Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Speech in Irkutsk

Moscow in Spanish to Cuba 1200 GMT 11 May 1963--L

(Speech by Fidel Castro at Irkutsk--from Russian translation)

(Text) Dear comrades of the party of organizations, dear comrades from the
local soviets, dear working people of Irkutsk: We are here only for a brief
stop. The Soviet land is vast, so vast that you can show us an infinite
number of good things. Therefore unfortunately we must limit ourselves to
visits to only a few places since it is physically impossible to visit
every place. We shall see only a small, thousandth part of the country,
despite the fact that we have been invited everywhere. The workers of the
country are so kind. We have received thousands of telegrams inviting us to
visit their factories, and not only their factories, but their families as
well. We have received thousands, tens of thousands, of telegrams. It is
always (word indistinct) when one wonders what these people think when they
spend time and energy in sending us telegrams and letters, and still do not
see us in their homes or in their towns.

The one thing I should like to say is that we have been surrounded by
thousands of demonstrations of every kind of fellow-feeling and love for
us. In the time which we have spent in the country we have already gathered
a great stock of rich and deep impressions, from the point of view of
acquiring the experience we need. We have learned of the special
characteristics of each of the oblasts and republics we have visited.

The visits to these places have made unforgettable impressions on us.
Murmansk, for example, and Moscow, Volgograd, Uzbekistan, Tashkent, and
Samarkand--in each of these places we have seen the efforts by the Soviet
people, and how the Soviet workers, led by the Communist Party, are
creating great things. We have seen regions separated by great distances
but which are nonetheless joined in carrying out the same tasks, united in
a single revolutionary faith, led by the same organizations. Everywhere we
were impressed by the people, their working spirit, enthusiasm, and
recognition of their international duty. Everywhere we met demonstrations
of solidarity and friendship for our small and distant country.

Truly it is impressive to see how the citizens of a great country with such
great merits and who have done so much for mankind feel such a strong
sympathy for a small and distant country which has only just begun on the
road of revolution. This is an extremely inspiring example for us, and for
all other peoples. These feelings surrounded us in all the places of the
Soviet Union which we visited, and therefore the warmth with which you
people of Irkutsk have received us seems natural to us.

We who live in the tropics think of Siberia as a very cold land, and
perhaps some people think that the Siberian people are cold too. (Laughter)
But I have never thought this. (Applause) And I am sure I will have much
less ground to think this after today's meeting. (Applause) Perhaps some
people may think that the cold would freeze up the poetic capabilities of
the Siberians, because it is cold here, because of the long nights, and
because there is often foggy weather. Nevertheless we have been greeted
here with verse, so the people have very great poetic talents. (Laughter,
applause) Why? Because the comrade who has just spoken on behalf of the
party and Soviet organizations of the town and oblast not only found warm
words for us, very fraternal ones, objective and full of expressions of
solidarity for us, but he also expressed his ideas in beautiful and even
poetic language. (Laugher and applause)

The comrades say that the poetry was a collective creation. This just
confirms what I was saying about poets here going about in whole
collectives and not singly. (Laughter and applause) As I have already said,
the comrade's speech pleases us very much. I do not want to take up any
more of your time. On behalf of all our delegation and all the Cuban
people, I want to thank you for your warm feelings toward us, and to
express to you and our profound gratitude and joy for these warm feelings
which you have shown. Do you know what time it is now in Havana?--a quarter
past six in the morning! (Laughter) Day is breaking and the people are just
getting up. Here it is already time for us to go to bed. (Laughter)

The distance which separates us is difficult to measure, (either in
kilometers or in time?). Just think, 13 hours of difference--even though
they say that the earth revolves quickly. Nevertheless at this moment there
is no distance which could separate Irkutsk from Cuba, not a single
kilometer between the people of Irkutsk and the Cubans. Long live this
eternal friendship! Thank you.