Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Hotel Turismo Speech

Havana in Spanish to the Americas 1243 GMT 13 Nov 71 C

[Speech by Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro to a rally on 12 November in
front of the Hotel Turismo In Antofagasta, Chile--recorded]

[Text] [passage indistinct] Thank you very much. We want to point out to
one of the citizens seated here, the mayor of this city, something that
should be remembered today. Today, 12 November, is the first anniversary of
the official resumption of diplomatic relations between Chile and Cuba.

This event is a reason for extreme joy and eternal gratitude on the part of
our people. At that time, however, we could not imagine that today, when we
celebrate the first anniversary of that event, we would meet to commemorate
this date together with the Chilean people of Antofagasta. This is
happening in spite of the attempts made to separate us from the Chilean
people. [shouts of approval from the crowd] [passage indistinct]

Today I would like to speak to you of some historic facts, historic dates
which have crossed borders, which have practically surpassed [word

The people could begin to see the conquest of their independence. A century
and a half ago our tiny island was, and would continue to be in many
respects, a colony. And when in 1868 the first war of independence began,
one which lasted for 10 years, the flag which was flown by the combatants
was practically a copy of the Chilean flag. [applause] And when, some 30
years later, the Cubans again began their renewed battle for independence,
and they adopted a permanent flag it continued to have the same colors as
the Chilean flag. This flag, like the Chilean flag, had a single star, and
in our country is known as the solitary star flag. [applause] Certainly
through long decades of history our flag was a solitary star flag.

During our struggles for independence our country faced the colonial armies
for many years. And then in 1895, at the end of the last century, we fought
our last battle. In Chile a battle also was fought for sovereignty, for the
reconquest of its natural resources, for the reconguest of its nitrate.
However, foreign factors intervened to sack the wealth of Chile.

After a long struggle our people had expected to obtain their permanent
independence. However, unfortunately, this was not realized. Factors
foreign to our country, ambitious to control our people, seized the knife
of struggle [words indistinct] and lowered our flag. Well, our flag was
virtually lowered.

[Words indistinct] They took over our national resources and converted our
nation into a new colony, into a new factory, until in 1959 for the first
time we were able to fly, in an unprecedented free and sovereign manner,
this flag over our country. [applause]

But this was a bad example. It was a bad example for which the Cuban people
had to be punished. Thus began the attempts to isolate the Cuban people,
and to separate Cuba from the rest of its brother countries. Cuba had to be
divided, cloaked in libel and lies. Cuba had to be presented as something
else. Cuba had to be punished. Through [words indistinct] attempts would
have to be made to destroy all of Cuba's means of communication and [words
indistinct] in an effort to destroy the brother nations' feelings of
solidarity with Cuba. That is why, for many years, in an official manner,
our flag once again became the solitary star flag. Until one day, a year
ago, the Chilean people, who had never rejected solidarity with Cuba, who
from the very beginning had expressed support for the Cuban revolution,
broke this type of moral blockade, and through their government and
president, Salvador Allende [applause], reestablished diplomatic relations
with Cuba, and that is why a Chilean newspaper recently wrote the beautiful
phrase: "Now the stars of the Chilean and Cuban flags are not alone."

[Crowd chants with Castro] "A united people will never be defeated. A
united people will never be defeated. A united people will never be
defeated." [applause]

We know how to defend this friendship this symbol of friendship. We know
how to develop this friendship. We will know how to develop it. That is why
we tell the representatives of the people of Antofagasta that we do not
come here to receive homage, we come here to [words indistinct], we do not
come here to receive thanks. We come here to express, on a day such as
this, the gratitude of our people to the people of Chile. [applause]

[Crowd chants "Cuba, Cuba, Cuba--Long live socialism" several times. Castro
then chants "Chile, Chile, Chile-Cuba."]

[Shouting in background] Long live Chile's nitrate; long live Chile's
nitrate; long live Chile's revolution. [Shouts of "long live; long live
Antofagasta; long live this moment].

In truth, thats [interrupted by chanting] I believe [shouts of "Long live
free Cuba] you were saying. . . I hope the newsmen [here this].

