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May Day, 2004
SPEECH GIVEN BY COMMANDER IN CHIEF FIDEL CASTRO RUZ, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, AT THE CELEBRATIONS FOR LABOUR DAY WHICH TOOK PLACE IN REVOLUTION SQUARE ON MAY 1, 2004
Dearest guests, dear comrades:
This is the 45th time we have celebrated a glorious Labor Day since the triumph of the Revolution.
Extremely important things are taking place both inside and outside our country.
The Revolution is following its triumphal course with more strength and success that ever. We have had proof of this recently: the Geneva meetings on April 15 and 22 will go down in the history of revolutionary diplomacy. They mark the moment when a crushing blow was dealt to the enormous hypocrisy, permanent falsehood and cynicism the masters of the world use to try to preserve the rotten system of political and economic domination they have imposed on the world.
Our country had been placed in the dock yet again. The new US administration and the states in the European Union made the mistake of forgetting that at the extreme eastern end of Cuba one of the most horrendous examples of human rights violation ever to take place in this world was underway at that very moment in a 117.6 square kilometer section of land occupied by force, where the Guantánamo naval base is located - which in itself is a gross violation of the sovereign rights of a small country and of international law.
We were never consulted beforehand. We were simply informed of the decision taken by the US government to transfer the prisoners to that base.
On January 11, 2002 the Cuban government published a statement in which it clearly set forth our country's position.
The world knows that the horrible crime committed against the Twin Towers in New York was unanimously condemned by all conscious people on the planet.
Nevertheless, the government of the most powerful nation on earth, showing contempt for all norms concerning what the world understands as the elementary principles of human rights, created this horrible prison where hundreds of citizens from many countries, including some from the United States' own allies, are kept locked up, without having been tried, incommunicado, without having been identified, with no legal defense, no guarantee for their physical integrity, with no criminal, no procedural law and for an indefinite length of time. They could have used their own territory for such a bizarre contribution to civilization, but they did it on a stretch of land that they occupy illegally and forcibly in another country, Cuba, whom every year in Geneva they accuse of human rights violations.
It spite of that, admirable thing do take place in the Commission on Human Rights.
It current world conditions, there is a generalized fear of the fierce empire, of its threats, pressure and reprisals of all kinds, especially those against the most vulnerable countries of the Third World. It is almost suicidal to vote in Geneva against a resolution drafted and imposed by the United States, especially if it is against Cuba, the country which for almost 50 years has defied its arrogance and imperiousness. Even the strongest and most independent states find themselves obliged to take into consideration the political and economic consequences of their decisions.
Still, as could be seen just a few short days ago in Geneva, Cuba and 20 other countries -some acting out of principle and others showing amazing courage- opposed the resolution and 10 abstained, thus maintaining their dignity and self-respect. Only 22 of the 53 members of the Commission, including the United States, joined in this infamy.
There were seven from Latin America, four of whom suffer from great economic and social poverty, are highly dependent and have governments obliged to be totally abject. Nobody could consider them to be independent states. Up to now they have been pure fiction.
Peru, the fifth Latin American government which voted with the United States against Cuba, provides an example of the degree of servility and dependence into which imperialism and its neo-liberal globalization have led many countries in Latin America, whom they ruin politically in the twinkling of an eye.
The Peruvian head of state has seen his popularity drop to only 8 per cent in just a few months. It is absolutely impossible to tackle the colossal economic and social problems affecting that country with such insignificant support. In fact, he does not govern, nor can he govern, anything; the transnationals and the oligarchies take care of that, until society explodes, as has already begun to happen in more than one country.
Then we have the Chilean and Mexican governments.
I am not going to judge the former. I prefer that the way the president of Chile behaved in Geneva be judged by Salvador Allende, who went down fighting and who now occupies a place of honor and glory in the history of this continent, by the millions of Chileans vanished, tortured and murdered by design of those who drafted and proposed this resolution to censure Cuba - where not a single act of that sort, nor anything similar ever took place- and by those who in their name are the standard bearers of the noble ideals and aspirations to create a truly humane society.
In Mexico, a beloved, sister country to all Cubans, the National Congress asked their president to abstain from voting for the resolution, although President Bush had demanded that he do so. It is truly painful to see the great prestige and influence Mexico earned in the eyes of Latin America and the world with its unimpeachable international policy, which stemmed from a genuine, far-reaching revolution, turn to ashes.
