[Marxism] Fidel Speech Awarding Chavez Order of 'Carlos Manuel de Cespedes'

DoC donaloc at hotmail.com
Fri Dec 17 05:15:11 MST 2004

Remarks by Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz, President of Cuba, at a ceremony to 
present the Order of "Carlos Manuel de Cespedes" to Hugo Rafael Chavez 
Frias, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, on the 10th 
anniversary of his first visit to Cuba, at the Karl Marx theater on 
December 14, 2004.

Dear brother Hugo Chavez, president of the Bolivarian Republic of 

Dear members of the large and prestigious Venezuelan government 
delegation accompanying him;

Dear friends present at this ceremony;

Dear guests:

In order to know who Hugo Chavez is, you need to remember what he said 
in the speech he gave at the Great Hall in the University of Havana 
exactly ten years ago today, on December 14, 1994.

I have selected some of the things he said. Although it might seem that 
they are rather extensive, you will find them full of revolutionary 
content and spirit.

When he mentioned the fact that I had met him at the airport, he said, 
showing incredible modesty,

"When I had the enormous but pleasant surprise of being met at the José 
Martí International Airport by Fidel himself, I said to him, "I don't 
deserve this honour, I hope that I shall deserve it one day in the 
months and years to come".

I say the same thing to you, dear fellow Cubano-Latin Americans: One day 
we hope to come to Cuba to offer our help, to offer each other mutual 
support in a Latin American revolutionary project, steeped as we have 
been for centuries in the idea of a Hispanic-American, Latin-American, 
Caribbean continent integrated into the single nation that we are.

" We are on our way to this goal, and as Aquiles Nazoa said of José 
Mart, we feel we belong to all eras and to all places and we move like 
the wind after that seed which fell here one day and here, in fertile 
ground, sprouted and grew tall like we always said it would -and I am 
not just saying this now here in Cuba, because I am in Cuba and because, 
as we say in my land, on the Venezuelan plains, I feel safe and 
supported. We used to say the same thing in the Venezuelan army before 
we were insurrectionary soldiers; we said it in Venezuelan drawing rooms 
and military schools: "Cuba is a beacon of Latin American dignity and we 
have to look on her as such". "There is no doubt that interesting things 
are happening in Latin America and the Caribbean; there is no doubt that 
our famous poet and writer, who belongs to this America of ours, Pablo 
Neruda, was utterly right when he wrote that Bolívar awakens every 
hundred years when the people awaken.

"There is no doubt that we are in an era of peoples awakening, of 
resurrection, of strength and hopes; there is no doubt, Mr. President, 
that the wave whose arrival you are announcing or announced and continue 
to announce in that interview which I have referred to earlier, A Grain 
of Corn, can be felt, its presence felt throughout Latin America.

"Weary of the existing level of corruption, we were sufficiently daring 
to found a movement in the ranks of the Venezuelan national army, and we 
swore to dedicate our lives to building a revolutionary movement and to 
the revolutionary struggle in Venezuela and now in the Latin American 

"We began to do this in the year marking the bicentennial of Bolívar's 
birth. But we can see that next year is the centenary of the death of 
José Martí, we can see that the coming year is the bicentennial of the 
birth of Marshall Antonio José de Sucre, we can see that the coming year 
is the bicentennial of the rebellion and death of the Afro-Venezuelan, 
José Leornardo Chirinos on the coast of Coro, in Venezuela, the land, by 
the way, of Antonio Maceo's forebears.

"Time calls to us and drives us; this, there is no doubt, is the time to 
walk down new paths of hope and struggle. We are engaged in doing that, 
dedicating ourselves now to our revolutionary labour in three basic 
areas which I am going to take the liberty of summarising for you so as 
to invite you to exchange ideas with us, so as to invite you to forge 
ties of unity and of labour, of building something concrete.

"In the first place, we are determined to raise an ideological flag that 
is relevant to and beneficial for our land of Venezuela, for our Latin 
American lands: the Bolivarian flag.

"But, as we undertake this ideological work of reassessing history and 
the ideas that were born in Venezuela and on this continent two hundred 
years ago, we plunge into history in search of our roots, and we have 
designed and put before the Venezuelan and international public the 
ideas of that Simón Bolívar who called for Latin American union in order 
to oppose a developed nation as a kind of counterbalance to the North's 
ambitions, a north which was already beginning to loom over our Latin 
American lands with its claws unsheathed; the ideas of that Bolívar, 
who, almost from his grave, already in Santa Marta said: "Soldiers take 
up the sword to defend social guarantees'; the ideas of that Simón 
Bolívar who said that the best system of government is that which 
bestows the greatest amount of happiness on its people, the greatest 
amount of political stability and social safety.