In any event, I am going to tell you. It is my impression that these
newsmen came all the way here--it must have been a great effort, no? I see
a newsmen from Europe, newsmen from all the Latin American countries,
newsmen from the United States [Castro chuckles] newsmen who are entirely
(?alien here) [shouting continues].

And even, even [few words indistinct] North American, I see from the United
States, North America, here. [jeers]. But we again are committing an
unjustice by (?confusing) one with the other. And it must not be thought
that the fact solely because they are North Americans they must be lying.
The ones who lie are the imperialists. However, the fact of being an
imperialist would make anyone a liar. But the fact of being a newsman does
not necessarily mean one is a liar.

My impression is that the spirit prevailing among this collective group of
newsmen--I have said this collective group--motivates my trying to reason
the best I can. And I am sure you will too. [sentence indistinct].

I want to say one thing: Do you believe that if lying could have separated
people this rally today would have been possible? [shouts of "No, No"] [few
words indistinct] this rally today? [shouts of "No,"] it is our [words
indistinct] to believe that all biased lies, all the (bad) faith, all the
campaigns made to separate our people have been destroyed, cast aside.

How much was not written, how much was not said, and perchance were they
able to deceive you? Perchance were they able to destroy the ties between
our two peoples? Then we have a right to feel optimistic. We have one right
to believe that our people will not be deceived. We have the right to
believe that the bonds of brotherliness between our peoples will prevail
and triumph, and that the bonds of the solidarity between our two peoples
will be indestructible,and that the bonds of solidarity among the peoples
of Latin America will make it possible for our peoples to cease being
considered backward, colonized, despised and exploited.

One of you moments ago talked of cane, and [word indistinct] said:

"Long live sugarcane." What a beautiful phrase, but above all, a beautiful
phrase to be heard here in Antofagasta.

Moments ago we looked upon these mountains, the coastline; we viewed these
vast expanses, and we could ascertain to what degree nature, the scenery,
is different. Our country is mostly covered with vegetation, canefields,
and frequently there are wide expanses like these. We do not suffer
deserts. We appreciate this splendid panorama.

We admire what you have done in this region. And we admire your efforts
here, surrounded by nature that is harsh and hostile--a natural setting
that does not know rain or vegetation. You have built this city. You have
developed the industries, the mines, in the middle of the desert, in an
adverse climate.

It does not rain much here; at the worst there are drastic changes of
temperature. At noon it is hot. I don't know when, because we have not felt
hot. At 2000, the students told me, it begins to be cold. They also said
that the cold begins promptly. We see that in fact at 2000 the cold begins.
I hope that you will feel--first because [words indistinct] but at least
you are united, and unity wins out even against the cold. [applause; shouts
in background]

[Castro coughs] We are not accustomed to such changes, nor to cold. For we
have had to resort to the aid of this poncho, no? [passage indistinct]

I was talking of this natural setting, of the sharp contrast between the
topography of the Chilean region and that of our country. And sugarcane is
cultivated in our country--a lot of sugarcane, but we are going to plant
more sugarcane.

And at least, as regards sugar, the Chileans can rest assured that they
will not lack it. [shouts in background] And we have the reserves at hand
for producing that sugar. So, if you cannot cultivate sugar, Cuba can
cultivate it. And when the Cubans cultivate cane they will have in mind
that part of it is for the Chileans. [applause]

We too were not owners of the country's best plantings, nor were the
canefields ours. But with the revolution all the canefields became Cuban
canefields. Just as you had to recover nitrate, just as you had to recover
copper, just as you had to recover iron [shouting], just as you had to
recover the bans, just as you have been able to raise to the utmost Chile's
dignity and sovereignty, so we had to recover the cane, the sugar mills,
the railroads, the nickel mines, the electric power systems, the railroad
transportation systems, the telephone communications services and the major
industries, to place them at the service of the nation.

Nature [few words indistinct] great resources like copper, Chile has the
biggest copper reserves; and Cuba has the biggest nickel reserves. Thus,
copper and nickel are two major products in the world economy. And now
copper belongs to Chile and nickel belongs to Cuba.

I tell the Chileans that, if some day they need nickel for their economic
development, they can rest assured that they will get nickel under any
circumstances. [applause]

We have stated publicly that this is (part) of trading between our two
countries: so, we send some of our products, and Chile sends other products
to Cuba.

