Fidel Speech

D OC donaloc at hotmail.com
Mon Jul 28 07:53:45 MDT 2003


I have yet to see a working link to this speech. It's very good.

Domhnall.

SPEECH GIVEN BY DR. FIDEL CASTRO, PRESIDENT OF THE
REPUBLIC OF CUBA, AT THE CEREMONY COMMEMORATING THE
50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ATTACK ON THE MONCADA AND
CARLOS MANUEL DE CESPEDES GARRISONS,

HELD IN SANTIAGO DE CUBA, JULY 26, 2003

It seems almost unreal to be here in this same place
50 years after the events we are commemorating today,
which took place that morning of July 26, 1953. I was
26 years old back then; today, 50 more years of
struggle have been added to my life.

Way back then, I could not have imagined for even a
second that this evening, the few participants in that
action who are still alive would be gathered here,
together with those, gathered here or listening to us
all around the country, who were influenced by or
participated directly in the Revolution; together with
those who were children or teenagers back then; with
those who were not even born yet and today are parents
or even grandparents; with whole contingents of fully
fledged men and women, full of revolutionary and
internationalist glory and history, soldiers and
officers in active duty or the reserves, civilians who
have accomplished veritable feats; with a seemingly
infinite number of young combatants; with dedicated
workers or enthusiastic students, as well as some who
are both at the same time; and with millions of
children who fill our imagination of eternal dreamers.
And once again, life has given me the unique privilege
of addressing all of you.

I am not speaking here on my own behalf. I am doing it
in the name of the heroic efforts of our people and
the thousands of combatants who have given their lives
throughout half a century. I am doing it too, with
pride for the great work they have succeeded in
carrying out, the obstacles they have overcome, and
the impossible things they have made possible.

In the terribly sad days that followed the action, I
explained to the court where I was tried the reasons
that led us to undertake this struggle.

At that time, Cuba had a population of less than six
million people. Based on the information available
back then, I gave a harsh description, with
approximate statistics, of the situation facing our
people 55 years after the U.S. intervention. That
intervention came when Spain had already been
militarily defeated by the tenacity and heroism of the
Cuban patriots, and it frustrated the goals of our
long war of independence when in 1902 it established a
complete political and economic control over Cuba.

The forceful imposition on our first Constitution of
the right of the U.S. government to intervene in Cuba
and the occupation of national territory by U.S.
military bases, together with the total domination of
our economy and natural resources, reduced our
national sovereignty to practically nil.

I will quote just a few brief paragraphs from my
statements at that trial on October 16, 1953:

"Six hundred thousand Cubans without work."

"Five hundred thousand farm laborers who work four
months of the year and starve the rest."

"Four hundred thousand industrial workers and laborers
whose retirement funds have been embezzled, whose
homes are wretched quarters, whose salaries pass from
the hands of the boss to those of the moneylender,
whose life is endless work and whose only rest is the
tomb."

"Ten thousand young professionals: medical doctors,
engineers, lawyers, veterinarians, school teachers,
dentists, pharmacists, journalists, painters,
sculptors, etc., who finish school with their degrees
anxious to work and full of hopes, only to find
themselves at a dead end, with all doors closed to
them."

"Eighty-five percent of the small farmers in Cuba pay
a rent and live under constant threat of being evicted
from the land they till."

"There are two hundred thousand peasant families who
do not have a single acre of land to till to provide
food for their starving children."

"More than half of our most productive land is in
foreign hands."

"Nearly three hundred thousand caballerías (over three
million hectares) of arable land owned by powerful
interests remain idle."

"Two million two hundred thousand of our urban
population pay rents that take between one fifth and
one third of their incomes."

"Two million eight hundred thousand of our rural and
suburban population lack electricity."

"The little rural schoolhouses are attended by a mere
half of the school age children who go barefoot,
half-naked and undernourished."

"Ninety per cent of the children in the countryside
are sick with parasites."

"Society is indifferent to the mass murder of so many
thousands of children who die every year from lack of
resources."

"From May to December over a million people are
jobless in Cuba, with a population of five and a half
million."