"This deeply-embedded root, this Bolivarian root which has been joined 
by time and by history itself to the Robinsonian root, taking as its 
inspiration the name of Samuel Robinson or that of Simón Rodríguez, whom 
very few Latin Americans know because we were told when we were very 
little: "Bolivar, the teacher'.

And that's where he remained, as if stigmatised by history, the 
eccentric madman, wandering like the breeze through the countries of 
Latin America and died at a ripe old age, "Simón Rodríguez called on 
Americans from the southern lands to make two revolutions: the political 
and the economic revolution. That Simón Rodríguez who called on people 
to build a model of a social economy, a model of a people's economy, who 
bequeathed, as a kind of challenge to us, and appropriate for any moment 
Latin America might face, the idea that Latin America could not continue 
in its servile imitation of others but that it had to be original and he 
called on us to invent or fall by the wayside. That old man, mad 
according to the bourgeoisie of his time, who wandered about when 
already old and abandoned gathering abandoned children, and who said , 
"Children are the building blocks of the future republican building, 
come hither and polish the building blocks so that this building may be 
solid and luminous'"!

"We, as soldiers, are engaged in that search, and today we are more and 
more convinced of the need for the Venezuelan army to return to what it 
once was: a people's army, an army to defend what Bolívar called the 
social guarantees".

"That would be the first element in a really relevant effort, 
Comandante; to consolidate this ideological work, these two names, 
Bolívar and Martí, as a tool for lifting the spirits and the pride of 
Latin Americans.

"Another elements in our effort, and for this we have to strengthen our 
ties with the peoples of Latin America, is our organizational work.

"When we were in jail we got our hands on many documents about how the 
Cuban people went about organising themselves after the triumph of the 
Revolution, and we are determined to organise an immense social movement 
in Venezuela: the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement 200. And, what is 
more, we are calling for the creation of the National Bolivarian Front 
this next year, we are calling on students, peasants, native peoples, on 
those of us soldiers who are no longer in the army, on intellectuals, 
workers, fishers, dreamers, on everybody to build this front, a huge 
social front which can take on the challenge of transforming Venezuela.

"In Venezuela no one knows what might happen at any moment. We, for 
example, who are coming up to an election year, 1995 -in one year's 
time, in December, there will be more elections in Venezuela, illegal, 
illegitimate elections, that will be marked by abstentions - you won't 
believe this- of on average 90 percent; in other words, 90 percent of 
Venezuelans won't cast a vote, they don't believe in what politicians 
say, they believe in almost no political party.

"This year our hope is that, with the Bolivarian Movement, with the 
National Bolivarian Front, we can polarise Venezuela. The people who 
take part in the electoral process - there are some honest people who 
do, people whom we respect, it's the electoral process we don't believe 
in- that's one pole; and the other pole, the one we are going to 
nourish, to push and reinforce is the demand coming from the streets, 
from the people, calling for elections to a National Constituent 
Assembly to redefine the republic's deepest foundations, which are 
falling apart; Venezuela's legal foundations, its political foundations, 
its economic foundations, its moral foundations even, are at rock 
bottom, and that's something you can't fix with band-aids.

"Bolívar said: 'Political gangrene cannot be cured with palliatives' and 
Venezuela is totally and utterly riddled with gangrene".

"A green mango will ripen, but a rotten mango never ripens; the seed of 
a rotten mango must be saved and planted so that a new plant may grow. 
That is happening in Venezuela today. There is no way the system can 
cure itself".

"In Venezuela we do not reject armed struggle, there are still -and the 
polls taken by the government itself say so- more than 80 percent of the 
Venezuelan military who have a favourable opinion of us, in the army, 
the navy and the air force and the National Guard.

"In spite of all this, in our country we have strength and, in addition 
to all of that, we have an extremely high percent of Venezuelans on our 
side, especially, my dear friends, that 60 percent of Venezuelans - this 
is something else you are not going to believe- who live in a critical 
state of poverty.

