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FBIS-WEU-94-229-S Daily Report 25 Nov 1994 CUBA

First World Solidarity Conference Holds Meeting

Castro Addresses Solidarity Conference

PA2511231494 Havana Radio Rebelde Network in Spanish 2127 GMT 25 Nov 94 PA2511231494 Havana Radio Rebelde Network Spanish BFN [Speech by President Fidel Castro at the closing session of the First World Solidarity With Cuba Conference at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana -- live]

[FBIS Translated Text] Dear Friends: I address you as such with great pleasure. It is difficult for me to summarize what has transpired during these days of the conference. I am going to make a few reflections. We have seen before us [word indistinct] of stature, we could say. We have heard the best feelings, the best ideas of our century expressed here. Here we have spoken about everything noble that has been the product of the concerns of humanity. You have openly expressed the longstanding values for which humanity has fought throughout the century which is ending.

The issues that have concerned us throughout our long struggle for independence and against colonialism and imperialism, the struggle of peoples for equality, justice, development, and sovereignty, have never been so threatened as they are today. The struggle for social justice and against exploitation, poverty, ignorance, and illness; the struggle in favor of all the unprotected and dispossessed; the struggle for dignity, equality, and respect for women; the struggle for brotherhood among men of all races; the struggle for peace; all of these values and many more have been expressed here at this event.

That is why I can say it has not only been a meeting of solidarity with Cuba but that we are proud that this solidarity has been the source of inspiration. We have seen before us the best values of our era. Not everyone could attend because so many would have not been able to fit even in 1,000 or 100,000 theaters like this one. Those who were able to attend, however, are noble, objective, altruistic persons who have shown the best of humankind.

If we wanted to have a meeting of worthy people, of people with exquisite human and moral sensibility, those people are here. I am amazed at man's capacity for kindness, sacrifice, and generosity.

Whenever we receive a visitor in this country, I observe and study them and try to establish how they think and feel. My admiration of human values is endless. Many, many people who have been our friends, who have expressed their solidarity, and who have been sources of sensibility, solidarity, and human kindness are not here with us.This is the unforgettable impression we will have of this meeting.

How is the meeting? Everyone I spoke with said the meeting has gone well. This meeting has been unlike any other meeting. It has been unlike many others we have had when everybody who wanted to speak spoke and the meetings turned into an endless succession of speeches. Excellent, brilliant, profound, and brief speeches have been delivered here. This event has lasted many days. Within this framework, that would not have been [words indistinct].

There have been speeches and statements and questions asked and answers given. Commissions have met to discuss various issues. Those who have not spoken here have spoken at the other site, and here we behold the miracle of hundreds of persons having spoken, although it was impossible for everyone to speak.

I believe that the hundreds who have spoken have more or less expressed everyone's feelings. For that reason, I think we should congratulate those who organized and conducted this event. [applause]

Despite differences, this has not been a demagogic forum at all. Despite the fact that we speak different languages -- there are people here from 106 countries, from 109 countries -- we have understood each other perfectly well.

Even though there were differences in languages and even political beliefs, there was unanimity regarding the noble idea of solidarity with our people. [lengthy applause]

The blockade practically became the focal point of this event. Much has been said about the blockade. The companeros spoke about the blockade, so there should not be much to add. But, in essence, what is the blockade?

The blockade is not only the prohibition by the United States of carrying out any kind of trade with our country, of things such as technology and machinery; it even includes foodstuffs and medicine! The blockade means not even an aspirin to soothe a headache, anticancer medication to save somebody's life, or medicine to relieve the suffering of someone who is in the final phase of his life can be sold to Cuba. Nothing! Absolutely nothing can be sold to Cuba.

The blockade is not only the prohibition of any kind of credit or financial possibility. The blockade is not only the total cessation of economic, trade and financial activities by the United States, the world's richest nation, the world's most powerful nation in economic and military terms that is not only 90 miles away from our coasts but one inch away from our coasts in the occupied territory of the Guantanamo Naval Base. The powerful empire is not only close to us, it is within us!

It is not only close to us with its ideas, concepts, and philosophies, it is also within us among that minority -- luckily for us -- who have embraced the concepts, philosophies, and ideas that have been disseminated around the world for so many years. The empire does not trade merchandise with Cuba, but it does want to export ideas -- and the worst kinds of ideas at that. It does not export foodstuffs, medicines, technology, or machinery, but it does export fantastic amounts of ideas.

It used to have a broader market. It exported ideas to other places, particularly to the Socialist bloc. It exported many ideas to the former USSR and other countries. Today the empire only has counterrevolutionary ideas against us. Its resources are enormous, powerful, huge. It has infinite mass media coverage. The flow of ideas goes in only one direction because we do not have mass media. We do not have those enormous communications systems that cost thousands, dozens of thousands of millions of dollars each year. We are condemned to receive, not to exchange ideas.

