities for exploitation purposes, commercial concessions of all types. These concessions, when linked with the constitutional right — constitutional by force — of intervention in our country, turned it from a Spanish colony into an American colony.
Colonies do not speak. Colonies are not known until they have the opportunity to express themselves. That is why our colony and its problems were unknown to the rest of the world. In geography books reference was made to a flag and a coat of arms. There was an island with another color on the maps, but it was not an independent republic. Let us not deceive ourselves, since by doing so we only make ourselves ridiculous. Let no one be mistaken. There was no independent republic; there was only a colony where orders were given by the Ambassador of the United States.
We are not ashamed to have to declare this. On the contrary: we are proud to say that today no embassy rules our country; our country is ruled by its people!
Once against the Cuban people had to resort to fighting in order to achieve independence, and that independence was finally attained after seven bloody years of tyranny, who forced this tyranny upon us? Those who in our country were nothing more than tools of the interests which dominated our country economically.
How can an unpopular regime, inimical to the interests of the people, stay in power unless it is by force? Will we have to explain to the representatives of our sister republics of Latin America what military tyrannies are? Will we have to outline to them how these tyrannies have kept themselves in power? Will we have to explain the history of several of those tyrannies which are already classical? Will we have to say what forces, what national and international interests support them?
The military group which tyrannized our country was supported by the most reactionary elements of the nation, and, above all, by the foreign interests that dominated the economy of our country. Everybody knows, and we understand that even the Government of the United States admits it, that that was the type of government favored by the monopolies. Why? Because by the use of force it was possible to check the demands of the people; by the use of force it was possible to suppress strikes for improvement of living standards; by the use of force it was possible to crush all movements on the part of the peasants to own the land they worked; by the use of force it was possible to curb the greatest and most deeply felt aspirations of the nation.
That is why governments of force were favored by the ruling circles of the United States. That is why governments of force stayed in power for so long, and why there are governments of force still in power in America. Naturally, it all depends on whether it is possible to secure the support of the United States.
For instance, now they say they oppose one of these governments of force; the Government of Trujillo. But they do not say they are against other governments of force — that of Nicaragua, or Paraguay, for example. The Nicaraguan one is no longer government of force; it is a monarchy that is almost as constitutional as that of the United Kingdom, where the reins of power are handed down from father to son. The same would have occurred in my own country. It was the type of government of force — that of Fulgencio Batista — which suited the American monopolies in Cuba, but it was not, of course, the type of government which suited the Cuban people, and the Cuban people, at a great cost in lives and sacrifices, over threw the government.
What did the Revolution find when it came to power in Cuba? What marvels did the Revolution find when it came to power in Cuba? First of all the Revolution found that 600,000 able Cubans were unemployed — as many, proportionately, as were unemployed in the United States at the time of the great depression which shook this country and which almost created a catastrophy in the United States. That was our permanent unemployment. Three million out of a population of somewhat over 6,000,000 did not have electric lights and did not enjoy the advantages and comforts of electricity. Three and a half million out of a total of slightly more than 6,000,000 lived in huts, shacks and slums, without the slightest sanitary facilities. In the cities, rents took almost one third of family incomes. Electricity rates and rents were among the highest in the world. Thirty-seven and one half percent of our population were illiterate; 70 per cent of the rural children had no teachers; 2 per cent of population, that is, 100,000 persons out of a total of more than 6,000,000 suffered from tuberculosis. Ninety-five per cent of the children in rural areas were affected by parasites, and the infant mortality rate was therefore very high, just the opposite of the average life span.
On the other hand, 85 per cent of the small farmers were paying rents for the use of land to the tune of almost 30 per cent of their income, while 1 1/2 percent of the landowners controlled 46 per cent of the total area of the nation. Of course, the proportion of hospital beds to the number of inhabitants of the country was ridiculous, when compared with countries that only have halfway decent medical services.
Public utilities, electricity and telephone services all belonged to the United States monopolies. A major portion of the banking business, of the importing business and the oil refineries, the greater part of the sugar production, the best land in Cuba, and the most important industries in all fields belonged to American companies. The balance of payments in the last ten years, from 1950 to 1960, had been favorable to the United States with regard to Cuba to the extent of one thousand million dollars.
This is without taking in to account the hundreds of millions of dollars that were extraeted from the treasury of the country by the corrupt officials of the tyranny and were later deposited in United States or European Banks.
One thousand million dollars in ten years. This poor and underdeveloped Caribbean country, with 600,000 unemployed, was contributing greatly to the economic development of the most highly industrialized country in the world.
That was the situation we found, and it is probably not foreign to many of the countries represented in this Assembly, because, when all is said and done, what we have said about Cuba is like a diagnostic x-ray applicable to many of the countries represented here.
What alternative was there for the Revolutionary Government? To betray the people? Of course, as far as the President of the United States is concerned, we have betrayed our people, but it would certainly not have been considered so, if, instead of the Revolutionary Government being true to its people, it had been loyal to the big American monopolies that exploited the economy of our country. At least, let note be taken here of the wonders the Revolution found when it came to power. They were no more and no less than the usual wonder of imperialism, which are in themselves the wonders of the free world as far as we, the colonies, are concerned!
We surely cannot be blamed if there were 600,000 unemployed in Cuba and 37.5 per cent of the population were illiterate. We surely cannot be held responsible if 2 per cent of the population suffered from tuberculosis and 95 per cent were affected by parasites. Until that moment none of us had anything to do with the destiny of our country; until that moment, those who had something to do with the destiny of our country were the rulers who served the interests of the monopolies; until that moment, monopolies had been in control of our country. Did anyone hinder them? No one. Did anyone trouble them? No one. They were able to do their work, and there we found the result of their work.
What was the state of our reserved when the tyrant Batista came to power. There was $500,000,000 in our national reserve, a goodly sum to have invested in the industrial development of the country. When the Revolution came to power there was only $70,000,000 in our reserves.
Was there any concern for the industrial development of our country? No. That is why we are astonished and amazed when we hear of the extraordinary concern shown by the United States Government for the Fate of the countries of Latin America, Africa and Asia. We cannot overcome our amazement, because after fifty years we have the result of their concern before our eyes.
What has the Revolutionary Government done? What crime has the Revolutionary Government committed to deserve the treatment we have received here, and the powerful enemies that events have shown us we have?
Did problems with the United States Government arise from the first moments? No. It is perhaps that when we reached power we were imbued with the purpose of getting into international trouble? No. No Revolutionary government wants international trouble when it comes to power. What a revolutionary government wants to do is concentrate its efforts on solving its own problems; what it wants to do is carry out a program for the people, as is the desire of all governments that are interested in the progress of their country.
The first unfriendly act perpetrated by the Government of the United States was to throw open its doors to a gang of murders who had left our country covered with blood. Men who had murdered hundreds of defenseless peasants, who for many years never tired of torturing prisoners, who killed right and left — were received in this country with open arms. To us, this was amazing. Why this unfriendly act on the part of the Government of the United States towards Cuba? Why this act of hostility? At that time we could not quite understand; now we see the reason clearly. Was that the proper policy as regards relations between the United States and Cuba? Certainly not, because we were the injured party, inasmuch as the Batista regime remained in power with the help of tanks, planes and arms furnished by the Government of the United States; the Batista regime remained in power thanks to the use of an army whose officers were trained by a military mission sent by the United States Government; and we trust that no official of the United States will dare to deny that truth.
Even when the Rebel Army arrived in Havana, the American military mission was in the most important military camp of the city. That was a broken army, an army that had been defeated and had surrendered. We could very well have considered those foreign officers as prisoners of war, since they had been there helping and training the enemies of the people. However, we did not do so. We merely asked the members of that military mission to return to their country, because after all, we did not need their lessons; their pupils had been defeated.