"When the head of a family works only four months a
year, how can he purchase clothing and medicine for
his children? They will grow up with rickets, with not
a single good tooth in their mouths by the time they
reach thirty; they will have heard ten million
speeches and will finally die of poverty and
disillusion. Public hospitals, which are always full,
accept only patients recommended by some powerful
politician who, in return, demands the votes of the
unfortunate one and his family so that Cuba may
continue forever in the same or worse condition."

Perhaps the most important statement I made about the
economic and social situation was the following:

"The nation's future, the solutions to its problems,
cannot continue to depend on the selfish interests of
a dozen big businessmen nor on the cold calculations
of profits that ten or twelve magnates draw up in
their air-conditioned offices. The country cannot
continue begging on its knees for miracles from a
golden fleece, like the one mentioned in The Old
Testament destroyed by the prophet's fury. Golden
fleece cannot perform miracles of any kind. […]
Statesmen whose statesmanship consists of preserving
the status quo and mouthing phrases like 'absolute
freedom of enterprise,' 'guarantees to investment
capital' and 'law of supply and demand,' will not
solve these problems."

"In this present-day world, social problems are not
solved by spontaneous generation."

These statements and ideas described a whole
underlying thinking regarding the capitalist economic
and social system that simply had to be eliminated.
They expressed, in essence, the idea of a new
political and social system for Cuba, although it may
have been dangerous to propose such a thing in the
midst of the sea of prejudices and ideological venom
spread by the ruling classes, allied to the empire and
imposed on a population where 90% of the people were
illiterate or semi-literate, without even a
sixth-grade education; discontent, combative and
rebellious, yet unable to discern such an acute and
profound problem. Since then, I have held the most
solid and firm conviction that ignorance has been the
most powerful and fearsome weapon of the exploiters
throughout all of history.

Educating the people about the truth, with words and
irrefutable facts, has perhaps been the fundamental
factor in the grandiose feat that our people have
achieved.

Those humiliating realities have been crushed, despite
blockades, threats, aggressions, massive terrorism and
the unrestrained use of the most powerful media in
history against our Revolution.

The statistics leave no room for doubt.

It has since been possible to more precisely determine
that the real population of Cuba in 1953, according to
the census taken that year, was 5,820,000. The current
population, according to the census of September 2002,
now in the final phase of data processing, is
11,177,743.

The statistics tell us that in 1953, a total of
807,700 people were illiterate, meaning an illiteracy
rate of 22.3%, a figure that undoubtedly grew later
during the seven years of Batista’s tyranny. In the
year 2002, the number was a mere 38,183, or 0.5% of
the population. The Ministry of Education estimates
that the real figure is even lower, because in their
thorough search for people who have not been given
literacy training in their sectors or neighborhoods,
visiting homes, it has been very difficult to locate
them. Their estimates, based on investigative methods
even more precise than a census, reveal a total of
18,000, for a rate of 0.2%. Of course, neither figure
includes those who cannot learn to read  or write
because of mental or physical disabilities.

In 1953, the number of people with junior or senior
high school education was 139,984, or 3.2% of the
population aged 10 and over. In 2002, the number had
risen to 5,733,243, which is 41 times greater,
equivalent to 58.9% of the population in the same age
group.

The number of university graduates grew from 53,490 in
1953 to 712,672 in 2002.

Unemployment, despite the fact that the 1953 census
was taken in the middle of the sugar harvest, --that
is, the time of the highest demand for labor-- was
8.4% of the economically active population. The 2002
census, taken in September, revealed that the
unemployment rate in Cuba today is a mere 3.1%. And
this was the case in spite of the fact that the active
labor force in 1953 was only 2,059,659 people, whereas
in 2002 it had reached 4,427,028. What is most
striking is that next year, when unemployment is
reduced to less than 3%, Cuba will enter the category
of countries with full employment, something that is
inconceivable in any other country of Latin America or
even the so-called economically developed nations in
the midst of the current worldwide economic situation.


Without going into other areas of noteworthy social
advances, I will simply add that between 1953 and
2002, the population almost doubled, the number of
homes tripled, and the number of persons per home was
reduced from 4.46 in 1953 to 3.16 in 2002; 75.4% of
these homes were built after the triumph of the
Revolution.