The blockade is not only that, however; the blockade is an economic war against Cuba, an economic war. It is a tenacious, constant persecution against any economic transaction made by Cuba in any part of the world. The United States is actively working through its diplomatic channels and embassies to pressure any country that wants to trade with Cuba; to pressure any company that wants to trade or invest in Cuba; to pressure and punish any ship transporting merchandise to Cuba. They are waging a universal war, with enormous power behind them, against our country's economy. They have gone as far as dealing even with individuals who may attempt to conduct any economic activity with our country.

They euphemistically call it an embargo. We call it a blockade. Some call it an embargo, others a blockade. It is war! It is a war that today is not waged against any other country in the world; only and exclusively against Cuba. Not only have we had to face the blockade during these years of revolution. We have had to face constant hostility in the political field ranging from attempts to eliminate leaders of the revolution, through other methods such as subversion and destabilization, to the direct and ongoing sabotage of our economy.

Over the past 35 years, we have been the victims of all sorts of sabotage, not only of pirate attacks, mercenary invasions, dirty wars in the mountains and plains, and continuous destabilization attempts in all fields, but also of direct sabotage with explosives and incendiary devices.

Our country has been the target of chemical warfare with toxic elements, of biological warfare with the introduction of many illnesses in animals and human beings. There is no single resource the U.S. Government and authorities have failed to use against our country and our revolution. It is not just me who is saying so. Now and then papers are released or published after 25 years, although some are kept 50 or 100 years, and still others for 200 years. That is something bequeathed to the grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren of current generations. They will know someday about the barbarities committed but never spoken about by these champions of liberty, these champions of human rights.

The war against the Cuban Revolution has been an all-out, absolute war. It is not an old war. This war has been maintained. Plans of sabotage against our economy and our strategic industries are being drafted and executed right now. Organizations very near the U.S. Government are preparing attacks right now against leaders of the revolution. Do not imagine this is something of the past; this is something very current. There are plans for dirty wars, plans to organize armed mercenaries to attack, sabotage, and create insecurity, and plans to take war to any corner of our territory. I say with all responsibility that the imperialists currently have plans against us. And there is more, much more, than the economic blockade.

This policy is reinforced with an inveterate campaign of slander against our country, a campaign to justify a crime.

Now the main emphasis is being placed on the human rights issue. Human rights are being invoked by those who have committed and commit now all sorts of horrible actions against our country.

As we recently told the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights -- with whom we spoke at length -- the attempt to kill or to force 11 million Cubans to surrender out of hunger and disease is the most brutal and cruel violation of our people's human rights. [applause]

The United States speaks of human rights! The country that began by exterminating the first inhabitants, the indigenous population, the Indians of that country. Who can forget that era, the tradition of collecting the scalps of Indians?

They killed more Indians than buffalo, and they exterminated the buffalo. [applause]

They expanded their state at the expense of other people's territories. They grew by grabbing land. One way or another, they took millions of square of kilometers of land from their neighbors. They grabbed more than half of Mexico's territory. They are still occupying Puerto Rico. [applause] They tried to devour Cuba more than 150 years ago. They have intervened dozens of times in Latin American countries. They imposed a canal on Panama. I am talking about our hemisphere only. I am not going to even mention the war in Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, and many other places. [applause]

How paradoxical it is that they have now approved Proposition 187. That was not 100 years ago, or 100 days ago but, rather, only a few weeks ago. They prohibited -- now listen to this -- granting health care and education to children who are undocumented, to relatives of undocumented people. [applause] What concept of respect of human rights is that? What concept, what idea of humanity is that when it is inconceivable that a sick child should be denied health care? Yet on the other hand, they spend $300 billion of their military budget on the most sophisticated weapons ever conceived.

We do not have to go back to the past. In modern times, since the revolution has existed, and throughout the history of U.S. foreign policy, that champion of liberty, that champion of human rights has nurtured the most repressive, bloodiest regimes that have ever existed in the world. If we think of Europe, we immediately remember that after the World War, there was an alliance between the United States and Spanish fascism. [applause] It was installed with the weapons of Hitler and Mussolini. [applause] It cost millions of lives.

We cannot forget the United States' alliance with South Vietnam or its genocidal war against the Vietnamese people in the south and north. We cannot forget the Korean War. That country was totally razed, turned into dust. We cannot ignore Hiroshima or Nagasaki and the unnecessary use of nuclear weapons. It was totally unnecessary and, in any event, could have been used against a military installation instead of against civilian towns with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, thus beginning the era of atomic terror in the world.

