Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-95-151 Daily Report 6 Aug 1995 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro Heads `Multitudinous' March Against U.S. Embargo

Delivers Speech After March

PA0608041095 Havana Radio Havana Cuba in Spanish, 0000 GMT 6 Aug 95 PA0608041095 Havana Radio Havana Cuba Spanish BFN [Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at La Punta Castle at the end of a march commemorating the first anniversary of street demonstrations in Havana on 5 August; from the "Evening Information Review" newscast -- recorded]

[FBIS Translated Text] This is not the most perfect place to hold an event. The crowd is quite extraordinary, and I understand it is not easy to get a message across. This is not what we had planned; we had planned something else, the reason why I said I had come to make brief remarks. This event is a true miracle in itself. It is a miracle, and those who believe will say it came from heaven. Those who have other beliefs will say it is a miracle of patriotism and the people's revolutionary spirit. [applause]

As a sacred principle, we absolutely respect all creeds, but it seems quite impossible to hold this event today. I am telling you that in many years of revolution, I have never seen more uncertain conditions to stage a march and a demonstration.

I had planned to join the march at approximately 1.7 km from here, at the Maceo Park, which was a symbolic place where the events of one year ago took place. I was planning to join the march there, but when I was going to that place, I saw such showers, not showers but, rather, a storm, such a drenching rain that I really could not describe as conceivable the march that was staged and organized. What would my comrades do? I said: Well, I am certain they will come out. I was certain of that. Those who are already there will come out on time, at 1600 hours. I saw the streets of Plaza Municipality, where the march began, turn into true rivers. It was a drenching shower in which I could see nothing. Then I said: If 10 people arrive, it would already be a success. [applause]

Without exaggerating and without miscalculating, my estimate is that--Vicky [not further identified] would say there are more people--at least 500,000 people joined the march, at least 500,000 people. [applause] Under these inconceivable atmospheric conditions, I believe nature.... [pauses] I would have been among those 10 people.

Of course, I do not have the merit of having been even partially rained upon, because the rain had stopped when I reached the park. There were people who had been there for a long time, however, standing in line or helping organize the march. They were soaking wet. Some were even shivering from the cold, because they really were soaked. It was a shower. There were two heavy, very heavy showers. Well, I did not get my share of water. What is my merit in this march? None whatsoever. [applause]

I had the privilege of enjoying an event of this nature, an event that really makes us proud of our people, proud of the revolution and its works in the minds of the men and women of this country. I am proud of our youths who were capable of organizing a remarkable event. [applause] There are many reasons for which I feel pleased. Vicky was saying, among other things, that they were here today because I was here. No, I came because I had to come.

It was my most basic duty to be beside the people. The enemy had worked for a very long time to create disorder that could not even be described as an attempt at rebellion. Those disorders were created by groups active in seizing boats to sail to the United States where they were received as heroes. They were actually conducting a destabilizing activity. It was almost impossible to go to Regla, because someone might come up with a knife or a pistol and steal the boat. They stole small, medium-size, and even large boats. They stole anything, because the greater the scandal, the better for propaganda against Cuba, and they were especially welcomed in the United States and enjoyed privileges that no other citizen in the world enjoyed.

They did all these things for destabilization purposes in the middle of a hard economic situation, in the middle of people's great sacrifices, and it was these groups that started to create disorders. Nevertheless, following our line of thinking that the people here are revolutionary and are and will be with the revolution under any circumstances [applause], we would not have been provoked. What did the outside enemy and its internal allies want, although they constituted a small minority? They wanted to provoke a bloody confrontation. They wanted us to use our arms, and we do have arms, for millions of people who defend the revolution. We have arms to fight outside enemies. Unless they land here and use arms, we have no reason to use ours, because we have the people and the masses to preserve the stability of the revolution.