"It's unbelievable but it's true: in 20 years in Venezuela more than 
$200 thousand million just evaporated. So, where are they? President 
Castro asked me. In the foreign bank accounts of almost everyone who has 
been in power in Venezuela, civilians and soldiers, who filled their 
pockets, protected by the power they held.

"We have had an amazingly positive impact on this overwhelming majority 
of Venezuelans and you can understand that, with these two forces behind 
us, we are prepared to give all we have for a much needed change in 
Venezuela. This is why we have not ruled out using the weapons of the 
people-in-the barracks to find the right way if this political system 
decides, as it appears to have decided, to batten down the hatches again 
and find the ways and means to manipulate and cheat the people.

"We are asking for a Constituent Assembly and next year -as I already 
said- we are going to be pushing this as a short-term strategic 

"A sovereign economic model is a long term project; it is a project that 
will need 20 to 40 years. We do not wish to continue to have a colonial 
economy, a complementary economic model.

"This is a project that we have already presented in Venezuela under the 
name of the Simón Bolívar National Project, but with our arms stretched 
out to the Latin American continent and to the Caribbean. This is a 
project in the context of which it is not adventurist to think, 
politically speaking, of an association of Latin American states. Why 
not think of that, it was the original dream of our liberators? Why 
should we continue to be fragmented? In the political arena, that is the 
scope of this project, which is neither ours nor is it original, it is 
at least 200 years old.

"Think of how many positive experiences Cuba has in the cultural arena, 
in the economic arena - in the context of this almost war economy that 
Cuba is enduring in the sports arena, in the health arena, in the arena 
of caring for people, for human beings, which is the homeland's first 
objective, its subject.

"It is in this arena, or in this third element, that of the long-term 
project of political transformation, that we stretch out our hands to 
experience, to the men and women of Cuba who have spent years thinking 
about and working towards this continental project".

"The coming century, in our opinion, is a century of hope; it is our 
century, it is the century when the Bolivarian dream, Martí's dream, the 
Latin American dream will be reborn.

"Dear friends, you have honoured me by sitting here tonight to listen to 
the ideas of a soldier, of a Latin American who is fully and for ever 
committed to the cause of revolution in this America of ours".

He had a perfectly structured revolutionary political and economic 
thinking, a coherent thinking in both strategic and tactical terms.

Much earlier than one might have thought at that time, the Bolivarian 
process overthrew the oligarchy in a transparent contest and virtually 
without resources the Constituent Assembly of which Chávez spoke to us 
was established. A far-reaching revolution was set in motion in Bolívar's 
glorious country.

As you can see, he said very candidly in that speech: "We have not ruled 
out armed struggle in Venezuela". This important subject was something 
we discussed in the many hours of conversation and exchange of ideas we 
had during that visit.

The Bolivarian leader preferred to conquer power without spilling blood. 
He was, however, extremely concerned that the oligarchy would resort to 
a coup d'état backed by the military top brass to halt the movement set 
motion by the rebel officers on February 4, 1992.

I remember that he said to me: "Our idea is to avoid difficult 
situations and bloodshed; our plan is to build alliances between social 
and political forces, because, in 1998, we could launch a vigorous 
political campaign with considerable electoral strength, with the 
support of the people and of broad sectors in the armed forces, and take 
power in this traditional way. I think that that would be our best 

I have not forgotten my laconic but sincere comment: "That is a good 

And things happened just as he said they would. In 1998 the Bolivarian 
movement, an alliance of patriotic forces and of the left built and led 
by him won a landslide victory in that year's elections with the support 
of the people and the sympathy and solidarity of a majority in the 
military, especially the young officers.

It was a good lesson for revolutionaries; there are no dogmas nor only 
one way of doing things. The Cuban Revolution itself was also proof of 

I have, for a very long time, had the very deeply-held conviction that, 
when a crisis comes, leaders arise. So Bolívar arose when Napoleon 
occupied Spain and the imposition of a foreign king created the 
conditions that facilitated the independence of the Spanish colonies in 
this hemisphere. So Marti arose when the right moment came for the 
independence revolution in Cuba. So arose Chávez when the dreadful 
social and human situation in Venezuela and Latin America determined 
that the time to fight for the second, real independence had come.

The battle is now harder and more difficult. An hegemonic empire in a 
globalised world, the only superpower which remains after the cold war 
and the prolonged conflict between two radically different political, 
economic and social ideas, raises an enormous obstacle to the only thing 
that can today save not only humankind's most basic human rights, but 
even its very survival.

