Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Speech in Concepcion

Santiago Chile Radio Corporation in Spanish 0020 GMT 18 Nov 71 C

[Text] Dear, dear Concepcion friends of [applause and cheering] Dear
friends of Concepcion: In spite of being a little hoarse, [words
indistinct] worsening tonight, because it seems like my throat is going on
strike. [Constant interruptions of shouts of Fidel, Fidel, cheering and
applause.] I do not have a substitute-- [cheering and applause.]

We would have liked more time to visit this city. We would have liked,
before meeting with you at a rally like this, to have more time to exchange
ideas with workers, with students and with the people of Concepcion.

Today we barely had time to visit a factory, after a 7-day tour on Chilean
soil, but what has happened is several extra programs have been included in
the schedule with rallies in several cities--unscheduled ceremonies that
were unexpected--and so we have a problem with those extra plans, besides
we have been stricken as a result of these informal meetings and
extracurricular tasks due to a series of circumstances--a cold, I have a
cold, changes in climate, too much talking, all have contributed to these

I think that at least my voice will hold out for me to say a few words to
you, men and women of Concepcion. They always accuse me of talking too
much. Now I have no alternative but to talk a little.

First I want to tell you, [words indistinct]. I want to tell you have very
much we have been moved by the wonderful reception, the beautiful reception
you have given our delegation on this day. It is, perhaps, true, that it
would be hard to understand where so many people have come from. We were
told that Concepcion had 190,000 inhabitants, however, we could not
understand it. Neither could all of them accompany us.

How should we interpret this gesture of the Chilean people and this gesture
of the people of Concepcion?

In the first place, there is nothing further from our mind than taking for
granted this tremendous display of affection and friendship. We are fully
aware that those feelings of the Chilean people are directed first to our
fatherland, to our small country, which is only 90 miles from another
powerful country--you know which one-- and has had to endure for nearly 13
years, a long, tough struggle.

We are aware that this is a recognition of our people's efforts to uphold
the banner of their sovereignty and their revolution. We understand also,
the Chilean people's satisfaction at our having broken the imperialist
blockade against our fatherland. [applause]

Some mistakenly insist that this trip has been a victory for the Cuban
people. We understand that this trip, this meeting, this situation which
has made possible the presence of a Cuban delegation right in the core of
the Chilean people, is not a victory of our fatherland, but a victory of
the Chilean people. [applause] To insist that the victory is ours would
mean believing that the merit here is ours when in reality, if the presence
of this delegation here in Chile has been made possible, it is because the
Chilean people were daring enough to defy imperialist orders and restore
diplomatic relations with our country, and have the courage of inviting and
greeting a delegation of the Cuban revolution in Chile. [applause, cheers].

We interpret this visit in this way but, aside from that, a long struggle
has been fought in these last 12 years in the realm of ideas, a long
struggle in the field of politics.

The imperialists did everything possible to distort the revolution, to
distort its image, to falsify the facts, to throw mud at and to lie about
the revolutionary process in Cuba. They did everything, everything possible
to deceive the masses of our peoples of Latin America. They did everything
possible to prevent the virus of patriotism, of the struggle in defense of
national interests, of the struggle for national liberation, and of the
struggle for social liberation from spreading on this continent.

The imperialists exhausted all means and all resources to deceive the
peoples. This does not mean that a revolution does not make mistakes. It
does not mean that we revolutionaries are not capable of making mistakes,
once or many times. It does not mean that we revolutionaries are trying to
conceal our difficulties, our inadequacies. It does not mean, far from it,
that we revolutionaries are trying to conceal our poverty. We would be
concealing everything, if we concealed our poverty, we would be concealing
the cause of revolution. It does not mean that we revolutionaries are
trying to conceal our ignorance. If we revolutionaries should conceal the
ignorance of the peoples, we would also be concealing one of the causes of

