Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Punta Arenas Speech

Punta Arenas La Voz del Sur in Spanish 1534 GMT 21 Nov 71 C

[Speech by Prime Minister Fidel Castro at the Plaza in Punta Arenas,
Magallanes Province--live]

[Text] Punta Arenas, Chile--Dear President Salvador Allende, civilian and
military authorities, representatives of political and social
organizations. Dear workers and people of Magallanes and Punta Arenas:

A slight drizzle is threatening to fall. It will be up to you to tell me
when to stop. I do not know--it is the first Magallanes rain I have felt--I
do not know if this goes against the doctors' prescription for colds or
what troubles it could cause some persons. Unless the drizzle gets too
strong I shall try to fulfill my commitment to talk to you. [applause,

Still overwhelmed by the emotions of the arrival, we are gathered here with
you. Firstly I want to express to the dear president, the dear friend and
comrade, Salvador Allende [applause, cheering] our appreciation for having
given us the opportunity to see this part of Chile. We have arrived here in
this legendary and historic land, plying through Chile's southern seas and
channels in a Chilean navy ship--the Almirante Riveros.

For 48 hours we have the opportunity to mingle with its officers,
non-commissioned officers, and crew members. While on those seas we have
had the opportunity to see one of the regions--or perhaps a region unique
in the world--in virtue of its very nature, its characteristics. We were
given every attention, all the courtesies, and all the best gestures of
friendship by the officers and crewmen of that great Chilean Navy, to which
we express our deepest appreciation.

On reaching Punta Arenas we were welcomed, together with the president, as
has occurred in the other Chilean cities, by the military authorities--on
this occasion sailors, soldiers, and the carabineros, together with the
local authorities.

As has occurred everywhere, in all the cities we have visited, we were
received with the immense affection of the workers and the inhabitants of
this community. Actually, I am sure you understand perfectly the
impressions that a Cuban visitor can receive on arriving in this land, from
many standpoints.

If we consider the purely human aspect of the matter, it must be remembered
that our small island lies 10,000 kilometers from Magallanes. [shouts of
"viva Cuba," applause]

Remember that we live in a tropical land and that we have covered these
10,000 kilometers to a land that is on the fringe of the Antarctic, a land
whose nature is completely different. It is a land whose soil and waters
are extremely cold.

The sailors told me that anyone unfortunate enough to fall into the waters
of the strait, remains alive only 3 minutes. If we check the thermometer,
we find that this morning it reads 6 degrees centigrade--well, I won't
speak of cold or heat--just temperature.

We were told that it rains steadily and that the skies are constantly
overcast, and that strong winds sweep this land. Just 2 days ago there were
reports from Cuba about a hurricane hovering in our skies. We are also told
that winds here frequently attain a force of 120 kilometers per hour. They
say this frequently occurs in this part of Chile.

Well and good, but nevertheless, we found here a people who are the same as
those of Antofagasta, of the nitrate and copper regions, of Santiago, or
Concepcion or Puerto Montt. Despite the fact we covered 10,000 kilometers
to reach Magallanes, we find a people who speak the same language we speak
in our country, a people who express themselves in the same way, who
display the same human sensitivity, the same emotions, and the same gaiety.

We have said on other occasions that our island is a kind of Magallanes of
the north, for if we sail or walk just 90 miles we find a different people,
a different language, a different culture. We are kind of the North Pole of
Latinity. From a human standpoint, such things must deeply impress and move

This historic city, this city which--here on the banks of the strait--4
centuries ago was the scene of one of mankind's greatest exploits, in man's
attempt to find an outlet to the Pacific and thereby at last circle the

If Colombus proved that the earth was round, and precisely in his attempt
to reach the Indies discovered a continent, it was here, through this
strait, that that theory was forthrightly proven. It became possible for
man to circumnavigate the globe for the first time--and under what
conditions, braving what obstacles, braving what savage seas, braving what
climates and temperatures--what a great feat!

Much later this land of Magallanes was again the scene of the greatest
scientific exploits in the history of mankind--an exploit performed by
Darwin. It was here, in these lands, he found definite, substantiating
proof for his scientific theories which have had an extraordinary influence
on contemporary life and science.

