Words spoken by Comrade Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, at the ceremony unveiling the bust of Simón Bolívar, Salvador, Bahía, Brazil; December 17, 2008, “Year 50 of the Revolution”.
(Stenographic Versions– Council of State)
Good evening, my dear friends of Salvador de Bahía!
Starting early in the morning tomorrow, I shall be beginning an official visit to Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, and when we have concluded this ceremony we shall be going there; therefore, I shall speak very briefly to you; I don’t speak as much as Chávez does, because Chávez is more vigorous, he’s younger.
It is true that I told you, as we were coming up here, that he was in prison at the time the Third Ibero-American Summit was being held in 1993, with Fidel and other heads of state participating.
I came up here for just one reason: to tell Chávez that Fidel was watching him live on TV (Applause.), and, as you saw, he didn’t let me speak to him and so he had me speak.
is it you say to Fidel when you greet him?
(President Chávez answers.) He tells him: “How are you, Fidel? (in English)” (Laughter.) He
greets him in English from
I have a problem with him; I watch him in
He was remembering that he calls me “uncle”, and Fidel “father”, a treatment that embarrasses us, because of our modesty, but we do feel proud. And so one of my granddaughters, a little girl around 12 years old, was telling her mom – one of my daughters - the other day: “Fine, if Uncle Fidel”, - she calls Fidel Uncle – “is Chávez’ dad and grand-dad Raúl is his uncle, that makes me Chávez’ cousin”. (Laughter and applause.) The little girl’s name is Monica, one of the aliases used by her grandmother –she has passed on now –in the underground struggle, in the war of liberation.
wanted to give you all a hug, with my words, to all of you; through all of you,
to the entire state and to all of
I was coming here from
We have the same cultural roots – as I was telling you – we have a volatile nature, the result of a union between our African branch, our branch that we have in common, and our European branch: in some cases, one is stronger, in others, it’s the other one. The National Poet of Cuba, now deceased, Nicolás Guillén, has a very beautiful and long poem which he dedicated to his two grandparents: to his black grandfather and to his white grandfather.
Therefore, when I was able to briefly spend some time with this gathering of people from Bahía, well, I feel like I am in Cuba; I feel like I am in Santiago de Cuba, which is even more similar: it’s a smaller city, with fewer inhabitants, but they are the same: some speak Portuguese and the others speak Spanish, and in Cuba, many speak “Portuguish”.
We might call “Portuguish” a dialect arising out of the necessity the Cubans and the Angolans had to communicate to one other for 15 years; along with the Angolan patriots, we had the honour of participating with the Peoples’ Movement for the Liberation of Angola, under the leadership of their first President and the founder of the State, founded on November 11, 1975, when from four different directions, at midnight of that day, rather, that night, the new-born State was attacked by all its enemies: the South African racists to the south; the UNITA puppets, an organization established by the Portuguese colonists and later going into the service of the Americans; to the north, Mobutu’s troops and a so-called Angolan National Liberation Front, also puppets, first of the Portuguese colonists, and later of the Central Intelligence Agency, the American CIA.
A little further to the north, in an enclave named Cabinda, separated from the rest of Angolan territory by the estuary of the great Congo River – that being the only spot where they had oil at the time; it was being extracted close in the ocean to the coast – four days before independence was proclaimed, it was also attacked, an act of aggression that was repelled by Cuban and Angolan troops.
gigantic internationalist military operation that began in the second half of 1975, lasted 15 years.
During that time, 300,000 Cuban soldiers went to Angola, and tens of
thousands of officers: depending on the situation, there were always between
35,000 and 55,000 Cuban soldiers; they lived difficult times through the
different stages of those long years, and our people, all those who took part,
soldiers, professional soldiers or reservists, went voluntarily to fulfil that
dangerous internationalist mission. More
than two thousand gave their lives in such a noble mission, until
called that operation by the name of Carlota.
Who was Carlota? She was a slave,
probably Angolan, even though research hasn’t been able to confirm that, who
headed a slave rebellion in the nineteenth century. It failed; it happened in an isolated area,
in a sugar factory – no, it wasn’t a factory, but I don’t know what it was
called -, it was a small factory, it didn't run on steam yet (Chávez says that Raúl is talking
much more than he did) (Laughter.) And
Carlota fled to the mountains and joined other slaves who had also fled, those
that were called cimarrones
(runaways). Some time later she led
the revolt of another small sugar factory. This time she was captured. Put on trial by the Spanish colonial powers,
she was condemned to be ripped apart by four horses, cruelly torn into four
pieces. It was the same thing with
the time finally came for us to leave, we had achieved not only the strengthening
we succeeded in having United Nations Resolution 435 applied, forcing the South
African racists to leave
As another by-product of that heroism of the Angolan people and their Cuban brothers and sisters, the disgusting South African system of apartheid was seriously affected and shaken up. Nelson Mandela, that great South African leader, who had by then been imprisoned for almost 27 years, was freed and became the first President of that gigantic and prosperous country after being victorious in the elections.
That is the effort made by the Cuban people, the results of those efforts, of that sacrifice of which we are proud.
said to the Angolans: “the only thing we will take away
We said to the Africans that we didn’t need for them to express any gratitude to us, quite the opposite, we paid just a small part of the great debt our people has with Africa, because the immense majority of the wealth of my country – at that time it was in coffee, sugar and other things – had been accumulated using the labour of African slaves.
All Cubans feel proud of those missions, and today we continue to collaborate, but through other kinds of civil activities.
I wanted to tell you all about this, because we feel so much at home in a population like this, which is the same as ours.
all of you, people of Bahía, a strong embrace from
I think that at least we four heads of state present here have had the privilege of putting the perfect finishing touch on this short meeting with all of you, the summit meetings we have held these last two days in Sauípe, Bahía.
Muito obrigado. (Thank you, in Portuguese.)