What is revolution? Of what is revolution born unless it be of
exploitation, of injustice, which engenders poverty, misery, and ignorance?
A revolution is a struggle against this injustice, against this
exploitation. Therefore, we do not believe revolutionary processes are
easy. Jose Marti said that in a revolution not everything smells (?sweet).
In a revolution, not everything is rose colored. In fact, in a revolution
very little is rose colored. The road the revolutionaries propose for
future humanity is, however, rose colored. The future the revolutionaries
proposed is beautiful and fine. [applause]

We revolutionaries cannot speak of any present rosy hues. We
revolutionaries cannot speak of any beautiful present. We revolutionaries
can speak, however, of a present of self-sacrifice, of hard work, a heroic
and glorious present.

Therefore, when they try to present the difficulties of revolutions, the
imperialists are in reality presenting the causes of revolutions: That we
do not have economic development; that we do not have industries, that we
have to import practically everything; and that our nations are factories
producing raw materials at low cost and consumers of industrial products
from the imperialists world at high cost. Who is unaware of it? This is
precisely one of the causes of revolution.

Therefore we have never tries in our homeland to conceal the difficulties
of our revolution. We have never tried to conceal the mistakes of the
revolution. On the contrary, one of the characteristics of our revolution
is that we always point out our problems, our difficulties, our mistakes,
with absolute honesty. No imperialist will ever be able to accuse the Cuban
revolution [applause] or any Cuban revolutionary of lack of pure
intentions, [applause] of honesty, of lack of sincerity. They will never be
able to accuse that of this. They will never be able to accuse the
revolution of lying, of deceiving, of presenting the revolution as a
(?divine) phenomenon, of exaggerating its merits.

Our people have made some gains. Our people have made considerable progress
in some fields. In those fields which were in our hands we have made
progress and in some with notable difficulties. In our country, for
instance, medicine has made progress, medical assistance and health have
made progress. Many diseases have been eliminated. In 10 years there has
not been a single case of poliomyelitis. In our country malaria has been
wiped out, as have many other infectious diseases. In our country infant
mortality has been greatly reduced. In our country (?maternal) mortality
has been reduced. In our country diseases such as tuberculosis are being
virtually eradicated and other types of disease have been successfully
fought, despite the fact that the imperialists took away 3,000 of the 6,000
doctors we had when the revolution triumphed. They took away 3,000. In
other words, they tried to leave our country practically without doctors.

Let no one think that the crimes the imperialists committed against our
country were only the invasion of Giron, the [word indistinct], the
blockade, the economic offenses. They committed other lesser-known offenses
in other areas. Our country's answer was to promote the study of medicine,
to improve the quality, and raise the moral conscience of our doctors, to
the point that today we have 8,000 doctors, some 30,000 medical aides, and
medical technicians on various levels, so that there are almost 100,000
persons working in the health services.

In our country education has made great progress. When the revolution
triumphed there were 10,000 unemployed teachers, but half of the child
population of Cuba, some 700,000 to 800,000 children, were not going to
school and the immense majority, 85-percent of p those registered in the
schools did not go on to the sixth grade. Now in our country there are more
than 1.5 million children registered in the primary schools. There is not a
single area in the country however remote, which does not have its primary

Today our country is developing an enormous secondary and teacher training
school construction plan. This includes secondary level institutes and
university development. Today our country is carrying out a revolutionary
program of combining study and work. Beginning with the idea that there
cannot be universal education because we are too poor to allow us the
luxury of universal education, we have combined education with work. One
program alone will next year have the capacity for 20,000 students and in
1975 the capacity for 50,000 more students will exists. We will have the
capacity for a half-million basic secondary students, all sharing in work
and study, a half-million young arms suing their resources for the
fatherland, a half-million young intelligences developing themselves for
the future of the fatherland. [applause]

We have recently begun programs to solve housing shortages, programs which
allow us in the next few years to essentially resolve this difficult
problem with the effort of our workers, because our country has no surplus
of workers. In our country there is no unemployment, because our economy
depends on sugarcane. Sugarcane is a very seasonal job. Sugar brought to
humanity all the problems of slavery, because it was through slave labor in
the past that the sugar crop was developed.

