Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-94-122 Daily Report 22 Jun 1994 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro Addresses Colombian Solidarity Groups

FL2306232494 Havana Cuba Vision Network in Spanish 0030 GMT 22 Jun 94 FL2306232494 Havana Cuba Vision Network Spanish BFN [Remarks by President Fidel Castro to unidentified members of Colombian solidarity groups at Cartagena de Indias on 16 June -- recorded]

[Text] [Crowd applauds, chants: "Fidel, Fidel, Fidel!" Unidentified speaker shouts: "Long live the Cuban Revolution!" Crowd shouts: "Viva!"]

[Castro] We have just held a meeting with an important group of businessmen and industrialists from Cartagena, Barranquilla, Colombia. Then suddenly I came over to meet with the solidarity groups. Well, those persons I talked with are magnificent people. Really. I was positively impressed. Many are already working; many have economic operations with Cuba. They export products, but they not only export products, they purchase products, especially numerous products from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. In other words, trade between our two countries is being quickly developed.

Since it was such an abrupt change, I said: What is this? First I was told I would say something, then others would follow and say something. I said: Well, I have realized it is better for me say something, and then you can ask some questions. Things will be easy this way and I will not get confused here and start talking about plywood, lumber, airlines, tourism, merchandise, and all those things. [laughs] Well, we will help one another, a dialogue rather than a speech, and to answer questions, things you are interested in about the summit or whatever, meaning things about our country. I can tell you about things you are interested in.

First of all, I want to state our profound gratitude for your hospitality, for everyone's hospitality, in Cartagena, Colombia, particularly for your hospitality. I have seen you everywhere. Wherever I went, I saw people who looked like you. [laughter, applause] The faces, enthusiasm, warmth, hospitality everywhere we went within our busy schedule. Our schedule was very busy. Really. You know how the summits are. If you do not know, I will tell you. [laughter] I have tirelessly said this.

Based on my experience with the nonaligned-countries meetings -- Cuba hosted the sixth summit in 1979 and almost 100 heads of state and government attended it -- I say that heads of state and government are the most undisciplined people in the world. [laughter] Obviously, I cannot say the same about the illustrious colleagues with whom I met recently. Perhaps they can become disorganized in a nonaligned meeting, but here they were very organized.

In the nonaligned-countries summits, when it was time to hold meetings, apparently many people like what I like, meaning that the meetings... [pauses] I am not talking about meetings like this, which are so pleasant. I am talking about the work meetings we have in the government and the party. I have always said that what I like most about meetings are the recesses. [laughter] However, [chuckles] what many of these heads of state like most is to attend these meetings once in awhile. The rest of the time they come from all over the world and hold bilateral meetings; greet friends; and, when it is time for a morning session, the place is empty, there is no one. The ones from Africa are gathered here; those from other places are gathered elsewhere; and so on and so forth.

That is why they give the impression of being undisciplined. Some of them arrive and others follow; and, when a speaker is scheduled to take the floor early in the morning, war breaks out [laughter] because they do not want to address an empty hall. At least the halls were full here; people attended the meetings; and they behaved in a disciplined way. It was a positive impression. The schedule was busy, like I said, and bilateral meetings were held in the morning or in the evening. Actually, there was no time in the morning or in the evening. A meeting was scheduled for 0700.

I slept three hours the first day. I went to sleep at 0400 and I was back on my feet at 0700 -- no, I was back on my feet at 0600. We had to bathe and all that. It was actually three hours -- from 0300 to 0600. The second day, I broke the record and slept five hours. That was a phenomenon. I do not know how I managed that, between 0200 and 0700. The third day, meaning last night, I slept two and a half hours. Things ended very late. I had to leave a table [laughter] because the heads of state were leaving and only a few people remained there. I had breakfast at 2300; I literally had breakfast at 2300. I had drunk some coffee and some juice -- nothing else, not even some milk. At 2300, I managed to sit at a long table they had there. Well, I began to eat calmly -- not much. When you are in a hurry the best thing is to eat a little. I said I had to leave because... [pauses] I saw Gabriel Garcia Marquez sitting there with other people, and I wanted to go sit over there. I was tired of so much protocol but, like I said, I had eaten very little. I had a little bit of desert. I was served two small slices of coconut pie. I said: Well, I will eat a little bit of fiber. [chuckles] When I was halfway through the first slice of coconut pie, I was told: Let us go. [laughter] I had to get up. [chuckles] I asked: Why? Has something happened here? I was interrupted halfway through the small slice of coconut pie. [laughter]