We cannot forget about its alliance with South Africa and apartheid. [applause] We cannot forget, in fact, that apartheid produced nuclear weapons. When we fought in southern Angola alongside the Angolans against the army of apartheid, South Africa already had nuclear weapons. The United States knew that South Africa had nuclear weapons and that those nuclear weapons could be used against the Cuban and Angolan soldiers to support South African racism and fascism.

They, who have made such a ruckus and even threatened war over the presumption that the North Koreans wanted to develop nuclear weapons, tolerated, permitted, consented, and -- through indirect means -- facilitated the development of nuclear weapons by South Africa.

Turning to our continent and more recent times, who can forget the dirty war against Nicaragua, organized through armed mercenaries, which cost the lives of tens of thousands and the mutilation of thousands upon thousands of Nicaraguans? Who can forget this? The champion of freedom, the champion of human rights.

Who can forget the dirty war in El Salvador and the U.S. Government's support of a genocidal government, to which it turned over thousands of millions worth of sophisticated weapons [coughs] to put down the people's rebellion? This war left more than 50,000 dead.

And why did the war in the Malvinas take place? Simply because the United States was using the 401st Battalion, the special forces in Argentina, for the dirty war against Nicaragua and the dirty war in El Salvador. They provided such brilliant and commendable service to the United States that they believed on that occasion that the Malvinas - and this has nothing to do with Argentina's right to the Malvinas, which we have always defended all our lives [applause] -- the Argentine military believed that the time had come to collect for the services it was providing the United States in Central America and wanted its support for that military adventure. It definitely was an adventure, because that is not the way to wage a war. Wars are waged or not waged, and if they are waged they must be taken to the ultimate consequences if they are just. [cheers and applause]

They invaded the Malvinas and forced the United States to make a choice [coughs] between its British allies and ancestors and the Argentine military government, and it chose the British and provided them with support.

Who can forget what happened in Guatemala during the Arbenz administration in the fifties? [applause] This was a popular government, elected by the people, which tried to implement an agrarian reform program to help the peasants and the Indian communities. A dirty war began immediately with the invasion of mercenaries.

What happened after that? What has happened up until now? More than 100,000 people are missing. It is a country where the term political prisoner did not exist for dozens of years because all cases were considered missing. Until now, who supported that government, who trained them, who prepared them? The champion of liberty. The champion of human rights. [applause]

What happened in Chile with the people's government of Salvador Allende? [applause] They conspired against him, Chile's economy was blocked in various ways, and the conditions for the coup were created. That coup brought to the country thousands and thousands of missing and murdered people.

What happened in Argentina with the aforementioned military government? It is said that at least 15,000 people were reported missing. Other people say -- I said at least because I do not want anyone to say I am exaggerating -- that there were 30,000, and some people even say there were more. Let us go by the minimum figures. Are 15,000 missing people just a few? Who armed that government, who supported it, who gave it political support? Who used its services in Central America? The champions of liberty. The champions of human rights! [applause]

What happened in Uruguay? What happened in Brazil? Who supported the putchists who tortured, murdered, and made people disappear? Who intervened in Santo Domingo during the Caamano rebellion? [applause] Who invaded Grenada? [applause] Who invaded Panama? [applause] The champions of liberty and human rights!

Which one of those countries was harassed? Which one of those governments was harassed? Which one of those governments was blocked? Which one of the countries I mentioned was denied credits and trade? Which one of those countries did not purchase weapons and war supplies? Which one of those countries did not receive training in the so-called counterinsurgency operations?

These are the people who are blockading Cuba, who are slandering Cuba, who are accusing Cuba of violating human rights to justify their crimes against our people.

Cuba -- I say this free of passion and objectively -- is the country that has done the most for humanity. [lengthy applause]

What revolution has been more noble, more generous, more respectful of man, not just as a triumphant revolution in power but during our revolutionary war and struggle, when we established principles that we did not violate. What made us revolutionaries is our rejection of injustice, crime, and torture. Our war lasted 25 months, and during 20 of these months we captured thousands of prisoners. There was not one single case of physical violence against these people to obtain information from them, not even in the midst of war. There was no single case of a prisoner being murdered. We released prisoners. All we did was take their weapons. That was what we were interested in. We had to treat our arms suppliers with the courtesy they deserved. [laughter and applause]

In the beginning they had been made to believe that we killed all our prisoners, and many fought to the last bullet. They learned as the war went on the truth about the behavior of our rebel army and surrendered their weapons more easily when they were surrounded and could not escape. One soldier surrendered three different times. [laughter] He had been transferred as many times from one front to another, from one place to another. He was an experienced soldier! [laughter and applause]

The important fact here is that the Cuban Revolution has always upheld, without one single exception, the principle not to ever resort to torture, never to use crime, [applause] regardless of what may be said or written. We know that much of the slander has been produced by people on the CIA's payroll.

