Please note that this speech was given in English originally, as he explains. This translation was made back from the Spanish translation. I’ve found no transcript of the English original. Fidel has mentioned this speech elsewhere also as having been given in English. The Spanish was taken from the Cuban government website.
Please note: “ASTA” refers to the American Society of Travel Agents.
(SHORTHAND VERSION PROVIDED BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER)
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann, January 2010.
Ladies and gentlemen:
In line with my age-old difficulty, when I took the floor I was not sure whether I was going to speak in English or Spanish, but in the end I decided to do it in English because I want to make myself properly understood.
Well, here I am giving a speech, and you will probably go through the same thing I went through during this meeting as we listened to the speakers. However, I hope you will be able to understand my English (APPLAUSE).
I don’t have much to tell you; actually, it’s not the Government who should speak in these cases: what you get to see is what matters, and not what you have read or heard about the people. Whatever I say here in that respect is hardly important. What the people might say is what counts. Whatever you can see by yourselves through the eyes of the Cuban people is the most important thing. I just want to say that we in Cuba are very happy and grateful to you for honoring us all with your presence in this Congress and your visit to Cuba, because that’s what it is: a great honor as well as a great help for us (APPLAUSE).
As has become customary, tourism has increased very much in the places where you have held your regular meetings. The figures speak for themselves, proving that it is so everywhere you go.
Now you, the leaders of this organization, will understand the benefits of your visit, because the most prestigious travel agencies in the world are represented in ASTA (APPLAUSE) and our traditionally noble and hospitable people thank you for your visit. That’s why all Cubans have long been looking forward to having you here; that’s why our workers finished the airport for you, working night and day in nine- and ten-hour-long shifts, and many other works were finished as well in a few days (APPLAUSE). That’s why you will be warmly welcomed and treated in every hotel, every street, every taxi, and everywhere you go in Cuba.
We are quite confident of the way our people behave because we know them very well and have absolute faith in them. Cuba’s impression on you won’t come from my speech or my words. I could say many things here, but I’m sure that you will be very impressed with our people.
We don’t care much for political propaganda; we want you to believe in facts, not words. I know the world is not perfect; I know that people throughout history have dealt with all sorts of difficulties, but history has made it plain that these difficulties are not important, because mankind has solved many problems along the way, and people all over the world will keep on making progress in the future to overcome their difficulties.
It’s impossible to speak about ourselves, so I honestly insist here that we have no interest whatsoever in any kind of propaganda and ask you to please put all your political ideas aside. You and your friends are professionals, not politicians, and your mission is to help your friends find the happiness our world may provide.
We don’t have many things; we are not an industrialized country and lack a number of things, but in the field of tourism we have many advantages, like our sea, bays, beaches, all kinds of medicinal waters, mountains, game and fishing preserves, and the best temperature in the world.
Maybe we don’t have the great beauty of the snow, but we have summertime and sunshine the whole year long (APPLAUSE).
You and your friends need to have sunshine in the winter, and of that we have as much as you want, and we have as much blue sky as you want, as well as beaches with sands of every color and a gentle cool breeze in the summer. I don’t mean to boast when I say that we may not have many things but we do have many good things for tourists, in addition to our people, which is more important than all that natural beauty (APPLAUSE).
We have no doubt as to what tourists will find here. We expect many things from our people, although not everyone has the same cultural level because Cuba never had enough schools to teach the whole people to read and write. Now we will have as many schools as we need. Still, the Cubans are a noble and hospitable people, and what’s more important, they don’t hate anyone. Our people love all visitors and make them feel at home (APPLAUSE).
What you see now and what you will see in two, three or five years is beyond comparison because our best things are still in the planning stage, but they will soon become a reality. From this premise we are determined to develop tourism as much as possible, with a good service and, especially, fair prices, because rather than having 100,000 people paying for expensive hotel rooms and items we would like many hundreds of thousands to come, not only the wealthy but also those who are not rich and those who have no other fortune than their job (APPLAUSE).
Pricing is important because we don’t want to exploit tourists at all (APPLAUSE). Unfortunately, the tourists in Cuba, like elsewhere, used to be exploited.
We don’t have everything tourism needs, but I can tell you that we’re discovering and developing everything we do have so that next time you come –since you’re busy these days but we hope you will come again on vacation, because you also need to take a vacation some time (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)– you will be surprised to see how much progress we will have made.
This is the most important message we wanted to send you, and not one of my words was intended to impress you. Instead, we want you to be impressed by what you see across Cuba.
You and your friends and whoever you ever recommend to come will be welcomed with open arms everywhere you go in Cuba (APPLAUSE), because our ambition, which is a well-intended ambition, is to turn our Island into the best vacation resort and the most important destination worldwide.
That ambition is what encourages our people to pursue such goals, and we’re sure and convinced that we will succeed despite any difficulty or adverse propaganda, because you cannot full all of the people all the time, like Lincoln said.
We’re aware of the fact that many U.S. citizens come here with wrong ideas and then they find exactly the opposite of what they believed. That’s why we think that regardless of all the propaganda against Cuba we will make headway and have more tourists every year. Who is telling the truth, those who lie or those who open the doors of the nation for everyone to come and see for themselves what is truly going on in Cuba and what the Cuban government is honestly doing and sacrificing for the happiness of the Cuban people? (APPLAUSE)
Working for the people is all we do, and we’re sure that we will count on the understanding of all kind-hearted women and men of the world. So let me finish by wishing you the best of stays in Cuba (APPLAUSE).
NOTE:This says he spoke in English, but what we have here is a translation from the Spanish. I assume it was translated to Spanish and kept in that form when it was posted to the Internet many years ago. Since Cuba’s tourism industry is a subject of some controversy abroad, I thought readers here would find this document of considerable interest, all the more so as it’s more than fifty years old.
DISCURSO PRONUNCIADO POR EL COMANDANTE FIDEL CASTRO RUZ, PRIMER MINISTRO DEL GOBIERNO REVOLUCIONARIO, EN EL ACTO DE APERTURA DE LA VIGESIMONOVENA CONVENCION DEL “ASTA”, CELEBRADO EN EL TEATRO BLANQUITA, EL 19 DE OCTUBRE DE 1959.
(VERSION TAQUIGRAFICA DE LAS OFICINAS DEL PRIMER MINISTRO)
Señoras y señores:
Es mi eterna dificultad, que no estaba seguro cuando iba a hablar, si lo debía hacer en inglés o en español, y al fin decidí hacerlo en inglés, porque deseo que me entiendan bien.
Bueno, yo estoy aquí haciendo un discurso y seguramente a ustedes les sucederá lo mismo que me sucedió a mí durante esta reunión, oyendo a los oradores; no obstante, espero que puedan entender mi inglés (APLAUSOS).
No tengo muchas cosas que decirles; realmente no es el Gobierno en estos casos quien tiene que hablar, sino lo que ustedes puedan ver. No importa lo que hayan leído u oído acerca del pueblo, y es poco importante lo que yo pueda decir aquí acerca de eso; lo más importante es lo que el pueblo pueda decir, lo más importante sobre Cuba es lo que ustedes mismos puedan ver a través del pueblo. Yo solamente quiero decir que nosotros en Cuba estamos muy felices y agradecidos a ustedes por el honor de este Congreso, de esta visita a Cuba, porque es un gran honor y una gran ayuda también para nosotros (APLAUSOS).
Es tradicional que los lugares que ustedes han visitado en sus periódicas reuniones han incrementado mucho su turismo; las estadísticas hablan por sí mismas de que en todos los lugares que ustedes han visitado se ha incrementado el turismo.
Ahora ustedes, los líderes de esta organización, comprenderán los beneficios de vuestra visita, porque ustedes, el ASTA, representan las más conocidas organizaciones de agencias de pasajes del mundo (APLAUSOS), y nuestro pueblo, que es tradicionalmente noble y hospitalario, les agradece su visita. Por eso es que todo el mundo en Cuba ha estado esperando por ustedes desde hace muchas semanas; que nuestros obreros, trabajando nueve y diez horas diarias, día y noche, terminaron nuestro aeropuerto para ustedes, y que muchas obras han sido terminadas en pocos días (APLAUSOS). Es por ello que en cada hotel, en cada calle, en cada vehículo y en cada lugar de Cuba que ustedes visiten, encontrarán la más absoluta identificación y la mejor atención.
Nosotros estamos seguros de la conducta de nuestro pueblo, porque conocemos muy bien a nuestro pueblo, porque tenemos una gran fe en nuestro pueblo. La impresión de ustedes sobre Cuba no será una consecuencia de mi discurso o de mis palabras. Yo podría decir muchas cosas aquí, pero estoy seguro de que ustedes tendrán una buena impresión de Cuba por nuestro pueblo.
La propaganda política no nos interesa; lo que queremos es que crean en los hechos, no en las palabras. Yo sé que el mundo no es perfecto; sé que el hombre, a través de la historia, ha encontrado pequeñas y grandes dificultades, pero la historia ha demostrado
que estas dificultades no son importantes, porque la humanidad, que ha tenido muchas dificultades desde sus comienzos, las ha resuelto y, en el futuro, el hombre en todo el mundo continuará progresando, encontrando dificultades y resolviéndolas.
Resulta imposible hablar sobre nosotros mismos, por eso sinceramente les digo que no tenemos interés en ninguna clase de propaganda y les pido que olviden todas las ideas sobre política. Ustedes y sus amigos son profesionales, no son políticos; la misión de ustedes es ayudar a vuestros amigos a tener esos momentos de felicidad que es posible encontrar en este mundo.
No tenemos muchas cosas, no somos una nación industrializada; tenemos algunas desventajas en algunas cosas, pero en este aspecto, en turismo, tenemos una gran cantidad de ventajas: tenemos mar, tenemos bahías, tenemos playas, tenemos aguas medicinales de todas clases, tenemos montañas, tenemos caza, tenemos pesca en el mar y en el río, y tenemos la mejor temperatura del mundo.
Nosotros tenemos verano todo el año, tenemos sol; no tendremos la hermosura y la belleza maravillosa de la nieve, pero tenemos sol (APLAUSOS).
Ustedes y sus amigos en invierno necesitan sol, nosotros tenemos todo el sol que ustedes quieran; cielo azul, todo el cielo azul que ustedes quieran; playas y arenas de todos los colores; en verano tenemos aire fresco. No es vanidad, no tenemos muchas, pero sí muy buenas cosas para los turistas, y más importantes que todas esas bellezas naturales es nuestro pueblo (APLAUSOS).
No tenemos ninguna duda sobre lo que el turista encontrará aquí. Nosotros esperamos mucho del pueblo, no porque tenga una gran cultura todo el pueblo, ya que realmente no ha habido en Cuba suficientes escuelas para que todo el mundo supiera leer y escribir, ahora sí tendremos las escuelas necesarias; pero nuestro pueblo es un pueblo noble y hospitalario, y la más importante condición es que nuestro pueblo no odia a nadie, nuestro pueblo ama a los visitantes y hace que nuestros visitantes se sientan aquí como en su propia casa (APLAUSOS).
No hay comparación posible entre lo que ustedes ven y lo que verán dentro de dos, tres o cinco años, porque nuestras mejores cosas están en proyecto y se convertirán en realidades muy pronto. Tenemos el propósito de desarrollar el turismo tanto como sea posible sobre esta base: buen servicio y precio justo, sobre todo precio justo, porque lo que nosotros queremos no es que vengan 100 000 a pagar precios altos por una habitación y por nuestros artículos, lo que queremos es que vengan muchos cientos de miles de personas, de modo que los que vengan a Cuba, a nuestras playas, no sean solo los que tienen grandes fortunas, sino también los que tienen pequeñas fortunas y los que no tienen otra fortuna que su trabajo (APLAUSOS).
Los precios son muy importantes porque nosotros queremos abolir toda clase de explotación a los turistas (APLAUSOS). Y en Cuba, como en otros lugares, infortunadamente, los turistas eran explotados.
Nosotros no tenemos todas las cosas que el turismo necesita, pero sí les puedo decir que estamos descubriendo y desarrollando todas las que nosotros tenemos, para que el próximo año que ustedes visiten algunos lugares de Cuba, o cuando vengan aquí la próxima vez —porque ahora ustedes están trabajando y esperamos que cuando estén de vacaciones vengan también, porque ustedes también necesitan vacaciones (RISAS Y APLAUSOS)—, se sorprendan de cómo hemos avanzado en nuestro trabajo.
Esto es lo más importante que nosotros queríamos decirles, ni una sola palabra para impresionarlos, queremos que se impresionen con lo que ustedes vean en toda Cuba.
En toda Cuba serán bienvenidos y recibidos con los brazos abiertos (APLAUSOS), ustedes y sus amigos; ustedes y todos a los que ustedes les digan que vengan a Cuba, porque nuestra ambición, que es una noble ambición, es la de convertir a nuestra isla en el mejor lugar para vacaciones, y en el mejor y más importante centro turístico del mundo.
Esta es la noble ambición que estimula a nuestro pueblo a desarrollar esos propósitos, y estamos seguros y convencidos de que nosotros lo lograremos a pesar de toda clase de dificultades, a pesar de toda clase de propaganda, porque el pueblo no puede estar todo el tiempo confundido por las mentiras, como dijo Lincoln.
Vemos lo que sucede a muchos ciudadanos de Estados Unidos, que vienen aquí con una idea errónea y al llegar ven absolutamente todo lo contrario de lo que pensaban. Es por eso que nosotros creemos que, a pesar de toda la propaganda contra Cuba, progresaremos y tendremos cada año más turistas. ¿Y quién dice la verdad, esos que hablan las mentiras, o estos que abren las puertas de la nación, de modo que todo el mundo pueda venir a ver la verdad de lo que pasa en Cuba, y de lo que estamos haciendo en Cuba, con el esfuerzo y el sacrificio del gobierno que trabaja honestamente por la felicidad del pueblo? (APLAUSOS.)
Esta es la única cosa que estamos haciendo, trabajando para el pueblo, y estamos seguros de que encontraremos en todos los buenos corazones de las mujeres y de los hombres la mayor comprensión. Así que termino deseándoles los mejores días y las mejores horas en Cuba (APLAUSOS).
by Fidel Castro
October 16, 1953
Never has a lawyer had to practice his profession under such difficult conditions; never has such a number of overwhelming irregularities been committed against an accused man. In this case, counsel and defendant are one and the same. As attorney he has not even been able to take a look at the indictment. As accused, for the past seventy-six days he has been locked away in solitary confinement, held totally and absolutely incommunicado, in violation of every human and legal right.
He who speaks to you hates vanity with all his being, nor are his temperament or frame of mind inclined towards courtroom poses or sensationalism of any kind. If I have had to assume my own defense before this Court it is for two reasons. First: because I have been denied legal aid almost entirely, and second: only one who has been so deeply wounded, who has seen his country so forsaken and its justice trampled so, can speak at a moment like this with words that spring from the blood of his heart and the truth of his very gut.
There was no lack of generous comrades who wished to defend me, and the Havana Bar Association appointed a courageous and competent jurist, Dr. Jorge Pagliery, Dean of the Bar in this city, to represent me in this case. However, he was not permitted to carry out his task. As often as he tried to see me, the prison gates were closed before him. Only after a month and a half, and through the intervention of the Court, was he finally granted a ten minute interview with me in the presence of a sergeant from the Military Intelligence Agency (SIM). One supposes that a lawyer has a right to speak with his defendant in private, and this right is respected throughout the world, except in the case of a Cuban prisoner of war in the hands of an implacable tyranny that abides by no code of law, be it legal or humane. Neither Dr. Pagliery nor I were willing to tolerate such dirty spying upon our means of defense for the oral trial. Did they want to know, perhaps, beforehand, the methods we would use in order to reduce to dust the incredible fabric of lies they had woven around the Moncada Barracks events? How were we going to expose the terrible truth they would go to such great lengths to conceal? It was then that we decided that, taking advantage of my professional rights as a lawyer, I would assume my own defense.
This decision, overheard by the sergeant and reported by him to his superior, provoked a real panic. It looked like some mocking little imp was telling them that I was going to ruin all their plans. You know very well, Honorable Judges, how much pressure has been brought to bear on me in order to strip me as well of this right that is ratified by long Cuban tradition. The Court could not give in to such machination, for that would have left the accused in a state of total indefensiveness. The accused, who is now exercising this right to plead his own case, will under no circumstances refrain from saying what he must say. I consider it essential that I explain, at the onset, the reason for the terrible isolation in which I have been kept; what was the purpose of keeping me silent; what was behind the plots to kill me, plots which the Court is familiar with; what grave events are being hidden from the people; and the truth behind all the strange things which have taken place during this trial. I propose to do all this with utmost clarity.
You have publicly called this case the most significant in the history of the Republic. If you sincerely believed this, you should not have allowed your authority to be stained and degraded. The first court session was September 21st. Among one hundred machine guns and bayonets, scandalously invading the hall of justice, more than a hundred people were seated in the prisoner’s dock. The great majority had nothing to do with what had happened. They had been under preventive arrest for many days, suffering all kinds of insults and abuses in the chambers of the repressive units. But the rest of the accused, the minority, were brave and determined, ready to proudly confirm their part in the battle for freedom, ready to offer an example of unprecedented self-sacrifice and to wrench from the jail’s claws those who in deliberate bad faith had been included in the trial. Those who had met in combat confronted one another again. Once again, with the cause of justice on our side, we would wage the terrible battle of truth against infamy! Surely the regime was not prepared for the moral catastrophe in store for it!
How to maintain all its false accusations? How to keep secret what had really happened, when so many young men were willing to risk everything – prison, torture and death, if necessary – in order that the truth be told before this Court?
I was called as a witness at that first session. For two hours I was questioned by the Prosecutor as well as by twenty defense attorneys. I was able to prove with exact facts and figures the sums of money that had been spent, the way this money was collected and the arms we had been able to round up. I had nothing to hide, for the truth was: all this was accomplished through sacrifices without precedent in the history of our Republic. I spoke of the goals that inspired us in our struggle and of the humane and generous treatment that we had at all times accorded our adversaries. If I accomplished my purpose of demonstrating that those who were falsely implicated in this trial were neither directly nor indirectly involved, I owe it to the complete support and backing of my heroic comrades. For, as I said, the consequences they might be forced to suffer at no time caused them to repent of their condition as revolutionaries and patriots, I was never once allowed to speak with these comrades of mine during the time we were in prison, and yet we planned to do exactly the same. The fact is, when men carry the same ideals in their hearts, nothing can isolate them – neither prison walls nor the sod of cemeteries. For a single memory, a single spirit, a single idea, a single conscience, a single dignity will sustain them all.
From that moment on, the structure of lies the regime had erected about the events at Moncada Barracks began to collapse like a house of cards. As a result, the Prosecutor realized that keeping all those persons named as instigators in prison was completely absurd, and he requested their provisional release.
At the close of my testimony in that first session, I asked the Court to allow me to leave the dock and sit among the counsel for the defense. This permission was granted. At that point what I consider my most important mission in this trial began: to totally discredit the cowardly, miserable and treacherous lies which the regime had hurled against our fighters; to reveal with irrefutable evidence the horrible, repulsive crimes they had practiced on the prisoners; and to show the nation and the world the infinite misfortune of the Cuban people who are suffering the cruelest, the most inhuman oppression of their history.
The second session convened on Tuesday, September 22nd. By that time only ten witnesses had testified, and they had already cleared up the murders in the Manzanillo area, specifically establishing and placing on record the direct responsibility of the captain commanding that post. There were three hundred more witnesses to testify. What would happen if, with a staggering mass of facts and evidence, I should proceed to cross-examine the very Army men who were directly responsible for those crimes? Could the regime permit me to go ahead before the large audience attending the trial? Before journalists and jurists from all over the island? And before the party leaders of the opposition, who they had stupidly seated right in the prisoner’s dock where they could hear so well all that might be brought out here? They would rather have blown up the court house, with all its judges, than allow that!
And so they devised a plan by which they could eliminate me from the trial and they proceeded to do just that, manu militari. On Friday night, September 25th, on the eve of the third session of the trial, two prison doctors visited me in my cell. They were visibly embarrassed. ‘We have come to examine you,’ they said. I asked them, ‘Who is so worried about my health?’ Actually, from the moment I saw them I realized what they had come for. They could not have treated me with greater respect, and they explained their predicament to me. That afternoon Colonel Chaviano had appeared at the prison and told them I ‘was doing the Government terrible damage with this trial.’ He had told them they must sign a certificate declaring that I was ill and was, therefore, unable to appear in court. The doctors told me that for their part they were prepared to resign from their posts and risk persecution. They put the matter in my hands, for me to decide. I found it hard to ask those men to unhesitatingly destroy themselves. But neither could I, under any circumstances, consent that those orders be carried out. Leaving the matter to their own consciences, I told them only: ‘You must know your duty; I certainly know mine.’
After leaving the cell they signed the certificate. I know they did so believing in good faith that this was the only way they could save my life, which they considered to be in grave danger. I was not obliged to keep our conversation secret, for I am bound only by the truth. Telling the truth in this instance may jeopardize those good doctors in their material interests, but I am removing all doubt about their honor, which is worth much more. That same night, I wrote the Court a letter denouncing the plot; requesting that two Court physicians be sent to certify my excellent state of health, and to inform you that if to save my life I must take part in such deception, I would a thousand times prefer to lose it. To show my determination to fight alone against this whole degenerate frame-up, I added to my own words one of the Master’s lines: ‘A just cause even from the depths of a cave can do more than an army.’ As the Court knows, this was the letter Dr. Melba Hernández submitted at the third session of the trial on September 26th. I managed to get it to her in spite of the heavy guard I was under. That letter, of course, provoked immediate reprisals. Dr. Hernández was subjected to solitary confinement, and I – since I was already incommunicado – was sent to the most inaccessible reaches of the prison. From that moment on, all the accused were thoroughly searched from head to foot before they were brought into the courtroom.
Two Court physicians certified on September 27th that I was, in fact, in perfect health. Yet, in spite of the repeated orders from the Court, I was never again brought to the hearings. What’s more, anonymous persons daily circulated hundreds of apocryphal pamphlets which announced my rescue from jail. This stupid alibi was invented so they could physically eliminate me and pretend I had tried to escape. Since the scheme failed as a result of timely exposure by ever alert friends, and after the first affidavit was shown to be false, the regime could only keep me away from the trial by open and shameless contempt of Court.
This was an incredible situation, Honorable Judges: Here was a regime literally afraid to bring an accused man to Court; a regime of blood and terror that shrank in fear of the moral conviction of a defenseless man – unarmed, slandered and isolated. And so, after depriving me of everything else, they finally deprived me even of the trial in which I was the main accused. Remember that this was during a period in which individual rights were suspended and the Public Order Act as well as censorship of radio and press were in full force. What unbelievable crimes this regime must have committed to so fear the voice of one accused man!
I must dwell upon the insolence and disrespect which the Army leaders have at all times shown towards you. As often as this Court has ordered an end to the inhuman isolation in which I was held; as often as it has ordered my most elementary rights to be respected; as often as it has demanded that I be brought before it, this Court has never been obeyed! Worse yet: in the very presence of the Court, during the first and second hearings, a praetorian guard was stationed beside me to totally prevent me from speaking to anyone, even among the brief recesses. In other words, not only in prison, but also in the courtroom and in your presence, they ignored your decrees. I had intended to mention this matter in the following session, as a question of elementary respect for the Court, but – I was never brought back. And if, in exchange for so much disrespect, they bring us before you to be jailed in the name of a legality which they and they alone have been violating since March 10th, sad indeed is the role they would force on you. The Latin maxim Cedant arma togae has certainly not been fulfilled on a single occasion during this trial. I beg you to keep that circumstance well in mind.
What is more, these devices were in any case quite useless; my brave comrades, with unprecedented patriotism, did their duty to the utmost.
‘Yes, we set out to fight for Cuba’s freedom and we are not ashamed of having done so,’ they declared, one by one, on the witness stand. Then, addressing the Court with impressive courage, they denounced the hideous crimes committed upon the bodies of our brothers. Although absent from Court, I was able, in my prison cell, to follow the trial in all its details. And I have the convicts at Boniato Prison to thank for this. In spite of all threats, these men found ingenious means of getting newspaper clippings and all kinds of information to me. In this way they avenged the abuses and immoralities perpetrated against them both by Taboada, the warden, and the supervisor, Lieutenant Rozabal, who drove them from sun up to sun down building private mansions and starved them by embezzling the prison food budget.
As the trial went on, the roles were reversed: those who came to accuse found themselves accused, and the accused became the accusers! It was not the revolutionaries who were judged there; judged once and forever was a man named Batista – monstruum horrendum! – and it matters little that these valiant and worthy young men have been condemned, if tomorrow the people will condemn the Dictator and his henchmen! Our men were consigned to the Isle of Pines Prison, in whose circular galleries Castells’ ghost still lingers and where the cries of countless victims still echo; there our young men have been sent to expiate their love of liberty, in bitter confinement, banished from society, torn from their homes and exiled from their country. Is it not clear to you, as I have said before, that in such circumstances it is difficult and disagreeable for this lawyer to fulfill his duty?
As a result of so many turbid and illegal machinations, due to the will of those who govern and the weakness of those who judge, I find myself here in this little room at the Civilian Hospital, where I have been brought to be tried in secret, so that I may not be heard and my voice may be stifled, and so that no one may learn of the things I am going to say. Why, then, do we need that imposing Palace of Justice which the Honorable Judges would without doubt find much more comfortable? I must warn you: it is unwise to administer justice from a hospital room, surrounded by sentinels with fixed bayonets; the citizens might suppose that our justice is sick – and that it is captive.
Let me remind you, your laws of procedure provide that trials shall be ‘public hearings;’ however, the people have been barred altogether from this session of Court. The only civilians admitted here have been two attorneys and six reporters, in whose newspapers the censorship of the press will prevent printing a word I say. I see, as my sole audience in this chamber and in the corridors, nearly a hundred soldiers and officers. I am grateful for the polite and serious attention they give me. I only wish I could have the whole Army before me! I know, one day, this Army will seethe with rage to wash away the terrible, the shameful bloodstains splattered across the military uniform by the present ruthless clique in its lust for power. On that day, oh what a fall awaits those mounted in arrogance on their noble steeds! – provided that the people have not dismounted them long before that!
Finally, I should like to add that no treatise on penal law was allowed me in my cell. I have at my disposal only this tiny code of law lent to me by my learned counsel, Dr. Baudillo Castellanos, the courageous defender of my comrades. In the same way they prevented me from receiving the books of Martí; it seems the prison censorship considered them too subversive. Or is it because I said Martí was the inspirer of the 26th of July? Reference books on any other subject were also denied me during this trial. But it makes no difference! I carry the teachings of the Master in my heart, and in my mind the noble ideas of all men who have defended people’s freedom everywhere!
I am going to make only one request of this court; I trust it will be granted as a compensation for the many abuses and outrages the accused has had to tolerate without protection of the law. I ask that my right to express myself be respected without restraint. Otherwise, even the merest semblance of justice cannot be maintained, and the final episode of this trial would be, more than all the others, one of ignominy and cowardice.
I must admit that I am somewhat disappointed. I had expected that the Honorable Prosecutor would come forward with a grave accusation. I thought he would be ready to justify to the limit his contention, and his reasons why I should be condemned in the name of Law and Justice – what law and what justice? – to 26 years in prison. But no. He has limited himself to reading Article 148 of the Social Defense Code. On the basis of this, plus aggravating circumstances, he requests that I be imprisoned for the lengthy term of 26 years! Two minutes seems a very short time in which to demand and justify that a man be put behind bars for more than a quarter of a century. Can it be that the Honorable Prosecutor is, perhaps, annoyed with the Court? Because as I see it, his laconic attitude in this case clashes with the solemnity with which the Honorable Judges declared, rather proudly, that this was a trial of the greatest importance! I have heard prosecutors speak ten times longer in a simple narcotics case asking for a sentence of just six months. The Honorable Prosecutor has supplied not a word in support of his petition. I am a just man. I realize that for a prosecuting attorney under oath of loyalty to the Constitution of the Republic, it is difficult to come here in the name of an unconstitutional, statutory, de facto government, lacking any legal much less moral basis, to ask that a young Cuban, a lawyer like himself – perhaps as honorable as he, be sent to jail for 26 years. But the Honorable Prosecutor is a gifted man and I have seen much less talented persons write lengthy diatribes in defense of this regime. How then can I suppose that he lacks reason with which to defend it, at least for fifteen minutes, however contemptible that might be to any decent person? It is clear that there is a great conspiracy behind all this.
Honorable Judges: Why such interest in silencing me? Why is every type of argument foregone in order to avoid presenting any target whatsoever against which I might direct my own brief? Is it that they lack any legal, moral or political basis on which to put forth a serious formulation of the question? Are they that afraid of the truth? Do they hope that I, too, will speak for only two minutes and that I will not touch upon the points which have caused certain people sleepless nights since July 26th? Since the prosecutor’s petition was restricted to the mere reading of five lines of an article of the Social Defense Code, might they suppose that I too would limit myself to those same lines and circle round them like some slave turning a millstone? I shall by no means accept such a gag, for in this trial there is much more than the freedom of a single individual at stake. Fundamental matters of principle are being debated here, the right of men to be free is on trial, the very foundations of our existence as a civilized and democratic nation are in the balance. When this trial is over, I do not want to have to reproach myself for any principle left undefended, for any truth left unsaid, for any crime not denounced.
The Honorable Prosecutor’s famous little article hardly deserves a minute of my time. I shall limit myself for the moment to a brief legal skirmish against it, because I want to clear the field for an assault against all the endless lies and deceits, the hypocrisy, conventionalism and moral cowardice that have set the stage for the crude comedy which since the 10th of March – and even before then – has been called Justice in Cuba.
It is a fundamental principle of criminal law that an imputed offense must correspond exactly to the type of crime described by law. If no law applies exactly to the point in question, then there is no offense.
The article in question reads textually: ‘A penalty of imprisonment of from three to ten years shall be imposed upon the perpetrator of any act aimed at bringing about an armed uprising against the Constitutional Powers of the State. The penalty shall be imprisonment for from five to twenty years, in the event that insurrection actually be carried into effect.’
In what country is the Honorable Prosecutor living? Who has told him that we have sought to bring about an uprising against the Constitutional Powers of the State? Two things are self-evident. First of all, the dictatorship that oppresses the nation is not a constitutional power, but an unconstitutional one: it was established against the Constitution, over the head of the Constitution, violating the legitimate Constitution of the Republic. The legitimate Constitution is that which emanates directly from a sovereign people. I shall demonstrate this point fully later on, notwithstanding all the subterfuges contrived by cowards and traitors to justify the unjustifiable. Secondly, the article refers to Powers, in the plural, as in the case of a republic governed by a Legislative Power, an Executive Power, and a Judicial Power which balance and counterbalance one another. We have fomented a rebellion against one single power, an illegal one, which has usurped and merged into a single whole both the Legislative and Executive Powers of the nation, and so has destroyed the entire system that was specifically safeguarded by the Code now under our analysis. As to the independence of the Judiciary after the 10th of March, I shall not allude to that for I am in no mood for joking … No matter how Article 148 may be stretched, shrunk or amended, not a single comma applies to the events of July 26th. Let us leave this statute alone and await the opportunity to apply it to those who really did foment an uprising against the Constitutional Powers of the State. Later I shall come back to the Code to refresh the Honorable Prosecutor’s memory about certain circumstances he has unfortunately overlooked.
I warn you, I am just beginning! If there is in your hearts a vestige of love for your country, love for humanity, love for justice, listen carefully. I know that I will be silenced for many years; I know that the regime will try to suppress the truth by all possible means; I know that there will be a conspiracy to bury me in oblivion. But my voice will not be stifled – it will rise from my breast even when I feel most alone, and my heart will give it all the fire that callous cowards deny it.
From a shack in the mountains on Monday, July 27th, I listened to the dictator’s voice on the air while there were still 18 of our men in arms against the government. Those who have never experienced similar moments will never know that kind of bitterness and indignation. While the long-cherished hopes of freeing our people lay in ruins about us we heard those crushed hopes gloated over by a tyrant more vicious, more arrogant than ever. The endless stream of lies and slanders, poured forth in his crude, odious, repulsive language, may only be compared to the endless stream of clean young blood which had flowed since the previous night – with his knowledge, consent, complicity and approval – being spilled by the most inhuman gang of assassins it is possible to imagine. To have believed him for a single moment would have sufficed to fill a man of conscience with remorse and shame for the rest of his life. At that time I could not even hope to brand his miserable forehead with the mark of truth which condemns him for the rest of his days and for all time to come. Already a circle of more than a thousand men, armed with weapons more powerful than ours and with peremptory orders to bring in our bodies, was closing in around us. Now that the truth is coming out, now that speaking before you I am carrying out the mission I set for myself, I may die peacefully and content. So I shall not mince my words about those savage murderers.
I must pause to consider the facts for a moment. The government itself said the attack showed such precision and perfection that it must have been planned by military strategists. Nothing could have been farther from the truth! The plan was drawn up by a group of young men, none of whom had any military experience at all. I will reveal their names, omitting two who are neither dead nor in prison: Abel Santamaría, José Luis Tasende, Renato Guitart Rosell, Pedro Miret, Jesús Montané and myself. Half of them are dead, and in tribute to their memory I can say that although they were not military experts they had enough patriotism to have given, had we not been at such a great disadvantage, a good beating to that entire lot of generals together, those generals of the 10th of March who are neither soldiers nor patriots. Much more difficult than the planning of the attack was our organizing, training, mobilizing and arming men under this repressive regime with its millions of dollars spent on espionage, bribery and information services. Nevertheless, all this was carried out by those men and many others like them with incredible seriousness, discretion and discipline. Still more praiseworthy is the fact that they gave this task everything they had; ultimately, their very lives.
The final mobilization of men who came to this province from the most remote towns of the entire island was accomplished with admirable precision and in absolute secrecy. It is equally true that the attack was carried out with magnificent coordination. It began simultaneously at 5:15 a.m. in both Bayamo and Santiago de Cuba; and one by one, with an exactitude of minutes and seconds prepared in advance, the buildings surrounding the barracks fell to our forces. Nevertheless, in the interest of truth and even though it may detract from our merit, I am also going to reveal for the first time a fact that was fatal: due to a most unfortunate error, half of our forces, and the better armed half at that, went astray at the entrance to the city and were not on hand to help us at the decisive moment. Abel Santamaría, with 21 men, had occupied the Civilian Hospital; with him went a doctor and two of our women comrades to attend to the wounded. Raúl Castro, with ten men, occupied the Palace of Justice, and it was my responsibility to attack the barracks with the rest, 95 men. Preceded by an advance group of eight who had forced Gate Three, I arrived with the first group of 45 men. It was precisely here that the battle began, when my car ran into an outside patrol armed with machine guns. The reserve group which had almost all the heavy weapons (the light arms were with the advance group), turned up the wrong street and lost its way in an unfamiliar city. I must clarify the fact that I do not for a moment doubt the courage of those men; they experienced great anguish and desperation when they realized they were lost. Because of the type of action it was and because the contending forces were wearing identically colored uniforms, it was not easy for these men to re-establish contact with us. Many of them, captured later on, met death with true heroism.
Everyone had instructions, first of all, to be humane in the struggle. Never was a group of armed men more generous to the adversary. From the beginning we took numerous prisoners – nearly twenty – and there was one moment when three of our men – Ramiro Valdés, José Suárez and Jesús Montané – managed to enter a barrack and hold nearly fifty soldiers prisoners for a short time. Those soldiers testified before the Court, and without exception they all acknowledged that we treated them with absolute respect, that we didn’t even subject them to one scoffing remark. In line with this, I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the Prosecutor for one thing in the trial of my comrades: when he made his report he was fair enough to acknowledge as an incontestable fact that we maintained a high spirit of chivalry throughout the struggle.
Discipline among the soldiers was very poor. They finally defeated us because of their superior numbers – fifteen to one – and because of the protection afforded them by the defenses of the fortress. Our men were much better marksmen, as our enemies themselves conceded. There was a high degree of courage on both sides.
In analyzing the reasons for our tactical failure, apart from the regrettable error already mentioned, I believe we made a mistake by dividing the commando unit we had so carefully trained. Of our best trained men and boldest leaders, there were 27 in Bayamo, 21 at the Civilian Hospital and 10 at the Palace of Justice. If our forces had been distributed differently the outcome of the battle might have been different. The clash with the patrol (purely accidental, since the unit might have been at that point twenty seconds earlier or twenty seconds later) alerted the camp, and gave it time to mobilize. Otherwise it would have fallen into our hands without a shot fired, since we already controlled the guard post. On the other hand, except for the .22 caliber rifles, for which there were plenty of bullets, our side was very short of ammunition. Had we had hand grenades, the Army would not have been able to resist us for fifteen minutes.
When I became convinced that all efforts to take the barracks were now useless, I began to withdraw our men in groups of eight and ten. Our retreat was covered by six expert marksmen under the command of Pedro Miret and Fidel Labrador; heroically they held off the Army’s advance. Our losses in the battle had been insignificant; 95% of our casualties came from the Army’s inhumanity after the struggle. The group at the Civilian Hospital only had one casualty; the rest of that group was trapped when the troops blocked the only exit; but our youths did not lay down their arms until their very last bullet was gone. With them was Abel Santamaría, the most generous, beloved and intrepid of our young men, whose glorious resistance immortalizes him in Cuban history. We shall see the fate they met and how Batista sought to punish the heroism of our youth.
We planned to continue the struggle in the mountains in case the attack on the regiment failed. In Siboney I was able to gather a third of our forces; but many of these men were now discouraged. About twenty of them decided to surrender; later we shall see what became of them. The rest, 18 men, with what arms and ammunition were left, followed me into the mountains. The terrain was completely unknown to us. For a week we held the heights of the Gran Piedra range and the Army occupied the foothills. We could not come down; they didn’t risk coming up. It was not force of arms, but hunger and thirst that ultimately overcame our resistance. I had to divide the men into smaller groups. Some of them managed to slip through the Army lines; others were surrendered by Monsignor Pérez Serantes. Finally only two comrades remained with me – José Suárez and Oscar Alcalde. While the three of us were totally exhausted, a force led by Lieutenant Sarría surprised us in our sleep at dawn. This was Saturday, August 1st. By that time the slaughter of prisoners had ceased as a result of the people’s protest. This officer, a man of honor, saved us from being murdered on the spot with our hands tied behind us.
I need not deny here the stupid statements by Ugalde Carrillo and company, who tried to stain my name in an effort to mask their own cowardice, incompetence, and criminality. The facts are clear enough.
My purpose is not to bore the court with epic narratives. All that I have said is essential for a more precise understanding of what is yet to come.
Let me mention two important facts that facilitate an objective judgement of our attitude. First: we could have taken over the regiment simply by seizing all the high ranking officers in their homes. This possibility was rejected for the very humane reason that we wished to avoid scenes of tragedy and struggle in the presence of their families. Second: we decided not to take any radio station over until the Army camp was in our power. This attitude, unusually magnanimous and considerate, spared the citizens a great deal of bloodshed. With only ten men I could have seized a radio station and called the people to revolt. There is no questioning the people’s will to fight. I had a recording of Eduardo Chibás’ last message over the CMQ radio network, and patriotic poems and battle hymns capable of moving the least sensitive, especially with the sounds of live battle in their ears. But I did not want to use them although our situation was desperate.
The regime has emphatically repeated that our Movement did not have popular support. I have never heard an assertion so naive, and at the same time so full of bad faith. The regime seeks to show submission and cowardice on the part of the people. They all but claim that the people support the dictatorship; they do not know how offensive this is to the brave Orientales. Santiago thought our attack was only a local disturbance between two factions of soldiers; not until many hours later did they realize what had really happened. Who can doubt the valor, civic pride and limitless courage of the rebel and patriotic people of Santiago de Cuba? If Moncada had fallen into our hands, even the women of Santiago de Cuba would have risen in arms. Many were the rifles loaded for our fighters by the nurses at the Civilian Hospital. They fought alongside us. That is something we will never forget.
It was never our intention to engage the soldiers of the regiment in combat. We wanted to seize control of them and their weapons in a surprise attack, arouse the people and call the soldiers to abandon the odious flag of the tyranny and to embrace the banner of freedom; to defend the supreme interests of the nation and not the petty interests of a small clique; to turn their guns around and fire on the people’s enemies and not on the people, among whom are their own sons and fathers; to unite with the people as the brothers that they are instead of opposing the people as the enemies the government tries to make of them; to march behind the only beautiful ideal worthy of sacrificing one’s life – the greatness and happiness of one’s country. To those who doubt that many soldiers would have followed us, I ask: What Cuban does not cherish glory? What heart is not set aflame by the promise of freedom?
The Navy did not fight against us, and it would undoubtedly have come over to our side later on. It is well known that that branch of the Armed Forces is the least dominated by the Dictatorship and that there is a very intense civic conscience among its members. But, as to the rest of the national armed forces, would they have fought against a people in revolt? I declare that they would not! A soldier is made of flesh and blood; he thinks, observes, feels. He is susceptible to the opinions, beliefs, sympathies and antipathies of the people. If you ask his opinion, he may tell you he cannot express it; but that does not mean he has no opinion. He is affected by exactly the same problems that affect other citizens – subsistence, rent, the education of his children, their future, etc. Everything of this kind is an inevitable point of contact between him and the people and everything of this kind relates him to the present and future situation of the society in which he lives. It is foolish to imagine that the salary a soldier receives from the State – a modest enough salary at that – should resolve the vital problems imposed on him by his needs, duties and feelings as a member of his community.
This brief explanation has been necessary because it is basic to a consideration to which few people, until now, have paid any attention – soldiers have a deep respect for the feelings of the majority of the people! During the Machado regime, in the same proportion as popular antipathy increased, the loyalty of the Army visibly decreased. This was so true that a group of women almost succeeded in subverting Camp Columbia. But this is proven even more clearly by a recent development. While Grau San Martín’s regime was able to preserve its maximum popularity among the people, unscrupulous ex-officers and power-hungry civilians attempted innumerable conspiracies in the Army, although none of them found a following in the rank and file.
The March 10th coup took place at the moment when the civil government’s prestige had dwindled to its lowest ebb, a circumstance of which Batista and his clique took advantage. Why did they not strike their blow after the first of June? Simply because, had they waited for the majority of the nation to express its will at the polls, the troops would not have responded to the conspiracy!
Consequently, a second assertion can be made: the Army has never revolted against a regime with a popular majority behind it. These are historic truths, and if Batista insists on remaining in power at all costs against the will of the majority of Cubans, his end will be more tragic than that of Gerardo Machado.
I have a right to express an opinion about the Armed Forces because I defended them when everyone else was silent. And I did this neither as a conspirator, nor from any kind of personal interest – for we then enjoyed full constitutional prerogatives. I was prompted only by humane instincts and civic duty. In those days, the newspaper Alerta was one of the most widely read because of its position on national political matters. In its pages I campaigned against the forced labor to which the soldiers were subjected on the private estates of high civil personages and military officers. On March 3rd, 1952 I supplied the Courts with data, photographs, films and other proof denouncing this state of affairs. I also pointed out in those articles that it was elementary decency to increase army salaries. I should like to know who else raised his voice on that occasion to protest against all this injustice done to the soldiers. Certainly not Batista and company, living well-protected on their luxurious estates, surrounded by all kinds of security measures, while I ran a thousand risks with neither bodyguards nor arms.
