Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-95-154 Daily Report 7 Aug 1995 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro Closes `Cuba Lives' Festival

PA0908135095 Havana Radio Rebelde Network in Spanish, 1730 GMT 7 Aug 95 PA0908135095 Havana Radio Rebelde Network Spanish BFN [Speech by President Fidel Castro closing the "Cuba Lives" festival at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana on 6 August -- recorded]

[FBIS Translated Text] Dear comrades and friends at home and abroad: Here -- and I am saying this with total sincerity -- it seems to me there is really nothing left to say. All has been said and much better than I could say. Pressure from the organizers and mainly from Vicky have made me come here to... [applause] deliver a few words. [crowd chants] To make matters worse, my voice has practically gone on strike. [laughter] What can I do? We cannot hurl tear gas at it [laughs] or begin to crush it with water cannons and all those things we see every day. So I will continue with it, trying to fulfill the mission as best I can.

We now have two groups. One participated all day long and knows the topics that were debated, what has been said and what... [pauses] in sum, the arguments, ideas. The other group consists of the ones who were not present today. In addition, we are honored to have the presence of the diplomatic corps at a function like this one. What a headache it is to be a member of the diplomatic corps in a ceremony like this one. Experience tells me that if they applaud, it will be said they applauded, if they do not applaud, it will be said they did not, if some get up and others remain seated, it will be said the diplomats remained seated. That is what happened when you began to chant: Cuba lives.

Out of discipline, the diplomats remained in their seats, but I do not believe that any of them does not want Cuba to live. [prolonged applause] Robertico, in his speech this afternoon, gave a brilliant lecture on the fundamental concepts and ideas that are today related to our revolution. I think that Vicky also gave a great speech. Very few things remain to be talked about tonight.

I prefer to think, first, about the world you have to live in, meaning, the young people who are represented here, whom I am primarily addressing. In our opinion, I mean in the opinion of revolutionaries, persons who are not or cannot be pessimists, it is a very difficult world. We talk with glee about the fact that we are a few years from the year 2000. We talk of the next century. It is very logical. The last thing a man ever loses is hope. But the way we see things, it seems to me that these new generations that you represent, today's children in Cuba and everywhere in the world, will have to face very serious problems in every respect.

I am not talking now of environmental problems. For the first time the possibility that the world can survive the destruction that is taking place in nature and man's means of existence has really been cast into doubt. This has been talked about for a long time, but it is becoming increasingly evident, visible, and more worrisome. For example, we have been talking about the well-known greenhouse effect for some time now, and the same goes for the ozone layer and other similar problems.

We are seeing the greenhouse effect. Cuba already sees and perceives it. The world is witnessing what is happening. Terrible heat waves everywhere. The heat killed almost 1,000 persons in the United States. People have died in England, Europe, everywhere. According to records, the past few years have been the hottest in 100 years. We are seeing the consequences in these effects, but they would not be by any means the worst ones. We have seen all sorts of atmospheric phenomena, of unusual behavior. We have just seen a cyclone or hurricane. As it swept through Florida it dropped torrential rains in our country, located hundreds and hundreds of kilometers away.

We have had recent proof of how man is destroying natural means and overexploiting them in the conflict that arose between Canada and the EC over a species called the turbot. We know it because we have heard a great deal about it in recent months. War almost broke out over the turbot fish banks. The fishing places are being depleted not just there but in the South Atlantic and many other places. The population, however, is drawing close to 7 billion. In the much talked about year 2000 the world population will be close to 7 billion. If I am not mistaken, or [words indistinct] the gadget they have given me. One can sit in front of it to see how the population grows by the second or by the minute.

The phenomena of droughts are taking place everywhere. There are big droughts, big rains. Tremendous floods in China cause so much harm, killing thousands of people in many parts of the world. Or there are long dry spells. I want to say that we are beginning to clearly experience the effects of the destruction of the environment.