I have with me a document. Do not be surprised as its appearance, for it is a torn document. It is an old military pact, by virtue of which the Batista tyranny received generous assistance from the Government of the United States. And it is quite important to know the contents of Article 2 of this Agreement:
“The Government of the Republic of Cuba commits itself to make efficient use of the assistance it receives from the United States, pursuant to the present agreement, in order to carry out the plans of defense accepted by both Governments, pursuant to which the two Governments will take part in missions which are important for the defense of the Western Hemisphere, and, unless permission is previously obtained from the Government of the United States of America …”
— I repeat:
“and unless permission is previously obtained from the Government of the United States, such assistance will not be dedicated to other ends than those for which such assistance has been granted.”
That assistance was used to combat the Cuban revolutionaries; it was therefore approved by the Government of the United States. And even when, some months before the war was over, an embargo on arms for Batista was put into effect, after more than six years of military help, once the arms embargo had been solemnly declared, the Rebel Army had proof, documentary proof, that the forces of the tyranny had been supplied with 300 rockets to be fired from planes.
When our comrades living in this country laid these documents before the public opinion of the United States, the Government of the United States found no other explanation than to say that we were wrong, that they had not sent new supplies to the army of the tyranny, but had just changed some rockets that could not be used in their planes for another type of rocket that could — and, by the way, they were fired at us while we were in the mountains. I must say that this is a unique way of explaining a contradiction when it can be neither justified nor explained. According to the United States, then, this was not military assistance; it was probably some sort of ‘”technical assistance.”
Why, then, if all this existed and was a cause of resentment for our people … because everybody knows, even the most innocent and guileless, that with the revolution that has taken place in military equipment, those weapons from the last war have became throughly obsolete for a modern war.
Fifty tanks of armoured cars and a few outmoded aircraft cannot defend a continent, much less a hemisphere. But on the other hand they are good enough to oppress unarmed peoples. They are good for what they are used for: to intimidate people and to defend monopolies. That is why these hemisphere defense pacts might better be described as “defense pacts for the protection of United States monopolies.”
And so the Revolutionary Government began to take the first steps. The first thing it did was to lower the rents paid by families by fifty per cent, a just measure, since, as I said earlier, there were families paying up to one third of their income. The people had been the victim of housing speculation, and city lots had also been the subject of speculation at the expense of the entire Cuban people. But when the Revolutionary Government reduced the rents by fifty per cent, there were, of course, a few individuals who became upset, the few who owned those apartment buildings, but the people rushed into the streets rejoicing, as they would in any country, even here in New York, if rents were reduced by fifty per cent. But this was no problem to the monopolies. Some American monopolies owned large buildings, but they were relatively few in number.
Then another law was passed, a law cancelling the concessions which had been granted by the tyranny of Batista to the Telephone Company, an American monopoly. Taking advantage of the fact our people were defenseless, they had obtained valuable concessions. The Revolutionary Government then cancelled these concessions and re-established normal prices for telephone services. Thus began the first conflict with the American monopolies.
The third measure was the reduction of electricity rates, which were the highest in the world. Then followed the second conflict with the American monopolies. We were beginning to appear communist; they were beginning to daub us in red because we had clashed head on with the interests of the United States monopolies.
Then followed the next law, an essential and inevitable law for our country, and a law which sooner or later will have to be adopted by all countries of the world, at least by those which have not yet adopted it: the Agrarian Reform Law. Of course, in theory everybody agrees with the Agrarian Reform Law. Nobody will deny the need for it unless he is a fool. No one can deny that agrarian reform is one of the essential conditions for the economic development of the country. In Cuba, even the big landowners agreed about the agrarian reform — only they wanted their own kind of reform, such as the one defended by many theoreticians; a reform which would not harm their interests, and above all, one which would not be put into effect as long as it could be avoided. This is something that is well known to the economic bodies of the United Nations, something nobody even cares to discuss any more. In my country it was absolutely necessary: more than 200,000 peasant families lived in the countryside without land on which to grow essential food crops.
Without an agrarian reform, our country would have been unable to take that step; we made an agrarian reform. Was it a radical agrarian reform? We think not. It was a reform adjusted to the needs of our development, and in keeping with our own possibilities of agricultural development. In other words, was an agrarian reform which was to solve the problems of the landless peasants, the problem of supplying basic foodstuffs, the problem of rural unemployment, and which was to end, once and for all, the ghastly poverty which existed in the countryside of our native land.
And that is where the first major difficulty arose. In the neighboring Republic of Guatemala a similar case had occurred. And I honestly warn my colleagues of Latin America, Africa and Asia; whenever you set out to make a just agrarian reform, you must be ready to face s similar situation, especially if the best and largest tracts of land are owned by American monopolies, as was the case in Cuba. (OVATION)
It is quite possible that we may later be accused of giving bad advice in this Assembly. It is not our intention to disturb anybody’s sleep. We are simply stating the facts, although the facts are sufficient to disturb everybody’s sleep.
Then the problem of payment arose. Notes from the State Department rained on our Government. They never asked about our problems, not even out of sheer pity, or because of the great responsibility they had in creating such problems. They never asked us how many died of starvation in our country, or how many were suffering from tuberculosis, or how many were unemployed. No, they never asked about that. A sympathetic attitude towards our needs? Certainly not. All talks by the representatives of the Government of the United States centered upon the Telephone Co., the Electric Co., and the land owned by American Companies.
How could we solve the problem of payment? Of course, the first question that should have been asked was what we were going to pay with, rather than how. Can you gentlemen conceive of a poor underdeveloped country, with 600,000 unemployed and such a large number of illiterates and sick people, a country whose reserves have been exhausted, and which has contributed to the economy of a powerful country with one thousand million dollars in ten years — can you conceive of this country having the means to pay for the land affected by the Agrarian Reform Law, or the means to pay for it in the terms demanded?
What were the State Department aspirations regarding their affected interests? They wanted prompt, efficient and just payment. Do you understand that language? “Prompt, efficient, and just payment.” That means, “pay now, in dollars, and whatever we ask for our land.” (APPLAUSE)
We were not 100 per cent communist yet (LAUGHS) We were just becoming slightly pink. We did not confiscate land; we simply proposed to pay for it in twenty years, and in the only way in which we could pay for it: in bonds, which would mature in twenty years at 4 1/2 per cent, or amortized yearly.
How could we pay for the land in dollars, and the amount they asked for it? It was absurd. Anyone can readily understand that, under those circumstances, we had to choose between making the agrarian reform, and not making it. If we choose not to make it, the dreadful economic situation of our country would last indefinitely. If we decided to make it, we exposed ourselves to the hatred of the Government of the powerful neighbor of the north.
We decided to go on with the agrarian reform. Of course, the limits set to latifundia in Cuba would amaze a representative of the Netherlands, for example, or of any country of Europe, because of their extent. The maximum amount of land set forth in the Agrarian Reform Law is 400 hectares (988 acres). In Europe, 40 hectares is practically a lati-fundium; in Cuba, where there were American monopolies that had up to 200,000 hectares — I repeat, in case someone thinks he has heard wrong, 200,000 hectares — an agrarian reform law reducing the maximum limit to 400 hectares was inadmissible.
But the truth is that in our country it was not only the land that was the property of the agrarian monopolies. The largest and most important mines were also owned by those monopolies. Cuba produces, for example, a great deal of nickel. All of the nickel was exploited by American interests, and under the tyranny of Batista, an American company, the Moa Bay, had obtained such a juicy concession that in a mere five years — mark my words, in a mere five years — it intended amortizing an investment of $120,000,000. A $120,000,000 investment amortized in five years!
And who had given the Moa Bay company this concession through the intervention of the Government of the United States? Quite simply, the tyrannical government of Fulgencio Batista, which was there to defend the interests of the monopolies. And this is an absolutely true fact. Exempt from all taxes what were those companies going to leave for the Cubans? The empty, worked out mines, the impoverished land, and not the slightest contribution to the economic development of our country.