Aside from that, I think I will have to visit the doctor to check my ears because... [pauses] To tell you the truth, it was a splendid concert with artists from many countries, including a Cuban artist, Carlos Vives, who was presented at the end, but someone's equipment must have broken down and they could not lower the volume. I think more cannon volleys were fired there than during the Battle of Berlin [laughter] because it was very noisy. There were moments when my ears hurt. I was not the only one whose ears hurt. I had to cover one of my ears. I feigned it like this [laughter] and I leaned back. [laughs] I was actually covering my ear because the noise was unbearable.

Anyway, we ended the meeting very late. I do not know why I had to get up. Perhaps people had to leave. I was told to get up and I asked why we had to get up. I could not even finish my slice of pie. What else could I do? I bid everyone farewell and moved over to Garcia Marquez' table. I felt liberated there. I had finally shaken off the burden of so much ceremony and the pressure of so many political leaders. I found a group of friends there -- I did not know some of them, but they were magnificent people -- and I stayed there for about two hours. That was why I slept so little last night. It is my fault, but I felt free there. I said: I come seeking asylum here. I come seeking asylum here. [laughter, applause]

The funny thing is Colombian Foreign Minister Noemi Sanin passed by after we had been talking for some time. I told her: I have sought asylum here. She answered: Very well, we welcome you. [laughter, applause] I said: Come here, Noemi. What kind of asylum are you thinking about? [laughter] I sought asylum at this table, you know, but I am firmly determined to return to Cuba. I want to have at least a small plot of land where I can rest, since so much is being said about eternal rest. Just imagine that, I said. [laughs] A small plot of land. [laughter, applause]

Those are anecdotes about the summit but the summit's schedule was certainly busy; and delays occurred because they tried to schedule too many things for such a small amount of time, and there was simply not enough time. Two days were not enough for such a busy schedule despite the hospitality, organization, and great security measures. The security measures organized by the Navy and Public Force members was excellent. Obviously, we were much more calm. Well, we are used to being calm everywhere.

You know that when we travel, there is immediately a flurry of activity since the hunting license has been established. [laughter] Even though hunting restrictions exist in the world; even though animals are protected; even though you cannot hunt whales, and rightfully so; and you cannot hunt lions and rhinoceros -- particularly the rhinoceros, because it is reported the rhinoceros' horn has I do not know what kind of aphrodisiac properties. [laughter] People go around killing rhinos, and they will exterminate the rhinoceros. Nevertheless, [chuckles] I am the only species for which there is no closed season in the year. [laughter, applause]

Ever since the CIA planned the first attempts to eliminate me, I have not been lucky enough to be left alone. They are always trying to see how they can get me wherever I move. I must be like an eel... [laughter] for I am very difficult to catch and I get away. [laughter] There are always people from Miami at ceremonies like this, not just reporters from counterrevolutionary stations, but many disguised as reporters. I will never forget that during a visit to Chile many years ago, there were several cameras in front of me and one of them had a gun inside it. The cameraman was posing as a Venezuelan journalist, with a gun. I was right in front of him. Fortunately, they are not suicidal, they are not fanatics. Those are the dangerous ones, the crazy ones. These are crazy, but they are crazy for money. [chuckles] They want to enjoy that money in this life. [laughter]

This has occurred many times, meaning the organized hunts. They mobilize people if we go to this or that place; if we go to Spain. They want to see what opportunity they have, what chance they have. I do not tell you this to pose as a courageous person, only to give you an idea of how difficult it is to travel. They are around; they are the last ones to leave because they are paid to cause problems, make things difficult, create scandals if possible. They watch the hotel entrance and sometimes it is difficult to leave. That is how it has been. It is not an easy task, but that is how it has been. It has been rich in experiences, very interesting.