It is horrifying to hear the number of species -- animal or vegetable species -- that are destroyed every day in the world. This phenomenon is visible, meaning, it is clear the growing population will face tremendous ecological problems, and you will be the witnesses to it.

I am referring to other aspects of the matter: the political and social aspects. Will the next century, which is the subject of so much comment, be the century of unipolar hegemonism? Of domination of world politics by one country or a group of countries? Will that century be the so-called century of economic globalization? Of the full and total triumph of multinationals?

With the imposition of a new economic world order, which will be much worse than the one we have today, what will be left in that world for the countries that make up the immense majority of humanity? That make up three- fourths of humanity? What guarantees and securities will they have? Will they compete with the most modern and most developed technologies? What will their markets be? What will happen to the price of their products? What place will they occupy in the world?

We are no longer talking about the formerly termed Third World countries. We are also talking about countries that were not defined as Third World countries, that is, the Soviet Union and socialist countries, which have in fact become part of the Third World. Economic indexes, GDP, and their possibilities of competing and finding markets and they have come to increase the number, we could say, of poor ones in this world. [sentence as heard]

The rules that should govern international commerce were recently established. They are contained in the so- called Uruguay Round of the GATT, of the World Trade Organization, and the large powers are already starting to oversee all those rules.

We have seen the methods that the United States has used to settle differences with Europe and Japan: threats of commercial wars, extremely high tariffs to impose its conditions on the rest of the world, even on the developed world.

New theories have emerged. We no longer only have imperialism, which is almost as old as Methuselah in its medieval form, or the modern age Methuselah, we could say, in its contemporary form. We already knew about an empire in history that lasted many years, the Roman Empire, whose capitol [capitolio], I think, virtually served as a model for the capitol of the modern empire, the United States.

In the past there was talk about imperialism, there was talk about colonialism, new colonialism during the process of the Cuban revolution that started in 1959.

In the international field, much was being said about these ideas and concepts. They were being studied and analyzed. One no longer talks about neoliberalism, yet some even want the coming century to be the century of neoliberalism. In fact, when the Socialist Bloc and the USSR collapsed, all of these theories emerged with tremendous strength. The time had come to settle accounts and to take over the world economy; all international credit institutions and all developed countries then adopted the policy of imposing that neoliberalism.

We are now seeing the consequences. I do not like very much to mention countries. I do not want to hurt anyone present here or the representatives of some countries. This morning you said that some of the monstrous consequences of neoliberalism are beginning to appear. Just two years ago, we spoke about another problem: The social problems that neoliberalism entailed. It was the worldwide complaint of teachers, doctors, and professionals who came here to Cuba to attend conventions.

Although the credits and budgets for education, health, social security, social development, and similar activities were being eliminated, the crisis of neoliberalism was not yet clearly evident. It is becoming evident now, in the form of the unemployment rate that has tripled in just two years.

There are some major financial crises that can ruin any country overnight. There are countries with tremendous natural resources and huge revenues that are on the verge of social explosion, or in which one sees the daily battle among the workers with the police or the repressive force. You see it everywhere, be it in Central America or in South America. We are seeing the consequences, and some countries have clearly said they will not accept neoliberalism, that they are going to avoid it at all costs.

Some of our friends who are important persons have sent us a message telling us: We do not know where you are going. That is a good question, and it is linked to some of the questions brought up here. However, we advise them not to go where we are heading. In this case, these are friends who are involved in this wave of neoliberalism and who are committed to that policy.

Those effects are such that even international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are now talking about social development and of granting credits for social development. They are starting to worry seriously over the powder keg they are creating everywhere, particularly in Latin America. In spite of the macroeconomic rates of which they speak, the everyday reality is one of confrontation and of a terrible and desperate situation.

Everything has to be privatized. Well, they have privatized practically everything. They should have prepared their budgets with the revenues from the privatizations, but they have run out of the private properties in the state. Properties that were being created throughout scores of years are disappearing within that practice and philosophy. There is nothing left to be privatized.