Is there any other such account in history? History has seen many revolutions, and generally speaking, they are very harsh. There was a revolution in England, and later the French and Russian Revolutions, the Spanish Civil War, and the Mexican Revolution. There have been many revolutions, many books written about them, and even more about counterrevolutions. Well, nothing is said about counterrevolutions. Revolutions are generous, but counterrevolutions are unalterably pitiless. I wish we could check this with the communards of the Paris Commune [applause]

In Cuba's case, there has not been a single exception. In the history of the Revolution, there is not one single case of torture -- no such word exists -- not one single case of political assassination, or one single case of a disappeared person. There is no such thing in our country as the so-called death squads, which sprout up like mushrooms in many countries in this hemisphere. (Crowd shouts: Colombia, El Salvador, Haiti, Venezuela, Mexico, the continent] You can speak for us. [applause]

We prefer not to mention names, but there have been many things in this hemisphere. Why don't they mention the United States? A man like Martin Luther King, for example, was brutally assassinated for defending civil rights. [applause] Others say it is a country where the death penalty is applied to Negroes and Hispanics. In our country those phenomena are unknown.

We see other things, too. Children are killed in the streets to keep anyone from seeing them begging. The Revolution eliminated beggars. The Revolution reached the people. The Revolution eliminated drugs. The Revolution eliminated prostitution. Yes, there may be some cases, unfortunately. There are some tendencies, and because of the economic difficulties and the country's opening to contacts abroad, there are some cases. We don't deny it. Now and then around Fifth Avenue you may encounter one or two, but we must not risk confusing honest people with prostitutes. [applause] There are some cases, but we are struggling against that. We don't tolerate prostitution. We don't legalize prostitution. [applause]

There may be a few children who, prompted by their parents, will approach a tourist to ask for chewing gum or something like that. We do have instances of this in the special situation we are experiencing, in the midst of the vast economic difficulties we are facing due to the tightening of the blockade, but this did not occur during the normal times of the revolution.

Despite our current extreme poverty, there are no men wrapped in newspaper sleeping in doorways. Not one single human being is destitute and without social security in our country [applause], despite our current extreme poverty.

The ills of capitalist societies that we see every day do not exist here. In our country, this has been the work of the Revolution. There is not one single child without a school or a teacher. There is not one single citizen who does not have health care even before birth. Here we begin taking care of our citizens when they are in their mother's womb, [applause] from the very week they are conceived.

We have more doctors per capita than any other country in the world, despite the special period. [applause] Note that I have said in the world, not in the Third World. [applause] We are above the Scandinavian countries, Canada, and all those countries that top the list in health care.

We have more teachers and professors per capita [applause] than any other country in the word, despite the calamities we are experiencing. We have more art instructors and more sports and physical education professors per capita than any country in the world. [applause]

This is the country that is being blockaded. This is the country that they are trying to bring to its knees with hunger and sickness. Some would like the blockade to be lifted in exchange for our surrender; in exchange for the renunciation of our political principles, for the renunciation of socialism and our form of democracy. [crowd shouts "no" and "never"]

The Rio meeting was held and a very confusing document issued despite the noble resistance of the governments of Brazil, Mexico, and other countries. The document was promoted by some countries that are very, very, very close -- bosom buddies -- to the United States, [applause] but I do not want to mention names. [crowd shouts "Menem"] The result was a very confusing document; a document with such a level of confusion that it allows for interpretation, and some people interpret it like the U.S. position, which demands political change in exchange for lifting the blockade.

Political changes! Has any country made more political changes than we have? What is a revolution but the most extraordinary and profound political change? [cheers and applause] We had this revolution over 35 years ago, and throughout those 35 years we have been making political changes and seeking a formal democracy -- not an alienating democracy that divides and separates peoples, but a democracy that truly unites people and embodies that essential and most important principle, which is the people's constant participation in decisionmaking and the people's constant participation in the fundamental matters affecting their lives. [applause]

Changes were recently made to our Constitution, starting with the principle that the people nominate and elect their officials. [applause] I am not criticizing anyone, but in most of the world, even in Africa, they are trying to introduce the Western political systems -- along with neoliberalism and neocolonialism and all those things -- to people who have never even heard of Voltaire, Danton, or Jean-Jacques Rousseau, people who have never heard of the philosophers of U.S. independence.

We must also recall how in our hemisphere, Bolivar [applause] was staunchly opposed to mechanically copying the European and North American systems, which has led our countries to catastrophe due to submission and subordination to the neocolonialist model. We have seen our societies shatter into thousands of pieces -- societies that have to join efforts for development -- and we have seen the rise not of a multiparty system but of a mini-party system, and even of a hundred-party system, because there are hundreds and even thousands of parties.

We, instead, have worked to devise our own individual system that was not copied from anyone, and it is based on the principle of nomination. The people nominate their candidates. One can agree or disagree with our system, but it is as respectable as the famous and much touted Greek democracy, but without slaves or servants.

