By Leyanis Infante Curbelo
Translated and edited by
Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Our history is still being written. The story of three Chinese-Cuban generals in the Cuban Revolution is the proposal with which the American publisher Pathfinder brought to the 27th edition of the International Book Fair of Havana, in a second edition of the text, in this case with versions in Spanish, English and Chinese.
Originally published in 2006, the volume was enriched with new photographs and updated context information, according to Martin Koppel, editor of the Spanish-language version, during Tuesday’s presentation at the Casa del Alba Cultural.
The protagonists of these pages are Cuban generals Armando Choy, Gustavo Chui and Moisés Sío Wong (already deceased), all of Chinese descent, who, through a series of interviews, conducted by members of the publishing house for several years, share their experiences in the revolutionary struggle and important moments of the Cuban Revolution, such as the war in Angola or the harsh years of the Special Period.
Something is very clear from the very first lines of this book of testimony: one cannot talk about the history of Cuba without mentioning Chinese participation in it.
The book is divided into three main thematic and historical sections. The first tells about the future of three young people and their incorporation into the struggles against the tyranny of Fulgencio Batista and the Revolution led by Fidel Castro. In addition, it offers a panorama, always from a personal dimension, of the formation of the Chinese community in Cuba.
A second chapter covers the years of Angola’s epic era between 1975 and 1991, and the implementation in Cuba of the concept of war of the whole people in the 1980s, following the aggressive escalation of the US government led by Ronald Reagan.
Up to the most current moments of the Revolution, the third and last section approaches, beginning with the start of the so-called Special Period. In this book, the reader will find anecdotes and reflections on the deep economic crisis that the Cuban nation went through in the 1990s, after the fall of the Socialist Camp, the search for alternatives and the relationship with the Bolivarian Revolution since 1998.
A fundamental principle is at the heart of the book’s pages, because from the fiber and the actions of its protagonists, we discover some Cuban-Chinese who believe that a better world is possible, but only with a socialist revolution.
One of the greatest merits of the text, according to Koppel, is the possibility of bringing together millions of men and women who changed their social reality and became different human beings.
What began as an interview for the Socialist Workers’ Party newspaper in the United States in which the editors are active, became a major project, which lasted for several years and more than 12 interviews and ended up as one of Pathfinder’s best-selling and most popular books.
Mary-Alice Waters, editor-in-chief of the English-language edition and chief interviewer, spoke of the tremendous impact the book has had outside Cuba, mainly in the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia. No book published by Pathfinder in recent decades has been so widely disseminated internationally,”he said.
The work already has a significant track record, with presentations in more than 25 countries. More than 15,000 copies have been sold and it has translations into English, Chinese, and soon French, which guarantees its acceptance. In the case of the United States, it has presented itself in more than 20 cities and as many universities.
Along with all of the above, the editors consider that there are other reasons that make the book relevant: Through its pages readers will discover that Cuba was the first destination of large-scale Chinese emigration in the nineteenth century, will be surprised by the great participation of Chinese in the wars of independence against Spain between 1868 and 1898 and, Above all, it is clear that, unlike many countries in the world, discrimination and prejudice against Cubans of Chinese descent no longer exist, thanks to the social revolution that triumphed in Cuba in 1959.
Additionally, they point out that the Cuban Revolution, its beginnings, and most recent history continue to capture the interest of many people around the world, especially from a working class that seeks answers and alternatives to the crisis situation they have recently experienced and are still experiencing.
For General Gustavo Chui, this book is a tribute to Chinese emigration to Cuba in the 19th century, which fought tenaciously to settle in our country, assume its customs and participated in its wars of independence and social struggles in the compromised Republic. That’s why we say that our history is still being written, because from the contribution of our ancestors until today, we continue to be intertwined in every stage of Cuban history.
Chui added that although at first, they thought it was a book for Cubans, then they understood the importance that it could have outside the country, as it was a way to tell the story of the Cuban Revolution and transmit its message.
Cuban readers approached this publication through the Political Editor of the Party’s Central Committee in 2006, so this new presentation of Our History… offers the opportunity to acquire this title, currently sold out in Cuba, at Pathfinder’s booth in the San Carlos de La Cabaña fortress.
The presentation of this second edition was also attended by Caridad Diego, member of the Party’s Central Committee and president of the Friendship Society Cuba-China; General Harry Villegas (Pombo) and members of the Cuban Revolution Fighters Association and the community of the Asian country in the country.
Pathfinder publishing house brings together more than two decades of work with Cuban authors and has published more than a dozen books on our Revolution – which Martin Koppel considers an example for workers and young people in the United States – and its protagonists.
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Leonardo Boff, is a Franciscan monk who was one of the main creators of the liberation theology-until he decided in 1992 to leave the priesthood. On August 12, he granted an interview to journalist Martin Granovsky, from the Argentine newspaper Pagina 12, in which he analyzed the course that Brazil and Argentina have taken due to their subordination to transnational capital.
Asked about the reasons for the advance of neo-conservative processes in Latin America –by means of a coup, as in Brazil, or by the ballot box, as in Argentina– Boff linked them to a new cold war that is being waged between the United States and China.
