SPEECH DELIVERED BY DR. FIDEL CASTRO RUZ, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, AT THE COMMEMORATION OF THE 47TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE JULY 26, 1953 ATTACK ON THE MONCADA GARRISON HELD IN THE PROVISIONAL REVOLUTION SQUARE OF PINAR DEL RIO. AUGUST 5, 2000
People of Pinar del Río;
Fellow countrymen of Cuba;
Our neighbor, the empire, is living election time. Everybody knows by now who are the candidates to the presidency of the government of the United States, our stubborn, arrogant and overbearing adversary. During the long, hard struggle for the return of the kidnapped boy we were able to learn about all the contenders for this coveted position. Not a single one of them had the decency or the sense of justice to support the rights of the boy and his father. Desperately pandering the Cuban-American annexationist mob for their few votes and, particularly, for their abundant funds, they supported the kidnappers or shamelessly encouraged the defection of the father, who is a humble, honest and incorruptible Cuban worker.
Under certain historical circumstances there have been candidates in the United States with deep convictions like Lincoln, with the wisdom of a statesman like Roosevelt during truly difficult times for his country and the world, or the ethics born of sincere religious beliefs of a man like Carter, who was perhaps worthy of better luck in the face of the galloping inflation brought about by the misadventure of the Vietnam War and the energy crisis. Those personalities have aroused great interest both within the United States and abroad. But perhaps never before, in times as complex and chaotic as these facing humanity today, has there been two such boring and colorless candidates, so totally devoid of background history and sound views and principles as those competing today for leadership in the sole hegemonic superpower of our unipolar and globalized world. They even lack Clintons sincere concern over certain social issues, his intellectual shrewdness and personal culture, despite his hesitations and errors.
Regardless of who wins the presidency, he will control deadly weapons and have direct command of the suitcase carrying the nuclear codes. He will be the master of war and peace in the world, much more powerful than any emperor in ancient Rome.
In the United States, the final stage of the political contest begins when one of the candidates controls the majority of delegates from one of the two main factions prevailing in that countrys political system where hundreds of millions of dollars are usually invested.
First comes the ritual of choosing a vice president. Of course, the candidate based on purely electoral interests and tactics chooses him. Then comes the pompous presidential nomination ceremony, and nothing less than an alleged government platform without the slightest value as a mandate or as a standard for ethical or political conduct. It is usually a simple summary of moods, group interests, shady deals, posturing and phrases intended to sweetening the ears of one voting sector or another, in the midst of a ferocious battle where each side tries to balance the accusations of being too liberal or too conservative that the two factions throw at each other. No one should expect sincerity, a sense of responsibility for the country or the world, or the slightest reflection of profound knowledge, genuine political culture or awareness of the serious problems facing humanity.
The so-called Republican Convention has just come to an end. It was held in none other than the city of Philadelphia, home to the famous 1776 Declaration of Independence. Actually, while those slaveholders who rebelled against the British colonial rule did not abolish the disgraceful practice of slavery --which remained in effect for almost a whole century longer, and racial discrimination is still very deeply rooted in American society-- they were after all the bearers of the most advanced political ideas of the time.
We recently witnessed how the mere idea of creating an antimissile shield in violation of major international agreements aroused a significant international reaction. Yet, the first announcement made at the Republican Convention just held in Philadelphia under the leadership of the partys illustrious candidate was the plan to considerably raise the military budget for research and development, and the construction of an antimissile shield to cover the entire nation with a radar network that could detect enemy missiles en route to U.S. territory and shoot them down in mid-air.
Those holding these views are unable to understand that such a policy would meet with the overwhelming opposition of the rest of the world, including Europe. That, like a magnet, it would bring together all those nations threatened by a strategy that would leave them helpless against the United States. A new, dangerous and extremely costly arms race would immediately follow and nothing could prevent the proliferation of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction.
The authors of the plan know very well that slightly more than half the American people, who are still confused and insufficiently informed about this complex issue, believe that to be the most suitable solution in the interest of the countrys peace and security. However, the adoption of this extreme position by the Republican candidate vis à vis any other more sensible or reasonable proposal from his opponent would present him to voters as the strong, farsighted, tough guy that the United States needs to confront all imaginary or real dangers. This is the good news they sent out from Philadelphia to all of the peoples on Earth.
What does this smart platform have to offer Latin America and the Caribbean in particular? There is a phrase that says it all: "The next American century should include all of the Americas." This simple statement means no less than the proclamation of the United States right of ownership over Latin America and the Caribbean.