And so the Revolutionary Government passed a mining law which forced those monopolies to pay a 25 per cent tax on the exportation of minerals. The attitude of the Revolutionary Government already had been too bold. It had clashed with the interests of the international electric trusts; it had clashed with the interests of the international telephone trusts; it had clashed with the interests of the mining trusts; it had clashed with the interests of the United Fruit Co; and it had in effect, clashed with the most powerful interests of the United States, which, as you know, are very closely linked with each other. And that was more than the Government of the United States — or rather, the representatives of the United States monopolies — could possibly tolerate.
Then began a new period of harassment of the Revolution. Can anyone who objectively analyzes the facts? Who is willing to think honestly, not as the UP or the AP tell him, to think with his head and to draw conclusions from his own reasoning and the facts without prejudice, sincerely and honestly — would anyone who does this consider that things which the Revolutionary Government did were such as to demand the destruction of the Cuban Revolution? No. But the interests affected by the Cuban Revolution were not concerned about the Cuban case; they were not being ruined by the measures of the Cuban Revolutionary Government. That was not the problem. The problem lay in the fact that those very interests owned the wealth and the natural resources of the greater part of the peoples of the world.
The attitude of the Cuban Revolution therefore had to be punished. Punitive actions of all sorts — even the destruction of those insolent people — had to follow the audacity of the Revolutionary Government.
On our honor, we swear that up to that moment we had not had the opportunity even to exchange letters with the distinguished Prime Minister of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev. That is to say that when, for the North American press and the international news agencies that supply information to the world, Cuba was already a Communist Government, a red peril ninety miles from the United States with a Government dominated by Communists, the Revolutionary Government had not even had the opportunity of establishing diplomatic and commercial relations with the Soviet Union.
But hysteria can go to any length; hysteria is capable of making the most unlikely and absurd claims. Of course, let no one think for a moment that we are going to intone a mea culpa here. There will be no mea culpa. We do not have to ask anyone’s pardon. What we have done, we have done consciously, and above all, fully convinced of our right to do it. (PROLONGED APPLAUSE)
Then came the threats against our sugar quota, imperialism’s cheap philosophy of showing generosity, egoistical and exploiting generosity; and they began showing kindness towards Cuba, declaring that they were paying us a preferential price for sugar, which amounted to a subsidy to Cuban sugar — a sugar which was not so sweet for Cubans, since we were not the owners of the best sugar-producing land, nor the owners of the largest sugar mills. Furthermore, in that affirmation lay hidden the true history of Cuban sugar, of the sacrifices which had been imposed upon my country during the periods when it was economically attacked.
However when quotas were established, our participation was reduced to 28 per cent, and the advantages which that law had granted us, the very few advantages which that law had granted us, were gradually taken away in successive laws, and, of course the colony depended on the colonial power. The economy of the colony had been organized by the colonial power.
The colony had to be subjected to the colonial power, and if the colony took measures to free itself from the colonial powers that country would take measures to crush the colony. Conscious of the subordination of our economy to their market, the Government of the United States began to issue a series of warnings that our quota would be reduced further, and at the same time, other activities were taking place in the United States of America: the activities of counterrevolutionaries.
One afternoon an airplane coming from the north flew over one of the sugar refineries and dropped a bomb. This was a strange and unheard-of event, but we knew full well where that plane came from. On another afternoon another plane flew over our sugar cane fields and dropped a few incendiary bombs. These events which began sporadically continued systematically.
One afternoon, when a number of American tourist agents were visiting Cuba in response to an effort made by the Revolutionary Government to promote tourism as one of the sources of national income, a plane manufactured in the United States, of the type used in the Second World War, flew over our capital dropping pamphlets and grenades. Of course, some anti-aircraft guns went into action. The result was more than forty victims, between the grenades dropped by the plane and the anti-aircraft fire, because, as you know, some of the projectiles explode upon contacting any object. As I said, the result was more than forty victims. There were little girls on the street with their entrails torn out, old men and women wantonly killed. Was this the first time it had happened in our country? No. Children, old men and old women, young men and women, had often been killed in the villages of Cuba by American bombs supplied to the tyrant Batista. One one occasion, eighty workers died when a mysterious explosion — too mysterious — took place in the harbor of Havana, the explosion of a ship carrying Belgian weapons which had arrived in our country, after many efforts by the United States Government to prevent the Belgian Government from selling arms to us.
Dozens of victims of war; eighty families orphaned by the explosions. Forty victims as a result of an airplane that brazenly flew over our territory. The authorities of the United States Government denied the fact that these planes came from American territory, but the plane was now safely in a hangar in this country. When one of our magazines published a photograph of it, the United States authorities seized the plane. A version of the affair was issued to the effect that this was not very important, and that these victims had not died because of the bombs, but because of the anti-aircraft fire. Those responsible for this crime, those who had caused these deaths were wandering about peacefully in the United States, where they were not even prevented from committing further acts of aggression.
May I take this opportunity of telling His Excellency the Representative of the United States that there are many mothers in Cuba still awaiting his telegrams of condolence for their children murdered by the bombs of the United States (APPLAUSE).
Planes kept coming and going. But as far as they were concerned, there was no evidence. Frankly, we don’t know how they define the word evidence. The plane was there, photographed and captured, and yet we were told the plane did not drop any bombs. It is not known how the United States authorities were so well informed.
Planes continued to fly over our territory dropping incendiary bombs. Millions and millions of pesos were lost in the burning fields of sugar cane. Many humble people of Cuba, who saw property destroyed, property that was now truly their own, suffered burns in the struggle against those persistent and tenacious bombings by pirate planes.
And then one day, while dropping a bomb on one of our sugar mills, a plane exploded in mid air and the Revolutionary Government was able to collect what was left of the pilot, who by the way, was an American. In his documents were found, proof as to the place where the plane had taken off from. On its way to Cuba, the plane had flown between two United States military bases. This was a matter that could not be denied any longer: the planes took off from the United States. Confronted with irrefutable evidence the United States Government gave an explanation to the Cuban Government. Its conduct in this case was not the same as in connection with the U-2. When it was proved that the planes were taking off from the United States, the Government of the United States did not proclaim its right to burn over sugar cane fields. The United States Government apologized and said it was sorry. We were lucky, after all, because after the U – 2 incident the United States Government did not even apologize, it proclaimed its right to carry out flights over Soviet territory. Bad luck for the Soviets! (APPLAUSE).
But we do not have too many anti-aircraft batteries, and the planes went on flying and bombing us until the harvest was over. When there was no more sugar cane, the bombing stopped. We were the only country in the world which had gone through a thing like this, although I do recall that at the time of his visit to Cuba, President Sukarno told us that this was not the case, for they, too, had had certain problems with American planes flying over their territory.
But the truth is that in this peaceful hemisphere at least, we were a country that, without being at war with anyone, had to stand the constant attack of pirate planes. And could those planes come in and out of United States territory unmolested? It has been stated that the defenses of the world they call “free” are impregnable. If this is the case, how is it that planes, not supersonic planes, but light planes with a velocity of barely 150 miles per hour, how is it that these planes are able to fly in and out of United States territory undetected.
The air raids ended, and then came economic aggression. What was one of the arguments wielded by the enemies of the agrarian reform? They said that the agrarian reform would bring chaos to agricultural production, that production would diminish considerably, and that the Government of the United States was concerned because Cuba might not be able to fulfill her commitments to the American market. The first argument — and it is appropriate that at least the new delegations in the General Assembly should become familiar with some of the arguments, because some day they may have to answer similar arguments — the first argument was that the agrarian reform meant the ruin of the country. This was not the case. If this had been so, and agricultural production had deceased, the American Government would not have felt the need to carry on its economic aggression.