Just as I defended the soldiers then, now – when all others are once more silent – I tell them that they allowed themselves to be miserably deceived; and to the deception and shame of March 10th they have added the disgrace, the thousand times greater disgrace, of the fearful and unjustifiable crimes of Santiago de Cuba. From that time since, the uniform of the Army is splattered with blood. And as last year I told the people and cried out before the Courts that soldiers were working as slaves on private estates, today I make the bitter charge that there are soldiers stained from head to toe with the blood of the Cuban youths they have tortured and slain. And I say as well that if the Army serves the Republic, defends the nation, respects the people and protects the citizenry then it is only fair that the soldier should earn at least a hundred pesos a month. But if the soldiers slay and oppress the people, betray the nation and defend only the interests of one small group, then the Army deserves not a cent of the Republic’s money and Camp Columbia should be converted into a school with ten thousand orphans living there instead of soldiers.
I want to be just above all else, so I can’t blame all the soldiers for the shameful crimes that stain a few evil and treacherous Army men. But every honorable and upstanding soldier who loves his career and his uniform is dutybound to demand and to fight for the cleansing of this guilt, to avenge this betrayal and to see the guilty punished. Otherwise the soldier’s uniform will forever be a mark of infamy instead of a source of pride.
Of course the March 10th regime had no choice but to remove the soldiers from the private estates. But it did so only to put them to work as doormen, chauffeurs, servants and bodyguards for the whole rabble of petty politicians who make up the party of the Dictatorship. Every fourth or fifth rank official considers himself entitled to the services of a soldier to drive his car and to watch over him as if he were constantly afraid of receiving the kick in the pants he so justly deserves.
If they had been at all interested in promoting real reforms, why did the regime not confiscate the estates and the millions of men like Genovevo Pérez Dámera, who acquired their fortunes by exploiting soldiers, driving them like slaves and misappropriating the funds of the Armed Forces? But no: Genovevo Pérez and others like him no doubt still have soldiers protecting them on their estates because the March 10th generals, deep in their hearts, aspire to the same future and can’t allow that kind of precedent to be set.
The 10th of March was a miserable deception, yes … After Batista and his band of corrupt and disreputable politicians had failed in their electoral plan, they took advantage of the Army’s discontent and used it to climb to power on the backs of the soldiers. And I know there are many Army men who are disgusted because they have been disappointed. At first their pay was raised, but later, through deductions and reductions of every kind, it was lowered again. Many of the old elements, who had drifted away from the Armed Forces, returned to the ranks and blocked the way of young, capable and valuable men who might otherwise have advanced. Good soldiers have been neglected while the most scandalous nepotism prevails. Many decent military men are now asking themselves what need that Armed Forces had to assume the tremendous historical responsibility of destroying our Constitution merely to put a group of immoral men in power, men of bad reputation, corrupt, politically degenerate beyond redemption, who could never again have occupied a political post had it not been at bayonet-point; and they weren’t even the ones with the bayonets in their hands …
On the other hand, the soldiers endure a worse tyranny than the civilians. They are under constant surveillance and not one of them enjoys the slightest security in his job. Any unjustified suspicion, any gossip, any intrigue, or denunciation, is sufficient to bring transfer, dishonorable discharge or imprisonment. Did not Tabernilla, in a memorandum, forbid them to talk with anyone opposed to the government, that is to say, with ninety-nine percent of the people? … What a lack of confidence! … Not even the vestal virgins of Rome had to abide by such a rule! As for the much publicized little houses for enlisted men, there aren’t 300 on the whole Island; yet with what has been spent on tanks, guns and other weaponry every soldier might have a place to live. Batista isn’t concerned with taking care of the Army, but that the Army take care of him! He increases the Army’s power of oppression and killing but does not improve living conditions for the soldiers. Triple guard duty, constant confinement to barracks, continuous anxiety, the enmity of the people, uncertainty about the future – this is what has been given to the soldier. In other words: ‘Die for the regime, soldier, give it your sweat and blood. We shall dedicate a speech to you and award you a posthumous promotion (when it no longer matters) and afterwards … we shall go on living luxuriously, making ourselves rich. Kill, abuse, oppress the people. When the people get tired and all this comes to an end, you can pay for our crimes while we go abroad and live like kings. And if one day we return, don’t you or your children knock on the doors of our mansions, for we shall be millionaires and millionaires do not mingle with the poor. Kill, soldier, oppress the people, die for the regime, give your sweat and blood …’
But if blind to this sad truth, a minority of soldiers had decided to fight the people, the people who were going to liberate them from tyranny, victory still would have gone to the people. The Honorable Prosecutor was very interested in knowing our chances for success. These chances were based on considerations of technical, military and social order. They have tried to establish the myth that modern arms render the people helpless in overthrowing tyrants. Military parades and the pompous display of machines of war are used to perpetuate this myth and to create a complex of absolute impotence in the people. But no weaponry, no violence can vanquish the people once they are determined to win back their rights. Both past and present are full of examples. The most recent is the revolt in Bolivia, where miners with dynamite sticks smashed and defeated regular army regiments.
Fortunately, we Cubans need not look for examples abroad. No example is as inspiring as that of our own land. During the war of 1895 there were nearly half a million armed Spanish soldiers in Cuba, many more than the Dictator counts upon today to hold back a population five times greater. The arms of the Spaniards were, incomparably, both more up to date and more powerful than those of our mambises. Often the Spaniards were equipped with field artillery and the infantry used breechloaders similar to those still in use by the infantry of today. The Cubans were usually armed with no more than their machetes, for their cartridge belts were almost always empty. There is an unforgettable passage in the history of our War of Independence, narrated by General Miró Argenter, Chief of Antonio Maceo’s General Staff. I managed to bring it copied on this scrap of paper so I wouldn’t have to depend upon my memory:
‘Untrained men under the command of Pedro Delgado, most of them equipped only with machetes, were virtually annihilated as they threw themselves on the solid rank of Spaniards. It is not an exaggeration to assert that of every fifty men, 25 were killed. Some even attacked the Spaniards with their bare fists, without machetes, without even knives. Searching through the reeds by the Hondo River, we found fifteen more dead from the Cuban party, and it was not immediately clear what group they belonged to, They did not appear to have shouldered arms, their clothes were intact and only tin drinking cups hung from their waists; a few steps further on lay the dead horse, all its equipment in order. We reconstructed the climax of the tragedy. These men, following their daring chief, Lieutenant Colonel Pedro Delgado, had earned heroes’ laurels: they had thrown themselves against bayonets with bare hands, the clash of metal which was heard around them was the sound of their drinking cups banging against the saddlehorn. Maceo was deeply moved. This man so used to seeing death in all its forms murmured this praise: “I had never seen anything like this, untrained and unarmed men attacking the Spaniards with only drinking cups for weapons. And I called it impedimenta!”‘
This is how peoples fight when they want to win their freedom; they throw stones at airplanes and overturn tanks!
As soon as Santiago de Cuba was in our hands we would immediately have readied the people of Oriente for war. Bayamo was attacked precisely to locate our advance forces along the Cauto River. Never forget that this province, which has a million and a half inhabitants today, is the most rebellious and patriotic in Cuba. It was this province that sparked the fight for independence for thirty years and paid the highest price in blood, sacrifice and heroism. In Oriente you can still breathe the air of that glorious epic. At dawn, when the cocks crow as if they were bugles calling soldiers to reveille, and when the sun rises radiant over the rugged mountains, it seems that once again we will live the days of Yara or Baire!
I stated that the second consideration on which we based our chances for success was one of social order. Why were we sure of the people’s support? When we speak of the people we are not talking about those who live in comfort, the conservative elements of the nation, who welcome any repressive regime, any dictatorship, any despotism, prostrating themselves before the masters of the moment until they grind their foreheads into the ground. When we speak of struggle and we mention the people we mean the vast unredeemed masses, those to whom everyone makes promises and who are deceived by all; we mean the people who yearn for a better, more dignified and more just nation; who are moved by ancestral aspirations to justice, for they have suffered injustice and mockery generation after generation; those who long for great and wise changes in all aspects of their life; people who, to attain those changes, are ready to give even the very last breath they have when they believe in something or in someone, especially when they believe in themselves. The first condition of sincerity and good faith in any endeavor is to do precisely what nobody else ever does, that is, to speak with absolute clarity, without fear. The demagogues and professional politicians who manage to perform the miracle of being right about everything and of pleasing everyone are, necessarily, deceiving everyone about everything. The revolutionaries must proclaim their ideas courageously, define their principles and express their intentions so that no one is deceived, neither friend nor foe.
In terms of struggle, when we talk about people we’re talking about the six hundred thousand Cubans without work, who want to earn their daily bread honestly without having to emigrate from their homeland in search of a livelihood; the five hundred thousand farm laborers who live in miserable shacks, who work four months of the year and starve the rest, sharing their misery with their children, who don’t have an inch of land to till and whose existence would move any heart not made of stone; the four hundred thousand industrial workers and laborers whose retirement funds have been embezzled, whose benefits are being taken away, whose homes are wretched quarters, whose salaries pass from the hands of the boss to those of the moneylender, whose future is a pay reduction and dismissal, whose life is endless work and whose only rest is the tomb; the one hundred thousand small farmers who live and die working land that is not theirs, looking at it with the sadness of Moses gazing at the promised land, to die without ever owning it, who like feudal serfs have to pay for the use of their parcel of land by giving up a portion of its produce, who cannot love it, improve it, beautify it nor plant a cedar or an orange tree on it because they never know when a sheriff will come with the rural guard to evict them from it; the thirty thousand teachers and professors who are so devoted, dedicated and so necessary to the better destiny of future generations and who are so badly treated and paid; the twenty thousand small business men weighed down by debts, ruined by the crisis and harangued by a plague of grafting and venal officials; the ten thousand young professional people: doctors, engineers, lawyers, veterinarians, school teachers, dentists, pharmacists, newspapermen, painters, sculptors, etc., who finish school with their degrees anxious to work and full of hope, only to find themselves at a dead end, all doors closed to them, and where no ears hear their clamor or supplication. These are the people, the ones who know misfortune and, therefore, are capable of fighting with limitless courage! To these people whose desperate roads through life have been paved with the bricks of betrayal and false promises, we were not going to say: ‘We will give you …’ but rather: ‘Here it is, now fight for it with everything you have, so that liberty and happiness may be yours!’
The five revolutionary laws that would have been proclaimed immediately after the capture of the Moncada Barracks and would have been broadcast to the nation by radio must be included in the indictment. It is possible that Colonel Chaviano may deliberately have destroyed these documents, but even if he has I remember them.
The first revolutionary law would have returned power to the people and proclaimed the 1940 Constitution the Supreme Law of the State until such time as the people should decide to modify or change it. And in order to effect its implementation and punish those who violated it – there being no electoral organization to carry this out – the revolutionary movement, as the circumstantial incarnation of this sovereignty, the only source of legitimate power, would have assumed all the faculties inherent therein, except that of modifying the Constitution itself: in other words, it would have assumed the legislative, executive and judicial powers.
This attitude could not be clearer nor more free of vacillation and sterile charlatanry. A government acclaimed by the mass of rebel people would be vested with every power, everything necessary in order to proceed with the effective implementation of popular will and real justice. From that moment, the Judicial Power – which since March 10th had placed itself against and outside the Constitution – would cease to exist and we would proceed to its immediate and total reform before it would once again assume the power granted it by the Supreme Law of the Republic. Without these previous measures, a return to legality by putting its custody back into the hands that have crippled the system so dishonorably would constitute a fraud, a deceit, one more betrayal.
The second revolutionary law would give non-mortgageable and non-transferable ownership of the land to all tenant and subtenant farmers, lessees, share croppers and squatters who hold parcels of five caballerías of land or less, and the State would indemnify the former owners on the basis of the rental which they would have received for these parcels over a period of ten years.
The third revolutionary law would have granted workers and employees the right to share 30% of the profits of all the large industrial, mercantile and mining enterprises, including the sugar mills. The strictly agricultural enterprises would be exempt in consideration of other agrarian laws which would be put into effect.
The fourth revolutionary law would have granted all sugar planters the right to share 55% of sugar production and a minimum quota of forty thousand arrobas for all small tenant farmers who have been established for three years or more.
The fifth revolutionary law would have ordered the confiscation of all holdings and ill-gotten gains of those who had committed frauds during previous regimes, as well as the holdings and ill-gotten gains of all their legates and heirs. To implement this, special courts with full powers would gain access to all records of all corporations registered or operating in this country, in order to investigate concealed funds of illegal origin, and to request that foreign governments extradite persons and attach holdings rightfully belonging to the Cuban people. Half of the property recovered would be used to subsidize retirement funds for workers and the other half would be used for hospitals, asylums and charitable organizations.
Furthermore, it was declared that the Cuban policy in the Americas would be one of close solidarity with the democratic peoples of this continent, and that all those politically persecuted by bloody tyrannies oppressing our sister nations would find generous asylum, brotherhood and bread in the land of Martí; not the persecution, hunger and treason they find today. Cuba should be the bulwark of liberty and not a shameful link in the chain of despotism.
These laws would have been proclaimed immediately. As soon as the upheaval ended and prior to a detailed and far reaching study, they would have been followed by another series of laws and fundamental measures, such as the Agrarian Reform, the Integral Educational Reform, nationalization of the electric power trust and the telephone trust, refund to the people of the illegal and repressive rates these companies have charged, and payment to the treasury of all taxes brazenly evaded in the past.
All these laws and others would be based on the exact compliance of two essential articles of our Constitution: one of them orders the outlawing of large estates, indicating the maximum area of land any one person or entity may own for each type of agricultural enterprise, by adopting measures which would tend to revert the land to the Cubans. The other categorically orders the State to use all means at its disposal to provide employment to all those who lack it and to ensure a decent livelihood to each manual or intellectual laborer. None of these laws can be called unconstitutional. The first popularly elected government would have to respect them, not only because of moral obligations to the nation, but because when people achieve something they have yearned for throughout generations, no force in the world is capable of taking it away again.
The problem of the land, the problem of industrialization, the problem of housing, the problem of unemployment, the problem of education and the problem of the people’s health: these are the six problems we would take immediate steps to solve, along with restoration of civil liberties and political democracy.
This exposition may seem cold and theoretical if one does not know the shocking and tragic conditions of the country with regard to these six problems, along with the most humiliating political oppression.
Eighty-five per cent of the small farmers in Cuba pay rent and live under constant threat of being evicted from the land they till. More than half of our most productive land is in the hands of foreigners. In Oriente, the largest province, the lands of the United Fruit Company and the West Indian Company link the northern and southern coasts. There are two hundred thousand peasant families who do not have a single acre of land to till to provide food for their starving children. On the other hand, nearly three hundred thousand caballerías of cultivable land owned by powerful interests remain uncultivated. If Cuba is above all an agricultural State, if its population is largely rural, if the city depends on these rural areas, if the people from our countryside won our war of independence, if our nation’s greatness and prosperity depend on a healthy and vigorous rural population that loves the land and knows how to work it, if this population depends on a State that protects and guides it, then how can the present state of affairs be allowed to continue?
Except for a few food, lumber and textile industries, Cuba continues to be primarily a producer of raw materials. We export sugar to import candy, we export hides to import shoes, we export iron to import plows … Everyone agrees with the urgent need to industrialize the nation, that we need steel industries, paper and chemical industries, that we must improve our cattle and grain production, the technology and processing in our food industry in order to defend ourselves against the ruinous competition from Europe in cheese products, condensed milk, liquors and edible oils, and the United States in canned goods; that we need cargo ships; that tourism should be an enormous source of revenue. But the capitalists insist that the workers remain under the yoke. The State sits back with its arms crossed and industrialization can wait forever.
Just as serious or even worse is the housing problem. There are two hundred thousand huts and hovels in Cuba; four hundred thousand families in the countryside and in the cities live cramped in huts and tenements without even the minimum sanitary requirements; two million two hundred thousand of our urban population pay rents which absorb between one fifth and one third of their incomes; and two million eight hundred thousand of our rural and suburban population lack electricity. We have the same situation here: if the State proposes the lowering of rents, landlords threaten to freeze all construction; if the State does not interfere, construction goes on so long as landlords get high rents; otherwise they would not lay a single brick even though the rest of the population had to live totally exposed to the elements. The utilities monopoly is no better; they extend lines as far as it is profitable and beyond that point they don’t care if people have to live in darkness for the rest of their lives. The State sits back with its arms crossed and the people have neither homes nor electricity.
Our educational system is perfectly compatible with everything I’ve just mentioned. Where the peasant doesn’t own the land, what need is there for agricultural schools? Where there is no industry, what need is there for technical or vocational schools? Everything follows the same absurd logic; if we don’t have one thing we can’t have the other. In any small European country there are more than 200 technological and vocational schools; in Cuba only six such schools exist, and their graduates have no jobs for their skills. The little rural schoolhouses are attended by a mere half of the school age children – barefooted, half-naked and undernourished – and frequently the teacher must buy necessary school materials from his own salary. Is this the way to make a nation great?
Only death can liberate one from so much misery. In this respect, however, the State is most helpful – in providing early death for the people. Ninety per cent of the children in the countryside are consumed by parasites which filter through their bare feet from the ground they walk on. Society is moved to compassion when it hears of the kidnapping or murder of one child, but it is indifferent to the mass murder of so many thousands of children who die every year from lack of facilities, agonizing with pain. Their innocent eyes, death already shining in them, seem to look into some vague infinity as if entreating forgiveness for human selfishness, as if asking God to stay His wrath. And when the head of a family works only four months a year, with what can he purchase clothing and medicine for his children? They will grow up with rickets, with not a single good tooth in their mouths by the time they reach thirty; they will have heard ten million speeches and will finally die of misery and deception. Public hospitals, which are always full, accept only patients recommended by some powerful politician who, in return, demands the votes of the unfortunate one and his family so that Cuba may continue forever in the same or worse condition.
With this background, is it not understandable that from May to December over a million persons are jobless and that Cuba, with a population of five and a half million, has a greater number of unemployed than France or Italy with a population of forty million each?
When you try a defendant for robbery, Honorable Judges, do you ask him how long he has been unemployed? Do you ask him how many children he has, which days of the week he ate and which he didn’t, do you investigate his social context at all? You just send him to jail without further thought. But those who burn warehouses and stores to collect insurance do not go to jail, even though a few human beings may have gone up in flames. The insured have money to hire lawyers and bribe judges. You imprison the poor wretch who steals because he is hungry; but none of the hundreds who steal millions from the Government has ever spent a night in jail. You dine with them at the end of the year in some elegant club and they enjoy your respect. In Cuba, when a government official becomes a millionaire overnight and enters the fraternity of the rich, he could very well be greeted with the words of that opulent character out of Balzac – Taillefer – who in his toast to the young heir to an enormous fortune, said: ‘Gentlemen, let us drink to the power of gold! Mr. Valentine, a millionaire six times over, has just ascended the throne. He is king, can do everything, is above everyone, as all the rich are. Henceforth, equality before the law, established by the Constitution, will be a myth for him; for he will not be subject to laws: the laws will be subject to him. There are no courts nor are there sentences for millionaires.’
The nation’s future, the solutions to its problems, cannot continue to depend on the selfish interests of a dozen big businessmen nor on the cold calculations of profits that ten or twelve magnates draw up in their air-conditioned offices. The country cannot continue begging on its knees for miracles from a few golden calves, like the Biblical one destroyed by the prophet’s fury. Golden calves cannot perform miracles of any kind. The problems of the Republic can be solved only if we dedicate ourselves to fight for it with the same energy, honesty and patriotism our liberators had when they founded it. Statesmen like Carlos Saladrigas, whose statesmanship consists of preserving the statu quo and mouthing phrases like ‘absolute freedom of enterprise,’ ‘guarantees to investment capital’ and ‘law of supply and demand,’ will not solve these problems. Those ministers can chat away in a Fifth Avenue mansion until not even the dust of the bones of those whose problems require immediate solution remains. In this present-day world, social problems are not solved by spontaneous generation.
A revolutionary government backed by the people and with the respect of the nation, after cleansing the different institutions of all venal and corrupt officials, would proceed immediately to the country’s industrialization, mobilizing all inactive capital, currently estimated at about 1.5 billion pesos, through the National Bank and the Agricultural and Industrial Development Bank, and submitting this mammoth task to experts and men of absolute competence totally removed from all political machines for study, direction, planning and realization.
After settling the one hundred thousand small farmers as owners on the land which they previously rented, a revolutionary government would immediately proceed to settle the land problem. First, as set forth in the Constitution, it would establish the maximum amount of land to be held by each type of agricultural enterprise and would acquire the excess acreage by expropriation, recovery of swampland, planting of large nurseries, and reserving of zones for reforestation. Secondly, it would distribute the remaining land among peasant families with priority given to the larger ones, and would promote agricultural cooperatives for communal use of expensive equipment, freezing plants and unified professional technical management of farming and cattle raising. Finally, it would provide resources, equipment, protection and useful guidance to the peasants.
A revolutionary government would solve the housing problem by cutting all rents in half, by providing tax exemptions on homes inhabited by the owners; by tripling taxes on rented homes; by tearing down hovels and replacing them with modern apartment buildings; and by financing housing all over the island on a scale heretofore unheard of, with the criterion that, just as each rural family should possess its own tract of land, each city family should own its own house or apartment. There is plenty of building material and more than enough manpower to make a decent home for every Cuban. But if we continue to wait for the golden calf, a thousand years will have gone by and the problem will remain the same. On the other hand, today possibilities of taking electricity to the most isolated areas on the island are greater than ever. The use of nuclear energy in this field is now a reality and will greatly reduce the cost of producing electricity.
With these three projects and reforms, the problem of unemployment would automatically disappear and the task of improving public health and fighting against disease would become much less difficult.
Finally, a revolutionary government would undertake the integral reform of the educational system, bringing it into line with the projects just mentioned with the idea of educating those generations which will have the privilege of living in a happier land. Do not forget the words of the Apostle: ‘A grave mistake is being made in Latin America: in countries that live almost completely from the produce of the land, men are being educated exclusively for urban life and are not trained for farm life.’ ‘The happiest country is the one which has best educated its sons, both in the instruction of thought and the direction of their feelings.’ ‘An educated country will always be strong and free.’
The soul of education, however, is the teacher, and in Cuba the teaching profession is miserably underpaid. Despite this, no one is more dedicated than the Cuban teacher. Who among us has not learned his three Rs in the little public schoolhouse? It is time we stopped paying pittances to these young men and women who are entrusted with the sacred task of teaching our youth. No teacher should earn less than 200 pesos, no secondary teacher should make less than 350 pesos, if they are to devote themselves exclusively to their high calling without suffering want. What is more, all rural teachers should have free use of the various systems of transportation; and, at least once every five years, all teachers should enjoy a sabbatical leave of six months with pay so they may attend special refresher courses at home or abroad to keep abreast of the latest developments in their field. In this way, the curriculum and the teaching system can be easily improved. Where will the money be found for all this? When there is an end to the embezzlement of government funds, when public officials stop taking graft from the large companies that owe taxes to the State, when the enormous resources of the country are brought into full use, when we no longer buy tanks, bombers and guns for this country (which has no frontiers to defend and where these instruments of war, now being purchased, are used against the people), when there is more interest in educating the people than in killing them there will be more than enough money.
Cuba could easily provide for a population three times as great as it has now, so there is no excuse for the abject poverty of a single one of its present inhabitants. The markets should be overflowing with produce, pantries should be full, all hands should be working. This is not an inconceivable thought. What is inconceivable is that anyone should go to bed hungry while there is a single inch of unproductive land; that children should die for lack of medical attention; what is inconceivable is that 30% of our farm people cannot write their names and that 99% of them know nothing of Cuba’s history. What is inconceivable is that the majority of our rural people are now living in worse circumstances than the Indians Columbus discovered in the fairest land that human eyes had ever seen.
To those who would call me a dreamer, I quote the words of Martí: ‘A true man does not seek the path where advantage lies, but rather the path where duty lies, and this is the only practical man, whose dream of today will be the law of tomorrow, because he who has looked back on the essential course of history and has seen flaming and bleeding peoples seethe in the cauldron of the ages knows that, without a single exception, the future lies on the side of duty.’
Only when we understand that such a high ideal inspired them can we conceive of the heroism of the young men who fell in Santiago. The meager material means at our disposal was all that prevented sure success. When the soldiers were told that Prío had given us a million pesos, they were told this in the regime’s attempt to distort the most important fact: the fact that our Movement had no link with past politicians: that this Movement is a new Cuban generation with its own ideas, rising up against tyranny; that this Movement is made up of young people who were barely seven years old when Batista perpetrated the first of his crimes in 1934. The lie about the million pesos could not have been more absurd. If, with less than 20,000 pesos, we armed 165 men and attacked a regiment and a squadron, then with a million pesos we could have armed 8,000 men, to attack 50 regiments and 50 squadrons – and Ugalde Carrillo still would not have found out until Sunday, July 26th, at 5:15 a.m. I assure you that for every man who fought, twenty well trained men were unable to fight for lack of weapons. When these young men marched along the streets of Havana in the student demonstration of the Martí Centennial, they solidly packed six blocks. If even 200 more men had been able to fight, or we had possessed 20 more hand grenades, perhaps this Honorable Court would have been spared all this inconvenience.
The politicians spend millions buying off consciences, whereas a handful of Cubans who wanted to save their country’s honor had to face death barehanded for lack of funds. This shows how the country, to this very day, has been governed not by generous and dedicated men, but by political racketeers, the scum of our public life.
With the greatest pride I tell you that in accordance with our principles we have never asked a politician, past or present, for a penny. Our means were assembled with incomparable sacrifice. For example, Elpidio Sosa, who sold his job and came to me one day with 300 pesos ‘for the cause;’ Fernando Chenard, who sold the photographic equipment with which he earned his living; Pedro Marrero, who contributed several months’ salary and who had to be stopped from actually selling the very furniture in his house; Oscar Alcalde, who sold his pharmaceutical laboratory; Jesús Montané, who gave his five years’ savings, and so on with many others, each giving the little he had.
One must have great faith in one’s country to do such a thing. The memory of these acts of idealism bring me straight to the most bitter chapter of this defense – the price the tyranny made them pay for wanting to free Cuba from oppression and injustice.
Beloved corpses, you that once
Were the hope of my Homeland,
Cast upon my forehead
The dust of your decaying bones!
Touch my heart with your cold hands!
Groan at my ears!
Each of my moans will
Turn into the tears of one more tyrant!
Gather around me! Roam about,
That my soul may receive your spirits
And give me the horror of the tombs
For tears are not enough
When one lives in infamous bondage!
Multiply the crimes of November 27th, 1871 by ten and you will have the monstrous and repulsive crimes of July 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th, 1953, in the province of Oriente. These are still fresh in our memory, but someday when years have passed, when the skies of the nation have cleared once more, when tempers have calmed and fear no longer torments our spirits, then we will begin to see the magnitude of this massacre in all its shocking dimension, and future generations will be struck with horror when they look back on these acts of barbarity unprecedented in our history. But I do not want to become enraged. I need clearness of mind and peace in my heavy heart in order to relate the facts as simply as possible, in no sense dramatizing them, but just as they took place. As a Cuban I am ashamed that heartless men should have perpetrated such unthinkable crimes, dishonoring our nation before the rest of the world.
The tyrant Batista was never a man of scruples. He has never hesitated to tell his people the most outrageous lies. To justify his treacherous coup of March 10th, he concocted stories about a fictitious uprising in the Army, supposedly scheduled to take place in April, and which he ‘wanted to avert so that the Republic might not be drenched in blood.’ A ridiculous little tale nobody ever believed! And when he himself did want to drench the Republic in blood, when he wanted to smother in terror and torture the just rebellion of Cuba’s youth, who were not willing to be his slaves, then he contrived still more fantastic lies. How little respect one must have for a people when one tries to deceive them so miserably! On the very day of my arrest I publicly assumed the responsibility for our armed movement of July 26th. If there had been an iota of truth in even one of the many statements the Dictator made against our fighters in his speech of July 27th, it would have been enough to undermine the moral impact of my case. Why, then, was I not brought to trial? Why were medical certificates forged? Why did they violate all procedural laws and ignore so scandalously the rulings of the Court? Why were so many things done, things never before seen in a Court of Law, in order to prevent my appearance at all costs? In contrast, I could not begin to tell you all I went through in order to appear. I asked the Court to bring me to trial in accordance with all established principles, and I denounced the underhanded schemes that were afoot to prevent it. I wanted to argue with them face to face. But they did not wish to face me. Who was afraid of the truth, and who was not?
The statements made by the Dictator at Camp Columbia might be considered amusing if they were not so drenched in blood. He claimed we were a group of hirelings and that there were many foreigners among us. He said that the central part of our plan was an attempt to kill him – him, always him. As if the men who attacked the Moncada Barracks could not have killed him and twenty like him if they had approved of such methods. He stated that our attack had been planned by ex-President Prío, and that it had been financed with Prío’s money. It has been irrefutably proven that no link whatsoever existed between our Movement and the last regime. He claimed that we had machine guns and hand-grenades. Yet the military technicians have stated right here in this Court that we only had one machine gun and not a single hand-grenade. He said that we had beheaded the sentries. Yet death certificates and medical reports of all the Army’s casualties show not one death caused by the blade. But above all and most important, he said that we stabbed patients at the Military Hospital. Yet the doctors from that hospital – Army doctors – have testified that we never even occupied the building, that no patient was either wounded or killed by us, and that the hospital lost only one employee, a janitor, who imprudently stuck his head out of an open window.
Whenever a Chief of State, or anyone pretending to be one, makes declarations to the nation, he speaks not just to hear the sound of his own voice. He always has some specific purpose and expects some specific reaction, or has a given intention. Since our military defeat had already taken place, insofar as we no longer represented any actual threat to the dictatorship, why did they slander us like that? If it is still not clear that this was a blood-drenched speech, that it was simply an attempt to justify the crimes that they had been perpetrating since the night before and that they were going to continue to perpetrate, then, let figures speak for me: On July 27th, in his speech from the military headquarters, Batista said that the assailants suffered 32 dead. By the end of the week the number of dead had risen to more than 80 men. In what battles, where, in what clashes, did these young men die? Before Batista spoke, more than 25 prisoners had been murdered. After Batista spoke fifty more were massacred.
What a great sense of honor those modest Army technicians and professionals had, who did not distort the facts before the Court, but gave their reports adhering to the strictest truth! These surely are soldiers who honor their uniform; these, surely, are men! Neither a real soldier nor a true man can degrade his code of honor with lies and crime. I know that many of the soldiers are indignant at the barbaric assassinations perpetrated. I know that they feel repugnance and shame at the smell of homicidal blood that impregnates every stone of Moncada Barracks.
Now that he has been contradicted by men of honor within his own Army, I defy the dictator to repeat his vile slander against us. I defy him to try to justify before the Cuban people his July 27th speech. Let him not remain silent. Let him speak. Let him say who the assassins are, who the ruthless, the inhumane. Let him tell us if the medals of honor, which he went to pin on the breasts of his heroes of that massacre, were rewards for the hideous crimes they had committed. Let him, from this very moment, assume his responsibility before history. Let him not pretend, at a later date, that the soldiers were acting without direct orders from him! Let him offer the nation an explanation for those 70 murders. The bloodshed was great. The nation needs an explanation. The nation seeks it. The nation demands it.
It is common knowledge that in 1933, at the end of the battle at the National Hotel, some officers were murdered after they surrendered. Bohemia Magazine protested energetically. It is also known that after the surrender of Fort Atarés the besiegers’ machine guns cut down a row of prisoners. And that one soldier, after asking who Blas Hernández was, blasted him with a bullet directly in the face, and for this cowardly act was promoted to the rank of officer. It is well-known in Cuban history that assassination of prisoners was fatally linked with Batista’s name. How naive we were not to foresee this! However, unjustifiable as those killings of 1933 were, they took place in a matter of minutes, in no more time than it took for a round of machine gun fire. What is more, they took place while tempers were still on edge.
This was not the case in Santiago de Cuba. Here all forms of ferocious outrages and cruelty were deliberately overdone. Our men were killed not in the course of a minute, an hour or a day. Throughout an entire week the blows and tortures continued, men were thrown from rooftops and shot. All methods of extermination were incessantly practiced by well-skilled artisans of crime. Moncada Barracks were turned into a workshop of torture and death. Some shameful individuals turned their uniforms into butcher’s aprons. The walls were splattered with blood. The bullets imbedded in the walls were encrusted with singed bits of skin, brains and human hair, the grisly reminders of rifle shots fired full in the face. The grass around the barracks was dark and sticky with human blood. The criminal hands that are guiding the destiny of Cuba had written for the prisoners at the entrance to that den of death the very inscription of Hell: ‘Forsake all hope.’
They did not even attempt to cover appearances. They did not bother in the least to conceal what they were doing. They thought they had deceived the people with their lies and they ended up deceiving themselves. They felt themselves lords and masters of the universe, with power over life and death. So the fear they had experienced upon our attack at daybreak was dissipated in a feast of corpses, in a drunken orgy of blood.
Chronicles of our history, down through four and a half centuries, tell us of many acts of cruelty: the slaughter of defenseless Indians by the Spaniards; the plundering and atrocities of pirates along the coast; the barbarities of the Spanish soldiers during our War of Independence; the shooting of prisoners of the Cuban Army by the forces of Weyler; the horrors of the Machado regime, and so on through the bloody crimes of March, 1935. But never has such a sad and bloody page been written in numbers of victims and in the viciousness of the victimizers, as in Santiago de Cuba. Only one man in all these centuries has stained with blood two separate periods of our history and has dug his claws into the flesh of two generations of Cubans. To release this river of blood, he waited for the Centennial of the Apostle, just after the fiftieth anniversary of the Republic, whose people fought for freedom, human rights and happiness at the cost of so many lives. Even greater is his crime and even more condemnable because the man who perpetrated it had already, for eleven long years, lorded over his people – this people who, by such deep-rooted sentiment and tradition, loves freedom and repudiates evil. This man has furthermore never been sincere, loyal, honest or chivalrous for a single minute of his public life.
He was not content with the treachery of January, 1934, the crimes of March, 1935 and the forty million dollar fortune that crowned his first regime. He had to add the treason of March, 1952, the crimes of July, 1953, and all the millions that only time will reveal. Dante divided his Inferno into nine circles. He put criminals in the seventh, thieves in the eighth and traitors in the ninth. Difficult dilemma the devils will be faced with, when they try to find an adequate spot for this man’s soul – if this man has a soul. The man who instigated the atrocious acts in Santiago de Cuba doesn’t even have a heart.
I know many details of the way in which these crimes were carried out, from the lips of some of the soldiers who, filled with shame, told me of the scenes they had witnessed.
When the fighting was over, the soldiers descended like savage beasts on Santiago de Cuba and they took the first fury of their frustrations out against the defenseless population. In the middle of a street, and far from the site of the fighting, they shot through the chest an innocent child who was playing by his doorstep. When the father approached to pick him up, they shot him through his head. Without a word they shot ‘Niño’ Cala, who was on his way home with a loaf of bread in his hands. It would be an endless task to relate all the crimes and outrages perpetrated against the civilian population. And if the Army dealt thus with those who had had no part at all in the action, you can imagine the terrible fate of the prisoners who had taken part or who were believed to have taken part. Just as, in this trial, they accused many people not at all involved in our attack, they also killed many prisoners who had no involvement whatsoever. The latter are not included in the statistics of victims released by the regime; those statistics refer exclusively to our men. Some day the total number of victims will be known.
The first prisoner killed has our doctor, Mario Muñoz, who bore no arms, wore no uniform, and was dressed in the white smock of a physician. He was a generous and competent man who would have given the same devoted care to the wounded adversary as to a friend. On the road from the Civilian Hospital to the barracks they shot him in the back and left him lying there, face down in a pool of blood. But the mass murder of prisoners did not begin until after three o’clock in the afternoon. Until this hour they awaited orders. Then General Martín Díaz Tamayo arrived from Havana and brought specific instructions from a meeting he had attended with Batista, along with the head of the Army, the head of the Military Intelligence, and others. He said: ‘It is humiliating and dishonorable for the Army to have lost three times as many men in combat as the insurgents did. Ten prisoners must be killed for each dead soldier.’ This was the order!
In every society there are men of base instincts. The sadists, brutes, conveyors of all the ancestral atavisms go about in the guise of human beings, but they are monsters, only more or less restrained by discipline and social habit. If they are offered a drink from a river of blood, they will not be satisfied until they drink the river dry. All these men needed was the order. At their hands the best and noblest Cubans perished: the most valiant, the most honest, the most idealistic. The tyrant called them mercenaries. There they were dying as heroes at the hands of men who collect a salary from the Republic and who, with the arms the Republic gave them to defend her, serve the interests of a clique and murder her best citizens.
Throughout their torturing of our comrades, the Army offered them the chance to save their lives by betraying their ideology and falsely declaring that Prío had given them money. When they indignantly rejected that proposition, the Army continued with its horrible tortures. They crushed their testicles and they tore out their eyes. But no one yielded. No complaint was heard nor a favor asked. Even when they had been deprived of their vital organs, our men were still a thousand times more men than all their tormentors together. Photographs, which do not lie, show the bodies torn to pieces, Other methods were used. Frustrated by the valor of the men, they tried to break the spirit of our women. With a bleeding eye in their hands, a sergeant and several other men went to the cell where our comrades Melba Hernández and Haydée Santamaría were held. Addressing the latter, and showing her the eye, they said: ‘This eye belonged to your brother. If you will not tell us what he refused to say, we will tear out the other.’ She, who loved her valiant brother above all things, replied full of dignity: ‘If you tore out an eye and he did not speak, much less will I.’ Later they came back and burned their arms with lit cigarettes until at last, filled with spite, they told the young Haydée Santamaría: ‘You no longer have a fiancé because we have killed him too.’ But still imperturbable, she answered: ‘He is not dead, because to die for one’s country is to live forever.’ Never had the heroism and the dignity of Cuban womanhood reached such heights.
There wasn’t even any respect for the combat wounded in the various city hospitals. There they were hunted down as prey pursued by vultures. In the Centro Gallego they broke into the operating room at the very moment when two of our critically wounded were receiving blood transfusions. They pulled them off the tables and, as the wounded could no longer stand, they were dragged down to the first floor where they arrived as corpses.
They could not do the same in the Spanish Clinic, where Gustavo Arcos and José Ponce were patients, because they were prevented by Dr. Posada who bravely told them they could enter only over his dead body.
Air and camphor were injected into the veins of Pedro Miret, Abelardo Crespo and Fidel Labrador, in an attempt to kill them at the Military Hospital. They owe their lives to Captain Tamayo, an Army doctor and true soldier of honor who, pistol in hand, wrenched them out of the hands of their merciless captors and transferred them to the Civilian Hospital. These five young men were the only ones of our wounded who survived.
In the early morning hours, groups of our men were removed from the barracks and taken in automobiles to Siboney, La Maya, Songo, and elsewhere. Then they were led out – tied, gagged, already disfigured by the torture – and were murdered in isolated spots. They are recorded as having died in combat against the Army. This went on for several days, and few of the captured prisoners survived. Many were compelled to dig their own graves. One of our men, while he was digging, wheeled around and slashed the face of one of his assassins with his pick. Others were even buried alive, their hands tied behind their backs. Many solitary spots became the graveyards of the brave. On the Army target range alone, five of our men lie buried. Some day these men will be disinterred. Then they will be carried on the shoulders of the people to a place beside the tomb of Martí, and their liberated land will surely erect a monument to honor the memory of the Martyrs of the Centennial.
The last youth they murdered in the surroundings of Santiago de Cuba was Marcos Martí. He was captured with our comrade Ciro Redondo in a cave at Siboney on the morning of Thursday the 30th. These two men were led down the road, with their arms raised, and the soldiers shot Marcos Martí in the back. After he had fallen to the ground, they riddled him with bullets. Redondo was taken to the camp. When Major Pérez Chaumont saw him he exclaimed: ‘And this one? Why have you brought him to me?’ The Court heard this incident from Redondo himself, the young man who survived thanks to what Pérez Chaumont called ‘the soldiers’ stupidity.’
It was the same throughout the province. Ten days after July 26th, a newspaper in this city printed the news that two young men had been found hanged on the road from Manzanillo to Bayamo. Later the bodies were identified as those of Hugo Camejo and Pedro Vélez. Another extraordinary incident took place there: There were three victims – they had been dragged from Manzanillo Barracks at two that morning. At a certain spot on the highway they were taken out, beaten unconscious, and strangled with a rope. But after they had been left for dead, one of them, Andrés García, regained consciousness and hid in a farmer’s house. Thanks to this the Court learned the details of this crime too. Of all our men taken prisoner in the Bayamo area, this is the only survivor.
Near the Cauto River, in a spot known as Barrancas, at the bottom of a pit, lie the bodies of Raúl de Aguiar, Armando del Valle and Andrés Valdés. They were murdered at midnight on the road between Alto Cedro and Palma Soriano by Sergeant Montes de Oca – in charge of the military post at Miranda Barracks – Corporal Maceo, and the Lieutenant in charge of Alta Cedro where the murdered men were captured. In the annals of crime, Sergeant Eulalio Gonzáles – better known as the ‘Tiger’ of Moncada Barracks – deserves a special place. Later this man didn’t have the slightest qualms in bragging about his unspeakable deeds. It was he who with his own hands murdered our comrade Abel Santamaría. But that didn’t satisfy him. One day as he was coming back from the Puerto Boniato Prison, where he raises pedigree fighting cocks in the back courtyard, he got on a bus on which Abel’s mother was also traveling. When this monster realized who she was he began to brag about his grisly deeds, and – in a loud voice so that the woman dressed in mourning could hear him – he said: ‘Yes, I have gouged many eyes out and I expect to continue gouging them out.’ The unprecedented moral degradation our nation is suffering is expressed beyond the power of words in that mother’s sobs of grief before the cowardly insolence of the very man who murdered her son. When these mothers went to Moncada Barracks to ask about their sons, it was with incredible cynicism and sadism that they were told: ‘Surely madam, you may see him at the Santa Ifigenia Hotel where we have put him up for you.’ Either Cuba is not Cuba, or the men responsible for these acts will have to face their reckoning one day. Heartless men, they threw crude insults at the people who bared their heads in reverence as the corpses of the revolutionaries were carried by.
There were so many victims that the government still has not dared make public the complete list. They know their figures are false. They have all the victims’ names, because prior to every murder they recorded all the vital statistics. The whole long process of identification through the National Identification Bureau was a huge farce, and there are families still waiting for word of their sons’ fate. Why has this not been cleared up, after three months?
I wish to state for the record here that all the victims’ pockets were picked to the very last penny and that all their personal effects, rings and watches, were stripped from their bodies and are brazenly being worn today by their assassins.
Honorable Judges, a great deal of what I have just related you already know, from the testimony of many of my comrades. But please note that many key witnesses have been barred from this trial, although they were permitted to attend the sessions of the previous trial. For example, I want to point out that the nurses of the Civilian Hospital are absent, even though they work in the same place where this hearing is being held. They were kept from this Court so that, under my questioning, they would not be able to testify that – besides Dr. Mario Muñoz – twenty more of our men were captured alive. The regime fears that from the questioning of these witnesses some extremely dangerous testimony could find its way into the official transcript.