The Asian giant, now part of the BRICS bloc, has been gaining presence in Latin America and this contradicts the US purpose to control the continent. By attacking Brazil, the US attacks China and its huge investments in Latin America that only last year meant $54 billion for the railway that would link the Atlantic with the Pacific.
Latin Americans are frightened by the U.S. negotiations with Argentine president Mauricio Macri regarding two new military bases, one on the border between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, and another in Patagonia, near the world’s largest freshwater aquifer, says the leader of liberation theology, who is already 77 years old.
Regarding the coup process in Brazil, Boff reported that the Movimiento Sin Tierra [Landless Movement] has the support of Pope Francisco who got very enthusiastically close to President Dilma Roussef; so much so that she has greeted him on her every trip to Europe.
In one of her trips she was accompanied by the Brazilian actress Leticia Sabatella who gave the Pope a first-hand description of the situation. She let him know that the main issue was defense of democracy, because attacking Dilma would bring violent forms of social repression. After listening to her, the Pope said: “It is the work of capitalism: of Brazilian capitalism and transnational capitalism.”
Boff believes the Pope has seen that neo-liberalism, which gives more value to the market than to the common good for people, produces great marginalization and great poverty. The forty million Brazilians who were rescued from hunger in the country are now begining to return to their previous situation.
“As is known, the deputy who remained as interim president dismissed Dilma´s cabinet and attacked the Ministry of Social Welfare and the agrarian reform. Social projects are increasingly underfunded, attention to culture was scaled down from a ministry to an undersecretary, and Michel Temer cut the subsidies to public universities by half “.
According to Boff, the Pope considered that the parliamentary coup without bayonets seeks the same effect as military coups did before: to reinforce a group of big national capitalists together with transnational capitalists aimed at a greater accumulation of capital by privatizing national assets.
There is a project to recolonize Latin America and increasingly turn it into an area that only exports pure raw materials without adding value to its products. Brazil itself has more than 70 million hectares to produce and satisfy hunger worldwide, and has more than enough water, said Boff.
“Everything would fall under the control of the privatized or internationalized capital. The Pope is aware of this phenomenon and of the fact that the poor would return to misery and hunger.”
In Argentina, the state caries out a policy of privatization. It talks to the companies. There is no society but individuals. Wealth accumulation is concentrated in a shrinking group. You cannot analyze the situation in Argentina or Brazil separately or assess the attempt by the United States to align the two countries within the imperial strategy in isolation, Boff said.
“In the 13 years when the Workers Party (PT) in power, it was shown that there are two projects at stake. The two want to be democratic, but neo-liberal democracy is for the few and makes rich policies for the rich and poor policies for the poor.”
Boff recalled that there are 210 million people in Brazil and 71,440 superrich who control more than half of the gross domestic product. The World Bank has said that the greatest accumulation of capital in the world is in Brazil, where the most anti-popular and anti-social capitalists reside. They keep much of their fortunes abroad in tax havens and operate through offshore companies. This is definitely an example of the two types of democracy.
The other type of democracy, that of Lula in Brazil, is the inclusive democracy, open to all. The global correlation of forces makes it impossible to prevent the accumulation of capital. But at least we can put some limit to it. In his interview with the Argentine newspaper Pagina 12, Leonardo Boff concluded, “We must do it.
August 22, 2016.
Speech delivered by the President of the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba, Fidel Castro Ruz, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Foundation of the People’s Republic of China, in the Universal Hall of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), on September 29, 1999
A CubaNews translation by Ana Portela
Edited by Walter Lippmann and Robert Sandels
Notes on the seventh anniversary of this speech: 9/30/2005:
Original Spanish transcript:
(Shorthand Version – Council of State)
As you can see, they were closing the curtains [laughter], but I looked at my watch and noticed we had a little time left. That’s why I thought it would be worthwhile to use these minutes to add a few brief thoughts about what was said here.
A few days ago we were busy with a great number of activities but we often thought that it would now be 50 years since the Chinese Revolution, not only the revolution, but also the independence of China. And that was of really great historical importance.
Similar words are often used, but now we are faced with a real event, a date of real historical importance. And I asked myself: How are we going to commemorate it, what relevance are we going to give it? That’s why I asked about the program they were going to have. I asked the Ambassador and first he told me there would be a reception in the Embassy on the evening of the 30th and warmly invited me.
I answered, “Ambassador, the evening of the 30th is not the anniversary of the triumph of the Chinese Revolution!”
And he said, “Yes, because at that hour on the 30th in China it’s already the 1st of October.”
And, actually, the reception was not being organized for the 2nd, which would have been the result of organizing it, as is traditionally done, on the first. By doing it tomorrow night, on the 30th, it would coincide perfectly with the day of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Also, I know that they have set up television screens so that the guests can view the parade and the commemoration in Tiananmen Square.
