Speech delivered by Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers, at the Public Forum of the Revolution held in the "Eduardo Saborit Stadium" in the municipality of Playa, City of Havana, March 31, 2001, Year of the Victorious Revolution in the New Millennium.
The largest mass mobilization ever witnessed in the history of our country began exactly 15 months and 26 days ago in our capital city. The brutal kidnapping of a Cuban child not yet six years old was the spark that ignited that struggle. It was transformed by the Baraguá Oath, whereby we swore that we would not relent as long as the criminal blockade and the economic war against our people continued; as long as the repugnant Torricelli and Helms-Burton Acts remained in effect, along with the shameless amendments and addenda tacked on to important and urgent legislation; as long as the policies of constant hostility and aggression were maintained; as long as the murderous Cuban Adjustment Act that has been killing young people and old people, mothers and children, women and men for 35 years remained in force; and as long as the illegal occupation of a piece of our territory for more than a hundred years continued. The fight that began on December 5, 1999, has now become a colossal battle of ideas that will not cease as long as the imperialist system exists.
There is no longer anywhere big enough in our capital city to summon its inhabitants. This sea of people, in the largest space that could be found for an Public Forum in Playa, just one of the 15 municipalities in our capital city, is a demonstration of the unity and strength that have been achieved.
This is the "enslaved" people whose human rights are demanded in Geneva by the "democratic" empire of the United States, and with an even greater uproar than ever before, barely three months after the biggest electoral fraud and the most scandalous theft of the coveted presidential throne ever to take place in that country.
In no other stage of the political life of our country has imperialist ideology been subjected to a more demolishing and profound criticism by our people.
The collapse of the socialist camp in Europe and the disintegration of the Soviet Union dealt a harsh blow to the progressive ideas and just aspirations for social change in the world, sowing discouragement, confusion, even demoralization and important defections from the ranks of many leftist forces. After the end of the cold war, when the only remaining superpower began exercising its hegemonic domination of our planet and it was thought that our Revolution would last but a few days, weeks or, at the most, months, the heroic resistance of Cuba proved to all the peoples of the world that the ideals of justice defended with honor and steadfastness by a small island a few miles from the gigantic imperial power could not be smashed.
Our people have withstood more than 40 years of blockade, a mercenary invasion, the threat and actual danger of a nuclear attack, a dirty war, an economic war, a biological war, a political war, all conceivable methods of subversion and destabilization, including hundreds of failed attempts at beheading our political process by assassinating its leaders.
Today we are witnessing everywhere the forceful resurgence of popular rebellion by millions of human beings increasingly exploited and plundered, increasingly outraged by the growing number of poor and hungry, of illiterates, of people lacking medical care, of more unemployed, more children wandering the streets begging, more prostituted girls, more sex trade, more narcotics, more crime, more antibiotic-resistant diseases, more AIDS, more costly drugs, more abuses, more political corruption, more deception, more alienating advertising, more lies, more environmental pollution, more exhaustion of natural resources, more poisoning of the rivers, the seas, the atmosphere; more deserts, more salinized land, less forested land, less arable land, less drinking water, less rationality in the distribution of resources for sustainable development, less capacity within the international financial organizations and the very governments of the wealthy countries, the creators of consumer societies, who monopolize almost all the technologies and the money in the world, with no will to face the growing and complex problems of human society.
The most voracious and irresponsible of them all, ruling a country that consumes 25% of the world’s electric power, has just unilaterally proclaimed that it will not respect the commitment reached in Kyoto to reduce emissions of pollutant gases, thus declaring absolute contempt for the world’s views and interests, including those of the American people itself. Other actions of ominous consequences had preceded it: the also unilateral decision to break agreements that have been vital for international peace and the announced intent to build a supposed total antimissile shield. This will unavoidably lead to a new arms race at the most untimely moment possible, a moment when the planet –now inhabited by 6.1 billion people, three-fourths of whom are poor– is entering a century that will undoubtedly be the most difficult and crucial in the millennia-long history of humankind.
We Cubans can feel proud of our awareness of the historic responsibility our people have acquired in their long struggle for liberty and justice. We also have the internationalist spirit forged throughout 42 years of continuous struggle against the most powerful empire that has ever existed. This has earned us the right to fully comprehend and make our own that extraordinary dictum by Jose Marti: "Homeland is humanity." (Applause)
We will never renounce the principles we made ours in the struggle to bring all justice to our homeland by putting an end to the exploitation of man by man, inspired by the history of mankind and by the enlightened theoreticians and promoters of a socialist system of production and distribution of wealth, the only system capable of creating a truly just and human society –Marx, Engels, and later, Lenin. We have never forgotten their names, as quite a few turncoats and cowards have.
As far back as April 16, 1961, the day before the cunning imperialist attack through the Bay of Pigs, aimed at occupying a piece of our territory in order to install a government whose only mission would be to open the way for a bloody intervention in our country by foreign troops, I had the privilege of proclaiming the socialist nature of our Revolution (Applause and shouts: "Fidel! Fidel! Fidel!") Our people shed their generous blood for that sacred cause, just as they risked their very survival with Spartan courage during the 1962 Missile Crisis, rather than making degrading concessions. With that same courage they were willing to carry out glorious internationalist missions, fighting against colonialism and the abhorrent apartheid regime, heir of Nazism and close ally of the West until the end of its sinister existence. Cubans also shed their blood in this fight, although we do not have a single investment, a single square meter of land, or a single bolt in a factory in South Africa, or in Angola, or in any other place in Africa. This is what makes us different from the empire and its allies. This is what uplifts our moral stature to the stars in the struggle of ideas.
The people waging that battle of ideas today do not have the 30% illiteracy rate that the Revolution found on January 1, 1959. Not one of their children lacks teachers or schools, or the opportunity to study the most diverse branches of science and culture. Seven hundred thousand of them are university graduates. We also have thousands of outstanding intellectuals and artists. Today we are striving for a comprehensive general education. In the next ten years we will quadruple the knowledge that we have acquired in the past 42.
University for All; Round Tables; important schools for art instructors recently opened in every province with their centers for training in visual arts, music, dance, theater and other artistic fields; thousands of new libraries at the reach of every person; and the massive use of audiovisual media: all of this will transform Cuba into the most learned country in the world. Its children will not only possess extensive professional, scientific, technical and artistic knowledge in accordance with their profession, and master several languages, but they will also have a broad political, historical, economic and philosophical education, allowing them to understand and face the great challenges of the future. Very few people in the world would still doubt that we will fulfil those goals.
Nothing and nobody will have the capacity to interfere with our destiny, neither with weapons, nor ignorance, nor deception, nor demagogy. We will tear apart their brazen and hypocritical lies and their dehumanized and selfish ideas. It will take us years, perhaps quite a few years, but they will continue to suffer defeat after defeat and will not obtain any victory that is not Pyrrhic. Only 19 days before the 40th anniversary of that unforgettable battle in which we succeeded in defending the independence of our country and our right to a true revolution, we dare to predict that in this battle of ideas, the imperialists are headed for nothing other than a colossal Bay of Pigs. (Applause).
Glory to the heroic people who can and will accomplish such a feat! (Shouts of: Glory!)
Patria o muerte!