But Major Pérez Chaumont did appear here and he could not elude my questioning. What we learned from this man, a ‘hero’ who fought only against unarmed and handcuffed men, gives us an idea of what could have been learned at the Courthouse if I had not been isolated from the proceedings. I asked him how many of our men had died in his celebrated skirmishes at Siboney. He hesitated. I insisted and he finally said twenty-one. Since I knew such skirmishes had never taken place, I asked him how many of our men had been wounded. He answered: ‘None. All of them were killed.’ It was then that I asked him, in astonishment, if the soldiers were using nuclear weapons. Of course, where men are shot point blank, there are no wounded. Then I asked him how many casualties the Army had sustained. He replied that two of his men had been wounded. Finally I asked him if either of these men had died, and he said no. I waited. Later, all of the wounded Army soldiers filed by and it was discovered that none of them had been wounded at Siboney. This same Major Pérez Chaumont who hardly flinched at having assassinated twenty-one defenseless young men has built a palatial home in Ciudamar Beach. It’s worth more than 100,000 pesos – his savings after only a few months under Batista’s new rule. And if this is the savings of a Major, imagine how much generals have saved!
Honorable Judges: Where are our men who were captured July 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th? It is known that more than sixty men were captured in the area of Santiago de Cuba. Only three of them and the two women have been brought before the Court. The rest of the accused were seized later. Where are our wounded? Only five of them are alive; the rest were murdered. These figures are irrefutable. On the other hand, twenty of the soldiers who we held prisoner have been presented here and they themselves have declared that they received not even one offensive word from us. Thirty soldiers who were wounded, many in the street fighting, also appeared before you. Not one was killed by us. If the Army suffered losses of nineteen dead and thirty wounded, how is it possible that we should have had eighty dead and only five wounded? Who ever witnessed a battle with 21 dead and no wounded, like these famous battles described by Pérez Chaumont?
We have here the casualty lists from the bitter fighting sustained by the invasion troops in the war of 1895, both in battles where the Cuban army was defeated and where it was victorious. The battle of Los Indios in Las Villas: 12 wounded, none dead. The battle of Mal Tiempo: 4 dead, 23 wounded. Calimete: 16 dead, 64 wounded. La Palma: 39 dead, 88 wounded. Cacarajícara: 5 dead, 13 wounded. Descanso: 4 dead, 45 wounded. San Gabriel de Lombillo: 2 dead, 18 wounded … In all these battles the number of wounded is twice, three times and up to ten times the number of dead, although in those days there were no modern medical techniques by which the percentage of deaths could be reduced. How then, now, can we explain the enormous proportion of sixteen deaths per wounded man, if not by the government’s slaughter of the wounded in the very hospitals, and by the assassination of the other helpless prisoners they had taken? The figures are irrefutable.
‘It is shameful and a dishonor to the Army to have lost three times as many men in combat as those lost by the insurgents; we must kill ten prisoners for each dead soldier.’ This is the concept of honor held by the petty corporals who became generals on March 10th. This is the code of honor they wish to impose on the national Army. A false honor, a feigned honor, an apparent honor based on lies, hypocrisy and crime; a mask of honor molded by those assassins with blood. Who told them that to die fighting is dishonorable? Who told them the honor of an army consists of murdering the wounded and prisoners of war?
In war time, armies that murder prisoners have always earned the contempt and abomination of the entire world. Such cowardice has no justification, even in a case where national territory is invaded by foreign troops. In the words of a South American liberator: ‘Not even the strictest military obedience may turn a soldier’s sword into that of an executioner.’ The honorable soldier does not kill the helpless prisoner after the fight, but rather, respects him. He does not finish off a wounded man, but rather, helps him. He stands in the way of crime and if he cannot prevent it, he acts as did that Spanish captain who, upon hearing the shots of the firing squad that murdered Cuban students, indignantly broke his sword in two and refused to continue serving in that Army.
The soldiers who murdered their prisoners were not worthy of the soldiers who died. I saw many soldiers fight with courage – for example, those in the patrols that fired their machine guns against us in almost hand-to-hand combat, or that sergeant who, defying death, rang the alarm to mobilize the barracks. Some of them live. I am glad. Others are dead. They believed they were doing their duty and in my eyes this makes them worthy of admiration and respect. I deplore only the fact that valiant men should fall for an evil cause. When Cuba is freed, we should respect, shelter and aid the wives and children of those courageous soldiers who perished fighting against us. They are not to blame for Cuba’s miseries. They too are victims of this nefarious situation.
But what honor was earned by the soldiers who died in battle was lost by the generals who ordered prisoners to be killed after they surrendered. Men who became generals overnight, without ever having fired a shot; men who bought their stars with high treason against their country; men who ordered the execution of prisoners taken in battles in which they didn’t even participate: these are the generals of the 10th of March – generals who would not even have been fit to drive the mules that carried the equipment in Antonio Maceo’s army.
The Army suffered three times as many casualties as we did. That was because our men were expertly trained, as the Army men themselves have admitted; and also because we had prepared adequate tactical measures, another fact recognized by the Army. The Army did not perform brilliantly; despite the millions spent on espionage by the Military Intelligence Agency, they were totally taken by surprise, and their hand grenades failed to explode because they were obsolete. And the Army owes all this to generals like Martín Díaz Tamayo and colonels like Ugalde Carrillo and Albert del Río Chaviano. We were not 17 traitors infiltrated into the ranks of the Army, as was the case on March 10th. Instead, we were 165 men who had traveled the length and breadth of Cuba to look death boldly in the face. If the Army leaders had a notion of real military honor they would have resigned their commands rather than trying to wash away their shame and incompetence in the blood of their prisoners.
To kill helpless prisoners and then declare that they died in battle: that is the military capacity of the generals of March 10th. That was the way the worst butchers of Valeriano Weyler behaved in the cruelest years of our War of Independence. The Chronicles of War include the following story: ‘On February 23rd, officer Baldomero Acosta entered Punta Brava with some cavalry when, from the opposite road, a squad of the Pizarro regiment approached, led by a sergeant known in those parts as Barriguilla (Pot Belly). The insurgents exchanged a few shots with Pizarro’s men, then withdrew by the trail that leads from Punta Brava to the village of Guatao. Followed by another battalion of volunteers from Marianao, and a company of troops from the Public Order Corps, who were led by Captain Calvo, Pizarro’s squad of 50 men marched on Guatao … As soon as their first forces entered the village they commenced their massacre – killing twelve of the peaceful inhabitants … The troops led by Captain Calvo speedily rounded up all the civilians that were running about the village, tied them up and took them as prisoners of war to Havana … Not yet satisfied with their outrages, on the outskirts of Guatao they carried out another barbaric action, killing one of the prisoners and horribly wounding the rest. The Marquis of Cervera, a cowardly and palatine soldier, informed Weyler of the pyrrhic victory of the Spanish soldiers; but Major Zugasti, a man of principles, denounced the incident to the government and officially called the murders perpetrated by the criminal Captain Calvo and Sergeant Barriguilla an assassination of peaceful citizens.
‘Weyler’s intervention in this horrible incident and his delight upon learning the details of the massacre may be palpably deduced from the official dispatch that he sent to the Ministry of War concerning these cruelties. “Small column organized by commander Marianao with forces from garrison, volunteers and firemen led by Captain Calvo, fought and destroyed bands of Villanueva and Baldomero Acosta near Punta Brava, killing twenty of theirs, who were handed over to Mayor of Guatao for burial, and taking fifteen prisoners, one of them wounded, we assume there are many wounded among them. One of ours suffered critical wounds, some suffered light bruises and wounds. Weyler.”‘
What is the difference between Weyler’s dispatch and that of Colonel Chaviano detailing the victories of Major Pérez Chaumont? Only that Weyler mentions one wounded soldier in his ranks. Chaviano mentions two. Weyler speaks of one wounded man and fifteen prisoners in the enemy’s ranks. Chaviano records neither wounded men nor prisoners.
Just as I admire the courage of the soldiers who died bravely, I also admire the officers who bore themselves with dignity and did not drench their hands in this blood. Many of the survivors owe their lives to the commendable conduct of officers like Lieutenant Sarría, Lieutenant Campa, Captain Tamayo and others, who were true gentlemen in their treatment of the prisoners. If men like these had not partially saved the name of the Armed Forces, it would be more honorable today to wear a dishrag than to wear an Army uniform.
For my dead comrades, I claim no vengeance. Since their lives were priceless, the murderers could not pay for them even with their own lives. It is not by blood that we may redeem the lives of those who died for their country. The happiness of their people is the only tribute worthy of them.
What is more, my comrades are neither dead nor forgotten; they live today, more than ever, and their murderers will view with dismay the victorious spirit of their ideas rise from their corpses. Let the Apostle speak for me: ‘There is a limit to the tears we can shed at the graveside of the dead. Such limit is the infinite love for the homeland and its glory, a love that never falters, loses hope nor grows dim. For the graves of the martyrs are the highest altars of our reverence.’
… When one dies
In the arms of a grateful country
Agony ends, prison chains break – and
At last, with death, life begins!
Up to this point I have confined myself almost exclusively to relating events. Since I am well aware that I am before a Court convened to judge me, I will now demonstrate that all legal right was on our side alone, and that the verdict imposed on my comrades – the verdict now being sought against me – has no justification in reason, in social morality or in terms of true justice.
I wish to be duly respectful to the Honorable Judges, and I am grateful that you find in the frankness of my plea no animosity towards you. My argument is meant simply to demonstrate what a false and erroneous position the Judicial Power has adopted in the present situation. To a certain extent, each Court is nothing more than a cog in the wheel of the system, and therefore must move along the course determined by the vehicle, although this by no means justifies any individual acting against his principles. I know very well that the oligarchy bears most of the blame. The oligarchy, without dignified protest, abjectly yielded to the dictates of the usurper and betrayed their country by renouncing the autonomy of the Judicial Power. Men who constitute noble exceptions have attempted to mend the system’s mangled honor with their individual decisions. But the gestures of this minority have been of little consequence, drowned as they were by the obsequious and fawning majority. This fatalism, however, will not stop me from speaking the truth that supports my cause. My appearance before this Court may be a pure farce in order to give a semblance of legality to arbitrary decisions, but I am determined to wrench apart with a firm hand the infamous veil that hides so much shamelessness. It is curious: the very men who have brought me here to be judged and condemned have never heeded a single decision of this Court.
Since this trial may, as you said, be the most important trial since we achieved our national sovereignty, what I say here will perhaps be lost in the silence which the dictatorship has tried to impose on me, but posterity will often turn its eyes to what you do here. Remember that today you are judging an accused man, but that you yourselves will be judged not once, but many times, as often as these days are submitted to scrutiny in the future. What I say here will be then repeated many times, not because it comes from my lips, but because the problem of justice is eternal and the people have a deep sense of justice above and beyond the hairsplitting of jurisprudence. The people wield simple but implacable logic, in conflict with all that is absurd and contradictory. Furthermore, if there is in this world a people that utterly abhors favoritism and inequality, it is the Cuban people. To them, justice is symbolized by a maiden with a scale and a sword in her hands. Should she cower before one group and furiously wield that sword against another group, then to the people of Cuba the maiden of justice will seem nothing more than a prostitute brandishing a dagger. My logic is the simple logic of the people.
Let me tell you a story: Once upon a time there was a Republic. It had its Constitution, its laws, its freedoms, a President, a Congress and Courts of Law. Everyone could assemble, associate, speak and write with complete freedom. The people were not satisfied with the government officials at that time, but they had the power to elect new officials and only a few days remained before they would do so. Public opinion was respected and heeded and all problems of common interest were freely discussed. There were political parties, radio and television debates and forums and public meetings. The whole nation pulsated with enthusiasm. This people had suffered greatly and although it was unhappy, it longed to be happy and had a right to be happy. It had been deceived many times and it looked upon the past with real horror. This country innocently believed that such a past could not return; the people were proud of their love of freedom and they carried their heads high in the conviction that liberty would be respected as a sacred right. They felt confident that no one would dare commit the crime of violating their democratic institutions. They wanted a change for the better, aspired to progress; and they saw all this at hand. All their hope was in the future.
Poor country! One morning the citizens woke up dismayed; under the cover of night, while the people slept, the ghosts of the past had conspired and has seized the citizenry by its hands, its feet, and its neck. That grip, those claws were familiar: those jaws, those death-dealing scythes, those boots. No; it was no nightmare; it was a sad and terrible reality: a man named Fulgencio Batista had just perpetrated the appalling crime that no one had expected.
Then a humble citizen of that people, a citizen who wished to believe in the laws of the Republic, in the integrity of its judges, whom he had seen vent their fury against the underprivileged, searched through a Social Defense Code to see what punishment society prescribed for the author of such a coup, and he discovered the following:
‘Whosoever shall perpetrate any deed destined through violent means directly to change in whole or in part the Constitution of the State or the form of the established government shall incur a sentence of six to ten years imprisonment.
‘A sentence of three to ten years imprisonment will be imposed on the author of an act directed to promote an armed uprising against the Constitutional Powers of the State. The sentence increases from five to twenty years if the insurrection is carried out.
‘Whosoever shall perpetrate an act with the specific purpose of preventing, in whole or in part, even temporarily, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the President, or the Supreme Court from exercising their constitutional functions will incur a sentence of from six to ten years imprisonment.
‘Whosoever shall attempt to impede or tamper with the normal course of general elections, will incur a sentence of from four to eight years imprisonment.
‘Whosoever shall introduce, publish, propagate or try to enforce in Cuba instructions, orders or decrees that tend … to promote the unobservance of laws in force, will incur a sentence of from two to six years imprisonment.
‘Whosoever shall assume command of troops, posts, fortresses, military camps, towns, warships, or military aircraft, without the authority to do so, or without express government orders, will incur a sentence of from five to ten years imprisonment.
‘A similar sentence will be passed upon anyone who usurps the exercise of a function held by the Constitution as properly belonging to the powers of State.’
Without telling anyone, Code in one hand and a deposition in the other, that citizen went to the old city building, that old building which housed the Court competent and under obligation to bring cause against and punish those responsible for this deed. He presented a writ denouncing the crimes and asking that Fulgencio Batista and his seventeen accomplices be sentenced to 108 years in prison as decreed by the Social Defense Code; considering also aggravating circumstances of secondary offense treachery, and acting under cover of night.
Days and months passed. What a disappointment! The accused remained unmolested: he strode up and down the country like a great lord and was called Honorable Sir and General: he removed and replaced judges at will. The very day the Courts opened, the criminal occupied the seat of honor in the midst of our august and venerable patriarchs of justice.
Once more the days and the months rolled by, the people wearied of mockery and abuses. There is a limit to tolerance! The struggle began against this man who was disregarding the law, who had usurped power by the use of violence against the will of the people, who was guilty of aggression against the established order, had tortured, murdered, imprisoned and prosecuted those who had taken up the struggle to defend the law and to restore freedom to the people.
Honorable Judges: I am that humble citizen who one day demanded in vain that the Courts punish the power-hungry men who had violated the law and torn our institutions to shreds. Now that it is I who am accused for attempting to overthrow this illegal regime and to restore the legitimate Constitution of the Republic, I am held incommunicado for 76 days and denied the right to speak to anyone, even to my son; between two heavy machine guns I am led through the city. I am transferred to this hospital to be tried secretly with the greatest severity; and the Prosecutor with the Code in his hand solemnly demands that I be sentenced to 26 years in prison.
You will answer that on the former occasion the Courts failed to act because force prevented them from doing so. Well then, confess, this time force will compel you to condemn me. The first time you were unable to punish the guilty; now you will be compelled to punish the innocent. The maiden of justice twice raped.
And so much talk to justify the unjustifiable, to explain the inexplicable and to reconcile the irreconcilable! The regime has reached the point of asserting that ‘Might makes right’ is the supreme law of the land. In other words, that using tanks and soldiers to take over the presidential palace, the national treasury, and the other government offices, and aiming guns at the heart of the people, entitles them to govern the people! The same argument the Nazis used when they occupied the countries of Europe and installed their puppet governments.
I heartily believe revolution to be the source of legal right; but the nocturnal armed assault of March 10th could never be considered a revolution. In everyday language, as José Ingenieros said, it is common to give the name of revolution to small disorders promoted by a group of dissatisfied persons in order to grab, from those in power, both the political sinecures and the economic advantages. The usual result is no more than a change of hands, the dividing up of jobs and benefits. This is not the criterion of a philosopher, as it cannot be that of a cultured man.
Leaving aside the problem of integral changes in the social system, not even on the surface of the public quagmire were we able to discern the slightest motion that could lessen the rampant putrefaction. The previous regime was guilty of petty politics, theft, pillage, and disrespect for human life; but the present regime has increased political skullduggery five-fold, pillage ten-fold, and a hundred-fold the lack of respect for human life.
It was known that Barriguilla had plundered and murdered, that he was a millionaire, that he owned in Havana a good many apartment houses, countless stock in foreign companies, fabulous accounts in American banks, that he agreed to divorce settlements to the tune of eighteen million pesos, that he was a frequent guest in the most lavishly expensive hotels for Yankee tycoons. But no one would ever think of Barriguilla as a revolutionary. Barriguilla is that sergeant of Weyler’s who assassinated twelve Cubans in Guatao. Batista’s men murdered seventy in Santiago de Cuba. De te fabula narratur.
Four political parties governed the country before the 10th of March: the Auténtico, Liberal, Democratic and Republican parties. Two days after the coup, the Republican party gave its support to the new rulers. A year had not yet passed before the Liberal and Democratic parties were again in power: Batista did not restore the Constitution, did not restore civil liberties, did not restore Congress, did not restore universal suffrage, did not restore in the last analysis any of the uprooted democratic institutions. But he did restore Verdeja, Guas Inclán, Salvito García Ramos, Anaya Murillo and the top hierarchy of the traditional government parties, the most corrupt, rapacious, reactionary and antediluvian elements in Cuban politics. So went the ‘revolution’ of Barriguilla!.
Lacking even the most elementary revolutionary content, Batista’s regime represents in every respect a 20 year regression for Cuba. Batista’s regime has exacted a high price from all of us, but primarily from the humble classes which are suffering hunger and misery. Meanwhile the dictatorship has laid waste the nation with commotion, ineptitude and anguish, and now engages in the most loathsome forms of ruthless politics, concocting formula after formula to perpetuate itself in power, even if over a stack of corpses and a sea of blood.
Batista’s regime has not set in motion a single nationwide program of betterment for the people. Batista delivered himself into the hands of the great financial interests. Little else could be expected from a man of his mentality – utterly devoid as he is of ideals and of principles, and utterly lacking the faith, confidence and support of the masses. His regime merely brought with it a change of hands and a redistribution of the loot among a new group of friends, relatives, accomplices and parasitic hangers-on that constitute the political retinue of the Dictator. What great shame the people have been forced to endure so that a small group of egoists, altogether indifferent to the needs of their homeland, may find in public life an easy and comfortable modus vivendi.
How right Eduardo Chibás was in his last radio speech, when he said that Batista was encouraging the return of the colonels, castor oil and the law of the fugitive! Immediately after March 10th, Cubans again began to witness acts of veritable vandalism which they had thought banished forever from their nation. There was an unprecedented attack on a cultural institution: a radio station was stormed by the thugs of the SIM, together with the young hoodlums of the PAU, while broadcasting the ‘University of the Air’ program. And there was the case of the journalist Mario Kuchilán, dragged from his home in the middle of the night and bestially tortured until he was nearly unconscious. There was the murder of the student Rubén Batista and the criminal volleys fired at a peaceful student demonstration next to the wall where Spanish volunteers shot the medical students in 1871. And many cases such as that of Dr. García Bárcena, where right in the courtrooms men have coughed up blood because of the barbaric tortures practiced upon them by the repressive security forces. I will not enumerate the hundreds of cases where groups of citizens have been brutally clubbed – men, women, children and the aged. All of this was being done even before July 26th. Since then, as everyone knows, even Cardinal Arteaga himself was not spared such treatment. Everybody knows he was a victim of repressive agents. According to the official story, he fell prey to a ‘band of thieves’. For once the regime told the truth. For what else is this regime? …
People have just contemplated with horror the case of the journalist who was kidnapped and subjected to torture by fire for twenty days. Each new case brings forth evidence of unheard-of effrontery, of immense hypocrisy: the cowardice of those who shirk responsibility and invariably blame the enemies of the regime. Governmental tactics enviable only by the worst gangster mobs. Even the Nazi criminals were never so cowardly. Hitler assumed responsibility for the massacres of June 30, 1934, stating that for 24 hours he himself had been the German Supreme Court; the henchmen of this dictatorship which defies all comparison because of its baseness, maliciousness and cowardice, kidnap, torture, murder and then loathsomely put the blame on the adversaries of the regime. Typical tactics of Sergeant Barriguilla!
Not once in all the cases I have mentioned, Honorable Judges, have the agents responsible for these crimes been brought to Court to be tried for them. How is this? Was this not to be the regime of public order, peace and respect for human life?
I have related all this in order to ask you now: Can this state of affairs be called a revolution, capable of formulating law and establishing rights? Is it or is it not legitimate to struggle against this regime? And must there not be a high degree of corruption in the courts of law when these courts imprison citizens who try to rid the country of so much infamy?
Cuba is suffering from a cruel and base despotism. You are well aware that resistance to despots is legitimate. This is a universally recognized principle and our 1940 Constitution expressly makes it a sacred right, in the second paragraph of Article 40: ‘It is legitimate to use adequate resistance to protect previously granted individual rights.’ And even if this prerogative had not been provided by the Supreme Law of the Land, it is a consideration without which one cannot conceive of the existence of a democratic collectivity. Professor Infiesta, in his book on Constitutional Law, differentiates between the political and legal constitutions, and states: ‘Sometimes the Legal Constitution includes constitutional principles which, even without being so classified, would be equally binding solely on the basis of the people’s consent, for example, the principle of majority rule or representation in our democracies.’ The right of insurrection in the face of tyranny is one such principle, and whether or not it be included in the Legal Constitution, it is always binding within a democratic society. The presentation of such a case to a high court is one of the most interesting problems of general law. Duguit has said in his Treatise on Constitutional Law: ‘If an insurrection fails, no court will dare to rule that this unsuccessful insurrection was technically no conspiracy, no transgression against the security of the State, inasmuch as, the government being tyrannical, the intention to overthrow it was legitimate.’ But please take note: Duguit does not state, ‘the court ought not to rule.’ He says, ‘no court will dare to rule.’ More explicitly, he means that no court will dare, that no court will have enough courage to do so, under a tyranny. If the court is courageous and does its duty, then yes, it will dare.
Recently there has been a loud controversy concerning the 1940 Constitution. The Court of Social and Constitutional Rights ruled against it in favor of the so-called Statutes. Nevertheless, Honorable Judges, I maintain that the 1940 Constitution is still in force. My statement may seem absurd and extemporaneous to you. But do not be surprised. It is I who am astonished that a court of law should have attempted to deal a death blow to the legitimate Constitution of the Republic. Adhering strictly to facts, truth and reason – as I have done all along – I will prove what I have just stated. The Court of Social and Constitutional Rights was instituted according to Article 172 of the 1940 Constitution, and the supplementary Act of May 31, 1949. These laws, in virtue of which the Court was created, granted it, insofar as problems of unconstitutionality are concerned, a specific and clearly defined area of legal competence: to rule in all matters of appeals claiming the unconstitutionality of laws, legal decrees, resolutions, or acts that deny, diminish, restrain or adulterate the constitutional rights and privileges or that jeopardize the operations of State agencies. Article 194 established very clearly the following: ‘All judges and courts are under the obligation to find solutions to conflicts between the Constitution and the existing laws in accordance with the principle that the former shall always prevail over the latter.’ Therefore, according to the laws that created it, the Court of Social and Constitutional Rights should always rule in favor of the Constitution. When this Court caused the Statutes to prevail above the Constitution of the Republic, it completely overstepped its boundaries and its established field of competence, thereby rendering a decision which is legally null and void. Furthermore, the decision itself is absurd, and absurdities have no validity in law nor in fact, not even from a metaphysical point of view. No matter how venerable a court may be, it cannot assert that circles are square or, what amounts to the same thing, that the grotesque offspring of the April 4th Statutes should be considered the official Constitution of a State.
The Constitution is understood to be the basic and supreme law of the nation, to define the country’s political structure, regulate the functioning of its government agencies, and determine the limits of their activities. It must be stable, enduring and, to a certain extent, inflexible. The Statutes fulfill none of these qualifications. To begin with, they harbor a monstrous, shameless, and brazen contradiction in regard to the most vital aspect of all: the integration of the Republican structure and the principle of national sovereignty. Article 1 reads: ‘Cuba is a sovereign and independent State constituted as a democratic Republic.’ Article 2 reads: ‘Sovereignty resides in the will of the people, and all powers derive from this source.’ But then comes Article 118, which reads: ‘The President will be nominated by the Cabinet.’ So it is not the people who choose the President, but rather the Cabinet. And who chooses the Cabinet? Article 120, section 13: ‘The President will be authorized to nominate and reappoint the members of the Cabinet and to replace them when occasion arises.’ So, after all, who nominates whom? Is this not the classical old problem of the chicken and the egg that no one has ever been able to solve?
One day eighteen hoodlums got together. Their plan was to assault the Republic and loot its 350 million pesos annual budget. Behind peoples’ backs and with great treachery, they succeeded in their purpose. ‘Now what do we do next?’ they wondered. One of them said to the rest: ‘You name me Prime Minister, and I’ll make you generals.’ When this was done, he rounded up a group of 20 men and told them: ‘I will make you my Cabinet if you make me President.’ In this way they named each other generals, ministers and president, and then took over the treasury and the Republic.
What is more, it was not simply a matter of usurping sovereignty at a given moment in order to name a Cabinet, Generals and a President. This man ascribed to himself, through these Statutes, not only absolute control of the nation, but also the power of life and death over every citizen – control, in fact, over the very existence of the nation. Because of this, I maintain that the position of the Court of Social and Constitutional Rights is not only treacherous, vile, cowardly and repugnant, but also absurd.
The Statutes contain an article which has not received much attention, but which gives us the key to this situation and is the one from which we shall derive decisive conclusions. I refer specifically to the modifying clause included in Article 257, which reads: ‘This constitutional law is open to reform by the Cabinet with a two-thirds quorum vote.’ This is where mockery reaches its climax. Not only did they exercise sovereignty in order to impose a Constitution upon a people without that people’s consent, and to install a regime which concentrates all power in their own hands, but also, through Article 257, they assume the most essential attribute of sovereignty: the power to change the Basic and Supreme Law of the Land. And they have already changed it several times since March 10th. Yet, with the greatest gall, they assert in Article 2 that sovereignty resides in the will of the people and that the people are the source of all power. Since these changes may be brought about by a vote of two-thirds of the Cabinet and the Cabinet is named by the President, then the right to make and break Cuba is in the hands of one man, a man who is, furthermore, the most unworthy of all the creatures ever to be born in this land. Was this then accepted by the Court of Social and Constitutional Rights? And is all that derives from it valid and legal? Very well, you shall see what was accepted: ‘This constitutional law is open to reform by the Cabinet with a two-thirds quorum vote.’ Such a power recognizes no limits. Under its aegis, any article, any chapter, any section, even the whole law may be modified. For example, Article 1, which I have just mentioned, says that Cuba is a sovereign and independent State constituted as a democratic Republic, ‘although today it is in fact a bloody dictatorship.’ Article 3 reads: ‘The national boundaries include the island of Cuba, the Isle of Pines, and the neighboring keys …’ and so on. Batista and his Cabinet under the provisions of Article 257 can modify all these other articles. They can say that Cuba is no longer a Republic but a hereditary monarchy and he, Batista, can anoint himself king. He can dismember the national territory and sell a province to a foreign country as Napoleon did with Louisiana. He may suspend the right to life itself, and like Herod, order the decapitation of newborn children. All these measures would be legal and you would have to incarcerate all those who opposed them, just as you now intend to do with me. I have put forth extreme examples to show how sad and humiliating our present situation is. To think that all these absolute powers are in the hands of men truly capable of selling our country along with all its citizens!
As the Court of Social and Constitutional Rights has accepted this state of affairs, what more are they waiting for? They may as well hang up their judicial robes. It is a fundamental principle of general law that there can be no constitutional status where the constitutional and legislative powers reside in the same body. When the Cabinet makes the laws, the decrees and the rules – and at the same time has the power to change the Constitution in a moment of time – then I ask you: why do we need a Court of Social and Constitutional Rights? The ruling in favor of this Statute is irrational, inconceivable, illogical and totally contrary to the Republican laws that you, Honorable Judges, swore to uphold. When the Court of Social and Constitutional Rights supported Batista’s Statutes against the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land was not abolished but rather the Court of Social and Constitutional Rights placed itself outside the Constitution, renounced its autonomy and committed legal suicide. May it rest in peace!
The right to rebel, established in Article 40 of the Constitution, is still valid. Was it established to function while the Republic was enjoying normal conditions? No. This provision is to the Constitution what a lifeboat is to a ship at sea. The lifeboat is only launched when the ship has been torpedoed by enemies laying wait along its course. With our Constitution betrayed and the people deprived of all their prerogatives, there was only one way open: one right which no power may abolish. The right to resist oppression and injustice. If any doubt remains, there is an article of the Social Defense Code which the Honorable Prosecutor would have done well not to forget. It reads, and I quote: ‘The appointed or elected government authorities that fail to resist sedition with all available means will be liable to a sentence of interdiction of from six to eight years.’ The judges of our nation were under the obligation to resist Batista’s treacherous military coup of the 10th of March. It is understandable that when no one has observed the law and when nobody else has done his duty, those who have observed the law and have done their duty should be sent to prison.
You will not be able to deny that the regime forced upon the nation is unworthy of Cuba’s history. In his book, The Spirit of Laws, which is the foundation of the modern division of governmental power, Montesquieu makes a distinction between three types of government according to their basic nature: ‘The Republican form wherein the whole people or a portion thereof has sovereign power; the Monarchical form where only one man governs, but in accordance with fixed and well-defined laws; and the Despotic form where one man without regard for laws nor rules acts as he pleases, regarding only his own will or whim.’ And then he adds: ‘A man whose five senses constantly tell him that he is everything and that the rest of humanity is nothing is bound to be lazy, ignorant and sensuous.’ ‘As virtue is necessary to democracy, and honor to a monarchy, fear is of the essence to a despotic regime, where virtue is not needed and honor would be dangerous.’
The right of rebellion against tyranny, Honorable Judges, has been recognized from the most ancient times to the present day by men of all creeds, ideas and doctrines.
It was so in the theocratic monarchies of remote antiquity. In China it was almost a constitutional principle that when a king governed rudely and despotically he should be deposed and replaced by a virtuous prince.
The philosophers of ancient India upheld the principle of active resistance to arbitrary authority. They justified revolution and very often put their theories into practice. One of their spiritual leaders used to say that ‘an opinion held by the majority is stronger than the king himself. A rope woven of many strands is strong enough to hold a lion.’
The city states of Greece and republican Rome not only admitted, but defended the meting-out of violent death to tyrants.
In the Middle Ages, John Salisbury in his Book of the Statesman says that when a prince does not govern according to law and degenerates into a tyrant, violent overthrow is legitimate and justifiable. He recommends for tyrants the dagger rather than poison.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, in the Summa Theologica, rejects the doctrine of tyrannicide, and yet upholds the thesis that tyrants should be overthrown by the people.
Martin Luther proclaimed that when a government degenerates into a tyranny that violates the laws, its subjects are released from their obligations to obey. His disciple, Philippe Melanchton, upholds the right of resistance when governments become despotic. Calvin, the outstanding thinker of the Reformation with regard to political ideas, postulates that people are entitled to take up arms to oppose any usurpation.
No less a man that Juan Mariana, a Spanish Jesuit during the reign of Philip II, asserts in his book, De Rege et Regis Institutione, that when a governor usurps power, or even if he were elected, when he governs in a tyrannical manner it is licit for a private citizen to exercise tyrannicide, either directly or through subterfuge with the least possible disturbance.
The French writer, François Hotman, maintained that between the government and its subjects there is a bond or contract, and that the people may rise in rebellion against the tyranny of government when the latter violates that pact.
About the same time, a booklet – which came to be widely read – appeared under the title Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, and it was signed with the pseudonym Stephanus Junius Brutus. It openly declared that resistance to governments is legitimate when rulers oppress the people and that it is the duty of Honorable Judges to lead the struggle.
The Scottish reformers John Knox and John Poynet upheld the same points of view. And, in the most important book of that movement, George Buchanan stated that if a government achieved power without taking into account the consent of the people, or if a government rules their destiny in an unjust or arbitrary fashion, then that government becomes a tyranny and can be divested of power or, in a final recourse, its leaders can be put to death.
John Althus, a German jurist of the early 17th century, stated in his Treatise on Politics that sovereignty as the supreme authority of the State is born from the voluntary concourse of all its members; that governmental authority stems from the people and that its unjust, illegal or tyrannical function exempts them from the duty of obedience and justifies resistance or rebellion.
Thus far, Honorable Judges, I have mentioned examples from antiquity, from the Middle Ages, and from the beginnings of our times. I selected these examples from writers of all creeds. What is more, you can see that the right to rebellion is at the very root of Cuba’s existence as a nation. By virtue of it you are today able to appear in the robes of Cuban Judges. Would it be that those garments really served the cause of justice!
It is well known that in England during the 17th century two kings, Charles I and James II, were dethroned for despotism. These actions coincided with the birth of liberal political philosophy and provided the ideological base for a new social class, which was then struggling to break the bonds of feudalism. Against divine right autocracies, this new philosophy upheld the principle of the social contract and of the consent of the governed, and constituted the foundation of the English Revolution of 1688, the American Revolution of 1775 and the French Revolution of 1789. These great revolutionary events ushered in the liberation of the Spanish colonies in the New World – the final link in that chain being broken by Cuba. The new philosophy nurtured our own political ideas and helped us to evolve our Constitutions, from the Constitution of Guáimaro up to the Constitution of 1940. The latter was influenced by the socialist currents of our time; the principle of the social function of property and of man’s inalienable right to a decent living were built into it, although large vested interests have prevented fully enforcing those rights.
The right of insurrection against tyranny then underwent its final consecration and became a fundamental tenet of political liberty.
As far back as 1649, John Milton wrote that political power lies with the people, who can enthrone and dethrone kings and have the duty of overthrowing tyrants.
John Locke, in his essay on government, maintained that when the natural rights of man are violated, the people have the right and the duty to alter or abolish the government. ‘The only remedy against unauthorized force is opposition to it by force.’
Jean-Jaques Rousseau said with great eloquence in his Social Contract: ‘While a people sees itself forced to obey and obeys, it does well; but as soon as it can shake off the yoke and shakes it off, it does better, recovering its liberty through the use of the very right that has been taken away from it.’ ‘The strongest man is never strong enough to be master forever, unless he converts force into right and obedience into duty. Force is a physical power; I do not see what morality one may derive from its use. To yield to force is an act of necessity, not of will; at the very least, it is an act of prudence. In what sense should this be called a duty?’ ‘To renounce freedom is to renounce one’s status as a man, to renounce one’s human rights, including one’s duties. There is no possible compensation for renouncing everything. Total renunciation is incompatible with the nature of man and to take away all free will is to take away all morality of conduct. In short, it is vain and contradictory to stipulate on the one hand an absolute authority and on the other an unlimited obedience …’
Thomas Paine said that ‘one just man deserves more respect than a rogue with a crown.’
The people’s right to rebel has been opposed only by reactionaries like that clergyman of Virginia, Jonathan Boucher, who said: ‘The right to rebel is a censurable doctrine derived from Lucifer, the father of rebellions.’
The Declaration of Independence of the Congress of Philadelphia, on July 4th, 1776, consecrated this right in a beautiful paragraph which reads: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness; That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it and to institute a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.’
The famous French Declaration of the Rights of Man willed this principle to the coming generations: ‘When the government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for them the most sacred of rights and the most imperative of duties.’ ‘When a person seizes sovereignty, he should be condemned to death by free men.’
I believe I have sufficiently justified my point of view. I have called forth more reasons than the Honorable Prosecutor called forth to ask that I be condemned to 26 years in prison. All these reasons support men who struggle for the freedom and happiness of the people. None support those who oppress the people, revile them, and rob them heartlessly. Therefore I have been able to call forth many reasons and he could not adduce even one. How can Batista’s presence in power be justified when he gained it against the will of the people and by violating the laws of the Republic through the use of treachery and force? How could anyone call legitimate a regime of blood, oppression and ignominy? How could anyone call revolutionary a regime which has gathered the most backward men, methods and ideas of public life around it? How can anyone consider legally valid the high treason of a Court whose duty was to defend the Constitution? With what right do the Courts send to prison citizens who have tried to redeem their country by giving their own blood, their own lives? All this is monstrous to the eyes of the nation and to the principles of true justice!
Still there is one argument more powerful than all the others. We are Cubans and to be Cuban implies a duty; not to fulfill that duty is a crime, is treason. We are proud of the history of our country; we learned it in school and have grown up hearing of freedom, justice and human rights. We were taught to venerate the glorious example of our heroes and martyrs. Céspedes, Agramonte, Maceo, Gómez and Martí were the first names engraved in our minds. We were taught that the Titan once said that liberty is not begged for but won with the blade of a machete. We were taught that for the guidance of Cuba’s free citizens, the Apostle wrote in his book The Golden Age: ‘The man who abides by unjust laws and permits any man to trample and mistreat the country in which he was born is not an honorable man … In the world there must be a certain degree of honor just as there must be a certain amount of light. When there are many men without honor, there are always others who bear in themselves the honor of many men. These are the men who rebel with great force against those who steal the people’s freedom, that is to say, against those who steal honor itself. In those men thousands more are contained, an entire people is contained, human dignity is contained …’ We were taught that the 10th of October and the 24th of February are glorious anniversaries of national rejoicing because they mark days on which Cubans rebelled against the yoke of infamous tyranny. We were taught to cherish and defend the beloved flag of the lone star, and to sing every afternoon the verses of our National Anthem: ‘To live in chains is to live in disgrace and in opprobrium,’ and ‘to die for one’s homeland is to live forever!’ All this we learned and will never forget, even though today in our land there is murder and prison for the men who practice the ideas taught to them since the cradle. We were born in a free country that our parents bequeathed to us, and the Island will first sink into the sea before we consent to be the slaves of anyone.
It seemed that the Apostle would die during his Centennial. It seemed that his memory would be extinguished forever. So great was the affront! But he is alive; he has not died. His people are rebellious. His people are worthy. His people are faithful to his memory. There are Cubans who have fallen defending his doctrines. There are young men who in magnificent selflessness came to die beside his tomb, giving their blood and their lives so that he could keep on living in the heart of his nation. Cuba, what would have become of you had you let your Apostle die?
I come to the close of my defense plea but I will not end it as lawyers usually do, asking that the accused be freed. I cannot ask freedom for myself while my comrades are already suffering in the ignominious prison of the Isle of Pines. Send me there to join them and to share their fate. It is understandable that honest men should be dead or in prison in a Republic where the President is a criminal and a thief.
To you, Honorable Judges, my sincere gratitude for having allowed me to express myself free from contemptible restrictions. I hold no bitterness towards you, I recognize that in certain aspects you have been humane, and I know that the Chief Judge of this Court, a man of impeccable private life, cannot disguise his repugnance at the current state of affairs that compels him to dictate unjust decisions. Still, a more serious problem remains for the Court of Appeals: the indictments arising from the murders of seventy men, that is to say, the greatest massacre we have ever known. The guilty continue at liberty and with weapons in their hands – weapons which continually threaten the lives of all citizens. If all the weight of the law does not fall upon the guilty because of cowardice or because of domination of the courts, and if then all the judges do not resign, I pity your honor. And I regret the unprecedented shame that will fall upon the Judicial Power.
I know that imprisonment will be harder for me than it has ever been for anyone, filled with cowardly threats and hideous cruelty. But I do not fear prison, as I do not fear the fury of the miserable tyrant who took the lives of 70 of my comrades. Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.
Spoken:October 16, 1953
Publisher: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana, Cuba. 1975
Translated: Pedro Álvarez Tabío & Andrew Paul Booth (who rechecked the translation with the Spanish La historia me absolverá, same publisher, in 1981)
Transcription/Markup: Andrew Paul Booth/Brian Baggins
Online Version:1997, Castro Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2001
(Department of Stenographic Versions of the Revolutionary Government)
We were not… (problems with the P.A. system make words indistinct.) It seems that the imperialists are somehow using magic or something like that to sabotage this rally.
We wanted to tell you that we were not really planning to mobilize people on our return (shouts of “Fidel, Fidel!”). We are worried that we have to be traveling all the time, now the President, then a State Representative or the Minister of Foreign Affairs, or the Prime Minister or anyone else, to attend this kind of meetings, and it doesn’t make sense that every time we leave and return just because we are doing our job, because that is also our job, our people have to do us the honor of receiving us (shouts of “Yes!”).
(Words indistinct) Anyway, we must seize the opportunity… (the crowd complains about the sound problems.) We will seize the opportunity to give a short speech, a truly short one (the crowd complains) and share with you our impressions… (more sound problems.) I can’t make out why it’s hard to hear today… Well, I’ll try to concentrate despite these technical problems.
We are really very impressed by what we saw in this trip. It’s unfortunate that every Cuban doesn’t have a chance to spend ten days the way we did
We would even go so far as to say that those poor devils who asked for asylum should have spent 10 days in New York first so they could live through an experience like the one we did. Otherwise it’s difficult to get an idea. We felt the same emotions, joys and hopes that you feel for our homeland and the work the Revolution is doing. Here, however, in the hectic whirl of events, neither you nor we can fully realize how much this new homeland we are building means, not to the rest of the world –that’s not what I’m talking about– but to each and every one of us (applause).
I won’t try to explain it because I know it’s impossible, but at least I’ll admit on behalf of those of us who spend 10 days in the belly of the empire that we clearly and completely understood what it means to have a homeland (applause). Especially now that we are no longer a colony (applause); now that we are a truly sovereign and free people (applause).
We brought with us impressions and memories that we will never forget: those of the Cubans who live in New York (applause).
Actually, we may have put little thought into the situation of those Cubans who had to leave because here, in what used to be a colony of Yankee imperialism (shouts of “Get out!”), they had no way of earning their daily bread and were left with the invariably sad choice of leaving their homeland to settle and make a leaving in a cold, hostile country.
How sad that a part of our people had to leave their native soil! And above all else, how sad that they have to live in a foreign land! What a terrible blow for them, and how commendable that they had to do that! (applause)
Right now the heroes of the Revolution, the true heroes of the Revolution are those Cubans living in the brutal and turbulent North, as Martí called it (applause), which despises us no more but respects us (applause); those Cubans who remain faithful to their homeland and stand their ground there; those Cubans who shout “Yam, not chewing gum!” (applause)
And why does it hurt so much to think about the fate of those Cubans? Because they’re living there in New York, as we did until January 1st, 1959! (applause). Dozens of Cuban men and women were brutally beaten by the New York police (shouts and boos) while we were there. Suffice it to say that the club or “stick”, as they call that device used by the Cuban police but abolished here long ago, is a real institution of terror in that “super free” and “super democratic” country (shouts and boos), that “super humanitarian” and “super civilized” country (shouts and boos).