Did they sincerely believe in what they said when they stated that the agrarian reform would cause a drop in production? Perhaps they did. Surely it is logical for each one to believe what his mind has been conditioned to believe. It is quite possible they may have felt that without the all-powerful monopolist companies, we Cubans would be unable to produce sugar. perhaps they were even sure we would ruin the country. And of course, if the Revolution had ruined the country, then the United States would not have had to attack us; it would have left us alone, and the United States Government would have appeared as a good and honourable government, and we as people who ruined our own Nation, and as a great example that Revolutions should not be made because they ruin countries. Fortunately, that was not the case. There is proof that revolutions do not ruin countries, and that proof has just been furnished by the Government of the United States. Among other things, it has been proved that revolutions do not ruin countries, and that imperialist governments do try to ruin countries.
Cuba had not been ruined; she therefore had to be ruined. Cuba needed new markets for its products, and we would honestly ask any delegation present if it does not want its country to sell what it produces and its export to increase. We wanted our exports to increase, and this is what all countries wish; this must be a universal law. Only egotistical interests can oppose the universal interest in trade and commercial exchange, which surely is one of the most ancient aspirations and needs of mankind.
We wanted to sell our products and went in search of new markets. We signed a trade treaty with the Soviet Union, according to which we would sell one million tons of sugar and would purchase a certain amount of Soviet products or articles. Surely no one can say that this is an incorrect procedure. There may be some who would not do such a thing because it might displease certain intersts. We really did not have to ask permission from the State Department in order to sign a trade treaty with the Soviet Union, because we considered ourselves, and we continue to consider ourselves and we will always consider ourselves, a truly independent and free country.
When the amount of sugar in stock began to diminish stimulating our economy, we received the hard blow: at the request of the executive power of the United States, Congress passed a law empowering the President or Executive power to reduce the import quotas for Cuban sugar to whatever limits might deem appropriate. The economic weapon was wielded against our Revolution. The justification for that attitude had already been prepared by publicity experts; the campaign had been on for a long time. You know perfectly well that in this country monopolies and publicity are one and the same thing. The economic weapon was wielded, our sugar quota was suddenly cut by about one million tons — sugar that had already been produced and prepared for the American market — in order to deprive our country of resources for its development, and thus reduce it to a state of impotence, with the natural political consequences. Such measures were expressly banned by Regional International Law. Economic aggression, as all Latin American delegates here know, is expressly condemned by Regional International Law. However, the Government of the United States violated that law, wielded its economic weapon, and cut our sugar quota by about one million tons. They could do it.
What was Cuba’s defense when confronted by that reality? It could appeal to the United Nations. It could turn to the United Nations, in order to denounce political and economic aggressions, the air attacks of the pirate planes, besides the constant interference of the Government of the United States in the political affairs of our country and the subversive campaigns it carries out against the Revolutionary Government of Cuba.
So we turned to the United Nations. The United Nations had power to deal with these matters. The United Nations is, within the hierarchy of international organizations, the highest authority. The United Nations’ authority is even above that of the OAS. And besides, we were interested in bringing the problem to the United Nations, because we know quite well the situation the economy of Latin America finds itself in; because we understand the state of dependence of the economy of Latin America in relation to the United States. The United Nations knew of the affair, it requested the OAS to make an investigation, and the OAS met. Very well. And what was to be expected? That the OAS would protect the country; that the OAS would condemn the political aggression against Cuba, and above all that would condemn the economic aggression against our country. That should have been expected. But after all, we were a small people of the Latin American community of nations. We were just another victim. And we were neither the first or the last, because Mexico had already been attacked more than once militarily. In one way they tore away from Mexico a great part of its territory, and on that occasion the heroic sons of Mexico leaped to their death from the Castle of Chapultepec enwrapped in the Mexican flag rather than surrender. These were the heroic sons of Mexico (APPLAUSE).
And that was not the only aggression. That was not the only time that American infantry forces trod upon Mexican soil. Nicaragua was invaded and for seven long years was heroically defended by Ceasar Augusto Sandino. Cuba suffered intervention more than once, and so did Haiti and Santo Domingo. Guatemala also suffered intervention. Who among you could honestly deny the intervention of the United Fruit Co. and the State Department of the United States when the legitimate government of Guatemala was overthrown? I understand fully well that there may be some who consider it their official duty to be discreet on this matter, and who may even be willing to come here and deny this, but in their consciences they know we are simply stating the truth.
Cuba was not the first victim of aggression; Cuba was not the first country to be in danger of aggression. In this hemisphere everyone knows that the Government of the United States has always imposed its own law — the law of the strongest, in virtue of which they have destroyed Puerto Rican nationhood and have imposed their domination on that friendly country — law in accordance with which they seized and held the Panama Canal.
This was nothing new, our country should have been defended, but it was never defended. Why? Let us get to the bottom of this matter, without merely studying the from. If we stick to the dead letter of the law, then we are protected; if we abide by reality, we have no protection whatsoever, because reality imposes itself on the law set forth in international codes, and that reality is, that a small nation attacked by a powerful country did not have any defense and was not defended.
With all due respect to this organization, I must state here that, that is why the people, our people, the people of Cuba, who have learned much and are quite up to the role they are laying, to the heroic struggle they are conducting … our people who have learned in the school of international events, know that in the last instance, when their rights have been denied and aggressive forces are marshalled against them, they still have the supreme and heroic resource of resisting when their rights are not protected by either the OAS or the UN (OVATION).
That is why we, the small countries, do not yet feel too sure that our rights will be preserved; that is why we, the small countries, whenever we decide to become free, know that we become free at our own risk. In truth, when people are united and are defending a just right, they can trust their own energies. We are not, as we have been pictured, a mere group of men governing the country. We are a whole people governing a country — a whole people firmly united, with a great revolutionary consciousness, defending its rights. And this should be known by the enemies of the revolution and of Cuba, because if they ignore this fact, they will be making a regretable error.
These are the circumstances in which the revolutionary process has taken place in our country; that is how we found the country, and why difficulties have arisen. And yet the Cuban Revolution is changing what was yesterday a land without hope, a land of poverty and illiteracy, into one of the most advanced and developed countries in this Continent.
The Revolutionary Government, in but twenty months, has created 10,000 new schools. In this brief period it has doubled the number of rural schools that had been created in fifty years. Cuba is today, the first country of America that has met all its school needs, that has a teacher in the farthest corners of the mountains.
In this brief period of time, the Revolutionary Government has built 5,000 houses in the rural and urban areas. Fifty new towns are being built at this moment. The most important military fortresses today house tens of thousands of students, and, in the coming year, our people intend to fight the great battle against illiteracy, with the ambitious goal of teaching every single inhabitant of the country to read and write in one year, and, with that end in mind, organizations of teachers, students and workers, that is, the entire people, are preparing themselves for an intensive campaign, and Cuba will be the first country of America which, after a few months, will be able to say it does not have one single illiterate.
Our people are receiving today the assistance of hundreds of doctors who have been sent to the fields to fight against illnesses and parasitic ailments, and improve the sanitary conditions of the nation.
In another aspect, in the preservation of our natural resources, we can also point with pride to the fact that in only one year, in the most ambitious plan for the conservation of natural resources being carried out on this continent, including the United States of America and Canada, we have planted nearly fifty million timber-yielding trees.
Youths who were unemployed, who did not attend school, have been organized by the Revolutionary Government and are today being gainfully and usefully employed by the country, and at the same time being prepared for productive work.
Agricultural production in our country has been able to perform an almost unique feat, an increase in production from the very beginning. From the very start we were able to increase agricultural production. Why? In the first place, because the Revolutionary Government turned more than 10,000 agricultural workers, who formerly paid rent, to owners of their land, at the same time maintaining large-scale production through co-operatives. In other words production was maintained through co-operatives, thanks to which we have been able to apply the most modern technical methods to our agricultural production, causing a marked increase in that production.
