Following the return of Elián González, the battle of ideas and masses, as announced in Fidel’s message to the mass rally in Manzanillo, has entered a new and longer stage.

The struggle for the return of the kidnapped boy was arduous and complex. It was necessary to conclude it urgently. It was a race against the clock, given the unknowns surrounding the future government of the superpower immersed in an electoral process, a time when petty ambitions and even the personal vanity of individuals and interest groups take precedence, except for a small number of honest politicians.

A new leader of the imperial political system, which rules at both a national and worldwide level will soon be appointed, not elected, since money, demagoguery, and skills in pretending and lying are the true electors. Both candidates had stated that the kidnapped boy should remain in the United States. Ever the lack of ethical scruples; cruelty and opportunism; terrible advisors; dim light in the profound darkness of ignorance; inexperience and ignorance of the realities of Cuba, the Caribbean, Latin America and the world: all of these elements make them unpredictable. We will not vote for either of them.

The new stage that is just beginning will inevitably be long due to both our goals and the prevailing circumstances; therefore, our methods should adapt to them.

From the thousands of opinions systematically collected every day we know how our people feel. We marvel at their intelligence and growing political culture, their ability to understand what needs to be done and to express tactical and even strategic criteria that are not always fully coincidental. Sometimes their state of mind shows in extremist tendencies although this can often be explained by the impossibility of knowing all the facts needed to formulate an opinion, since these cannot always be openly elucidated in the case of this particular battle.

Political wars, although not to the same extent as military operations, also demand a certain amount of discretion. In a game as peaceful as chess, the greatest masters try to keep their opponents from guessing in advance what they are planning to do.

Our Revolution, in times of both war and peace, has always followed the principle of keeping the public as well informed as possible and of preserving only the minimum unavoidable discretion. The principle of never lying and the unshakable ethics of the Revolution’s policies have allowed those responsible for leading it to earn the indispensable trust and extraordinary support of the Cuban people.

As is only natural, there are also skeptical and even critical views partly due to personal or emotional reasons or to insufficient rationalization. And, of course, there are those very few whose opinions show a total absence of patriotic, human or ethical values.

Each and every one of these views, regardless of their motivations, are analyzed and taken into account. In all circumstances, strategies and tactics are drawn up on solid foundations and unshakable principles. Our struggle is backed by almost all the people in our country who are determined to confront any challenge or risk without wavering, no matter the price that might need to be paid for our rights as human beings and revolutionaries.

The round table discussions and mass rallies, whether indoors or outdoors, were originally scheduled for 5:00 p.m. in the first days of the battle, which then extended to several months. This time slot, first established in winter when it is usually sunny and dry, was chosen to make the best of day light but it was later analyzed on various occasions taking into account the opinions expressed primarily by workers who were very interested in these programs but were pressed by their work schedules that mostly end at this same time or even later. Once the rainy season began, the outdoors mass rallies were rescheduled for 8:30 a.m. every Saturday morning.

Another issue frequently raised by those who offer their views was a natural and just concern over the reduction of children’s TV programming. This even led us to undertake a study, which has yet to be concluded, on the number of hours that children spend watching television. In general, a considerable number of children are also avid viewers of adult TV series and movies that end very late at night to the detriment of their health, their homework and their learning. That has become an unsolvable tragedy for industrialized and wealthy countries. We have real possibilities of studying and confronting the problem.

Yet, whatever the results of this investigation, the Revolution is determined to give a priority to programming for children and adolescents minding the various age groups. The interests of the youths and adults will not be neglected either, nor will entertainment-oriented programming for the people at large. Above all and to the extent possible, we will strive for excellence; and we have considerable potential for success given the abundance of intelligence and creativity and the technical resources that will grow alongside the advances in our economy.

A special sensitivity, a greater sense of duty and responsibility for the care and education of our children and a systematic expansion of our people’s knowledge, young and old alike, should be part of the idea of bringing general culture to the masses. This general culture goes far beyond a simple artistic culture that disregards the minimum knowledge that every person should have of the so-called humanities, irrespective of the profound mastery of science and technology that professionals should have for their work in production and services.

We find it unacceptable that technically qualified workers or university or college graduate professionals are totally ignorant or barely knowledgeable in matters that are indispensable for the quality of their spiritual lives, and even for understanding the ever more complex world where they live now and will have to live in the future. General culture should be comprehensive; it cannot be conceived without political culture, nor can political culture be conceived without knowledge of the history of humanity, its development, its fruits and teachings; without knowledge of international politics and the world economy; without basic knowledge of the main philosophical currents developed by humankind, as well as the advances of modern science and their potential ethical and social consequences.

We have limited ourselves here to mentioning only a few developing concepts of what could be qualified as the comprehensive general culture of the masses. In summary, the minimum knowledge that every person in our country should attain.

The technology available today makes this dream fully possible. Up until now, the developed capitalist countries have used that technology to make the masses mindless, a fact reflected in the figure of one trillion dollars currently spent every year on commercial advertising.

Our television programming, which is outside the orbit of the market economy and private property, can and should be entirely at the service of knowledge, culture, entertainment and the defense of the values and interests most sacred to our people.