Body searching, persecution, provocation and sacking are methods used by the U.S. police to harass our compatriots. Now, if you’re a murderer or a henchman with a hundred corpses under his belt, or any of those wicked men who killed hundreds of peasants, you have nothing to worry about, as you belong in the great family of their “free world”! (shouts and boos). But if you are an honest, faithful Cuban with feelings for their homeland, the worst persecution will be awaiting you.
How sad to see Cubans whom the poverty and joblessness that prevailed in our country drove to set out for alien countries now compelled to live in the heart of the empire almost like the first Christians did in ancient Rome. And despite everything, their enthusiasm is matchless; their spirit indescribable; their love for their homeland can stand alongside the greatest devotion we have grown used to seeing here in our own land (applause).
What love of country! What obsession to be able to return one day! You have to see that to know what we have here and understand what you lose when you lose your homeland; it is as if the hope to live in their homeland and feel the warmth of their land again some day is a wish they can’t get out of their mind for one minute (applause). And we took an oath of sorts: that those Cubans will return one day (applause) and live and work here in their country again.
That’s why we must strive and fight, and why our work and self-sacrifice are well worth the effort, because our compatriots there deserve it! (applause) And we must build some kind of new neighborhood or town for the Cubans who return from exile (applause); a town where those who return to their homeland can have their homes, so that we can reward their love for their land, their heroism and integrity and the fortitude they’re boasting there, in the midst of so much hostility, persecution, deception, anti-Cuban crusades and lies, while they, however, stand their ground just like the blacks in Harlem (applause). You have to make an effort just to imagine the extent of the endless, systematic anti-Cuban campaigns launched by every journal, newspaper, radio and TV station and what media you can think of. And yet the Cubans, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans and Latinos in general, as well as the blacks in Harlem, stand their ground (applause). Those groups are the most exploited and oppressed by imperialism on U.S. soil, a phenomenon so extraordinary that it makes a deep impression. You should see how so many black arms would waive at us as soon as the cars of our delegation would ride on the streets of Harlem at any time of day or night (applause). And there are 20 million blacks who suffer from oppression and exploitation in the very belly of the empire (applause) whose expectations cannot be met with a handful of dollars. The problem is way more serious than that, because they’re expectations can only be met through justice (applause). In exchange for their hospitality, we invited 300 representatives of blacks in the U.S to visit our country to get firsthand knowledge about the work of the Revolution and see a country where there is justice (applause).
Nonetheless, there are also many U.S. citizens, mostly freethinkers, famed writers, honest people brave enough to publicly voice their sympathies for the Cuban Revolution (applause) through a Pro-Fair Treatment for Cuba Committee made up of some of the most valuable and brightest Americans, and there are also many poor, exploited workers and small farmers there who are extorted by U.S. monopolies and rip-off merchants, all of them rip-off monopolies (applause).
You need to spend 10 days in the belly of the imperialist monster to know that monopoly and publicity are the same thing there, and since we dislike monopolies and have clashed, barring very few honorable exceptions, with the empire’s most powerful monopolies, their media lash out at us, albeit not with reasons, because that’s something they don’t have; they fight us with all kinds of lies and inventions which bring to mind the time when we were naïve and believed the stories drawn by the imperialist mass media and the magazines, newspapers, comic books, movies, slogans, lies, cock-and-bull stories, looting, crimes, shamelessness, outrage and degrading ways of the monopolies /applause and shouts of “Fidel, for sure, hit the Yankees hard! Pim, pom, out, down with Caimanera! Fidel, Fidel, what does Fidel have that the Americans can’t deal with him!”), because we were so naïve that they would have made us believe that looting is good, theft is noble, exploitation was fair, lie was true, and true was lie (applause).
And all that phony propaganda rains down nonstop on the U.S. people, whom they try to fool and confuse all the time just like they did us.
Independent newspapers that print the truth, no! They can’t exist there. A newspaper that prints the truth will have nothing to advertise and swallowed by the agencies controlled by the monopolies. Such is the prevailing system in that country: never a piece of constructive criticism or correct judgment. Everything is driven by profit motives, material possessions, moneymaking, and how much a line of propaganda will pay, and one of the consequences of that is the mass hysteria they have instilled in a part of the people. That some people there can live with so much rage and anger defies all logic. How different the result when people are properly advised, know the truth, and fight for something; when their lives have a meaning; when they have ideals and something to struggle for! How different the result!
We are absolutely certain that despite all the grievance we have suffered and all the attacks we have endured, if, for instance, the United Nations had their seat here, no citizen would insult any visitor and no delegation would be harassed, because we Cubans would know it was a chance to prove that we are a thousand times more decent, hospitable, gallant and honest than the imperialists (applause) because when you’re decent, decency is what you show (applause) and when you’re honorable, honor is what you show (applause). But when you’re nothing but shameless and indecent, that’s what you display: shamelessness and indecency! (applause)
We witnessed a sense of shame, honor, hospitality, chivalry and decency among the humble blacks of Harlem (applause, followed by the sound of an exploding firecracker) A bomb? Let’s…! (shouts of “Firing squad! Firing squad! We shall overcome!”: people singing the National Anthem; shouts of “Long live Cuba! Long live the Revolution!”) We all know who paid for that little firecracker; those belong to imperialism (boos). They think… of course, tomorrow they’ll go get their money from the master and tell him: “Look how the firecracker exploded right when they were talking about imperialism” (shouts of “Firing squad, firing squad!”)
Did they get him? Nothing yet? No confirmed news. But aren’t they naïve! If Batista’s soldiers could neither seize the Sierra Maestra Mountains nor break our siege and had to surrender instead despite their cannons and planes that dropped 500- and even 1000-pound bombs with the inscription “Made in USA” (applause and boos) and hundreds of pounds of napalm, how can they pretend to advance behind their little firecrackers? (shouts of “Firing squad! Firing squad!”) It’s typical of the impotent and coward. How can they expect their little firecrackers to shock our people, who came here with the intention of standing up to whatever they drop on or throw at us, be it atomic bombs, leat alone little firecrackers, people (applause and shouts of “We shall overcome! We shall overcome!”).
How naïve they are, when for every little firecracker they make we build five hundred homes (applause), for every little firecracker they put in a year we put up three times as many cooperative farms (applause), for every little firecracker they make we nationalize a Yankee sugar mill and a Yankee bank (applause), for every little firecracker the imperialists make we refine hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil, put up a factory to create jobs, and build a hundred schools in the countryside! (applause) For every little firecracker the imperialists make we turn an army garrison into a school, make a revolutionary law, and fit out at least a one thousand strong militia! (applause and shouts of “¡Pim, pom, out, down with Caimanera!”)
Comrade Osmany has just come up with a good idea: that we dedicate that little firecracker to the Santa Clara Regiment and in one month turn what’s left of it into another school city (applause).
We will also instruct comrade Llanusa to dedicate a new workers’ club to that little firecracker (shouts of “¡Pim, pom, out, down with Caimanera!”).
They’re so naïve that they really seem to believe that the “Marines” will come (boos) and the Island is ripe for them. We’re going to establish here a system of collective surveillance, a system of collective revolutionary surveillance! (applause) and then we’ll see how Imperialism’s lackeys will move around here, because after all we live in the whole city, and there’s no apartment building, block or neighborhood that is not represented here today (applause). In front of the imperialist attacks we’re going to put up a system of collective revolutionary surveillance so that everyone knows who lives in their block, what they do and what links they had with the tyranny: and what they do for a living, who they hang around with and what they’re up to. If they think they can deal with our people, they’re in for a real disappointment, because we’re going to put up a committee of revolutionary surveillance in every block (applause) so that our people can keep watch and they can see that when all our people are organized there’s no way the imperialists or a lackey of the imperialists or anyone who sold out to the imperialists or became a tool of the imperialists will be able to do anything (applause).
They’re playing with our people and they still don’t know who our people are and how big their revolutionary strength is. For the time being, we must take steps to organize militia battalions across our country and choose who will man every gun (applause) and gradually structure the great mass of our militia so they can be perfectly formed and trained in combat units as soon as possible (applause).
One thing is certain… (someone in the audience addresses Dr Castro). No need to do anything too soon or rush things, there’s no hurry, there’s no hurry! Let them be in a hurry while we keep calm and do things at our own pace, which is firm and safe (applause).
A very important thing we learned in this trip is how much the imperialists hate our revolutionary people and how hysterical and demoralized they are about the Cuban Revolution. You have seen that: they’re still thinking about what to respond to Cuba’s accusations, because actually they have nothing to say.
However, it’s important that we’re all aware of the struggle our Revolution is carrying on with; we all need to be aware that it will be a long, hard struggle (shouts of “We shall overcome! We shall overcome!”). It’s important that we realize that our Revolution has faced up to the most powerful empire in the world. Of all colonialist and imperialist nations, Yankee imperialism is the most powerful and has the most economic resources, diplomatic influence and military assets. Besides, it’s not like British imperialism, more mature and experienced, but an arrogant kind of imperialism blinded by its power; a barbaric imperialism with many barbaric leaders who have absolutely no reason to be envious of the cave dwellers of the dawn of human life. Many of its leaders and bosses command by aggression. It’s no doubt the most quarrelsome, warmongering and ham-handed kind of imperialism.
And we’re here in the front line, a small country with few economic resources waging head-on a honorable, resolved, firm and heroic fight for its liberation, its sovereignty and its future (applause).
We must be fully aware that our homeland is facing up to the fiercest empire in contemporary history, and also that Imperialism will spare no effort to try and destroy the Revolution, put obstacles in its path, and hinder our progress and development. We must bear in mind that this Imperialism hates us just like slaveholders do the slaves who rise up against them. And that’s what we are to them: slaves who rose up, and rightly so! (applause) And there’s no worse hatred than the slaveholder’s when his slaves rise up, further fueled by the fact that their interests are in danger, not only here but everywhere else around the world.
We took our case to the United Nations, but it was also the case of the rest of the developing countries: of every nation in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania; our case could be applied as well to the rest of the world, because all the other underdeveloped countries are also being exploited by the monopolies, and we told every developing country there, “We have to nationalize the investments of the monopolies without any kind of compensation” (applause). We told them, “Do what we have done; stop being the victims of exploitation and do what we have done!” And it’s only natural that Imperialism should wish to destroy our Revolution so they can tell other peoples: “If you do what the Cubans do, we’ll do to you what we did to them.”
Therefore, the interests at stake in this struggle are not only ours, but those of the whole world. We’re putting up a struggle here not only for the liberty of our people, but for the liberty of all exploited peoples in the world. And we must be aware of that, both of what we’re doing and of the interests we are affecting, and that those interests will not be given away without a fight and will not hoist the white flag so easily.
This is a long struggle, as befits the powerful interests that our Revolution has affected. And we must defend ourselves not only against aggression, because that alone wouldn’t be enough. We must also move forward and make progress in every respect.
Our clearest impression and realization after this trip is that we must step up our efforts (applause) and internalize the great role our homeland is playing in the world and the great task we are pursuing, because action speaks louder than any word we may have pronounced there. We told them about part of what we’ve done, not a full description, far from it; but action is what counts. We have to take our country forward, and to that end we must take great care over what we’re doing. Every one of you without exception is facing a great task, just like our own task (applause). We spoke there on your behalf, because we count on everyone’s devotion; we have the moral authority to speak there because we count on your efforts and take with us the moral values of each and every man and woman in our homeland; we have so much moral authority there (applause), because we count on the moral values of a whole people to denounce Imperialism. And that’s why our country is greatly admired, not for its words but for its actions, not for what a Cuban says there but for what all Cubans do or can do (applause).
The world is getting an idea of Cuba that is better than any other it had before, if ever they knew that we even existed. And our people’s deeds are the foundation of that idea. We invite each and every one of you to get an idea of the great responsibility you have taken and, especially, of the fact that we are not made up of single individuals: we belong in one people at a great moment in the history of mankind and a crucial time of the human race. We must think of both the people and the fate of our nation, not about ourselves. We are something more than ourselves: we are people, we are nation! (applause) We are ideas; we are hope; we are an example. When the Prime Minister of the Revolutionary Government appeared at the U.N. it was not just a man appearing there, it was a whole people! (applause) Each and every one of you was there! (applause)
It’s with the strength we draw from the will, support and commitment of every one of you that we went there. We have an obligation to our people! We feel that we have a great responsibility toward our people! And what we feel every one of you must feel too (applause) and keep that idea in mind, because we are all working together! (A second explosion is heard; shouts of “Firing squad! Firing squad! We shall overcome!”; people chorus the 26th of July Anthem and then the National Anthem) Let them explode, and that way they train our people in all kinds of noise! (applause and shouts of “Unity! We shall overcome”) As I see it, this will be an expensive evening for his lordship! (applause)
These events do nothing but confirm what we have been saying about the long, hard struggle before us. That’s why we stressed the importance that every one should always remember their role and responsibility.
If this were easy, it would really be pointless to take us into account. No easy task bears the best fruit in the long run. The tasks worth undertaking for the lives of men and women to make sense are the difficult ones. Those are the tasks worth the effort (applause).
As to us, we do not become discouraged by the knowledge that we have a powerful empire in front of us. On the contrary, that knowledge boosts our spirits (applause). It’s the imperialists who must be demoralized by the considerable hassle our small country is causing them! (applause)
Let no one think we will have peace and quiet in the next few years. The greatest attraction in years to come will be the work and the struggle we have ahead! (applause) That’s the extraordinary significance of our future; that’s what will free us of our sorrowful, embarrassing past; that’s what will make our people happy, mainly when we know that January the First did not mark the completion of the Revolution, but its beginning (applause). That’s what makes our people happy: knowing that while the first stage was the product of efforts made by a part of our people, our future, tomorrow’s victories will be the product of efforts made by the whole people! (applause) And no one will have to feel ashamed in the eyes of their children or spouse or coworkers, because there’s plenty of room in our future and there will be a place for every one of us (applause).
Even ourselves, we have a feeling that this is only the beginning, that we’re just in the first pages of the great book of history that the Cuban people are writing (applause).
And two things will help us achieve victory: intelligence and courage, that is, our heads and our hearts. We must never let courage override intelligence and vice versa. Intelligence and courage must march together along the road leading to victory! (applause)
Those have been the essential bases of our accomplishments. And never should we underestimate our imperialist enemies; that would be a mistake. It’s our imperialist enemies who made the mistake of underestimating us! (applause) Our people have a lot more revolutionary power than they ever imagined and moral values like they never imagined (applause).
We should never make the mistake of underestimating our imperialist enemies, but know and assess their real strength instead, so we can do what’s necessary to win this fight for the liberty of our homeland (applause). And we want to be victorious on the basis of effort, work, intelligence and courage, so as to know at all times what they’re planning and react to them accordingly as we have just done by denouncing the the hysterical attitudes toward and campaigns around the Guantánamo Naval Base (applause) as well as the rumours they’re spreading about a Cuban attack on the base, all of which we made quite clear there. We also asked the President of the Assembly to make a note of our concerns regarding these campaigns and how they’re paving the way, by creating mass hysteria and molding public opinion, for a self-attack they would use as an excuse to invade Cuba, and we don’t want that; we don’t want to give them an excuse to attack our country. That’s what they want: that we let ourselves be carried away by our patriotic passion or fervor and act on impulse, but we must do what we want and think advisable, not what they want and think advisable (applause).
Martí said you should never do what the enemy wants you to do. That’s why we’ve always been ready to explain at the earliest opportunity –which we did there very clearly– that we would claim our sovereignty over that piece of land on grounds of international law, in other words, through legal channels, not by force of arms (applause). We do not have our arms to do with them what our enemies want, but what they don’t want. Our arms must always be at the ready to do what our enemies don’t want us to do, that is, to defend ourselves and resist (applause), to destroy them when they attack us (applause), because that’s why we have them: to defend ourselves. It’s of paramount importance that those who heard what we said at the United Nations know that one of the most sensitive problems we have, one of the problems that we must use our intelligence to solve and outsmart our imperialist enemy in the process is the Naval Base problem, because that’s what they will use as an excuse. So we must make our position quite clear to our people and the whole world: whenever we demand our rights we will do it in accordance with the norms of international law, for this is a crystal-clear, unquestionable right which is ours by law (applause).
As to our imperialist enemies we know so well, those who resort to the most cunning and lowest tricks, those who have been noted throughout history for the excuses they fabricate whenever it suits them, the wisest move is to spoil their plans of finding or fabricating an excuse and tell them to look elsewhere, as this one is not good and won’t work for them (applause).
Our imperialist enemies are crafty, vile, treacherous and capable of anything, from murdering leaders to launching military invasions, always searching for killers and gangsters and excuses, so we must be not only intelligent but also brave in order to beat them to the punch and win this battle (applause); we must win every battle against our imperialist enemies much like we won the battle against the U.N. (applause), where they are now fighting and where warmongers, arms dealers and the enemies of piece are being dealt harsh blows in the eyes of the world, and we must win that battle of wits and unmask and demoralize our imperialist enemies in front of the public opinion worldwide. All warmongers, arms dealers and whoever toys with the fate of the human race must be defeated in every battlefield (applause). We have already left behind the ABCs of political and revolutionary issues and made it to high school in political and revolutionary issues (applause), we must now get our bearings, be mentally prepared and keep learning about these issues. Every day we learn something new, and it’s good that we don’t lose interest in international matters.
As a rule, we seldom paid attention to international affairs, and with good reason: we were nothing but a “small colony” of the Yankees, so why would we? We would only do what the Yankee delegate to the U.N. dictated; as silent and obedient beings, we never stated an opinion or even opened our mouth at the U.N., the O.A.S. or anywhere else. Therefore, no one here cared for international affairs; if it was a Yankee problem, well, that’s for the Americans to solve. If they declared war on someone, we would follow suit and declared another one; they would make a statement and we would follow suit and made another one; they would fight another little war and we would join it too; if they wanted peace, so did we. What were we? That’s why no one would care, but now that we also have a say in the world and are a part of the world, it’s good to learn about all international affairs and know about what’s going on in Latin America, Africa, Asia; the peoples who live there, their resources, aspirations and problems, and the views of their governments. Now that we’re at high school level in revolutionary and political issues, we must learn international political geography (applause).
That’s why it’s good to keep on printing many books and it’s good that we all keep on studying, because every one of you has an obligation to learn and increase your knowledge, and those who never had that chance before must seize this opportunity to know about world problems and sociopolitical and economic issues in Cuba and outside; otherwise we’ll never graduate from senior high, and one day we must be Doctors of revolution and politics (applause). That’s what our National Printing Office and the paper formerly used here by reactionary and pro-imperialist publications are for: printing books! Those who go to the movies now and then may also wish to read a book now and then, in such a way that we always know what we need to know wherever we are, be it at work, a social club, the neighborhood, a militia battalion or company or a trade union, rather than make fools of ourselves by showing we know nothing in front of others who do or giving opinions about unknown topics in front of others who know about them. And you can be certain that what a Cuban can’t learn, no one can! (applause)
We believe these are the most important conclusions about our trip: the role Cuba is playing, the struggle we have ahead, the importance of being brave and intellingent, and the need to work hard and redouble our efforts.
It’s wonderful to go there and be able to tell other peoples that we have opened ten thousand new classrooms (applause) and built twenty-five thousand new homes! (applause) That way we will always be proud to tell the world: “We are building so many universities and school cities; we are qualifying so many technicians; we are manufacturing this much more; we have increased our national per capita production and the number of our factories; we have increased agricultural production and labor output; we are building a great homeland.”
We will always be proud of all that and, since what we do certainly depends on us, what progress we achieve here will always be a matter of matchless pride and spiritual satisfaction. But we won’t do it out of conceit! We’ll do it because we know that we’ll be doing a great good to many other peoples, because we must strive so that the work of our Revolution can be as well-finished and perfect as possible and we can use it to belie those who slander and detract from our homeland and be able to say what we said at the U.N.: “Let anyone come, for our doors are always open! Let them come to see how many new towns, cooperative farms, homes, universities and schools we have now!” (applause)
Let them come, for we’ll always have something to show them, like our militia and the revolutionary youth brigades! (applause) We’ll show them our great reforestation projects and the school cities we’re building! We’ll show them what our homeland is all about! Because those who come and see how hard our people are working despite Imperialism’s harassment are astonished that a small people can do what they’re doing regardless of so many difficulties! And we’ll always take pride in that, the kind of pride that encourages our compatriots in New York to face up to persecution and slander! (applause) That’s the pride that encourages our delegates anywhere in the world and the basic idea we wanted to convey to you this evening. And thanks for the two firecrackers, as they came very handy to make our point! (applause) Thanks because they have been useful to disclose the spirits and courage of our people (long round of applause), because absolutely no one has moved an inch from their place (applause), nor will they ever do that in the face of any danger or attack! (applause) Every one of us is a soldier of the homeland; we do not belong to ourselves but to the homeland! (applause) Never mind that any of us falls, what matter is that our flag remains raised, that the idea goes on, that our homeland lives on!
DEPARTAMENTO DE VERSIONES TAQUIGRAFICAS DEL GOBIERNO REVOLUCIONARIO)
No estábamos nosotros… (Por deficiencias en la amplificación local, no oye el pueblo reunido frente a Palacio).
Yo creo que el imperialismo está saboteando, de alguna manera está acudiendo a la magia o algo por el estilo.
Queríamos decirles que nosotros no estábamos muy de acuerdo en que se movilizara el pueblo a nuestro regreso (EXCLAMACIONES DE: “¡Fidel, Fidel!”). Nos preocupa el hecho de que constantemente tenemos que estar saliendo, cuando no es el Presidente, es el Ministro de Estado o de Relaciones Exteriores, o el Primer Ministro u otros… Y tenemos que estar asistiendo a eventos de esta naturaleza, y no resulta lógico que cada vez que salgamos y regresemos, sencillamente cumpliendo con nuestro trabajo, porque ese es también nuestro trabajo, pues tenga el pueblo que estarnos haciendo los honores del recibimiento (EXCLAMACIONES DE: “¡Sí!”).
(Dificultades con el audio).
Pero, de todas formas, debemos aprovechar la oportunidad… (El público protesta porque no se oye.) Vamos a aprovechar la oportunidad para decir unas breves palabras, breves de verdad (Protestas del público), y expresarles algunas impresiones… (Vuelve a interrumpirse el audio.) No me explico por qué no se oye hoy… Bueno, vamos a ver si me puedo concentrar, después de tantos problemas técnicos aquí.
En realidad, nosotros traemos una profunda impresión y alguna experiencia de este viaje. ¡Es una verdadera lástima que cada cubano no tenga la oportunidad de haber vivido diez días como los hemos vivido nosotros! Iríamos todavía un poco más lejos para afirmar que valdría la pena que aquí, esos infelices que se han asilado, hubiesen estado primero 10 días en Nueva York, para que vivieran una experiencia como la que nosotros hemos vivido.
Es que resulta difícil hacerse una idea. Nosotros experimentamos por nuestra patria y por la obra que la Revolución está realizando las mismas emociones que ustedes experimentan, las mismas alegrías, las mismas esperanzas. Pero, sin embargo, aquí, en medio de la vorágine de los acontecimientos, ni ustedes ni nosotros somos capaces de darnos realmente cuenta de lo mucho que significa, no ya en el orden internacional, que no me estoy refiriendo a eso, sino lo que para cada uno de nosotros representa esta patria nueva que estamos construyendo (APLAUSOS).
No intentaría tratar de explicarlo, porque sé que es imposible, pero, al menos expresando el sentimiento de todos nosotros, los que hemos vivido 10 días en las entrañas del imperio, confesamos que hemos tenido realmente una idea clara y completa de lo que significa tener patria (APLAUSOS). Sobre todo ahora que ya no somos colonia (APLAUSOS); ahora, que somos un pueblo realmente soberano y libre (APLAUSOS).
Traemos con nosotros una impresión y un recuerdo que sí no podremos olvidar jamás: la impresión y el recuerdo de los cubanos que viven en Nueva York (APLAUSOS).
En realidad, nosotros tal vez no hayamos meditado lo suficientemente en la situación de esa parte de nuestro pueblo que tuvo que marcharse de la patria porque aquí, en esta colonia que fue del imperialismo yanki (EXCLAMACIONES DE: “¡Fuera!”), no tenían modo de ganarse el pan y tuvieron que realizar ese hecho, siempre tan triste, de emigrar de su patria, para irse a un país frío y hostil a ganarse el pan.
¡Y qué triste que una parte de nuestro pueblo haya tenido que arrancarse del suelo de la patria! Pero, ¡qué triste, sobre todo, que esa parte de nuestro pueblo tenga que vivir en el extranjero!, ¡y qué suerte tan dura la de esos cubanos!, ¡y qué mérito tan grande el de esos cubanos! (APLAUSOS.)
Los héroes de la Revolución, los verdaderos héroes de la Revolución son en este minuto, los cubanos que allá en el norte revuelto y brutal, como lo calificara Martí (APLAUSOS), que ya no nos desprecia, como afirmara el propio apóstol, sino que nos respeta (APLAUSOS); esos cubanos, que allá se mantienen fieles a su patria; esos cubanos, que allá se mantienen firmes (APLAUSOS); esos cubanos, que allá gritan: “¡Malanga sí, chicle no!” (APLAUSOS.)
¿Y por qué nuestro dolor profundo, al pensar en la suerte de esos cubanos? ¡Porque están viviendo hoy allá, en Nueva York, lo que nosotros estuvimos viviendo hasta el Primero de Enero de 1959! (APLAUSOS.) Docenas y docenas de cubanos, hombres o mujeres, fueron brutalmente golpeados por los esbirros de la policía de Nueva York (EXCLAMACIONES Y ABUCHEOS), durante los días que estuvimos nosotros allá. Baste decir que el garrote, o el “tolete”, como le llaman a ese palo que antes usaba la policía y que hace mucho rato que fue abolido aquí en nuestro país, es una institución de terror en ese “super libre” país (ABUCHEOS), “super democrático” país (ABUCHEOS), “super humanitario” país (EXCLAMACIONES Y ABUCHEOS), y “super civilizado” país (EXCLAMACIONES Y ABUCHEOS).
Los registros policíacos, la persecución, la provocación, los despidos del trabajo, son los métodos de que se están valiendo para hostigar a nuestros compatriotas. Si se es un asesino, si se es un esbirro con 100 cadáveres a cuestas, si se trata de cualquiera de esos malvados que asesinaron a cientos de campesinos, esos no tienen problemas, ¡esos pertenecen a la gran familia de su “mundo libre”! (EXCLAMACIONES Y ABUCHEOS.) Pero, si se trata de cubanos honrados, de cubanos leales a su patria, de cubanos que sienten con su patria, las peores persecuciones los esperan.
Y es muy triste pensar que haya cubanos a quienes la miseria que reinaba en nuestro país, y el desempleo que reinaba en nuestro país, los arrojó hacia esas tierras extrañas, y hoy tengan que vivir en el corazón del imperio prácticamente como vivían los primeros cristianos en la antigua Roma. Y a pesar de todo, el entusiasmo de aquellos cubanos era insuperable; el fervor de aquellos cubanos era inenarrable; su sentimiento de amor a la patria no tenía que envidiarles absolutamente nada a las más grandes pruebas de entusiasmo que estamos acostumbrados a ver aquí en nuestro propio suelo (APLAUSOS).
¡Qué amor hacia su país! ¡Qué obsesión de poder regresar algún día! Hay que ver esas escenas para saber lo que nosotros aquí tenemos, para comprender lo que se pierde cuando se pierde la patria, porque es como si ni siquiera un minuto se apartara de aquellos cubanos la ilusión de volver algún día a vivir en su patria, de volver algún día a sentir el calor de su tierra (APLAUSOS). Y nosotros nos hacíamos como un juramento de que algún día esos cubanos tienen que regresar (APLAUSOS), algún día tienen que volver a trabajar aquí en su país y a vivir aquí en su país.
Por eso, tenemos que esforzarnos; por eso, tenemos que luchar; por eso, vale la pena que hagamos todo el esfuerzo y todo el sacrificio necesario. Vale la pena, ¡porque esos compatriotas nuestros se lo merecen! (APLAUSOS.) Y tenemos que fundar como un barrio nuevo, o un pueblo nuevo, donde vayan viviendo los cubanos que regresen de la emigración (APLAUSOS); el pueblo de los que regresan a su patria para que allí tengan también sus casas y podamos nosotros recompensar así el amor a su tierra, el heroísmo y la entereza, la firmeza que están demostrando allí, donde todo es hostilidad, todo es persecución y todo es falsedad, campaña anticubana, mentiras y, sin embargo, ellos, como los negros de Harlem, se mantienen firmes (APLAUSOS).
Hay que esforzar la imaginación para tener idea siquiera de la campaña que en todas las revistas, en todos los periódicos, en todas las estaciones de radio y televisión y por todos los medios de publicidad que se han inventado, se realiza sistemáticamente, incesantemente contra Cuba y, sin embargo, los cubanos, los dominicanos, los puertorriqueños, los latinos en general y los negros de Harlem se mantienen firmes (APLAUSOS) . Son los grupos más explotados y más oprimidos por el imperialismo en su propio suelo y constituye un fenómeno tan extraordinario que impresiona profundamente y hay que ver cómo desde que nuestra delegación a cualquier hora del día o de la noche comenzaba a transitar en los automóviles por el barrio de Harlem, desde el instante en que aparecía el primer hombre negro, comenzaban a alzarse los brazos para saludarnos (APLAUSOS). Y hay en la propia entraña del imperio 20 millones de negros oprimidos y explotados (APLAUSOS), y cuyas aspiraciones no se pueden satisfacer con un puñado de dólares, es un problema mucho más serio, porque sus aspiraciones solo se pueden satisfacer con justicia (APLAUSOS). Y nosotros, en reciprocidad de la hospitalidad que recibimos, hemos invitado a visitar a nuestro país a 300 representativos de los negros de Estados Unidos, para que conozcan de cerca la obra de la Revolución y para que vean de cerca lo que es un país donde hay justicia (APLAUSOS).
Pero hay también muchos ciudadanos norteamericanos, sobre todo hombres de pensamiento libre, escritores ilustres, gente honesta que han tenido el valor de expresar públicamente allá mismo sus simpatías por la Revolución Cubana (APLAUSOS) a través de un Comité Pro Justo Trato para Cuba, que han integrado y que agrupa hombres de los que más brillan y valen en Estados Unidos y hay también en Estados Unidos mucho obrero humilde y explotado, hay también en Estados Unidos muchos pequeños agricultores extorsionados por los monopolios y por los garroteros de ese país, que son monopolios de garroteros (APLAUSOS) .
Hay que haber vivido 10 días en la entraña del monstruo imperialista, para saber que monopolio y publicidad es allí una sola cosa y como nosotros somos enemigos de los monopolios, como nosotros hemos chocado con todos los monopolios más poderosos del imperio, unánimemente, con muy pocas y honrosas excepciones, los órganos de publicidad nos combaten, mas no nos combaten con razones, porque razones, de eso sí que carecen; nos combaten con mentiras, con todo género de falsedades, con todo género de invenciones, que nos recuerdan, nos recuerdan nuestros días ingenuos, nuestros días ingenuos de cuando creíamos aquí las historietas que nos hacían las agencias imperialistas de información, las revistas de los monopolios, los periódicos de los monopolios, los muñequitos de los monopolios, las películas de los monopolios, las consignas de los monopolios, los embustes de los monopolios, los cuentos de camino de los monopolios, los atracos de los monopolios, los saqueos de los monopolios, los robos de los monopolios, los crímenes de los monopolios, las sinvergüencerías de los monopolios, los ultrajes de los monopolios, las humillaciones de los monopolios (APLAUSOS Y EXCLAMACIONES DE: “¡Fidel, seguro, a los yankis dales duro! ¡Pim, pom, fuera, abajo Caimanera! ¡Fidel, Fidel, qué tiene Fidel que los americanos no pueden con él!”), porque de lo ingenuos que éramos nosotros, nos habían hecho creer que el atraco era bueno, que el robo era noble, que la explotación era justa y que la mentira era verdad y que la verdad era mentira (APLAUSOS).
Y toda esa propaganda falsa es la propaganda que llueve incesantemente sobre el pueblo norteamericano; como a nosotros antes, lo tratan de engañar y de confundir incesantemente.
Periódicos independientes, periódicos que digan la verdad, ¡no!, allí no pueden existir; periódico que diga la verdad se queda sin anuncios; periódico que diga la verdad lo arrasan las agencias de publicidad que están absolutamente bajo el control de los monopolios y ese es el sistema que allí prevalece. Jamás una crítica sana; jamás una apreciación correcta. Todo está movido por el afán de lucro, por el interés material, por el dinero, por lo que le van a pagar pulgada a pulgada por la propaganda, y por eso se explica el resultado. Y uno de esos resultados es la histeria que han creado en una parte del pueblo, histeria que no se concibe cómo puede vivirse bajo esa especie de rabia espumeante con que vive alguna gente en aquel país; ¡y qué distinto, qué distinto el resultado cuando el pueblo está bien orientado, cuando el pueblo conoce la verdad, cuando el pueblo lucha por algo y para algo, cuando la vida de los pueblos tiene un sentido, cuando un pueblo tiene un ideal, cuando un pueblo tiene algo por lo cual luchar! ¡Qué distinto el resultado!
Nosotros tenemos la más completa seguridad de que a pesar de todos los agravios que hemos sufrido, a pesar de todas las agresiones que ha soportado nuestro país, si aquí, por ejemplo, estuviera la sede de las Naciones Unidas, ningún ciudadano insultaría a un solo visitante, ningún acto de hostilidad se perpetraría contra ninguna delegación, porque en ese momento los cubanos sabríamos que había llegado la oportunidad de demostrar ¡que somos mil veces más decentes que los imperialistas! (APLAUSOS), ¡que somos mil veces más caballerosos que los imperialistas! (APLAUSOS), ¡que somos mil veces más hospitalarios que los imperialistas! (APLAUSOS), ¡y que somos un millón de veces más honrados que los imperialistas! (APLAUSOS.) Porque cuando se tiene honor, lo que se muestra es eso: honor (APLAUSOS); cuando se tiene decencia, lo que se enseña es eso: decencia (APLAUSOS); y cuando se tiene vergüenza, lo que se muestra es eso: vergüenza (APLAUSOS). Pero, cuando lo único que se posee es desvergüenza e indecencia, ¡lo que se muestra es eso: desvergüenza e indecencia! (APLAUSOS.)
Nosotros vimos vergüenza, nosotros vimos honor, nosotros vimos hospitalidad, nosotros vimos caballerosidad, nosotros vimos decencia en los negros humildes de Harlem (APLAUSOS). (Se oye explotar un petardo.) ¿Una bomba? ¡Deja…! (EXCLAMACIONES DE: “¡Paredón!, ¡Paredón! ¡Venceremos!, ¡Venceremos!”) (CANTAN EL HIMNO NACIONAL Y EXCLAMAN: “¡Viva Cuba!, ¡Viva la Revolución!”) Ese petardito ya todo el mundo sabe quién lo pagó, son los petarditos del imperialismo (ABUCHEOS). Creen… claro, mañana le irán a cobrar a su señoría y le dirán, le dirán: “Fíjate bien, fíjate bien, en el mismo momento en que estaban hablando del imperialismo sonó el petardo” (EXCLAMACIONES DE: “¡Paredón!, ¡Paredón!”).
¿Lo cogieron? ¿No hay noticias? No hay noticias comprobadas. Pero, ¡qué ingenuos son! Si cuando tiraban bombas de 500 libras y hasta de 1 000 libras que decían “Made in USA” (ABUCHEOS), no pudieron hacer nada, ni cuando tiraban bombas de cientos de libras de napalm, pudieron tampoco hacer nada; y a pesar de sus aviones, sus cañones y sus bombas, los casquitos se tuvieron que rendir (APLAUSOS), y no pudieron tomar la Sierra Maestra, ni pudieron librarse de los cercos, ¿cómo van a avanzar ahora detrás de los petarditos? (EXCLAMACIONES DE: “¡Paredón!, ¡Paredón!”) Son los gajes de la impotencia y de la cobardía. ¡Cómo van a venir a impresionar al pueblo con petarditos, si el pueblo está aquí en plan de resistir, no ya los petarditos (EXCLAMACIONES DE: “¡Venceremos!, ¡Venceremos!”), el pueblo está en plan de resistir lo que tiren o lo que caiga, aunque sean bombas atómicas, señores! (APLAUSOS.)
¡Qué ingenuos son! ¡Si por cada petardito que pagan los imperialistas nosotros construimos quinientas casas! (APLAUSOS.) ¡Por cada petardito que puedan poner en un año, nosotros hacemos tres veces mas cooperativas! (APLAUSOS.) ¡Por cada petardito que paguen los imperialistas, nosotros nacionalizamos un central azucarero yanki! (APLAUSOS.) ¡Por cada petardito que pagan los imperialistas, nosotros nacionalizamos un banco yanki! (APLAUSOS.) ¡Por cada petardito que pagan los imperialistas, nosotros refinamos cientos de miles de barriles de petróleo! (APLAUSOS.) ¡Por cada petardito que pagan los imperialistas, nosotros construimos una fabrica para dar empleo a nuestro país! (APLAUSOS.) ¡Por cada petardito que pagan los imperialistas, nosotros creamos cien escuelas en nuestros campos! (APLAUSOS.) ¡Por cada petardito que pagan los imperialistas, nosotros convertimos un cuartel en una escuela! (APLAUSOS.) ¡Por cada petardito que pagan los imperialistas, nosotros hacemos una ley revolucionaria! (APLAUSOS.) ¡Y por cada petardito que pagan los imperialistas, nosotros armamos, por lo menos, mil milicianos! (APLAUSOS Y EXCLAMACIONES DE: “¡Pim, pom, fuera, abajo Caimanera!”)
El compañero Osmany nos da una buena idea, que por qué al petardito ese no le dedicamos el Regimiento de Santa Clara y lo convertimos, en un mes, en una ciudad escolar más, lo que queda allí (APLAUSOS).
Vamos a decirle también al compañero Llanusa que al petardito ese le dedique un nuevo círculo social obrero (APLAUSOS Y EXCLAMACIONES DE: “¡Pim, pom, fuera, abajo Caimanera!”).
Estos ingenuos parece que de verdad se han creído eso de que vienen los “marines” (ABUCHEOS), y que ya esta el café colado aquí. Vamos a establecer un sistema de vigilancia colectiva, ¡vamos a establecer un sistema de vigilancia revolucionaria colectiva! (APLAUSOS.) Y vamos a ver cómo se pueden mover aquí los lacayos del imperialismo, porque, en definitiva, nosotros vivimos en toda la ciudad, no hay un edificio de apartamentos de la ciudad, ni hay cuadra, ni hay manzana, ni hay barrio, que no esté ampliamente representado aquí (APLAUSOS).
Vamos a implantar, frente a las campañas de agresiones del imperialismo, un sistema de vigilancia colectiva revolucionaria que todo el mundo sepa quién vive en la manzana, qué hace el que vive en la manzana y qué relaciones tuvo con la tiranía; y a qué se dedica; con quién se junta; en qué actividades anda. Porque si creen que van a poder enfrentarse con el pueblo, ¡tremendo chasco se van a llevar!, porque les implantamos un comité de vigilancia revolucionaria en cada manzana… (APLAUSOS), para que el pueblo vigile, para que el pueblo observe, y para que vean que cuando la masa del pueblo se organiza, no hay imperialista, ni lacayo de los imperialistas, ni vendido a los imperialistas, ni instrumento de los imperialistas que pueda moverse (APLAUSOS).
Están jugando con el pueblo y no saben todavía quién es el pueblo; están jugando con el pueblo, y no saben todavía la tremenda fuerza revolucionaria que hay en el pueblo. Y, por lo pronto, hay que dar nuevos pasos en la organización de las milicias; hay que ir a la formación, ya, de los batallones de milicias, zona por zona, en todas las regiones de Cuba, ir seleccionando cada hombre para cada arma (APLAUSOS), e ir dándole estructura a toda la gran masa de milicianos, para que lo antes posible estén perfectamente formadas y entrenadas nuestras unidades de combatientes (APLAUSOS).
Hay una cosa que es evidente… (Alguien del público habla con el doctor Castro.) No hay que apretar antes de que llegue la hora; no hay que apurarse por eso, ¡no hay que apurarse, no hay que apurarse, no hay que apurarse! Déjenlos que se apuren ellos; nosotros: conservar nuestra serenidad y nuestro paso, que es un paso firme y seguro (APLAUSOS).
Una de nuestras impresiones en este viaje, importante, es la cantidad de odio que hacia nuestro pueblo revolucionario siente el imperialismo; el grado de histeria contra la Revolución Cubana a que ha llegado el imperialismo; el grado de desmoralización con respecto a la Revolución Cubana a que ha llegado el imperialismo. Y ya ustedes lo vieron: frente a las acusaciones de Cuba, todavía lo están pensando para responder, porque en realidad no tienen nada con qué responder.
Es, sin embargo, importante que todos nosotros estemos muy conscientes de la lucha que está llevando adelante nuestra Revolución; es necesario que todos sepamos perfectamente bien que es una lucha larga, larga y dura (EXCLAMACIONES DE: “¡Venceremos!, ¡Venceremos!”). Es importante que nos demos cuenta de que nuestra Revolución se ha enfrentado al imperio más poderoso del mundo. De todos los países colonialistas e imperialistas, el imperialismo yanki es el más poderoso, en recursos económicos, en influencias diplomáticas y en recursos militares. Es, además, un imperialismo que no es como el inglés más maduro, más experimentado; es un imperialismo soberbio, enceguecido de su poder. Es un imperialismo bárbaro, y muchos de sus dirigentes son bárbaros, son hombres bárbaros que no tienen que envidiarles absolutamente nada a aquellos trogloditas de los primeros tiempos de la humanidad. Muchos de sus líderes, muchos de sus jefes, son hombres de colmillo largo. Es, sin duda de ninguna clase, el imperialismo más agresivo, más guerrerista y más torpe.
Y nosotros estamos aquí en esta primera línea: un país pequeño, de recursos económicos escasos, librando, de frente, esa lucha digna, decidida, firme y heroica por su liberación, por su soberanía, por su destino (APLAUSOS).
Hay que estar muy conscientes de que nuestra patria se enfrenta al imperio más feroz de los tiempos contemporáneos, y, además, hay que tener en cuenta que el imperialismo no descansará en sus esfuerzos por tratar de destruir la Revolución, por tratar de crearnos obstáculos en nuestro camino, por tratar de impedir el progreso y el desarrollo de nuestra patria. Hay que tener presente que ese imperialismo nos odia con el odio de los amos contra los esclavos que se rebelan. Y nosotros somos para ellos como esclavos que nos hemos rebelado, ¡y bien rebelados! (APLAUSOS.) Y no hay odio más feroz que el odio del amo contra la rebeldía del esclavo; y a ello se unen las circunstancias de que ven sus intereses en peligro; no los de aquí, sino los de todo el mundo.
