Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Fidel Castro Speech

FL220135 Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 2143 GMT 21 Apr 81

[Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro closing the WPC presidential
committee meeting at Havana's Palace of Conventions--live]

[Text] Dear comrades, our fatherland feels enormous pride in hosting this
meeting of the WPC presidential committee. We highly appraise the value of
this gesture of friendship and solidarity toward Cuba. We are particularly
glad to once again welcome to Cuban soil this active, tireless and
tenacious fighter of world renown, our dear comrade and friend Romesh
Chandra. [applause]

In our opinion, this meeting is notable for its timeliness and its
organizers' good judgment in choosing the Central American and Caribbean
area to hold the meeting. It can be said that since the days of the
so-called October 1962 crisis, the human race had never had more reason to
feel so worried, threatened and uneasy about the danger of war. Then, more
than 18 years ago, it was the U.S. imperialist policies which led the world
to the imminent danger of a nuclear confrontation.

It must be recalled that the U.S. Government created this huge risk in its
anxiety to get even for the crushing defeat of the Playa Giron mercenary
invasion and as a conceited and arrogant reaction to the legitimate
measures adopted by the revolution to defend the country's integrity and

The world was able than to stop just short of the abyss. Cuba's
invulnerable position demonstrated that our people could not be intimidated
or subjugated by any means. International solidarity, especially the serene
policies of the Soviet Union, made it possible to preserve peace and eased
tensions in the most dangerous moments. Mankind breathed more easily after
going through that hair-raising experience which revealed the folly of the
imperialist policies of Cold War and international blackmail.

Following the October crisis, the road to detente began to unfold despite
many obstacles. The Soviet Union, vitally bound to the interests of the
socialist community and the world's revolutionary, liberation and
progressive movement, once again played the most active and decisive role
in the struggle for an international atmosphere based on mutual trust, the
development of normal relations and even mutually advantageous economic,
scientific and technical cooperation as the basis for detente in the
military sphere, a limitation of the arms race and, subsequently, the
measures that would make disarmament possible. As we know, no progress was
made beyond detente in political affairs. The signing of the Helsinki
accord was the highest level reached. Since then, especially in the past
few years, the ultrareactionary forces of the United States, entrenched in
their positions, succeeded in sabotaging and paralyzing detente. And today
they are trying to reverse the course of this process to decontaminate the
international atmosphere. The way in which these power groups attempt to
play with the survival of the human race is absolutely criminal and

If in 1962 there were more than enough megatons in the arsenals to
obliterate the last trace of life on earth, today the number, power and
effectiveness of strategic arms systems have multiplied in a chilling way.
The frontiers of terror have been long crossed and no new method of mass
destruction that might be added today could instill more dread in the
hearts of its presumed victims. The human race can only be exterminated
once. No sensible person doubts that the outcome of a nuclear war, under
the present circumstances, would be equally cruel to aggressors and
victims, to warmongers and neutrals, to atomic powers and all the nations
that do not possess these arms.

There is even the risk that technical failure, a subjective mistake or
simple carelessness might precipitate a reaction of catastrophic
consequences. The peoples of the world who confront so many dramatic
problems face the danger of being wiped out by accidental factors. Tens of
thousands of atomic weapons hang over their heads. Never in its thousands
of years of existence had humanity experienced such a thing. That is why
the struggle to halt a new world war becomes the most pressing, unavoidable
and decisive task of our times.

We are not and never will be fatalists. We do not accept nor will ever
accept the notion that a world holocaust is inevitable. The human race must
have a nobler fate. The selfish and exploitative interests of a small
imperialist minority cannot make use at will of the fruits of the whole
history of civilization and dictate the fate of peoples. Man's intelligence
faces enormous challenges and peace by itself is not the solution to all
problems. Peace is only the basic condition for the huge abundance of
energy and necessary resources to be employed in a consistent manner so
that all mankind, not just part of it, may live honorable, decently and
decorously. Peace is an indispensable requirement in the great battle
against underdevelopment, disease, illiteracy, lack of housing and the
growing shortage of foodstuffs, raw materials, energy and water, which are
already acute problems for hundreds of millions of souls in the poorest
areas of the world.