Our two television channels, alongside our ever present radio stations and the printing press operating on the scarce amount of paper available to it have made a decisive contribution to the success of the tremendous battle waged for the return of an innocent child brutally kidnapped by the counterrevolutionary mob and the U.S. extreme right. They broadcast all the necessary information and presented the facts needed to formulate an opinion. Our intelligent, educated and revolutionary people with a sound political consciousness, forged throughout more than 40 years of heroic struggle against the empire’s aggression, reached their own conclusions, and united like a tight fist they astounded the world with the strength of their conviction and determination.

Hundreds of brilliant new talents came to light among our children, adolescents, youths and adults. The people watched as children took a place on the front lines, a living and breathing example of the educational achievements of the Revolution. Our teachers, brimming with pride, received the acknowledgements for the selfless work they have carried out for so many years, dating back to the literacy campaign of 1961.

Those of us who have closely followed the events and read on a daily basis the views expressed by our people were amazed to see how much the people learned during these seven months. There was never a better school than the battle itself. On countless occasions, we have heard ever-growing numbers of people say: "The round table discussions should continue, they are like a university." That is what they will be, a university! This is the concept we used to define them almost from the beginning, fully aware of the long struggle ahead of us and not only before but especially after Elián’s return. A university with an huge number of professors in all subjects at the service of our homeland, including a group of talented journalists and highly qualified professionals such as economists, historians and experts in international politics.

At the mass rallies, the arts shined as never before battling side by side with the people. Our experience in the war of ideas grew more than at any other time in history. Multiple initiatives in a variety of fields, which will further enrich our arsenal of human resources, are already in progress. Not for a second did we forget the epic Oath of Baraguá, sworn at the same site where the Bronze Titan voiced his proclamation.

After careful consideration of the matter, it has been decided to adjust our schedule and pace to the strategy corresponding to the long struggle ahead of us. Bearing in mind the views spontaneously expressed by our battle-hardened people as well as our own, the round table discussions will be held, beginning today, July 3, between 6:00 and 7:45 p.m., with a reserve time of 15 minutes before the evening news, and would only overlap with the latter in very exceptional cases. Except on equally especial circumstances, they will not be replayed later. They will fall under the category of regular or information round tables, international or educational round tables and any other category that may be found appropriate. The category of educational round table will be applied when they deal with economic, historical or other similar issues aimed at transmitting knowledge considered essential for our struggle and our comprehensive general culture.

On issues of particular interest or depth, as has been done so far, a printed supplement will be published with a sufficient number of copies to allow for the creation of personal or family collections. This might serve to stimulate this habit in our people, so that they have access to a domestic archive of information that could later be useful as a database and a source of facts and figures within handy reach.

No one could have guessed the extent of our people’s thirst for new knowledge, and their pride when they gain a mastery of issues of which they knew little or nothing.

There will be a mass rally every Saturday in one of the country’s municipalities; not a single one will be forgotten. We cannot give up this extraordinary battle trench and this rich source of talents where the ideas, culture and patriotic and revolutionary sentiments of each area and the whole country can be expressed. The number of participants will depend fundamentally on the population of the municipality itself and the significance of the event. They will be broadcast live and when considered appropriate they will be replayed in the late afternoon.

The possibility of indoor rallies any day of the week has not been excluded but, as a rule, the round table discussion format will prevail.

Combative marches, with their wide variety of forms and peculiarities, will be held whenever it is deemed necessary. There might also be new forms of expression, protest, debate and communication of messages.

Only one of the two national television networks will be used: Cubavisión. The other network will provide alternative programming for the public, both children and adults, during the same time slot.

Only in very exceptional cases, such as major commemorations or other special circumstances, will both networks be used.

One principle will be resolutely applied: the homeland, the Revolution, and the destiny of our people have absolute priority in the mass media.

Nothing outlined here about the different forms of action constitutes a dogma. Experience and the unfolding of events could determine other variants.

Television programming will be considerably expanded this summer to the benefit of children and the people at large.

Some claim that these battles are costly although practically everyone admits that they are indispensable and supports them unhesitatingly. We can assure all of our people that the expenses fall far short of the enormous magnitude and impact of our mass mobilizations and other activities. These expenses are actually much lower than what they may seem and are perfectly within our reach without the need to sacrifice anything essential.

We are fighting precisely to bring an end to the genocidal blockade and economic war that cost our people billions of dollars every year. We are fighting to demand our inalienable right to develop our homeland in peace.

Therefore, another principle that should always be applied without wavering is that life, dignity, independence and the right to enjoy the spiritual and material wealth that our people are capable of creating with their physical labor and intelligence, without exploiting or plundering anyone, are worth more than all the gold in the world.

It is impossible to forget what José Martí wrote at a crucial time in the past referring not to material wealth but rather to the blood and sacrifices demanded by the homeland’s honor: "Freedom is very costly but one must be determined to pay its price or resign to living without it."

Our struggle will be expressed one way or another every day of the year. We will neither tire nor waver. We can swear to it!


Editorial published in Granma on July 3, 2000