Latin America's solidarity with and support for Mexico and Mexico's for Latin America are crucial. More than half of Mexico's territory was snatched from it by its northern neighbor and great danger threatens what is left. The US-Mexican border is to all practical purposes no longer the Rio Bravo of which MartÌ spoke. The United States has gone much deeper into Mexico. That border is today the line of death, where about 500 Mexican die every year. And all because of a brutal, ruthless principle: free passage for capital and goods; persecution, exclusion and death for human beings. And yet, millions of Mexicans take that risk. Today, the country obtains more income from their remittances than from oil exports, in spite of the high price of the latter.
Will such an inequitable and unfair situation really be solved by voting for anti-Cuban resolutions in Geneva, by accusing her of violating human rights?
The worst and most humiliating part for Mexico was that the news about its vote in Geneva, both on April 15 and 22, were announced in Washington.
The European Union, as usual, voted as a bloc, like a Mafia mob allied with and subordinate to Washington.
These sempiternal dirty, immoral displays against the Cuban Revolution never had any success until the socialist bloc disappeared. A plague of renegades, anxious for the credits and goods of consumer society added their votes to those of the European Community mafia. Thus they completed those petty deliveries in the Commission on Human Rights: resolutions pulled out with forceps, in the hard-fought battle which Cuba has never ceased to wage against the loathsome comedy which the empire, its allies, followers and vassals push through in order to gain an advantage of one or two votes over the opposition and abstentions of 60 per cent of the Commission's members. The empire calls these Pyrrhic victories successes and condemns Cuba, despite the fact that the political effort and cost are greater every year.
When this year Cuba suggested sending a Commission representative to see what was going on in the Guant·namo naval base, panic spread through the herd of hypocrites, especially those from the European Community. Morale collapsed. Some European governments were truly ashamed, they had to confess their failure to act according to their principles and their hypocrisy, or do the impossible - disobey the empire. This was too much for such august defenders of human rights whose darts are only aimed at those who for centuries were their colonies, where they wiped out tens of millions of natives and to which they brought countless human beings from Africa whom they turned into slaves with less freedom than work horses.
And that is how they treat millions of people in the Third World, victims of the plunder, unequal terms of trade and looting of their natural resources and all the hard currency reserves in their central banks, which are deposited in US or European banks, for the most part, and which are used to finance investments, trade and fiscal deficits and for the military adventures of the empire and its allies.
As a result of the Cuban proposal in Geneva, Bush himself and his senior officials had to work frantically, personally calling presidents and heads of state. No one knew where he found the time, nor how he could attend to Iraq, the financial problems of the government, fundraising banquets and matters related to the elections. Perhaps it is not fair to call him F¸rher; perhaps he is a genius.
Why can Bush talk of a fiscal deficit of $512 billion and a similar trade deficit, a total of a trillion dollars in just one year? Because he manipulates and spends the hard currency of the immense majority of the world's population in order to defend those and other privileges. They are armed to the teeth with the most sophisticated war machinery and they wage wars of conquest in search of raw materials.
The international situation is complex. The adventurist policies of this administration have given the world increasingly insoluble problems. The economic order imposed is ever more unsustainable.
An impressive, encouraging event took place in Spain. It was an extraordinary achievement, accomplished almost exclusively by the Spanish people, especially the younger generation. Its heroic political battle, scarcely 48 hours after the tragedy and on the eve of the elections, dealt a devastating blow to the treacherous maneuvers of the previous Spanish government to manipulate the awful acts of March 11 in its favor and in the warmonger interests of the United States.
The present government has kept its promise to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq. This is undoubtedly a commendable act. But the Spanish state, under the previous administration, had taken upon itself to recruit a considerable number of young Dominicans, Hondurans, Salvadorans and Nicaraguans to be sent as canon fodder to Iraq with the Spanish Legion, something unique in the history of this hemisphere. Spain, which as the former colonial power in Latin America aspires to be given respect and consideration and even to play a certain role in Latin American and the Caribbean, has the responsibility and moral duty to fight for the return home of those young Latin Americans who were sent to Iraq due to the actions of the previous government.
The peoples of the world, including the Cuban people, do not hate the American people nor do they want young American soldiers to die -many of whom are black, mixed race or Latin American- who were induced by poverty and unemployment to take up soldiering and who today are the victims of an unnecessary, stupid war.
We do not support any government in Iraq or any given political system; this is the exclusive prerogative of the Iraqis. We felt solidarity with those who died in the attacks in New York and Madrid and we condemn such methods. The enormous and growing world sympathy with the Iraqi people was generated by the brutal bombings of Baghdad and other cities which sowed terror and death among innocent civilians, totally ignoring the terrible trauma which will affect millions of children, adolescents, pregnant women, mothers and old people all of their lives, bombings for which there is no possible justification, based as they were on barefaced lies. This sympathy is growing, because billions of people have come to realize that it is a war of conquest to gain possession of the country's resources and raw materials, because there was no justification, nor legality whatsoever, because international laws were breached, because the United Nations' prerogatives and authority were ignored.