It later adds, "In concert with the Congress, (the president) will work with key democracies like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and --above all-- Mexico." They do not specify if that American century will include Pinochet-like governments or military juntas like the one in Argentina, which vanished tens of thousands of people after a series of coups détat promoted by previous Republican administrations that maintained close cooperation with those brutally repressive regimes.
Particularly striking is the phrase that reads: "...and --above all-- Mexico" since that is a country they robbed of half its territory through an unjustifiable, expansionist war. Their obvious intent is to begin with the economic annexation and full political subordination of that country to the United States and then do likewise with the rest of the countries in our region, imposing a free trade agreement essentially favorable to U.S. interests, from which not even the tiniest Caribbean island could escape. They mean, of course, the free circulation of capital and commodities, not the people! The United States does not intend to be full of indigenous people, blacks or mestizos; not even full of white Latin Americans because they are not of pure Aryan blood, and none can escape the suspicion of carrying distant genes from the genome of another human race. Neither the Ku Klux Klan nor the other passionate and increasingly numerous admirers of the swastika would permit it.
As expected, the highly biased Philadelphia platform devotes a substantial part of its section on Latin America to Cuba. According to the wire services it reads: "Our economic and political relations will change when the Cuban regime frees all political prisoners, legalizes peaceful protest, allows opposition political activity, permits free expression, and commits to democratic elections." For the authors of this demagogic abomination, freedom and democracy mean an outdated, corrupt system in which it is money alone that decides and elects, and in which a presidential candidate is nominated, with lightning speed, as the heir to a vacant throne only on account of his fathers powerful influence and the millions of dollars in donations from those expecting major privileges from the new leader. That is really light-years away from what the countrys founding fathers dreamed of over two centuries ago.
Another wire story reports that: "The platform, aside from active support for the enemies of the Revolution, includes the broadcasting of news from the United States to the Caribbean nation." That is, they intend to keep up with the filth spewed against Cuba by subversive radio stations located in U.S. territory; they will persist in the outrageous use of the name of José Martí --a name that is glorious and sacred to our people-- in official U.S. government broadcasts directed against Cuba.
Yet, another wire story reports that "the members of the Florida delegation said at a press conference that the final wording of the declaration was the result of the work of the representatives of the state that is home to the main enclave of the Cuban-American vote in the United States, which is predominantly Republican."
At the press conference, the hysterical Díaz-Balart euphorically squealed, "This is unprecedented language. Never before has the Republican Party made such a broad commitment." They cannot forget the enormous and crushing defeat sustained by the Cuban-American mob recently, one from which it will never recover.
Meanwhile, Ileana Ross, the ferocious she-wolf who wrapped Elián in the Stars and Stripes flag, jubilantly declared that the Republicans is "the party that promotes democracy." This is a lie! This is an utter, shameless lie! There are Republicans who promote even fascism but there are also many decent Republicans who do not share or support the extremist right-wing "democracy" this woman believes in, that of terrorists and lawbreakers capable of kidnapping, tormenting and politically exploiting an innocent six-year-old boy for months.
According to a wire story sent out from Philadelphia on July 31, the Republican Party platform holds that "the United States, under the presidency of George Bush, should strengthen the policy against Cuba with active support of dissidents on the island." It then goes on: "Although the platform basically maintains the same policy, it makes clear their open support for the opponents of Fidel Castro." This is good, really excellent! There will be absolutely no need to prove what everyone in our country knows so well: that is, the mercenary and traitorous nature of the tiny counterrevolutionary groups working in our country on the empires payroll. Their clumsy masters are heedless of the fact that after the seven months of unrelenting battle waged by our people against the repugnant misdeeds of the Miami annexationist mob and the U.S. extreme right, the members of these groups have been left like fish out of water.
"U.S. policy toward Cuba should be based upon sound, [...] principles," states the section on Cuba in the chapter entitled Neighborhood of the Americas. It takes a lot of nerve to use the words "sound principles" to describe the gases emanating from the stinking sewer of the Miami terrorist and mercenary mob!
To top off the mountain of garbage contained in the Republican platform, it is finally stated: "Republicans believe that the United States should adhere to the principles established by the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, which recognizes the rights of Cuban refugees fleeing communist tyranny." Excellent! There will be no need to explain much further to the Cuban people the reasons for the Oath of Baraguá and the need to continue, without rest or respite, our struggle against the narrow-minded policy reiterated against Cuba.