This was my role--to help prevent people from being provoked. We would be shot rather than use our arms, and something unprecedented happened. In a matter of minutes, all of the people went out to the streets and restored order with their mere presence and their spirit, without using arms. Where else does such a thing happen? He who watches television, everyone does, watches what happens everywhere in the world. In civilized and developed Europe, in the United States, in the wealthiest countries, you constantly see crowds of policemen firing bird shot and tear gas bombs, beating and kicking people on the ground. This can be seen every day in the television of numerous countries, and there are many dead and injured and arrested. This is an everyday occurrence. These things do not happen in Cuba, but if there is the slightest attempt at disorder in Cuba, much propaganda and many rumors are heard everywhere, and many people would like to see the revolution topple, but we have been saying for years this revolution will not collapse. [applause]

We used an image years ago, saying this revolution would not come apart at the seams, because it was made of steel and had not been made with egg whites; that is, it was not meringue. [applause] The revolution stands supported by the people, the people's consensus, the people's awareness of what this country was and of what it will never become again.

It does not matter if the people protest for everything in their own right, because they do not have all of the information and are of a very rebellious nature. This is the noblest people that can be thought of, a sacrificed, selfless, and courageous people who fought very hard for their independency until they attained it, who fought very hard for justice, and who, fortunately, attained a degree of culture above the great majority of the peoples of the world. These people have a high degree of instruction. The number of illiterates here is less than in the United States, for instance, where there are many total or so-called functional illiterates. [applause]

These people possess many qualities. This country has learned and thinks. This country is writing one of the most glorious pages ever written. When the entire Socialist Bloc collapsed, when the Soviet Union disappeared and many people in the world thought the revolution had its days counted or weeks, at best, to go, five years have passed, and here it is. Look at what strength. [applause]

This 5 August 1995 will also be remembered, because this event has been organized under inconceivable circumstances. I was grieved thinking about the young people's efforts setting up this event for so long. At the opening, natural circumstances occurred that would have dissolved any crowd everywhere else, but it did not happen like this here, the reason why I say this 5 August 1995 will also be a historic day, and we should remember this date every year from now on, because it is very meaningful and teaches and encourages much.

These people are not under the conditions of 10 years ago, when there was abundance of many things. We had so many things that we even squandered them--fuel, resources, everything. This is one of the setbacks of abundance. We now have less than half of what we had. We have been forced to undergo harder, more complex tests, but we will undoubtedly emerge stronger from this test, [applause] stronger. Such are the advantages of difficulties. I am persuaded here today that none of us will ever forget what we are watching. I have had the privilege of seeing many concentrations, events, and tests of all kinds both in peace and war. I have seen the heroism of war and the heroism of peace, but I say here and without concealing anything that although I am familiar with our problems--and we know there are always those who do not have the necessary presence of mind under circumstances such as these--I believe these people's merits are greater than ever; their awareness is greater than ever, and their heroism is greater than ever. [applause]

Perhaps some people thought we would take a picture of lines of people marching along the waterfront and that 100 wet, dripping people would gather and that those watching would see all this. Look at the Cuban revolution. They would not talk about the rainfall, the storm, or the downpour. They would have said that no one came to the 5 August event and that only 100 people came, but look at the splendid response we have had.

We felt it was our duty to thank our people and those of our capital, and it is precisely the capital where our difficulties are greater because of the problems of housing, water, transportation, electricity, and many others. It is here where we have all those problems and behold how the people of the capital behave. We are glad you visitors of 65 countries are here so you can see what we are seeing. Truly, I have no words to express our gratefulness for your support, for this beautiful Cuba Lives Youth Festival. I have no words to thank you for having accompanied us in these difficult times. I must mention the fact that there are 262 U.S. delegates, because this presence also demonstrates to us the qualities and virtues of those U.S. people [applause] who oppose the unfair and criminal embargo against Cuba.

Such a rigorous blockade as this, a blockade that has lasted for more than 35 years, has never been implemented against any other country. They did not do this against apartheid; they did not do it against Latin American countries in which two, 10, and up to 30 thousand citizens disappeared [applause] and whose resting places are unknown; they did not do this against those governments that caused the disappearance of over 100 thousand people, as with a small country such as Guatemala. They do it against Cuba, where a death squadron, a person made to disappear, or someone killed in the streets for political motives, is unheard of, where--and I say this remark with all the strength the truth bestows us--a nation in which not one citizen has ever been tortured. I ask myself, in what other countries can the same things be said? Every day they kill [words indistinct], or prostitute adolescents, and even children; this is a reality in many countries of our region. Every day there are people who take justice into their own hands. Every day there is violence, drugs, and other problems that do not exist in Cuba; nevertheless, we are the only nation in the world that is enduring a blockade, so we have to react with a great sense of honor and dignity. We have to react with a great sense of patriotism, with a temper to have as much patience as is needed, to wait for as long as is necessary. We cannot delude ourselves because extremist factions are dictating U.S. policy.

