Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Castro Awards Order

FL242221Y Havana Domestic Television Service in Spanish 0058 GMT Apr 78 FL

[Speech by President Fidel Castro at ceremony decorating Ethiopian leader
Mengistu Haile Mariam with the national Order of Playa Giron held at
Cubanacan Protocol Hall Havana City--live]

[Text] Comrade Mengistu, Ethiopian and Cuban comrades: Long before you
arrived in our country, before the glorious victory of the Ethiopian people
against the foreign aggressors, before we had the honor to greet you in
your fatherland Just 12 months ago, and even before the process which lead
to the cresting of the revolution and the Ethiopian state in February of
last year, we already knew you. In the center of the Cuban revolutionary
leadership, we knew very well that a young officer named Hengistu, with
clear political ideas, am audacious and energetic nature, was the
expression of the most advanced and firm thought in the midst of the
political and social turbulence which left in its wake the unique and
extraordinary happening of the Ethiopian revolution. Time and again, we got
word of your tireless creative activities; of measures and laws, which
under your support and inspiration, were transforming the feudal society of
your country; of your proposals determined to have the Ethiopian revolution
advance down the only paths a revolutionary process in our times can travel
if it is worthy of having such a label--the paths of socialism.

From very early, when you were not yet chief of state, fraternal relations
were established between you, as a genuine representative of the Ethiopian
revolution, and the Cuban revolution. Especially honorable for us was the
sympathy and confidence that you had in our nobel and worthy people.

We Cubans could not be indifferent to the fact that, finally, the
revolution had exploded in the center of a people which throughout the ages
has been so combative and heroic and at the same time so cruelly oppressed
as the Ethiopian people, whose weight and importance in Africa can be
measured by its size, by basically its culture, spirit of independence and
its history. It was something which the Cuban revolutionaries truly desired
and awaited for a long time.

No revolutionary people can be insensitive to the birth of new revolutions
in the world. The political liberation and the social revolution in nations
such as ours means not only colonialism's swan song but also, sooner or
later, that of capitalism and imperialism.

No one could have thought that Cuba, yesterday the Latin American country
most dominated by the United States, nor feudal Ethiopia, the United
States' closest ally in Africa, could today be bastions of anti-imperialism
and social revolution. Nor could anyone have thought of an event such as
the one tonight. Nor was it possible to imagine just a year ago, the events
by which the close and firm ties have developed in such a rapid manner,
which today join and make our two peoples brothers.

The whole city welcomed you yesterday as dear brothers, with overflowing
happiness and intimate joy, which are at the time expressions of
solidarity, optimism and jubilation.

As comrades in arms for the same cause, as standard bearers of the same
idea, as soldiers in the same trench, what has been said up to now makes it
unnecessary to explain the reasons for which our people decorate you this
evening with this Order of Playa Giron marking victory forged by the Cuban
combatants against imperialist aggression 17 years ago, precisely in an
April like this one. It suffices to point out that the order is the highest
revolutionary distinction that we can confer, and it has always been our
concern that it not only honors the person who receives it, but that
awarding it also is an honor for our order. On an occasion such as this one
and with appropriate remarks, Jose Marti stated: It is not the men who make
nations, but nations, in their hour of genesis, usually place themselves
vibrantly and triumphantly in a man. Through you, we also decorate your
heroic people, the nobel and just Ethiopian revolution.

The victory of the glorious October was a victory for all oppressed peoples
of the world. The victory of any revolution is, and will always be, a
victory for all revolutionaries. The Ethiopian revolution's victory is
therefore also our own victory.

Receive this decoration, dear Comrade Mengistu, as a symbol of our modest
contribution in the anti-imperialist struggle and as a symbol of our
people's recognition and gratitude for your brilliant contribution to the
cause of the revolutionary movement and the deep felt friendship and
militant solidarity which today exists between our two peoples.

Fatherland or death, we will win!  [applause]