Reflections by comrade Fidel
MY RECENT MEETING WITH LULA
We met in Managua, on
July 1980, 30 years ago, --during the commemoration of the first anniversary of
the Sandinista Revolution—thanks to my contacts with the followers of the
Liberation Theology, which had started in Chile when I visited President
Allende there in 1971.
I hard heard about Lula from Friar Betto. He was a
leader of workers, someone in whom the leftist Christians had early placed
He was a humble worker from the metal industry, a man
of remarkable talent and of prestige among the trade unions in that great
nation that was leaving behind the dark days of the military dictatorship
imposed by the Yankee imperialism in the 1960s.
Brazil’s relations with Cuba had been
excellent until the dominating power in the hemisphere brought them to an end.
Several decades would pass before those relations could slowly recover to what
they are today.
Each of our countries lived its own history. Our
homeland endured exceptional pressures during the incredible stages since 1959,
confronting the aggressions of the mightiest power known to history.
Hence the enormous significance we attach to the recent
meeting in Cancun and to its decision to establish a Community Latin American
and Caribbean States. No other institutional event of
the past century in our hemisphere is so transcendental.
The agreement has been reached at a time when the
most serious economic crisis of the globalized world develops concurring with
the greatest danger of an ecological catastrophe for our species and the
earthquake that destroyed Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, this being the
most painful human disaster in the history of our hemisphere, in the poorest
country of the continent and the first one to eradicate slavery.
As I was writing this Reflection, only six weeks after the death of over 200,000 people, --according
to official figures released in that country-- we received dramatic news of the
damages caused by another earthquake, this time in Chile, causing the death of
close to one thousand people and huge material damages, according to official
figures released by the authorities there.
It was particularly moving to watch the suffering of
millions of Chileans materially and emotionally affected by such a harsh blow
of nature. Fortunately, Chile has more
experience in coping with this kind of phenomenon and it is a country with more
resources and a higher economic development. If it were not for the sounder
buildings and infrastructure, a countless number of people, perhaps tens or
hundreds of thousands of Chileans would have perished. There are reports of two
million victims and the potential loss of between 15 and 30 billion
dollars. Faced with this tragedy, Chile counts on the solidarity and the sympathy
of the peoples, ours included, although given the type of cooperation required
there is not much that Cuba
can do. Nevertheless, the Cuban government was one of the first to communicate
our feelings of solidarity at a time when the communication system was not yet
The country which is today putting to the test the
world capacity to tackle climate change and ensure the survival of the human
species is Haiti,
as it is a symbol of the poverty suffered today by billions of people worldwide,
including a significant portion of the peoples of our continent.
The recent earthquake in Chile, with the amazing
intensity of 8.8 in the Richter scale, although fortunately at greater depth
than the one which devastated Port-au-Prince, leads me to emphasize the
importance and the duty to encourage the steps toward unity taken in Cancun,
even though I do not entertain illusions knowing how difficult and complex our
struggle of ideas will be vis-à-vis the efforts of the empire and its allies
inside and outside our countries to thwart our peoples efforts toward unity and
I want to place on record the significance and
symbolism I attach to Lula’s recent visit and my meeting with him, both
personally and as a revolutionary. He had said that as he was nearing the end
of his term as president, he wanted to visit his friend Fidel; he honored me
with that description. I think I know him well. We often had fraternal
conversations both in Cuba
I once had the honor of visiting him in his house
located in a modest neighborhood in Sao
Paulo where he lived with his family. It was very
moving for me to meet with him, his wife and children. I will never forget the
fraternal and healthy family atmosphere in that home and the sincere affection
showed by the neighbors who approached Lula when he was already a prestigious
worker and political leader. No one knew then whether or not he would become
the President of Brazil since major interests and forces opposed him: but I
enjoyed talking with him. On the other hand, Lula did not care much about that
position; he took pleasure in fighting and he did so with irreproachable
modesty. This he showed extensively when after being defeated three times by
his adversaries he only accepted to run for the Workers Party on a fourth
occasion due to the strong pressure of his most sincere friends.