Eighty five percent of the people own the houses they
dwell and they do not pay taxes; the remaining 15%
pays a rather symbolic rent.

Of the total number of homes in the country, the
percentage of huts fell from 33.3% in 1953 to 5.7% in
2002, while the percentage of homes with electrical
power service rose from 55.6% in 1953 to 95.5% in
2002.

These statistics, however, do not tell the full story.
Cold figures cannot express quality, and it is in
terms of quality that the most truly spectacular
advances have been achieved by Cuba.

Today, by a wide margin, our country occupies first
place worldwide in the number of teachers, professors
and educators per capita. The country’s active
teaching staff accounts for the incredible figure of
290,574.

According to studies analyzing a group of the main
educational indicators, Cuba also occupies first
place, above the developed countries. The maximum of
20 students per teacher in primary schools already
attained, and the ratio of one teacher per 15 students
in junior high school –grades seven, eight and nine–
that will be achieved this coming school year, are
things that could not even be dreamed of in the
world’s wealthiest, most developed countries.

The number of doctors is 67,079, of which 45,599 are
specialists and 8,858 are in training. The number of
nurses is 81,459, while that of healthcare technicians
is 66,339, for a total of 214,877 doctors, nurses and
technicians in the healthcare sector.

Life expectancy is 76.15 years; infant mortality is
6.5 for 1000 live births during the first year of
life, lower than any other Third World country and
even some of the developed nations.

There are 35,902 physical education, sports and
recreation instructors, a great many more than the
total number of teachers and professors in all areas
of education before the Revolution.

Cuba is now fully engaged in the transformation of its
own systems of education, culture and healthcare,
through which it has attained so many achievements, in
order to reach new levels of excellence never even
imagined, based on the accumulated experience and new
technological possibilities.

These programs are now fully underway, and it is
estimated that the knowledge currently acquired by
children, teenagers and young people will be tripled
with each school year. At the same time, within five
years at most, average life expectancy should rise to
80 years. The most developed and wealthy countries
will never attain a ratio of 20 students in a
classroom in primary school, or one teacher to 15
students in high school, or succeed in taking
university education to every municipality throughout
the country to place it within reach of the whole
population, or in offering the highest quality
educational and healthcare services to all of their
citizens free of charge. Their economic and political
systems are not designed for this.

In Cuba, the social and human nightmare denounced in
1953, which gave rise to our struggle, had been left
behind just a few years after the triumph of the
Revolution in 1959. Soon, there were no longer
peasants, sharecroppers or tenant farmers without
land; all of them became the owners of the land they
farmed. There were no longer undernourished, barefoot,
parasite-ridden children, without schools or teachers,
even if their schooling took place beneath the shade
of a tree. They no longer died in massive numbers from
hunger, disease, from lack of resources or medical
care. No longer were the rural areas filled with
unemployed men and women. A new stage began in the
creation and construction of educational, healthcare,
residential, sports and other public facilities, as
well as thousands of kilometers of highways, dams,
irrigation channels, agricultural facilities,
electrical power plants and power lines, agricultural,
mechanical and construction material industries, and
everything essential for the sustained development of
the country.

The labor demand was so great that for many years,
large contingents of men and women from the cities
were mobilized to work in agriculture, construction
and industrial production, which laid the foundations
for the extraordinary social development achieved by
our country, which I mentioned earlier.

I am talking as if the country were an idyllic haven
of peace, as if there had not been over four decades
of a rigorous blockade and economic war, aggressions
of all kinds, countless acts of sabotage and
terrorism, assassination plots and an endless list of
hostile actions against our country, which I do not
wish to emphasize in this speech, so as to focus on
essential ideas of the present.

Suffice it to say that defense-related tasks alone
required the permanent mobilization of hundreds of
thousands of men and women and large material
resources.

This hard-fought battle served to toughen our people,
and taught them to fight simultaneously on many
different fronts, to do a lot with very little, and to
never be discouraged by obstacles.