I was very pleased that the Ambassador remembered that Cuba was the first Latin American country to recognize the People’s Republic of China and to establish relations with it, because there was a very strong blockade, an effort of total isolation. In fact, there was total obedience to the United States in our hemisphere, where there were even many countries, like the Caribbean sister islands of Anglophone extraction still not independent. The independence of those islands increased the strength and spirit of independence in this hemisphere, but no one here in Latin America then had relations with the People’s Republic of China, and that was the case in many parts of the world.
Since we also became independent on January 1, 1959, it did not take long to establish relations with the People’s Republic of China.
But he remembered something more, and that is that when the Cuban Revolution triumphed, China was represented in the Security Council and the United Nations by Taiwan. At the time, only the Soviet Union, one of the permanent members of the Security Council, was not an ally of the United States. And as an example of imperialist imposition, the most populous country in the world was ignored completely. The oldest country in the world, we could say, of the modern ones, the most ancient civilization in the world was not represented in the Security Council, as was its right according to all the agreements made during the Second World War.
They kept Taiwan there, the defeated puppet government, which continued to be an ally of the United States. We had to fight hard, every year, many countries, mostly of the Third World, including Cuba, just as today, we fight the blockade. We fought for the recognition of the People’s Republic of China and for it to occupy its rightful seat on the Security Council as one of its permanent members.
This was achieved in 1971 when it was no longer possible to resist world public opinion and the growing membership of the United Nations. At that time, many African countries and other areas of the world won their political independence – countries of great weight. After the Second World War, India, another of the most populous countries in the world besides China, achieved independence. Indonesia, also a heavily-populated Asian country, achieved its independence. Japan was occupied for many years and gradually achieved the rights of a sovereign nation. Many others in the Middle East received independence, as did many in the South Pacific. I have already mentioned the Caribbean. Consequently many countries were added, and it was the determination and tenacity of this struggle that finally won China its basic rights.
Today, 26 years later, I would say that event achieved its full significance within the present world situation due to China’s importance and weight. Today China is incomparably greater than it was when its status as a member of the Security Council was finally accepted.
China has been the country that has least used its veto power in the Security Council. China has used it only on exceptional occasions – perhaps Alarcon knows how many. On the other hand, the “master of the world,” because it does not own the world but almost all the world, has used this right an infinite number of times.
Today, the Third World has a country that is a friend, that Third World which supported China so often, has a friend among the Security Council’s permanent members.
I remembered something that was not mentioned here: the suffering of the Chinese people, the enormous sacrifices of that people after the triumph of their revolution and their independence. I have to say it that way, because the country was not fully independent, just as Cuba was not, until the day of the Revolution’s triumph. For example, they were economically blockaded for a long time, almost totally isolated.
During the earlier years it had the collaboration of the Soviet Union – to some extent, because the Soviet Union had just come out of a terrible war where its industry, its agriculture, its infrastructure were practically destroyed – a support the USSR offered, a determined support that I know the Chinese appreciated very much, until differences and difficulties arose between them.
I do not want to dwell on these subjects but I recall the years of the economic blockade of China. And I also remember the U.S. troops under the command of MacArthur, their intervention in the Korean conflict, a country that they divided and that is still divided; and they reached the Chinese border. Very soon after their war of liberation, no less than one million Chinese volunteers took up arms and participated in that conflict together with the Korean people. They inflicted a severe and terrible blow to the interventionist troops of the United States and its allies until reestablishing the situation that existed before that war, that is, the present border between the two parts of Korea. This event cannot be forgotten nor can the thousands of lives Chinese troops lost.
I have talked to some who participated in that counter-attack. It was during a severe cold, crossing mountains, without mechanical means, with total air control by the United States and its allies and even threatening to use nuclear weapons. In the desperation of their defeat, there were many in the United States who favored attacking beyond the Chinese border. The advance of the Chinese troops was uncontainable in spite of the enormous differences in military power, until they reached the point that is still today that line – a tremendous battle.
Later the economic blockade continued. The Yankee imperialists also intervened in Viet Nam and unleashed a genocidal war. There, the Chinese expressed solidarity with the Vietnamese people. At the time, there were two countries, China and the Soviet Union, who supplied weapons and gave political support to the Vietnamese who fought heroically and were victorious. This victory was obtained during the 1970s. Cuba also made its modest contribution of a free annual supply of sugar for the Vietnamese during the war years. It’s worth mentioning, but only as an expression of the good will and the spirit of solidarity of our people who also offered total political support. There was also an enormous feeling of solidarity with Viet Nam by our people.
The Chinese had to endure so many hardships after the war, and for how long! But imperialism was repeatedly defeated. The lesson of Viet Nam marked important turning points. I would say that Cuba’s resistance to the blockades, the mercenary invasions, the threats of nuclear war and all that, marked other little points that were also important in that struggle. They demonstrated to the world that it was possible to fight and win against imperialism. They suffered a harsh economic blockade for many years, a little less than us, but at the time it was a record. They were blockaded for 28 years, and we are now going on 40 years.
The events mentioned are irrefutable proof that this lunacy, these criminal policies, cannot last forever.