One of the results of such privatizations -- I was recently reading about this in a news dispatch concerning a South American country which privatized a plane factory -- is unemployment. A multinational company came in, and the first thing it did was to reduce the number of workers of that industry from 1,200 to 400. It cannot be said problems will be resolved this way, namely through unemployment. Now the theoreticians of neoliberalism are inventing what to do to fight unemployment, much the same way large banking institutions speak about what to do regarding social development. The basic problem is one: Capitalism and social development have been, are, and will be eternally irreconcilable. [applause]

Capitalism and looting inside and outside of the country are inseparable. Capitalism and unemployment are inseparable. If you don't believe that, look at Europe. There are countries in Europe which have over [26-second break in reception] with which an excellent oil, without cholesterol, is produced, something that so much concerns the people, the rich today. The poor practically don't have this problem of cholesterol. Dozens of millions of grapevines; dozens of millions of hectares of land without crops; subsidies to peasants not to produce food; millions of head of cattle that are killed to increase the price of milk; UN Food and Agriculture Organization declarations that the production of cereals is decreasing, which will increase prices of all those cereals Third World countries buy because one knows that wheat is not produced in tropical countries; corn is even produced under very different conditions. We, Cubans, know this for a fact. We have [words indistinct] cycle, etc., climate, plagues; in addition to the climate of temperate zones where all of this is produced.

Killing animals is like killing men through starvation. Destroying plantations... [pauses] What is the rationale behind all this, in a growing world? A world that has more serious problems all the time? But this news is not good for the countries of the world.

They are speaking about a free trade agreement for all of Latin America. No one knows about the consequences all of this have. Some countries that produced corn will stop producing corn, because corn is produced at a lower cost elsewhere. We cannot compete with U.S. corn.

Therefore, a series of mechanisms and plans are being formulated to please those who have development up to 100 times greater than other world countries. They have better chances of competing, experience in competing, very modern technology, and financial resources to give credits to compete with the rest of the world, which lacks all this. The rest of the world will have to face all these problems in the coming years. They are already confronting all of these problems.

I was asked for information -- you mentioned it in one of the commissions -- about today's phenomenon in audiovisual production for recreation purposes, an almost exclusive monopoly of the United States -- which has displaced Europe and practically everyone from that market - - whose products we know. Some of these products are good, and the rest are a huge mass of poisons of all kinds. U.S. citizens, or at least many of them, are growing concerned regarding the amount of violence generated and inspired by those television programs, with advertising, as has been said, filled with sex and violence.

They are discussing laws and trying out all kinds of technical mechanisms to see how they select movies and how they can install a system in every home so that specific films cannot be seen. That must be very complicated, and I think the television stations can do this by means of computers, where the United States has an extraordinary advantage.

But they are concerned. Who is concerned about us? What did they used to sell us? Regarding what they sell us? [Words indistinct] about the information highway. New things that will serve to camouflage, through propaganda, and through influencing of the human mind of determined [word indistinct] to consolidate all this economic order which they want to impose on the world.

Many important changes have taken place in these 35 or 36 years. Changes we have had the privilege of observing during the 36 years of the revolution. It is a fact that there are enough solid arguments to affirm that the world that they are designing for the next decade has no future. It will enter a crisis. It will have to enter a crisis. Into that world you will have to try to carry forth the ideas included in your commissions' studies regarding education, health, the environment, women, children, culture, democracy and participation in democracy, and the unemployment issue.

I am not saying these things to discourage you, not at all, but to say you are correct regarding the issues you presented here. It can be said that what you did in this international youth festival was to develop a challenging work program and make an inventory of the problems facing the world today.

With all this a phenomenon arises in specific prominent countries with a [word indistinct], a turn toward reactionary positions. This does not occur everywhere, but it does among some very important countries, including the United States, which play a decisive role in today's world and will inevitably play an important role in tomorrow's world. A tremendous shift, which confounds those who had news and information regarding the great crisis in the 1930's [5-second break in reception] struggled at that time to save capitalism. Social measures adopted to eliminate unemployment, to improve the condition of the people, in health and education.