Moreover, if under any circumstance, for any reason Chile could not send
anything to Cuba, this would not keep it from receiving Cuban sugar.

For solidarity among people strengthens them. International solidarity
strengthened our country. We were just explaining to the students precisely
what our country's situation was, we had been receiving all our oil from
the United States. We had been selling virtually all our sugar--most of
it--to the United States. And, when due to the revolution that country cut
off our oil supply, and cut us off from its markets, the solidarity of the
socialist coup was decisive.

We had been consuming 4 million tons of oil and when our country was on the
verge of being strangled by the lack of fuel--can you imagine a country
that produced no oil whatsoever, absolutely nothing, and that everything
that moved in our country was on the basis of oil--and they left us without
a drop of petroleum? Can you imagine what this blow would mean to Cuba? And
it was under such circumstances that we received 4 million tons of oil from
the Soviet Union. [applause]

They deprived us of the sugar market, and our country was threatened with
economic ruin, the Soviet Union--which had sugar, which produced
sugar--acquired all the sugar we had available for the market which we had

Thus we were able to sustain the main blows. And when our virtually unarmed
country was threatened with military aggression, and we had no means with
which to buy weapons, we too received from the socialist camp all the
weapons needed to defend our country. [applause]

It was under such conditions that we clearly learned what international
solidarity meant. But these were not the only factors. They tried to take
from our country all its technicians--engineers, trained workers. They even
tried to take away all our doctors. It is sufficient to point out that,
when the revolutions triumphed, there were approximately 3,000 doctors. Yet
a special effort was made to leave the country without doctors.

They tried to offer them villas and castles. But they [presumably the
doctors who left] were not Cubans. As a lady comrade said" "Conceivably, to
leave the country without oil is a crime; to take away its markets is a
crime; but leave a country without doctors is a dastardly crime."

Virtually half the number of doctors--they succeeded in inducing about 50
percent of the doctors to sell themselves out, but they failed to make the
other 50 percent follow suit. Thus we were faced with the need to undertake
special programs to train doctors. Today our country has 18,000
doctors--revolutionary doctors who are not just in the capital, but
practice throughout the length and breadth of the country.

[Castro chuckles] A lady comrade there asks us to send her a few here. But
actually we believe there are many and good doctors here. And I'm sure the
government will send everything you need here. However, if you refer to
availability of our doctors, just call for them, and Cuban doctors will be

When the need arises for Cubans to give help to a brother country, they
need not be convinced about going, but convinced that they cannot all go.

Thus you can count on us anywhere and under any circumstance. And you, the
Chileans, like our own people, can count on our services. Cuba will send
specialists or any other thing a country may possibly need and, if we do
not have them, other countries do. And, in addition to the 8,000 [Castro
previously had said 18,000] doctors, we have thousands of students in the
medical schools. These are doctors who are highly trained. During their
university training they worked in hospitals.

In the past, students used to graduate as doctors from the university. And
there were cases where a doctor was the outstanding student and won first
prize in delivery, yet he had never seen a delivery. He was trained in
theory, he was a theoretician, and had won the first price in surgery,
though he had never seen an operation.

Just imagine, under those conditions, when they had to care for a patient!
Over the years, those who had friends, who had sponsors, could go on
learning. Now, however, when our technicians enter university they begin
serving in hospitals, and they graduate highly trained. This already has
allowed us to raise medical attention to very high levels in our country.

We can declare that there had not been a case of poliomyelitis in Cuba for
years. In the 20th century there were hundreds of children and persons
dying of tetanus. Rarely does anyone in our country suffer from tetanus.

It is very rare for anyone in our country to have tetanus. All of these
diseases-- swamp fever and others--have been eradicated.

The infant mortality rate has dropped extraordinarily; and tuberculosis,
which had always been a scourge in our country, has been virtually
eliminated. At the present time many of our tuberculosis hospitals are
being used for other health activities.

Some 100,000 [as heard] citizens are employed in Cuba's medical
services--physicians, nurses, helpers; 100,000 are working in the
hospitals, and 200,000 in education. That is, in public health educational
service. Thus, there are 300,000 persons working in the medical services in
our country.