After all the blows it has received from many parts, the United States began to understand that its position on China was unsustainable from the point of view of rights, of political principles, of the United Nations Charter and everything else. But it was also unsustainable according to its own economic interests. China was an enormous potential market. In fact, they have advantages in many things. In one sense in particular they have an enormous advantage compared to Cuba, and that is the fact that their population – they are have a little more – their population was about one hundred and twenty times more than that of Cuba, and a territory, as mentioned here, of 9.6 million square kilometers, almost one hundred times ours and, undoubtedly a country of great natural resources.
I could add other advantages: They did not live in the West as we do. We are bearing, to a large extent, the culture inherited from the West. China had a millennia-long culture. The Chinese people’s great advantage is its language, its own very complex writing. It is not an easy language, not precisely of Latin origin nor, we must say, of Western origin. They had a millennial language. I have no way of knowing how much it evolved since the period before our times. These cultural features are a very important force with which to defend the identity, the integrity, and independence of a great country and are less susceptible to penetration by the western culture that surrounds us.
You can see what the Ambassador explained: after 25 years of conflicts, wars, and blockades, they had recovered important rights such as that seat in the Security Council, a growing respect in the world, and in spite of errors, as the Ambassador pointed out, of various kinds of difficulties that occurred in its own internal policy at a time when the West had no other choice but to acknowledge the rights of China. And when all the blockades ended, you can see the extraordinary rhythm of progress in the country.
What he read here – I was just looking over a copy of the speech and had already heard about some appearances of the Ambassador – a sustained average growth of 9.8% for 21 years has no precedent in the history of any human society.
I did some calculations of how many times it doubled its economic production during that period. By then, they had already achieved important advances. I remember that after the revolutionary triumph, the Chinese built great seawalls rock by rock to prevent flooding and promote irrigation. Many social programs were begun from the very triumph of the Revolution. But undoubtedly the economic advances were slowed down considerably by the economic blockade to which subjective factors were added as well.
When, as I said, they had to recognize the rights of China and all the blockades disappeared and they rectified some errors – I don’t call them errors but rather their points of view, we would have no right to judge each internal event in China – but, as the Ambassador explained, they had made certain corrections, had overcome certain errors and everyone commits errors and that cannot be denied. After this, they achieved this impressive record because, as he pointed out, and above all, they grew since 1978, for 21 years. There is no precedent; there has never existed anything like this figure.
It is truly very satisfying to listen to the Ambassador reaffirm that these successes were possible due to the political ideology, to a political science, to Marxism-Leninism, to which they added important theoretical contributions of Mao Zedong, theoretical contributions to the revolutionary struggle, theoretical contributions to Marxism to which they later added theoretical and practical contributions of Deng Xiaoping. Added to this is the undeniably hard-working characteristic of the Chinese people. They are a people, really very hardworking. That is recognized everywhere in the world and, in Cuba, it is acknowledged because, dedicated to agriculture, specifically vegetable production, they greatly contribute to the supply of fresh produce in the city.
So, this spirit of labor is an important factor that, in my opinion, also contributed to the advances of the Chinese people, along with a theory and through a revolution that won, together with deep social changes, the independence of that great nation; a true and exemplary revolution when you analyze its roots, from the beginning when it organized its first nucleus of the Chinese Communist Party during the twenties, its rich history and, among the outstanding events, the long march, a military achievement that is unparalleled in history – and history has many military achievements.
We have read some books on what constituted that advance, day by day, surrounded by large enemy units of the puppet government that was supplied with all the weapons it needed, with hundreds of divisions. And that great military achievement occurred in very difficult conditions, always surrounded by large forces, constantly outmaneuvering the enemy, overcoming natural barriers. At times these included snow-capped mountains, and other times, wide and rushing rivers, until they reached the base that would be their permanent site during the war of liberation.
There was a time that the others, the so-called nationalists, the Puppets and reactionaries were fighting a foreign invasion, a war against the Japanese militarists and, to some extent, joined forces with the revolutionary Chinese. However, they were not serving the people nor the true independence of the country and they made all kinds of errors and had all kinds of weaknesses. Many times the Communists had to fight against the nationalists of Chiang Kai-Shek and against Japanese troops. In spite of this, they made a decisive contribution to the defeat of the Japanese militarists. These events are also in the pages of modern Chinese history.
And those who served reaction and Yankee imperialism at the end of the Second World War, who were crushingly and irreversibly defeated, took refuge on the little island of Taiwan, which is an integral part of Chinese territory because it was a part of China for an infinite length of time, like the keys to the north of Cuba, more so than the Isle of Youth is ours. Those who live there are of Chinese nationality, speak the Chinese language and have Chinese culture in spite of the western penetration they have received. This possession is an unquestionable right of the Chinese nation. It absolutely cannot be denied that it is an internal problem of China. No one has the right to interfere, and that is what they demand: respect for the sovereignty of their country, the universal recognition of this right. They are not demanding the union of two different nations, of different ethnicities, and different cultures.
Even the Taiwanese, until recently, and especially in the Security Council, spoke for 22 years of only one China completely integrated. Until recently they have been speaking in this language.