In the past the workers of our countries were opposed to machines because
it would take from them their only means of support during a part of the
year. Since the contradiction existing between the ownership of the means
of production and the workers interests disappeared in our fatherland the
number one defender of mechanization in Cuba has become the worker.
Therefore, today our people are involved in the struggle to mechanize the
harvest activities in the sugar industry. Machines of this kind did not
exist in the world and we used a half-million workers to produce less
return than Chile producers with approximately 30,000 men in the copper
industry--more than 100,000 industrial workers in the sugar mills, 350,000
cane cutters; plus the expenses of insurance, lodging, food,
transportation--500,000 men. This, combined with the circumstance that
during entire years it was necessary to employ, to have constantly armed,
300,00 men, 300,00 men, as a result of constant imperialist threats. In
this we have had to invest enormous economic resources, enormous material
resources, and above all, enormous human resources. Under these conditions
we have had to develop new methods to overcome difficulties, in order to
resolve many of the economic and social problems which we have.

For many years our country fought, not to develop, but virtually to
survive. Today our country has a solid organization, a solid force which
permits it to defend itself and in addition to work for development. We say
this so that Chileans understand the hypocrisy, the evil, the stinginess of
the imperialists when they speak of the economic difficulties of Cuba. Some
80-percent of our market was in the United States and overnight they
snatched this market from us. Some 90-percent of our transportation and
industries came from the United States and overnight they cut off all sales
of replacement parts for all types of machinery needed to replace or modify
our industry. Almost 100-percent of the raw materials used in our factories
came from the United States and the technology was linked to these raw
materials and overnight they prohibited our acquisition of these raw
materials. Our country's commerce was conducted in other areas as a result
of the imperialist blockade and materials which we had to import had to be
transhipped thousands and thousands of kilometers. We can say that we have
a merchant fleet of 50 ships. The situations such that our merchant fleet
still can only transport 7 percent of the total imports and exports of our
country. That is, only 7 percent. We want to give Chileans an idea of the
difficulties we have had to face.

In addition, imperialism has tried to take from the Latin American peoples
their best brains. They have conducted a special campaign to take engineers
and specialized workers from the country. That is, they have tried to take
from us any human resource which would be useful for the development of the
nation. We have had to face all such types of problems through all these

We do not, however, want to give unmerited praise to our victories. If we
had not had--it was decisive for our people--the help of the socialist camp
during these difficult hours we would not be giving them such just praise.
The help of the Soviet Union was especially important. [applause]

We discussed these problems today with the steel workers. We gave them an
example. It is as in the case of the elephant which put its foot down on an
ant. The ant could not move. The imperialist elephant called other ants to
put their feet on the Cuban ant.

These were all maneuvers in an attempt to get other governments of Latin
America to join the blockade and aggression against our country. They
accused us of being subversives. That was some nerve. There is no country
in the world which has been the object of more subversion than our country.
On hundreds of occasions imperialist planes have dropped (?weapons), bombs,
and explosives on our territory and tried to organize bands of mercenaries
to commit crimes and sabotage. There have been hundreds of disembarkations
of groups of spies and terrorists on our coasts and hundreds of acts of
sabotage and murder committed by these spies sabotage against [word
indistinct], crimes against workers, peasants, teachers, students teaching
the peasants, in our mountains and our fields.

All of these deeds were perpetrated against our country. If at any given
time there was nothing that could be done with Cuba, imperialist troops
were went without advice or agreement from anyone. After the deed was
consummated, the advice came, then the agreements, then the approvals,
always invoking the ghost, the most famous ghost of revolution, the famous
ghost of communism.