For many years there have been struggles within the United States itself that yielded a number of social achievements: The struggle of the U.S. black population for their rights -- which is a historic struggle -- the struggle of the national minorities [words indistinct], the struggle of the unemployed, the struggle of the poor, the struggle of women to obtain progress. All this is clearly jeopardized by that swing to the right in U.S. policy [words indistinct] extreme right positions.

Everyday there are news dispatches reporting agreements by the U.S. Congress to eliminate measures, laws, budgets, and resources. It is not known how long the U.S. population will resist this. But there is war despite all social progress. In fact, even so-called affirmative action, which was adopted to protect the weakest segments of society, the most vulnerable, to help them secure a job, they also want to eliminate those affirmative options.

It would take long to explain, but there were (?reactionary) forces hatched throughout the Cold War, and very [word indistinct] political thoughts that have tremendous strength and resources that explain the phenomena occurring in the United States. This is hardly a model today. It could be worse than it actually is.

It is the country that has maintained a blockade against us throughout all these years, but the people of the extreme right could win nearly total control of power in the United States. This is a factor that deserves close attention, because the world situation could worsen, and U.S. imperialism could become more aggressive and much more harmful for the world.

It suffices to say with regard to the United Nations that there are two concepts today: The one of those who want to use the United Nations as an instrument of the empire to sanctify its intervention and policy anywhere, but through the use of that small fig leaf called the United Nations. It is called the United Nations today, but that was not always its name. There are also those who want to evaporate the United Nations to exercise imperial power directly in the world, those who want to get rid of the obstacle called the United Nations. [applause] These are two concepts, I repeat, the one of those who want to use it as an instrument and the other one of those who want to evaporate it, because they deem it an obstacle. That is the problem that is being discussed.

Two concepts are also being discussed with relation to Cuba: The one of those who wants to destroy us from abroad, that is, with more blockades, more hostility, more threats of aggression; and the one of the noble and kind gentlemen who want to destroy us from within. But all of them with a blockade; the two concepts involve a blockade. Some will think: This blockade is sufficient, we must add this and that, in fact, as if we were finger-licking fools.

The famous track two of the Torricelli law could have an effect on dumb persons; one does not have to be a genius or much less to know that we cannot be caught by that policy. By the same token we need to have enough serenity to resist any other policy. If [words indistinct] tomorrow we would find out that the extreme right conquered not only the Congress but also the Government of the United States. They will not frighten us with that.

We have already gone through similar periods, although these could be worse with regard to the hostility and threats from abroad. None of those factors discourage us, but they are concepts. One concept for the world and another concept for Cuba. Cuba has apparently become important because we are now the only country facing a direct U.S. blockade. The toughest [word indistinct] restrictions are maintained against our country. They may have any other idea for any other country, but when it comes to Cuba they do not want to yield.

Thus far this has not been the case. That is why we have resisted for 35 years, and I say we must be willing to resist for as much time and more. In short, to defend its independence, our country has struggled for almost 130 years. I believe that the values we inherited from our forbears are still very much with our people.

It would be to our advantage for our friends in the world to know this and also for our people to know. Our people know it. As an optimistic people, I am sure that our people and our country have reserves, that our country is capable of tolerating all of that and of even continuing to progress.

When I say that it is necessary to resist, certain examples of things that have happened in certain countries come to mind. Today I will make an exception and recall one; the events in Guatemala in 1954. There was a revolutionary political movement, a hope for Latin America and Central America, a hope for the Guatemalan people 41 years ago already. It included an agrarian reform law and certain social measures, but a mercenary expedition similar to Giron's was immediately organized. The country was invaded, the Guatemalan revolutionaries could not defend themselves and defeat the invasion, and a repressive government organized and created by the CIA, by the U.S. Government, was established. During these 41 years, in that country which does not have 10 million inhabitants -- it could have them now, the population could have doubled in 41 years -- incredibly enough, over 100,000 people disappeared. That was the result of the mercenary victory.