One cannot close one's eyes to the obvious danger of war implicit in the
actions of the most aggressive and dangerous elements of imperialism. It is
known that the lengthy negotiations of more than 7 years which brought
about the SALT II treaty--now ignored by unilateral decision of the United
States--were based on the recognition of a military balance. Any attempt to
upset that balance is extremely dangerous and could result in fatal

The U.S. military budget is now close to $150 billion a year. Despite this,
the new administration proposes a sustained increase in these expenditures
in coming years that could reach by 1985 the incredible amount of $330
billion for belligerent purposes. Such a decision can only drag the world
into a new and unbearable spiral of the arms race at precisely the time
when the worldwide needs for development cooperation and assistance are
most dramatic and urgent. This new burden, as usual, would fall on the
shoulders of workers and of the poorest countries.

The mirage of reducing in short term the effects of the economic crisis by
military spending can only make stagnant production, inflation,
unemployment and chaos even more serious and irreversible. It should not be
forgotten what the exorbitant and unproductive spending on the war of
aggression against Vietnam led to.

Moreover, the socialist world will not submit to the threat. The most
elemental sense of responsibility forces socialism to preserve its
conquests, integrity and basic conditions for world peace at any cost, even
at the sacrifice of huge resources that might help in its own development
and cooperation with other countries. The situation is so serious that no
alternative is possible. If today worldwide military expenditures amount to
some 500 billion a year, if today these expenditures constitute an
unbearable, criminal and absurd burden, we have the right to ask ourselves
the disturbing question: How far can the present policies of Yankee
imperialism take us and what can be the consequences of those adventuristic
and irresponsible policies?

The United States surrounds the Soviet Union and other revolutionary
countries with 2,500 military bases and installations on the soil of tens
of countries. It keeps more than 500,000 soldiers and thousands of nuclear
missiles aggressively deployed all over the world. As you well know, even
Cuba has to bear against its will that part of its national territory which
continues to be occupied by a naval base with Yankee military troops and

In Europe, the United States forces its NATO allies into an accelerated
growth of their military expenditures. It tries to reduce resistance to its
aggressive policies and imposes on them the installation of qualitatively
new strategic arms. The decision stands to set up 572 medium-range nuclear
missiles in Western Europe aimed at the Soviet Union and the other
socialist countries. Orders for Pershing II and so-called cruise missiles
to augment the atomic arsenal in Western Europe reach several billions of
U.S. dollars. This is much more than the national income for an entire year
of several countries combined.

But the United States is not only turning Europe into a powderkeg. In the
East, it tries to drag Japan into the arms race and an aggressive strategic
alliance against the Soviet Union, counting on the Chinese as an ally for a
confrontation with the USSR and against the liberation movement in Asia.
China in turn, with the approval of the United States, carries out
unceasing aggressions against Vietnam, doubles pressures on Laos and
encourages counterrevolutionary bands and the hostility of neighboring
governments against the people of Kampuchea. In light of these realities,
we can understand how urgent it is that work be carried out following
specific programs that will make it possible to save the road already
traversed in search of peace and halt the dangerous trends in the current
international situation. The serene and constructive stand of the Soviet
Union despite the provocations and threats of the United States is once
more demonstrated in the peace proposals formulated by distinguished
Comrade Leonid Ilich Brezhnev at the 26th congress of the CPSU. These
proposals have been favorably received by world opinion. Fortunately, the
Soviet Union knows how to maintain serenity and does not falter in its
struggle for the noble cause of peace.

The situation created by imperialism in the Middle East is an explosive
one. It cannot be denied that Israel feels encouraged by the guarantees it
receives from Washington in its recent aggressions against southern
Lebanon, where hundreds of persons were murdered. At the same time, the
dubious deal between the Yankees and the As-Sadat regime in Egypt and the
delivery of billions of dollars in arms to that reactionary government
disclose the essence of the betrayal and crime perpetrated against the
interests of the Palestinian people and other Arab countries which are the
victims of Zionist plunder.

Threats of aggression are voiced against Syria, Libya and other
anti-imperialists Arab governments. Using the deplorable conflict between
Iran and Iraq as a pretext, the U.S. imperialists carry on with their plan
to set up their so-called Rapid Deployment Force in the Middle East and
multiply their military and naval presence and their bases of operation in
the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. The fact that the largest petroleum
reserves in the capitalist world are found in the Middle East gives a
special aggressiveness to imperialist actions in this area.

Like Israel, the fascists of South Africa are encouraged by the new U.S.
administration. A shady maneuver by several Western powers is underway to
try to foil Namibia's right to independence and to dismiss the only
legitimate representative of the Namibian people-- SWAPO. Provocations
against the frontline countries continue to increase. Mozambique is
continuously facing hostile actions. Independent Zimbabwe is threatened.
There are reports about large concentrations of South African troops in the
northern part of the occupied territory of Namibia and the imminence of a
large-scale racist attack against the southern part of the People's
Republic of Angola.