Ah! What was the first military intervention by the United States to secure Taiwan? I remember. During the days of the Korean War, the U.S. fleet took up a position between the continent and the island of Taiwan. This cannot be forgotten. That position was maintained by force. The country did not have conditions for that battle, nor did the country want to wage this battle. The country demanded its rights, demanded recognition, and wanted to solve the problem peacefully. What it determined with all its rights, was that it would not admit the loss of part of its territory, the tearing up of its country through the declaration and recognition of an independent republic of Taiwan. They have said it categorically, that they will not permit it, and I am sure that they will not, as I have the hope that this problem and the recognition of the theory and the practice of the inalienable rights of China occur without any form of war or loss of blood.
What is really happening today is that the United States and other western countries, while they talk of only one China, supply the separatist government of the island with the most modern and sophisticated weapons and nourish the movement against the integrity of China.
The Ambassador recalled and Machadito also mentioned the problem of Hong Kong. They knew how to have the necessary patience until the day came when the West and the world had no other choice but to acknowledge the right of the People’s Republic of China to the reintegration of this piece of its territory seized by colonial wars, disgraceful colonial wars.
Today much is said against drug trafficking. Then, the British Empire took over that territory and the West unleashed a war and sent troops who reached Beijing to impose the rights of the Western powers over the opium trade with China. That is a historical truth.
They recalled that this same year Macao would be returned, the little piece that was in the hands of a European country and it would be done peacefully through an agreement made thanks to Chinese patience, a patience we should all learn from and that, partially, we have. And if we have not learned from it we have figured out on our own because the duty of all revolutionaries it to also act with the necessary wisdom.
They waited and that year took possession of the territory. To make things easier, they thought of a country with two systems. They promised those who stayed in Hong Kong the existing economic and social systems, the existing institutions but under Chinese sovereignty. They have also made this offer to Taiwan, with an even broader scope. The proof of the peaceful spirit of China is the fact that, even though the Portuguese enclave of Macao had no form of defense, they did not take advantage of the circumstance or any situation to take over the enclave.
India, a neighboring country, also very populated, did not have so much patience and, at a certain time, took over a Portuguese enclave that was on Indian territory. It is a good example of the peaceful spirit of the People’s Republic of China. They did not use force to recover that territory and with the help of time and international support they are recovering all the rights they were stripped of.
The Ambassador mentioned how they had broken up the country. He could mention many other things. I mentioned the history of opium. How many crimes were committed against that great nation until mid-century, and how many rights were denied and ignored until they were reestablished in the course of the final two-thirds of this century!
Respect the people! Respect territorial integrity! This is not the time to break up nations. At a time when many peoples, separated by borders, by flags and hymns fight for integration, join together, and peacefully wipe out borders, the countries of the Caribbean fight for integration. The countries of Central America fight for integration The countries of South America fight for integration. Latin America fights for it. In the future, no small nation can exist isolated in practice.
I will say more: Switzerland a country traditionally very protective of its sovereignty that, due to its excellent geographic position in the heart of the Alps, could maintain neutrality during the First and Second World Wars. And Switzerland, I know because I went there and spoke with leaders who were, along with 49% of the people, in favor of integration into the European Economic Community, only a small fraction is lacking to make a majority – could not live alone in the Alps, isolated from the rest of the European community. The move is inexorably toward integration in that community.
Who has the right to support the disintegration of China? Who has the right to deny China’s demand for acknowledgment of its sovereignty over Taiwan? It is absurd that when the entire world is integrating that someone should call for the disintegration of a piece of China.
You can see the disaster of disintegration of the Soviet Union countries; a disintegration that became a race of all to run, primarily the United States, to invest and establish its hegemony, its domination and its possession of the fundamental resources of the former republics, mainly gas and oil, products of which they are very rich, as well as other minerals.
The world doesn’t move towards disintegration, it moves towards integration. It is not only a historical fact but also a principle of the modern world, a necessity of modern life. That is what the People’s Republic of China demands. And now, the People’s Republic of China of today, of this millennium, or of this century about to begin, is very different from that republic that arose 50 years ago in a country devastated by many years of war, against foreign invasion.
Added to this was the revolutionary war. More than 20 years of fierce battles against the internal and external enemies of the Chinese people. The country destroyed, a country that was poor, a country that had been exploited by external and internal exploiters. Everything needed to be built. I already mentioned under what conditions.
It is a country whose economy strongly moves forward. It’s curious; Machadito mentioned their contribution during the Asian crisis. There is something more: the People’s Republic of China gave an extraordinary service to the world in recent months, especially since 1998 in that crisis that began in Southeast Asia and that lead the second world power in the field of economy, Japan, into a deep crisis, that later spread to Russia and was seriously affecting the stocks and shares of the United States exchanges and which threatened to wipe out the economy of Latin America.
You can see how great the danger was that Latin America as a whole grew, if it grew at all, by 0.5% in 1999; and if it grew 0.5% it is because the countries with an important weight in the region produced greater growth. Mexico was between 4% and 5%. There are countries with growth below zero, negative in several countries, several important countries. It was a very serious world economic threat that has not yet been overcome, and it is not known with certainty if it will soon be overcome and there is the certainty – at least I have it – that when it recovers it will not be for long.