Today the crisis the world is going through does not and cannot affect 
only one country, a subcontinent or a continent; it affects everyone. 
Therefore, that imperial system and the economic order it has imposed on 
the world cannot be sustained. Peoples which have decided to fight, not 
only for their independence but also for their very survival can never 
be defeated, even when we are talking of only one people.

It is impossible to ignore what has happened in Cuba over almost half a 
century, or to ignore the enormous social, cultural, and human advances 
made by our country in spite of the longest economic blockade known to 
history. It is impossible to ignore what happened in Vietnam, impossible 
to ignore what is happening in Iraq today.

What is happening in Venezuela today is another powerful example. 
Neither the coup d'état, nor the oil coup, nor the revocatory referendum 
backed by almost all of the media could prevent the Bolivarian movement's 
landslide victory; it received almost 50 percent more votes for NO on 
August 15 and had another colossal victory in 23 of the 25 regional 
governorships, something unprecedented that the world observed with 
amazement and sympathy. In addition, a battle is being waged about the 
standards and rules that the empire has imposed to weaken and divide our 
peoples and impose its rotten, discredited representative democracy.

Because of time constrictions, I shall not speak of other subjects that 
are very current and important including our Strategic Exercise, Bastion 
2004, an expression of the Cuban people's firm decision to struggle, as 
it has done for 46 years of creativity and struggle.

Just allow me to say that on such a historically symbolic and important 
day as today, which marks the 10th anniversary of Chavez's first meeting 
with our people, the Republic of Cuba's Council of State has decided to 
award him a second decoration. He has already been given the Order of 
José Martí, our national hero, who inspired those who, on the hundredth 
anniversary of his birth, tried to take heaven by storm and started the 
struggle for the real independence of Cuba.

Martí, who admired Bolívar, who was Bolivarian to the core, to his dying 
day shared the latter's dream of liberation and union of the countries 
in Our America: ". Everyday I am in danger of giving up my life for my 
homeland and for my duty - as I understand it and I am in the right 
frame of mind to do so- of winning Cuba's independence, to prevent the 
United States from spreading through the Caribbean and then coming down, 
with all that added strength, on the lands of Our America. Everything I 
have done so far, and everything I shall do, is for this purpose".

That he wrote a few hours before his death in battle. José Martí for us 
is like a Sucre: in the service of freedom, he achieved with his thought 
what the Grand Marshall of Ayacucho achieved with his glorious sword. We 
feel proud to think that in 1959, 63 years after his death, the Cuban 
revolution was victorious, and his followers carried his ideas as their 

Today, to add to the Order of José Martí, we bestow on the president of 
the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela the Order of Carlos Manuel de 
Cespedes, father of the Homeland, the man who started the first war of 
independence on October 10, 1868, who, although he owned land and a 
sugar mill, freed the slaves who worked on both on the very same day as 
he rose up in arms against Spanish colonialism.

Once Cespedes said of Bolívar's great homeland: "Venezuela, which paved 
the way to independence for Spanish America and went gloriously down 
that road until it ended its march in Ayacucho, is our illustrious 
history teacher."

To put the finishing touches on this historic ceremony, which marks 
exactly ten years from Chávez' first visit to Cuba and from his speech 
in the Great Hall of the University of Havana, both government's will 
this night sign a Joint Declaration on the ALBA, that is, the Bolivarian 
conception of economic integration and will sign a bilateral agreement 
to begin putting this concept into practice, both of which documents 
will make history.

Hugo, you said ten years ago that you didn't deserve the honours you 
were being given by those who, when the news began to reach us of your 
history, your behaviour and your ideas while you were in prison in Yare 
jail, had perceived your qualities of a great revolutionary.

Your organizational ability, your teaching skills with young officers, 
your noble thoughts and steadfastness in adversity have made you worthy 
of these and of many more honours.

You promised to come back one day with your hope and dreams come true. 
You have returned and you have returned a giant, now not only as the 
leader of your people's victorious revolutionary process but also as an 
important international figure, loved, admired and respected by many 
millions of people all over the world and especially by our people.

Today the well-deserved honours of which you spoke and the two 
decorations we have bestowed on you seem rather small. What moves us 
most is that you have returned, as you promised, to share your 
Bolivarian and Martian struggles with us.

Long live Bolívar and Martí!

Long live the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela!

Long live Cuba!

May our ties of brotherhood and solidarity last for ever!

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