For a long time the imperialists on this continent gave themselves the
right to decide what short of political philosophy we could have, or
countries could have. What type of social system, what type of government,
and it is inconceivable that in our country, when it was dominated by
Yankee monopolies, when it was oppressed, when crimes were committed every
day, when the blood of youths, students, workers, woman, and even children
was shed, and thousands of repressions were committed, and there were more
than half a million people unemployed, and the riches of our country were
being pumped out, ah, then the social system was good, that social system
was just, that social system had the blessing of imperialism.

When, in our country, that wicked system was put to an end, when national
resources were recovered, and all those incredible injustices were ended,
then the social system which the Cuban people freely established, ah, then
this social and political regime must be proscribed, it must be prohibited.
It must be condemned, and it must be blockaded. Who has told the
imperialists that they are the ones who must say what political system our
countries must have? Who gave them the right? Where did they get it?

It is clear that at the bottom of all this there was the philosophy of
looting, the philosophy of exploitation, the philosophy of piracy, the
philosophy of converting us into slaves, producers of raw materials, the
philosophy of snatching our nickel, the philosophy of snatching the
petroleum from Latin American countries, cooper, nit4ate, iron, the
minerals, and on occasion, even the agricultural resources. This is what
was at the bottom of it all. To keep our countries divided in order to
exploit us; to make our countries live in ignorance in order to exploit
them; making our countries live in poverty in order to exploit them; making
our countries live in the midst of deceit and lies.

The struggle for our countries' independence began 150 years ago. Since
then, and until now, there has been an uninterrupted process of expansion,
an uninterrupted process of subjugation. Let us remember history--those 13
colonies, which one day took up arms in the name of freedom, and one day
took up arms in the name of the most advanced principles of that era.

Later they began-throughout the last century--to become an imperialist
power which snatched from a brother country, Mexico, two-thirds of its
territory; which snatched from the Caribbean the island of Puerto Rico; and
which snatched from Central America the Panama Canal Zone. They were
progressively taking possession of all the resources of our countries,
especially the most important resources, that is, the sources of energy,
petroleum, copper, nickel, iron, and all the essential minerals. Little by
little they converted our countries into factories from the labor of which
the imperialists bought cheaply and sold at very high prices the products
of their own industries.

That was the story until approximately 15 years ago when the imperialists
had enormous control over all our countries. If the Cuban revolution
deserves any merit, it is that it marked a moment of change in the history
of this continent--from the moment that our country hoisted the flag of its
full sovereignty, a country which was the last one to free itself from the
struggle against European colonialism, and a country on which the Platt
Amendment was imposed. It was, in other words, a constitutional amendment,
because once the war ended, when the colonialist forces were worn out and
eventually defeated, there was intervention in our country., Once
intervention occurred, they imposed on the Cuban people an amendment, the
Platt Amendment, which gave the right to U.S. troops to intervene in our
country whenever they wanted to reestablish order. Of course, "order" in
quotes, the imperialist order.

In this way they took possession of our lands, our natural resources, and
everything. If there was any protest, any struggle, the threat of losing
our independence completely was held over our country. That was the
relationship between our small country and the powerful colossus and sweet
country of the north. [applause]

The revolution arose under these conditions in 1959. We Cuban
revolutionaries would be immodest and insincere if we tried to claim the
merit of having been the country which marked the historic turn. No, our
country made an effort, a great effort such as other countries, many
countries, have made. The effort of our country occurred at a historic and
special time, during a special situation in the world in which the
correlation of forces between the imperialist camp and the world's
revolutionary camp was also beginning to change. There was a special
situation. We have defined this by saying that the Cuban revolution
occurred at the exact year, the exact month, the exact day, the exact hour,
the exact minute, and the exact second in which a revolution there, 90
miles from the United States could be achieved and maintained. That is to
say that, perhaps, 1 second before that, the correlation of forces would
not have permitted our revolution. Well, it would have permitted all of us
to die because, given the option, any revolutionary prefers death to
imperialist exploitation. That is why our slogan of fatherland or death
emerged. [applause, shouts of "fatherland or death" from the crowd]

That special situation in the balance of forces in the world was a
fundamental and decisive factor so that the Cuban revolution could face the
terrible task of confronting the imperialist blockade. This balance of
forces allowed our country to count on the arms necessary for defense and
it allowed Cuba to count on the raw materials, the fuels, the markets, and
the resources necessary to survive that difficult test.