The people of Iraq are today struggling for their independence, their lives, the lives of their children and for their legitimate rights and resources.
The US government is facing a complicated situation because of this, as it insisted on taking the path of violence, war and terror. I have the moral authority to propound this point of view, because long before this warmongering policy was unleashed, on September 11, 2001, the very same day as the horrendous attack on the Twin Towers, in a ceremony to inaugurate the school year for 4,500 young primary school teachers I said, and I quote:
"It is very important to know what the reaction of the US Government will be. Possibly the days to come will be dangerous for the world, and I do not mean Cuba. Cuba is the most peaceful country in the world for several reasons: our policy, our kind of struggle, our doctrine, and also, comrades, for the absolute absence of fear".
"The days to come will be tense both inside and outside the United States. A number of people will start voicing their views.
"Whenever there is a tragedy like this, even when they are sometimes so difficult to prevent, I see no other way but to keep calm. And if at some point I am allowed to make a suggestion to an adversary who has been tough on us for many years knows [...] if under specific circumstances it were correct to suggest something to the adversary, for the well being of the American people and based on the arguments I have given you, we would advise the leaders of the powerful empire to keep their equanimity, to act calmly, not to be carried away by a fit of rage or hatred and not to start hunting people down dropping bombs all over the place.
"I reiterate that none of the world problems, not even terrorism, can be solved with the use of force, and every act of force, every reckless use of force anywhere would seriously aggravate the world problems.
"The way is neither the use of force nor war. I say this here with the full credibility of someone who has always been honest, with the sound conviction and the experience of someone who has been through the years of struggle that we have lived through in Cuba. It is only guided by reason and applying an intelligent policy based on the strength of consensus and the support of the international public opinion that such a predicament could be definitively solved. I think this unexpected episode must be used to undertake an international struggle against terrorism. However, this international struggle against terrorism cannot succeed by killing a terrorist here and another one there, that is, by using similar methods to theirs, sacrificing innocent lives. It is resolved, inter alia, by putting an end to State terrorism and other repulsive crimes, by putting an end to genocide and by honestly pursuing a policy of peace and respect for unavoidable moral and legal standards. The world cannot be saved unless a path of international peace and cooperation is pursued".
The Iraq war brings to many people memories of the Vietnam War. To me, it brings back memories of the Algerian war of liberation, when French military might shattered against the resistance of a people with a very different culture, language and religion, in a country which in places is just as desert-like as many regions of Iraq, a people that managed to defeat the French troops and all their technology, which was fairly advanced for its time. The French had previously sustained defeat in Dien Bien Phu, where Bush's predecessors were on the point of using nuclear weapons.
In this type of war the entire arsenal of a hegemonic superpower is superfluous. This superpower can conquer a country with its enormous power but it is impossible to administer and govern that country if its population battles resolutely against the occupiers.
I never thought that one day Mr.Bush would address a kind letter to the President of Syria and the authorities of the Iranian government -both countries considered terrorists until now-- and ask them with humility to help in the solution of the Iraqi conflict. It is still more amazing that, according to press dispatches, two days ago the US marines were pulled out of Fallujah and replaced by Iraqi soldiers led by an ex General from Saddam Hussein's army.
I do not criticize any peace effort or initiative which the current US administration decides to take, but I doubt very much that there can be any solution other than withdrawing US troops from Iraq - where they should never have been sent- and returning full independence to the Iraqi people. This would have the support of the international community, which would no doubt find a way to resolve the complex situation that has been created there.
Meanwhile, we Cubans will continue to observe what happens and will continue to wage our most resolute battle against those who give themselves the luxury of advocating political changes based on the physical removal of some of us. The worst thing is that those who talk of speeding up the aforementioned changes are characters whose same old murderous ideas are quite familiar to us.
Now they are once again making themselves hoarse shouting threats of upcoming measures to affect our economy and destabilize the country. They would do well to return our five prisoners of the empire to us, who with unequalled dignity are withstanding the most shameful and cruel case of human rights violations. Their fate in federal government prisons, where they are kept completely separate, is hardly any better that that of those held captive in the Guant·namo naval base. But despite all that, we do not hesitate in suggesting to those who govern the United States that they be calmer, more sensible, saner and wiser.
To those who persist in their efforts to destroy the Revolution, I simply say in the name of the crowd gathered here on this May 1st, as I said at Girón and at other decisive moments in our battles:
Long live socialism!
Homeland or Death!
We shall overcome!
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