Nosotros llevamos nuestro caso a las Naciones Unidas, pero nuestro caso era el caso del resto de los países subdesarrollados, era el caso de toda la América Latina, era el caso de todos los países de Africa, era el caso de todos los países del Medio Oriente, era el caso de los países de Asia y Oceanía; nuestro caso era un caso que se podía aplicar por igual al resto del mundo. El resto del mundo subdesarrollado está siendo también explotado por los monopolios, y nosotros hemos dicho allí, a todos los pueblos subdesarrollados: “Hay que nacionalizar las inversiones de los monopolios, sin indemnización alguna” (APLAUSOS). Nosotros les hemos dicho a los demás pueblos subdesarrollados: “Hagan lo que hemos hecho nosotros, no continúen siendo victimas de la explotación, ¡hagan lo que hemos hecho nosotros!” Y es lógico que el imperialismo quiera destruir nuestra Revolución, para poder decirles a los demás pueblos: “Si hacen lo que hicieron los cubanos, les hacemos como a los cubanos.”
Por lo tanto, se está debatiendo en esta lucha nuestra un interés que no es solo nuestro, un interés que es universal. Se está librando aquí una lucha no solo por la liberación de nuestro pueblo, sino una lucha que tiene que ver con la liberación de todos los demás pueblos explotados del mundo. Y eso es preciso que lo sepamos; que sepamos bien lo que estamos haciendo, que sepamos bien los intereses que estamos afectando, y que esos intereses no se darán por vencidos fácilmente, esos intereses no levantarán bandera blanca fácilmente.
Esta es una lucha larga, larga como poderosos son los intereses que la Revolución ha afectado. Y no solo tenemos que defendernos de las agresiones, no solo eso, porque con eso solo no haríamos nada, sino que tenemos que avanzar, tenemos que avanzar, tenemos que progresar en todos los órdenes.
La impresión y la idea más clara que traemos es que debemos redoblar el esfuerzo (APLAUSOS), es que debemos hacernos a la realidad del gran papel que nuestra patria está jugando en el mundo y de la gran tarea que estamos llevando adelante.
Porque, más que las palabras que nosotros podamos pronunciar allí, valen los hechos. Nosotros hemos podido decir allí parte de lo que hemos hecho; nosotros no hicimos allí un recuento completo, ni mucho menos, no; pero lo que vale son los hechos. Nosotros tenemos que hacer avanzar a nuestro país. Para ello, nosotros tenemos que esmerarnos en lo que estamos haciendo. Cada uno de ustedes, sin excepción, tiene aquí una gran tarea, una tarea como la de nosotros (APLAUSOS). Nosotros vamos allí a hablar en nombre de cada uno de ustedes; nosotros podemos hablar allí, porque contamos con el esfuerzo de todos ustedes; nosotros tenemos moral para ir a hablar allí, porque contamos con el esfuerzo de todos ustedes; nosotros tenemos moral para ir a hablar allí, porque allí llevamos la moral de todos y cada uno de los hombres y mujeres de nuestra patria, ¡y por eso llevamos tanta moral allí! (APLAUSOS), porque llevamos la moral de un pueblo, por eso podemos ir allí a denunciar al imperialismo. Y por eso se admira a nuestro país, no por las palabras, sino por los hechos; no por lo que diga allí un cubano, sino por lo que hacen o puedan hacer todos los cubanos (APLAUSOS).
El mundo se está haciendo una idea de nosotros, una idea mejor de la que tuvo nunca si es que alguna vez el mundo tuvo una idea de que nosotros existíamos. Y lo que hay detrás de esa opinión es un pueblo; lo que vale detrás de esa opinión son los hechos de ese pueblo. Nosotros invitamos a todos y cada uno de ustedes a hacerse la idea de la gran responsabilidad que llevan sobre sí y, sobre todo, a hacerse la idea de que nosotros no somos nosotros individualmente, que nosotros pertenecemos a un pueblo, que nosotros pertenecemos a un minuto grande de la historia de la humanidad, que nosotros pertenecemos a una hora decisiva del género humano. Y que aquí hay que pensar en el pueblo, hay que pensar en el destino de la nación, no hay que pensar en nosotros mismos. Nosotros somos algo más que nosotros mismos, ¡nosotros somos pueblo, nosotros somos nación! (APLAUSOS); nosotros somos una idea; nosotros somos una esperanza; nosotros somos un ejemplo. Y cuando el Primer Ministro del Gobierno Revolucionario compareció en la ONU (APLAUSOS), no compareció un hombre, ¡compareció un pueblo! (APLAUSOS.) Allí estaba cada uno de ustedes, ¡cada uno de ustedes estaba allí! (APLAUSOS.)
Y con esa fuerza que nos da a nosotros contar con la voluntad, con el apoyo y con el esfuerzo de cada uno de ustedes, fuimos allá. ¡Nosotros nos sentimos muy obligados con el pueblo!, ¡nosotros sentimos que tenemos como una gran responsabilidad ante el pueblo!, y así como nos sentimos cada uno de nosotros, con todos los demás; ¡así tiene que sentirse cada uno de ustedes! (APLAUSOS), y llevar esa idea en la mente. Porque la obra que estamos haciendo, la estamos haciendo entre todos; el esfuerzo… (SE ESCUCHA UNA SEGUNDA EXPLOSION. EXCLAMACIONES DE: “¡Paredón!, ¡Paredón! ¡Venceremos!, ¡Venceremos!” LOS ASISTENTES CANTAN A CORO EL HIMNO DEL 26 DE JULIO Y POSTERIORMENTE EL HIMNO NACIONAL.) ¡Déjenlas, déjenlas que suenen, que con eso están entrenando al pueblo en toda clase de ruidos! (APLAUSOS Y EXCLAMACIONES DE: “¡Unidad!, ¡Venceremos!”) ¡Por lo que veo, por lo que veo, esta noche le va a salir cara a su señoría! (APLAUSOS.)
Estos hechos, estos hechos vienen simplemente a confirmar lo que veníamos diciendo, de que la Revolución tiene delante una lucha larga y una lucha dura. Y, por eso, nosotros insistíamos en que cada uno tomara muy en cuenta su papel y su responsabilidad.
Si esto fuera fácil, de veras que valía la pena que no se contara con nosotros. Las cosas fáciles no son las que dan, a la larga, los mejores frutos; las cosas que valen la pena, para que la vida de los pueblos, y de los hombres y de las mujeres tenga sentido, son las cosas difíciles, porque esas son las que vale la pena realizar (APLAUSOS).
Y, para nosotros, el saber el poder del imperio que tenemos delante, no nos desanima; al contrario, eso nos da ánimo (APLAUSOS). ¡Quien debe sentirse desmoralizado es el imperio, por la batalla que un pueblo pequeño le está dando! (APLAUSOS.)
Nadie, nadie piensa que los años venideros sean años de tranquilidad y de comodidad. ¡El interés mayor que tienen los años venideros es el trabajo que tenemos por delante, y la lucha que tenemos por delante! (APLAUSOS.) Y ese es el interés extraordinario que tiene para nosotros el futuro; eso es lo que nos libera de las tristezas y de las vergüenzas del pasado; eso es lo que hace feliz a nuestro pueblo, sobre todo, saber que el Primero de Enero no finalizaba la Revolución, sino que empezaba (APLAUSOS); eso es lo que hace feliz a nuestro pueblo: pensar que si la primera etapa fue el fruto del esfuerzo de una parte del pueblo, el futuro, la victoria de mañana, ¡será el fruto del esfuerzo de todo el pueblo! (APLAUSOS), sin que mañana, sin que mañana, nadie tenga que sentirse avergonzado, ni ante sus hijos, ni ante su esposa, ni ante sus compañeros, porque el futuro está lleno de sitios; en el futuro hay un lugar para cada uno de nosotros (APLAUSOS); en el futuro hay un puesto para cada uno de nosotros.
Y nosotros, nosotros mismos, tenemos la sensación de que estamos empezando, de que no hemos hecho más que comenzar, que estamos en las primeras páginas del gran libro de la historia que el pueblo de Cuba está escribiendo (APLAUSOS).
Y esa victoria la obtendremos con dos cosas, dos cosas: inteligencia y valor; con la cabeza y con el corazón. Nunca dejar ni que nos arrastre el valor por encima de la inteligencia, ni tampoco que la inteligencia vaya delante del valor. ¡Inteligencia y valor han de marchar juntos por el camino que conduce a la victoria! (APLAUSOS.)
Y así han sido, hasta hoy, las condiciones esenciales de los éxitos logrados. No subestimar al enemigo imperialista; sería un error subestimar al enemigo imperialista. ¡El enemigo imperialista cometió el error de subestimarnos a nosotros! (APLAUSOS), y en nuestro pueblo había mucha más fuerza revolucionaria de la que ellos habían imaginado nunca; y en nuestro pueblo hay condiciones morales como las que ellos jamás se habían imaginado nunca (APLAUSOS).
Nosotros no hemos de cometer el error de subestimar al enemigo imperialista, sino conocerlo en su fuerza real, apreciarlo en su fuerza real, y hacer, por nuestra parte, lo necesario para salir victoriosos en esta batalla por la liberación de la patria (APLAUSOS). Y nos interesa el camino que conduzca a la victoria con el esfuerzo, con el trabajo, con el valor, con la inteligencia; saber en cada momento lo que están planeando y saber reaccionar en cada momento frente a sus planes como lo hemos hecho ahora mismo, denunciando la histeria que alrededor de la Base de Guantánamo están sembrando… (APLAUSOS) y la campaña que alrededor de la base están haciendo y las habladurías sobre ataques a la base por parte nuestra que están publicando y nosotros lo dejamos bien aclarado allí y le pedimos al Presidente de la Asamblea que tomara cuenta de nuestra preocupación por las campañas que estaban haciendo, preparando el campo, creando la histeria y propiciando condiciones públicas favorables para promover allí un pretexto, fabricar allí, a través de una autoagresión, cualquier pretexto de agresión a nuestro país y nosotros no queremos que invadan a nuestro país; nosotros no les queremos dar pretexto para que invadan a nuestro país, eso es lo que ellos quisieran; que nosotros nos dejásemos arrebatar por el fervor o por el ardor patriótico, por el impulso, e hiciéramos lo que ellos quisieran que hiciéramos, pero nosotros debemos hacer lo que nosotros queramos y a nosotros nos convenga y no lo que ellos quieran o a ellos les convenga (APLAUSOS).
Martí decía que nunca se debía hacer lo que el enemigo quería que hiciéramos; por eso nosotros hemos estado prestos a explicar en cada oportunidad y lo hicimos allí y dejamos bien sentado que nosotros íbamos a reclamar nuestra soberanía sobre aquel pedazo de la base, por medio del derecho internacional, es decir, por vías legales (APLAUSOS) y no por medio de las armas. Nuestras armas no las tenemos para hacer con ellas lo que el enemigo quiera, sino lo que el enemigo no quiera; nuestras armas siempre han de estar listas para hacer lo que el enemigo no quiera que hagamos: es decir, listas para defendernos, listas para resistir (APLAUSOS), listas para destruirlo cuando se lancen contra nosotros (APLAUSOS); que para eso las tenemos, para defendernos. Y es preciso que el pueblo que ha escuchado nuestras palabras en las Naciones Unidas, sepa que uno de los problemas más delicados y uno de los problemas en que nosotros tenemos que actuar con más inteligencia, uno de los problemas en que debemos superar al enemigo imperialista, es en el problema de la Base de Caimanera, porque esa base es la que ellos van a tratar de tomar como pretexto, esa base es la que ellos van a tratar de tomar como pretexto y debe estar muy claro para el pueblo y para todo el mundo, cuál es nuestra posición, que cuando nosotros vayamos a reclamar, iremos a reclamarla de acuerdo con los cánones del derecho internacional, como un derecho nuestro inobjetable e innegable que tendrán que reconocernos (APLAUSOS).
Frente al enemigo imperialista, el enemigo imperialista que acude a las armas más arteras y más bajas, el enemigo imperialista que se ha caracterizado a través de la historia por los pretextos que ha fabricado cuando le ha interesado a sus fines, al enemigo imperialista que lo conocemos bien, lo inteligente es cerrarle el camino cuando viene en pos del pretexto, cuando anda buscando el pretexto, cuando está fabricando el pretexto, cerrarle el paso y decirle: búscate otro pretexto, porque ese no te va a servir, ese no te va a resultar, ese no te lo vas a poder conseguir (APLAUSOS).
El enemigo imperialista es taimado, es bajo, es artero, el enemigo imperialista es capaz de lo más inimaginable, el enemigo imperialista acude a cualquier arma, desde el asesinato de dirigentes hasta invasiones militares, siempre buscando la mano asesina, siempre buscando al gángster, siempre buscando el pretexto y nosotros debemos ser no solo valientes, sino también inteligentes; nosotros tenemos que ganarle la partida al enemigo imperialista, nosotros tenemos que salir victoriosos en la batalla contra el enemigo imperialista (APLAUSOS); nosotros tenemos que ganarle todas las batallas al enemigo imperialista como le hemos ganado la batalla a la ONU (APLAUSOS). Y el enemigo imperialista está allí batido en la ONU; los guerreristas, los armamentistas, los enemigos de la paz están recibiendo allí un rudo golpe ante la opinión pública del mundo y esas batallas de opinión pública en el mundo hay que ganárselas; al enemigo imperialista hay que desenmascararlo ante la opinión pública del mundo, al enemigo imperialista hay que desmoralizarlo ante el mundo; a los armamentistas, a los guerreristas, a los que juegan con el destino de la humanidad, hay que derrotarlos en todos los campos (APLAUSOS). Y ya que nosotros hemos pasado del ABC en cuestiones revolucionarias y políticas, ya que nosotros hemos pasado el primer grado, el segundo grado, el tercer grado, estamos ya en el bachillerato en cuestiones revolucionarias y políticas (APLAUSOS), tenemos que ir orientándonos y preparándonos mentalmente y educándonos sobre estas cuestiones; todos los días aprendemos algo más y es bueno que nuestro interés por el problema internacional no disminuya.
Nosotros virtualmente no nos preocupábamos de los problemas internacionales y eso era lógico; nosotros no éramos más que una “colonita” yanki, para qué nos íbamos a preocupar de los problemas internacionales; nosotros no hacíamos otra cosa que la que decía allí el delegado yanki; nosotros nunca opinábamos; nosotros nunca decíamos nada; nosotros nunca decíamos ni esta boca es mía, en la ONU ni en la OEA, ni en ninguna parte del mundo; nosotros éramos seres silentes y obedientes. Por eso nadie se preocupaba aquí de los problemas internacionales y decíamos, bueno, ese es un problema yanki, allá los americanos. Que declaraban una guerrita, detrás veníamos nosotros y declarábamos otra guerrita; que hacían una declaración, y detrás veníamos nosotros y hacíamos otra; que iban a otra guerrita y detrás íbamos nosotros a esa guerrita: que hacían ellos la paz y nosotros hacíamos la paz. ¿Qué éramos nosotros? Por eso nadie se preocupaba, pero ahora que nosotros opinamos también en el mundo, ahora que formamos parte del mundo, es bueno que nos instruyamos sobre todos los problemas internacionales y sepamos qué pasa en América Latina, qué pasa en Africa, qué pasa en Asia, qué pueblos allí viven, cuáles son sus riquezas, cuáles son sus aspiraciones, cuáles son sus problemas, qué postura tienen sus gobiernos y vayamos nosotros en el bachillerato de la política y de la revolución, aprendiendo geografía política internacional (APLAUSOS).
Y por eso es bueno que se sigan imprimiendo muchos libros y sigamos estudiando todos, porque todos y cada uno de ustedes tiene la obligación de saber; todos y cada uno de ustedes tiene la obligación de saber y de instruirse y el que no tuvo oportunidad antes, pues tiene que aprovechar esta oportunidad ahora para saber, para conocer los problemas, saber qué pasa en el mundo, de qué se trata, conocer de problemas políticos, sociales, económicos, de Cuba y de fuera de Cuba: porque si no nosotros no pasamos del bachillerato y tenemos que algún día llegar a ser doctores en revolución y en política (APLAUSOS). Y para eso está la Imprenta Nacional, y para eso está el papel que antes gastaban aquí los periódicos reaccionarios y proimperialistas, ¡para imprimir libros! Y si a cualquiera le gusta ir al cine alguna que otra vez, pues también le puede gustar leerse un libro alguna que otra vez; y que en el trabajo, en el círculo social obrero, o en el barrio o en el batallón o la compañía de milicias, en el sindicato, dondequiera que estemos, sepamos de lo que tengamos que saber y que no tengamos que hacer el papel triste de no saber nada frente a otros que sí saben, o que tengamos que estar dando opiniones sin saber de qué se trata, frente a otros que sí saben de qué se trata. ¡Y lo que el cubano no aprenda, no lo aprende nadie, de eso puede tener todo el mundo la seguridad! (APLAUSOS.)
Consideramos que de las impresiones de nuestro viaje, estas son las conclusiones más importantes, la idea del rol que Cuba está jugando, la idea de la lucha que tenemos por delante, la necesidad de conducirla con valor y con inteligencia y la necesidad de trabajar muy duro, de redoblar el esfuerzo.
¡Es muy hermoso ir allí y poder decirles a los demás pueblos que hemos creado diez mil nuevas aulas (APLAUSOS), que hemos hecho veinticinco mil nuevas viviendas! (APLAUSOS), y así será siempre un motivo de orgullo poder decirles a los pueblos: “Estamos haciendo tantas universidades, tantas ciudades escolares, están surgiendo tantos técnicos, hemos elevado tanto nuestra producción, hemos elevado el per cápita de producción nacional, hemos elevado el número de nuestras fábricas, hemos elevado nuestra producción agrícola, hemos elevado el rendimiento en nuestro trabajo, estamos haciendo una gran patria.”
Y será siempre un orgullo para nosotros, y eso sí depende de nosotros lo que aquí hagamos, lo que aquí progresemos, porque ese es un orgullo incomparable y una satisfacción espiritual incomparable. ¡Mas nosotros no lo haremos por vanidad! Lo haremos porque sabemos que con ello les estamos produciendo un gran bien a otros muchos pueblos, que nosotros debemos procurar que nuestra Revolución sea una obra acabada y una obra lo más perfecta posible, para que con ella nos podamos defender de los calumniadores, de los detractores de nuestra patria, para que podamos decir como dijimos allí: “¡Que vengan, que nuestras puertas están abiertas! ¡Que vengan para que vean cuántos pueblos nuevos surgen, cuántas cooperativas, cuántas casas, cuántas escuelas, cuántas universidades!” (APLAUSOS.)
¡Que vengan!, ¡que nosotros siempre tendremos algo que mostrar, mostraremos las milicias, mostraremos las brigadas juveniles revolucionarias! (APLAUSOS.) ¡Mostraremos las grandes tareas de repoblación forestal, mostraremos las ciudades escolares que estamos haciendo! ¡Mostraremos lo que es nuestra patria! ¡Porque los que vienen aquí y ven el esfuerzo que está haciendo nuestro pueblo en medio del hostigamiento del imperialismo, se admiran y se asombran de que un pueblo pequeño frente a tantos obstáculos pueda hacer lo que está haciendo! ¡Y eso será un motivo de orgullo siempre para nosotros, ese es el orgullo que sostiene allí frente a la persecución y a la calumnia el ánimo de nuestros compatriotas en Nueva York! (APLAUSOS.) Ese es el orgullo que sostiene a nuestros delegados en cualquier parte del mundo y esa es la idea fundamental que queríamos exponer aquí esta noche. ¡Y gracias por los dos petarditos, porque nos han valido de mucho con respecto a lo que estábamos explicando! (APLAUSOS.) ¡Y gracias porque ha servido para probar el temple que tiene nuestro pueblo, para probar el valor que tiene nuestro pueblo (APLAUSOS PROLONGADOS); porque ni una mujer se ha movido de su puesto! (APLAUSOS); ¡ningún hombre se ha movido de su puesto, ni se moverá de su puesto ante ningún peligro, ante ningún ataque! (APLAUSOS.) ¡Cada uno de nosotros somos soldados de la patria, no nos pertenecemos a nosotros mismos, pertenecemos a la patria! (APLAUSOS.) ¡No importa, no importa que cualquiera de nosotros caiga, lo que importa es que esa bandera se mantenga en alto, que la idea siga adelante!, ¡que la patria viva!
Conversations with Ignacio Ramonet, Third Edition (2006)
Below are a few selected excerpts from this 718 page book, published by the Cuban Council of State, of conversations between Cuba’s Commander-in-Chief, Fidel Castro, and Ignacio Ramonet, Editor of the French monthly, Le Monde Diplomatique. The conversations took place between 2003 and 2005. The book is dedicated to Alfredo Guevara and Ramonet’s sons, Tancrede and Axel. The book isn’t yet available in English. (July 2006)
These translations were prepared by CubaNews.
and edited by Walter Lippmann.
Chapter 10 (excerpts) and a few footnotes.
THE REVOLUTION’S FIRST STEPS AND FIRST PROBLEMS
A transition – Sectarianism – Public trials for torturers – The Revolution and the homosexuals – The Revolution and black people – The Revolution and women – The Revolution and machismo – The Revolution and the Catholic Church
In January, 1959 you did not change things overnight, but started a kind of transitional period instead, right?
We had already appointed a government. I had stated that I had no intentions to be President, a proof that I was not fighting for any personal interest. We looked for a candidate and chose a magistrate who had opposed Batista and had acquitted a number of revolutionaries.
Yes, it was Urrutia. He gained prestige. It was a pity that he was a little indecisive.
Didn’t you want to be President then?
No, I was not interested. What I wanted was the Revolution, the army, the struggle. Well, if elections had been held at a given time I could have applied as a candidate, but I was not into that. My interest was focused on the revolutionary laws and the implementation of the Moncada program.
So you led the whole war without any personal ambition to be President right afterward?
Absolutely, I can assure you that. Maybe there were other reasons in addition to my lack of interest, maybe there was a little bit of pride involved, something of that; but the truth is that I was not interested. Remember that I had been presumed dead long before then. I was fighting for a Revolution and had no interest in a high position. The satisfaction of fighting, success, victory, is a much bigger prize than any position, and I was fully conscious of my words when I said I didn’t want to be President. So we gave that task to Urrutia and really respected his attributions. Both he and the 26th of July Movement appointed the Cabinet, and some of that Movement’s leaders were middle class and rather right-wing, and some others were left-wing.
There are some around who have written their memoirs, and many of them stayed with the Revolution and have said wonderful things about how they thought, about their arguments with Che and Camilo.
Did Che mistrust some of those leaders?
Che was very mistrustful and wary of some people because he had seen what had happened with the strike in April, 1958 and believed some of the 26th of July Movement leaders had had a bourgeois education. Che was very much in favor of the agrarian reform and those people were talking about a quite moderate agrarian reform and about compensations and other things. We imposed the law on them. We had that kind of problems then.
Che was not really an accommodating person. There was also anti-communism, which was strong and had its own impact. In times of McCarthyism, there were poisonous campaigns here and prejudice was fostered in many ways. And some of our people of bourgeois origins were not only anti-communist but also sectarian.
Were they far left-wing?
No, they were communists from the PSP [Partido Socialista Popular, or People’s Socialist Party], because there had been a number of Stalin-like methods and doctrines, though not in the sense that there was any abuse, but there definitely was an urge to control more and more. In that Party there was this very capable man, Anibal Escalante, who all but took over the leadership position held by Blas Roca, its historical leader and a remarkable man of very humble extraction. He was from Manzanillo, had been a shoemaker, and fought very hard. The communists fought very hard.
Blas Roca had to travel abroad, and then Anibal Escalante took over as the top leader; I’m telling you, he was skilled, intelligent, and a good organizer, but when it came to controlling things, he was a Stalinist to the core. Control is the word we’ll use for everything. He came out with a policy: “let the petit bourgeois die and let’s take care of the communists”, for he wanted to put as few communists as possible at risk. And he was obsessed about screening. He had all the old habits of a stage in the history of communism when its members had been excluded, as in a ghetto, that’s the kind of mindset he had, and he screened everyone all the time. Those methods were applied to people who were otherwise very honest and self-sacrificing.
This Anibal Escalante created a very serious problem of sectarianism. Ah, but unity prevailed! There’s a reason: I think very few political leaders would turn a cold shoulder to those horrible things. Serious mistakes of sectarianism were made. But there was no vanity, only the Revolution, the need for unity and trust. I stood up for unity under very difficult circumstances, and I still do. Anibal was not a traitor.
The Communist International and its slogans led the communists to defend unpopular issues of the Soviet Union’s policies, like the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, the occupation of a part of Poland and the war against Finland. We already talked about that. The USSR applied a policy that set up the bases for all kinds of abuse and crime… They almost destroyed the Party. Mistakes were made in Cuba due to those slogans, or rather than mistakes they led to political lines for which the Party, with its doctrine and its militants who fought and still fight for the workers’ interests, had to pay a high price. But the time came when by virtue of those pacts the Soviet communists seemed to be linked with the Nazi regime… A high price was paid for all those things which were used as an excuse for anti-communism, but as I said they were the most trustable and dedicated people.
Besides, some governments today, like those of Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and others, are introducing progressive measures. What do you think about what Lula is doing in Brazil, for instance?
I obviously sympathize very much with the things he’s doing. He doesn’t count on the majority in the Parliament and has been forced to lean on other forces, even conservative ones, to put forward some reforms. The media have given widespread coverage to a scandal of corruption in the Parliament, but have been unable to implicate Lula, who is a popular leader. I’ve known him for many years, we have followed his itinerary, and we have talked many times. He’s a man of convictions, an intelligent, patriotic and progressive person of humble extraction who never forgets his origins nor his people, who always supported him. And I think that’s how everyone sees Lula. Because it’s not about organizing a revolution but winning a battle: eliminating hunger. He can do it. It’s about eliminating illiteracy. He can do that too. And I think we must support him.
Commander, do you think the age of revolutions and armed struggle is over in Latin America?
Look, nobody can say for sure that revolutionary changes will take place in Latin America today. But nobody can say for sure either that such changes will happen in one or several countries. It seems to me that if you make an objective analysis of the economic and social situation in some countries, you can rest assured that there’s an explosive situation. See, the infant mortality rate in the region is 65 per every thousand births, while ours is less than 6.5; that is, ten times more children die in Latin America than in Cuba, as an average. Malnutrition reaches 49% of the Latin American population; illiteracy is still rampant; tens of millions are unemployed, and there’s also the problem of the abandoned children: 30 million of them. As the President of UNICEF told me one day, if Latin America had the medical care and health levels Cuba has, the lives of 700.000 children would be spared every year… The overall situation is terrible.
If an urgent solution to those problems is not found –and neither the FTAA nor neoliberal globalization are a solution– there could be more than one revolution in some Latin American country when the U.S. least expects it. And they won’t be able to accuse anyone of promoting those revolutions.
Do you regret, for instance, having approved the entrance of the Warsaw Pact’s tanks in Prague in August, 1968 that so much surprised those who admired the Cuban Revolution?
Look, I can tell you that in our opinion –and history has proved us right– Czechoslovakia was moving toward a situation of counterrevolution, toward capitalism and the arms of imperialism. And we were against all the liberal economic reforms taking place there and in other socialist countries. Those reforms tended to increasingly strengthen market relations within the socialist society: profits, benefits, lucrative deals, material motivation, all the things that encouraged individualism and selfishness. So we understood the unpleasant need of sending troops to Czechoslovakia and never condemned the socialist countries where that decision was made.
Now, at the same time we were saying that those socialist countries had to be consistent and commit themselves to adopt the same attitude if a socialist country was threatened elsewhere in the world. On the other hand, we thought the first thing they said in Czechoslovakia was undisputable: to improve socialism. The protests about ruling methods, bureaucratic policies, and divorcing the masses were unquestionably correct. But from just slogans they moved to a truly reactionary policy. And in bitterness and pain we had to approve that military intervention.
You never knew President Kennedy personally.
No. And I think Kennedy was a very enthusiastic, clever and charismatic man who tried to do positive things. After Franklin Roosevelt, his was perhaps one of the most brilliant personalities in the U.S. He made mistakes, as when he gave green light to the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, though it was not his operation, but Eisenhower’s and Nixon’s. He couldn’t prevent it on time. He also put up with the CIA’s activity; during his administration they designed the first plans to kill me and other international leaders. There’s no iron-clad evidence of his personal involvement, but it’s really hard to believe that someone from the CIA took the decision on his/her own of undertaking such actions without a prior acceptance by the President. Maybe he was tolerant or allowed some ambiguous words of his to be freely interpreted by the CIA.
However, despite the fact that it’s clear to me that Kennedy made mistakes –including some ethical ones– I think he was capable of rectifying and brave enough to make changes in U.S. policies. One of his mistakes was the Vietnam War. Thanks to his enthusiasm and obsessive sympathy for the “green berets” and his tendency to overestimate the power of the United States, he took the first steps to engage his country in the Vietnam War.
He made mistakes, I repeat, but he was an intelligent man, at times brilliant and brave, and I think –I have said this before– that if Kennedy had survived perhaps the relations between Cuba and the United States would have improved, since Bay of Pigs and the Missile Crisis had an impact on him. I don’t think he underestimate the Cuban people; maybe he even admired our people’s steadiness and courage.
Right on the day he was killed I was talking with a French journalist, Jean Daniel [director of Le Nouvel Observateur] who brought me a message from him saying he wanted to talk with me. So a communication was in the offing which could have perhaps helped improve our relations.
His death hurt me. He was an adversary, true, but I was very sorry that he died. It was as if I lacked something. I was hurt as well by the way they killed him, the attack, the political crime… I felt outrage, repudiation, pain, in this case for an adversary who seemed to deserve a different kind of fate.
His murder worried me too because he had enough authority in this country to impose an improvement of their relations with Cuba, as clearly demonstrated by the conversation I had with this French journalist, Jean Daniel, who was with me in the very moment when I heard the news about Kennedy’s death. pp.593-594
Do you think that under the Bush administration the United States could become an authoritarian regime?
Hardly two thirds of a century ago mankind knew the tragic experience of Nazism. Hitler had an inseparable ally –you know that– in the fear he could instill in his adversaries. By then the owner of an impressive military force, he started a war that set the world on fire. The lack of vision on the part of statesmen from the strongest European powers at the time, as well as their cowardice, gave rise to a big tragedy.
I don’t think a fascist-like regime could rise in the United States. Serious mistakes and injustices have been committed –and still exist– within its political system, but the American people count on certain institutions, traditions and educational, cultural and political values that it would be near to impossible. The risk exists at international level. The authorities and prerogatives granted to a U.S. president are such and the military, economic and technological power network of that state is so huge that, in fact, and for reasons totally beyond the American people’s control, the world is currently threatened.
One of the things the Revolution was criticized about in its first years is that it was said to display an aggressive, repressive attitude towards homosexuals, that there were camps where the homosexuals were locked away and repressed. What can you say about that?
In two words, you’re talking about a supposed persecution of homosexuals.
I have to tell you about the origins of that and where that criticism came from. I do assure you that homosexuals were neither persecuted nor sent to internment camps. But there are so many testimonies of that…
Let me tell you about the problems we had. In those first years we were forced to mobilize almost the whole nation because of the risks we were facing, which included that of an attack by the United States: the dirty war, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Missile Crisis… Many people were sent to prison then. And we established the Mandatory Military Service. We had three problems at that time: we needed people of a certain school level to serve in the Armed Forces, people capable of handling sophisticated technology, because you could not do it if you had only reached second, third or sixth grade; you needed at least seventh, eighth or ninth grade, and a higher level later on. We had some graduates, but also had to take some men out of the universities before graduation. You can’t deal with a surface-to-air rocket battery if you don’t have a University degree.
A degree in Sciences, I assume.
You know that very well. There were hundreds of thousands of men who had an impact on many branches, not only on the preparation programs, but economic branches as well. Yet some were unskilled, and the country needed them as a result of the brain-drain we enforced in production centers. That’s a problem we had then.
Second, there were some religious groups which, out of principles or doctrines, refused to honor the flag or accept using weapons of any kind, something some people eventually used as an excuse to criticize or be hostile.
Third, there was the issue of the homosexuals. At the time, the mere idea of having women in Military Service was unthinkable… Well, I found out there was a strong rejection of homosexuals, and at the triumph of the Revolution, the stage we are speaking of, the machista element was very much present, together with widespread opposition to having homosexuals in military units.
Because of those three factors, homosexuals were not drafted at first, but then all that became a sort of irritation factor, an argument some people used to lash out at homosexuals even more.
Taking those three categories into account we founded the so-called Military Units to Support Production (UMAP) where we sent people from the said three categories: those whose educational level was insufficient; those who refused to serve out of religious convictions; or homosexual males who were physically fit. Those were the facts; that’s what happened.
So they were not internment camps?
Those units were set up all throughout the country for purposes of work, mainly to assist agriculture. That is, the homosexuals were not the only ones affected, though many of them certainly were, not all of them, just those who were called to do mandatory service in the ranks, since it was an obligation and everyone was participating.
That’s why we had that situation, and it’s true they were not internment units, nor were they punishment units; on the contrary, it was about morale, to give them a chance to work and help the country in those difficult circumstances. Besides, there were many who for religious reasons had the chance to help their homeland in another way by serving not in combat units but in work units.
Of course, as time passed by those units were eliminated. I can’t tell you now how many years they lasted, maybe six or seven years, but I can tell you for sure that there was prejudice against homosexuals.
Do you think that prejudice stemmed from machismo?
It was a cultural thing, just as it happened with women. I can tell you that the Revolution never promoted that, quite the opposite; we had to work very hard to do away with racial prejudice here. Concerning women, there was strong prejudice, as strong as in the case of homosexuals. I’m not going to come up with excuses now, for I assume my share of the responsibility. I truly had other concepts regarding that issue. I had my own opinions, and I was rather opposed and would always be opposed to any kind of abuse or discrimination, because there was a great deal of prejudice in that society. Whole families suffered for it. The homosexuals were certainly discriminated against, more so in other countries, but it happened here too, and fortunately our people, who are far more cultured and learned now, have gradually left that prejudice behind.
I must also tell you that there were –and there are– extremely outstanding personalities in the fields of culture and literature, famous names this country takes pride in, who were and still are homosexual, however they have always enjoyed a great deal of consideration and respect in Cuba. So there’s no need to look at it as if it were a general feeling. There was less prejudice against homosexuals in the most cultured and educated sectors, but that prejudice was very strong in sectors of low educational level –the illiteracy rate was around 30% those years– and among the nearly-illiterate, and even among many professionals. That was a real fact in our society.
Do you think that prejudice against homosexuals has been effectively fought?
Discrimination against homosexuals has been largely overcome. Today the people have acquired a general, rounded culture. I’m not going to say there is no machismo, but now it’s not anywhere near the way it was back then, when that culture was so strong. With the passage of years and the growth of consciousness about all of this, we have gradually overcome problems and such prejudices have declined. But believe me, it was not easy. pp.222-225
4. In 1921, when the civil war ended, the Soviet Union was in ruins and its population in the grip of starvation. Lenin then decided to give up war communism and launched the New Economic Policy (NEP), a partial return to capitalism and a mixed economy, and gave priority to agriculture. The outcome was a positive one. Lenin died in 1924 and in 1928 Stalin suddenly abandoned the NEP and moved on to an entirely socialist economy, giving priority to industry in order to “construct socialism in only one country”.
5. An important theoretical discussion took place in 1963-1964 about the Cuban Revolution’s economic organization where the advocates of Economic Calculation (EC) and those of the Funding Budgetary System (FBS) opposed each other. The former, headed by Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, Alberto Mora, Marcelo Fernandez Font and the French Marxist economist Charles Bettelheim supported and defended a political project of mercantile socialism based on enterprises managed in a decentralized manner and financially independent which would compete with their respective goods and exchange money for them in the market. Material incentives would prevail in each enterprise. Planning, according to EC supporters, operates through values and markets. Such was the main road chosen and promoted by the Soviets in those years.
The latter were headed by Che Guevara and included, among others, Luis Alvarez Rom and Belgian economist Ernest Mandel, leader of the Fourth International, all of whom questioned the socialism-market matrimony. They stood for a political project where planning and market are opposing terms. Che thought that planning was much more than a mere technical asset to manage the economy. It was a way to extend the scope of human rationality while gradually decreasing the quotas of fetishism upon which faith on “economic law independence” found support.
Those who like Che preferred the Budgetary System favored the bank-based unification of all production units with a single, centralized budget, all seen as part of a great socialist enterprise (made up of each individual production unit). No purchasing-and-selling activity based upon money and marketing would take place between any two factories of a same consolidated enterprise, only exchange through a bank account registration. The goods would go from one production unit to another without ever being merchandise. Che and his followers pushed for and fostered voluntary work and moral incentive as the privileged –albeit not the only– tools to raise the workers’ socialist conscience. pp.648-649
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, that is, of 99 percent of the inhabitants of a country of more than 600,000,000 is to deny the reality of history, the facts of life itself.
It is simply an absurdity; it is ridiculous that this problem is never even discussed. How long are we going to continue the sad business of never discussing this problem, when we have here representatives of Franco, for instance?
At this point is its appropriate to ask by what right the navy of an extra-continental country — and it is worth repeating this here, when so much is being said about extra-continental interference — intervented in a domestic affair of China. It would be interesting to have an explanation. The sole purpose of this interference was to maintain a group of allies in that place and to prevent the total liberation of the territory. That is an absurd and unlawful state of affairs from any point of view, but it constitutes the reason why the United States Government does not want the question of the People’s Republic of China to be discussed. And we want to put it on record here that this is our position and that we support discussion of this question, and that the United Nations General Assembly should seat the legitimate representatives of the Chinese people, namely, the representatives of the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
I understand perfectly that is somewhat difficult for anybody here to free himself of the stereotyped concepts by which the representatives of nations are usually judged. I must say that we have come here free from the prejudices, to analyze problems objectively, without fear of what people will think and without fear of the consequences of our position.
We have been honest, we have been frank without being Fran coist (APPLAUSE), because we do not want to be a party to the injustice committed against a great number of Spaniards, still imprisoned in Spain after more than twenty years, men who fought together with the Americans of the Lincoln Brigade, as the comrades of those same Americans who were there to do honor to the name of that great American, Lincoln.
In conclusion, we are going to place our trust in reason and in the decency of all. We wish to sum up our ideas regarding some aspects of these world problems about which there should be no doubt. The problem of Cuba, which we have set forth here, is a part of the problems of the world. Those who attack us today are those who are helping to attack others in other parts of the world.
The United States Government cannot be on the side of the Algerian people, it cannot be on the side of the Algerian people because it is allied to metropolitan France. It cannot be on the side of the Congolese people, because it is allied to Belgium. It cannot be on the side of the Spanish people, because it is allied to Franco. It cannot be on the side of the Puerto Rican people, whose nationhood it has been destroying for fifty years. It cannot be on the side of the Panamanians, who claim the Canal. It cannot support the ascendancy of civil power in Latin America, Germany or Japan. It cannot be on the side of the peasants who want land, because it is allied to the big landowners. It cannot be on the side of the workers who are demanding better living conditions in all parts of the world, because it is allied to the monopolies. It cannot be on the side of the colonies which want their freedom, because it is allied to the colonizers.
That is to say, it is for the Franco, for the colonization of Algeria for the colonization of the Congo; it is for the maintenance of its privileges and interests in the Panama Canal, for colonialism through the world. It is for the German militarism and for the resurgence of German militarism. It is for Japanese militarism and for the resurgence of Japanese militarism.
The Government of the United States forgets the millions of Jews murdered in European concentration camps by the Nazis, who are today regaining their influence in the German army. It forgets the Frenchmen who were killed in their heroic struggle against the occupation; it forgets the American soldiers who died on the Seigfried Line, in the Ruhr, on the Rhine, and on the Asian fronts. The United States Government cannot be for the integrity and sovereignty of nations. Why? Because it must curtail the sovereignty of nations in order to keep its military bases, and each base is a dagger thrust into sovereignty; each base is a limitation on sovereignty.
That is why it has to be against the sovereignty of nations, because it must constantly limit sovereignty in order to maintain its policy of encircling the Soviet Union with bases. We believe that these problems are not properly explained to the American people. But the American people need only imagine how uneasy they would feel if the Soviet Union began to establish a ring of atomic bases in Cuba, Mexico, or Canada. The population would not feel secure or calm. World opinion, including American opinion, must be taught to see the other person’s point of view. The underdeveloped peoples should not always be represented as aggressors; revolutionaries should not be presented as aggressors, as enemies of the American people, because we have seen American like Carleton Beals, Waldo Frank, and others, famous and distinguished intellectuals, shed tears at the thought of the mistakes that are being made, at the breach of hospitality towards us; there are many Americans, the most humane, the most progressive, and the most esteemed writers, in whom I see the nobility of this country’s early leaders, the Washingtons, the Jeffersons, and the Lincolns. I say this is no spirit of demegogy, but with the sincere admiration that we feel for those who once succeeded in freeing their people from colonial status and who did not fight in order that their country might today be the ally of all the reactionaires, the gangsters, the big landowners, the monopolists, the exploiters, the militarists, the facists in the world, that is to say, the ally of the most reactionary forces, but rather in order that their country might always be the champion of noble and just ideals.
We know well what will be said about us, today, tomorrow, every day, to deceive the American people. But is does not matter. We are doing our duty by stating our views in, this historic Assembly.
We proclaim the right of people to freedom, the right of people to nationhood; those who know that nationalism means the desire of the people to regain what is rightly theirs, their wealth, their natural resources, conspire against nationalism.
We are, in short, for all the noble aspirations of all the peoples. That is our position. We are, and always shall be for everything that is just: against colonialism, exploitation, monopolies, militarism, the armaments race, and warmongering. We shall always be against such things. That will be our position.
And to conclude, fulfilling what we regard as our duty, I am going to quote to this Assembly the key part of the Declaration of Havana. As you all know, the Declaration of Havana was the Cuban people’s answer to the Declaration of San Jose, Costa Rica. Nor 10, nor 100, nor 100,000, but more than one million Cubans gathered together.
At that Assembly, which was convened as an answer to the Declaration of San Jose, the following principles were proclaimed, in consultation with the people and by acclamation of the people, as the principles of the Cuban Revolution.
“The National General Assembly of the Cuban people condemns largescale landowning as a source of poverty for the peasant and a backward and inhuman system of agricultural production; it condemns starvation wages and the iniquitous exploitation of human work by illegitimate and privileged interests; it condemns illiteracy, the lack of teachers, of schools, doctor and hospitals; the lack of old-age security in the countries of America; it condemns discrimination against the Negro and the Indian’; it condemns the inequality and the exploitation of women; it condemns political and military oligarchies, which keep our peoples in poverty, prevent their democratic development and the full exercise of their sovereignty; it condemns concessions of the natural resources of our countries as a policy of surrender which betrays the interests of the peoples; it condemns the governments which ignore the demands of their people in order to obey orders from abroad; it condemns the systematic deception of the people by mass communications media which serve the interests of the oligarchies and the policy of imperialist oppression; it condemns the monopoly held by news agencies, which are instruments of monopolist trusts and agents of such interests; it condemns the repressive laws which prevent the workers, the peasants, the students and the intellectuals, the great majorities in each country, from organizing themselves to fight for their social and national rights; it condemns the imperialist monopolies and enterprises which continually plunder our wealth, exploit our workers and peasants, bleed our economies to keep them in a backward state, and subordinate Latin American politics to their designs and interests.
“In short, The National General Assembly of the Cuban People condemns the exploitation of man by man, and the exploitations of underdeveloped countries by imperialists capital.