There is something we have not lacked at any time: the warmth and hospitality of the people in Cartagena, and that encourages us a great deal. I have had to sign some autographs even though I am not an artist [laughter] and I have had to pose for some pictures. I may eventually become blind, given the number of flashes I have had to see in my life. Well, that is the price of fame. Whom do I have to thank for that fame? The Yankees. [laughter, applause]

While in South Africa, while in South Africa, [repeats himself] we attended a luncheon and many people, a lot of people, came over to greet us. I got up with pleasure and greeted all of them. That day I was really hungry; it was not so late, but there is seldom time to eat during these trips, but it was useless. I was not able to taste anything while I was there. I had to sign autographs and pose for pictures with many of the political leaders who went there.

The Americans were not far away. They do not like that. This administration is resigned to it, however. They take it in stride. The Bush and Reagan administrations would get furious when I went somewhere and was treated well. They got the image they worked at. It bothers them beyond measure that there are people in every corner of the world who are kind and hospitable. A reporter came by and asked me why kings, princes -- I do not recall how many other things he added -- come to greet me. I answered: Let me tell you; it is thanks to the Americans. I did not say Yankees because there are times when one has to be courteous [laughter]. He laughed and went straight to the Americans to tell the vice president right away. Some people saw him.

The Americans who went to the presidential inauguration in South Africa behaved mostly courteously; several of them came by to greet us. The climate is different. Undoubtedly, there was great affection from the ANC and the South African people. They reminded us, since it was not our place to remind them, of the significance of the Cuito Cuanavale battle, the significance of our cooperation with the Angolan people. A country as small as Cuba deployed up to 50,000 soldiers. We helped them battle the South African aggression. The results of those combats were decisive in accelerating the process of the end of apartheid. [applause] The South Africans were all saying it. They were coming by and stating it with much love and affection.

That is how it happened. Even the U.S. media acknowledged it. I was not seeking that. They might make an official resign for taking his picture with me. Several did however, and some of them are high up. They approached and greeted me. I said to one: I congratulate you; you are courageous. He asked me why. I replied: Because you had the courage to come and greet me. Do you know what he did? About five minutes later he came back with more photographers and said: Let us have our picture taken again, to make sure. It was a very courageous gesture. [laughter]

There are bitter moments, hard work, threats, all those things, but there is also the tremendous inspiration of knowing there are so many noble people in the world, so many generous people, so many people who do not let others fool them, so many people who do allow others to manipulate their brains as is done with a child, and people who recognize the effort -- not my personal efforts -- none of us is anything without the people, none of us is anything without the effort and sacrifice of the millions of people who struggled and made the Revolution possible, who have supported it, and who are defending it. I am aware that it is our people and their efforts and sacrifices to whom the many noble people in the world wish to express recognition, affection, and support. I have seen it here among you in particular. I have seen in this hospitable, warm land, where we have felt great encouragement because the fight -- and we have been fighting and waging a very difficult battle for many years -- requires encouragement. This encouragement sustains us, we live on this encouragement. This is why we appreciate, with much fervor and affection, the deep solidarity and support you have provided during these difficult times. These are among the most difficult times we have experienced, in a struggle against the blockade, a struggle against a restrengthened blockade, a struggle against the efforts of our mighty neighbors to the north to make us surrender by hunger, to force us to give up, and to force us to our knees. Yet, we will cut off our legs rather than bow our heads. [applause]

[Unidentified speaker] Using Marti's words: In the world, there are more flowers than snakes. You can be assured that here you will always find a garden to support the dignity of the Cuban people. [applause]

