Remarks by General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State
and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba during the public segment of the
Seventh Extraordinary ALBA Summit, Cumaná, Venezuela
April 16, 2009
Raúl Castro.-...Remember, you have to give me the floor so
that I can thank everyone, especially those who have spoken, –and that includes
Daniel, because he will speak likewise, as he has done throughout his life as a
revolutionary– on behalf of the people of Cuba, for all the expressions of
solidarity and support for our Revolution, for our people, and I think also for
the Leader of the Revolution, comrade Fidel Castro, who is listening to us
I won’t go on for
too long, I shall be speaking at other points.
I also have to speak –according to what I was told– at the mass rally in
the Square. I’m not sure yet how that
will be. Are we going to speak over
there in the Square?
Hugo Chávez.- Yes. We are asking you to speak on behalf of
Raúl Castro.- No, that’s
a very high responsibility. Perhaps it
should be the main host.
At any rate, I
think that what we have heard here this afternoon, that doesn’t surprise us; we
know that the entire world --except the United States, its main ally Israel and
some other country that has occasionally abstained or even voted against at the
UN General Assembly-- the entire planet condemns the blockade.
I don’t wish to
talk about the OAS, I’ve already spoken in Sauípe, and at the Rio Summit
meeting, right? And furthermore, our
friend Zelaya will be meeting with all the delegates at the end of May,
beginning of June; I don’t wish to answer to what Mr. Insulza recently said
because comrade Fidel answered him a few hours ago.
We can say many
more things about the OAS. One could say
that the OAS has been oozing blood right from its very inception; Cuba is an
example, but before Cuba there were
many more. Venezuela for
example; I was in prison after the attack on the Moncada Barracks, in 1954, and
I heard about the intervention in Guatemala. Why?
Because an honest president who had been a colonel in the Guatemalan
army, Jacobo Arbenz, once he had won the presidency abiding by the rules of the
game set by the Americans in that country, and the ruling classes in other countries in the world, he won the
elections and he wanted to hand over a little bit of land to the natives, the aborigines,
the descendants of the great Mayan culture.
And what happened? Three
individuals: Eisenhower, his Secretary of State Foster Dulles and his brother
Allen Dulles who was the head of the CIA and also its founder, these three
decided to launch that mercenary operation, with a certain Castillo Armas as
the chief. Almost all of us here today
know that story. Just seven years had
gone by, no more, when in 1961, on a day like yesterday, the bombings of the
main cities in the country and two air force bases started.
A day just like
today –as it was already pointed out here– at the funeral of the victims of
those bombings, 48 years ago, Fidel proclaimed socialism when the aggression
was already evident, and a mass of people, among whom there were regular
citizens, simple folk, I mean workers, students, peasants, the Rebel Army which
had defeated the Batista tyranny two years earlier, the police, held their weapons
up high in support of that decision, and on the following day they went out to shed
their blood to defeat that aggression I spoke of.
Why were we
attacked? That aggression was planned by
the same trio that had attacked Guatemala seven years
earlier, before the word ‘socialism’ had even been mentioned in Cuba.
Four and a half
months after the triumph of the Revolution, on May 17, 1959, the first Land
Reform Law was passed in our country; it was the most important law after the
triumph of the Revolution, up to that moment.
I say that that is our Rubicon; crossing it meant the death penalty for
the Cuban Revolution by those who seven years earlier had decided to invade
Guatemala; of these, Foster Dulles was a lawyer for the United Fruit Company,
the same one which in Cuba was known as the United Sugar Company, and part of
their lands were affected by that land reform.
Now I am very
briefly talking about recent history and in Sauípe, Brazil, I
mentioned the more than 5,500 dead, more dead than maimed, as a result of the
state terrorism unleashed by the United
States against Cuba. The list is endless, from the hemorrhagic
dengue epidemic that affected hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously,
inundating our hospitals all over the country; international health
organizations say that’s impossible to have been a so-called ‘normal’
epidemic. I am not going to speak about
the plane off Barbados and
the 73 victims who died, among them the Cuban youth fencing team who had flown
out of Venezuela where
they had just won all the gold medals. I’m
not going to speak about those who fell at the Bay of
Pigs. On a day
like yesterday, our comrades were beginning to die in the bombings, starting
from the dawn of the next day 48 years ago; dozens of comrades died since we
had more casualties than they did.
Fidel ordered us
–and rightly so– to defeat this aggression in less than 72 hours; their plan
was clear. The Americans had set up a
puppet government at the Opa-Locka military base in Florida, with a
man by the name of Miro Cardona heading it and the council of ministers headed
by him as the appointed prime minister on that occasion. The invasion starts; if they had been able to
consolidate that beach head which was protected by the Zapata Swamp, the
largest swamp or wetlands in the insular Caribbean, that we could only access
walking in line because we had just built a paved road through the middle of
that swamp and we couldn’t deploy troops, they had to walk in line… We had more
casualties than they did.
waters at that time were three miles, today they are 12, and just beyond the
three miles lay the American fleet, with Marines, and an aircraft carrier. American combat planes, in pairs, twice flew
over the combat areas; they did nothing but they did fly over. And it was very simple. Why did the OAS not do in 1961 what it did in
January 1962? They condemned us in Chile, and
they condemned us in Costa Rica; they
were creating the conditions, naturally, under the baton of those who gave the
orders to the OAS right from its founding in 1948. And that’s the reason why they didn’t kick us
out earlier, because they were to bring over the puppet government and set it
up in Playa Giron or the Bay of Pigs –that’s its real name because Playa Giron was
a small village, today a tourist resort– the OAS would recognize that
government, which would appeal to the OAS for help and some of the American
troops that were a little over three miles away from our coastline would have
What would have
happened if American troops had invaded Cuba in
1961? I shall make a comparison. How many died in our sister republic of
Guatemala as a result of that 1954 intervention, also organized by the Yankees,
also directed by the same three persons I mentioned before, also supported by
the OAS? Why didn’t the OAS condemn it?
contemporary historical accounts, because of that intervention and the
dictatorships that followed and that later ravaged the sister republic of Guatemala,
between 250,000 and 300,000 Guatemalans died.