China had made an enormous economic sacrifice without which the crisis would not have been stopped. It was in a complicated situation because its exports grew year by year, but when the Asian crisis devaluated the currencies in many countries with a certain level of development – the so-called Asian tigers, pride of the neoliberal economy, pride of imperialism as an example of what can be achieved through their adverse formulas – and when they fell in a matter of days, since one after the other economy of those countries collapsed with terrible consequences, both for the economy of the world, especially for the countries of the Third World that are totally unprotected in this crisis, the Chinese found themselves at a disadvantage because the prices of the merchandize of all these countries cheapened amazingly because with the devaluation of their currency they could export whatever they wanted at low prices.
China could have devaluated the yuan to protect itself against that competition, to maintain the rhythm of increase in its exports and with this maintain an uninterrupted rise in growth. The world was shaking – the world! Not just the Third World but also the industrialized world was shaking thinking of the idea that China, with its rights, and to protect its exports and economic growth could devaluate the yuan. It did not and still there has been no acknowledgement that the People’s Republic of China deserves for this service it gave to the world and at the cost of its own economy.
In other words, it acted with a great sense of responsibility, the prestige of the country grew last year more than the 7.8% that Machadito mentioned referring to the growth of the Chinese economy. The prestige of China must have grown, for this reason alone, at least by 20% or 30%. But I think its prestige deserved a growth of 200% because no one can imagine the consequences of a measure of this kind by China. However, they are haggling over its membership in the World Trade Organization and we are all fighting for the membership of China to the WTO.
Europe and the United States assume the right to decide who becomes a member and who does not. The battle in the United Nations repeats itself. And the WTO is frightful because it can be a terrible instrument against the interests of the Third World.
The Third World is interested to have China in the World Trade Organization, which is responsible for regulating this activity; an instrument created, undoubtedly – the same as other instruments that already exist such as the IMF and similar institutions that have imposed the famous neoliberalism whose consequences our compatriots know about through the thousands of visitors who come from all over the world and the press releases regarding this ever increasing loss of prestige and more damaging – like an instrument of domination. All that imperialism has created since the fall of the socialist camp have been instruments to strengthen its domination in all fields. In the economic sphere it enjoys some incredible privileges that cannot continue to survive. They are the ones who print the money reserves of the world, investing only in the paper. The Europeans are trying to create another to protect itself from these super-privileges that exists at the cost of the interests of the rest of the world and benefit, to a certain extent, by sharing them.
All these subjects are part of the issues that must be discussed to change the existing world order that has been established for that reason.
The club of the rich, a group of rich countries – there are around twenty something, I think it is 29 now – invented a multilateral agreement project of investments to make it an international treaty. Today there are bilateral agreements, but the member countries of this club known as the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) invented a project that was shrouded in silence. They discussed it behind closed doors and were getting ready to release it when some people – I think it was in France – discovered the text that, although it was known and being discussed the contents were unknown. They mounted a great scandal and the authors had to put a stop to it.
Where this had to be discussed was in the WTO because over a hundred countries were there and not the 30 richest countries. They did not want to discuss it in the WTO although the WTO was set up as an instrument to strengthen the economic, political and all other forms of United States hegemony. They imposed the conditions of that organization as an instrument of imperialism. That’s why it was created although it could be sidetracked to become an instrument of the peoples where we of the Third World are a wide majority. But the peoples of the Third World are very divided because of their poverty they depend heavily on the United States and the trade institutions and financial organizations it created and that, often, breaks the unity.
Acting in unity, the Third World with China in the WTO could become an instrument of justice, an instrument of resistance to the hegemony of the United States, for a new economic order, against the current economic order they have imposed which is the important reason to reform the United Nations. All this is linked. The WTO could be an instrument of justice. We are a majority. We are the majority in the United Nations as you can see from some of the votes in the UN General Assembly, for example, those against the blockade.
One day the General Assembly managed to impose the recognition of China’s rights – the real China, the only China that exists – in the Security Council. Ah, that is why we also call for more powers for the UN General Assembly. That institution must change.
The Chinese ambassador clearly explained and mentioned all the concepts of limited sovereignty, global threats, right to intervention like the one in Yugoslavia, to which is added the new strategic concept of NATO, approved days before that genocidal war, a right that NATO assigns itself of intervening whenever it wants in any country.
As I said, all these problems are linked; the intention of ignoring the United Nations, that is all we have; a world organization that exists, that was founded after the Second World War. It no longer corresponds to the present situation in the world, having almost 200 independent states. It began with around thirty or forty something states controlled by the victorious powers after the Second World War. It definitely needs to be restructured and democratized, but this requires tactics and strategies. At least it is very clear for me the importance of the ties of the Third World with China and the need for the support of China in that restructuring that can no longer be delayed because China is a permanent member with the right to veto.
Under certain limits the United States can try to prevent it and will do so for a long time. But it will have to discuss it, as it has had to discuss other things. It refused to discuss it for many years and will be unable, also, to prevent the democratization of the United Nations, as a result of the mobilization of world public opinion, through the unity of the nations.