The economic and technological ties linking U.S. imperialist corporations
and other Western countries to the Pretoria racists are constantly becoming
known, ties which are in flagrant contempt of all UN agreements. Among
other aspects, these relations include the program of South African nuclear
development which will make it possible for that country to produce its own
nuclear weapons if it has not already achieved this. Who are the ones
guilty of allowing such a threat of extermination to be raised against
Africa's independent peoples? Who are the ones supporting at any risk a
regime which is an insult to mankind's civilized consciousness? Are they
not the same ones which have transformed Somalia and other countries into
aggressive bases directly threatening the revolutions of Ethiopia and
democratic Yemen?

This meeting of the WPC Presidency has laid stress on Latin America's
situation and, particularly, that of Central America and the Caribbean. We
must refer to them. A few months ago, during the second PCC Congress, it
was noted that while in other areas of the world the United States had been
forced to take into consideration the real factors of the situation, the
undeniable might of socialism and the caution being observed by its own
allies, in Latin America, however, the imperialists had considered
themselves to be free to do as they pleased in undertaking actions and
moving forward their reactionary policy. The time elapsed since then has
demonstrated this truth.

The heroic and determined struggle of the people of El Salvador has
urgently stirred up the greatest concerns of the new U.S. administration.
As usual, the crudest pretexts have been used. An attempt has been made to
make the world believe that the fight of that people-- in just 15 months
the army and the tyranny's repressive groups have murdered more than 15,000
persons--was the product of an international plot. To make such an
assertion is the same as ignoring the fact that the Salvadoran people have
been struggling for the past 50 years for their liberation. It is the same
as ignoring the situation of terrible poverty, ignorance and ferocious
exploitation in which a very small and insatiable oligarchy maintains that
country. It is the same as disregarding the fact that the men and women of
that small nation, including old people and children, are forced to defend
their own survival against a genocidal regime which literally wipes out
entire towns and carries out insane massacres.

Despite world public opinion, the United States is sending massive
quantities of arms and military personnel to advise and assist in the
repression and terror. It has been officially announced that the U.S. aid
to the fascist Christian Democratic junta since the beginning of the year
will be doubled during the rest of the year.

Against heroic Nicaragua and its glorious Sandinist revolution, which today
are enmeshed in the arduous and complex tasks of national reconstruction,
imperialism has also directed the aggressive course of imperialism. The
fact that such a big and powerful state as the United States applies
economic reprisals against the Nicaraguan people and attempts to make them
surrender through hunger by suppressing credits for essential foodstuffs
provokes indignation. Hundreds of Somoza followers and mercenaries are
currently training on U.S. territory to invade Nicaragua, and the U.S.
Government does not even admit any knowledge of what is going on.

It is equally inconceivable that the organization, training, arms supply
and financing of numerous camps of counterrevolutionary agents existing in
Honduras close to the border with Nicaragua can take place without the
intervention of the CIA and the Washington administration. Every attempt to
drown in blood the Nicaraguan revolution is a threat to peace and a
challenge to the world democratic and progressive movement.

In the same category can be included the attempts to destabilize Grenada's
revolutionary government, which is characterized by its unwavering and
unequivocally progressive and anti-imperialist position. The Guatemalan
people are bravely struggling for liberty. More than 70,000 patriots of
that country have been murdered since the mercenary invasion organized by
the CIA and the United Fruit Company in 1954. Today the people's struggle
is growing, as is repression. But the brutal regime, which is drowning that
country in blood, is one of the friendly governments which should not be
harassed. Its henchmen, as in Haiti, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and other
reactionary governments, receive from their protectors large quantities of
arms and resources in order to maintain themselves in power.

The U.S. Government has created a special Caribbean command. Aggressive
maneuvers are taking place in the seas near our coastline. The United
States is conducting an essentially militaristic policy in this region.
What is the sense of that arrogant and threatening language of arms?
Simply, it is an attempt to intimidate the struggling peoples and, above
all, to frighten, isolate and impose a policy of pressure and blackmail
against Cuba.

Our country, as is well known to all, has endured a rigorous and total
economic blockage for 20 years. Added to the blood spilled through armed
aggressions, piratic attacks, sabotage and other subversive acts, which
have been carried out by imperialism against our country one must mention
such criminal actions as stopping Cuba from acquiring in the United States
medicines for saving lives. The imperialists do not resign themselves to
the policy or principles of our people.