The prestige of the imperial policy will so crumble that not even its dust will remain. We will systematically denounce and demolish one by one, its hypocrisy and lies. They obviously have absolutely no idea what kinds of people have been forged in these 40 years of Revolution.
Our message will reach all corners of the Earth, and our struggle will serve as an example. The world, ever more ungovernable, will fight until hegemony and the subjugation of peoples become totally unsustainable.
Whoever is elected leader of the empire should not ignore that Cuba demands the total removal of the murderous Cuban Adjustment Act and the criminal pieces of legislation that bear the notorious names of Torricelli and Helms-Burton as well as the genocidal blockade and economic war. It should be noted that those who have authored, promoted and enforced these laws and policies are guilty of the crime of genocide, as defined and condemned by international treaties signed by both the United States and Cuba. Also that, our nation being the aggrieved party, the Cuban courts has jurisdiction over these matters.
They must not forget that although no lawsuits have been filed so far demanding compensation for moral damage --and this compensation could be substantial-- the U.S. government already owes the Cuban people over 300 billion dollars for the human damage resulting from its mercenary invasion by the Bay of Pigs, its dirty war and many other crimes, and for the economic ravages caused by the blockade. This claim is based on firm rulings issued after absolutely legal proceedings pursued in a court of law to which the U.S. authorities, out of arrogance and moral cowardice, did not even deign to send their representatives.
They should not entertain any illusion regarding Cubas stance if relations between the United States and our country ever become as normal as those currently existing with other socialist countries like China and Vietnam. We will not remain silent in the face of any crime, aggression or injustice committed against other peoples. Our battle of ideas will not cease as long as the current imperialist, hegemonic and unipolar system is still in place and remains a scourge of humanity and a mortal threat to the survival of our species.
A growing number of millions of Americans are becoming aware of the horrors of the economic and political order imposed on the world. Those who have been able thus far to manipulate human destinies as they see fit can no longer even meet in Seattle or Washington to promote their dirty policies in the WTO or the International Monetary Fund because a growing number of thousands and tens of thousands of Americans have taken to the streets near their meeting places in protest despite a brutal repression with methods of violence and hate that are reminiscent of Hitlers assault troops or Pinochets ferocious police force.
The Cuban Revolution does not merely confide in the moral integrity and patriotic and revolutionary spirit of its people, and in the survival instinct of the human species, whose very existence is threatened. It also believes and confides in the traditional idealism of the American people that can only be led into unjust wars and shameful aggressions on the basis of vulgar deceit. Once demagoguery and lies are definitely exposed and defeated, the world will find excellent allies in the American people. This is what happened in the case of the repugnant war that cost the lives of millions of Vietnamese and over 50,000 young Americans. A more recent example is the American people noble support of a little boy and a Cuban family, victims of a brutal crime perpetrated by a band of criminals who, after having taken advantage of that countrys hospitality, ended up showing their hatred and frustration by trampling and burning the U.S. flag. That has never happened in revolutionary Cuba, despite the blockade and the crimes committed against our people by successive U.S. administrations.
The changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba must be unilateral because the U.S. leaders have unilaterally imposed the blockade and economic war against Cuba.
Pinar del Río was the poorest province in Cuba before the triumph of the Revolution. Its lands were the property of big landowners. In no other province of our country did sharecroppers and tenant farmers pay such high rents for the use of those lands. Many had to turn over at least 30% of their crops. Pinar del Río was once known as the Cinderella of Cuba. As I told you on another occasion, a medical student once said to me, years after the triumph of the Revolution, "It isnt Cinderella anymore; now its the princess."
The 16 poorly run health care centers, which provided medical care with around 100 private practices, have raised to 125.
The 248 doctors, 25 dentists and 50 nurses and assistants became 3473 doctors, 569 dentists and 5702 nurses and assistants, who provide services that are free of charge to the entire population.
The infant mortality rate of 60.5 per 1000 live births became 6.5, a rate lower than that of the United States.
The average life expectancy rose from 53 to 76.5 years.
The illiteracy rate of 30% among people over 10 years of age is now practically 0%.
The average level of schooling has gone from second grade to ninth.
The 1710 teachers became 18,816.
An education budget of five or six million pesos grew to 113 million.
The number of women who are university graduates rose from 33 to 22,940.
The number of university-graduate professionals rose from 541 to 46,500.
The number of cultural institutions rose from 25 to 171.