And all this social welfare work — teachers, housing, and hospitals — has been carried out without sacrificing the resources that we have earmarked for development. At this very moment the Revolutionary Government is carrying out a program of industrialization of the country, and the first plants are already being built.
We have utilized the resources of our country in a rational manner. Formerly, for instance, thirty-five million dollars worth of cars were imported into Cuba, and only five million dollars worth of tractors. A country which is mainly agricultural imported seven times more cars than tractors. We have changed this around, and we are now importing seven times more tractors than cars. *PG*
Close to five hundred million dollars was recovered from the politicians who had enriched themselves during the tyranny of Batista — close to five hundred million dollars in cash and other assets was the total we were able to recover from the corrupt politicians who had been sucking the blood of our country for seven years. It is the correct investment of these assets which enables the Revolutionary Government, while at the same time developing plans for industrialization and for the development of agriculture, to build houses, schools, to send teachers to the farthest corners of the country, and to give medical assistance to everyone — in other words, to carry out a true program of social development.
At the Bogota meeting, as you know, the Government of the United States proposed a plan. Was it a plan for economic development? No. It was a plan for social development. What is understood by this? Well, it was a plan for building houses, building schools, and building roads. But does this settle the problem at all? How can there be a solution to the social problems without a plan for economic development? Do they want to make fools of the Latin American countries? What are families going to live on when they inhabit those houses, if those houses are really built? What shoes, what clothes are they going to wear, and what food are children going toe at when they attend those school? Is it not known that, when a family does not have clothes or shoes for the children, the children are not sent to schools? With what means are they going to pay the teachers and the doctors? How are they going to pay for the medicine? Do you want a good way of saving medicine? Improve the nutrition of the people, and when they eat well you will not have to spend money on hospitals. Therefore, in view of the tremendous reality of undevelopment, the Government of the United States now comes out with a plan for social development. Of course, it is stimulating to observe the United States concerning itself with some of the problems of Latin America. Thus far they had not concerned themselves at all. What a coincidence that, they are not worried about those problems! And the fact that this concern emerged after the Cuban Revolution will probably be labelled by them as purely coincidental.
Thus far, the monopolies have certainly not cared very much, except about exploiting the underdeveloped countries. But comes the Cuban Revolution and suddenly the monopolists are worrying, and while they attack us economically trying to crush us, they offer aims to the countries of Latin America. The countries of Latin America are offered, not the resources for development that Latin America needs, but resources for social development — houses for men who have no work, schools where children will not go, and hospitals that would not be necessary if there were enough food to eat (APPLAUSE).
After all, although some of my Latin American colleagues may feel it their duty to be discreet at the United Nations, they should all welcome a revolution such as the Cuban Revolution which at any rate has forced the monopolists to return at least a small part of what they have been extracting from the natural resources and the sweat of the Latin American peoples (APPLAUSE).
Although we are not included in that aid we are not worried about that; we do not get angry about things like that, because we have been settling those same problems of schools and housing and so on for quite some time. But perhaps there may be some of you who feel we are using this rostrum to make propaganda, because the President of the United Nations has said that some come here for propaganda purposes. And, of course, all of my colleagues in the United Nations have a standing invitation to visit Cuba. We do not close, our doors to any one, now do we confine anyone. Any of my colleagues in this assembly can fision Cuba whenever he wishes, in order to see with his own eyes what is going on. You know the chapter in the Bible that speaks of St. Thomas, who had to see in order to believe I think it was St. Thomas.
And, after all, we can invite any newspapermen, and any member of any delegation, to visit Cuba and see what a nation is capable of doing with its own resources, when they are used with honesty and reason. But we are not only solving our housing and school problems, we are solving our development problems as well, because without the solution of the problems of development there can be no settlement of the social problems themselves.
Why is the United States Government unwilling to talk of development? It is very simple: because the Government of the United States does not want to oppose the monopolies, and the monopolies require natural resources and markets for the investment of their capital. That is where the great contradiction lies. That is why the real solution to this problem is not sought. That is why planning for the development of underdeveloped countries with public funds is not done.
It is good that this be stated frankly, because, after all, we the underdeveloped countries, are a majority in this Assembly — in case anyone is unaware of this fact — and we are witnesses to what is going on in the underdeveloped countries.
Yet, the true solution of the problem is not sought, and much is said about the participation of private capital. Of course, this means markets for the investment of surplus capital, like the investment that was amortized in five years.
The government of the United States cannot propose a plan for public investment, because this would divorce it from the very reason for being the Government of the United States, namely the American monopolies.
Let us not beat about the bush, the reason no real economic plan is being promoted is simply this: to preserve our lands in Latin America, Africa, and Asia for the investment of surplus capital.
Thus far we have referred to the problems of my own country and the reason why those problems have not been solved. Is it perhaps because we did not want to solve them? No. The Government of Cuba has always been ready to discuss its problems with the Government of the United States, but the Government of the United States has not been ready to discuss its problems with Cuba, and it must have its reasons for not doing so.
The Government of the United States doe not deign to discuss its differences with the small country of Cuba.
What hope can the people of Cuba maintain for the solution of these problems? The facts that we have been able to note here so far conspire against the solution of these problems, and the United Nations should seriously take this into account, because the people and the Government of Cuba are justifiably concerned at the aggressive turn in the policy of the United States with regard to Cuba, and it is proper that we should be well informed.
In the first place, the Government of the United States considers it has the right to promote and encourage subversion in our country. The Government of the United States is promoting the organization of subversive movements against the Revolutionary Government of Cuba, and we wish to denounce this fact in this General Assembly; we also wish to denounce specifically the fact that, for instance, a territory which belongs to Honduras, known as Islas Cisnes, the Swan Islands, has been seized “manu militari” by the Government of the United States and that American marines are there, despite the fact that this territory belongs to Honduras. Thus, violating international law and despoiling a friendly people of a part of its territory, the United States has established a powerful radio station on one of those Islands, in violation of international radio agreements, and has placed it at the disposal of the war criminals and subversive groups supported in this country; furthermore, military training is being conducted on that island, in order to promote subversion and the landing of armed forces in our country.
Does the Government of the United States feel it has the right to promote subversion on our country, violating all international treaties, including those relating to radio frequency? Does this mean, by chance, that the Cuban Government has the right to promote subversion in the United States? Does the Government of the United States believe it has the right to violate radio frequency agreements? Does this mean, by chance, that the Cuban Government has the right to violate radio frequency agreements also? What right can the Government of the United States have over us over our island that permits it to act towards other nations in such a manner? Let the United States return the Swan Islands to Honduras, since it never had any jurisdiction over those Islands (APPLAUSE).
But there are even more alarming circumstances for our people. It is well known that, in virtue of the Platt Amendment, imposed by force upon our people, the Government of the United States assumed the right to establish naval bases on our territory, a right forcefully imposed and maintained. A naval base in the territory of any country is surely a cause for concern. First of all, there is concern over the fact that a country which follows an aggressive and warlike international policy has a base in the heart of our country, which brings us the risk of being involved in any international conflict, in any atomic conflict, without our having anything to do with the problem, because we have absolutely nothing to do with the problems of the United States and the crises provoked by the Government of the United States. Yet, there is a base in the heart of our Island which entails danger for us in case of war.