Is that correct or not? It’s that number; is it more? Is it less? There
were hundreds of thousands of victims.
Who is responsible? Who accused
them? Just the peoples, the honest folks,
and a government or two.
How many would
have died in Cuba, a
country with a larger population, with many more weapons, even at that time,
and with a tradition of struggle, recently revived by the triumph of the
Revolution in 1959, and with hundreds of thousands of armed Cubans at that
time? Can anybody calculate that?
Now then, would
imperialism have swallowed that defeat, with that involuntary humiliation
caused by a small Caribbean
country and on our continent? Would it
permit that to happen? On January 2, in
commemoration of the second anniversary of the Revolution celebrated on the 1st
of January –a holiday– the day after, Fidel spoke at the Revolution Square,
that is, on January 2, 1961 –the Bay of
Pigs happened in 1961. With 17 days left in office,
Eisenhower breaks off relations with Cuba on
January 3 of that year, 1961. The OAS
kicks out Cuba on January 31, 1962. And so why hadn’t it done that in 1961 before
the Bay of Pigs? Because the puppet government that they were
going to set up there was to ask the OAS for help; it was an OAS member country. Why do they kick us out then, separate us, or
suspend us, the same thing, in this case in the year 1962? Because, this time it
would not be a mercenary invasion, this time it would be an American invasion.
And that situation –not much has been written about this, next to nothing– was
what caused the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba and
what prevented that invasion.
It has now been proven through documents
declassified by the CIA and the Pentagon and, in fact, by the U.S.
administration –documents which are declassified with quite a few crossed out
lines– that that was the plan. They
didn’t do it because they used the crisis solution, in the middle of which we
had serious discrepancies with Soviet Prime Minister Khrushchev for the way in
which he handled things, ignoring us; and nobody can ignore us, not the largest
country in the world or a group of countries even though they may be the
largest in the world, not the G-7, not the G-20 (Applause).
And that’s the sad
reality. First, they just sanction us;
they condemn us in several meetings, creating the atmosphere, but they do not
separate us from the OAS, for the request of help, and later they do separate
us. They even hurried up with the Bay of
Pigs [invasion] when they knew about the amount of weapons
that had already been contracted, the pilots we were training abroad, etc.
And at times, --what Evo and other
comrades were saying a while ago, about democracy, freedom, human rights-- we
have let the American government know both in private and in public that the
rights are there whenever they want to talk about them: human rights, the
freedom of the press, political prisoners, everything, everything, everything
they would like to talk about, but on an equal footing, with absolute respect
for our sovereignty and for the right of the Cuban people to their
I don’t understand
that democracy in the United States, I just don’t get it; I have even told some
Americans that in the United States there is one political party, just one
party; I urge you to study the history of the two parties, their behavior and
their way of acting every time they have had to make an important decision. Surely,
what they have is a perfectly well-oiled system, the press; it could be that a
publisher or a group of newspapers, as it happens in the United States and in
Europe, belonging to one single enterprise, open up a larger space and say to
the press: you can write what you want about this but when it comes to the rest
of the problem, you can only write what the owner of the paper, the radio or
television station wants. That’s the way
it is, and if that’s not right, someone should show me otherwise.
But I was saying that they only have
one political party. “How is that?” they
say. “That’s it,” I say. “Do you want an example?” How is it possible that a Republican
government, under Eisenhower, organizes an expedition against Cuba and
three months after a Democrat takes office the invasion is authorized? That’s the reality of it; I could be saying a
lot more here.
We might be wrong,
we admit it, we are human beings; we are ready to sit down and discuss –as I
said– whenever they like; what happens is that now –and I conclude– it is
evident that they have to create this atmosphere and whoever disagrees with
something, right away they come out saying something or other about democracy,
about freedom, about prisoners.
The other day after a meeting with
President Lula in Brasilia, an
insolent and provocateur journalist asked me: “How many dissidents have you
executed?” You could hardly hear him and
he started shaking when I answered him, the way I know how to answer. He was shaking! And then I told him: “Yes, those dissidents,
the ones on the American payroll; just look at the last budget approved by
Congress, those 57 million dollars funding for all those ‘patriotic’
dissidents, ‘independent journalists’, etc.
So why don’t they release our five heroes, the heroic young men who
haven’t done any harm to the United States, who were not looking for any
information against the United States but against the terrorists who were
attacking and have been attacking my country with greater or lesser intensity
for these past almost 50 years?”
Then, I said there
and I reiterate it here today: if they would like the freedom of those alleged ‘political
prisoners’, among whom there are some self-confessed terrorists, --Guatemalans
and Salvadorans, who were tried in Cuba, sentence was passed, even the death
penalty, which we still maintain but we have not been applying it for a while
now, and was commuted to life imprisonment--
they should release our prisoners and we will send them –along with their
families and anybody else– those so-called dissidents and patriots (Applause).
Along these lines, we could say quite a few
things, just that, Evo, if after what you have said here today they force you
out of the OAS that is incompatible with Marxism-Leninism, Bolivia and Cuba could
set up something else that wouldn’t even remotely be called the OAS and we
would let in everyone who wishes to accompany us (Applause).
forgive me for the time I have taken and the informality with which I have
spoken; I was coming to apologize to Daniel and I have prevented him from
speaking. It’s been an abuse of power, apparently
it’s because I’m wearing my uniform (Laughter).
Thank you, very