I do not want to make what is called propaganda. [shouting] I told of the
doctors because they tried to leave us without them. This was very painful;
everyone knows the situation of a family when a child or relative falls
ill--the tragedy, the grief that being unable to give them medical
attention means. Moreover, our countries are dutybound to cope with this
type of problem.

So, we have known aggressions, we have know the price of freedom, we have
known the price of sovereignty; the price of the revolution. We are
speaking here in a city that has been the stronghold of the labor movement,
the stronghold of the struggle for the interests of the Chilean nation. We
are in a city which at this very moment is playing a decisive role in the
Chileans process. For here lie the basic copper mines, and the nitrate.
This city does not carry the weight it did in the last century but it is
performing a significant role; it is the symbol of the Chilean people's
struggle for their future. Today Chile owns its copper. This without a
doubt is a great victory, an irreversible victory. Nonetheless this
likewise entails work. At a given moment the Chileans will have to confront
the [Castro stammers] the consequences of this struggle for their
legitimate right to recover their wealth.

Without any shadow of a doubt the Chileans will have to work hard. We know
of the workers' efforts and pledges to raise the production of nitrate. We
know of the workers' commitments and efforts to raise the production of
copper. When a worker brought me a gift--a relief in copper from the
Chuquicamata mine--I greeted him. I had been looking for the other
mineworkers' representative to greet him, but I could not find him
anywhere. So the first one told me the leader was working and had been
unable to arrive.

This is the proper attitude for a copper worker, the proper attitude for a
revolutionary worker.

Those who stole our wealth, those who took away the best of our efforts and
our sweat, not only committed that exploitation of our people, they tried
to sow the road with difficulties. They tried to create future obstacles of
all kinds, they even tried to corrupt the workers. They even tried to
terrorize the workers. The hope of the enemies of our country, when the
revolution triumphed, was that the workers would not know how to handle
their economy. Of course, those who had many years experience, the best
specialists, the henchmen of the companies, of the [few words indistinct].
However, knowledge must not be despised. We must bear in mind that the
management of industry requires preparation, skilled workers, revolutionary
and patriotic technicians. Good faith is not enough. Revolutionary passion
is not enough. It is necessary to combine (?both) with education.
Universities and labor centers must be brought together. We did this when
we did not have technicians; we turned to the university students and we
said: help us. But it is not enough for the university students to help the
workers with their technical knowledge.

Cooperation must be given. The workers must be helped to improve
themselves, so that the workers may obtain better training and preparation.
The Chilean workers, have a great future before them, but they also have
great responsibilities. In the hands of the workers who handle the basic
resources of the country lies the future of Chile. We who are
revolutionaries and have lived through this experience, can only tell you
that when the people win power, when the people have control of their
destiny, when the people hold the future of their country in their hands,
it does not mean that they have won heaven. It does not mean that they have
won the world. It means simply that they won an opportunity to begin to
create prosperity, an opportunity to begin to work for the future. What
would Chile be today if in the past century all that fabulous wealth which
left Chile through nitrate had remained in Chile, if it had been possible
to devote it to the development of the nation? What would have happened if
the billions which left in copper had been invested in the development of
Chile? Chile would be today a country with a totally different living
standard. Chile would be a country that would have nothing to envy of any
developed nation of Europe. [Words indistinct] the conditions of the past,
the conditions of the world of yesterday, when the colonialist and
imperialist powers dictated their laws to the world, our peoples, alone and
small, could not overcome the combination of difficulties which came from
[word indistinct].

But you have this opportunity. You have it in your own hands. It will be
necessary, and it must be said courageously, to fight against possessions,
to fight against the vices which the exploiters wanted to introduce among
the working masses. [applause]

Today we met with students and when these students asked us any questions
we answered with absolute sincerity. We do not go to the universities to
brag to the students. Our only duty as guests, as visitors, as friends, as
revolutionaries will always be to honestly express our opinion, and if this
opinion does not coincide with the beliefs of others it does not matter.
The important thing is to tell the truth. Therefore, when we talk with
students we explain our experiences. We tell them our concepts about how
the future intellectual workers must be developed, how the future
technicians must be.