But is that only danger? No. There is another danger that concerns us even more, since it is closer to home. The Revolutionary Government of Cuba has repeatedly expressed its concern over the fact that the imperialist government of the United States may use that base, located in the heart of our national territory, as an excuse to promote a self – aggression, in order to justify an attack on our country. I repeat: the Revolutionary Government of Cuba is seriously concerned — and makes known this concern — over the fact that the imperialist government of the United States of America may use a self-aggression in order to justify an attack on our country. And this concern on our part is becoming increasingly greater because of the intensified aggressiveness that the United States is displaying. For instance, I have here a United Press cable which came to my country, and which reads as follows:,
“Admiral Arleigh Burke, United States Chief of Naval Operations says that if Cuba attempts to take the Gunatanamo Naval base by force we will fight back” In an interview for the magazine U.S. News and World Report (please excuse my bad pronunciation), Admiral Burke was asked if the Navy was concerned about the situation in Cuba under Premier Fidel Castro.
“Yes, our Navy is concerned — not about our base at Guantanamo, but about the whole Cuban situation,” Admiral Burke said. The Admiral added that all the military services are concerned.
“Is that because of Cuba’s strategic position in the Caribbean?” he was asked.
“No, not particularly,’ Admiral Burke said. ‘Here are a people normally very friendly to the United States, who like our people and were also like by us. In spite of this, an individual as appeared with a small group of fanatical communists, determined to change all that. Castro has taught his people to hate the United States, and has done much to ruin his country.’
“Admiral Burke said ‘we will react very fast if Castro makes any move against the Guantanamo base.’
“If they try to take the base by force, we will fight back”, he added.
Asked whether Soviet Premier Krushchev’s threat about retaliatonary rockets gave Admiral Burke ‘second thoughts about fighting in Cuba’ the Admiral said:
“No, because he is not going to send his rockets. He knows quite well he will be destroyed if he does.”
He means that Russia will be destroyed.
In the first place, I must emphasize that for this gently man, to have increased industrial production in our country by 35 per cent, to have given employment to more than 200,000 more Cubans, to have solved many of the social problems of our country, constitutes the ruination of our country. And in accordance with this line of reasoning they assume the right to prepare the conditions for aggression.
So you see how conjectures are made — very dangerous conjectures, because this gentleman, in effect, thinks that in case of an attack on us we are to stand alone. This is just a conjecture by Mr. Burke, but let us imagine that Mr. Burke is wrong, let us suppose for just a moment that Mr. Burke, although an admiral, is mistaken.
Than Admiral Burke is playing with the fate of the world in a most irresponsible manner. Admiral Burke and his aggressive militarist clique are playing with the fate of the world, and it would really not be worth our while to worry over the fate of each of us, but we feel that we, as representatives of the various peoples of the world, have the duty to concern ourselves with the fate of the world, and we also have the duty to condemn all those who play irresponsibly with the fate of the world. They are not only playing with the fate of our people; they are playing with the fate of their people and with the fate of all the people’s of the world or does thus Admiral Burke think we are still living in the times of the blunderbusses? Does he not realize, this Admiral Burke, that we are living in the atomic age, in an age whose disastrous and cataclysmic destructive forces could not even he imagined by Dante or Leonardo Da Vinci, with all their imagination, because this goes beyond the imagination of man. Yet, he made his conjectures, United Press International spread the news all over the world, the magazine is about to come out, hysteria is being created, the campaign is being prepared, the imaginary danger of an attack on the base is beginning to be publicized.
And this is not all. Yesterday a United States news bulletin appeared containing some declarations by the United States Senator Styles Bridges who, I believe is a member of the Armed forces Committee of the Senate of the United States. He said:
“The United States should maintain its naval base of Guantanamo in Cuba at all costs”; and ‘we must go as far as necessary to defend those gigantic installations of the United States. We have naval forces there, and we have the Marines, and if we were attacked I would defend it, of course, because I believe it is the most important base in the Caribbean area.”
This member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee did not entirely reject the use of the atomic weapons in the case of an attack against the base.
What does this mean? This means that not only is hysteria being created, not only is the atmosphere being systematically prepared, but we are even threatened with the use of atomic weapons, and, of course, among the many things that we can think of, one is to ask this Mr. Bridges whether he is not ashamed of himself to threaten a small country like Cuba with the use of atomic weapons (PROLONGS APPLAUSE).
As far as we are concerned, and with all due respect, we must tell him that the problems of the world cannot be solved by the use of threats or by sowing fear, and that our humble people, our little country, is there. What can we do about? We are there, however much they dislike the idea, and our Revolution will go ahead, however much they dislike that. And our humble people must resign themselves to their fate. They are not afraid, nor are they shaken by this threat of the use of atomic weapons.
What does all this mean? There are many countries that have American bases in their territory, but they are not directed against the governments that made these concessions — at least not as far as we know. Yet ours is the most tragic case. There is a base on our island territory directed against Cuba and the Revolutionary Government of Cuba, in the hands of those who declare themselves enemies of our country, enemies of our revolution, and enemies of our people. In the entire history of the world’s present-day bases, the most tragic case is that of Cuba; a base imposed upon us by force, well within our territory, which is a good many miles away from the coast of the United States, an instrument used against Cuba and the Cuban people imposed by the use of force, and a constant threat and a cause for concern for our people.
That is why we must state here that all these rumors of attacks are intended to create hysteria and prepare the conditions for an aggression against our country, that we have never spoken a single word implying the thought of any type of attack on the Guantanamo base, because we are the first in not wanting to give imperialism an excuse to attack us, and we state this categorically. But we also declare that from the very moment that base was turned into a threat to the security and peace of our country, a danger to our country, the Revolutionary Government of Cuba has been considering very seriously the requesting, within the framework of international law, of the withdrawal of the naval and military forces of the United States (THE SPEAKER IS INTERRUPTED BY PROLONGED APPLAUSE) from that portion of our National territory.
But is is imperative that this Assembly be kept well informed regarding the problems of Cuba, because we have to be on the alert against deceit and confusion. We have to explain these problems very clearly because with them go the security and the fate of our country. And that is why we want exact note to be taken of the words I have spoken, particularly when one takes into consideration the fact that the opinions or erroneous ideas of the politicians of this country as regards Cuban problems do not show any signs of improving. I have here some declarations by Mr. Kennedy that would surprise anybody. On Cuba he says. “We must use all the power of the Organization of American States to prevent Castro from interfering in other Latin American countries, and we must use all that power to return freedom to Cuba”. They are going to give freedom back to Cuba!
“We must state our intention,” he says, “of not allowing the Soviet Union to turn Cuba into its Caribbean base, and of applying the Monroe Doctrine”. Half-way or more into the twentieth century, this gentleman speaks of the Monroe doctrine!
“We must make Prime Minister Castro understand that we intend to defend our right to the Naval Base of Guantanamo.” He is the third who speaks of the problem. “And we must make the Cuban people know that we sympathize with their legitimate economic aspirations….” Why did they not feel sympathetic before? “….that we know their love of freedom, and that we shall never be happy until democracy is restored in Cuba….” What democracy? The democracy “made” by the imperialist monopolies of the Government of the United States?
“The forces in exile that are struggling for freedom,” he says — note this very carefully so that you will understand why there are planes flying from American territory over Cuba: pay close attention to what this gentleman has to say. “The forces that struggle for liberty in exile and in the mountains of Cuba should be supported and assisted, and in other countries of Latin America communism must be confined and not allowed to expand.”
If Kennedy were not an illiterate and ignorant millionaire (APPLAUSE)…he would understand that is is not possible to carry out a revolution supported by landowners against the peasant in the mountains, and that every time imperialism has tried to encourage counterrevolutionary groups, the peasant militia has captured them in the course of a few days. But he seems to have read a novel, or seen a Hollywood film, about guerrillas, and he thinks it is possible to carry on guerrilla warfare in a country where the relations of the social forces are what they are in Cuba.
In any case, this is discouraging. Let no one think, however, that these opinions as regards Kennedy’s statements indicate that we feel any sympathy towards the other one, Mr. Nixon…(LAUGHTER) who has made similar statements. As far as we are concerned, both lack political brains.
