Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-94-115 Daily Report 15 Jun 1994 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Speaks at 14 Jun Afternoon Session

FL1506142094 Havana Radio Rebelde Network in Spanish 1155 GMT 15 Jun 94 FL1506142094 Havana Radio Rebelde Network Spanish BFN [Report by correspondent Demetrio Villaurrutia from Colombia]

[Text] Our commander in chief's first address during the 14 June morning session of the fourth Ibero-American summit was followed by another address by Fidel. This was a closed-door session held at the Convention Center. The address came during a debate regarding democracy in Latin America, which included a clear reference to Cuba. Brazilian President Itamar Franco then stated that the only way Latin American people can help is by joining efforts to support Cuba and its reintegration to the OAS. This motivated Fidel to speak and I believe it is important for all our listeners throughout Cuba to listen to his words.

[Begin Castro recording] I want to -- since my country, Cuba, has been mentioned repeatedly by several of the speakers -- first of all give thanks to those who care about Cuba. I can feel a sincerity in what they have said. This is why I have applauded each one. I know that at times, when I speak, some do not applaud. That is fine. I respect that. I believe this is a democratic thing and each has to do what they believe is pertinent. I have applauded everyone, some more enthusiastically than others. From everyone I have truly felt -- and I thank you for it -- a concern for Cuba.

It caught my attention, however -- this is why I appreciate so much President Itamar Franco's gesture -- that not a word has been said about the unfair, criminal, and inhuman blockade which for over 30 years has been imposed against Cuba, the largest ever blockade in the history of a Latin American country with which no dialogue is sought. What is sought is to smother Cuba in blood and make it surrender by hunger. This is the reality.

I would have liked to hear within that Latin American spirit some reference to this. I believe our people also deserve commendation if we keep in mind the heroism, firmness, and dignity with which hey have resisted for over 30 years the U.S. blockade and aggression. Later on, we were left alone. Many, when left alone, surrender. Yet we have not surrendered. We have continued fighting because we are aware that we are defending the dignity, sovereignty, and independence of the peoples of Latin America. This is, precisely, what Marti wanted with Cuba's independence.

It amazes me that not a word has been said to the effect that Cuba is the country which has advanced the most, socially, in the history of this hemisphere. We have done so much that I believe we have done more than what was possible. Not a single word has been said, as we speak about the social crisis in this hemisphere and so many closed schools, to the effect that our country, subjected to a double blockade, has not closed a single hospital, a single school, has not abandoned anyone. Our country, even under the most difficult conditions, has struggled and resisted.

In a hemisphere, which as you know well, whatever our current, present, or definitive -- as you will -- accomplishments may be, which please me to no end....[pauses ] We know, however, that this hemisphere where we all live, has the worst distribution in the whole wide world by far. I am talking about our region, with exceptions, of course, in certain countries. This is the region with the worst distribution of national income in the world and where so much remains to be done. Yet, not a single word is said about it.

It also surprises me that not a single word has been said about the joint position which we should present at the notorious Miami summit. This is very important, vital, and looming close.

Finally, I would like to state that I respect your views. I sincerely respect your thoughts, concepts, and ideas about democracy. We should hold a summit to discuss what is democracy and what is meant by people's participation; what does it mean that millions of people die in this hemisphere every year from disease and hunger, millions who could be saved. It is our duty to think about all of this if we are democratic, if we are human.

We have our ideas and views on democracy and do not feel ashamed of them. With these views, we have resisted and struggled for 35 years. I believe the blows we have endured during these 35 years -- we cannot forget history -- since we were first blockaded, way before the declaration of the socialist character of the Revolution, when we were blockaded and our sugar quota was apportioned among all ....[pauses] Cuba was left practically alone with the highly noble exception of Mexico which maintained ties and relations with us. I respect everyone's views. I believe that if we are to speak about democracy, we have to speak of a multiplicity of views and opinions. I ask that our views be respected in the same manner that we respect yours. This said, I thank you once more for the concern you have expressed regarding Cuba. Thank you very much. [applause] [end recording]