[Unidentified speaker] Commander Fidel, accept my salute of sincere friendship and boundless and disinterested solidarity from this group, as well as all the solidarity groups working jointly today throughout Colombia. We want you to know that we are increasing our efforts and thoughts that you may remain, with the same physical and spiritual integrity, at the helm of your people for the good of the Third World community. Thank you. [applause]

[Unidentified speaker] I am also carrying a gift, a sign of affection for our beloved commander. [applause, laughter]

[Unidentified speaker] From the city of Barranquilla -- 100 km from Cartagena -- a delegation has come to express to you the love of the Colombian people and the deep admiration we all feel for the great political and social work that you have carried out, not only on behalf of the Cuban people, but also on behalf of all the peoples of the world, who see in you and in Marti's people, the best example of dignity in history. [applause]

[Unidentified speaker] Commander Fidel Castro, comrades from Cuba and Colombia: The Cartagena University Professionals Club is honored and proud to have in its midst a man of the historic stature of Fidel Castro. It had always been our dream to meet, greet, and listen to the dialectic and depth of his oratory, and his characteristic wit. We feel truly happy to have with us this hero who we so highly revere and whose good works we have seen.

My dear friends, I dare guarantee that we are privileged to have here, in front of our eyes, such a great man, who is, I believe, after Simon Bolivar, the greatest in history. [applause]

I want to point out this historic moment, not only for Cartagena, but also for the Professionals Club. I am going to ask our illustrious commander to do us the favor of writing his name on this wall because from today on, this hall will be named: Fidel Castro's. [applause, crowd chants: Fidel! Fidel! Fidel! Viva Commander Fidel Castro! Viva! Down with the Yankee blockade! Down!]

[Unidentified speaker] On behalf of the youth present here who represent a Solidarity with Cuba committee, we wish to present this humble banner to you, Commander. The banner reads: Thanks, Commander, for making so much dignity possible. [applause]

[Unidentified speaker] On behalf of the friends of Cuba in Cali, who are very numerous, I have the deep honor of relaying the deepest message of solidarity to the commander in chief, and to tell him that Cali, in the most humble and simple manner, support the entire epic of the Cuban people because we know that the Cuban epic is our epic, the epic of mankind that struggles with hope and struggles to live in a better world.

I would also like to respectfully ask your opinion on the path the Colombian solidarity campaigns, and possibly Latin American campaigns, ought to take. We would like to hear what is the most appropriate form that the expressions of solidarity ought to take at this time. Thank you. [applause]

[Castro] We are truly waging a war for our survival in light of our northern neighbor's attempt to force our surrender by starving, choking, drowning, and crushing us. Our neighbor also tries to isolate us. What you are doing is waging a battle against isolation. What are you doing is waging a battle against the blockade. You have spontaneously understood and seen that for us, this is main path of the struggle right now to resist the efforts of the most powerful nation in the world, which today rules unchallenged. This fulfills what Bolivar and Marti prophesied could happen in this hemisphere. This is what is taking place practically worldwide. We could say that we are involved in that Biblical struggle, the struggle of David and Goliath. We need support because this battle has to be won morally and politically. Above all, by winning the moral battle, one wins everything.

I already told you about what happened in South Africa. I believe that impressed the U.S. observers at the summit. I have really not mentioned this much because I do not want them to conduct a witch hunt against those people who came to greet me. I see that this relates to the same thing. If they see that in spite of the deluge of campaigns, calumnies, and lies against Cuba... [pauses] What has fallen upon our small country, upon our people, and upon our struggle is a true deluge, greater even than the Biblical deluge. Yet, this deluge has not been able to fool everyone. It has not been able to prevent the fact that in so many parts of the world, through instinct and out of an elementary sense of direction that each human being has, only some of the people can be fooled. There are many who cannot be fooled, however. Thus, we have people who react the way you do.

This encourages us and truly gives us hope. As I said, that is what we need, that is our strength, that is our lifeline. We are overwhelmed with emotion by what you have done and by what you do today. We could not imagine anything more affectionate, hospitable, and noble. You cannot imagine the power that this has. That enormous wall must be destroyed with this.