Decisive proof of this was their heroic conduct, their
tenacity and unshakably firm stance when the socialist
bloc disappeared and the USSR splintered. The feat
they accomplished then, when no one in the world would
have bet a penny on the survival of the Revolution,
will go down in history as one of the greatest ever
achieved. They did it without violating a single one
of the ethical and humanitarian principles of the
Revolution, despite the shrieking and slander of our
enemies.

The Moncada Program was fulfilled, and over-fulfilled.
For some time now, we have been pursuing even greater
and previously unimaginable dreams.

Today, great battles are being waged in the area of
ideas, while confronting problems associated with the
world situation, perhaps the most critical to ever
face humanity. I am obliged to devote a part of my
speech to this.

Several weeks ago, in early June, the European Union
adopted an infamous resolution, drafted by a small
group of bureaucrats, without prior analysis by the
Ministers of Foreign Affairs themselves, and promoted
by an individual of markedly fascist lineage and
ideology: José María Aznar. The adoption of this
resolution constituted a cowardly and repugnant action
that added to the hostility, threats and dangers posed
for Cuba by the aggressive policy of the hegemonic
superpower.

They decided to eliminate or reduce to a minimum what
they define as "humanitarian aid" to Cuba.

How much of this aid has been provided in the past few
years, which have been so very difficult for the
economy of our country? In 2000 the so-called
humanitarian aid received from the European Union was
3.6 million dollars; in 2001 it was 8.5 million; in
2002, 0.6 million. And this was before the application
of the just measures that Cuba adopted, on fully legal
grounds, to defend the security of our people against
the serious threats of imperialist aggression,
something that no one ignores.

As can be seen, the average was 4.2 million dollars
annually, which was reduced to less than a million in
2002.

What does this amount really mean for a country that
suffered the impact of three hurricanes between
November of 2001 and October of 2002, resulting in 2.5
billion dollars in damages for our country, combined
with the devastating effect on our revenues of the
drop in tourism after the September 11, 2001 terrorist
attacks against the United States, the drop in sugar
and nickel prices due to the international economic
crisis, and the considerable rise in oil prices owing
to various factors? What does it mean in comparison
with the 72 billion dollars in losses and damages
resulting from the economic blockade imposed by the
U.S. government for more than four decades, and with
regards to which, as a result of the extraterritorial
and brutal Helms-Burton Act, which threatened the
economic interests of the European Union itself, the
latter reached a shameful "understanding" where it
pledged not to support its businesspeople in their
dealings with Cuba, in exchange for vague promises
that the Act would not be applied to its investments
in the United States?

Through its sugar subsidies, the countries of the
European Union have caused billions of dollars in
losses for the Cuban economy throughout the entire
duration of the U.S. blockade.

Cuba’s payments to the countries of the European Union
for goods imported over the last five years totaled
some 7.5 billion dollars, or an approximate average of
1.5 billion dollars annually. On the other hand, over
the last five years, these countries only purchased an
average of 571 million dollars worth of imports from
Cuba annually. Who is actually helping whom?

Moreover, this much touted humanitarian aid usually
comes with bureaucratic delays and unacceptable
conditions, such as creating funds of an equal value
in national currency, at the exchange rate of our
currency exchange bureaus, to provide funding in
national currency for other projects where decisions
were to be adopted with the participation of third
parties.

This means that if the European Commission were to
hand over a million dollars, they want the Cuban side
to put up 27 million Cuban pesos in exchange, to fund
other projects in national currency for the same
amount, and the execution of the projects would
involve the participation of European non-governmental
organizations in all decision-making processes. This
absurd condition, which was never accepted,
practically paralyzed the flow of aid for a number of
projects for three years, and subsequently limited it
considerably.

Between October 2000 and December 2002, the European
Commission officially approved four projects for an
approximate total amount of 10.6 million US dollars
(almost all of it for technical assistance in
administrative, legal and economic matters) and only
1.9 million dollars for food security. None of this
has been executed, due to the delays caused by the
bureaucratic mechanisms of this institution.
Nevertheless, in all European Union reports, these
amounts appear as "approved for Cuba", although the
truth remains that until now not a penny of this
funding has reached our country.