In Greek democracy, a few persons gathered at the plaza. It had to be just a few. At a time when there were no microphones, they all gathered to hold elections. The slaves did not participate. The serfs did not participate.

Those who analyze electoral results should look at the United States right now and the election of the new Congress, where there is definitely a conservative and ultrarightist trend that is cause for concern. Those are domestic matters of the United States. I assure you, I swear it, that we have not made normalizing relations with the United States conditional upon that country renouncing its system. [laughter, applause]

They want us to say that at least 80 percent of the people have to vote. In that country, 38 percent voted and that was it. The others said: I am going to the beach; I am going to the movies; or I am going home to rest. That happens among champions of liberty and human and civil rights.

In many Latin American countries where people are required to vote, many do not vote. The slaves and serfs say: Why should I vote if everything will remain the same? It is very difficult to vote [words indistinct] with the ever increasing obstacles that must be faced by the people and which are increasingly more difficult to overcome.

In our elections, over 95 percent of the citizens go to vote, and nobody is obliged to vote. Even those who are against the revolution go to vote. They go to vote for this or that, for one candidate or another. Our people, I repeat, nominate their candidates and elect them. In that sense, the possibility of a citizen being elected is infinitely greater. I was talking to a Mexican delegation, and among them was the youngest of their deputies. I asked how old he was, and they said he was only 25 years old. I looked at him but was not amazed because we have several deputies who are under 20. High school students participate in the process of electing candidates for popular organizations.

Peasants participate in the candidate selection process. Women's organizations participate in the candidate selection process. Labor unions participate in the candidate selection process. The CDR [Committees for the Defense of the Revolution] participate in the candidate selection process. Numerous secondary and university students are deputies in the National Assembly. There are also women, peasants, laborers, workers, and intellectuals. The party does not nominate them. The party does not nominate or elect. It makes sure all the rules and regulations are followed, but it does not participate in the electoral process. That is the way it is in our country. One of the recent modifications is that each candidate for a deputy seat must obtain more than 50 percent of the valid votes. Alarcon explained something to me. He was carrying a magazine -- he has the advantage because he speaks English and every once in a while reads a U.S. magazine -- and told me about a man who spent $25 million on a campaign. What kind of democracy is that? How many people have $25 million to spend on a campaign? In Cuba no one has to spend even $25. Perhaps the only expense is the bus fare to go vote on election day. [applause]

What kind of a democracy is it where a person has to be a millionaire to convince people to vote for him, then forgets about them until the next election four or five years later? People cannot count on him any more. He forgets them. In our country, candidates can be reelected to their position. Any district delegate or any government official can be elected or removed from his post. That is our system. We do not intend to have others implement it. It would be absurd to pretend it is a model, but it is the one we have adopted. It was not imposed on us by anyone. No U.S. interventor governor came to establish an electoral code here, as they did in the past. We have made a Constitution. [applause] We have made the electoral code. We have developed and carried out the system, which is what you have been defending, the right of the country to establish the rules of the economic, political, and social system it wants. It is absurd to pretend any other thing is possible. Any other pretension is crazy.

These crazed people pretend the whole world is just like them, yet they do not like what they have. [applause] It is unacceptable for us that they lift the blockade in exchange for political concessions, concessions which correspond to our country's sovereignty. It is absolutely unacceptable. It is an indignity. Really, we would rather die than renounce our sovereignty. [applause]

We have had the blockade for many years now. In fact, we can start analyzing it from one fact. When the revolution emerged victorious, it was a different world. Now, after 35 years of revolution, we have a different world. Everything changed, and not for the better. In fact, it changed in the opposite direction. True, no one liked the bipolar world, but the unipolar world is even less to our liking. [applause]

When the revolution emerged victorious, there was a bipolar world. The United States imposed the blockade on us right from the start and began to [word indistinct] the sugar market and suspend our crude oil supply. Just imagine a (?recent) revolution experiencing such conditions. Of course, they suspended all supplies of machinery, spare parts, everything. Yet the USSR and the socialist bloc were still accessible. Were we ever lucky that despite the blockade imposed by the United States, only 90 miles away, there was another power, another movement in the world that also had revolutionary origins and was in opposition to U.S. imperialism. Thus we were able to find a market for our sugar, crude oil demands, raw materials, provisions, and many other items.

