Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Speech at Charles University

Prague RUDE PRAVO in Czech 24 Jun 72 pp 1, 2 A

[Speech delivered by Maj Fidel Castro, first secretary of the Communist
Party of Cuba and prime minister of the Revolutionary Government, at the
Charles University of Prague, Czechoslovakia, on the occasion of being
awarded the degree of doctor in Juridical Sciences Honoris Causa, 22 June

[Text] Dear Comrade Husak; dear leaders of the party and government of
Czechoslovakia; Comrade Rector of the Charles University; university
authorities of Czechoslovakia; members of the diplomatic corps; guests.

First, we wish to express the high honor that the degree just conferred on
us constitutes, while at the same time expressing the deep emotion that the
ceremony today has caused us. The combination of traditions and forms of
this ceremony has particular meaning for us. It has been breathtaking in
its content, in the words with which the motivation underlying your
decision has been explained and expressed.

For us it has been a reminder, in beautiful words--beautiful and gracious
words-- of a whole stage in our country's history which has coincided with
the lifetimes of this delegation of comrades.

You have spoken of our struggles, you have reminded us of the culmination
of those struggles, the beginning of armed combat for the revolution, the
basic criteria for our struggle. You have reminded us, in broad strokes, of
the entire process of the Cuban revolution to date. You have had the
enormous graciousness of taking, as the basis for conferring to Honoris
Causa degree, the defense during the Moncada assault trial.

We believe that the value that this document has is linked to the overall
work of the revolution, which has been the result of the efforts of many;
which began with the effort of a handful of men and became the effort of a
whole people who fought and sacrificed, who took those ideas and made them
possible. That is why we receive this honor in the name of these people, in
the name of those who are struggling now. (applause)

It would be interesting, perhaps, to mention here that the Moncada program
was not quite a socialist program at the time. It was an advanced program,
it was--as we have explained on other occasions--the highest aspiration
that we could propose at the time under the objective and subjective
conditions then prevailing. Now, we were indeed socialists, we had had
indeed the opportunity of studying the fundamental works of Marx, Engels,
and Lenin.

Actually, it can be said that the revolutionary process of Cuba is the
confirmation of the extraordinary force of the ideas of Marx, Engels, and
Lenin. I wish to assert here that the Cuban revolution--an event that
appeared difficult, an event that for many was impossible--would have been
impossible to conceive and apply had it not been for the essential ideas
and principles of Marxism.

In the first place, in the conditions of our country the ideas and
principles of Marxism allowed us to see clearly the essence of our economic
problems and of our social problems and their deeper causes; they allowed
us to understand our age, they allowed us to understand history and the
laws of history; above all, they allowed us to learn what society consisted
of and how we lived in a class society, and how man until this century
lived throughout the world in class societies and what a class society is.
They allowed us to understand who the exploiters are and who are the
exploited, who are the privileged and who are the forgotten, who are the
parasites within society and who are the creators of wealth, who are the
true oppressed and who are the true oppressors.

The Marxist concept of the struggle of classes made it possible for us to
see clearly in the midst of a complex situation, in the midst of the
complexity of the world, the society and the country in which we lived.

The Leninist principles set forth in "The State and the Revolution" made it
possible for us to see with absolute clarity the composition of a
revolution--not only in content but also in form: the role of the party,
the role of the masses, the role of the state in the revolution.

Until that time--in Cuba, Latin America, and in a great part of the
world--coups were described as revolution. Military putsches, reactionary
movements, and occasionally even fascist movements were also described by
the reactionary, bourgeois, and imperialist press as revolutionary

Lenin himself explained to us the role of state organs and taught us that
in carrying out a revolution and putting an end to a dictatorship of
exploiters it was necessary to seize control of state apparatus and
transform the instruments of power--placing them at the service of the

But these words which seem so simple and basic had been the very essence of
the success or failure of many revolutionaries. These ideas directed our
action in the matter of organization, masses, and methods of struggle. All
this exerted tremendous influence in our country.

The fact that a consequent application of these principles let to the
triumph of the revolution in a country such as Cuba--underdeveloped,
semicolonial, close to the United States, under the enormous economic,
social, and cultural influence of an imperialism which dominated not only
the economic structures but also the political and cultural institutions,
universities, and mass communications media such as television, radio,
press, books, movies, and literature--deserves reflection.

Our revolutionary process did not find its sources in a pre-existing
socialist awareness of masses. Quite to the contrary, while there existed a
subjective discontent over poverty, over unemployment,and over material and
moral oppression, there was no awareness of the causes of these problems
which were often attributed to other factors such as inefficient or
corrupted governments and privileges. But the broad masses were still
unaware of the essential problems and fundamental causes which created
their situation.