He mentioned those principles that imperialism wants to wipe out. It is very important to listen here to the Chinese Ambassador asserting that these principles must be defended and that is a fundamental factor of Chinese foreign policy.
Fortunately, yesterday, we had the opportunity to listen to the Russian Chancellor – because Russia exists. It is not a superpower but still is a great power.
What is my opinion about the difference between a superpower and a great power? That the former has the power to destroy the latter fifteen times over and the latter has the power to destroy the other three or four times, but one is enough, and hopefully that will never happen!
Russia is a great power. China is a great power in a different way, and in some ways a much greater power than Russia; but Russia is a great nuclear power. It has a nuclear military power that China does not. China does not yet have it and hopefully it will not need it.
What forces China to maintain a technical development in the military field is simply the aggressive policy against it, the interference in its internal affairs, the denial of its fundamental rights, and strategic concepts that amount to threats. At any time, NATO could intervene because it decides that China posed a global threat due to some internal problem – any kind of problem that might arise. It is inconceivable that they assume that right. That is why I say I hope they never have to become a great nuclear power!
But what do the others do? Invest increasingly in weapons, in the development of military technology. Recently, we read the declaration of one of the nominees to the presidency of the United States who promised to invest enormous sums in military research to improve conventional weapons, among other things. What is the purpose of all this improvement? Why all that technological development when the Cold War has been long dead? What is the justification for all this weaponry but the clear intention of dominating the world, not only through political and economic measures but also military ones, to maintain discipline in this chaotic world? I am not going to try to explain why, but we know very well all the details and the hundreds of arguments for why the world is chaotic. And those cannot be solved with nuclear or conventional weapons. It is their desperation that makes them take this course, to hold everything in their hands: military, political, and economic.
Even Europe was humiliated by its ridiculous role in the war against Yugoslavia since 100% of the bombs were made in the United States and 90% of the operations were made by US aviation and missiles. Europe felt so humiliated that the ambition to have its own European forces has taken wing because of the crushing superiority created by its ally. What a difficult ally Europe has and what a dangerous one in every way.
I already told you how pleased I was to listen to the Russian Chancellor – I didn’t say Soviet, right? I said Russian because sometimes we make mistakes out of an old habit. Now it is not Soviet, it is not a socialist country. Today The International would not be sung in an event to commemorate something related to Russia. But Russia is a country threatened by NATO, which is moving towards its borders. Russia is a threatened country that US imperialism wants to see weakened and even torn apart, to take over its enormous natural resources. The great capital of the United States is not satisfied with the investments it has made in all parts of the defunct USSR, above all in the area of the Caspian Sea where there are said to be enormous oil and gas reserves, and in other republics in the region. They are not satisfied with their ambitious program of taking over and controlling all that wealth. They also want to take over and control all the wealth of Russia, apply conditions, even upbraiding it a few days ago when they scolded the country in a meeting of the G-7 regarding the financial scandal.
That is not a socialist nation. It has common interests, many common interests with other countries. It has them with Europe, and Europe is neither calm nor happy. Above all, Europe does not like adventures imposed from the other side of the ocean, like the Yugoslav adventure and any others the United States might think up.
Since that last experience of the genocidal war, more proclamations are made of the new strategic-military doctrines and enthusiastic political theories intended to ravage the United Nations Charter and establish the rights of the powerful to intervene in any part of the world. The world feels threatened and we know that well.
It’s very good, we have read, that relations between Russia and China are improving. That’s very good. We have read that they have adopted similar positions concerning the barbarous war against Yugoslavia. That’s good. We know that they have taken common positions against the alleged right to dismantle whatever it wants to, like they dismantled Yugoslavia and succeeded in dismantling the USSR.
All these are issues that worry many nations in the world.
And in Europe there wasn’t only the disintegration of the USSR but U.S. capital, which as I said, is taking over the economies of the old socialist countries. They want to take over everything there. Ah, but we are living in new times, a new century that will begin in something over a year – because 2000 is the last year of this century, lets not forget this – there are great challenges and tasks for the nations of the Third World, for countries like China, for countries like Russia.
We know that Russia tries to develop relations not only with Europe but also with the Third World. And we heard from the Russian Chancellor words similar to those said today by the Chinese Ambassador referring to the principles that I mentioned previously, intending to sweep away the rights of the peoples who form part of the United Nations and the principles that provided some measure of relative protection for their sovereignty independence. I say relative because we know that, in spite of these rights, the United States has intervened in a group of countries during these last decades without anyone’s permission – we know that – but always clashing with international law and now they want to do as they please without troubling with any international law or any established principles.
A hard battle must be waged in the United Nations, like the one our delegation waged. There is much to do battle about and there are many common interests among some of the nations that are members of the Security Council and the rest of the world.