It was already explained here that we received preferential treatment, but we have to say it was not only Cuba that received preferential prices. The Lome Convention established preferential prices for sugar and goods from many other countries that were once colonies. There were even preferential prices in the United States when this country was a major sugar market before they seized our quota and proceeded to distribute it throughout Latin America and other nations. As I already explained, 80 percent of the world's sugar is traded under preferential prices, and in conformity with principles of political doctrine, the socialist countries paid us preferential prices. That was the only way, and that is the same policy we have always extended to every Third World nation. It was the only way to diminish the difference between the developed and underdeveloped nations. It was a policy demanded throughout the world, especially by Third World nations. Despite all this it was still convenient for us since we were paid preferential prices. Sugar, for example, was sold at a much higher price in the Soviet Union than what we were paid. At any rate, we benefited from those preferential prices as we were able to obtain fuel, raw materials, and many other goods. In another situation, they decided to go to the Soviet socialist bloc, and the blockade subsequently became even more rigid.

When the socialist camp and the USSR existed, we were able to fare better. We were able to resist better. Despite the conditions we had to endure, our economy grew for almost 30 years and we achieved extraordinary social development. The Cuban revolution emerged in that world. There was no other alternative when we were being blocked by the world's most powerful country.

This is why the collapse of the socialist camp and the USSR represented for us a terrible blow. The blockade is not only being maintained, it is being tightened. Our country lost 70 percent of its imports. I wonder if any other country in the world would have been able to withstand such a terrible blow.

I wonder if any other country would have been able to withstand it for one week, two weeks, or one month. Cuba would not have been able to do it either had it not been for the people's support for the revolution. How could we have resisted without our political system, our democratic system, the direct participation of the people in these fundamental matters, which is what true democracy means? Could any other Latin American country have been able to withstand the abrupt loss of 70 percent of its imports?

Could any European country withstand such a test? Politicians would have given up, they would have capitulated. But we have dignity, we have a sense of honor. We respect principles. For us, principles are worth more than our own lives. We have never negotiated a principle. Never. When we were helping the Central American revolutionaries, the North Americans said that they would lift the blockade if we stopped helping the Central American revolutionaries, the revolutionaries. Such a notion never crossed our mind. [applause]

On another occasion, they spoke about lifting the blockade if we stopped helping Angola and other African nations. The idea of negotiating our relations with those countries never entered our mind.

In a certain situation, they said they would lift the blockade if we were to break our ties with the Soviet Union. Such a thing never crossed our mind. We are not the kind of political party or political leadership that negotiates principles. If this was the price we had to pay, the blockade would never be lifted. This is a price we are not prepared to pay.

This situation led us to the special period.

We were implementing excellent plans before the socialist catastrophe occurred. We had excellent plans in all areas. We were carrying out a process of rectification of errors and negative trends, of old and new errors, old and new trends. We were working intensively when the debacle began that led us to what we can describe as a double blockade. After the disintegration of the socialist bloc and the USSR, and even before that, the United States was strongly pressuring those countries to stop their trade with Cuba. When the USSR finally disintegrated, the United States exerted strong pressures -- which were successful -- to cut down trade and economic relations between the former socialist countries and the USSR and Cuba. Our country then faced a double blockade.

It was necessary, however, to save our fatherland, the revolution, and socialism. We call it the achievements of socialism. We cannot say that we are building socialism, but defending what we have accomplished. We are defending our achievements. It was our main objective in a world that had changed radically, where all of the empire's power was turned against us. No conditions, however, are imposed on China, a great and big country that defends the ideas of socialism. No conditions are imposed on Vietnam, a marvelous and heroic country. There is no blockade against those countries today. Only a blockade against us. Put yourselves in the place of our party and our leaders. Under the most difficult conditions ever, we had to save our fatherland, the revolution and the achievements of socialism. Imagine what measures had to be taken in today's world, which of course will not always be the same. It is illusory to believe neoliberalism is the greatest, a step to heaven and to eternity. [applause]

Capitalism entertains those illusions. The world will give us many lessons. What will happen with all of this? It would be a very long topic of discussion, and it would take us too much time to elaborate on the subject. They, however, believe it is eternal. Today, they are talking about globalization of the economy. We will wait and see what is left for the Third World countries from that globalization, when all the defense mechanisms of the Third World countries disappear and they have to compete with the technology and the immense development of capitalist industrialized nations. More than ever before, they will try to exploit the natural resources of the Third World and the cheap labor in the Third World to accummulate more and more capital. That is the superdeveloped capitalism.

In Europe, for instance, there is increasing unemployment. As there is further development, there is growing unemployment. [applause] What will happen in our countries. The globalization of differences, of social injustices, the globalization of poverty. That is the world that we have, in which we must trade our products, in which we must survive. That is why we must adapt ourselves to this world and adopt those measures that we deem indispensable, with one key objective. That does not mean that everything that we are doing and achieving is only a result of the new situation. We had been engaging in trade. In fact, the idea of introducing foreign capital existed prior to the special period. We understood that certain areas could not be developed, due to the lack of capital and technology. The socialist countries did not have these available either.