Today, they want to sweep away all the social benefits of the U.S. people. We cannot reject the fact that those extremist forces, with all their abundant and varied resources, could gain power in the United States in the near future, that they could dominate for four, eight, or 12 more years. If those extremist factions win control not only of the Senate but of the administration, it will mean for us a new period of danger, ordeal, and blockade; thus, it is no exaggeration to say we will struggle for another 100 years if we have to struggle for another 100 years.

Our nation has struggled for more than 100 years, much more than 100 years, for its independence, facing attempts to annex us, to swallow us up, to eliminate us. We must never abandon that struggle, and we shall not abandon it.

Time is not important. We will need more patience than the Chinese. We will have to act with the wisdom of a 1,000-year-old nation. I am certain that neither this generation nor the following generations--that is, neither today's youth nor tomorrow's youth--will give up that glorious struggle not only for independence and liberty but also for equality and justice. Our people will never renounce this position. We are not exaggerating or dramatizing when we say we are willing to fight for as long as it is necessary. We should do things better each day.

We are compelled to do better things every day, to be more efficient and more committed to our obligations, our duties, and our dear and heroic people. We must learn all the lessons from these difficult times. Vicky was telling me of some of the impressions you, the visitors, had when, for instance, you visited the computer center, the rehabilitation school, the school for the handicapped, the child care centers, the family doctors, the hospitals, or saw the effort this country is making to maintain all of these achievements. Despite having lost 70 percent of imports, not a single school or a single hospital has been closed. [applause] There is not a single child without medical care or a single child without a teacher. What excuse could those who handle abundant resources find or brandish? Thousands and thousands of millions of resources and they have been unable to resolve one single problem of these. Capitalism has been unable to resolve even one of these problems. [applause]

There are countries that have plenty of oil, mineral resources, and I do not know how much reserves in the banks, and they cannot show these achievements our people, under a special period and a blockade, can show. What could we not do the day the blockade ends, the day they will leave us alone? We will strive for that day, and we will await that day.

Your confidence will not be betrayed; your affection will not be useless; your enthusiasm and the seed you have sown in our hearts will never be lost. We will continue to count on you and on the millions and millions of people like you whom we fortunately find around the world. [applause] We will continue to count on this support everywhere. The youths of the world will one day reunite again, and if they don't and if there is no country to do it, with the manner in which this festival was organized, we could organize a world tournament. We do not need money; we need dignity, generosity, goodwill [applause] as those of the families that welcomed you, as those of the neighborhoods that welcomed and saluted you everywhere. We do not need millions, and we can organize events such as this one, in which each one made his own efforts and paid his own fare.

Following this experience, if there are no more world festivals in Cuba under a special period and a blockade, we have enough generosity, common sense, and organization to hold an event of this nature. It is not that we are proposing it. I was told it was going to be held in South Africa; it could not be possible. These festivals do not seek reactionary people, rightist extremists, or uncompromising people, the reason why many people are not concerned about holding youth festivals. What a beautiful event! How much experience we gained! The method, the style, the meeting in the provinces.

Cuba is still large. Its festival could reach until Baracoa, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, everywhere, with or without a hurricane. [applause] A hurricane loomed over the youth festival, but the hurricane behaved well as it traveled north. It is not that [words indistinct] turned before reaching Florida and would have traveled to the Atlantic. Well, the hurricane left us the water; it left the water to you, those who received the water. You got wet today. You will probably return to your countries much more grown, as is the case with our sugarcane, which is growing with the water and heat. [applause]

Thank you, thank you very much, my dear guests [applause, crowd chants: "Fidel! Fidel!"]

Cuba lives and will live as long as there are men and women like you in the world and as long as there is a heroic people as ours, people capable of defending this right to live. [applause] How I liked that slogan that Vicky beautifully chanted: Socialism or Death! Fatherland or Death! We Will Win! [applause]