“Therefore, the National General Assembly of the Cuban People proclaims before America, and proclaims here before the world, the right of the peasants to the land; the right of the workers to the fruits of their labor; the right of the children to education: the right of the sick to medical care and hospitalization; the right of young people to work; the right of students to free vocational training and scientific education; the right of Negroes, and Indians to full human dignity; the right of women to civil, social and political equality; the right of the elderly to security in their old age; the right of intellectuals, artists and scientists so fight through their works for a better world; the right of States to nationalize imperialist monopolies, thus rescuing their national wealth and resources; the right of nations to their full sovereignty; the right of peoples to convert their military fortresses into schools, and to arm their workers — because in this we too have to be arms-conscious, to arm our people in defense against imperialist attacks — their peasants, their students, their intellectuals, Negroes, Indians, women, young people, old people, all the oppressed and exploited, so that they themselves can defend their rights and their destinies.”
Some people wanted to know what the policy of the Revolutionary Government of Cuba was. Very well, them, this is our policy (OVATION).
Castro Internet Archive
To the U.N. General Assembly The Problem of Cuba and its Revolutionary Policy
Spoken: September 26, 1960 at the U.N. General Assembly Source:Castro Speech Database [Embassy of Cuba] Markup: Brian Baggins Online Version: Castro Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2000
(VERSION TAQUIGRAFICA DE LAS OFICINAS DEL PRIMER MINISTRO)
Aunque nos han dado fama de que hablamos extensamente, no deben preocuparse. Vamos a hacer lo posible por ser breves y exponer lo que entendemos nuestro deber exponer aquí. Vamos a hablar también despacio, para colaborar con los intérpretes.
Algunos pensarán que estamos muy disgustados por el trato que ha recibido la delegación cubana. No es así. Nosotros comprendemos perfectamente el porqué de las cosas. Por eso no estamos irritados ni nadie debe preocuparse de que Cuba pueda dejar de poner también su granito de arena en el esfuerzo para que el mundo se entienda.
Eso sí, nosotros vamos a hablar claro.
Cuesta recursos el envío de una delegación a las Naciones Unidas. Nosotros, los países subdesarrollados, no tenemos muchos recursos para gastarlos, si no es para hablar claro en esta reunión de representativos de casi todos los países del mundo.
Los oradores que nos han precedido en el uso de la palabra han expresado aquí su preocupación por problemas que interesan a todo el mundo. A nosotros nos interesan esos problemas, pero, además, en el caso de Cuba existe una circunstancia especial, y es que Cuba debe ser para el mundo en este momento una preocupación, porque con razón han expuesto aquí distintos delegados, entre los distintos problemas que hay actualmente en el mundo, el problema de Cuba. Además de los problemas que hoy preocupan a todo el mundo, Cuba tiene problemas que le preocupan a ella, que le preocupan a nuestro pueblo.
Se habla del deseo universal de paz, que es el deseo de todos los pueblos y, por tanto, el deseo también de nuestro pueblo, pero esa paz, que el mundo desea preservar, es la paz con que nosotros los cubanos no contamos desde hace rato. Los peligros que otros pueblos del mundo pueden considerar más o menos lejanos son problemas y preocupaciones que para nosotros están muy próximos. Y no ha sido fácil venir a exponer aquí en esta asamblea los problemas de Cuba. No ha sido fácil para nosotros llegar aquí.
No sé si seremos unos privilegiados. ¿Seremos nosotros, los de la delegación cubana, la representación del tipo de gobierno peor del mundo? ¿Seremos nosotros, los representantes de la delegación cubana, acreedores al maltrato que hemos recibido? ¿Y por qué precisamente nuestra delegación? Cuba ha enviado muchas delegaciones a las Naciones Unidas, Cuba ha estado representada por diversas personas y, sin embargo, nos correspondieron a nosotros las medidas de excepción: confinamiento a la Isla de Manhattan, consigna en todos los hoteles para que no se nos alquilasen habitaciones, hostilidad y, bajo el pretexto de la seguridad, el aislamiento.
Quizás ninguno de ustedes, señores delegados, ustedes, que traen no la representación individual de nadie, sino la representación de sus respectivos países, y que por lo tanto las cosas que a cada uno de ustedes se refieran han de preocuparles por lo que cada uno de ustedes represente a su llegada a esta ciudad de Nueva York haya tenido que sufrir tratos personalmente vejaminosos, físicamente vejaminosos, como tuvo que sufrir el Presidente de la delegación cubana.
No estoy agitando aquí, en esta asamblea. Me limito a decir la verdad. Era hora también de que nosotros tuviéramos la oportunidad de hablar. Sobre nosotros han estado hablando desde hace muchos días, han estado hablando los periódicos, y nosotros en silencio. Nosotros no podemos defendernos de los ataques aquí, en este país. Nuestra oportunidad para decir la verdad es esta, y no dejaremos de decirla.
Tratos personales vejaminosos, intentos de extorsión, desalojo del hotel en que residíamos, y cuando marchamos hacia otro hotel hemos puesto de nuestra parte todo lo posible para evitar dificultades, absteniéndonos por completo de salir de nuestro alojamiento, no asistiendo a ningún otro punto que a esta sala de las Naciones Unidas, las contadas veces que hemos asistido, y la aceptación a una recepción en la embajada del gobierno soviético. Sin embargo, eso no bastó para que nos dejaran en paz.
Había aquí, en este país, una numerosa inmigración cubana. Pasan de 100 000 los cubanos que en los últimos 20 años se han trasladado a este país desde su propia tierra, donde ellos habrían deseado estar siempre, y adonde ellos desean regresar, como desean regresar siempre los que por razones sociales o económicas se ven obligados a abandonar su patria. Esa población cubana se dedicaba aquí al trabajo, respetaba y respeta las leyes, y, naturalmente, sentía por su patria, sentía por la Revolución. Nunca tuvo problemas, pero un día comenzaron a llegar a este país otro tipo de visitantes: comenzaron a llegar criminales de guerra, comenzaron a llegar individuos que habían asesinado, en algunos casos, a centenares de nuestros compatriotas. Aquí no tardaron en verse alentados por la publicidad, aquí no tardaron en verse alentados por las autoridades, y, naturalmente, ese aliento refleja su conducta, y son motivos de frecuentes incidentes con la población cubana que desde hacía muchos años trabajaba honestamente en este país.
Uno de esos incidentes, provocado por los que aquí se sienten respaldados por las campañas sistemáticas contra Cuba, y por la complicidad de las autoridades, dio lugar a la muerte de una niña. Ese hecho era de lamentar, y era para que lo lamentásemos todos. Los culpables no eran, precisamente, los cubanos residentes aquí. Los culpables no éramos, mucho menos, nosotros, los de la delegación cubana y, sin embargo, seguramente todos ustedes habrán visto esos cintillos de los periódicos donde se hablaba de que “Grupos Pro Castro” habían dado muerte a una niña de 10 años. Y con esa hipocresía característica de los que tienen que ver con las cosas de las relaciones entre Cuba y este país, un vocero de la Casa Blanca inmediatamente expidió declaraciones a todo el mundo, señalando el hecho, acusando, casi casi, de culpabilidad a la delegación cubana. Y, por supuesto, su Excelencia, el señor delegado de Estados Unidos en esta asamblea no dejó de sumarse a la farsa, enviando al gobierno de Venezuela un telegrama de condolencia a los familiares de la víctima, tal como si se sintiese en la obligación de dar una explicación desde las Naciones Unidas, por algo de lo que, virtualmente, fuese culpable la delegación cubana.
Pero eso no era todo. Cuando nosotros fuimos obligados a abandonar uno de los hoteles de esta ciudad, y nos dirigimos hacia la sede de las Naciones Unidas, mientras se hacían otras gestiones, hay un hotel, un hotel humilde de esta ciudad, un hotel de los negros de Harlem, que nos dio alojamiento. La respuesta llegó mientras nosotros conversábamos con el señor Secretario General. Sin embargo, un funcionario del Departamento de Estado hizo todo lo posible por impedir que nosotros nos alojásemos en ese hotel. En ese instante, como por arte de magia, empezaron a aparecer hoteles en Nueva York. Y hoteles que habían negado alojamiento a la delegación cubana anteriormente, se ofrecieron entonces para alojarnos hasta gratis. Mas nosotros, por elemental reciprocidad, aceptamos el hotel de Harlem. Entendíamos que teníamos derecho a esperar que se nos dejase en paz. No, no se nos dejó en paz.
Ya en Harlem, en vista de que no se pudo impedir nuestra estancia en aquel lugar, comenzaron las campañas de difamación. Comenzaron a esparcir por el mundo la noticia de que la delegación cubana se había alojado en un burdel. Para algunos señores, un hotel humilde del barrio de Harlem, de los negros de Estados Unidos, tiene que ser un burdel. Y además, han estado tratando de cubrir de infamia a la delegación cubana, sin respeto siquiera para las compañeras que integran o trabajan con nuestra delegación.
Si nosotros fuésemos de la calaña de hombres que se nos quiere pintar a toda costa, no habría perdido su esperanza el imperialismo, como la ha perdido hace mucho rato, de comprarnos o seducirnos de alguna manera. Mas como la esperanza la han perdido desde hace mucho rato, y no tuvieron nunca razón para albergarla, al menos, después de afirmar que la delegación cubana se alojó en un burdel debían reconocer que el capital financiero imperialista es una ramera que no puede seducirnos. Y no precisamente “La Ramera Respetuosa” de Jean Paul Sartre.
El problema de Cuba. Quizás algunos de ustedes estén bien informados, quizás algunos no. Todo depende de las fuentes de información, pero, sin duda que para el mundo el problema de Cuba, surgido en el transcurso de los últimos dos años, es un problema nuevo. El mundo no había tenido muchas razones para saber que Cuba existía. Para muchos era algo así como un apéndice de Estados Unidos. Incluso para muchos ciudadanos de este país Cuba era una colonia de Estados Unidos. En el mapa no lo era; en el mapa nosotros aparecíamos con un color distinto al color de Estados Unidos. En la realidad sí lo era.
¿Y cómo llegó a ser nuestro país una colonia de Estados Unidos? No fue precisamente por sus orígenes. No fueron los mismos hombres los que colonizaron a Estados Unidos y a Cuba. Cuba tiene una raíz étnica y cultural muy distinta, y esa raíz se afianzó durante siglos. Cuba fue el último país de América en librarse del coloniaje español, del yugo colonial español, con perdón de su señoría, el representante del gobierno español. Y por ser el último, tuvo que luchar también más duramente.
A España solo le quedaba una posesión en América, y la defendió con tozudez y ahínco. Nuestro pueblo pequeño, de escasamente algo más de un millón de habitantes en aquel entonces, tuvo que enfrentarse solo, durante casi treinta años, con uno de los ejércitos considerados de los más fuertes de Europa. Contra la pequeña población nacional, el gobierno español llegó a movilizar un número de fuerzas tan grande como todas las fuerzas que habían combatido la independencia de América del Sur juntas. Hasta medio millón de soldados españoles llegaron a combatir contra el heroico e indoblegable propósito de nuestro pueblo de ser libre.
Treinta años lucharon los cubanos solos, por su independencia. Treinta años que también constituyen sedimento del amor a la libertad y a la independencia de nuestra patria. Pero Cuba era una fruta —según la opinión de un presidente de Estados Unidos a principios del siglo pasado, John Adams—, era como una manzana pendiente del árbol español, llamada a caer, tan pronto madurara, en manos de Estados Unidos. Y el poder español se había desgastado en nuestra patria. España no tenía ya ni hombres ni recursos económicos para mantener la guerra en Cuba; España estaba derrotada. La manzana estaba aparentemente madura, y el gobierno de Estados Unidos extendió las manos.
No cayó una manzana, cayeron varias manzanas en sus manos. Cayó Puerto Rico, el heroico Puerto Rico que había iniciado su lucha por la independencia junto con los cubanos; cayeron las Islas Filipinas, y cayeron varias posesiones más. Sin embargo, el expediente para dominar nuestro país no podía ser el mismo. Nuestro país había sostenido una tremenda lucha y a su favor existía la opinión del mundo. El expediente debía ser distinto.
Los cubanos que lucharon por nuestra independencia, los cubanos que en aquellos instantes estaban dando su sangre y su vida, llegaron a creer de buena fe en aquella Resolución Conjunta del Congreso de Estados Unidos, del 20 de abril de 1898, que declaraba que Cuba es y de derecho debe ser libre e independiente.
El pueblo de Estados Unidos simpatizaba con la lucha cubana. Aquella Declaración Conjunta era una ley del Congreso de esta nación, en virtud de la cual declaraba la guerra a España. Mas aquella ilusión concluyó en un cruel engaño. Después de dos años de ocupación militar de nuestra patria, surge lo inesperado: en el mismo instante en que el pueblo de Cuba, a través de una Asamblea Constituyente estaba redactando la Ley Fundamental de la República, de nuevo surge una ley en el Congreso de Estados Unidos, una ley propuesta por el senador Platt, de triste recordación para Cuba. Y en aquella ley se establecía que la Asamblea Constituyente de Cuba debía llevar un apéndice, en virtud del cual, le concedía al gobierno de Estados Unidos, el derecho a intervenir en los problemas políticos de Cuba y, además, el derecho de arrendar determinados espacios de su territorio para estaciones navales o carboneras.
Es decir que mediante una ley emanada de la autoridad legislativa de un país extranjero, la Constitución de nuestra patria debía contener esa disposición, y bien claramente se les indicaba a nuestros constituyentistas que si no había Enmienda no habría retirada de las fuerzas de ocupación. Es decir que se le impuso a nuestra patria por el órgano legislativo de un país extranjero, se le impuso por la fuerza, el derecho a intervenir y el derecho a arrendar bases o estaciones navales.
Es bueno que los pueblos recién ingresados a esta organización, los pueblos que inician ahora su vida independiente, tengan muy presente la historia de nuestra patria, por las similitudes que puedan encontrar en su camino. Y si no ellos, los que vengan después de ellos, o sus hijos, o sus nietos, aunque nos parece que no vamos a llegar tan lejos.
Entonces comenzó la nueva colonización de nuestra patria, la adquisición de las mejores tierras de cultivo por las compañías norteamericanas; concesiones de sus recursos naturales, sus minas; concesiones de los servicios públicos, para la explotación de los servicios públicos; concesiones comerciales, concesiones de todo tipo, que unidas al derecho constitucional —constitucional a la fuerza— de intervenir en nuestro país, convirtieron a nuestra patria, de colonia española en colonia norteamericana.
Las colonias no hablan, a las colonias no se les conoce en el mundo hasta que tienen oportunidad de expresarse. Por eso nuestra colonia no la conocía el mundo, y los problemas de nuestra colonia no los conocía el mundo. En los libros de geografía aparecía una bandera más, un escudo más; en los mapas geográficos aparecía un color más, pero allí no existía una república independiente. Nadie se engañe, que con engañarnos no hacemos más que el ridículo; nadie se engañe, allí no había una república independiente, allí había una colonia, donde el que mandaba era el embajador de Estados Unidos.
No nos da vergüenza tener que proclamarlo, porque frente a esa vergüenza está el orgullo de poder decir, ¡que hoy ninguna embajada gobierna nuestro pueblo, que a nuestro pueblo lo gobierna el pueblo! (APLAUSOS.)
Nuevamente tiene que recurrir la nación cubana a la lucha para arribar a esa independencia. La logró después de siete años de sangrienta tiranía. ¿Tiranizada por quién? Tiranizada por quienes en nuestro país no eran más que los instrumentos de los que dominaban económicamente a nuestra patria.
¿Cómo puede sostenerse ningún régimen impopular y enemigo de los intereses del pueblo como no sea por la fuerza? ¿Tendremos que explicarles aquí nosotros a los representantes de nuestros pueblos hermanos de América Latina lo que son las tiranías militares? ¿Tendremos que explicarles cómo se han sostenido? ¿Tendremos que explicarles la historia de varias de esas tiranías que son ya clásicas? ¿Tendremos que explicarles en qué fuerzas se apoyan, en qué intereses nacionales e internacionales se apoyan?
El grupo militar que tiranizó a nuestro país, se apoyaba en los sectores más reaccionarios de la nación y se apoyaba sobre todo en los intereses económicos extranjeros que dominaban la economía de nuestra patria. Todos saben y entendemos que hasta el propio gobierno de Estados Unidos lo reconoce así, todos saben que ese era el tipo de gobierno preferido por los monopolios. ¿Por qué? Porque mediante la fuerza se reprime toda la demanda del pueblo, mediante la fuerza se reprimían las huelgas por mejores condiciones de vida, mediante la fuerza se reprimían los movimientos campesinos por poseer las tierras, mediante la fuerza se reprimían las más caras aspiraciones de la nación.
Por eso, los gobiernos de fuerza eran los gobiernos preferidos por los que dirigen la política de Estados Unidos. Por eso, gobiernos de fuerza se mantuvieron durante mucho tiempo en el poder y gobiernos de fuerza se mantienen todavía en el poder en América. Claro que todo depende de las circunstancias para contar o no contar con el apoyo del gobierno de Estados Unidos.
Por ejemplo, ahora dicen que están contra uno de esos gobiernos de fuerza: el gobierno de Trujillo, pero no dicen que están contra otro de esos gobiernos de fuerza, el de Nicaragua, o el de Paraguay, por ejemplo. El de Nicaragua ya no es un gobierno de fuerza, es una monarquía casi tan constitucional como la de Inglaterra, en que el poder se sucede de padres a hijos y también habría sucedido otro tanto en nuestra patria. Era el tipo de gobierno de fuerza el gobierno de Fulgencio Batista, el gobierno que convenía a los monopolios norteamericanos en Cuba, pero no era por supuesto el tipo de gobierno que convenía al pueblo cubano y el pueblo cubano con un gran derroche de vidas y de sacrificios, lo lanzó del poder.
¿Qué encontró la Revolución al llegar al poder en Cuba? ¿Qué maravillas encontró la Revolución al llegar al poder en Cuba? Encontró en primer lugar que 600 000 cubanos con aptitudes para el trabajo, no tenían empleo; un número igual en proporción al número de desempleados que había en Estados Unidos cuando la gran crisis que sacudió a este país, eso que a poco produce una catástrofe en Estados Unidos, era el desempleo permanente en nuestra patria. Tres millones de personas de una población total de algo más de 6 millones, no disfrutaban de luz eléctrica ni de ninguno de los beneficios y comodidades de la electricidad; 3 500 000 personas de un total de algo más de 6 millones, vivían en cabañas, barracones y tugurios, sin las menores condiciones de habitabilidad. En las ciudades los alquileres absorbían hasta una tercera parte de los ingresos familiares. Tanto el servicio eléctrico como los alquileres eran de los más caros del mundo. Treinta y siete y medio por ciento de nuestra población era analfabeta, no sabía leer ni escribir; el 70% de nuestra población infantil rural no tenía maestros; el 2% de nuestra población estaba padeciendo de tuberculosis; es decir, 100 000 personas en un total de algo más de 6 millones. El 95% de nuestra población rural infantil estaba afectada de parasitismo; la mortandad infantil por tanto era muy alta, el promedio de vida era muy bajo. Por otro lado, el 85% de los pequeños agricultores pagaban rentas por la posesión de sus tierras, que ascendían hasta un 30% de sus ingresos en bruto, mientras que el uno y medio del total de propietarios controlaba el 46% del área total de la nación. Por supuesto que las comparaciones del número de camas de hospitales por el número determinado de habitantes del país era ridículo, cuando se le compara con los países donde la asistencia médica está medianamente atendida.
Los servicios públicos, compañías eléctricas, compañías telefónicas, eran propiedades de monopolios norteamericanos.
Una gran parte de la banca, una gran parte del comercio de importación, las refinerías de petróleo, la mayor parte de la producción azucarera, las mejores tierras de Cuba y las industrias más importantes en todos los órdenes, eran propiedades de compañías norteamericanas. La balanza de pagos en los últimos 10 años, desde 1950 hasta 1960, había sido favorable a Estados Unidos con respecto a Cuba en 1 000 millones de dólares.
Esto sin contar con los millones y cientos de millones de dólares sustraídos del tesoro público por los gobernantes corrompidos de la tiranía que fueron depositados en los bancos de Estados Unidos o en bancos europeos.
Mil millones de dólares en 10 años. El país pobre y subdesarrollado del Caribe, que tenía 600 000 desempleados contribuyendo al desarrollo económico del país más industrializado del mundo.
Esa fue la situación que encontramos nosotros y esa situación no ha de ser extraña a muchos de los países representados en esta asamblea, porque, al fin y al cabo, lo que hemos dicho de Cuba no es sino como una radiografía de diagnóstico general aplicable a la mayor parte de los países aquí representados.
¿Cuál era la alternativa del Gobierno Revolucionario? ¿Traicionar al pueblo? Desde luego que para el señor Presidente de Estados Unidos lo que nosotros hemos hecho por nuestro pueblo, es traición a nuestro pueblo; y no lo sería con toda seguridad si en vez de ser nosotros leales a nuestro pueblo hubiésemos sido leales a los grandes monopolios norteamericanos que explotaban la economía de nuestro país. Al menos, ¡quede constancia de las “maravillas” que encontró la Revolución al llegar al poder, que son, ni más ni menos, que las maravillas del imperialismo, que son, ni más ni menos, que las “maravillas” del “mundo libre” para nosotros los países colonizados!
Nadie podrá culparnos a nosotros de que en Cuba hubiese 600 000 desempleados, 37,5% de población analfabeta, 2% de tuberculosos, 95% de parasitados. ¡No! Hasta ese minuto ninguno de nosotros contábamos en los destinos de nuestra patria; hasta ese minuto en los destinos de nuestra patria contaban los gobernantes que servían a los intereses de los monopolios, hasta ese minuto contaban en nuestra patria los monopolios. ¿Los estorbó alguien? ¡No! Nadie los estorbó. ¿Los perturbó alguien? ¡No! Nadie los perturbó. Ellos pudieron realizar su tarea y allí encontramos nosotros los frutos de los monopolios.
¿Cómo estaban las reservas de la nación? Cuando el tirano Batista llegó al poder había 500 millones de dólares en la reserva nacional, buena suma para haberla invertido en el desarrollo industrial del país. Cuando la Revolución llega al poder quedaban en nuestras reservas 70 millones.
¿Preocupación por el desarrollo industrial de nuestra patria? ¡No! ¡Nunca! Por eso nos asombramos tanto y todavía no salimos de nuestro asombro cuando oímos decir aquí de las extraordinarias preocupaciones del gobierno de Estados Unidos por la suerte de los países de América Latina, de los países de Africa y de los países de Asia. Y no salimos de nuestro asombro, porque nosotros después de 50 años teníamos ahí los frutos.
¿Qué ha hecho el Gobierno Revolucionario? ¿Cuál es el delito cometido por el Gobierno Revolucionario para que recibamos el trato que hemos recibido aquí, para que tengamos enemigos tan poderosos como lo que se ha demostrado que tenemos aquí?
¿Surgieron desde el primer instante los problemas con el gobierno de Estados Unidos? ¡No! ¿Es que nosotros al llegar al poder estábamos poseídos del propósito de buscarnos problemas internacionales? ¡No! Ningún gobierno revolucionario que llega al poder quiere problemas internacionales. Lo que quiere es invertir su esfuerzo en resolver sus problemas propios, lo que quiere es llevar adelante un programa, como lo quieren los gobiernos que realmente están interesados en el progreso de su país.
La primera circunstancia que por nuestra parte fue considerada como un acto inamistoso fue el hecho de que se le abrieran de par en par las puertas de este país a toda una pandilla de criminales que habían dejado ensangrentada a nuestra patria; hombres que habían llegado a asesinar a cientos de campesinos indefensos, que no se cansaron de torturar a prisioneros durante muchos años, que mataron a diestro y siniestro, fueron recibidos aquí con los brazos abiertos. Y a nosotros aquello nos extrañaba. ¿Por qué ese acto inamistoso por parte de las autoridades de Estados Unidos hacia Cuba? ¿Por qué ese acto de hostilidad? En aquel momento no lo comprendíamos perfectamente; ahora, nos damos cuenta cabal de las razones. ¿Correspondía esa política a un tratamiento correcto, con respecto a Cuba, de las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y Cuba? No, porque los agraviados éramos nosotros, y los agraviados éramos nosotros por cuanto el régimen de Batista se mantuvo en el poder con la ayuda del gobierno de Estados Unidos; el régimen de Batista se mantuvo en el poder con la ayuda de tanques, de aviones y de armas proporcionadas por el gobierno de Estados Unidos; el régimen de Batista se mantuvo en el poder gracias al empleo de un ejército cuyos oficiales eran instruidos por una misión militar del gobierno de Estados Unidos; y nosotros esperamos que no se le ocurrirá a ningún funcionario de Estados Unidos negar esa verdad.
Incluso cuando el Ejército Rebelde llega a la ciudad de La Habana, en el campamento militar más importante de esa ciudad estaba la misión militar norteamericana. Aquel era un ejército que había colapsado, aquel era un ejército vencido y rendido. Nosotros pudimos considerar perfectamente como prisioneros de guerra a aquellos militares extranjeros que estaban allí ayudando y entrenando a los enemigos del pueblo. Sin embargo, esa no fue nuestra actitud; nuestra actitud se limitó a pedirles a los miembros de esa misión que regresasen a su país, que, después de todo, nosotros no necesitábamos sus lecciones, y que allí sus discípulos estaban vencidos.
He aquí un documento (Lo muestra). Nadie se extrañe de su aspecto, porque es un documento roto. Se trata de un antiguo pacto militar en virtud del cual la tiranía batistiana había recibido generosa ayuda por parte del gobierno de Estados Unidos; y es importante conocer lo que dice en el Artículo 2 este convenio:
“El gobierno de la República de Cuba se compromete, a hacer uso eficaz de la ayuda que reciba del gobierno de los Estados Unidos de América de conformidad con el presente convenio, con objeto de llevar a efecto los planes de defensa aceptados por ambos gobiernos, conforme a los cuales los dos gobiernos tomarán parte en misiones importantes para la defensa del hemisferio occidental; y, a menos que previamente se obtenga la anuencia del gobierno de los Estados Unidos de América…” —repito—: “…y, a menos que previamente se obtenga la anuencia del gobierno de los Estados Unidos de América, no dedicarán esa ayuda a otros fines que no sean aquellos para los cuales se prestó.”
La ayuda fue dedicada a combatir a los revolucionarios cubanos; luego contó con la anuencia del gobierno de Estados Unidos. Y aun cuando algunos meses antes de finalizar la guerra, se produjo en este país un embargo de armas de las enviadas a Batista, al cabo de seis años y algo más de ayuda militar, una vez declarado solemnemente ese embargo de armas, tuvo el Ejército Rebelde pruebas, pruebas documentales, de que nuevamente habían sido abastecidas las fuerzas de la tiranía con 300 “rockets” para lanzar desde aviones.
Cuando los compañeros de la emigración presentaron esos documentos a la opinión pública de Estados Unidos, el gobierno de Estados Unidos no encontró otra explicación que decir que estábamos equivocados, que no le habían dado nuevos abastecimientos al ejército de la tiranía, sino que, simplemente, se habían limitado a cambiarle unos “rockets” de otro calibre que no servían para sus aviones, por unos “rockets” que si servían para los aviones de la tiranía y, por cierto, que a nosotros nos los lanzaron mientras estábamos en las montañas. Una manera sui géneris de explicar las contradicciones cuando se hacen inexplicables; no se trataba, de acuerdo con su explicación, de una ayuda, sería entonces una especie de “asistencia técnica”…
¿Por qué, entonces, si existían esos antecedentes, que eran motivos de disgusto por parte de nuestro pueblo, ya que todo el mundo sabe, lo sabe aquí hasta el más inocente de todos, que en estos tiempos modernos, con la revolución que ha tenido lugar en los equipos militares, esas armas de la guerra pasada son absolutamente obsoletas para una guerra moderna? Con 50 tanques o carros blindados, y unos cuantos aviones pasados de moda, no se defiende a ningún continente, no se defiende a ningún hemisferio. En cambio, sirven para oprimir a los pueblos desarmados; en cambio, sirven para intimidar a los pueblos. Sirven para lo que sirven: sirven para defender los monopolios. Por eso, estos pactos de defensa hemisférica, mejor pudieran llamarse pactos de defensa de los monopolios norteamericanos.
El Gobierno Revolucionario comienza a dar los primeros pasos. Lo primero que hace es rebajar los alquileres que pagaban las familias, en un 50%, medida muy justa, puesto que como decíamos anteriormente, había familias que pagaban hasta la tercera parte de sus ingresos. Y el pueblo había sido víctima de una gran especulación con la vivienda, y las tierras urbanas habían sido objeto de tremendas especulaciones a costa de la economía del pueblo. Mas, cuando el Gobierno Revolucionario rebaja los alquileres en un 50%, hubo disgustados, sí, unos pocos que eran los dueños de aquellos edificios de apartamentos, pero el pueblo se lanzó a la calle lleno de alegría, como ocurriría en cualquier país, aquí mismo en Nueva York, si les rebajan un 50% los alquileres a todas las familias. Mas no significó ningún problema con los monopolios. Algunas compañías norteamericanas tenían grandes construcciones, pero eran relativamente pocas.
Después vino otra ley. Vino una ley anulando las concesiones que el gobierno tiránico de Fulgencio Batista le había hecho a la Compañía de Teléfonos que era un monopolio norteamericano. Al amparo de la indefensión del pueblo habían obtenido provechosas concesiones. El Gobierno Revolucionario anula esas concesiones y restablece los precios de los servicios telefónicos al nivel que tenían anteriormente. Comienza el primer conflicto con los monopolios norteamericanos.
La tercera medida fue rebajar las tarifas eléctricas, que eran de las más altas del mundo. Surge el segundo conflicto con los monopolios norteamericanos. Ya nosotros empezábamos a parecer comunistas; ya empezaban a embadurnarnos de rojo, porque habíamos chocado, sencillamente, con los intereses de los monopolios norteamericanos.
Pero viene la tercera ley, ley imprescindible, ley inevitable, inevitable para nuestra patria, e inevitable, más tarde o más temprano, para todos los pueblos del mundo… al menos para todos los pueblos del mundo que no lo hayan hecho todavía: la Ley de Reforma Agraria. Claro está que en teoría, todo el mundo está de acuerdo con la reforma agraria. Nadie se atreve a negarlo, nadie que no sea un ignorante, se atreve a negar que la reforma agraria es, en los países subdesarrollados del mundo, una condición esencial para el desarrollo económico. En Cuba también hasta los latifundistas estaban de acuerdo con la reforma agraria, solo que una reforma agraria a su manera, como la reforma agraria que defienden muchos teóricos: una reforma agraria a su manera, y sobre todo, ¡que ni a su manera ni de ninguna manera se llegue a realizar mientras pueda evitarse! Es algo reconocido por los organismos económicos de las Naciones Unidas, es algo sobre lo cual ya nadie discute. En nuestro país era imprescindible: más de 200 000 familias de campesinos moraban en los campos de nuestra patria, sin tierra donde sembrar los alimentos esenciales.
Sin reforma agraria, nuestro país no habría podido dar el primer paso hacia el desarrollo. Y, efectivamente, dimos ese paso: hicimos una reforma agraria. ¿Era radical? Era una reforma agraria radical. ¿Era muy radical? No era una reforma agraria muy radical. Hicimos una reforma agraria ajustada a las necesidades de nuestro desarrollo, ajustada a nuestras posibilidades de desarrollo agrícola. Es decir, una reforma agraria que resolviera el problema de los campesinos sin tierra, que resolviera el problema de los abastecimientos de aquellos alimentos indispensables, que resolviera el tremendo desempleo en el campo, que pusiera fin a aquella miseria espantosa que habíamos encontrado en los campos de nuestro país.
Bien: ahí surgió la primera dificultad verdadera. También en la vecina República de Guatemala había ocurrido lo mismo. Cuando se hizo la reforma agraria en Guatemala, surgieron los problemas en Guatemala. Y se lo advierto con toda honestidad a los compañeros delegados de América Latina y del Africa y del Asia: cuando vayan a hacer una reforma agraria justa, prepárense a confrontar situaciones similares a las nuestras, sobre todo si las mejores y mayores fincas son propiedades de los monopolios norteamericanos, como ocurría en Cuba (APLAUSOS PROLONGADOS).
Es posible que nos acusen luego de estar dando malos consejos en esta asamblea, y no es, por cierto, nuestro propósito… no es, por cierto, nuestro propósito el quitarle el sueño a nadie. Estamos, simplemente, exponiendo los hechos, aunque los hechos son suficientes como para quitarle el sueño a cualquiera.
Se planteó inmediatamente el problema del pago. Comenzaron a llover notas del Departamento de Estado norteamericano. Nunca nos preguntaban por nuestros problemas; nunca, ni siquiera por conmiseración o por la parte grande de responsabilidad que tenían en ello, nos preguntaban cuántos se morían de hambre en nuestro país, cuántos tuberculosos había, cuántas personas sin trabajo. No. ¿Sentimiento de solidaridad hacia nuestras necesidades? Nunca. Todas las conversaciones de los representantes del gobierno de Estados Unidos se basaban sobre la Compañía de Teléfonos, sobre la Compañía Eléctrica, y sobre el problema de las tierras de las compañías norteamericanas.
¿Cómo íbamos a pagar? Por supuesto, lo primero que había que preguntar era con qué íbamos a pagar, no cómo, sino con qué. ¿Conciben ustedes que un país pobre, subdesarrollado, con 600 000 desempleados, con un índice tan alto de analfabetos, de enfermos, cuyas reservas han sido agotadas, que ha contribuido a la economía de un país poderoso, con 1 000 millones en 10 años, pueda tener con qué pagar las tierras que iban a estar afectadas por la ley agraria, o al menos pagarlas en las condiciones que querían que se pagaran?
¿Qué nos planteó el Departamento de Estado norteamericano, como aspiraciones de sus intereses afectados? Tres cosas: el pronto pago…, “pago pronto, eficiente y justo”. ¿Ustedes entienden ese idioma? “Pago pronto, eficiente y justo.” Eso quiere decir: “Pago ahora mismo, en dólares y lo que nosotros pidamos por nuestras fincas” (APLAUSOS).
Todavía no éramos comunistas 150 por 100 (RISAS). Estábamos luciendo un poco más matizados de rojo. Nosotros no confiscábamos las tierras; nosotros, simplemente, proponíamos pagarlas en 20 años, y de la única manera en que podíamos pagarlas: en bonos, que habrían de vencer a los 20 años; que cobraban el cuatro y medio por ciento de intereses y que se irían amortizando año por año.
¿Cómo íbamos nosotros a poder pagar en dólares las tierras, y cómo las íbamos a pagar de inmediato, y cómo íbamos a pagar lo que pidieran por ellas? Era absurdo. Cualquiera comprende que, en esas circunstancias, teníamos que optar entre hacer la reforma agraria y no hacerla. Si no la hacíamos, perduraría indefinidamente la espantosa situación económica de nuestro país. De hacerla, estábamos exponiéndonos a ganarnos la enemistad del gobierno del poderoso vecino del Norte.
Hicimos la reforma agraria. Claro que, por ejemplo, para un representante de Holanda, o de cualquier país de Europa, los límites nuestros establecidos a las fincas, casi asombrarían. Asombrarían por lo extenso. El límite máximo que establecía nuestra ley agraria era el de unas 400 hectáreas. En Europa 400 hectáreas constituyen un verdadero latifundio; en Cuba, donde había compañías monopolistas norteamericanas que tenían hasta cerca de 200 000 hectáreas —¡doscientas mil hectáreas!, por si alguno cree que no ha oído bien—, allí, en Cuba, una reforma agraria que redujera el límite máximo a 400 hectáreas era para esos monopolios una ley inadmisible.
Pero es que en nuestro país no solo las tierras eran propiedad de los monopolios norteamericanos. Las minas principales también eran propiedad de esos monopolios. Cuba produce, por ejemplo, mucho níquel; todo el níquel era explotado por intereses norteamericanos. Y, bajo la tiranía de Batista, una compañía norteamericana, la Moa Bay, había obtenido concesión tan jugosa que en cinco años solamente —escúchese bien—, en cinco años solamente iba a amortizar una inversión de 120 millones de dólares; 120 millones de dólares de inversión, amortizable en cinco años.
¿Quién le había hecho esa concesión a la Moa Bay, por intercesión del embajador del gobierno de Estados Unidos? Sencillamente el gobierno tiránico de Fulgencio Batista, el gobierno que estaba allí para defender los intereses de los monopolios. Y este es un hecho absolutamente cierto. Libre de todo pago de impuesto, ¿qué nos iban a dejar a los cubanos aquellas empresas? Los huecos de las minas, la tierra empobrecida, sin una contribución mínima al desarrollo económico de nuestro país.
Y el Gobierno Revolucionario establece una ley de minas, obligando a esos monopolios a pagar un impuesto del 25% a las exportaciones de esos minerales. La actitud del Gobierno Revolucionario había sido ya demasiado osada. Había chocado con los intereses del “trust” eléctrico internacional, había chocado con los intereses del “trust” telefónico internacional, había chocado con los intereses de los “trusts” mineros internacionales, había chocado con los intereses de la United Fruit Company, y había chocado, virtualmente, con los intereses más poderosos de Estados Unidos, que como ustedes saben están estrechamente asociados entre sí. Y aquello era más de lo que podía tolerar el gobierno de Estados Unidos, o, es decir, los representantes de los monopolios de Estados Unidos. Y comenzó, entonces, una nueva etapa de hostigamiento hacia nuestra Revolución. Cualquiera que analice objetivamente los hechos, cualquiera que esté dispuesto a pensar con honradez, no a pensar conforme le diga la UPI o la AP, sino a pensar con su cabeza, y a extraer las conclusiones de su propio raciocinio y ver las cosas sin prejuicios, con sinceridad y con honestidad, ¿las cosas que había hecho el Gobierno Revolucionario eran como para decretar la destrucción de la Revolución Cubana? No. Pero los intereses afectados por la Revolución Cubana no se preocupaban por el caso de Cuba, no se arruinaban con las medidas del Gobierno Revolucionario cubano, no consistía en eso el problema. El problema consistía, en que esos mismos intereses eran poseedores de la riqueza y de los recursos naturales de la mayor parte de los pueblos del mundo. Y la actitud de la Revolución Cubana tenía que ser castigada. Acciones punitivas de todo orden, hasta la destrucción de aquellos atrevidos, tenían que seguir a la audacia del Gobierno Revolucionario.
Por nuestro honor juramos que todavía no habíamos tenido la oportunidad ni de cambiarnos una carta con el distinguido primer ministro de la Unión Soviética, Nikita Jruschov. Es decir que cuando ya para la prensa norteamericana y para las agencias internacionales que informan al mundo, Cuba era un gobierno rojo, un peligro rojo a 90 millas de Estados Unidos, un gobierno dominado por los comunistas, ni siquiera el Gobierno Revolucionario había tenido oportunidad de establecer relaciones diplomáticas o comerciales con la Unión Soviética.
Pero la histeria es capaz de todo. La histeria es capaz de hacer las afirmaciones más inverosímiles y más absurdas. Por supuesto, nadie crea que vamos a entonar aquí un “meaculpa”. Ningún “mea culpa”. Nosotros no le tenemos que pedir perdón a nadie. Lo que hemos hecho, lo hemos hecho muy conscientes, y sobre todo muy convencidos de nuestros derechos a hacerlo (APLAUSOS PROLONGADOS).
Comenzaron las amenazas contra nuestra cuota azucarera, comenzó la filosofía, la filosofía barata del imperialismo, a demostrar su nobleza, su nobleza egoísta y explotadora, a demostrar su bondad con Cuba, que nos pagaban un precio privilegiado por el azúcar, y que era como un subsidio al azúcar cubano, que no era un azúcar tan dulce para los cubanos, por cuanto los cubanos no éramos los dueños de las mejores tierras azucareras, ni éramos los dueños de los mayores centrales azucareros, y que, además, en esa afirmación, se ocultaba la verdadera historia del azúcar cubano, de los sacrificios que se le habían impuesto a Cuba, de las veces que Cuba había sido agredida económicamente. Antes no era una cuestión de cuota, era una cuestión de tarifas arancelarias; en virtud de una de esas leyes o de esos pactos que se producen entre el “tiburón” y la “sardina”, Estados Unidos, mediante un convenio que llamaron de “reciprocidad”, obtuvo una serie de concesiones para sus productos, a fin de que pudiesen competir holgadamente, y desalojar del mercado cubano a los productos de sus “amigos” los ingleses o los franceses, como ocurre muchas veces entre “amigos”. Y a cambio de eso, ciertas concesiones arancelarias a nuestra azúcar, que por otra parte podían ser variadas unilateralmente, a voluntad del Congreso o del gobierno de Estados Unidos. Y así ocurrió.
Cuando lo estimaban más conveniente a sus intereses elevaban las tarifas, y nuestra azúcar no podía entrar, o entraba en condiciones desventajosas en el mercado norteamericano. Cuando se aproximaba una etapa de guerra reducían las tarifas. Claro que como Cuba era la fuente de abastecimiento de azúcar más próxima, había que garantizar esa fuente de abastecimiento. Las tarifas eran reducidas, la producción era estimulada y en los años de guerra, cuando el precio del azúcar era estratosférico en todo el mundo, nosotros vendíamos nuestra azúcar barato a Estados Unidos, a pesar de que éramos la única fuente de abastecimiento.
Finalizaba la guerra, y al finalizar la guerra venían los colapsos de nuestra economía. Los errores que aquí se cometían en la distribución de esa materia prima, los pagábamos nosotros. Precios que ascendieron extraordinariamente al finalizar la guerra mundial primera; enorme estímulo a la producción, baja brusca de los precios que produce la ruina de los centrales azucareros cubanos, que por cierto pasaron tranquilamente a manos, ¿saben de quién? Pues a manos de los bancos norteamericanos, porque cuando los nacionales cubanos arruinaban, los bancos norteamericanos en Cuba se enriquecían.
Y así prosiguió esa situación, hasta la década del 30 y el gobierno de Estados Unidos, tratando de encontrar una fórmula que conciliara sus intereses de abastecimiento con los intereses de sus productores internos, establece un régimen de cuotas, esa cuota se suponía que tendría por base la participación histórica que hubiesen tenido en el mercado las distintas fuentes de abastecimiento y en que nuestro país había tenido una participación histórica de casi un 50% en el abastecimiento del mercado norteamericano. Sin embargo, cuando se establecieron las cuotas, nuestra participación quedó reducida a un 28% y las ventajas que nos había concedido aquella ley, las pocas ventajas que nos había concedido aquella ley, fueron sucesivamente en nuevas legislaciones suprimidas, y claro, la colonia dependía de la metrópoli; la economía de la colonia había sido organizada por la metrópoli. La colonia tenía que estar sometida a la metrópoli y si la colonia tomaba medidas para liberarse, la metrópoli tomaría medidas para aplastarla. Consciente de la dependencia de nuestra economía a su mercado, el gobierno de Estados Unidos inicia su serie de advertencias de que se nos arrebataría nuestra cuota azucarera y paralelamente otras actividades tenían lugar en Estados Unidos, las actividades de los contrarrevolucionarios.
Una tarde un avión procedente de los mares del norte vuela sobre uno de nuestros centrales azucareros y deja caer una bomba. Aquello era un hecho extraño, un hecho insólito, pero desde luego, nosotros sabíamos de dónde procedían esos aviones.