It is interesting to note that in applying the fundamental principles of
Marxism, the revolutionary process of Cuba brought about not only a
development in the class struggle and combat but allowed the development of
mass awareness. We have now arrived at the current situation in which our
country possesses a deep political awareness, a deep socialist awareness, a
clear vision of all fundamental problems, and a strong resistance to the
cultural, ideological, and political influence of U.S. imperialism which
has made use of subversion, mercenary invasions, and threats of direct
pressure against our country and has above all directed political weapons
against us.

This is why we have set forth that the application and success of
Marxist-Leninist principles in a country such as Cuba, where the conditions
were extremely difficult and where the principles were not applied under
ideal circumstances but under very adverse ones, demonstrated the
tremendous strength of these principles and the reason for the ever
increasing conviction of the value they represent not only as a guide for
our revolution but as an instrument for revolutionary struggle--not to
speak of their value in the history of other countries and the world as we
know it. It is an established fact that slavery, social class division, and
exploitation of man by man began as soon as man was able to produce with
his own hands more than he needed for his own subsistence.

It would be absolutely impossible to explain universal history without a
clear understanding of these truths. At the basis of all ancient history,
at the basis of the history of Greece and Rome, at the basis of the history
of the Roman Empire, at the basis of the stage following the Middle Ages,
in the times of the great discoveries, in the times of the development of
mercantilism, capitalism, bourgeois revolutions, until the surging of
proletariat, and in our present time: At the basis of all this history
there always existed a society of classes and exploitation of many by man.
At the basis of the Roman Empire's wars were exactly the same material and
class foundations as those which prevailed at the basis of World Wars I and
II. Roman conquests had at their basis the very same principles as the ones
which led Hitler's empire to attempt the conquest of the world. At the
basis of the wars which occurred at that time there existed the same
foundations as the ones prevailing in the present imperialists wars.

It can be said that this situation has lasted thousands of years, and we
could point out some more recent events which have similar bases. Behind
Czechoslovakia's partition by fascism was the same question that has been
behind the U.S. intervention in Vietnam. The basis for the crimes committed
by the fascists in Czechoslovakia, and the example of Lidice--that massacre
that moved the world--were the same for the imperialist crimes in Vietnam,
the My Lai massacre which also moved the world, and the incredible bombings
that are being carried out today against that country. In other words,the
complete history of humanity has been ruled--as Marx explained--by the
problems of exploitation of man by man, the antagonistic social classes and
the class struggle. But if humanity lived that history thousands of years,
it also experienced notable examples of struggle through those centuries.
The struggle against exploitation and the struggle against oppression have
always emerged dialectically alongside the exploitation and oppression, and
thus we had the struggles of the neglected ones in Greece, the slave
rebellion in Rome, the struggle of the commoners against the patricians,
the struggle of the serfs against the lords, the bourgeois struggle against
the absolute monarchies, the struggle of the proletarians against the
capitalists and the people's struggle against imperialism and for their

Throughout thousands of years men only fought moved by the same social laws
and the same historic laws without having a deep understanding of the
causes of those problems, of the principles that ruled them. They wrote
beautiful and extraordinary pages of heroism. They wrote and expressed in
history, in literature, in poetry, in paintings, those acts of heroism and
their struggle for freedom.

However, our time has the privilege of knowing and acting according to the
laws that rule the historic process. It is the great truth that
contemporary fighters have, the great advantage--knowing the intimate laws
that rule the social process. That is what has given the communists their
profound conviction, their extraordinary force. That is what gave Lenin the
vision, the great vision, the great certainty, the great confidence that
the socialist revolution could be carried out in Tsarist Russia, and that
with the strength of the masses, the strength of the proletariat, with the
union of the workers and peasants, all the difficulties could be overcome,.
That is what gave heroism to the Bolshevik combatants against foreign
intervention. But long before the class struggles in Europe, and the
struggle of the classes in France, socialist and communist combatants gave
us the example of heroism, and--even when Marxist thought was not a
predominant doctrine in the Paris Commune--all the capacity for struggle of
the masses and all the capacity for heroism of the proletariat was already
reflected. That is how contemporary history has been written, based on
great sacrifices.

Great examples of heroism have been inspired by the convictions that
Marxism gives us: The combatants in the 1905 Moscow insurrection before the
Bolshevik revolution, the Hungarian combatants, the German workers
combatants, the Spanish combatants, the heroes of international brigades,
and above all in the last year, the unprecedented heroism of the Leningrad,
Moscow, Stalingrad and Sebastopol combats in defense of their fatherland,
the extraordinary heroism of the communists in all the European countries,
how they maintained the flags of struggle and the flags of resistance
everywhere, how they maintained the flame of the struggle for liberation
and how they died in the clandestine struggle, or in the prisons, or in
concentration camps.