It should be remembered that additionally, in all of
their reports on aid to Cuba, the European Commission
and member countries include so-called indirect costs,
such as airfares on their own airlines, accommodation,
travel expenses, salaries and First World-standard
luxuries. The portion of the supposed aid money that
actually directly benefits the projects is whittled
away through these expenditures, which do not help the
country in any way, but are nonetheless calculated as
part of their "generosity" for public relations
purposes.

It is truly outrageous to attempt to pressure and
intimidate Cuba with these measures.

Cuba, a small country, besieged and blockaded, has not
only been able to survive, but also to help many
countries of the Third World, exploited throughout
centuries by the European colonial powers.

In the course of 40 years, over 40,000 youths from
more than 100 Third World countries, including 30,000
from Africa, have graduated in Cuba as
university-educated professionals and qualified
technical workers, at no cost to them whatsoever, and
our country has not attempted to steal a single one of
them, as the countries of the European Union do with
many of the brightest minds. Throughout this time, on
the other hand, over 52,000 Cuban doctors and health
care workers, who have saved millions of lives, have
provided their services voluntarily and free of charge
in 93 countries.

Even though the country has still not completely left
behind the special period, last year, 2002, there were
already more than 16,000 youths from throughout the
Third World undertaking higher studies in our country,
free of charge, including over 8,000 being trained as
doctors. If we were to calculate what they would have
to pay for this education in the United States and
Europe, the result would be the equivalent of a
donation of more than 450 million dollars every year.
If you include the 3,700 doctors providing their
services abroad in the most far-flung and inhospitable
locales, you would have to add almost 200 million US
dollars more, based on the annual salary paid to
doctors by the WHO. All in all approximately 700
million dollars.

These things that our country can do, not on the basis
of its financial resources, but rather the
extraordinary human capital created by the Revolution,
should serve as an example to the European Union, and
make it feel ashamed of the measly and ineffective aid
it offers these countries.

While Cuban soldiers were shedding their blood
fighting the forces of apartheid, the countries of the
European Union exchanged billions of dollars worth of
trade every year with the South African racists, and
through their investments, reaped the benefits of the
cheap, semi-slave labor of the South African natives.

This past July 21, less than a week ago, the European
Union, in a much-trumpeted meeting to review its
shameful common position on Cuba, ratified the
infamous measures adopted against Cuba on June 5 and
declared that political dialogue should continue ‘in
order to more efficiently pursue the goals of the
common position’.

The government of Cuba, out of a basic sense of
dignity, relinquishes any aid or remnant of
humanitarian aid that may be offered by the European
Commission and the governments of the European Union.
Our country would only accept this kind of aid, no
matter how modest, from regional or local autonomous
governments, non-governmental organizations, and
solidarity movements, which do not impose political
conditions on Cuba.

The European Union is fooling itself when it states
that political dialogue should continue. The
sovereignty and dignity of this people are not open to
discussion with anyone, much less with a group of
former colonial powers historically responsible for
the slave trade, the plunder and even extermination of
entire peoples, and the underdevelopment and poverty
suffered today by billions of human beings whom they
continue to plunder through unequal trade, the
exploitation and exhaustion of their natural
resources, an unpayable foreign debt, the brain drain,
and other means.

The European Union lacks the necessary freedom to take
part in a fully independent dialogue. Its commitments
to NATO and the United States, and its conduct in
Geneva, where it acts in league with those who want to
destroy Cuba, render it incapable of engaging in a
constructive exchange. Countries from the former
socialist community will soon join the European Union,
albeit the opportunistic leaders who govern them, more
loyal to the interests of the United States than to
those of Europe, will serve as Trojan horses of the
superpower within the EU. These are full of hatred
towards Cuba, which they left on its own and cannot
forgive for having endured and proven that socialism
is capable of achieving a society a thousand times
more just and humane that the rotten system they have
adopted.

When the European Union was created, we applauded it,
because it was the only intelligent and useful thing
they could do to counterbalance the hegemony of their
powerful military ally and economic competitor. We
also applauded the euro as something beneficial for
the worldwide economy in the face of the suffocating
and almost absolute power of the U.S. dollar.