I too studied the Bible because I studied in Jesuit schools. I spent about 12 years studying at La Salle school. I had to study the Bible every year. I cannot forget the story of the walls of Jericho. The story goes that at the end, with trumpets -- I believe it was Joshua -- some of you may be more up to date on this. It was Joshua, right? The story is that with trumpets they destroyed the walls. I say that men and women like you around the world will destroy the modern walls of this gigantic Jericho, which today attempts to defeat and crush Cuba, the Cuban Revolution, and Cuba's independence, and tries to destroy the brotherhood and unity among all our peoples. [applause]

[Unidentified speaker] Fidel, our children know you. They love you and they love Cuba, and we love our Cuban children. [applause]

[Unidentified speaker] Fidel, all of us in this room, or the majority of us here have lived the Cuban Revolution. We have seen the new man that comes from Cuba. We have witnessed the commander who did put aside war to talk about fraternity and awareness, that you come to a meeting or summit and say that you can perceive the will of noble people, and the men who truly want the new being of Cuba to become the new man of Latin America.

I believe it is important that this disparagement be overcome. I believe North America has a reality, a terrible and inhumane reality, where Latin people are starving, where some live way above others, where an underworld exists, and that underworld of savage capitalism must disappear. I believe we must demonstrate that truth. Just as the Cubans in Miami demonstrate superfluous glory, it is important to demonstrate how this superfluous glory destroys many lives and kills many people through starvation. [applause]

[Unidentified speaker] I have seen the newscasts on television, and they keep saying that you have changed your attire for a guayabera. If you have always dressed in your uniform, why change now? [laughter]

[Castro] My dear, I am going to tell you what happened. I was told that they had requested all visitors to wear guayaberas or regular shirts. All they had to say was that it was so hot, and we would have brought t-shirts or no shirts at all.

As you can see, I had a problem because I have my old habits. I said to myself: What should I do about my hosts? Before, everyone would attend the summits in business suits. I attended those summits in my usual outfit. As a matter of fact, one reporter once asked me about my outfit and I told him those were the outfits I wore when I was in the mountains. I like them, these are my outfits; they are very comfortable. I do not have to keep up with the fads, changing the cut or the design. It is very inexpensive.

I also have a dress suit. I call it that not because it has too many ornaments or anything else, but because it is a suitcoat, a tie, and slacks. It is a suitcoat unlike the one I wear everyday to work, and sometimes I attend ceremonies in that if I do not have time to put the other suit on.

I know that some criticized me. Some began to make up stories. Not everybody, but some would say that I was the only one who attended the summits in a uniform. It seems that they wanted to associate the idea of my uniform with a who-knows-what idea or experience that they may have had in their countries, or perhaps wanted to portray me as a militarist or something to that effect.

I have received no increase in rank, however. I have the same rank I had when I disembarked from the Granma. [applause] I was commander because there were lieutenants, captains, and commanders. There were three captains, one commander, and several lieutenants. That is all there was. I remained commander. I was the only one who was not promoted. But I was commander in chief... [pauses] I retained that title and rank. We fought the war and we won. We fought in the Bay of Pigs; we fought in many places to carry out important internationalist missions. Many people have received rank. There came a point when our forces were so big that just with the three ranks, it was impossible to keep up.

But I always felt love for the rank I held, which was my first rank, and I always dressed in the uniform.

There are exceptions. I can assure you that I do not sleep in my uniform. [laughter] Every once in a while I will wear pajamas or something similar. If I go to the beach, something I like very much, I do not go swimming or scuba diving in my uniform. [laughter] Instead I wear shorts and practice my sports activities.

But there was a history and tradition. The request was for a shirt or guayabera. It would not have been appropriate for me to be in uniform while the others were in shirts. I thought to myself: Which one of the two will I wear? The one I call the formal suit would not be appropriate. I thought: Should I wear my daily uniform? They would have begun talking about the uniform. I believe I had not worn a guayabera since I was a student. That was not too long ago [laughter], but it was some time ago. Then I decided to demonstrate that I was not afraid of wearing a guayabera.

