Speech by Dr.Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Republic of Cuba, presented at the public forum held in San José de las Lajas, Havana Province, on January 27, 2001.

People of Havana;

Compatriots in all of Cuba:

Humanity has entered one of the most complicated periods in its history.

We have begun the new millennium amid the din of an intense and prolonged battle.

The coming years will be decisive not only for Cuba, but for all of the peoples who live on this planet.

During the century that has just come to an end, many years were lost in wars, in the parceling out of the world, in the plunder and exploitation, both collective and individual, of the immense majority of human beings. And all this took place when we still had more than enough time to foresee and confront many of the gravest problems that weigh so heavily on the world. The enormous advances in science and technology were already within reach.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were still abundant expanses of virgin land, forests, water and mineral deposits for use in a rational and sustainable manner. The air and seas were not saturated with contaminants and chemical wastes to the inconceivable extent that they are today.

World politics and economics moved forward at such a blind and chaotic pace that concepts like the environment, biological diversity, the preservation of nature, dessertification, holes in the ozone layer and climatic changes were barely known or even mentioned a few decades ago. Under a system of anarchic and chaotic production, which eventually gave rise to the current state of imperial, hegemonic and unipolar control, enormous amounts of resources were squandered, nature was significantly damaged, and absurd and unsustainable models of consumption were established, which constitute really unattainable dreams for the immense majority of those who living on the planet today and those who will live on it tomorrow.

In the course of barely a century, a large part of the hydrocarbon reserves that nature took hundreds of millions of years to create have been burned and released into the air and the seas as gas and by-product waste. The quest to seek profits at any cost, with no ethical or moral principles or foresight whatsoever, has left a devastating wake for current and future generations.

When reflecting upon what is happening in the world, it is impossible to ignore that the advances made by humankind in political development, social justice and peaceful coexistence lag far behind its extraordinary scientific and technological achievements.

Meanwhile, the world population has already grown to beyond six billion people, two thirds of whom live in unbearable backwardness and poverty. In fifty years more, no fewer than three billion more people will share our already contaminated planet. Today, 1.8 billion are children and adolescents under 16 years of age, like many of the youngsters gathered here today, blossoms bursting with hope and joy. Some five billion more will be born over the next five decades while many of those under 20 today will still be alive.

Can there be any more urgent and immediate task than that of preserving the minimal living conditions necessary for all of these human beings who will be children, adolescents, and adults, young and old?

A worn-out and obsolete world order will not be capable of saving humanity and creating the natural conditions indispensable for a dignified and decent life on the planet. Real equality of opportunity and genuine justice for all human beings of every nation, ethnic group, culture and religion cannot continue to be put off in any corner of the world. This is not an ideological matter; it has become a matter of life and death for the human species.

It is obvious that nothing can be expected of those who wield the power and privileges of hegemonic rule. The neoliberal globalization they have imposed on the world is unsustainable. The first symptoms of crisis are already visible, and that crisis will be even more profound to the extent that the real economy is transformed into a speculative economy, encompassing most of the financial operations taking place in the world every day.

The conflicts between centers of economic power will increase, and the fight for markets will be fiercer. The usual objectives of any system of production have been turned upside down: the economy does not function and grow to create goods and services; goods and services are consumed to make the economy function and grow.

Nevertheless, there is not the slightest indication that those who control the bulk of the world’s power and resources are capable of understanding this reality, and even if they did understand it, they have neither the will nor the real power to change it. Today, the transnationals are institutions with more capacity, wealth and power than all of the world’s governments put together. And the crisis will be even further accelerated as they continue to merge and increasingly dominate the world’s finances, production and economy, moved by the blind and uncontrollable laws of the system that gave rise to them.

The most likely course of events is that in a relatively short time, a profound crisis will finally erupt that will lead to the ruin of the majority of the world’s nations. Poverty and hunger will expand, and the possibilities for development will be further reduced for the poor countries, where the immense majority of the world’s population live.

The experiences that humanity has lived through up so far teach us that neither cold analysis and rational thinking nor foresight and basic common sense can produce solutions. It is unfortunate, but history has proven that major solutions only come from major crises.

A different world order, with greater justice and solidarity, capable of sustaining the natural environment and safeguarding life on the planet, is the only possible alternative. For this to come about, our species’ instinct for self-preservation must make itself felt with greater force than ever.