That is why we say that it was the coincidence of that harsh trial, that
circumstance. So, it was not through the merit of the Cuban revolutionaries
or the special merit of our people. We believe that our peoples are equal,
that all have written great pages in history in the struggle for
independence and justice. We view ourselves as part of the people of Latin
America. When we work, when we struggle, when we form [word indistinct] we
do not think only about what our own people's needs will be within 10, 15,
20, or 30 years, but also what the needs will be of other Latin American
people, who one day will need, as we did, technicians and trained personal.

We imbue our people with an internationalist awareness and with a Latin
Americanist awareness [shouts and applause].

We should imbue our sons and our young people with the thought that they
belong to a great mass of Latin American people, that one day they will
have to belong to this great community of Latin American people.

We are not utopian or dreamers believing that it will be tomorrow or the
day after that our people will have the good fortune to grasp this reality.
Perhaps not even our own generation will have the chance to witness this.
Neither are we pessimists. We see our basic duty as that of preparing our
countries for that future.

Just observe this: We stand here talking with you, our Chilean brothers,
unquestionably in Spanish [applause] and we understand each other
perfectly. Of course there are some regionalisms, some words that cannot be
spoken here [whistling] which we commonly use there, but for that all that
is needed is a small glossary, and for it to be pointed out that this and
that and the other word is not be spoken. [applause]

That is the only thing standing in the way in our most elemental and human
communication. What a wealth of knowledge and common sense we have among
our people. What marvels of intelligence, culture, and art can emanate from
our people, to keep us from being colonized, or changed into cultural
satellites of the imperialists as yet another instrument of domination.

We have not the slightest doubt that some day our people, with their common
history and language, will have the opportunity of forming into a great
community. In the world of tomorrow, they will be able not only to survive
but to live; not just live, but develop themselves and take their proper
place in the world.

Our country is somewhat like the North Pole of Latinity. Naturally, due to
geographic circumstances, if our plane, or the borrowed plane--[long,
rambling aside begins] for we came in a borrowed plane, but not to
Concepcion for we arrived here in our own plane. It was obtained on credit,
no? But it is ours. [applause] We flew from Cuba nonstop, which was enough
for it be said: Castro took a Soviet plane, a Soviet crew, and so forth. In
fact all that was needed was for it to have been said it had been chartered
to make propaganda for the Soviet Union. However inasmuch as we have no
prejudices--as we have no prejudices--and if anything is characteristic of
the Cuban revolutionaries is is their honesty--and whenever it has been
necessary to the highlight, as a question of elemental justice what the
USSR has done for us, we place this first.

Nevertheless our country--when the incident of Giron--when they arrived
there with their bombers with Cuban flags painted on them and they said in
the United Nations that it was a group of air force planes which had
revolted and bombarded; when they came in with all their tanks and
warships, their bazookas, antitank artillery, and automatic weapons, to
invade, what fell on them from above was a deluge of bullets, shells, tank
fire and everything. Those tanks and those places had been received from
the Soviet Union only weeks before. [applause]

It was to our credit that we learned how to use that equipment quickly,
quickly, because of necessity, as anyone can do. In addition we were
defending a cause and our people were ready to die for a cause, just as any
people are ready to die for their cause. [applause]

In any event, those are the imputations made about us. [end aside]

if this borrowed plane had gone north instead of south, after a 15-minute
flight we would have been in an English speaking land. However, the plane
flew south. It covered almost 8,000 kilometers and all that was spoken was
Spanish. Then we covered--I don't know how many kilometers--you must know
better than I--500, 600, 700 kilometers and Spanish was still the language.