But now, when the European Union adopts this arrogant
and calculated attitude, in hope of reconciliation
with the masters of the world, it insults Cuba, then,
it does not deserve the slightest consideration and
respect from our people.

Any dialogue should take place in public, in
international forums, and should address the grave
problems threatening the world.

We shall not attempt to discuss the principles of the
European Union or Disunion. In Cuba they will find a
country that neither obeys masters, nor accepts
threats, nor begs for charity, nor lacks the courage
to speak out the truth.

They need someone to tell them a few truths, because
there are many who flatter them out of self-interest,
or are simply spellbound by the splendor of Europe’s
past glories. Why do they not criticize or help Spain
to improve the disastrous state of its educational
system, which brings shame to Europe with its banana
republic levels? Why do they not come to the aid of
the United Kingdom, to prevent drugs from wiping out
this proud nation? Why do they not analyze and help
themselves, when they so obviously need it?

The European Union would do well to speak less and do
more for the genuine human rights of the immense
majority of the peoples of the world; to act with
intelligence and dignity in the face of those who do
not want to leave it with even the crumbs of the
resources of the planet they aspire to conquer; to
defend its cultural identity against the invasion and
penetration of the powerful transnationals of the U.S.
entertainment industry; to take care of its
unemployed, who number in the tens of millions; to
educate its functionally illiterate; to give humane
treatment to immigrants; to guarantee true social
security and medical care for all of its citizens, as
Cuba does; to moderate its consumerist and wasteful
habits; to guarantee that all of its members
contribute 1% of their GDP, as some already do, to
support development in the Third World or at least
alleviate, without bureaucracy or demagoguery, the
terrible situation of poverty, poor health and
illiteracy; to compensate Africa and other regions for
the damage wreaked throughout centuries by slavery and
colonialism; to grant independence to the colonial
enclaves still maintained in this hemisphere, from the
Caribbean to the Falkland Islands, without denying
them the economic aid they deserve for the historical
damage and colonial exploitation they have suffered.

To a list that would be endless, I could add:

To undertake a genuine policy supporting human rights
with actual deeds and not just hollow words; to
investigate what really happened with the Basques
murdered by GAL and demand that responsibility be
taken; to tell the world how scientist Dr. David Kelly
was brutally murdered, or how he was led to commit
suicide; to respond at some point to the questions I
posed to them in Rio de Janeiro regarding the new
strategic conception of NATO as it relates to the
countries of Latin America; to firmly and resolutely
oppose the doctrine of preemptive strikes against any
country in the world, proclaimed by the most
formidable military power in all of history, for you
know where the consequences for humanity will lead.

To slander and impose sanctions on Cuba, is not only
unfair and cowardly but ridiculous. Thanks to the
great and selfless human capital it has created, which
they lack, Cuba does not need the aid of the European
Union to survive, develop and achieve what they will
never achieve.

The European Union should temper its arrogance an
prepotency.

For decades, our people have confronted powers much
greater than those possessed by the European Union;
new forces are emerging everywhere, with tremendous
vigor. The peoples are tired of guardians,
interference and plunder, imposed through mechanisms
that benefit the most developed and wealthy at the
cost of the growing poverty and ruin of others. Some
of these peoples are already advancing with
unrestrainable force, and others will join them. Among
them there are giants awakening. The future belongs to
these peoples.

In the name of 50 years of resistance and relentless
struggle in the face of a force many times greater
than theirs, and of the social and human achievements
attained by Cuba without any help whatsoever from the
countries of the European Union, I invite them to
reflect calmly on their errors, and to avoid being
carried away by outbursts of anger or Euronarcissistic
inebriation.

Neither Europe nor the United States will have the
last word on the future of Humanity!

I could repeat here something similar to what I said
in the spurious court where I was tried and sentenced
for the struggle we initiated five decades ago today,
but this time it will not be me who says it; it will
be declared and foretold by a people that has carried
out a profound, transcendental and historic
Revolution, and has succeeded in defending it:

Condemn me. It does not matter. The peoples will have
the last word!

Eternal glory to those who have fallen during 50 years
of struggle!

Eternal glory to the people that turned its dreams
into a reality!

Venceremos!

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