What moved and gave that herculean strength to Julius Fucik? What gave him
that strength, that courage, that greatness, that serenity to write from
the cell where he was being held by the fascists his "Report From the
Gallows" that moved the contemporary world, that was an inspiration to
revolutionaries, that was also an inspiration for the Cuban combatant who
had studied that report and cited it as a model to strengthen the spirits
in the face of the risks in the struggle?

What was it if not deep conviction, the philosophy and principles of
Marxism-Leninism, and the feeling of human solidarity these contain which
encouraged the sacrifice, which made them willingly, heroically, calmly and
with dignity bear the sacrifice of their own lives? What sustained their
faith in the cause, the belief that in the end socialism would win, that no
crime, no repression, would prevent the certain victory of the people?
history once more has confirmed the truth of this belief as it is being
confirmed by the Vietnamese fighters with their incomparable heroism.

Today's humanity, the current generation, has the privilege of living in an
era in which for the first time man struggles to positively abolish the
class society, to positively do away with the political systems of man's
exploitation by man. When the philosophy of exploitation, the philosophy of
pillage and the class system which created them have disappeared, the wars
and the cause of these wars and the immense suffering they have inflicted
upon humanity will positively disappear.

The qualitative change has been extraordinary, dramatic. Let us take Cuba
for instance, which today is a socialist country struggling to consolidate
socialism. Less than a century ago slavery existed in Cuba, slavery in
which, as in the time of Roman law, men, women and their children were
bought and sold, were punished and even killed, without any rights, under
no other law than the simple ownership of man by a few others. Less than a
century ago the ownership law which existed in our country was similar to
Roman law, and today we have socialist ownership in our country.

Not only has man's ownership of man disappeared but also man's exploitation
by man, the private ownership of production resources. A new society has
been established, and based on this, a new society, without exploiters or
exploited, a new attitude is being created.

No one could possibly believe that such an extraordinary change as that
which began in the world through the October Revolution would be an easy
change, that such an extraordinary delivery of human society would be an
easy delivery. Socialism emerges as a new system and in historic victory
against exploitation, as a promise for all humanity.

These factors oblige us to continue struggling, because only a part of
humanity lives under socialism, because billions of human beings yet suffer
exploitation, capitalist or imperialist exploitation, colonialist or
neocolonialist exploitation--even feudal exploitation still exists in many
countries. This generation has the challenge, the double challenge of
continuing to struggle for the consolidation of socialism, for improvement
of the socialist institutions, and for supporting the rest of the world in
the struggle for its final liberation, for supporting the rest of the world
which still lives under exploitation. That is the great task, that is the
great challenge of our times. Humanity still witnesses painful, terrible,
unjust and criminal episodes, like those we pointed out previously related
to the imperialist aggression against the people of Vietnam.

We are living in an era in which the duty of the revolutionaries, the
philosophers, the intellectuals, is undoubtedly that of furthering the
awareness of Marxism-Leninism principles; the awareness of history's laws;
to continue strengthening the beliefs of the revolutionaries, the workers,
the peasants, and the exploited. The revolutionaries and intellectuals have
the obligation of being the frontline soldiers in the field of struggle
with thoughts and actions. And this does not allow doubts of any kind.

Imperialism still exists with its powerful economic resources, and,
although the correlation of forces is changing and will change even more,
the struggle will be a long one, especially in the field of ideology, and
in this field we must reinforce our lines, we must concentrate, we must
meet in battle and defeat it.

In a day such as today, in which you have so honored us, in which you have
recalled our own history, what we wish is to also reassert here our
absolute conviction that humanity will march ahead, and that the socialist
and communist attitudes which are the antithesis of selfishness,
individualism, and chauvinism, and which are the essence of the solidarity
among men and among nations, will move forward and will win.

Other generations fulfilled great and historic tasks, but this generation
of youths, this generation of revolutionaries, also has great tasks ahead,
great challenges and great battles to be fought in the field of ideology,
the field of revolutionary attitude and in the field of revolutionary

We, the Cuban revolutionaries, the representatives of the Cuban people, in
view of all the extraordinary honors you have bestowed upon us, can only
say to you that our nation will continue to contribute its modest efforts,
its strength for the struggle against imperialism, in unity with the
socialist camp, in unity with all the socialist countries, in unity with
the USSR, at the side of the liberation movement, with Vietnam, untiringly
struggling to fulfill our revolutionary and international duties.

And we have proof here of our sympathy for the Czechoslovak people, for
their party, for their efforts to overcome their problems, for
consolidating socialism in their country and for consolidating the role
which the Czechoslovak nation played before the eyes of the world as an
example of a revolutionary country, a heroic country. And we express to you
once more our solidarity, our total support and our most sincere wishes for
success. Our Czechoslovak brothers can count upon the revolutionary people
of Cuba. Thank you. (ovation).