Still later we continued south, clear to Punta Arenas, Spanish is still
being spoken. We can fly 10,000 kilometers south and talk Spanish and
understand each other. One finds the same sense, the same feelings, the
same affections. There is the same capability of admiration, the same

That is how we are. How can we set our people apart from you? How can we
find any means, any factor, to indicate that we are talking with aliens?
How could we take you for foreigners?

Something happened to me a few moments ago. I was approached by a man who
greeted me and said happily: "We are carrying sugar," and then another
said: "Yes, we are carrying sugar."

I said: "Are you port workers?" and they replied: "No, we are Cubans from
the ship, Guero, which brought in sugar." [applause]

Imagine, they were working at a wharf here in Concepcion--two Cuban
sailors. Thy were unloading sugar, which made us very happy.

We were happy because this also meant a great victory for the Chilean

As you know, I have said this several times, we could not sell you sugar.
You spent tens of millions of dollars buying sugar from other markets
[words indistinct] The microphone has an echo [words indistinct] [laughter]
[words indistinct] On the one hand we have the political-commercial policy.
However, we really need beans more than wine. It is not that we do not like
wine, but wine has only calories while beans have protein.

We take great satisfaction in seeing how the ties between our nations are
growing closer, how our ships visit Chile, how more and more Chileans visit
Cuba, and how more and more Cubans will visit Chile. [applause] We hope
that the visits will not be like that of our delegation, because it is very
expensive, we could not pay for them. Some Chileans tell us, "remember to
return." I tell them, "watch what you are saying, these trips are expensive
for you and the time and energy we make you use." Therefore these visits
cannot be made very often. There is this one and it is long. If it seems
long to me how must it seem to you. I was looking at the date and it has
been 7 days since we left Cuba. You may not believe this, but it seems to
us that we left Cuba 2 or 3 months ago, that this has been an uninterrupted
movie. Imagine that someone is taken to see a movie, seat him in the
theater, and have him seeing movies for 7 days. [laughter and applause]

Some of you have gone to the movies and if the movie is a good one you
concentrate on it and forget everything. When the movie ends and the lights
go on and you get up--that is when we again remember our problems. Very
often these are the bitter moments when one remembers one's problems. I
have been in a move for 7 days, a good movie. Therefore it is logical that
it would seem to be a very long time that we have been away. We have seen
so many people, so many thousands and thousands. We have conversed with so
many Chileans, visited so many places. Imagine the hurry, always haste,
always run, run, so much of this that, well, it is impossible, I have not
even been able to (?receive) a message from Cuba.

That has been the situation today. That is why I say seriously that those
who visit, not us, but the many Cubans--I am certain that it will do them
much good. We have been able to verify how useful the exchange between our
nations is, when workers, professors, and technicians visit. The truth is
that the Cubans and the Chileans have many things in common. We have the
hope that some day it will be same with the other nations of Latin America.
We say that practically speaking we cannot tell the difference. Perhaps
there is the difference that we are in our 13th year of revolution. We have
had to face very difficult, very serious problems. The struggle obliged us
to forge a solid unity among our people, a very solid unity. Therefore,
there is a close and indestructible unity among all Cubans. The workers
closely united, as a single man--the closely united student, the women, the
neighbors, the peasants, all. Among our people there is a very close unity
of all of us. We define it this way in our fatherland: We are all workers,
we are all students, we are all soldiers. [applause]

Without that unity it would have been impossible to wage the hard struggle
that we have waged. It would have been impossible to march forward in
victory. It gives us satisfaction and pride today to have this solid unity
among our people. It gives us satisfaction and it helps us much. Therefore,
we also believe that in the progress of the other nations of Latin America
the people will go on to discover this truth--strength is in unity, victory
is in unity. [applause]

All that remains for us, dear friends of Concepcion, is to express, in the
name of our people, our deepest (?gratitude). [applause and shouting]