Tomorrow we will pay a visit to the nitrate deposits. It will be a
tremendous pleasure to join the workers [several words indistinct]. We will
talk with the workers, and in doing so we will keep in mind something which
we always consider, and that is to tell the truth. We will talk to the
workers in a revolutionary language because we know that the mind and heart
of the workers is always open to the truth, always open to the
revolutionary spirit. It has been said, with all reason, that the working
class is the most revolutionary class in society today, and we call it the
[word indistinct] of this society, and the vanguard of this society.

We will meet with the workers; we will explain to them the experiences of
our country. We will simply bring them the solidarity of our people. And
naturally it should be clear that we have not come here, as some have said,
in the role of professors. When the approaching visit was announced, many
people, not, not many, I said the wrong thing, many pamphlets were
distributed by some people. They said Fidel has nothing to teach the
people. You do not have to tell us any of this because I do not know where
in the hell they got the idea that we were coming here as teachers. [shouts
from the people and Castro coughs] Anyway, do not be afraid, what can we
teach you? You who in this desert have built this industry, who have built
this wealth, who are faced with this hostile future, who have created the
foundation for the future of Chile.

What can we teach you? If we were talking of sugarcane, then we, maybe, we
could give you some technical information bout sugarcane. What can we teach
you about the Chilean problems at this time, as about how the Chileans must
solve these problems? We bring something else, which is called solidarity.
We bring something else which is called friendship. We bring something else
which is called fraternity with the Chileans. [applause] We bring something
which is called confidence in our peoples. We bring revolutionary
enthusiasm, revolutionary faith, and the security that our peoples will
march triumphantly ahead. What we bring to Chile is this: the affection of
our people. An affection similar to the one you have for the Cuban people.
The solidarity of the Cuban revolution toward the Chilean people, toward
the Chilean revolution, in the same way that you always have expressed your
affection and your solidarity toward the Cuban revolution. That is what we
bring, and to tell the Chileans that they can depend on and will always be
able to depend on Cuba and to say it here because sometimes we have said
something in our country, and the words have been distorted.

At times we have said that you can count on our resources, when they are
needed, and that you can count on our own blood, when it is needed,
[applause] and they have distorted this. They have insinuated that what we
meant to say was that you needed aid--that the Chilean people and their
armed forces were not able to defend their country. An interpretation of
this kind is deceitful and treacherous. When we say that the Chilean people
can count on Cuba and our own blood, we are only saying that we have said
to the countries for which we feel affection and for whom we feel
solidarity, and the words about being able to count on our blood were first
uttered in reference to the Vietnamese people. We once said that we were
willing to give our blood for Vietnam. [applause]

The Vietnamese people have not needed our blood. The Vietnamese people have
fought; they have written one of the most glorious pages in the history of
mankind, one of the most glorious struggles of a people for their
sovereignty and independence. However, when we expressed our solidarity in
this manner, none of us ever thought that the Vietnamese people were not
capable of defending themselves.

I want to take advantage of this occasion to explain this, to clarify our
words, because two things occur. When we speak in Cuba no one can say what
type of nonsense some people will publish. We do not know what kind of lies
they will write. We do not know what type of chauvinistic campaign they
will carry out. Therefore, when we talk we must be exceedingly careful.
This is our basic duty so that no one can later say that we are playing the
part of teachers, that we are interfering in the internal affairs or
domestic affairs of the Chilean people. This is the reason why we jokingly
said that the only one who does not have freedom of expression here is me.

Surely, relatively speaking, in talking to you we are transmitting our
thoughts. In talking to you about revolutionary matters I have been granted
tremendous freedom. But it has been a freedom in which I have limited
myself, one that has been cautious, so that no one can take a single word,
as single period, or a single comma to scheme or attempt to tarnish our
beautiful friendship or try to block our solidarity, or to attempt to
damage the Chilean revolutionary process.

In conclusion, we want to express our gratitude for the reception, for the
kindness, which through our delegation, has been expressed to our people.
We want to express our appreciation to the workers of Antofagasta, to the
students of Antofagasta, to the youth institutions, to all mass
organizations. We want to express our appreciation to the military
authorities for their magnificent cooperation and their extraordinary
kindness to our delegation. We also want to express our appreciation to the
civilian authorities of Antofagasta, to the civilian authorities of the
city and the province, for the great honor which today's rally has meant to
our people. Thank you very much. [applause]