Here too, in this land that is harsh, this land of extremely adverse
climate, this land of inhospitable nature, has been created a human
community such as the one we have seen today.

Here was founded the noble city which now has 70,000 or 80,000 inhabitants.
Important wealth for the Chilean nation has been created here. Oil has been
found and developed here--oil which serves the Chilean economy and perhaps
someday could totally supply it.

If sufficient oil to supply Chile were found and extracted, the country
would save some $60 to $80 million on oil imports. In these lands livestock
wealth has been developed. This has been able to supply Chile's textile
industry with wool, and to become a source of meat for supplying the
Chilean nation.

Thus you have been pioneers, founders, and workers of a wealth amist the
most adverse conditions, in the most trying conditions. This is why we pay
tribute to and admire and respect these people of Magallanes.

We have visited the north, the plains. We visited the nitrate and copper
lands. We have visited desert places. We have flown over the fertile farm
lands--and we expect to visit there also--and we finally arrived here.

To any man, not just a revolutionary, but any man capable of admiring the
work of other men, this constitutes a tremendous honor, an extraordinary

I was welcomed today by the mayor of the city. He greeted me by the title
of illustrious son of Punta Arenas [applause]. What moved us the most,
however, were the extremely deep-felt, splendid, emotional, sincere, and
cherished words which were spoken.

Then too there was the very presence of the people in the streets,
welcoming President Allende and the visitor, and the way the city, its
houses, its trees looked--but primarily all the people--which made an
impression upon us we shall never be able to forget.

Aside from the human aspect, thinking like a revolutionary, we shall never
be able to forget meeting here with you, for it has a high symbolism and
meaning: the first time in the history of our Caribbean island that our
Cuban fatherland embraces the land of Magallanes. [loud cheering, applause]

It is the first time that a Cuban delegation representing our people has
met with the people of Magallanes. There is something else: that meeting is
taking place ;not just between two brother people, but also between two
revolutionary people. It is the meeting of the Cuban revolution with the
land of Magallanes. [loud applause, cheering]

It is the meeting of the two extremes of our emmense Latin American
fatherland. [shouts of "vivia"] It is the embrace of two symbols.

How grand it is that we are able to understand and communicate with each
other so easily across such tremendous distances. When we think we cease
being just the Cuban and the Chilean fatherlands, for we think, as the
president said, with the spirit of men of Latin America.

Moreover, when we think in terms of the continent, when we observe the
tremendous potential strength of our people--a potential of human, moral,
spiritual strength, and a potential power of natural and economic
resources--the path to the future is clear, the future of our people is

When we stand before a spectacle like today's, one must feel optimistic. We
feel optimistic about the Chilean process because we have found formidable
people everywhere we have traveled in this land extending for 4000 [as
heard] kilometers.

You can rest assured, as I feel certain you are, that we would have been
incapable of rising to speak from this balcony to flatter, to speak a
single demagogic word.

As we have said all our life, when we speak we can only say what we really
feel, what we really sense. When we arrived at this place in Magallanes,
when we see you, we feel a surge of tremendous confidence for the future of
the Chilean nation, tremendous confidence in the future of the Chilean
revolutionary process.

When we see men and women like you, men and women of this mettle, this
spirit, and this human warmth and quality, we too feel optimistic about the
future of this continent.

When one has traveled so many thousands upon thousands kilometers, when one
has had the chance to witness this human aspect of our people, it is
impossible not to have great confidence in the future of our countries, the
future of our continent.

If there is one thing we want to tell you today, workers and people of
Magallanes and Punta Arensas; if a Cuban visitor, a representative of our
revolutionary people, a fighter--and we fighters are nurtured by ideas, we
are impelled by the ideals of justice, renewal, progress and human
liberation, for it is these moral and spiritual values that nurture us and
drive us on--it would be thanks for the extraordinary impression you have
given us, for the extraordinary encouragement that this meeting today with
you, this embrace today, has meant to us, as revolutionaries.

It also would be thanks for this welcome [applause], thanks for the honors
[applause], thanks for the privilege [applause], and a thousand times
thanks to everyone, thanks for the title of "illustrious son" you bestowed
on me, today--a thousand thanks. [applause]