Up to this point we have been dealing with the problem of our country, a fundamental duty of ours when coming before the United Nations, but we understand that it would be a little egoistical on our part if our concern were to be limited to our specific case alone. It is also true that we have used up the greater part of our time informing this Assembly about the Cuban case, and that there is not much time left for us to deal with the remaining questions, to which we wish to refer briefly.
The case of Cuba is not isolated case. It would be an error to think of it only as the case of Cuba. The case of Cuba is the case of all underdeveloped countries. The case of Cuba is like that of the Congo, Egypt, Algeria, Iran…(APPLAUSE)…like that of Panama, which wishes to have its canal; it is like that of Puerto Rico, whose national spirit they are destroying; like that of Honduras, a portion of whose territory has been alienated. In short, although we have not make specific reference to other countries, the case of Cuba is the case of all underdeveloped, colonialized countries.
The problems which we have been describing in relation to Cuba can be applied just as well to all of Latin America. The control of Latin American economic resources by the monopolies, which, when they do not own the mines directly and are in charge of extraction, as the case with the copper of Chile, Peru, or Mexico, and with the oil of Venezuela — when this control is not exercised directly it is because they are the owners of the public utility companies, as is the case in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, or the owners of telephone services, which is the case in Chile, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Paraguay and Bolivia, or they commercialize our products, as is the case with coffee in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Guatemala, or with the cultivation, marketing and transportations of bananas by the United Fruit Co. in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Honduras, or with the Cotton in Mexico and Brazil. In other words, the monopolies control the most important industries. Woe to those countries, the day they try to make an agrarian reform! They will be asked for immediate, efficient, and just payment. And if, in spite of everything they make an agrarian reform, the representative of the friendly country who comes to the United Nations will be confined to Manhattan; they will not rent hotel space to him; insult will he heaped upon him, and it is even possible that he may be physically mistreated by the police.
The problem of Cuba is just an example of the situation in Latin America. And how long will Latin America wait for its development? It will have to wait, according to the point of view of the monopolies, until there are two Fridays in a week.
Who is going to industrialize Latin America? The monopolies? Certainly not. There is a report by the economic Commission of the United Nations which explains how private capital, instead of going to the countries that need it most for the establishment of basic industries to contribute to their development, is being channeled referentially to the more industrialized countries, because there, according to their beliefs, private capital finds greater security. And, of course, even the Economic Secretariat of the United Nations has had to admit there there is no possible chance for development through the investment of private capital — that is, through the monopolies.
The development of Latin America will have to be achieved through public investment, planned and granted unconditionally without any political strings attached, because, naturally, we all like to be representatives of free countries. None of us like to represent a country that does not feel itself in full possession of its freedom.
None of us wants the independence of this country to be subjected to any interest other than that of the country itself. That is why assistance must be given without any political conditions.
That help has been denied to us does not matter. We have not asked for it. However, in the interest of and for the benefit of the Latin American peoples, we do feel duty bound out of solidarity, to stress the fact that the assistance must be given without any political conditions whatsoever. There should be more public investments for economic development, rather than for “social development,” which is the latest thing invented to hide the true need for the economic development of countries.
The problems of Latin America are similar to those of the rest of the world: to those of Africa and Asia. The world is divided up among the monopolies; the same monopolies that we find in Latin America are also found in the Middle East. There the oil is in the hands of monopolistic companies that are controlled by France, the United States, the United Kingdom the Netherlands….in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, in short, in all corners of the world. The same thing is true, for instance, in the Philippines, and in Africa. The world has been divided among the monopolistic interests. Who would dare deny this historic truth? The monopolistic interests do not want to see the development of countries and the people themselves. And the sooner they recover or amortize the capital invested, the better.
The problems the Cuban people have had to face with the imperialistic government of the United States are the same which Saudi Arabia would face if it nationalized its oil, and this also applies to Iran or Iraq; the same problems that Egypt had when it quite justifiably nationalized the Suez Canal; the very same problems that Indonesia had when it wanted to become independent; the same surprise attacks as against Egypt and the Congo.
Have colonialists or imperialists ever lacked a pretext when they wanted to invade a country? Never! Somehow they have always found a pretext. And which are the colonialist and imperialists countries? Four or five countries — no, four or five groups of monopolies are the owners of the wealth of the world.
If a being from another planet were to come to this Assembly, one who had read neither the Communist Menifesto of Karl Marx nor the cables of the United Press or the Associated Press or other monopolist publications, if he were to ask how the world had been divided, and he saw on a map that the wealth of the world was divided among the monopolies of four or five countries, he would say, without further consideration; “The wealth of this world has been badly distributed, the world is being exploited.”
Here in this Assembly, where the majority of the underdeveloped countries are represented, he would say: “The majority of the peoples that you represent are being exploited; they have been exploited for a long time. The form of exploitation may have changed, but you are still being exploited.” That would be the verdict.
In the address made by Premier Khrushchev there is a statement that attracted our attention because of the value of its contents. It was when he said that “the Soviet Union has no colonies or investments in any country.”
How great our world would be today, our world which today is threatened with catastrophe, if all the representatives of all nations were able to say: “Our country has no colonies and no investments in any foreign country”! (APPLAUSE)
There is no use in going all over the question again. This is substance of the matter, the substance of peace and war, the substance of the armaments race. Wars, since the beginning of mankind, have occurred for one, fundamental reason; the desire of some to despoil others of their wealth.
Do away with the philosophy of plunder and you will have done away forever with the philosophy of war! (APPLAUSE) Do away with the colonies, wipe out the exploitation of countries by monopolies, and mankind will have reached a true era of progress!
As long s that step is not taken, as long as that stage is not reached, the world will have to live constantly under the nightmare and fear of being involved in any crisis, in an atomic conflagration. Why? Because there are some who are interested in perpetuating this exploitation.
We have spoken here of the Cuban case. Our case has taught us because of the problems we have had with our own imperialism, that is, the particular imperialism that is ranged against us. But, since all imperialism are alike, they are all allies. A country that exploits the people of Latin America, or any other parts of the world, is an ally of the exploiters of the rest of the world.
There are a number of problems which have already been discussed by several delegations. For reasons of time, we should like merely to express our opinion on the Congo problem. Of course, since we hold an anti-colonialist position against the exploitation of underdeveloped countries, we condemn the way in which the intervention by the United Nations forces was carried out in the Congo. First of all, these forces did not go there to act against the interventing forces, for which purpose they were originally sent. All necessary time was given, so that the first dissension could occur. And as that was not enough, further time was given, and the way was opened for the second division. And finally, while broadcasting stations and airfields were seized, the opportunity was provided for the emergence of the third man, as they always call the saviors who emerge in these circumstances. We know them only too well, because in the year of 1943 one of these saviors appeared in our country, and his name was Fulgenico Batista. In the Congo his name is Mobutu. In Cuba, he paid a daily visit to the American Embassy, and it appears the same thing is going on in the Congo. Is it because I say so? No, because no less than a magazine which is one of the most fervent supporters of the monopolies and therefore cannot be against them, is the one that says so. It cannot favor Lumumba, because it favors Mobutu. But it explains who Mobutu, is, how he began to work, and finally Time magazine says in its latest issue: “Mobutu became a frequent visitor to the United States Embassy and held long talks with officials there. One afternoon last week Mobutu conferred with officers of Camp Leopold and got their enthusiastic support. That night he went to Radio Congo — which Lumumba had not been allowed to use — and abruptly announced that the army was assuming power.”
In other words, all this occurred after frequent visits and lengthy conversations with the officials of the United States Embassy. This Time Magazine speaking, the defender of the monopolies.
In other words, the hand of the colonialist interest has been clear and visible in the Congo, and our opinion is consequently that colonialist interests have been favored and that every fact indicates that reason and the people of the Congo are on the side of the only leader who remained there to defend the interests of his country, and that leader is Lumumba (APPLAUSE).
