Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
Fidel's Speech at
21 Nations Conference
2 May 59

We are all conscious of the sacrifices made by our peoples; we are all
conscious of the hopes that have been prompting those sacrifices, and also
of the expectant unrest caused in the conscience of America by the recent
victories of democracy against dictatorial rulers.  We have all cherished
the illusion that tyrants are disappearing from the face of our Continent.
Yet, the truth is that such disappearance is only an illusion, and nobody
would dare to state here, honestly and frankly, how long will the
constitutional governments of Latin America actually last; how long do they
suppose this period of democratic awakening, -- which has cost so much
suffering and so many sacrifices, will last; and also how long do they
suppose those democratic governments, overrun with poverty and need, which
create an unending series of troubles and conflicts will last, before those
who are watching for the right moment to take power from those democratic
rulers, through violence, of course.  How is it possible for Democracy to
hold its own under such circumstances?  We have adopted the democratic
ideal, which is the ideal of all the peoples of this hemisphere, because it
is the ideal best fitting the idiosyncrasy and the ambitions of the peoples
of this Continent, and yet economic and social conditions prevailing in
Latin America make impracticable the actual realization of the democratic
ideal in our -- countries, because regardless of who may be running the
country, whether a right wing dictatorship or a left wing dictatorship, the
fact is that it is a dictatorship which does not believe in the principles
guiding the peoples of Latin America.  And if we are sincerely concerned
about whether our countries are going to fall in the hands of leftist
dictatorship, it is just as logical and honest to show the same concern
bout the possibility that our countries might fall in the hands of right
wing dictatorships.  Because, after all, what Latin America wants and longs
for, what Latin America is striving for, is just plain Democracy.  The
truth is that we are showing just one of the ugly faces of evil to the
people, but conceal the other equally ugly face, so that they won't see

Many speakers often discuss democracy with their listeners, and then
refuse to grant democratic rights and privileges in their own backyards.
They speak of democracy to the same peoples they are betraying, to the same
peoples whose rights they are denying, but the people only see sacrifices.
They have lost faith, the faith that is so necessary at this critical
instant when we have to have our continent for Democracy, but not for a
theoretical democracy, not for a democracy with hunger and misery, not for
a democracy under the reign of terror and oppression but for a true
democracy, based on real respect for the dignity of men with all human
liberties prevailing within a framework of social justice because the
peoples of America want neither liberty without bread nor bread without

there is no more corrupt system of government than a dictatorship.  (It is
true that there are constitutional -- governments that are as corrupt as
they are constitutional; but while the constitutional governments have to
watch their step, have to take care of themselves, because they must hold
elections and might loose them, or the people might refuse to vote, there
are things which act as brakes to slow down and even stop corruption, aided
by the freedom of speech: the elections held every two years.)  On the
other hand, in the case of a dictatorship, the men in power steal the
people's money for ten, fifteen, twenty and even more years and make
millions and -- millions of dollars.  Nobody dares to accuse them, nobody
complains, nobody protests, simply because nobody can do any such thing;
nobody holds them back, nobody can replace them....  Consequently,
simultaneously with the efforts toward our economic development, our
peoples have to make special efforts of a moral character, and when such
standards are definitely adopted, when the possibility to mobilize
resources becomes more and more difficult to certain rulers because they do
not -- represent the interests of their peoples, do not represent the will
of their peoples, such handicaps will operate to improve the political
standards of the nations of our Continent simultaneously with, and in the
measure that we improve our economic status.  On the other hand, we must
not run the risk of strengthening dictatorships by cooperating with them.
This is one of the risks to which we are all exposed.  We do not agree with
the theory to the effect that the ideal system of government for economic
development is the dictatorship; and that, furthermore, corruption is a
vice which tends to discredit us and conspires against economic
development...  That's why the really democratic government like our own
should not be satisfied with being considered democratic, we must be
absolutely honest too.  This is a considerable part of our cooperation, of
the sacrifices we have to make.  We must definitely be conscious of the
fact that our duty is not to represent the interests of minorities.
Because at these conventions, at these conferences and these meetings we
ought to represent and further the interests of the majorities and,
therefore, we ought to impose on ourselves the sacrifices required by our
own countries, lest we might ask sacrifices from just one class, from the
workers, for instance, and not to the other sectors of the country.
Because on an enterprise of this sort all sacrifices must be uniform for
all the sectors of the nation, and this is something which the economic
classes understand very clearly, as they have understood it in Cuba, where
the Government keeps on adopting its measures with the full support of the
majority of the economic classes of the country, prompted by their desire
to further the national interests.

I have gone over the speech of the United States delegation; I have
read it carefully.  (It describes all the efforts made heretofore in the
form of cooperation given through international credit agencies.  It also
mentions their recent contribution to the Interamerican Development Bank,
the individual assistance given in certain cases to certain countries....
All of that is true.  But the contribution given through that agency is
utterly insufficient; I don't mean to say that the goodwill that prompted
and led to those contributions was insufficient or that the desire to help
and the sincerity of the offer was short in any way.  The trouble is that
the resources placed at the disposal of those international agencies have
been utterly insufficient.  Where it not so, why should Latin America be so
pitifully underdeveloped?  How could it be if our peoples had access to
really sufficient credit agencies?  Of the five hundred millions....  Of
the billion dollars of basic capital, one half is our half, consisting of
our own soft or weak currencies and affected by our inflationary problems;
because if that money we are contributing is going to be worth anything it
has to be backed by United States dollars, or by gold bullion.  And I now
ask you, where do you suppose we are going to get those dollars or that
bullion?  So there you are.  The resources so nobly contributed, the
resources we owe to international cooperation, are obviously and utterly
insufficient.  That's the truth.  The references made by the United States
delegation to the sacrifices made those contributions...  Well, there is no
doubt that their contribution has been substantial and decisive.  However,
the -- United States can, thanks to their powerful economy, make sacrifices
that are beyond the possibilities of our underdeveloped countries.  That
colossal economy of North America is perfectly capable of making that, and
much greater sacrifices too.  They have made them before, and that's is
precisely why they are big and strong.  However, they have not made them
for the peoples of Latin America; their assistance money has not been
channeled to our countries, to the peoples of the family of nations living
in this hemisphere.  Those sacrifices have been made in behalf of Europe,
for its reconstruction after the war, and in behalf of remote countries and
peoples of the Middle East; not in behalf of the peoples that are most
closly linked by tradition and political and economic relations with the
United States.  Now, why should not we in Latin America expect the United
States to give us the support, the help, the cooperation they have been
giving right along to all those other countries of the world?