As a part of the problem confronting the world, our small country is striving to make its modest contribution to the future we dream of. As fate would have it, for reasons of geographical location and very particular historical circumstances, the revolution for liberation initiated in our nation on October 10, 1868 now occupies a place of honor in the political battle that the peoples of the world have been forced to wage for their existence and identity as nations, for their right to sustainable economic and social development, and for a fair, rational and solidarity-based world order.

As it celebrates the 42nd anniversary of its triumph, and victoriously enters the new millennium, the Cuban Revolution is now politically stronger than ever, and our people have achieved the highest degree of unity and revolutionary awareness in all their history.

A new administration has just assumed power in the United States, in a rather irregular fashion. Everything known about the background and thinking of the main figures in this administration, the public statements made by many of them, before and after the highly unusual electoral process in which the Cuban-American terrorist mob played a decisive role in the questionable victory of the current president, has created an atmosphere of doubt, distrust and fear reaching practically all of the world public opinion.

Cuba could become a target of the frustration, resentment and hatred of the most extremist and reactionary sectors, currently in a state of euphoria over the rise to power of a new ruling team with whom they share close ties. Nevertheless, our country and our courageous people, who have confronted extreme dangers with honor and heroically endured 42 years of hostility, aggression, blockade and economic warfare, are looking towards the future with greater calm, serenity and confidence than ever. Nothing troubles our sleep.

Although we do not expect any rectification from this new administration, we will neither make hasty judgments in advance, nor cast the first stone. Instead, we will preserve the same high moral ground in our political conduct and methods as always. We will carefully observe every step they take and every word they say. Absolutely nothing will catch us off guard, unaware or unprepared, in economic, political or any other terms.

The Cuba that is entering the new millenium is not the inexperienced, unarmed and practically illiterate Cuba of 1959. There is not a single illiterate in Cuba today, and there are now two university graduates for every sixth-grade graduate back then. Millions of men and women have learned to use weapons; hundreds of thousands have carried out different internationalist missions; tens of thousands of experienced cadres have been trained in the battle; our people have high levels of education and general and political knowledge; the country is like one big school. We have learned to withstand and overcome the most inconceivable circumstances. No other nation is more educated, less dependent on trade and economic relations with the country that has risen up as the wealthiest and most crucial power for the rest of the world. No other nation is freer to declare its truths and defend the rights of the world’s poor and exploited peoples in every international forum.

Cuba will not hesitate to continuing the battle of ideas it has been waging for 14 months to demand respect for its rights and an end to the murderous and genocidal laws implemented against it, and to fulfill the sacred oath that its people have sworn to their Homeland.

The impressive march in which over a million residents of Havana participated on January 19; the four roundtable discussions broadcast between Tuesday and Friday, which exposed and strongly denounced the subversive actions against our country; the 200,000 children, students, young people, men and women gathered here today, and the 200,000 who will gather tomorrow, on the glorious day of the birth of José Martí, in Calixto García Square in Holguín: all of these are more than enough proof of the mood, the fighting spirit and the self-confidence with which our people are prepared to face the future and fulfill their duty to their homeland and to humanity, like no other time before in their honorable history.


Comments made after the speech:

I mentioned the figure 200,000. That was more or less the number estimated and announced, but the crowd I see here stretches beyond the horizon.

In fact, the people here could fill three or four stadiums like the Latin American Stadium. There are over 300,000 people here (Applause), and that is a very conservative estimate.

We are used to making these estimates, we know how many people there are in a square meter in a crowd, and I can assure you that what I see from here –and maybe you will see it on television this evening– is something truly impressive. (Shouts of "Fidel, Fidel, Fidel!) Sáez told me about it, but what I have seen goes far beyond the impression he gave me. This is irrefutable proof of the mood and fighting spirit I mentioned a few minutes ago.

I congratulate the people of Havana, first of all, the people from both the City and Province of Havana present here.

I congratulate the organizers, the leadership of the Young Communist League and the Party, and very especially, I congratulate comrade Sáez for this extraordinary example of organization and revolutionary spirit, which millions of our compatriots are watching this morning throughout the length and breadth of the island, and which some foreign television networks may broadcast to other nations in the world.

Thank you, very much, comrades.

Congratulations to you all!

Patria o muerte!

Socialismo o muerte!