EXCERPTS FROM THE SPEECH MADE BY COMRADE FIDEL CASTRO AT A MASS RALLY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF HAVANA ON MAY 4, 1999, RELATED TO THE WAR IN YUGOSLAVIA.
There is another more important conflict. Presently, brutal and destructive air strikes are taking place in the very heart of Europe, which are causing devastation, death and terror in a population of millions. Religious and ethnic conflicts have been considerably aggravated and thus hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, also horrified by the bombs and the war, are massively migrating.
On the eve of the next millenium Europe, --that is, NATO and its members, the United States of America included-- is involved in what can be described, whether they like it or not, as genocide. That is what results from depriving one million people from electricity and heating services, overnight and in mid winter. Also from cutting off all communications, sources of energy and transportation; destroying non-military facilities providing crucial services to all the population and tearing to pieces all the means of life created by a nation. Such destructive frenzy, either by mistake or recklessness, is directly killing or injuring thousands of civilians while trying to submit them by the destruction of their mass media and the intensification of the psychological warfare with overpowering technology and bombs. Unquestionably, this is a major genocide.
Europe is involved in a conflict hazardous to itself and the world. An extremely serious precedent is being set in defiance of international law and the United Nations Organization, and resulting in an increasingly complicated the situation.
We are of the view that in such a predicament only a political, and not a military, solution is possible based on respect for the rights of every nation in that region, and every religion, ethnic group and culture: a solution for both, Serbians and Kosovars. I am deeply convinced that the problem cannot be solved by force, that the military technology will crash against the will of any people determined to fight. I firmly believe that when the people are willing to fight --and this is how I feel about our own people, too-- no power, regardless of its might, can throw them down on their knees.
In the case of Serbia, the aggressor thought it would be a simple walk, a three days adventure, that the Serbians would surrender to the first bombs. Forty days have already passed and thousands and thousands of bombs have been dropped, however, we do not perceive any symptom of weakness in their will to fight. This we know by keeping in touch, through cell phones, --the only means of communication-- with three Cuban diplomats in Belgrade who relate to us what is happening there every day and after every night of Dantesque bombing.
We are told by those diplomats about the extraordinary morale of the Serbian people, in general, and particularly the people in Belgrade where planes are constantly flying at low altitude, thundering in the sky, terrorizing and causing traumas in children --hundreds of thousands, millions of children and adolescents afflicted perhaps for life-- youth, women and elders affected by the noise of the explosions and the constant attacks, whose growing viciousness is also announced. Once again I insist that that path will not lead to the solution of the problem. I firmly believe that there is no other choice, for anybody, but to work toward a political solution which is possible on the basis of common sense and rationality.
From the beginning of the attacks we realized that they would be useless and would only bring about a catastrophe.
We are aware of the history of World War II, the nazi invasion of Yugoslavia and that people’s long resistance. This time the aggressors do not even want to use ground forces since they believe that their smart bombs and guided missiles can solve the problem. But, the problem cannot be resolved with missiles, bombs or ground troops because when the people are determined to fight they do so everywhere, from all directions, and every house may become a fortress, every man or woman a combatant. It is not a matter of armored divisions, artillery groups, air or navy war fleets.
We know very well how we would conduct a struggle in our country under similar conditions and so do millions of people here; all those methods would be useless. This country cannot be conquered by anyone; no one can conquer a country that is willing to fight. It is wrong to try to conquer it. It already happened in Vietnam where the Americans understood it only when they had lost over 50 thousand lives and killed 4 million Vietnamese. Well, now, they are in a similar situation there, and one that can become more complicated if the Serbians everywhere give their support to the Serbians inside Serbia. Then, the political situation in Russia would become untenable because the ethnic bonds between both peoples are very strong.
Other peoples will draw their own conclusions. I think the Russians are drawing theirs --after all that has happened to them in the past and all that can still happen to them in the future-- when they see the numberless bombs dropped by a military alliance driven increasingly arrogant, haughty and furious by an unexpected resistance. Europe and NATO have become the hostages of a subjective factor: the decision the Serbians might adopt --or not-- to resist to the end, although it is to be assumed that after such destruction they are not going to be much inclined to give up. What is happening there was obvious to us from the beginning. This does not mean that we are against anybody’s rights; we support both, the rights of the Serbians and the Kosovars’ rights.
When we were recently informed that Guantanamo Naval Base would be used to accommodate 20 thousand Kosovar refugees, we immediately agreed, and I think it is the first time that we have agreed with anything the United States of America has done in that base. It is not that they requested our permission or agreement, actually they simply were kind enough to communicate to us that they would do that. They explained their purposes, they said it would be for a limited period of time while the conflict was settled, and so on. The least they expected --they do not know this country-- was our reply.
We said that we did not only agree that 20 thousand Kosovar refugees were sheltered there but also that we were willing to cooperate as much as possible in providing care for those refugees, that we offered our hospital services if required, our doctors and any other cooperation within our capabilities.
Finally, they were not sent in and it was a clever thing to rectify that decision because they would have been much criticized. The truth is that none of the NATO countries, which have dropped so many bombs there, really want to receive refugees. There is much xenophobia and selfishness in the West. They had said they would receive from 80 thousand to a 100 thousand but they have only received a few thousands because they do not want to have Kosovar refugees in their own territories, so they have done nothing significant. Anyway, it was a political mistake but we were informed and we said that we agreed.
There is something else. There is this international humanitarian organization known as the Saint Egidious Community which cares for refugees; it sustains relations with the Catholic Church and works mostly in supportive actions every time there are refugee problems.
Although we strongly condemn the brutal and genocidal attacks against the Serbian people, we also share in the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of refugees dragged to such condition by a series of longstanding factors, not only historic in nature but also associated to the disintegration of Yugoslavia, a country that had lived in peace for 40 years after World War II.
Those who disintegrated Yugoslavia and stirred up the national ethnic and religious conflicts are greatly responsible for what is happening there now. Many of Europe’s statesmen and public figures are aware of Europe’s responsibility in that process. Those who so lightly agreed to use all their sophisticated and overwhelming military technology against what was left of the former Yugoslavia bear a great responsibility for what is going on there and the misery of those hundreds of thousands of refugees.
As for solutions, we advocate solutions for all the parties involved: refugees, citizens of Kosovo, Serbians and people of other nationalities living there, and all the nations that make up what is left of Yugoslavia today. That is, from the humane point of view our sympathies are with all the suffering people there. In this token, when several weeks ago, in the first days of April, we were visited by leaders of the Saint Egidious Community and they explained to us what they were doing to provide care and assistance to those distressed refugees, for which purpose they had about 30 medical doctors, --this happened a few weeks ago but I have not mentioned it before, I am doing it for the first time-- we said to them: Look, we do not have abundant resources but we have a human asset. If you needed medical personnel to care for those hundreds of thousands of refugees living in deprived camps, our country would be willing to contribute with one thousand physicians, absolutely free of charge, to care for the Kosovar refugees. (APPLAUSE)
Based on a longstanding experience we know that language is not a barrier. A six months old baby speaks no language at all, however, he/she can be care for by a doctor. This offer we made to the leaders of the Saint Egidious Community on the night of April 5, that is, 12 days after the onset of the NATO attacks.