I will not try to relate the times we spoke before he
was elected president; on one of these occasions, actually one of the firsts
was in the midst of the 1980s as we were struggling in Havana
against Latin America’s foreign debt, which
then amounted to 300 billion dollars and had been paid more than once. He is a
natural born fighter.
As I said, on three occasions his adversaries beat
him in the elections with the support of their huge economic and media
resources. However, his closest assistants and friends knew that the time had
come for that humble worker to be the candidate of the Workers Party and the
Certainly, his opponents underestimated him; they
thought he would not achieve a majority in the legislative body. The USSR did not
exist anymore. What could Lula do at the head of Brazil, a nation of great wealth
but little development in the hands of a rich and influential bourgeoisie?
But, neoliberalism was in a crisis; the Bolivarian
Revolution had triumphed in Venezuela;
Menen was in a free-fall; Pinochet was off the political stage; and Cuba was
putting up a resistance. But Lula was elected when in the United States Bush
won the elections through fraud robbing his rival Al Gore of his victory.
It was the beginning of a challenging stage. Fostering
the arms race and the role of the Military Industrial Complex, and cutting down
taxes to the wealthy sectors were the first steps taken the new US President.
The fight on terrorism was his pretext to resume the
wars of conquest and to institutionalize assassination and torture as an
instrument of imperialist domination. It’s impossible to publish the events
related to the secret prisons which exposed the complicity of the US allies with
that policy. Thus, the acceleration took place of the worst economic crisis of
those that cyclically and increasingly have accompanied developed capitalism,
just that this time the privileges of Bretton Woods were there but none of its
On the other hand, in the past eight years, with Lula
at the head of the nation Brazil
kept overcoming obstacles, increasing its technological development and
expanding the weight of the Brazilian economy. The most difficult part was his
first term, but he succeeded and gained experience. With his restless struggle,
his calmness and composure as well as his growing devotion to his work, under
such challenging international conditions, Brazil attained a GDP close to two
trillion dollars. The data vary depending on the sources but they all agree to
place it among the 10 largest economies in the world. In spite of this, with an
area of 5,327,500 square miles, compared to the United
States with barely a larger territory, Brazil only has
about 12% of the GDP of that imperialist country that plunders the world and
deploys its armed forces in over one thousand military bases worldwide.
I had the privilege of attending his inauguration as
president at the end of 2002. Hugo Chavez was there too. He had just faced the
treacherous coup d’etat of April 11, that same year; later there would be an
oil coup organized by Washington.
By then, Bush was president. The relations between Brazil,
the Bolivarian Republic
had always been good and mutually respectful.
I had a serious accident on October 2004, which
markedly limited my activities for months; then I fell gravely ill at the end
of July 2006, the reason for which I did not hesitate to delegate my
responsibilities at the head of the Party and the State through the
proclamation of July 31 that year, first provisionally, and soon with a final
resolution as I understood that I would not be able to resume them again.
As soon as my health situation allowed me to study
and meditate I devoted myself to that and to review materials about our
Revolution, and once in a while to publish some Reflections.
After I fell ill, I have had the privilege of
receiving the visit of Lula every time he has traveled to our homeland; and we
have talked at length. I will not say that I always coincided with all of his
policies. I oppose by principle the production of biofuels using crops that can
serve as food since I am aware that hunger already is, and can increasingly
become, a major tragedy for humanity.
However, I must honestly say that this is not a
problem created by Brazil,
least of all by Lula. It is an essential part of the world economy imposed by
imperialism and its rich allies that subsidize their farm productions to
protect their domestic markets and compete in the world market with the food
exports of the Third World nations, which are forced to import the industrial items
produced with the raw materials and energy resources of these same countries
that inherited poverty from centuries of colonialism. I perfectly understand
that given the unfair competition and subsidies of Europe and the United States, Brazil had no choice but to produce
The infant mortality rate in Brazil is still
23.3 per one thousand live births and maternal mortality is 110 per 100,000
deliveries while in the rich industrial nations is lower than 5 and 15
respectively. We could offer many more such data.