Recently, the voices demanding that Cuba be erased from the political map
of this continent have taken on new life. The media campaigns have
attempted to generate an anti-Cuban climate of extreme hostility. There are
reports of plans for a military blockade or other actions, including the
possibility of direct military aggression. Cuba does not threaten the
United States. In the face of threats, Cuba is maintaining a calm and
responsible attitude, but a firm one. We struggle for the right to a
peaceful life for our people--to the degree that we increasingly become
stronger and more invulnerable to any enemy aggression; to the degree that
we make each compatriot a Spartan soldier ready and willing to defend our
fatherland's sovereignty and integrity to the last drop of blood.

Imperialism's meddling policy transforms the Central American and Caribbean
area into an explosive focus of tension, similar to those of the Persian
Gulf, Indian Ocean, the Middle East and Europe. But the warmongers and
interventionists are not the only conspirators against peace. The huge arms
arsenals are not alone in threatening peace. Peace is also threatened by
the extraordinary and complex problems that imperialism, colonialism and
neocolonialism have created around the world. As we have previously stated
at other opportunities, without development and, at the very least, justice
for the peoples, there can be no peace.

In today's world, an urgent period of international cooperation on a large
scale must begin if we really want to raise the level of living of the
peoples, remove a large part of mankind from underdevelopment and safeguard
international peace. The true fact, however, is that all just and prudent
initiatives which have been promoted by our countries inexorably clash
against the selfish, or frankly sabotaging, attitude of the principal
capitalist superpowers. Added to the colossal waste that the arms race
represents is the fact that the hard reality for development barely amounts
to 5 percent of world resources devoted to systems of extermination.

Meanwhile, the poorer areas of the earth experience a rapid multiplication
in population and no one knows where the foodstuffs, clothing, housing,
education, health services and new sources of employment will come from for
the gigantic human wave due to arrive in the next few years. If today the
earth is populated by more than 4 billion persons, by the end of the
century it will be closer to 7 billion and will double in the next few

The foreign debt of underdeveloped countries is estimated today to be more
than $500 billion. Every year the balance of payments deficit of these
countries worsens. Unequal trade and the high cost of energy are virtually
liquidating the economies of the poorer countries. A large number of them,
above all those importing oil, have to devote a large portion of their
meager resources for debt servicing.

Meanwhile, during the period 1970-78, the transnational enterprises
reported a profit of $2.4 for every dollar invested in underdeveloped
countries, and the United States, particularly, obtained in that same
period $4.5 for every dollar invested in the backward economies of Asia,
Africa and Latin America.

In the United States itself, and other highly industrialized capitalist
countries, the working masses are victims of the economic crisis and the
arms race. In those countries, unemployment currently remains at the
highest levels of the postwar era. In the United States alone more than 8
million persons wander around looking for jobs, and from 20 to 25 million
poor U.S. citizens will experience some bad situations because of this
year's unpopular warmongering budget, which is also a direct threat against

We believe that without an extraordinary, determined and responsible effort
on a worldwide basis, there can be no solution to the worrisome problems
harming our peoples and peace will be in jeopardy. Without real
cooperation, without a real and tangible new international economic order
whose results reach out to all and benefit all, beginning with those who
need it most, the peace we seek will be an unreachable mirage.

We do not accept the idea of the inevitability of war. We measure the
dangers calmly, without being dragged into pessimism. By nature,
revolutionaries are optimistic. However, we do not believe in spontaneity.
We believe that peace, detente and civilized coexistence between states
must be gained with our struggle and strength. Socialism does not need war.
Socialism came into this world with the decree on peace as a banner. Arms
are only the resources imposed upon us by the need to defend ourselves in
the face of the threats and aggressions of the enemy. The glories which our
people seek are those of creative work. We will know how to struggle for

The imperialists and warmongers can no longer decide as they please the
future of the world. They have to take into consideration socialism's
might. They have to take into consideration the strength of the world
revolutionary movement. They have to take into consideration the firm
position of peace of the countries forming - the Nonaligned Movement, which
certainly form the absolute majority of the international community. They
have to take into consideration the vast and growing universal movement in
defense of peace, in which all of mankind's vigilant awareness is

The WPC embodies the desire of the broadest international social sectors to
unite and avoid a new war. Its history of more than 32 years of hard and
selfless work makes it worthy of our confidence and determined support. If
never before have the dangers been so great, also never before has our
strength been so great.

Dear comrades and friends of the WPC: You convey to us with this meeting
the certainty that the future of peoples, no matter how many tests await us
in the future, entirely belongs to freedom, justice and peace. Fatherland
or death, we shall win! [prolonged applause]