As regard the problem of Algeria, we are, I need hardly say, 100 percent in support of the right of the people of Algeria to independence (APPLAUSE), and it is, furthermore, ridiculous — like so many ridiculous things in the world which have been artificially created by vested interests — to claim that Algeria is part of France. In the past, similar claims have been made by other countries in an attempt to keep their colonies.
However, these African people have been fighting a heroic battle against the colonial power for many years. Perhaps, even while we are calmly talking here, Algerian villages and hamlets are being bombed and machinegunned by the French Army. Men may well be dying in a struggle in which there is not the slightest doubt where the right lies, a struggle that could be ended even without disregarding the interests of that minority which is being used for denying nine-tenths of the population of Algeria their right to independence. Yet we are doing nothing. So quick to go to the Congo, and such lack of enthusiasm about going to Algeria! (APPLAUSE).
We are, therefore, on the side of the Algerian people, as we are on the remaining colonial peoples in Africa, and on the side of the Negroes who are discriminated against in the Union of South Africa. Similarly, we are on the side of those peoples that wish to be free, not only politically — for it is very easy to acquire a flag, a coat of arms, an anthem, and a color on the map — but also economically free, for there is one truth which we should all recognize as being of primary importance, namely, that there can be no political independence unless there is economic independence, that political independence without economic independence is a lie; we therefore support the aspirations of all countries to be free politically and economically. Freedom does not consist in the possession of a flag, a coat of arms, and representation in the United Nations.
We should like to draw attention here to another right: a right which was proclaimed the Cuban people at a mass meeting quite recently, the right of the underdeveloped countries to nationalize their natural resources and the investments of the monopolies in their respective countries without compensation; in other words, we advocate the nationalization of natural resources and foreign investments in the underdeveloped countries.
And if the highly industrialized countries wish to do the same thing, we shall not oppose them (APPLAUSE).
If countries are to be truly free, in political matters, they must be truly free in economic matters, and we must lend them assistance. We shall be asked about the value of the investments, as we in return will ask: what about the value of the profits from those investments, the profits which have been extracted from the colonized and underdeveloped peoples for decades, if not for centuries?
We should like to support a proposal made by the President of the Republic of Ghana, the proposal that Africa should be cleared of military bases and thus of nuclear weapon bases, in other words, the proposal to free from the perils of atomic war. Something has already been done with regard to Antarctia. As we go forward on the path of disarmament, why should we not also go forward towards freeing certain parts of the world from the danger of nuclear war?
Let the other people, let the West make up a little for what it has made Africa suffer, by preserving it from the danger of atomic war and declaring it a free zone as far as this peril is concerned. Let no atomic bases be established there! Even if we can do nothing else, let this continent at least remain a sanctuary where human life may be preserved! (PROLONGED APPLAUSE). We support this proposal warmly.
On the question of disarmament, we wholeheartedly support the Soviet proposal, and we are not ashamed to do so. We regard as a correct, precise, well-defined and clear proposal.
We have carefully studied the speech made here by President Eisenhower — he made no real reference to disarmament, to the development of the underdeveloped countries, or to the colonial problem. Really, it would be worthwhile for the citizens of this country, who are so influenced by false propaganda, to compare objectively the statements of the President of the United States with those of the Prime Minister of the Soviet Union, so that they could see which speech contains genuine concern over the world’s problems, so that they could see who spoke clearly and sincerely, and so they could see who really wants disarmament, and who is against it and why. The Soviet proposal could not be clearer. Nothing could be added to the Soviet explanation. Why should there be any reservations when no one has every before spoken so clearly of so tremendous a problem?
The history of the world has taught us the tragic lesson that arms races always lead to war; but never has the responsibility been greater, for never has war signified so was a holocaust for mankind. And the Soviet Union has made a proposal regarding that problem which so greatly concerns mankind — whose very existence is at stake — a proposal for total and complete disarmament. What more can be asked? If more can be asked, let us ask it; if we can ask for more safeguards, let us do so; but the proposal could not be clearer or better defined, and, at this stage of history, it cannot be rejected without assuming the responsibility involved in the danger of war and of war itself.
The representative of the Soviet Union has spoken openly — I say this objectively — and I urge that these proposals be considered, and that everybody put their cards on the table. Above all, this is not merely a question of representatives, that is a matter of public opinion. The warmongers and militarists must be exposed and condemned by the public opinion of the world. This is not a problem for minorities only: it concerns the world. The warmongers and militarists must be unmasked, and this is the task of public opinion. This problem must be discussed not only in the General Assembly, but before the entire world, before the great assembly of the whole world, because in the event of a war not only the leaders, but hundreds of millions of completely innocent persons will be exterminated, and it is for this reason that we, who meet here as representatives of the world — or part of the world, since this Assembly is not yet complete, it will not be complete until the Peoples’ Republic of China is represented here — should take appropriate measures (APPLAUSE). One-quarter of the world’s population is of course absent, but we who are here have the duty to speak openly and not to evade the issue. We must all discuss it; this problem is too serious to be overlooked. It is more important than economic aid and all other obligations, because this is the obligation to preserve the life of mankind. Let us all discuss and speak about this problem, and let us all fight to establish peace, or at least to unmask the militarists and warmongers.
And, above all, if we, the underdeveloped countries, want to preserve the hope of achieving progress, if we want to have a chance of seeing our peoples enjoying a higher standard of living, let us struggle for peace, let us struggle for disarmament; with a fifth of what the world spends on armaments, we could promote the development of all the underdeveloped countries at a rate of growth of 10 percent per annum. With a fifth of the resources which countries spend on armaments, we could surely raise the people’s standard of living.
Now, what are the obstacles to disarmament? Who is interested in being armed? Those who are interested in being armed to the teeth are those who want to keep colonies, those who want to maintain their monopolies, those who want to retain control of the oil of the Middle East; the natural resources of Latin America, of Asia, of Africa, and who require military strength to defend their interests. And it is well known that these territories were occupied and colonized on the strength of the law of force; by virtue of the law of force million of men were enslaved, and it is force which sustains such exploitation in the world. Therefore, those who want no disarmament are those interested in maintaining their military strength in order to retain control of natural resources, the wealth of the people of the world, and cheap labor in underdeveloped countries. We promised to speak openly, and there is no other way of telling the truth.
The colonialists, therefore, are against disarmament. Using the weapon of world public opinion, we must fight to force disarmament on them as we must force them to respect the right of peoples to economic and political liberation.
The monopolies are against disarmament, because, besides being able to defend those interests with arms, the arms race has always been good business for them. For example, it is well known that the great monopolies in this country doubled their capital shortly after the Second World War. Like vultures, the monopolies feed on the corpses which are the harvest of war.
And war is a business. Those who trade in war, those who enrich themselves war, by must be unmasked. We must open the eyes of the world and expose those who trade in the destiny of mankind, in the danger of war, particularly when the war may be so frightful that it leaves no hope of salvation.
We, the small and underdeveloped countries, urge the whole Assembly and especially the other small and underdeveloped nations to devote themselves to this task and to have this problem discussed here, because afterwards we will never forgive ourselves if, through our neglect or lack of firmness and energy on this basic issue, the world becomes involved once again in the perils of war.
We have just one more point to discuss, which, according to what we have read in some newspapers, was one of the points the Cuban delegation was going to raise. And this, of course, is the problem of the Peoples Republic of China.
Other delegations have already spoken about this matter. We wish to say that the fact that this problem has never been discussed is in reality a denial of the “raison d’etre” and of the essential of nature of the United Nations. Why has it never been discussed? Because the United Nations Assembly going to renounce its right to discuss this problem?
Many countries have joined the United Nations in recent years. To oppose discussion of the right to representation here of the People’s Republic of China