The beet sugar subsidized by Europe
deprived our country of its sugar market derived from sugarcane, a precarious
and seasonal farm and industrial labor that kept the sugarcane workers
unemployed a good part of the year. Meanwhile, the United States seized our best lands
and its companies became the owners of the industry. Suddenly, one day they
deprived us of our sugar quota and blockaded our country in order to crush the
Revolution and the independence of Cuba.
Presently, Brazil has developed the
cultivation of sugarcane, soybean and corn with high-yield machinery that can
be used for these crops with a very high productivity. One day, as I watched a
documentary about 40 thousand hectares of land in Ciego de Avila used to grow
soybean alternating it with corn where they will try to work the entire year, I
said that this is the ideal of a socialist farm enterprise, highly mechanized
and with a high productivity per man and per hectare.
The problem with farming and its facilities in the Caribbean are the hurricanes that are increasingly
sweeping the territory.
Our country has also elaborated and signed with Brazil a
project for the financing and construction of a very modern port in Mariel that
will be of great importance to our economy.
Venezuela is using Brazilian farming and industrial
technology to produce sugar and to use bagasse as a source of thermo-electrical
energy. This is sophisticated equipment
working in a socialist enterprise, too. At the Bolivarian Republic
they are using ethanol to reduce the harmful effect of gasoline on the
It was capitalism that developed the consumer
societies and also the waste of fuel that has begotten the risk of a dramatic
climate change. It took nature 400 million years to create what our species is
consuming in barely two centuries. Science has yet to solve the problem of the
type of energy that will replace the one generated with oil today. No one knows
how much time that will require and how much it will cost to resolve it in
time. Shall we ever have it? That was the issue under discussion in Copenhagen and the Summit
was a complete failure.
Lula told me that when the cost of ethanol is 70%
that of gasoline, it is not good business to produce it. He said that Brazil, which
has the largest forest on earth, will progressively reduce the current pace of
cutting by 80%.
Today, Brazil has the best technology in
the world to drill in the sea; it can extract fuel from as deep as seven
thousand meters of sea water and bottom. Thirty years back this would have seem
a science fiction story.
He explained the high-level education programs that Brazil intends to carry forward and expressed
great appreciation for the role of China in the world scenario. He
proudly said that trade with that country amounts to 40 billion dollars.
One thing is clear: the metal worker has become an
outstanding and prestigious statesman whose voice is respectfully heard in
every international meeting.
He is proud to have been honored with the choice of Brazil to hold the Olympic Games of 2016 thanks
to the excellent program presented in Denmark. His country will also host
the World Football Cup in 2014. All of this has been the result of the projects
submitted by Brazil,
which left those of their competitors behind.
A great proof of his selflessness was his refusal to
go to the reelection and his confidence that the Workers Party will continue in
government in Brazil.
Some of those who envy his prestige and his glory,
and worse still, those at the service of the empire, criticized him for coming
To that end, they have resorted to the vile slanders used against Cuba for half a
Lula has known for many years that in our country no
one has ever been tortured; that we have never ordered the assassination of an
adversary, and that we have never lied to the people. He does know that truth
is the inseparable companion of his Cuban friends.
he left for our neighbor Haiti.
We shared with him our ideas on what we are proposing with regard to a
sustainable and efficient program, one especially important and very economic
He knows that more than one hundred thousand Haitians have been treated by our
doctors and by graduates from the Latin American School of Medicine after the
earthquake. We discussed serious issues; I am aware of his fervent wishes to
help that noble and long-suffering people.
I shall keep an unforgettable memory of my last
meeting with the President of Brazil and I do not hesitate to declare it.
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 1st, 2010