Otro avión, otra tarde, vuela sobre nuestros cañaverales y deja caer ciertas bombitas incendiarias. Y aquello que comenzaba esporádicamente, continuaba sistemáticamente.
Una tarde, cuando, por cierto, estaban de visita en Cuba, gran número de agentes de turismo de este país, en un esfuerzo que realizaba el Gobierno Revolucionario, por promover el turismo como una de las fuentes de ingreso nacional, un avión de fabricación norteamericana, de los que se usaron en la guerra pasada, vuela sobre nuestra capital lanzando panfletos y algunas granadas de mano. Naturalmente, que algunas piezas de defensas antiaéreas entraron en acción. El resultado fue más de 40 víctimas, entre las granadas lanzadas por el avión y el fuego antiaéreo, puesto que algunos de los proyectiles —como ustedes saben— estallan al hacer contacto con algún objeto resistente. Resultado: más de 40 víctimas. Niñas con las entrañas desgarradas, ancianos y ancianas. ¿Era para nosotros la primera vez? No. Niñas y niños, ancianos y ancianas, hombres y mujeres, muchas veces habían sido destrozados en nuestras aldeas de Cuba por bombas de fabricación norteamericana, suministradas al tirano Batista.
En una ocasión, 80 obreros perecieron al estallar misteriosamente, demasiado misteriosamente, un barco cargado de armas belgas que había llegado a nuestro país, después de grandes esfuerzos por parte del gobierno de Estados Unidos, a fin de evitar que el gobierno de Bélgica nos vendiera armas. Docenas de víctimas en la guerra, 80 familias que se quedaron huérfanas con la explosión. Cuarenta víctimas por un avión que vuela tranquilamente sobre nuestro territorio. ¡Ah!, las autoridades del gobierno de Estados Unidos negaban que de Estados Unidos partiesen esos aviones, mas el avión estaba tranquilamente posado en un hangar y cuando una revista nuestra publica la fotografía del avión, entonces es cuando las autoridades de Estados Unidos ocupan el avión y desde luego, la versión de que aquello no tenía importancia, de que las víctimas no eran víctimas como consecuencia de las bombas, sino del fuego antiaéreo y los autores de aquellas fechorías, los autores de aquel crimen paseándose tranquilamente por Estados Unidos, donde, ni siquiera, se les perturbó en la continuación de aquellos actos de agresión.
Su señoría, a su señoría el delegado de Estados Unidos, aprovecho la oportunidad para decirle, que hay muchas madres en los campos de Cuba y muchas madres en Cuba, esperando todavía sus telegramas de condolencia por los hijos que les asesinaron las bombas de Estados Unidos (APLAUSOS).
Los aviones iban y venían. No había pruebas. Bueno, no se sabe qué se entienda por pruebas. Allí estaba aquel avión retratado y capturado, pero bueno, decían que el avión no tiró bombas. No se sabe por qué estarían tan bien informadas las autoridades de Estados Unidos. Continuaban volando aviones piratas sobre nuestro territorio lanzando bombas incendiarias. Millones y millones de pesos se perdieron en los cañaverales incendiados, muchas personas del pueblo, ¡sí!, del pueblo humilde, que veían destruida una riqueza que ahora sí era suya, sufrieron quemaduras y sufrieron lesiones en la lucha contra aquel persistente y tenaz bombardeo por aviones piratas.
Hasta que un día al lanzar una bomba sobre uno de nuestros centrales azucareros, estalla la bomba, estalla el avión, y el Gobierno Revolucionario tiene oportunidad de recoger los fragmentos del piloto, que era por cierto un piloto norteamericano, cuyos papeles fueron ocupados, y un avión norteamericano y todas las pruebas del sitio de donde había salido. Aquel avión había pasado entre dos bases de Estados Unidos. Ya era una cuestión que no negarse, que los aviones estaban saliendo de Estados Unidos. ¡Ah!, ¡entonces sí, ante la prueba irrefutable, el gobierno de Estados Unidos dio una explicación al gobierno de Cuba! Su conducta no fue igual a la del caso del U-2; cuando se demostró que los aviones salían de Estados Unidos, el gobierno de Estados Unidos no proclamó su derecho a quemar nuestros campos de caña, en esa ocasión dijo que nos daba excusas y que lo sentía mucho. ¡Suerte para nosotros después de todo!, porque cuando ocurrió el incidente del U-2, el gobierno de Estados Unidos, entonces, no dio excusas. ¡Proclamó su derecho a volar sobre el territorio soviético! ¡Mala suerte que tienen los soviéticos! (APLAUSOS.)
Pero nosotros no tenemos muchas defensas antiaéreas y los aviones siguieron volando, hasta que pasó la zafra. Ya no había más caña y cesaron los bombardeos. Nosotros éramos el único país del mundo, que soportaba ese hostigamiento, aunque bien recuerdo que en ocasión de la visita del presidente Sukarno a Cuba, nos dijo que no, que no creyéramos que nosotros éramos los únicos, que ellos también habían tenido ciertos problemas con ciertos aviones norteamericanos que estaban volando también sobre su territorio. No sé si habré cometido alguna indiscreción, pero no lo espero (RISAS Y APLAUSOS).
Lo cierto es que al menos en este pacífico hemisferio nosotros éramos un país que sin estar en guerra con nadie, teníamos que estar soportando el incesante hostigamiento de los aviones piratas. ¿Y aquellos aviones podían entrar y salir impunemente del territorio de Estados Unidos? A ver: invitamos a los delegados a que mediten un poco y también invitamos al pueblo de Estados Unidos, si el pueblo de Estados Unidos tiene, por casualidad, la oportunidad de informarse de las cosas que aquí se hablan, a que medite sobre el hecho de que, según las propias afirmaciones del gobierno de Estados Unidos, el territorio de Estados Unidos está perfectamente vigilado y protegido contra cualquier incursión aérea, que las medidas de defensa del territorio de Estados Unidos son infalibles. Que las medidas de defensa del mundo que ellos llaman “libre” —porque por lo menos para nosotros no lo ha sido hasta el día primero de enero de 1959—, son infalibles, que ese territorio está perfectamente defendido. Si eso es así, ¿cómo se explica que, no ya aviones supersónicos, sino simples avionetas, con una velocidad de apenas 150 millas, puedan entrar y salir tranquilamente del territorio nacional norteamericano, pasar de ida junto a dos bases y regresar de vuelta junto a dos bases, sin que el gobierno de Estados Unidos siquiera se entere de que esos aviones están entrando y saliendo del territorio nacional? Eso quiere decir dos cosas: o bien que el gobierno de Estados Unidos miente al pueblo de Estados Unidos y Estados Unidos está indefenso frente a incursiones aéreas, o el gobierno de Estados Unidos era cómplice de esas incursiones aéreas (APLAUSOS).
Se acabaron las incursiones aéreas y vino entonces la agresión económica. ¿Cuál era uno de los argumentos que esgrimían los enemigos de la reforma agraria? Decían que la reforma agraria traería el caos en la producción agrícola, que la producción disminuiría considerablemente, que el gobierno de Estados Unidos se preocupaba de que Cuba no pudiera cumplir sus compromisos de abastecimiento del mercado norteamericano. Primer argumento, y es bueno que por lo menos las nuevas delegaciones aquí presentes se vayan familiarizando con algunos argumentos, porque quizás algún día tengan que responder a argumentos similares: Que la reforma agraria era la ruina del país. No resultó así. Si la reforma agraria hubiese sido la ruina del país, si la producción agrícola hubiese descendido, entonces no habría tenido necesidad el gobierno norteamericano de llevar adelante su agresión económica.
¿Creían sinceramente en lo que decían, cuando afirmaban que la reforma agraria iba a producir un descenso de la producción? ¡Tal vez lo creían! Es lógico que cada cual crea según como haya preparado su mente para creer. Es posible que se imaginaran que sin las todopoderosas compañías monopolistas, los cubanos éramos incapaces de producir azúcar. ¡Es posible! Tal vez hasta confiaron en que nosotros arruinaríamos el país. Y, claro, si la Revolución hubiese arruinado al país, Estados Unidos no habría tenido necesidad de agredirnos, nos habrían dejado solos, habría quedado el gobierno de Estados Unidos como un gobierno muy noble y muy bueno, y nosotros como unos señores que arruinábamos a la nación y como un gran ejemplo de que no se puede hacer revoluciones, porque las revoluciones arruinan a los países. ¡No fue así! Hay una prueba de que las revoluciones no arruinan a los países, y la prueba la acaba de dar el gobierno de Estados Unidos. ¡Ha probado muchas cosas, pero entre otras cosas, ha probado que las revoluciones no arruinan a los países y que los gobiernos imperialistas sí son capaces de tratar de arruinar a los países!
Cuba no se había arruinado, había que arruinarla. Cuba necesitaba de nuevos mercados para sus productos, y nosotros honradamente pudiéramos preguntarle a cualquier delegación de las aquí presentes, ¿cuál de ellas no quiere que su país venda los artículos que produce, cuál de ellas no quiere que sus exportaciones aumenten? Nosotros queríamos que nuestras exportaciones aumentasen. Eso es lo que quieren todos los países, esa debe ser una ley universal.
Solamente el interés egoísta puede estar en oposición al interés universal del intercambio comercial, que es una de las más viejas aspiraciones y necesidades de la humanidad.
Y nosotros quisimos vender nuestros productos, y fuimos en busca de nuevos mercados, y concertamos un convenio comercial con la Unión Soviética en virtud del cual vendíamos un millón de toneladas y comprábamos determinadas cantidades de artículos o productos soviéticos. ¡Claro!, nadie dirá que eso es incorrecto. Habrá quienes no lo hagan, porque disguste a determinados intereses. Nosotros no teníamos, realmente, que pedirle permiso al Departamento de Estado para hacer un convenio comercial con la Unión Soviética, porque nosotros nos considerábamos, y nos consideramos, y nos seguiremos considerando para siempre, un país verdaderamente libre.
Cuando las existencias de azúcar comenzaban a disminuir, en beneficio de nuestra economía, recibimos entonces el zarpazo: a petición del ejecutivo de Estados Unidos, el Congreso aprueba una ley en virtud de la cual el presidente o poder ejecutivo quedaba facultado para reducir a los límites que estimase pertinente las importaciones de azúcar de Cuba. Se esgrimía el arma económica contra nuestra Revolución. La justificación de esa actitud ya se habían encargado de estarla preparando los publicistas; la campaña hacía mucho rato que se venía haciendo, porque ustedes saben perfectamente bien que aquí monopolio y publicidad son dos cosas absolutamente identificadas. Se esgrime el arma económica, se reduce de un tajo nuestra cuota azucarera en casi un millón de toneladas —azúcar que ya estaba producida con destino al mercado norteamericano—, para privar a nuestro país de los recursos de su desarrollo, para reducir a nuestro país a la impotencia, para obtener resultados de tipo político. Esa medida estaba expresamente proscripta por el Derecho Internacional Regional. La agresión económica, como lo saben todos los delegados aquí de América Latina, está expresamente condenada por el Derecho Internacional Regional. Sin embargo, el gobierno de Estados Unidos viola ese derecho, esgrime el arma económica, nos arrebata de nuestra cuota azucarera casi un millón de toneladas, y nada más. Ellos lo podían hacer.
¿Qué defensa le quedaba a Cuba frente a esa realidad? Acudir a la ONU, acudir a la ONU para denunciar las agresiones políticas y las agresiones económicas, para denunciar las incursiones aéreas de aviones piratas y para denunciar la agresión económica, amén de la interferencia constante del gobierno de Estados Unidos en la política de nuestro país, de las campañas subversivas que realiza contra el Gobierno Revolucionario de Cuba.
Acudimos a la ONU. La ONU tiene facultades para conocer esas cuestiones; la ONU es, dentro de la jerarquía de las organizaciones internacionales, la máxima autoridad; la ONU tiene autoridad, incluso, por encima de la OEA. Y además, a nosotros nos interesaba que el problema estuviera en la ONU, porque nosotros comprendemos la situación en que se encuentra la economía de los pueblos de América Latina, la situación de dependencia de Estados Unidos en que se encuentra la economía de los pueblos de América Latina. La ONU conoce la cuestión, pide una investigación a la OEA; la OEA se reúne. Muy bien. ¿Qué era de esperarse? Que la OEA protegiera al país agredido; que la OEA pudiese condenar las agresiones políticas a Cuba; y, sobre todo, que la OEA pudiese condenar las agresiones económicas a nuestro país. Eso era de esperarse. Nosotros, al fin y al cabo, éramos nada más que un pueblo pequeño de la comunidad latinoamericana; nosotros, al fin y al cabo, éramos un pueblo más, agredido; ni el primero ni el último, porque México había sido ya agredido más de una vez, y agredido militarmente. En una guerra le arrancaron una gran parte de su territorio, y en aquella ocasión los hijos heroicos de México supieron lanzarse del Castillo deChapultepec, envueltos en la bandera mexicana, antes de rendirse, ¡esos son los niños héroes de México! (APLAUSOS.)
Y no fue la única agresión, no fue la única vez en que fuerzas de infantería norteamericanas hollaron el territorio mexicano. Nicaragua fue intervenida, y durante siete años resistió heroicamente Augusto César Sandino. Cuba más de una vez fue intervenida, así como Haití, y Santo Domingo. Guatemala fue intervenida. ¿Quién es el que honestamente aquí sería capaz de negar la intervención de la United Fruit Company y la del Departamento de Estado norteamericano en el derrocamiento del gobierno legítimo de Guatemala? Yo comprendo que haya quienes entiendan su deber oficial ser discretos sobre esta cuestión, y hasta sean capaces de venir aquí y negarlo, pero en lo hondo de sus conciencias saben que, sencillamente, estamos diciendo la verdad.
Cuba no era el primer país agredido; Cuba no era el primer país en peligro de ser agredido. En este hemisferio todo el mundo sabe que el gobierno de Estados Unidos siempre impuso su ley: la ley del más fuerte; ¡esa ley del más fuerte en virtud de la cual ha estado destruyendo la nacionalidad puertorriqueña y ha mantenido allí su dominio sobre esa isla hermana!, esa ley en virtud de la cual se apoderó del Canal de Panamá y mantiene el Canal de Panamá.
No era nada nuevo. Nuestra patria debió haber sido defendida, mas, nuestra patria no fue defendida. ¿Por qué? Y aquí lo que hay es que ir al fondo de la cuestión y no a las formas. Si nos atenemos a la letra muerta, estamos garantizados; si nos atenemos a la realidad, no estamos garantizados en absoluto, porque la realidad se impone por encima del derecho establecido en los códigos internacionales, y esa realidad es que un país pequeño, agredido por un gobierno poderoso, no tuvo defensa, no pudo ser defendido.
Y en cambio, ¿qué sale de Costa Rica? ¡Oh, milagro de producción ingeniosa lo que allí resultó en Costa Rica! En Costa Rica no se condena a Estados Unidos o al gobierno de Estados Unidos… Permítaseme evitar que se confunda nuestro sentimiento en relación con el pueblo de Estados Unidos. No fue condenado el gobierno de Estados Unidos por las 60 incursiones de aviones piratas, no fue condenado por la agresión económica y por otras muchas agresiones. No. Condenaron a la Unión Soviética. ¡Qué cosa tan extraordinaria! Nosotros no habíamos recibido ninguna agresión de la Unión Soviética; ningún avión soviético había volado sobre nuestro territorio, y, sin embargo, en Costa Rica condenan a la Unión Soviética por intromisión. La Unión Soviética se había limitado a decir que, en caso de una agresión militar a nuestro país, los artilleros soviéticos, hablando en sentido figurado, podían apoyar al país agredido.
¿Desde cuándo el apoyo a un país pequeño, condicionado al caso de una agresión por parte de un país poderoso, es una intromisión? Porque hay en derecho lo que se llaman las condiciones imposibles: si un país considera que él es incapaz de perpetrar determinado delito, pues entonces baste decir: “No existe posibilidad ninguna de que la Unión Soviética apoye a Cuba, porque no existe la posibilidad de que nosotros agredamos al país pequeño.” Pero no se establece ese principio. Se establece el principio de que había que condenar la intromisión de la Unión Soviética.
¿De los bombardeos a Cuba? Nada (APLAUSOS). ¿De las agresiones a Cuba? Nada.
Desde luego, hay algo que debemos recordar, y que de alguna forma debe preocuparnos a todos. Todos nosotros, sin que ninguno de los aquí presentes se escape, estamos siendo actores y partícipes de un minuto trascendental de la historia de la humanidad. A veces, aparentemente, la censura no llega, es decir, la crítica y la condenación de nuestros hechos, aparentemente no nos percatamos de ella, y es, sobre todo, cuando nos olvidamos de que así como nosotros hemos tenido el privilegio de ser actores de este minuto trascendental de la historia, algún día también la historia nos juzgará por nuestros actos. Y frente a la indefensión en que quedó nuestra patria en la reunión de Costa Rica… Por eso nosotros nos sonreímos, porque la historia juzgará ese episodio.
Y lo digo sin amargura: es difícil condenar a los hombres. Los hombres son, muchas veces, juguetes de las circunstancias, y nosotros que sabemos lo que fue la historia de nuestro país, además de que somos testigos excepcionales de lo que nuestro país, hoy, está viviendo, comprendemos cuán terrible es la supeditación de la economía y de la vida en general de las naciones al poder económico del extranjero. Baste consignar simplemente, cómo nuestro país quedó indefenso, y algo más: el interés que hay en que no se traiga a la ONU, tal vez porque se considere que sea más fácil obtener una mayoría mecánica en la OEA. Y después de todo, no resulta muy explicable ese temor, cuando nosotros hemos visto que aquí también, en la ONU, muchas veces han funcionado las mayorías mecánicas.
Y con toda lealtad a esta institución, yo debo decir aquí que por eso los pueblos, el pueblo nuestro, sí, nuestro pueblo, ese pueblo que está allá en nuestra patria, pero que es un pueblo que ha aprendido mucho, y que es un pueblo, lo decimos con orgullo, que está a la altura del rol que está jugando en este momento, y de la lucha heroica que está librando…, nuestro pueblo que ha aprendido en esta escuela de los últimos acontecimientos internacionales, sabe que a última hora, cuando su derecho ha sido negado, cuando sobre él se enciman las fuerzas agresivas, le queda el recurso supremo y el recurso heroico de resistir, cuando su derecho no sea garantizado ni en la OEA ni en la ONU (APLAUSOS PROLONGADOS).
Por eso los países pequeños todavía no nos sentimos tan seguros de que nuestro derecho sea preservado; por eso, los países pequeños cuando queremos ser libres, sabemos que lo estamos siendo a nuestra cuenta y riesgo, y porque de verdad los pueblos, los pueblos cuando están unidos, cuando defienden un derecho justo, pueden confiar en sus propias energías, porque no se trata, por supuesto, de un grupo de hombres, como nos han querido pintar a nosotros, gobernando un país. Se trata de un pueblo gobernando un país; se trata de un pueblo entero firmemente unido y con una gran conciencia revolucionaria, defendiendo sus derechos. Y eso lo deben saber los enemigos de la Revolución y de Cuba, porque si lo ignoran están cometiendo un lamentable error.
Estas son las circunstancias en que se ha desenvuelto el proceso revolucionario cubano; cómo encontramos el país, por qué han surgido las dificultades. Y, sin embargo, sin embargo, la Revolución Cubana está cambiando lo que ayer fue un país sin esperanzas, un país de miseria, un país de analfabetos en parte, lo está convirtiendo en lo que pronto será uno de los pueblos más avanzados y más desarrollados en este continente.
El Gobierno Revolucionario, en solo 20 meses, ha creado 10 000 nuevas escuelas, es decir, en tan breve período de tiempo se ha duplicado el número de escuelas rurales que se habían creado en 50 años. Y Cuba es hoy ya el primer país de América que tiene satisfechas todas sus necesidades escolares, que tiene un maestro hasta en el último rincón de las montañas.
El Gobierno Revolucionario ha construido, en ese breve período de tiempo, 25 000 viviendas en las zonas rurales y urbanas; 50 nuevos pueblos están surgiendo en este momento en nuestro país; las fortalezas militares más importantes albergan hoy decenas de miles de estudiantes, y, en el próximo año, nuestro pueblo se propone librar su gran batalla contra el analfabetismo, con la meta ambiciosa de enseñar a leer y escribir hasta el último analfabeto en el próximo año, y, con ese fin, organizaciones de maestros, de estudiantes, de trabajadores, es decir, todo el pueblo, están preparándose para una intensa campaña y Cuba será el primer país de América que a la vuelta de algunos meses pueda decir que no tiene un solo analfabeto.
Nuestro pueblo está recibiendo hoy la asistencia de cientos de médicos, que han sido enviados a los campos para luchar contra las enfermedades, contra el parasitismo, y para mejorar las condiciones higiénicas de la nación.
En otro aspecto, que es en el de la conservación de los recursos naturales, podemos también afirmar aquí que en un solo año, en el más ambicioso plan de preservación de recursos naturales que se esté efectuando en este continente, incluyendo Estados Unidos y Canadá, ha sembrado cerca de 50 millones de árboles maderables.
Los jóvenes que estaban sin trabajo, que estaban sin escuela, organizados por el Gobierno Revolucionario están hoy prestándole trabajos útiles al país, al mismo tiempo que están siendo preparados para el trabajo productivo.
La producción agrícola en nuestro país ha registrado un hecho casi único, que es el aumento de la producción desde el primer instante. Desde el principio se logró un aumento en la producción agrícola. ¿Por qué? Porque el Gobierno Revolucionario, en primer lugar, convirtió en propietarios de sus tierras a más de 100 000 pequeños agricultores, que pagaban rentas, al mismo tiempo, preservó la producción en gran escala, por medio de cooperativas agrícolas de producción, es decir que la producción de gran empresa se mantuvo a través de cooperativas, gracias a lo cual se han podido aplicar los procedimientos técnicos más modernos a nuestra producción agrícola, y se ha registrado, desde el primer instante, un aumento en la producción.
Y toda esta obra de beneficio social, de maestros, de viviendas y de hospitales, la hemos llevado adelante sin sacrificar los recursos para el desarrollo, ya que el Gobierno Revolucionario, en este momento, está llevando adelante un programa de industrialización del país, cuyas primeras fábricas ya se están montando en Cuba.
Hemos empleado racionalmente los recursos de nuestro país. Antes, por ejemplo, en Cuba se importaban 35 millones de dólares en automóviles, 5 millones de dólares en tractores. Un país eminentemente agrícola, importaba siete veces más automóviles que tractores. Nosotros hemos invertido los términos, y estamos importando siete veces más tractores que automóviles.
Cerca de 500 millones de dólares fueron recuperados a los políticos que se habían enriquecido durante la tiranía. Cerca de 500 millones de dólares, en bienes y en efectivo, es el valor total de lo recuperado a los políticos corrompidos que durante siete años habían estado saqueando nuestro país. La inversión correcta de esos productos, de esas riquezas y de esos recursos, es lo que permite al Gobierno Revolucionario, que al mismo tiempo que desarrolla un plan de industrialización y de incrementación de nuestra agricultura, puede construir viviendas, construir escuelas, llevar los maestros hasta los últimos rincones de nuestro país y brindarles asistencia médica, es decir, llevar adelante un programa de desarrollo social.
Y precisamente ahora, como ustedes saben, en la reunión de Bogotá, nuevamente el gobierno de Estados Unidos propuso un plan. ¿Pero un plan para desarrollo económico? No. Propuso un plan de desarrollo social. ¿Qué se entiende por eso? Pues también un plan de hacer casas, un plan de hacer escuelas, un plan de hacer caminos. ¿Pero es que eso, acaso, resuelve el problema? ¿Cómo puede haber solución a los problemas sociales sin un plan de desarrollo económico? ¿Es que se les quiere tomar el pelo a los pueblos de América Latina? ¿De qué van a vivir las familias que van a habitar esas casas, si es que las casas se hacen? ¿Con qué zapatos, con qué ropa y con qué alimentos van a subsistir los niños que van a ir a esas escuelas? ¿Es que acaso no se sabe que cuando las familias no tienen ni ropas, ni zapatos para los niños, no los mandan a la escuela? ¿Con qué recursos se van a pagar los maestros? ¿Con qué recursos se van a pagar los médicos? ¿Con qué recursos se van a pagar las medicinas? ¿Quieren un buen remedio para ahorrar medicinas? Auméntese la nutrición del pueblo, que lo que mejora el pueblo en nutrición, se lo ahorrará en hospitales.
Luego, frente a la tremenda realidad del subdesarrollo, el gobierno de Estados Unidos se sale ahora con un plan de desarrollo social. Desde luego, ya es algo que se preocupe por los problemas de América Latina. Hasta ahora no se había preocupado nada. ¡Qué casualidad que ahora le están preocupando esos problemas! Y cualquier parecido con el hecho de que esa preocupación haya surgido después de la Revolución Cubana, pues posiblemente dirán que sea pura coincidencia.
Hasta ahora los monopolios no se habían preocupado de otra cosa que de explotar a los países subdesarrollados. Pero surge la Revolución Cubana, y surgen las preocupaciones de los monopolios, y mientras a nosotros se nos agrede económicamente, y se nos trata de aplastar, pues con la otra mano ofrecen la limosna a los pueblos de América Latina. No los recursos para el desarrollo económico que es lo que quiere la América Latina, sino que le ofrecen recursos para el desarrollo social; para casas donde van a vivir hombres que no tienen trabajo, para escuelas donde no van a ir niños y para hospitales que no harían tanta falta si hubiera un poco más de nutrición en la América Latina.
Después de todo, aunque algunos compañeros de América Latina crean que su deber es ser discretos aquí, ¡bienvenida sea una revolución como la Revolución Cubana, que al menos ha hecho preocuparse a los monopolios de devolver aunque sea una parte pequeña de lo que han estado sustrayendo de los recursos naturales y del sudor de los pueblos de América Latina! (APLAUSOS.)
Aunque en esa ayuda no estemos incluidos nosotros, no nos preocupa. Nosotros por esas cosas no nos ponemos bravos; nosotros esos mismos problemas de las escuelas, de la vivienda, y todo eso, hace mucho rato que lo estamos resolviendo. Pero pensamos que a lo mejor alguno tiene dudas de que nosotros estemos haciendo propaganda aquí, porque el señor Presidente de Estados Unidos dijo que algunos venían a tomar esta tribuna para propaganda. Y, desde luego, cualquier compañero de las Naciones Unidas, está invitado permanentemente a visitar a Cuba. Allí no le cerramos las puertas a nadie, ni confinamos a nadie; allí cualquiera de los compañeros de esta Asamblea puede visitar a Cuba, y ver por sus propios ojos… Ustedes saben ese capítulo de la Biblia que habla de Santo Tomás, que él tenía que ver para creer. Creo que fue Santo Tomás.
Y, después de todo, nosotros podemos invitar, lo mismo a cualquier periodista, que a cualquier miembro de la delegación, a que visite a Cuba y vea lo que un pueblo es capaz de hacer con sus propios recursos, cuando los invierte honestamente y racionalmente.
Pero nosotros no estamos resolviendo solo nuestros problemas de vivienda y de escuela, sino nuestros problemas de desarrollo, porque sin resolver el problema del desarrollo, no habrá jamás soluciones a los problemas sociales.
Pero, ¿qué ocurre? ¿Por qué el gobierno de Estados Unidos no quiere hablar del desarrollo? Muy sencillo, porque el gobierno de Estados Unidos no quiere pelearse con los monopolios, y los monopolios exigen recursos naturales y mercados de inversión para sus capitales. He ahí la gran contradicción, por eso no se va a la verdadera solución del problema, por eso no se va a la programación con inversiones públicas del desarrollo de los países subdesarrollados.
Y es bueno que se diga aquí con toda claridad, porque al fin y al cabo, nosotros, los países subdesarrollados, somos aquí mayoría, por si alguno lo ignora, y al fin y al cabo, nosotros somos testigos de lo que pasa en los países subdesarrollados.
Sin embargo, no se va a la verdadera solución del problema, y siempre se habla aquí de la participación del capital privado. Desde luego, eso quiere decir mercado para inversión de capital sobrante. Inversiones como esas que en cinco años se amortizaban.
El gobierno de Estados Unidos no puede proponer un plan de inversión pública, porque eso lo divorciaría de la razón de ser del gobierno de Estados Unidos que son los monopolios norteamericanos.
Esa es, y no hay que darle más vueltas, la razón por la cual no se promueve un verdadero programa de desarrollo económico para preservar nuestras tierras de América Latina, deAfrica y de Asia, para las inversiones del capital sobrante.
Hasta aquí nos hemos referido a los problemas de nuestro país. ¿Por qué esos problemas no se han resuelto? ¿Acaso porque nosotros no queremos resolverlos? No. El gobierno de Cuba siempre ha estado dispuesto a discutir sus problemas con el gobierno de Estados Unidos, pero el gobierno de Estados Unidos, no ha querido discutir sus problemas con Cuba, y sus razones tendrá para no querer discutir los problemas con Cuba.
Aquí mismo está la nota enviada por el Gobierno Revolucionario de Cuba al gobierno de Estados Unidos, el 27 de enero de 1960. Dice:
“Las diferencias de opinión que pueden existir entre ambos gobiernos como sujetas a negociaciones diplomáticas, pueden resolverse, efectivamente, mediante tales negociaciones. El gobierno de Cuba está en la mejor disposición para discutir sin reservas y con absoluta amplitud todas esas diferencias y declara expresamente que entiende que no existen obstáculos de clase alguna que impidan la realización de esas negociaciones a través de cualquiera de los medios e instrumentos tradicionalmente adecuados a ese fin. Sobre la base del respeto mutuo y recíproco beneficio con el gobierno y el pueblo de los Estados Unidos, desea el gobierno de Cuba mantener e incrementar las relaciones diplomáticas y económicas y entiende que sobre esa base es indestructible la amistad tradicional entre los pueblos cubano y norteamericano.”
El 22 de febrero de ese mismo año:
“El Gobierno Revolucionario de Cuba, acorde con su propósito de reanudar por los canales diplomáticos las negociaciones ya iniciadas sobre los asuntos pendientes entre Cuba y Estados Unidos de Norteamérica, ha decidido nombrar una comisión con atribuciones al efecto, para comenzar sus gestiones en Washington en la fecha que convenga a ambas partes.
“El Gobierno Revolucionario de Cuba desea aclarar, sin embargo, que la reanudación y desenvolvimiento ulterior de dichas negociaciones, tienen necesariamente que estar supeditadas a que por el gobierno o el Congreso de vuestro país, no se adopte medida alguna de carácter unilateral que prejuzgue los resultados de las negociaciones antes mencionadas o que pueda irrogar perjuicios a la economía o al pueblo cubano. Parece obvio añadir que la adhesión del gobierno de vuestra señoría a este punto de vista no solo contribuiría al mejoramiento de las relaciones entre nuestros respectivos países, sino que también reafirmaría el espíritu de fraternal amistad que ha ligado y liga a nuestros pueblos. Permitiría, además, que ambos gobiernos pudieran examinar en una atmósfera serena y con las más amplias miras, las cuestiones que han afectado las tradicionales relaciones entre Cuba y los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica.”
¿Cuál fue la respuesta del gobierno de Estados Unidos?
“El gobierno de los Estados Unidos no puede aceptar las condiciones para negociar expresadas en la nota de Su Excelencia, al efecto de que no se tomarán medidas de carácter unilateral por parte del gobierno de los Estados Unidos que puedan afectar la economía cubana y la de su pueblo, ya sea por las ramas legislativa o ejecutiva. Como ha expresado el presidente Eisenhower en enero 26, el gobierno de Estados Unidos debe mantenerse libre, en ejercicio de su propia soberanía, para tomar los pasos que considere necesarios, consciente de sus obligaciones internacionales para la defensa de los legítimos derechos o intereses de su pueblo.”
Es decir que el gobierno de Estados Unidos no se digna discutir con el pequeño país, que es Cuba, sus diferencias en las relaciones.
¿Qué esperanza tiene el pueblo de Cuba en la solución de estos problemas? Pues, los hechos todos que hemos podido observar aquí, conspiran contra la solución de esos problemas y es bueno que las Naciones Unidas tomen muy en cuenta esto, porque el gobierno de Cuba y el pueblo de Cuba, están muy fundadamente preocupados del sesgo agresivo que toma la política del gobierno de Estados Unidos con relación a Cuba y es bueno que estemos bien informados.
En primer lugar, el gobierno de Estados Unidos se considera con el derecho de promover la subversión en nuestro país; el gobierno de Estados Unidos está promoviendo la organización de movimientos subversivos contra el Gobierno Revolucionario de Cuba y nosotros lo denunciamos aquí en esta Asamblea General y queremos denunciar concretamente que, por ejemplo, en una isla del Caribe, territorio que pertenece a Honduras y que se conoce con el nombre de la Isla Cisne, el gobierno de Estados Unidos se ha apoderado “manumilitari” de esa isla; hay allí infantería de marina norteamericana, a pesar de ser un territorio que pertenece a Honduras y allí, violando las leyes internacionales, despojando a un pueblo hermano de un pedazo de su territorio, violando los convenios internacionales de radio, ha establecido una potente emisora de radio, que ha puesto en manos de los criminales de guerra y de los grupos subversivos que mantiene en este país y que allí se están haciendo, además, prácticas de entrenamiento para promover la subversión y promover desembarcos armados en nuestra isla.
Sería bueno que el delegado de Honduras ante la Asamblea General reivindicara aquí el derecho de Honduras a ese pedazo de su territorio, pero esa es cuestión que a él le incumbe. Lo que a nosotros nos incumbe es que un pedazo del territorio de un hermano país arrebatado de manera filibustera por el gobierno de Estados Unidos a ese país, sea utilizado para base de subversión y de ataques a nuestro territorio, y pido aquí que quede constancia de esta denuncia que hacemos en nombre del gobierno y del pueblo de Cuba.
¿Se considera el gobierno de Estados Unidos con derecho a promover la subversión en nuestro país, violando todos los convenios internacionales, violando el espacio radial aéreo? ¿Quiere eso decir acaso que el Gobierno Revolucionario de Cuba tiene también derecho a promover la subversión en Estados Unidos? ¿Se considera el gobierno de Estados Unidos con derecho a la violación del espacio radial aéreo, con gran perjuicio para nuestras emisoras radiales? ¿Quiere acaso decir que el gobierno de Cuba tiene derecho también a violar el espacio radial?
¿Qué derecho puede tener sobre nosotros o sobre nuestra isla el gobierno de Estados Unidos, que permita exigir por parte de los demás pueblos igual respeto? Que se le devuelva a Honduras la Isla Cisne, porque sobre esa isla no ha tenido nunca jurisdicción (APLAUSOS).
Pero hay todavía circunstancias más alarmantes para nuestro pueblo. Sabido es que en virtud de la Enmienda Platt, impuesta por la fuerza a nuestro pueblo, el gobierno de Estados Unidos se arrogó el derecho de establecer bases navales en nuestro territorio. Derecho impuesto por la fuerza y mantenido por la fuerza.
Una base naval en el territorio de cualquier país es motivo de justa preocupación. Primero, la preocupación de que un país que mantiene una política internacional agresiva y guerrerista es poseedor de una base allí en el corazón de nuestra isla, que hace a nuestra isla correr los peligros de cualquier conflicto internacional, de cualquier conflicto atómico, sin que nosotros tengamos absolutamente nada que ver con el problema, porque nosotros no tenemos absolutamente nada que ver con los problemas del gobierno de Estados Unidos y con las crisis que provoca el gobierno de Estados Unidos. Y, sin embargo, hay una base allí en el corazón de nuestra isla que entraña para nosotros un peligro en el caso de cualquier contingencia bélica.
Pero, ¿es acaso solo ese peligro? ¡No!, todavía hay un peligro que nos preocupa más, ya que nos toca más de cerca: ¡El Gobierno Revolucionario de Cuba ha venido reiteradamente expresando su preocupación de que el gobierno imperialista de Estados Unidos tome como pretexto esa base, enclavada en nuestro territorio nacional, para promover unaautoagresión que justifique un ataque a nuestra nación! Repito: ¡El Gobierno Revolucionario de Cuba se preocupa grandemente, y lo expone aquí, de que el gobierno imperialista de Estados Unidos tome como pretexto una autoagresión para tratar de justificar un ataque a nuestro país! Y esa preocupación por parte nuestra es cada vez mayor, debido a que es mayor la agresividad y son más alarmantes los síntomas.
Aquí, por ejemplo, hay un cable de la UPI, llegado a nuestro país, que dice textualmente:
“El almirante Harley Burke, jefe de operaciones navales de Estados Unidos, dice que si Cuba intentara ocupar la Base Naval de Guantánamo, lucharemos. En una entrevista registrada por la revista ‘U.S. News and World Report’ —ustedes me perdonan cualquier deficiencia al pronunciar estas palabras—, se le preguntó a Burke si la Armada estaba preocupada por la situación que prevalece en Cuba bajo el régimen de Castro. Sí, nuestra Armada está preocupada no por nuestra base de Guantánamo, sino por toda la situación cubana, respondió Burke. El Almirante agrega que todos los cuerpos militares norteamericanos están preocupados. ‘¿Se debe a la estratégica posición de Cuba en el Caribe?, se le interrogó a Burke. No, particularmente, manifestó, se trata de un país cuyo pueblo era normalmente amigo de Estados Unidos, que gustaba de nuestro pueblo y que a nosotros también nos agradaba. A pesar de esto se ha presentado un individuo con un pequeño grupo de comunistas empedernidos que están decididos a cambiarlo todo. Castro ha enseñado a odiar a Estados Unidos y ha hecho mucho para arruinar a su país.’ Burke manifestó que reaccionaríamos muy rápido si Castro tomara alguna decisión contra la base de Guantánamo. Si trataran de tomar el lugar por la fuerza, lucharemos, agregó. Ante la pregunta de si la amenaza hecha por Jruschov de que los cohetes soviéticos apoyarían a Cuba le había hecho pensar tal decisión dos veces, el Almirante dijo: ‘No, porque él no lanzará sus cohetes, él sabe muy bien que será destruido si así lo hace’.”
Quiere decir que Rusia será destruida.
En primer lugar, he de hacer resaltar cómo para este señor el haber aumentado la producción industrial en nuestro país en un 35%, el haber dado empleo a más de 200 000 nuevos cubanos y las soluciones que nosotros hemos llevado a los grandes problemas sociales de nuestro país, equivalen a “arruinar al país”. Y en virtud de esos “fundamentos” se toman el derecho de preparar las condiciones de la agresión.
Vean ustedes cómo hace un cálculo, un cálculo que sí es peligroso, porque este señor virtualmente calcula que en caso de un ataque a nosotros, nosotros vamos a estar solos. Es simplemente un cálculo del señor Burke, pero imaginemos que el señor Burke esté equivocado. Imaginemos que el señor Burke, con todo lo almirante que es, esté equivocado (Se oyen voces de la delegación soviética, del propio Jruschov y aplausos).
Entonces el almirante Burke está jugando irresponsablemente con la suerte del mundo. El almirante Burke y todos los de su grupo militarista agresivo están jugando con la suerte del mundo, y por la suerte de cada uno de nosotros realmente no valdría la pena preocuparse; pero entendemos que nosotros, representativos de los distintos pueblos del mundo, ¡tenemos el deber de preocuparnos por la suerte del mundo, y tenemos el deber de condenar a todos los que juegan irresponsablemente con la suerte del mundo! ¡Que no están jugando solo con la suerte de nuestro pueblo, que están jugando con la suerte de su propio pueblo y que están jugando con la suerte de todos los pueblos del mundo! ¿O es que cree este almirante Burke que estamos viviendo todavía en la época del arcabuz, o es que no se ha acabado de dar cuenta este almirante Burke que estamos viviendo en la era atómica, cuya desastrosa fuerza destructiva no pudieron siquiera imaginar el Dante o Leonardo da Vinci, con toda su imaginación, porque supera todo lo que el hombre pudo imaginar jamás? Sin embargo, él calcula, y, claro, ya la United Press esparció esto por el mundo, la revista está al salir, ya se empieza a preparar la campaña, ya se empieza a crear la histeria, ya se empieza a divulgar el peligro imaginario de una acción nuestra contra la base.
Y esto no está solo. En el día de ayer aparece aquí otra información de la UPI, conteniendo unas declaraciones de un senador norteamericano, que según me parece se pronuncia su nombre Stail Bridge, miembro, tengo entendido, de la comisión militar del Senado de Estados Unidos, quien dijo hoy: “Los Estados Unidos deben preparar a toda costa su Base Naval de Guantánamo en Cuba”; dijo: “Debemos ir tan lejos como sea necesario para defender la gigantesca instalación de los Estados Unidos. Tenemos allí fuerzas navales, tenemos infantería de marina, y si fuéramos atacados, yo la defendería, ciertamente, porque creo que es la base más importante en la región del Caribe.”
Este miembro del Comité Senatorial de las Fuerzas Armadas, Bridge, no descartó por completo el uso de armas atómicas en caso de un ataque contra la base.
¿Qué quiere decir esto? Esto quiere decir que no solamente se está creando la histeria, que no solamente se está preparando sistemáticamente el ambiente, sino que incluso se nos amenaza hasta con el uso de armas atómicas. Y, realmente, entre otras muchas cosas que se nos ocurren, una de ellas es preguntarle a este señor Bridge si no le da vergüenza amenazar con armas atómicas a un país pequeño como el de Cuba (APLAUSOS PROLONGADOS).
Por nuestra parte, con todo respeto, debemos decirle que los problemas del mundo no se resuelven amenazando ni sembrando miedo; y que nuestro humilde y pequeño pueblo, ¡qué le vamos a hacer!… Estamos ahí, mal que le pese, y la Revolución seguirá adelante, mal que le pese: y que, además, nuestro humilde y pequeño pueblo tiene que resignarse a su suerte, y que no siente ningún miedo por sus amenazas de uso de armas atómicas.
¿Qué quiere decir eso? Que por ahí hay muchos países que tienen bases norteamericanas, pero al menos las tienen allí situadas no contra los propios gobiernos que les hicieron esas concesiones, al menos que nosotros tengamos información. El caso de nosotros es el caso más trágico; el caso de nosotros es una base en nuestro territorio insular, contra Cuba y contra el Gobierno Revolucionario de Cuba. Es decir, en manos de quienes se declaran enemigos de nuestra patria, enemigos de nuestra Revolución y enemigos de nuestro pueblo. De toda la historia de las bases situadas hoy en todo el mundo, el caso más trágico es el de Cuba: una base a la fuerza, en nuestro territorio inconfundible, que está a buena distancia de las costas de Estados Unidos, contra Cuba, contra el pueblo, impuesta por la fuerza, y como una amenaza y una preocupación para nuestro pueblo.