The number of sports facilities rose from 42 to 604.
Unemployment dropped from 30% to 4%.
I have limited myself to just a few figures related to social features of great importance to the lives of human beings: health, education, culture, sports and employment.
Its universities, its scientific institutions with over 200 PhDs and Masters in science, its hospitals, its sports and recreational facilities, its elders' homes and the full social security of its people have transformed the human face of what was once the Cinderella of Cuba. The same thing has happened throughout the whole country, from Punta de Maisí to Cabo de San Antonio. No other people in the world have achieved such progress in such a short time while facing constant aggression, blockade and economic warfare.
There has not been a single political assassination, a single execution without due process, a single person vanished or tortured throughout these 41 years of Revolution in Cuba. However, these things still happen in many parts of the world, including the United States. All of our fellow countrymen know this, even preschool children.
Almost half of our Parliament is made up of constituency delegates nominated and elected by local residents, with no interference whatsoever from the Party. Municipal assemblies, made up by the respective constituency delegates in every municipality nominate all of the members of this supreme state body. All of the members of our Parliament, which in turn elects the nations executive and judicial powers, must be elected, without exception, by over 50% of those who exercise their right to direct vote by secret ballot. No guns are used to guard the voting stations; the ballot boxes are protected by our children with the same efficiency they showed in protecting the U.S. Interests Section during the combative marches and massive demonstrations held in its vicinity, when not a single window was ever broken.
However, imperialism calls everything I have mentioned here a violation of human rights. As a result, the country that has carried out this tremendous human feat is the victim of a blockade, hostility and a thousand other forms of aggression. Due to the achievement of such lofty advances, we are now the only nation in the world subjected to such ferocious harassment by the government of the United States, which is the wealthiest, the mightiest and the sole superpower in the world today.
How vain are the hopes of those who have just proclaimed the continuation of the cynical and criminal policy I described at the beginning of my remarks!
From here, from this province where the Bronze Titan ultimately crowned, in Mantua, the colossal feat of the invasion he had begun in Mangos de Baraguá, we say to them: You ignorants! Do you not understand that Cuba is impregnable, that its Revolution is indestructible, that its people will never bow down or surrender? Do you not realize that our patriotism and internationalism are as deeply rooted in our minds and hearts as the imposing mogotes of Pinar del Río are in the volcanic rocks of this part of an island that is called Cuba and is surrounded today by the halo of having successfully endured almost 42 years of blockade and aggression by the most formidable power that ever existed?
We are defended by the strength of our prestige and the example we have set, the indestructible steel that is the justice of our cause, the inextinguishable fire of our truth and our morale as well as the double trench of stone and ideas that we have built which is unassailable.
That is why, Mr. Bush, if you finally become the leader of what no longer is and can no longer be called a republic but rather an empire, then, in the spirit of an honest adversary, I suggest that you leave aside the euphoria and fever of your Convention, and reconsider your position in order to avoid the risk of becoming the tenth American president to come and go watching with sterile and unnecessary bitterness a Revolution that will not bow down or surrender and that can never be destroyed.
I am very much aware of what you have recklessly told your close and indiscreet friends in the Cuban-American mob: that you can solve the problem of Cuba very easily, in clear reference to the methods used in the sinister era when the Central Intelligence Agency was directly involved in assassination plots against our countrys leaders. Because I do not share this narrow view of the role of individuals in history, I urge you not to forget that for every one of the revolutionary leaders you may decide to so remove, there are millions of men and women in Cuba who are capable of taking their places and altogether there are far more of them than you could ever remove, or that your immense political, economic and military power could ever defeat.
You, the people of Pinar del Río, have earned the honor of hosting the commemoration of the 47th anniversary of the July 26.
In the face of the cynical Philadelphia platform, let us renew once again the oath we made in Baraguá:
"The Cuban Adjustment Act must end!
"The Helms-Burton Act must end!
"The Torricelli Act must end!
"The amendments smuggled into many U.S. Congress laws in an attempt to aggravate our peoples suffering must end!
"The blockade as a whole and the criminal economic warfare against Cuba must end!
"The threats, the subversive campaigns, the destabilization plans must end!
"And in due time, given that it is not a priority at this moment although it is an absolutely just right that cannot be renounced, the illegally occupied territory of Guantánamo must be returned to Cuba!"
And all of this unconditionally!
To the people of Pinar del Río we say Congratulations!
To our fellow countrymen throughout Cuba we say Patria o Muerte!