We have achieved a broader opening, quite broad, to foreign investment. That was explained here. Millions of doses of Vaccine B could not be developed without capital, without technology, without the market. All the measures, changes, and reforms that we are going to carry out in one sense or another have the objective -- as was affirmed by this conference -- to safeguard our independence, the revolution. The revolution is the key point of everything and the achievements of socialism, that is the intention to continue to build socialism or the right to continue to build socialism when circumstances permit. [applause] We are implementing changes, but without renouncing our independence and sovereignty. We are implementing changes, but without renouncing the genuine principle of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. [applause] Translated into the revolutionary ideal, it is the government of the workers, by the workers, and for the workers. [applause and cheers] It is not the government of the bourgeoise, by the bourgoisie, and for the bourgoisie. It is not the government of the capitalists, by the capitalists, and for the capitalists. It is not a government of the multinationals, by the multinationals, and for the multinationals. It is not a government of imperialism, by imperialism, for imperialism. [applause]

That is the big difference, regardless of what changes or reforms are carried out. If we renounce this someday, we would be renouncing the reason for being of the revolution. [applause] We have expressed solidarity with the world. It is not up to us to speak of that solidarity. As for solidarity with us, we must take action and speak as little as possible. We are not going to apoligize for our conduct.

A few minutes prior to the beginning of this final part of this event, a comrade was saying: Cuba has really done a lot. Today, when we speak of visitors from one country or another, when we speak of Mexico, when we speak of scholarship recipients, individuals who studied here, one activity or the other, one begins to realize that throughout the years, our country has been able to accomplish a lot. To us, solidarity and internationalism is a sacred principle. [applause] As an example, I am going to quote [words indistinct]. More than 15,000 Cuban doctors have served in dozens of countries during the years of the revolution. More than 15,000 physicians have undertaken international medical duties. [applause] More than 26,000 teachers and professors...[pauses] just ask youself if any other small, medium, or even large nation has a similar track record. Suffice it to say that at any given time, Cuba had three times more doctors working overseas for free, specifically in the Third World, than the World Health Organization. [applause] Moreover, we were able to do this with a minimum of resosurces.

All we had was the honor of our health workers, their internationalist devotion. How many lives have they saved! I wonder if it is just to blockade [words indistinct]? [crowd shouts: "No!"] How many hundreds of thousands of children have we educated with our teachers abroad? We have not just sent teachers for primary or secondary levels but also university professors. We have founded medical schools and universities in the (?Third World.) Is it just to blockade a country that does that? [someone shouts: "No!"] A country that has done it, and still does it to a certain (?extent). Half a million Cubans have participated in all kinds of international missions! Half a million Cubans! [applause]

The Africans have been very generous, very noble. They have wanted to recall here Cuba's struggle of solidarity against colonialism, against foreign aggression, against apartheid and racism. As it says here: Our soldiers were fighting in south Angola: 40,000 men, 40,000 men. They fought shoulder to shoulder with the Angolan troops. They behaved and fought heroically, and Cubans alone fought the South Africans, and after the Cuito-Cuanavale battle and during our counteroffensive in southwest Angola, our men became the likely targets of nuclear weapons, and we knew it.

The distribution of forces during that offensive took into consideration the possibility of the enemy using nuclear weapons.

At one point, we had here 25,000 foreign students on scholarship. We had the largest per capita students on scholarship in the world. [applause]

We did not shout this from any rooftop. We did it discreetly, as Marti has taught us, and we did all we could with the other countries. I think that this extraordinary meeting, your noble and extraordinary statements mirror the solidarity expressed by our own revolution. [applause]

This has greatly encouraged us, it has spurred us to continue struggling. There are grand objectives in this era: liberty, sovereignty, independence, and social justice.

Social justice is acquiring such strength in the midst of neoliberalism, of the negation of all principles of justice, that even some international organizations are talking about this.

The IDB is speaking more frequently about the need for social justice in this hemisphere. Even the World Bank speaks of the need for social justice in this hemipshere, and these are the champions of neoliberalism. They speak of social justice, because they realize there are increasingly huge differences.

They would like to realize a dream of neoliberalism and capitalism with social justice. They are afraid that misery, hunger, and poverty may weaken the basis of the neoliberalism they so much praise today. This is why they speak of social justice, but all of us know that social justice can be implemented only by the people and that neoliberalism and social justice are incompatible and irreconcilable.

A superdeveloped world next to an underdeveloped world is something incompatible, irreconcilable. The fact that the former will grow richer each time, while the latter will grow poorer is an undisputable reality.

Your presence here demonstrates that just ideas live on, that noble ideas live on, that values live on. And we must multiply these ideas and values like Jesus Christ multiplied the fish and loaves of bread. [applause]

The church talks about the option for the poor, and we think this idea is excellent. But I think that today's world needs a bit more (?cohesion), it needs a great deal of, plenty [words indistinct] to help the poor. [applause, crowds begin chanting: "Fidel, Fidel, Fidel!"]