There are some who have said that I wear a bullet-proof vest. The only bullet-proof vest I wear are my morals. [applause] When you can keep your head high and your conscience clean, then you... [pauses] When you challenge the enemy, it is just like lions do. You have seen the lion trainers in the circus with the whip. Later, he turns his back on the lion and the lion remains calm. Sometimes I must turn my back on the lion and I am at ease.

The enemy is always making plans. I more or less hinted at that before. I am talking about assassination plots everywhere I go. There are many groups that know they have impunity to do this, to organize all types of plans.

Some were concerned. The comrades in charge of security were worried about the carriage ride. They were worried about this because it was 40 minutes among buildings, and with a horse that would walk slowly. Our horse actually had a bad temper. [laughter] We almost had an accident. It crashed into the carriage ahead of us. I believe I was in the third carriage and our horse ran into the carriage in front of us.

They almost convinced me because one should not argue with the people in charge of security. One must listen to them and negotiate with them. They had arrived at the conclusion that I should not participate in the carriage ride. They had me almost convinced. I was looking at the paintings at the Naval museum, but I felt uneasy. I finally told the comrades, I am going for the carriage ride. I told them that it was very difficult for me to play the role of a coward. I do not want anyone to say that I came here to Barranquilla and did not take a carriage ride.

[Crowd interrupting] Cartagena!

[Castro] That is right. I came to Cartagena representing Barranquilla and all of Colombia [applause] that I came to Cartagena and did not ride in the carriage. Then it occurred to me: Who will I invite? [laughter] It occurred to me that I would invite Gabo [Gabriel Garcia Marquez]. I said to him: Gabo, I invite you to come with me. [laughter] I am a bad friend. [laughter] Climb aboard with me. [chuckles] I told Mercedes Garcia Marquez: Mercedes, do not worry, if you are going to be widowed, it is better that you become widowed while you are still young. [laughter] So, there is no problem. [chuckles] I took Gabo with me and we went for the ride and it was fantastic.

That is how it is. So that is why I wore the guayabera. The nice thing about the guayabera is that everyone praised it. [applause] I did not even know how this guayabera would turn out because I did not know how this beard would look with a white guayabera. Well, I finally made the decision to wear the guayabera and I must say I liked it. [laughter]

I still have not decided if I am going to take the plane in the guayabera and change while I am in the airplane, or if I will arrive in Havana in guayabera. [applause]

These are the reasons, but no, I will return to my uniform.

[Unidentified speaker] This poetry book reads: To Fidel, father. [applause]

[Castro] The first thing I wanted to say is that I congratulate Cartagena, I congratulate all of Colombia for hosting the Fourth Latin American Summit. It would be hard to find a more hospitable and beautiful city for this task. I would like to say that not all that is desired is attained in these summits. These summits have the singificance of being the first time, almost, in Latin American history that we have met on our own without having others summon us. It is the fourth time. [applause]

If we speak of integration and unity, we must begin by meeting. Not every head of state has exactly the same views and the number of political ideas are very heterogeneous. The mere fact of meeting to discuss issues of mutual interest always means getting closer; leaders get to know one another. It is a first step, an important first step. It is so important that our northern neighbors felt envious; they were worried, and invented a summit there, of all places, in Miami. [Crowd: Down with the Miami summit!]

If they invite me, I will calmly go. [laughter] But they have already said not to think or even dream about it. They have truly committed an act of cowardice. They did not want me there. They are afraid of ideas, of words. [applause] They are afraid of the truth, and chose Miami on the basis of domestic politics -- that is the truth. It is an important state because there is a group, not a majority, but they are the ones that make more noise. They have more resources. They have lobbies. They have representatives in Congress and make great efforts so the blockade against Cuba is strengthened, for greater hostility and threats against Cuba.