For various reasons, the world is becoming aware of these problems and it is visible. There is sufficient strength to resist, to move forward, more so backed by the laws of history and the reality of a system and world economic order that is unsustainable; that is collapsing and that is capable of collapsing by itself, although this collapse must be helped along. And more than aiding in the collapse, the world must be made aware of these realities so that the peoples can resist this order with more strength and contribute to its progressive disappearance. Although one is sure that the disappearance will not be very progressive, because when a catastrophic economic crisis occurs, like the one that almost occurred, and being greater, because the more the delay the stronger the crisis will be, the spirit of struggle of the peoples must be lifted, their will to resist. We must make them aware that they must prepare for new concepts, a new concept of the world, a new world economic order, truly fair, that must come about as the result of the struggle of the peoples.
The peoples must struggle not only to protect their economy and Rights, but also must struggle to defend their own survival. They wipe out the environment; they destroy it. Scarcely a year ago Mitch hit Central America with devastating damage and now we see images of colossal floods, a visible climactic change and that no one denies. Who does it hit first? The poor countries; the nations of the Third World.
That is why I thought it was necessary to express these thoughts because I feel they are very important questions, worthy to be taken into consideration on a day such as today. But, I also wanted to say that, during these difficult years, when we suddenly lost our markets, we had the Chinese market. When it was difficult to acquire some supplies, we acquired some of them in the Chinese People’s Republic. Our ships come and go, they take and bring products. They have a very developed pharmaceutical industry, many raw materials for our drug industry, many raw materials for our pharmaceutical industry; some that are very difficult to acquire we find in China and at good prices. They have cooperated with our country. They have developed exchanges and economic relations with Cuba. They have also developed political relations with Cuba during the special period. Most of its leaders have visited our country.
We had the honor of receiving President Jiang Zemin and, in our fist contact, we were not wrong in appraising his intelligence, his political and human conditions, his capacity as a responsible leader and statesman with solid principles.
We also see in China, because we read the news cables every day, the other country where western propaganda is furious. A day doesn’t pass where international cables do not appear about internal questions and affairs in China. If China arrests someone for breaking the law, the outcry follows immediately. If China forbids a small splinter group because they are endangering the stability and union of the country or because of a policy that is treasonable to the interests of this great people, the outcry follows. Today the propaganda concentrates mostly against Cuba, but there is also strong propaganda against China, a diversionist propaganda using all the mass media possible creating new stations transmitting western ideas, western consumer habits or US madness to the 1.25 billion Chinese people – against a country with which it is waging, as much as possible, an ideological battle.
That is why, today, aware of our forces, the potential forces of the world, the potential allies of the Third World, the possibility of our peoples, thinking about this, listening to the words of the Ambassador, I felt a deep satisfaction and was very pleased to attend this event although I had not thought of speaking. I’ve extended myself a little more than what I had promised – and to listen to the Ambassador here speak the phrase that received so much applause and in Spanish because he spoke with precision in Spanish. He knows Cuba. He lived and worked in Cuba several years ago. That is why he speaks Spanish so clearly, like any one of us, when he said: “Socialismo o muerte” and when he added “Venceremos” he said something that we are absolutely convinced about.
Also, that is why I was so deeply moved to hear The International in this event endorsed by what was said here, expressed with exact data that was outlined here to demonstrate that only socialism can solve the problems of the world. Only socialism can feed 1.25 billion Chinese, give them a home, a television for each Chinese family, and many other household articles, and especially the essential resources for life. That is to say, that country feeds approximately 22% of the world’s population with 7% of the world’s agricultural lands.
Another great example: The country went through periods of starvation under the domination of the feudal lords and capitalism, always allied with colonial and dominating powers when the population was only 400 million or 500 million. Today the population has tripled and hunger has been eradicated forever. And here the Ambassador explained that they have been capable of producing 40% of the eggs produced in the world, 490 million tons of cereals, and other similar statistics.
And we could say that China is just beginning, that 7.8% growth was by brute force. How could they manage that if the rhythm of exports fell considerably? Ah! Because of the resources they have been accumulating. High reserves of convertible currencies allowed them not only to make the contribution I spoke of about the yuan but of maintaining a rhythm of growth that, if it was not going to depend so much on exports, would depend on the increase of internal consumption and maintain the rhythm of development for employment, because in all these tasks of restructuring, logically there is an important need to create jobs. They must also confront the movement from the countryside to the city as the former increases productivity and produces a surplus of hand labor.
They were able to maintain the yuan. It would have been easier to devaluate the yuan but they did not do it. Instead, they maintained their reserves, managed their economy with wisdom and managed a 7.8% growth under these conditions. They not only endured the Southeastern Asian crisis in those countries where the owners of capital took their money, where the owners of world finances plundered the last dollar of their reserves creating the ideal conditions for the large US transnationals to acquire companies and factories in any of those countries at a low cost. They not only endured the crisis and without devaluating the yuan but also performed an incredible service to the world. And in spite of that, they grew by 7.8%. They are able to continue the battle, in spite of the difficulties that oppress the world today.
All that has been said today of this story is the fruit of something that is called socialism. It is the fruit of a doctrine that arose to shake the world, a Marxist doctrine, of scientific socialism, a revolution of the poor, by the poor, and for the poor, that has, also made possible this incredible heroic exploit of resisting 40 years of blockade and almost 10 years of special period.
That is why I repeat the slogan with which the Ambassador ended his speech:
¡Socialismo o Muerte!