I should have said churches instead of the church, because I am not only referring to the Catholic Church. A relentless struggle must be waged against the causes of poverty. [applause] [words indistinct] unaltered by capitalism, neocolonialism, and imperialism [applause], until the day that there is no talk of millions of human beings who go hungry, who do not have schools, who do not have hospitals, who do not have work, who do not have a roof, who do not have the basic means of subsistence.

The population of this planet is nearing 6 billion people. In a century, the world's population has grown fivefold. There are several threats today against humankind, not only social, economic, political, military threats. Somebody said here -- I think it was Robertico [Robaina] -- that wars are today called humanitarian missions, peace efforts.

War threatens us from everywhere. Interventionism threatens us from everywhere. The [words indistinct] the destruction of the natural conditions for life threatens us. The destruction of the environment is a problem that increasingly draws our attention and increasingly moves the conscience of human beings. The effort we must make has to be tremendous in all respects to save humanity from all these perils. What is the historical origin of this situation? Can it be denied that it was colonialism, that it was neocolonialism, that it was imperialism? Can it be denied that it was capitalism? We are highly aware of that. Regardless of the setbacks the progressive or revolutionary movement or the socialist movement may have suffered, we are telling you, dear comrades, that we will not return to capitalism. [lengthy and loud applause] We are not going to return to savage capitalism, or as [Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo] Perez Esquivel may want to call it, cannibal capitalism, moderate capitalism -- if such a thing exists -- or to any other that may come [words indistinct]. [lengthy and loud applause] We are aware of our duties and our obligations. Already, we have resisted almost five years under very difficult conditions, (?prompting others to think) the Cuban revolution would quickly disappear from the face of the Earth. We are working harder and concentrating ever more on our objectives, our own mistakes, what suits us best, and we are underscoring our goals so they will not become an excuse for deficiency. We still have to make our people more conscientious. We have to explain why we need to gather the excess currency and the measures required to gather the excess currency without having to resort to shock therapies. There are [words indistinct] in agriculture and industry, and you are concerned about this, as you have expressed on matters regarding food production. I must say we have been forced to produce food without fertilizers, without pesticides, without herbicides, often without [passage indistinct] since we are forced to feed 80 percent of the population that lives in urban areas. Unlike China or Vietnam, 20 percent of our population lives in the countryside and 80 percent lives in cities. Their situation is the opposite; 75 percent or 80 percent of their population lives in the countryside and 20 percent or 25 percent lives in cities. We even have shortages in labor [word indistinct]; we had mechanized our agriculture, as most of our [words indistinct] activities. Someone (?mentioned) that producing sugar...[pauses] we have no other recourse but to produce sugar. We have to produce it. It turns out to be more costly if the sugar mills and machines produce less owing to a lack of fertilizers, for example. In general terms, we know how to produce food, but we have had to face a major shortage of raw materials for production and [word indistinct] we have had to develop other systems. Someone has already mentioned [word indistinct] it became a need that we [word indistinct] during the first years of the revolution, something that has its good side and its problems. Since we cannot live with the hope of being in an ivory tower, we have to intermingle with the problems of this world and accept that virtue arises out of vice, just as often [words indistinct] [loud applause]

We have to get used to living with all these sorts of problems. We need to seek resources in convertible currency just to have those raw materials. There was no fodder, no [word indistinct], no fuel, for cattle raising. The problems we have had to face are not easy, but we are facing them. I understand what [words indistinct] Robertico said about distributing what little we have among many and not distributing many things among a few. [applause]

We have shared the little we have in such incredibly difficult times. I repeat, we have not left a school without a teacher, a child without a school, a sick person without physicians and hospitals. We continue to promote culture and sports. Even during the special period, we came in fifth place at the Olympics. [applause] [words indistinct] in exceptionally difficult conditions. This shows that many things can be done when the little you have is shared by many. And, there are many countries in the world that have much more than we do and do much less. [applause]

This event is concluding and has really been an unforgettable lesson for us. We expect a lot from this battle that you are about to start, together with us, to defeat the blockade and hostility against our country. It is a battle to defend hope. Not because we have been predestined to give hope. We are not a nation with a destiny [words indistinct]. We are a small and modest nation that history, under special circumstances, has assigned the role of defending what we are defending: our most sacred ideals, our most sacred rights. You see this as a hope. We understand what it would mean to all the progressive, revolutionary, and peace- and justice-loving forces if imperialism manages to crush the Cuban revolution. That is why we consider it our most basic and sacred duty, as you do, to defend the revolution even at the cost of our lives. [applause]

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Infinite thanks. Allow me to exclaim once again: Socialism or death! Fatherland or death! We will win! Viva Solidarity! [people reply viva and chant Fidel's name. Strong applause]