They exert enormous pressure and the U.S. Government takes this pressure into consideration, thinking about the next election, when in fact many members of that community are economic emigres, just like there are millions of Colombian, Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Mexican economic emigres. That is why they are building a wall that is higher than the Berlin Wall, to prevent the Mexicans from crossing over. All the technical means possible are used to stop them. Well, many of these people are economic emigres and they oppose the blockade and aggression.

You have no idea how they treated the representatives of the Cuban communities in the Miami area and throughout the United States when they went to a meeting in Cuba. They were treated with fascist methods, truly fascist methods. Those people are full of hate and the desire for revenge. [Words indistinct] what part of the country each one gets. That is how they think about our country; those are the people who want to own the country. That is why we were not invited to the summit -- quite the contrary.

I said: It does not matter if we do not go. The important thing is what will be done and what will be demanded at the summit because there are many things to demand there, face-to-face. They have the opportunity to tell it like it is. I hope that at least a few of them decide to tell it like it is and make demands and defend the interests of Latin America and the Caribbean. That summit, however, is a result of this one, and this one must be defended. Once there was talk of holding these summits every two years. No, every year. This is important, very important. It represents a big step forward and I think that the fact that it was held in this city and with great success truly represents a source of pride. Efforts were exerted so the summit would be a brilliant event. If the program is too long, however, sometimes... [pauses] They wanted to do so much for their visitors that there was practically no time for everything, but the cordial, warm attitude of the people, the city's authorities, and everyone was evident. I want to use this opportunity to congratulate you. I hope this summit becomes part of our history.

I am also deeply touched to hear, like I heard here, that people have come from faraway places. They had to travel hundreds of km. People have come here even from Cali. I think a bus or two buses brought them. Others came from Santa Fe de Bogota and other places. They had to make great sacrifices to do so. In my opinion, this increases the importance of this meeting, of this event. In my eyes, this increases the noble, generous, supportive, human character of the Colombians. In my eyes, it heightens the pride of being part of this Latin American family.

We will be united one day. We will not have the right to mention Simon Bolivar's name and Jose Marti's name with honor until we are a truly united Latin America like they dreamed; so we are a force to be reckoned with; so we have a place in the world; so we are respected by others; so we do not become a balkanized continent, an easy victim of those who have always wanted to seize control, an easy victim of those who want to plunder us. We have the same language, a privilege Europe does not have -- yet Europe is uniting to survive. What kind of future do we have, divided in a thousand pieces, if there are great economic and political powers? We have the same culture, which is something the Europeans do not have; we have the same language, which is something they do not have; we have the same origins, which is something they do not have.

What a vision Bolivar had back then! He thought about this when there were no roads, trains, airplanes, communications, telephones like this one. What are they called? [people answer: "Cellular telephones."] Cellular telephones and all these things that allow you to contact Patagonia in a minute. Bolivar rode a horse, he travelled by horse, yet he dreamed about uniting this hemisphere. We must be capable of uniting in modern times, with all the means of communication we have. One feels pride that our brothers are people like you and people like the Bolivians, Peruvians, Brazilians, and the Central Americans, because the people are everywhere, like an immense mine. The conquerors looked for gold all over the place -- tens of millions of Indians died when they were forced to look for gold -- yet they did not know that the heart of only one of the hundreds of millions of Latin Americans contains more gold than all the gold that existed in the heart of this hemisphere! [applause] I perceive this wealth in our people; I perceive their intelligence; I perceive their ability, and I know we have the right to a future and we will conquer that future.

Together we wage a battle today -- you and I, you and our people -- so our homeland may survive, so the revolution may survive. That trench must never fall into the hands of the powerful empire [applause] because it would become another weapon to seize control. The day before he died, Marti said everything he had done so far for Cuba's independence was to prevent the United States from extending its dominance over American lands. We are fulfilling the most sacred precepts of our predecessors and those who started this long process. Time will not defeat us ever, and someday we will be the strong, indestructible nation they dreamed about. You are the best proof of this. Thank you, a thousand times thank you! [applause] If they tell you our plane could not take off, it would be for one reason -- the enormous cargo of emotions and gratitude we take with us after meeting with you! [applause]