Por ello es que debemos declarar aquí, en primer lugar, que estas habladurías sobre ataques tienen por fundamento crear la histeria y preparar condiciones de agresiones a nuestro país que nosotros nunca hemos hablado, nunca hemos dicho una sola palabra que implique la idea de ningún tipo de ataque a la Base Naval de Guantánamo. Porque nosotros somos los primeros interesados en no darle pretextos al imperialismo para agredirnos, y eso nosotros lo declaramos aquí terminantemente; pero también declaramos que desde el instante en que esa base se ha convertido en una amenaza para la seguridad y la tranquilidad de nuestro país, y una amenaza para nuestro pueblo, el Gobierno Revolucionario está considerando muy seriamente solicitar, dentro de los cánones del derecho internacional, la retirada de las fuerzas navales y militares del gobierno de Estados Unidos de esa porción del territorio nacional (APLAUSOS PROLONGADOS). Y al gobierno imperialista de Estados Unidos no le quedará más remedio que retirar esas fuerzas, porque, ¿cómo podrá justificar ante el mundo su derecho a instalar una base atómica o una base que entrañe un peligro para nuestro pueblo en un pedazo de nuestro territorio nacional, en una isla inconfundible, que es el territorio del mundo donde radica el pueblo cubano? ¿Cómo podrá justificar ante el mundo ningún derecho a mantener soberanía sobre un pedazo de nuestro territorio? ¿Cómo podrá presentarse ante el mundo para justificar esa arbitrariedad? Y por cuanto ante el mundo no podrá justificar ese derecho, cuando nuestro gobierno lo solicite, dentro de los cánones del derecho internacional, el gobierno de Estados Unidos tendrá que acatar ese derecho.
Pero es preciso que esta Asamblea quede muy bien informada sobre los problemas de Cuba porque nosotros tenemos que estar alertas contra el engaño y contra la confusión. Nosotros tenemos que explicar muy claramente todos estos problemas, porque en ello va la seguridad y la suerte de nuestro país. Y por eso, pedimos que quede constancia bien clara de estas palabras, sobre todo, si se tiene en cuenta que no tiene traza de mejorarse la opinión o la interpretación errónea que acerca de los problemas de Cuba tienen los políticos de este país.
Aquí mismo, por ejemplo, hay unas declaraciones del señor Kennedy que son como para asombrar a cualquiera. Sobre Cuba dice:
“Debemos usar toda la fuerza de la OEA para impedir que Castro interfiera con otros gobiernos latinoamericanos, y devolver la libertad a Cuba.”¡Van a devolverle la libertad a Cuba!
“Debemos dejar sentada nuestra intención de no permitir que la Unión Soviética convierta a Cuba en su base en el Caribe, y aplicar la doctrina de Monroe.” ¡En plena mitad, o más de la mitad del siglo XX, este señor candidato hablando de la Doctrina Monroe!
“Debemos hacer que el Primer Ministro Castro comprenda que nos proponemos defender nuestro derecho a la Base Naval de Guantánamo.” ¡Es el tercero, el tercero que habla del problema! “Y debemos hacer saber al pueblo cubano que simpatizamos con sus aspiraciones económicas legítimas…” ¿y cómo no simpatizaron antes? “…que conocemos su amor por la libertad, y que nunca estaremos contentos hasta que la democracia vuelva a Cuba…” ¿Qué democracia? ¿La democracia “made” por los monopolios imperialistas del gobierno de Estados Unidos?
“Las fuerzas que luchan por la libertad en el exilio —préstese atención, para que luego comprendan por qué hay aviones que vuelan desde territorio norteamericano hacia Cuba; préstese atención a lo que dice este señor— y en las montañas de Cuba, deben ser sostenidas y ayudadas; y en otros países de América Latina debe mantenerse confinado el comunismo, sin permitirle que se expanda.”
Si Kennedy no fuera un millonario analfabeto e ignorante (APLAUSOS), debería comprender que no es posible hacer una revolución contra los campesinos en las montañas, apoyados en los terratenientes, y que cuantas veces el imperialismo ha tratado de fomentar grupos contrarrevolucionarios, en el curso de unos pocos días las milicias campesinas los han puesto fuera de combate. Pero él parece que leyó, vio en alguna novela de Hollywood, o en alguna película, alguna historia sobre guerrillas, y cree que es posible, socialmente, hacer hoy una guerra de guerrillas en Cuba.
De todos modos, es desalentador, y nadie piense, sin embargo, que estas opiniones sobre las declaraciones de Kennedy indiquen que nosotros sentimos ninguna simpatía por el otro, el señor Nixon (RISAS), que ha hecho unas declaraciones similares. Para nosotros, los dos carecen de seso político.
Hasta aquí hemos expuesto el problema de nuestro país, deber fundamental nuestro al acudir a las Naciones Unidas, pero comprendemos perfectamente que sería un poco egoísta de nuestra parte si nuestra preocupación se limitara a nuestro caso concreto. También es cierto que nosotros hemos consumido la mayor parte de nuestro tiempo en informar a esta Asamblea sobre el caso de Cuba, y no es mucho el espacio que disponemos para las demás cuestiones, sobre las cuales solo queremos referirnos someramente.
Sin embargo, el caso de Cuba no es un caso aislado. Sería un error pensar en el caso de Cuba. El caso de Cuba es el caso de todos los pueblos subdesarrollados. El caso de Cuba es como el caso del Congo, como el caso de Egipto, como el caso de Argelia, como el caso de Irán occidental (APLAUSOS), y, en fin, como el caso de Panamá, que quiere su canal; como el caso de Puerto Rico, al que le destruyen su espíritu nacional; como el caso de Honduras, que ve segregado un pedazo de su territorio; y, en fin, aunque nuestra atención no haya recaído específicamente sobre otros países, el caso de Cuba es el caso de todos los países subdesarrollados y colonizados.
Los problemas que describíamos sobre Cuba pueden aplicarse perfectamente a toda la América Latina. El control de los recursos económicos de América Latina por los monopolios, que cuando no son dueños directamente de las minas y se encargan de la extracción, como en el caso del cobre de Chile, de Perú o de México, el caso del zinc de Perú y de México, el caso del petróleo de Venezuela, es porque son dueños de los servicios públicos, de las compañías de servicios públicos, como ocurre en Argentina, en Brasil, en Chile, en Perú, en Ecuador, en Colombia, o dueños de los servicios telefónicos, como ocurre en Chile, en Brasil, en Perú, en Venezuela, en Paraguay, en Bolivia, o porque si no comercializan nuestros productos, como ocurre con el café de Brasil, de Colombia, de El Salvador, de Costa Rica, de Guatemala, o con el banano, explotado y comercializado, además de transportado por la United Fruit Company, en Guatemala, en Costa Rica, en Honduras, o como con el algodón de México, o el algodón de Brasil ejercitan el monopolio en las más importantes industrias del país.
Economías dependientes por completo de los monopolios. ¡Ay del día en que quieran hacer también una reforma agraria! Les pedirán pago pronto, eficiente y justo. Y si, a pesar de todo, hacen una reforma agraria, al delegado del país hermano que venga a la ONU lo confinarán a Manhattan, no le alquilarán hotel, lloverán infamias sobre él, y hasta es posible que sea maltratado de obra por la policía.
El problema de Cuba no es más que un ejemplo de lo que es la América Latina. Y, ¿hasta cuándo estará esperando la América Latina para su desarrollo? Pues, tendrá que esperar, de acuerdo con el criterio de los monopolios, hasta las calendas griegas.
¿Quién va a industrializar la América Latina? ¿Los monopolios? No. Hay un informe de la secretaría económica de las Naciones Unidas que explica cómo, incluso, el capital privado de inversión en vez de ir hacia los países donde más se le necesita para establecer industrias básicas, para contribuir al desarrollo, van preferiblemente a los países más industrializados, porque encuentran allí, según dicen o según creen, más seguridad. Y, por supuesto, que hasta la secretaría de economía de las Naciones Unidas ha reconocido que no hay posibilidad de desarrollo a través del capital privado de inversión, es decir, a través de los monopolios.
El desarrollo de América Latina tiene que ser por medio de inversiones públicas, programadas y concebidas sin condiciones políticas, porque, naturalmente, a todos nos gusta representar a un país libre y a ninguno nos gusta representar a un país que no se sienta libre. A ninguno nos gusta que la independencia de nuestro país esté supeditada a intereses que no sean del país. Por eso, la ayuda debe ser sin condiciones políticas.
¿Que a nosotros no nos brinden ayuda? No importa. Nosotros no la hemos pedido. Pero sí, en interés de los pueblos de América Latina, nos sentimos en el deber de solidaridad de plantear que la ayuda debe ser sin supeditación a condiciones políticas. Inversiones públicas para el desarrollo económico, no para el “desarrollo social”, que es lo último que se ha inventado para ocultar la verdadera necesidad del desarrollo económico.
Los problemas de América Latina son como los problemas del mundo, del resto del mundo, Africa y Asia. El mundo está repartido entre los monopolios. Esos mismos monopolios que vemos en América Latina también los vemos en el Oriente Medio. Allí el petróleo está en manos de compañías monopolistas que controlan intereses financieros de Estados Unidos, Inglaterra, Holanda, Francia… En Irán, en Iraq, en la Arabia Saudita. En fin, en cualquier rincón de la Tierra. Es lo mismo que pasa, por ejemplo, en Filipinas. Es lo mismo que pasa en el Africa. El mundo está dividido entre intereses monopolistas. ¿Quién se atrevería a negar esa verdad histórica? Y los intereses monopolistas no quieren el desarrollo de los pueblos. Lo que quieren es explotar los recursos naturales de los pueblos y explotar a los pueblos. Y mientras más pronto recuperen o amorticen el capital invertido, mejor.
Los problemas que ha tenido el pueblo de Cuba con el gobierno imperialista de Estados Unidos son los mismos problemas que tendría la Arabia Saudita si nacionalizara su petróleo, o el Irán, o el Iraq. Los mismos problemas que tuvo Egipto cuando nacionalizó, bien nacionalizado, el canal de Suez, los mismos problemas que tuvo Oceanía cuando quiso ser independiente, es decir, Indonesia, cuando quiso ser independiente. La misma invasión sorpresiva de Egipto, la misma invasión sorpresiva del Congo.
¿Alguna vez les ha faltado pretexto a los colonialistas o a los imperialistas para invadir? ¡Nunca! Siempre han echado mano de algún pretexto. ¿Y quiénes son los países colonialistas, quiénes son los países imperialistas? Cuatro o cinco países son los poseedores. No cuatro o cinco países, sino cuatro o cinco grupos de monopolios son los poseedores de la riqueza del mundo.
Si aquí a esta Asamblea llegara un personaje interplanetario que no hubiera leído ni el Manifiesto Comunista de Carlos Marx, ni los cables de la UPI o de la AP, o de las demás publicaciones monopolistas, y preguntara cómo anda repartido el mundo, cómo está distribuido el mundo, y en un mapa viera que las riquezas están divididas entre los monopolios de cuatro o cinco países, sin ninguna otra consideración, diría: “El mundo está mal repartido, el mundo está explotado.”
Y aquí, donde hay una gran mayoría de países subdesarrollados, podría decir: “Una gran mayoría de los pueblos que ustedes representan están explotados, han estado explotándolos desde hace mucho tiempo. Han variado la forma de explotación, pero no han dejado de ser explotados.” Ese sería el veredicto.
En el discurso del premier Jruschov hay una afirmación que nos llamó poderosamente la atención, por el valor que encierra, y fue cuando dijo que “la Unión Soviética no tenía colonias, ni tenía inversiones en ningún país”.
¡Ah!, qué formidable sería nuestro mundo, nuestro mundo hoy amenazado de cataclismos, si los delegados de todas las naciones pudieran decir igual: “¡Nuestro país no tiene ninguna colonia, ni tiene ninguna inversión en ningún país extranjero!” (APLAUSOS.)
Para qué darle más vuelta a la cuestión. Este es el quid de la cosa, incluso, el quid de la paz y de la guerra, el quid de la carrera armamentista o del desarme. Las guerras, desde el principio de la humanidad, han surgido, fundamentalmente, por una razón: el deseo de unos de despojar a otros de sus riquezas. ¡Desaparezca la filosofía del despojo, y habrá desaparecido la filosofía de la guerra! (APLAUSOS.) ¡Desaparezcan las colonias, desaparezca la explotación de los países por los monopolios, y entonces la humanidad habrá alcanzado una verdadera etapa de progreso!
Mientras ese paso no se da, mientras esa etapa no se alcanza, el mundo tiene que vivir constantemente bajo la pesadilla de verse envuelto en cualquier crisis, en una conflagración atómica. ¿Por qué? Porque hay quienes están interesados en mantener el despojo, hay quienes están interesados en mantener la explotación.
Nosotros hemos hablado aquí del caso de Cuba. Nuestro caso nos ha enseñado, por los problemas que hemos tenido con nuestro imperialismo, es decir, el imperialismo que está contra nosotros… Pero, en definitiva, los imperialismos son todos iguales, y son todos aliados. Un país que explote a los pueblos de América Latina o de cualquier otra parte del mundo es aliado en la explotación de los demás pueblos del mundo.
Hay algo que realmente nos alarmó mucho en el discurso del señor Presidente de Estados Unidos, cuando dijo:
“En las zonas en desarrollo debemos tratar de promover cambios pacíficos, así como asistir a que lleven a cabo su progreso económico y social. Para hacer esto, para conseguir ese cambio, la comunidad internacional debe poder manifestar su presencia en los casos de necesidad, mediante el envío de observadores o de fuerzas de las Naciones Unidas.
“Desearía que los Estados miembros tomasen medidas positivas acerca de las sugestiones que figuran en el informe del Secretario General, con miras a la creación de un personal calificado dentro de la Secretaría, para que asista a hacer frente a las necesidades de fuerzas de las Naciones Unidas.”
Es decir que después de considerar “zonas de desarrollo” a la América Latina, el Africa, Asia y Oceanía, propugna que se promuevan “cambios pacíficos”, y propone para ello incluso se empleen “observadores” o “fuerzas de las Naciones Unidas”. Es decir que Estados Unidos surge al mundo en virtud de una revolución contra los que lo colonizaban. El derecho de los pueblos a liberarse revolucionariamente del coloniaje o de cualquier forma de opresión, fue reconocido por la propia Declaración del 5 de Julio de 1775 en Filadelfia y hoy el gobierno de Estados Unidos propugna el uso de las fuerzas de las Naciones Unidas para evitar cambios revolucionarios.
El Secretario General ha sugerido ahora que los Estados miembros deben mostrarse dispuestos a hacer frente a futuras peticiones de las Naciones Unidas, para que contribuyan al mantenimiento de dichas fuerzas. Todos los países aquí representados deben responder a esta necesidad, aportando contingentes nacionales que podrían integrar estas fuerzas de las Naciones Unidas en caso de necesidad. El momento de hacerlo es ahora, en esta misma Asamblea. Aseguro a los países que ahora reciben asistencia de Estados Unidos de América que nosotros estamos en favor del uso de esa asistencia para ayudarles a mantener los contingentes en la forma que sugiere el Secretario General. Es decir que les propone a los países que tienen bases y que reciben asistencia, que están dispuestos a dar les más asistencia para la formación de esa fuerza de emergencia. Para cooperar a los esfuerzos del Secretario General, Estados Unidos de América está dispuesto a prestar, de igual modo, facilidades importantes de carácter aéreo y marítimo para transportar los contingentes que las Naciones Unidas pidan en cualquier futura emergencia. Es decir que incluso ofrecen sus barcos y sus aviones para esas fuerzas de emergencias y deseamos expresar aquí que la delegación cubana no está de acuerdo con esa fuerza de emergencia en tanto todos los pueblos del mundo no puedan sentirse seguros de que no son para ponerlas al servicio del colonialismo y del imperialismo (APLAUSOS), y mucho menos cuando cualquiera de nuestros países, puede ser en cualquier instante víctima del uso de esa fuerza contra el derecho de nuestros pueblos.
Hay aquí varios problemas, sobre los cuales han hablado ya las distintas delegaciones. Simplemente por razones de tiempo, queremos dejar solo constancia de nuestra opinión sobre el problema del Congo. Es de imaginar que siendo nuestra posición anticolonialista y contraria a la explotación de los países subdesarrollados, nosotros condenemos la forma en que se llevó a cabo la intervención de las fuerzas de las Naciones Unidas en el Congo.
Primero, no fueron esas fuerzas allí para actuar contra las fuerzas interventoras, para lo cual habían sido llamadas. Se dio todo el tiempo necesario para que se promoviese allí la primera disensión. Cuando esto no era todavía suficiente, se dio tiempo y se viabilizó la oportunidad a que se produjese la segunda división, y por último, mientras se ocupaban allí las estaciones radiales y los aeródromos se dio la oportunidad de que surgiera el tercer hombre, como les llaman a esos hombres salvadores que surgen en estas circunstancias. Los conocemos ya demasiado bien, porque en el año 1934 en nuestra patria surgió también uno de estos salvadores, que se llamó Fulgencio Batista. En el Congo se llama Mobutu. En Cuba visitaba todos los días la embajada norteamericana y parece que en el Congo también. ¿Porque lo digamos nosotros? No. Porque lo dice nada menos que una revista que es la mayor defensora que hay de los monopolios y por lo tanto no puede estar en contra de ellos. No puede estar a favor de Lumumba, porque está contra Lumumba y está a favor de Mobutu. Pero además explica quién es, cómo surgió, cómo se dedicó a trabajar, y dice finalmente la revista “Times” en su última edición: “Mobutu comenzó a ser visita frecuente de la embajada de los Estados Unidos y sostuvo largas conversaciones con sus funcionarios. Una tarde de la semana pasada Mobutu conferenció con oficiales del Campo Leopoldo y logró su apoyo clamoroso. Esa noche fue a Radio Congo, la misma Radio Congo que no le habían permitido usar a Lumumba y abruptamente anunció que el ejército asumía el poder.”
Es decir, todo eso después de frecuentes visitas y largas conversaciones con los funcionarios de la embajada de Estados Unidos —lo dice “Times”, defensor de los monopolios.
Es decir que la mano de los intereses colonialistas ha estado clara y evidente en el Congo y por lo tanto nuestra opinión es que se ha actuado mal, que se ha favorecido a los intereses colonialistas y que todos los hechos indican que el pueblo del Congo y la razón en el Congo están del lado del único líder, que se quedó allí defendiendo los intereses de su patria, y ese líder es Lumumba (APLAUSOS).
Si los países afroasiáticos, en vista de esta situación, y este tercer hombre misterioso que ha aparecido allá en el Congo, llamado a desplazar junto con los intereses legítimos del pueblo congolés a los gobiernos legítimos del Congo, logran que esos poderes legítimos se reconcilien en defensa de los intereses del Congo, mejor, mas si esa reconciliación no se logra, la razón y el derecho han de estar junto a quien no solo tiene allí el apoyo del pueblo y del Parlamento, sino que es el que ha sabido mantenerse frente a los intereses de los monopolios, ha sabido mantenerse junto a su pueblo.
En el problema de Argelia hay que decir que estamos ciento por ciento al lado del derecho del pueblo de Argelia a su independencia (APLAUSOS), y, además, es ridículo como muchas otras cosas ridículas que tienen esa vida artificial que les dan los intereses creados. Es ridículo pretender que Argelia sea parte de la nación francesa. También lo han pretendido otros países para mantener sus colonias en otros tiempos. Eso, que se llama “integrismo”, históricamente fracasó. Analicemos la cuestión a la inversa, que la metrópoli fuese Argelia y declarara que un pedazo de Europa forma parte integral de su territorio. Eso es sencillamente una razón traída por los pelos y que carece de sentido. Argelia, señores, pertenece alAfrica, como Francia pertenece a Europa.
Hace varios años que, sin embargo, ese pueblo africano libra una lucha heroica contra la metrópoli. Quizás mientras nosotros estamos discutiendo aquí tranquilamente, sobre aldeas y pueblos argelinos estén cayendo la metralla y las bombas del gobierno o del ejército francés. Y están muriendo los hombres, en una lucha donde no hay la menor duda respecto al lado de quien está el derecho y que puede resolverse tomando en cuenta incluso los intereses de una minoría, que es la que se toma también como pretexto para negarles el derecho a la independencia a las nueve décimas partes de la población de Argelia. Sin embargo, no hacemos nada. ¡Tan pronto como fuimos al Congo y tan poco entusiasmados como estamos para ir a Argelia! (APLAUSOS.) Y si el gobierno argelino —que también es un gobierno porque representa a millones de argelinos que están luchando— pide que las fuerzas de las Naciones Unidas vayan también allí, ¿iríamos con el mismo entusiasmo? ¡Ojalá fuésemos con el mismo entusiasmo, pero con propósitos bien distintos, es decir, con el propósito de defender los intereses de la colonia y no los intereses de los colonizadores!
Estamos, pues, al lado del pueblo argelino, como estamos al lado de los pueblos sometidos al coloniaje que quedan todavía en Africa y al lado de los negros discriminados de la Unión Sudafricana y estamos al lado de los pueblos que desean ser libres, no solo políticamente, porque es muy fácil poner una bandera, un escudo, un himno y un color en el mapa, sino libres económicamente. Porque hay una verdad que debiéramos sabérnosla todos como la primera, y es que no hay independencia política si no hay independencia económica, que la independencia política es una mentira, si no hay independencia económica. Y que, por tanto, la aspiración de ser libres política y económicamente la respaldamos nosotros, no solo a tener una bandera y un escudo y una representación en la ONU. Nosotros queremos plantear aquí otro derecho, un derecho que ha sido proclamado por nuestro pueblo en reunión multitudinaria en días recientes: el derecho de los países subdesarrollados a nacionalizar sin indemnización los recursos naturales y las inversiones de los monopolios en sus respectivos países. Es decir que nosotros propugnamos la nacionalización de los recursos naturales y de las inversiones extranjeras en los países subdesarrollados.
Y si los altamente industrializados lo desean hacer también no nos oponemos (APLAUSOS).
Para que los países puedan ser verdaderamente libres en lo político, deben ser verdaderamente libres en lo económico, y entonces ayudarlos. Nos preguntarán por el valor de las inversiones y nosotros preguntamos por el valor de las ganancias, las ganancias que han estado extrayendo de los pueblos sometidos al coloniaje y subdesarrollados durante décadas cuando no, ¡durante siglos!
Hay también una proposición del presidente de la delegación de Ghana, que nosotros deseamos apoyar. La proposición de que se libere al territorio africano de bases militares y por lo tanto de bases de armas nucleares; es decir, la proposición de liberar al Africa de los peligros de una guerra atómica. Ya se ha hecho algo con la Antártida. ¿Por qué, mientras se avanza en el camino del desarme, no vamos avanzando también en el camino de la liberación de ciertas zonas de la tierra del peligro de la guerra nuclear? Si Africa renace, esa Africaque hoy estamos aprendiendo a conocer, no el Africa que nos enseñaban en los mapas, no el Africa que nos enseñaban en las películas de Hollywood y en las novelas, no aquella Africadonde siempre aparecía la tribu semidesnuda, armada de lanzas, dispuesta a correr al primer choque con el héroe blanco, y el héroe blanco, tanto más héroe cuanto más naturales deAfrica mataba. Esa Africa que se yergue aquí con líderes como Nekruma y Sekou Touré, o esa Africa del mundo arábigo de Nasser, esa verdadera Africa, el continente oprimido, el continente explotado, el continente de donde surgieron millones de esclavos, esa Africa que tanto dolor lleva en su historia, a esa Africa, con esa Africa tenemos un deber: preservarla del peligro de la destrucción, compensen en algo los demás pueblos, compensen en algo el occidente de lo mucho que ha hecho sufrir al Africa, preservándola del peligro de la guerra atómica, declarando a Africa como zona libre de ese peligro, que allí no se establezcan bases atómicas, y que por lo menos quede ese continente, mientras no podamos hacer otra cosa, como el santuario donde se preserve la vida humana (APLAUSOS PROLONGADOS). Apoyamos calurosamente esta proposición.
Y sobre la cuestión del desarme, sobre la cuestión del desarme apoyamos enteramente la proposición soviética —y no nos sonrojamos aquí por apoyar la proposición soviética. Entendemos que es una proposición correcta, precisa, definida y clara.
Hemos leído detenidamente el discurso que pronunció aquí, por ejemplo, el presidente Eisenhower; y no habló, realmente, ni del desarme, ni del desarrollo de los países subdesarrollados, ni del problema de las colonias. En realidad, vale la pena que los ciudadanos de este país, tan influidos por la propaganda falsa, se situasen en un minuto de objetividad a leer los discursos del Presidente de Estados Unidos y del Primer Ministro soviético, para que se vea en dónde hay una sincera preocupación por los problemas del mundo, para que se vea dónde se habla con claridad y con sinceridad; y para que, además, se vea quiénes son los que quieren el desarme y quiénes son los que no quieren el desarme, y por qué.
La proposición soviética no puede ser más clara. Al planteamiento soviético no se le puede pedir más. ¿Por qué reservas, cuando nunca se ha hablado de un problema tan tremendo como este con tanta claridad?
La historia del mundo ha enseñado trágicamente que las carreras armamentistas han conducido siempre a la guerra; pero, sin embargo, en ningún minuto como este la guerra significa una hecatombe tan grande para la humanidad y, por lo tanto, nunca la responsabilidad ha podido ser mayor. Y ha planteado la delegación soviética sobre este problema que tanto preocupa a la humanidad —como que le va virtualmente la existencia a la humanidad— una proposición de desarme total y completa, amplia. ¿Se puede pedir más? ¡Pídanlo, si se puede pedir más!, más garantías, si se pueden pedir, ¡pídanlas!, pero no puede ser más clara y más definida, e históricamente no se podrá responder con una negativa sin asumir la responsabilidad que entraña el peligro de la guerra y la guerra misma.
¿Por qué se quiere sustraer de la Asamblea General el problema? ¿Por qué la delegación de Estados Unidos no quiere discutir este problema entre todos nosotros? ¿Es que nosotros no tenemos criterio? ¿Es que nosotros no debemos enterarnos del problema? ¿Es que tiene que reunirse una comisión? ¿Por qué no lo más democrático? Es decir que la Asamblea General, todos los delegados, discutan aquí el problema del desarme, y que todo el mundo ponga las cartas sobre la mesa, para que se sepa quiénes quieren y quiénes no quieren el desarme, quiénes quieren y quiénes no quieren estar jugando a la guerra, y quiénes traicionan esa aspiración de la humanidad; ¡porque la humanidad no debe ser jamás llevada a una hecatombe por intereses egoístas y bastardos!, la humanidad, nuestros pueblos, no nosotros, han de ser preservados de esa hecatombe, para que todo lo que el conocimiento y la inteligencia humana han creado no sirva para la propia destrucción de la humanidad.
Ha hablado claro la delegación soviética, y lo digo objetivamente, e invito a que se estudien esas proposiciones, y que ponga todo el mundo sus cartas sobre la mesa. Sobre todo, esta no es solamente una cuestión de delegaciones, ¡esta es una cuestión de opinión pública! ¡Los guerreristas y los militaristas deben ser descubiertos y condenados por la opinión pública del mundo! Este es un problema que no le incumbe a minorías, le incumbe al mundo, y hay que desenmascarar a los guerreristas y a los militaristas, y esa es tarea de la opinión pública. No solo debe discutirse en el pleno. Debe discutirse a los ojos del mundo entero. Debe discutirse ante la gran asamblea del mundo entero, porque en caso de una guerra no serán exterminados solamente los responsables. Serán exterminados cientos de millones de inocentes que no tienen la menor culpa, y por lo cual nosotros, que nos reunimos aquí como representantes del mundo —o de una parte del mundo, porque el mundo no está completo aquí todavía, ¡no estará el mundo completo hasta que aquí esté la República popular China!— debemos tomar medidas (APLAUSOS). Una cuarta parte del mundo, por supuesto, está ausente de esta Asamblea; pero la parte que está aquí tiene el deber de hablar con claridad y no andar escurriendo el bulto, y de discutirlo todos, que este es un problema demasiado serio, este es un problema más importante, que ayuda económicamente más que todos los demás compromisos, porque este es el compromiso de preservar la vida de la humanidad. A discutir todos, y a hablar todos de este problema y a luchar todos porque haya paz o para que, al menos, queden desenmascarados los militaristas y los guerreristas. Y, sobre todo, si nosotros los países subdesarrollados queremos tener una esperanza de progreso, queremos tener una esperanza de ver a nuestros pueblos disfrutando de un estándar de vida más alto, luchemos por la paz, y luchemos por el desarme, que con la quinta parte de lo que el mundo se gasta en armamentos se podía promover un desarrollo de todos los países subdesarrollados, con una tasa de crecimiento del 10% anual. ¡Con la quinta parte! Y podría elevarse, por supuesto, el estándar de vida de los países que gastan sus recursos en armamentos.
Ahora, ¿cuáles son las dificultades del desarme? ¿Quiénes son los interesados en estar armados? Los interesados en estar armados hasta los dientes son los que quieren mantener las colonias, los que quieren mantener sus monopolios, los que quieren conservar en sus manos el petróleo del Medio Oriente, los recursos naturales de América Latina, de Asia, de África; y que, para defenderlos, necesitan la fuerza. Y ustedes saben perfectamente que en virtud del derecho de la fuerza se ocuparon esos territorios y fueron colonizados; en virtud del derecho de la fuerza se esclavizó a millones de hombres. Y es la fuerza la que mantiene esa explotación en el mundo. Luego, los primeros interesados en que no haya desarme son los interesados en mantener la fuerza, para mantener el control de los recursos naturales y de las riquezas de los pueblos, y de la mano de obra barata de los países subdesarrollados. Prometimos que íbamos a hablar con claridad, y no se puede llamar de otra manera a la verdad.
Luego, los colonialistas son enemigos del desarme. Hay que luchar con la opinión pública del mundo para imponerles el desarme, como hay que imponerles, luchando con la opinión pública del mundo, el derecho de los pueblos a su liberación política y económica.
Son enemigos del desarme los monopolios, porque además de que con las armas defienden a esos intereses, la carrera armamentista siempre ha sido un gran negocio para los monopolios. Y, por ejemplo, es de todos sabido que los grandes monopolios en este país duplicaron sus capitales a raíz de la Segunda Guerra. Como los cuervos, los monopolios se nutren de los cadáveres que nos traen las guerras.
Y la guerra es un negocio. Hay que desenmascarar a los que negocian con la guerra, a los que se enriquecen con la guerra. Hay que abrirle los ojos al mundo, y enseñarle quiénes son los que negocian con el destino de la humanidad, los que negocian con el peligro de la guerra, sobre todo cuando la guerra puede ser tan espantosa que no queden esperanzas de liberación, de salvarse, al mundo.
Y esa es tarea a la que nosotros, país pequeño y subdesarrollado, invitamos a los demás pueblos pequeños y subdesarrollados, especialmente, y a toda la Asamblea, a luchar, y que se traiga aquí, que después no nos perdonaremos las consecuencias, si por dejadez nuestra o por falta de firmeza o por falta de energía en este problema, el mundo se ve envuelto, cada vez más, en los peligros de la guerra.
Nos queda un punto que, según hemos leído en algunos periódicos, iba a ser uno de los puntos de la delegación cubana, y era lógico, el problema de la República Popular China.
Ya lo han expuesto otras delegaciones. Nosotros queremos exponer aquí que es realmente una negación de la razón de ser de las Naciones Unidas y de la esencia de las Naciones Unidas el que ni siquiera se haya entrado a discutir ese problema aquí. ¿Por qué? Porque es la voluntad del gobierno de Estados Unidos. ¿Por qué la Asamblea de las Naciones Unidas va a renunciar su derecho a discutir ese problema?
Aquí han ingresado, en los años recientes, numerosos países. Es negar la realidad de la historia, y negar la realidad de los hechos y de la vida misma, el oponerse aquí a la discusión de los derechos de la República Popular China; es decir, del 99% de los habitantes de un país de más de 600 millones de habitantes a estar representados aquí. Es sencillamente un absurdo, un ridículo, que ni siquiera se discuta ese problema y, ¿hasta cuándo vamos a estar haciendo nosotros ese triste papel de ni siquiera discutir este problema?, cuando aquí están, los representantes, por ejemplo, de Franco, en España…
Queríamos hacer una consideración sobre el hecho de cómo surgen las Naciones Unidas.
Surgen después de la lucha contra el fascismo, después que decenas de millones de hombres murieron. Y así, de aquella lucha que tantas vidas costó, surgió esta organización como una esperanza. Sin embargo, hay extraordinarias paradojas: cuando los soldados norteamericanos caían en Guam, o en Guadalcanal, o en Okinawa, o en una de las muchas islas de Asia, caían también en el territorio continental chino, luchando contra el mismo enemigo, esos mismos hombres a quienes se les niega el derecho a discutir su ingreso en las Naciones Unidas. Y, mientras al mismo tiempo soldados de la División Azul luchaban en la Unión Soviética en defensa del fascismo, a la República popular China se le niega el derecho a que se discuta su caso aquí, en las Naciones Unidas.
Sin embargo, aquel régimen, que fue la consecuencia del nazismo alemán y del fascismo italiano, que tomó el poder con el apoyo de los cañones y los aviones de Hitler, y de los “camisas negras” de Mussolini, recibió este generoso ingreso en las Naciones Unidas.
China representa una cuarta parte del mundo. ¿Qué gobierno es la verdadera representación de ese pueblo, de ese pueblo que es el mayor del mundo? Sencillamente, el gobierno de la República popular China. Y allí se mantiene otro régimen, en medio de una guerra civil, que interrumpió la intromisión de la Séptima Flota de Estados Unidos.
Cabe todavía aquí preguntarse en virtud de qué derecho, la flota de un país extracontinental —y vale la pena que lo repitamos aquí—, cuando tanto se habla de intromisionesextracontinentales, que a nosotros se nos dé una explicación del porqué la flota de un país extracontinental interfirió allí en un asunto interno de China, con el único propósito de mantener allí un grupo adicto e impedir la total liberación del territorio. Como esa es una circunstancia absurda y una circunstancia ilegal desde todo punto de vista, ese es el porqué el gobierno de Estados Unidos no quiere que se discuta el problema de la República Popular China. Y nosotros queremos dejar constancia aquí de este punto de vista nuestro y de nuestro apoyo a que se discuta y que la Asamblea de las Naciones Unidas siente aquí a los legítimos representantes del pueblo chino, que son los representantes del gobierno de la República Popular China.
Comprendo perfectamente bien que es un poco difícil el que se libre nadie aquí de los conceptos estereotipados con que suelen juzgar a los representantes de las naciones. Debo decir que aquí hemos venido libres de prejuicios, a analizar objetivamente los problemas, sin miedo a que crean lo que crean, o sin miedo a las consecuencias de nuestra actitud.
Hemos sido honestos, hemos sido francos —sin franquismo—(APLAUSOS), porque no queremos ser cómplices de esa injusticia que se comete con gran número de españoles, que todavía están hace 20 años, más de 20 años, presos en España, y que lucharon junto con los norteamericanos del batallón “Lincoln”, compañeros de esos mismos norteamericanos que fueron allí a poner en alto el nombre de ese gran norteamericano que fue Lincoln.
En definitiva, vamos a confiar en el razonamiento, y vamos a confiar en la honestidad de todos. Hay cosas, sobre estos problemas del mundo con lo cual nosotros queremos resumir nuestro pensamiento, sobre lo que no cabe duda. Nuestro problema lo hemos expuesto aquí. Forma parte de los problemas del mundo. Quienes hoy nos agreden a nosotros son los que ayudan a agredir a otros en otras partes del mundo.
El gobierno de Estados Unidos no puede estar con el pueblo argelino, porque es aliado de la metrópoli, Francia. No puede estar con el pueblo congolés, porque es aliado de Bélgica. No puede estar con el pueblo español, porque es aliado de Franco. No puede estar con el pueblo puertorriqueño, cuya nacionalidad han estado destruyendo durante 50 años. No puede estar con los panameños, que reclaman el Canal. No puede estar con el auge del poder civil ni en América Latina, ni en Alemania, ni en Japón. No puede estar con los campesinos que quieren tierra, porque son aliados de los latifundistas. No puede estar con los obreros que reclaman mejores condiciones de vida, en cualquier lugar del mundo, porque son aliados de los monopolios. No pueden estar con las colonias que quieren liberarse, porque son aliados de los colonizadores.
Es decir que están con Franco, con la colonización de Argelia, con la colonización del Congo, están con el mantenimiento de sus privilegios e intereses en el Canal, con el coloniaje en todo el mundo. Están con el militarismo alemán y el resurgimiento del militarismo alemán. Están con el militarismo japonés y el resurgimiento del militarismo japonés.
El gobierno de Estados Unidos se olvida de los millones de hebreos que fueron asesinados en los campos de concentración de Europa por los nazis que hoy recuperan su influencia en el ejército alemán. Se olvidan de los franceses que fueron asesinados allí en su heroica lucha contra la ocupación. Se olvidan de los soldados norteamericanos que murieron en la línea de Sigfrido, en el Ruhr, o en el Rhin, o en los frentes de Asia. No pueden estar con la integridad y la soberanía de los pueblos. ¿Por qué? Porque necesitan cercenar la soberanía de los pueblos para mantener sus bases militares, y cada base es un puñal clavado en la soberanía, cada base es una soberanía cercenada.
Por eso tiene que estar contra la soberanía de los pueblos, porque necesita estar cercenando la soberanía para mantener su política de bases alrededor de la Unión Soviética, y entendemos que al pueblo norteamericano no se le explica bien estos problemas, porque basta que el pueblo norteamericano se imagine qué sería de su tranquilidad si en Cuba, en México, o en Canadá, la Unión Soviética comienza a establecer un cordón de bases atómicas. La población no se sentiría segura, no se sentiría tranquila.
Hay que enseñarle a la opinión mundial, que incluye, por tanto, a la opinión norteamericana, a comprender los problemas desde otro ángulo, desde el ángulo de los demás. No presentarnos siempre a los pueblos subdesarrollados como agresores, a los revolucionarios como agresores, como enemigos del pueblo norteamericano. Nosotros no podemos ser enemigos del pueblo norteamericano, porque hemos visto norteamericanos como Carleton Beals, o como Waldo Frank, a ilustres y distinguidos intelectuales como ellos, salírseles las lágrimas pensando en los errores que se cometen, en la falta de hospitalidad que particularmente se cometió con nosotros. En muchos norteamericanos, los más humanos de los escritores, los más progresistas de sus escritores, los más valiosos de sus escritores, veo la nobleza de los primeros dirigentes de este país: de los Washington, de los Jefferson, y de los Lincoln. Lo digo sin demagogia, con la sincera admiración que sentimos por aquellos que un día supieron liberar a su pueblo de su colonia y luchar, no para que hoy su país fuese el aliado de todos los reaccionarios del mundo, el aliado de todos los gangsters del mundo, el aliado de los latifundistas, de los monopolios, de los explotadores, de los militaristas, de los fascistas. Es decir, el aliado de los más retrógrados y de los más reaccionarios, sino para que su país fuese siempre defensor de nobles y de justos ideales.
Sabemos, por cierto, lo que le dirán hoy y mañana y siempre de nosotros al pueblo norteamericano para engañarlo. Pero no importa. Cumplimos nuestro deber con expresar estos sentimientos en esta histórica Asamblea. Proclamamos el derecho de los pueblos a su integridad, el derecho de los pueblos a su nacionalidad, y conspiran contra el nacionalismo, los que saben que el nacionalismo significa afán de recuperar lo suyo, sus riquezas, sus recursos naturales.
Estamos, en fin, con todas las nobles aspiraciones de todos los pueblos. Esa es nuestra posición. Con todo lo justo estamos y estaremos siempre: contra el coloniaje, contra la explotación, contra los monopolios, contra el militarismo, contra la carrera armamentista, contra el juego a la guerra. Contra eso estaremos siempre. Esa será nuestra posición.
Y, para finalizar, cumpliendo lo que entendemos como un deber nuestro, traer al seno de esta Asamblea la parte esencial de la Declaración de La Habana. Ustedes saben que la Declaración de La Habana fue la respuesta del pueblo de Cuba a la Carta de Costa Rica. No se reunieron 10, ni 100, ni 100 000, se reunieron más de un millón de cubanos. Quienes duden, pueden ir a contarlos en la próxima concentración o asamblea general que demos en Cuba, en la seguridad de que van a ver un espectáculo de pueblo ferviente y de pueblo consciente, que difícilmente hayan tenido oportunidad de ver, y que solo se ve cuando los pueblos están defendiendo ardorosamente sus intereses más sagrados.
En aquella asamblea de respuesta a la Carta de Costa Rica, en consulta con el pueblo y por aclamación del pueblo, se proclamaron estos principios, como los principios de la Revolución Cubana:
“La Asamblea General Nacional del Pueblo de Cuba, condena el latifundio, fuente de miseria para el campesino y sistema de producción agrícola retrógrado e inhumano; condena los salarios de hambre y la explotación inicua del trabajo humano por bastardos y privilegiados intereses; condena el analfabetismo, la ausencia de maestros, de escuelas, de médicos y de hospitales; la falta de protección a la vejez que impera en los países de América; condena la discriminación del negro y del indio; condena la desigualdad y la explotación de la mujer; condena las oligarquías militares y políticas que mantienen a nuestros pueblos en la miseria, impiden su desarrollo democrático y el pleno ejercicio de su soberanía; condena las concesiones de los recursos naturales de nuestros países a los monopolios extranjeros como política entreguista y traidora al interés de los pueblos; condena a los gobiernos que desoyen el sentimiento de sus pueblos para acatar mandatos extranjeros; condena el engaño sistemático a los pueblos por órganos de divulgación que responden al interés de las oligarquías y a la política del imperialismo opresor; condena el monopolio de las noticias por agencias monopolistas, instrumentos de los trusts monopolistas y agentes de esos intereses; condena las leyes represivas que impiden a los obreros, campesinos, estudiantes y a los intelectuales, a las grandes mayorías de cada país, organizarse y luchar por sus reivindicaciones sociales y patrióticas; condena a los monopolios y empresas imperialistas que saquean continuamente nuestras riquezas, explotan a nuestros obreros y campesinos, desangran y mantienen en retraso nuestras economías, y someten la política de la América Latina a sus designios e intereses.
“La Asamblea General Nacional del Pueblo de Cuba condena, en fin, la explotación del hombre por el hombre, y la explotación de los países subdesarrollados por el capital financiero imperialista.
“En consecuencia, la Asamblea General Nacional del Pueblo de Cuba, proclama ante América” —y lo proclama aquí ante el mundo:
“El derecho de los campesinos a la tierra; el derecho del obrero al fruto de su trabajo; el derecho de los niños a la educación; el derecho de los enfermos a la asistencia médica y hospitalaria; el derecho de los jóvenes al trabajo; el derecho de los estudiantes a la enseñanza libre, experimental y científica; el derecho de los negros y los indios a la ‘dignidad plena del hombre’; el derecho de la mujer a la igualdad civil, social y política; el derecho del anciano a una vejez segura; el derecho de los intelectuales, artistas y científicos a luchar, con sus obras, por un mundo mejor; el derecho de los Estados a la nacionalización de los monopolios imperialistas, rescatando así las riquezas y recursos nacionales; el derecho de los países al comercio libre con todos los pueblos del mundo; el derecho de las naciones a su plena soberanía, el derecho de los pueblos a convertir sus fortalezas militares en escuelas, y armar a sus obreros” —porque en esto nosotros tenemos que ser armamentistas, en armar a nuestro pueblo para defendernos de los ataques imperialistas—, “campesinos, estudiantes, intelectuales, al negro, al indio, a la mujer, al joven, al anciano, a todos los oprimidos y explotados, para que defiendan, por sí mismos, sus derechos y sus destinos.”
Algunos querían conocer cuál era la línea del Gobierno Revolucionario de Cuba. Pues bien, ¡esta es nuestra línea!
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!