What would have been of Cuba had they been successful at the Bay of Pigs in 1962? What would have been of this country if it would have had to put up now with a victorious counterrevolution? The history of the Paris Commune would be a pale story next to this.

All Cubans know what it would mean to stop fighting and to give up all resistance. We all know it well and I think that yesterday proved something, that is, the spirit that was displayed yesterday by our people here in the capital city where there are more difficulties. Now, just figure it out and no one hides that, because the famous Helms-Burton bill is just one more measure that is aggressive and repulsive.

It is so brutal that it practically threatens our country, as Alarcon has explained several times, with depriving the people of everything it has. It would practically be left without a single school, a day care center, an educational center for the handicapped, a hospital, or a family doctor; there would be nothing left. On the following day, 100 percent of the family doctors would probably be left without a job, because they would not have with what to pay them. They better not want to enforce here the measures they have demanded from other countries.

Practically all of the farmers of this country would lose their land, except for a very few. The vast majority are owners because the revolution gave them the land. All of the UBPC [Basic Cooperative Production Units], all of the cooperatives would lose what they have, they would lose all of their properties. In a country such as Cuba where 85 percent of the families own their homes by virtue of the laws of the revolution and of the work of the revolution, all of those families would lose ownership of their homes.

It is stupid enough that we were thinking about sending a telegram to Helms and Burton that reads: Thank you very much for helping us. Clinton himself has pointed out that the Helms-Burton bill suggests that the compensation Cuba would have to pay for former U.S. properties would not amount to 5 or 6 billion. We would have to discuss this. That is not how we have figured it. We would accept this but would then have to present them with a bill for the billions they owe us in compensation due to the blockade. [applause] Hey! If they are willing to compensate us, we are willing to pay!

We would have to pay $100 billion, and according to the law, the blockade would continue until the $100 billion were paid. Apparently they realized this, and some began to talk that they would have to make some modifications to the many stupidities. However, we know it is not exactly the same thing. We know what it would be like if Cuba fell into the hands of the United States again, with or without the Helms- Burton bill.

What they said occurred in Indonesia would be [word indistinct]. What occurred in Guatemala would be insignificant. But the latest, the inconceivable, is believing that Cubans would do as slaves taken to the Roman circus who said: Hail, Caesar! Those who are about to die salute thee! It is like pretending that there is one single Cuban ready to say: Long live the emperor, or long live the empire! Those who are about to die are going to lower our heads to be executed.

They must know that no one here will not pick up a weapon and fight to the very end, to a glorious death. What is inglorious is lowering the head, is letting the empire chop off the people's head. [applause] They know that this cannot happen and it will never happen, despite the rude remarks they make. What contempt, what contempt! The years Cuba has been resisting and fighting must teach them something. But they will never accept that fate. You, our friends, must understand that we have obvious, deep reasons to feel the way we do.

But if it was not a matter of defending the life of each citizen of this country, if it was a matter of only defending the ideas this revolution defends, it is worth fighting for to the death. [applause]

Christians, beginning at a certain time in history, were the first communists. What were the Christians the Bible talks about, the Christians from the early times? What were those Christians who, as we read about so many times or we were told so many times, were sent to the circus to be devoured by lions? They let themselves be liberated by the lions, but they did not renounce their Christian faith. We will not be less than they were. We believe that our values, our ideas are comparable to theirs. They are the best ideas for which men have been willing to die. And we would always prefer to die than to renounce our revolutionary faith. [applause]

The revolution is our religion. It does not exclude the fact any revolutionary may have any other religion. We don't expect to win a prize. I believe that man, like Che Guevara said, was the highest revolutionary and echelon of the human species. [applause]

Revolutionaries don't expect to receive anything. The revolutionary must give, if he devotes fully to a cause, his ideas, his noble objectives, without expecting anything in return.

I would say without in the least belittling any other conviction that that is what really makes the truly revolutionary conviction, the noblest and most profound conviction that has ever existed. I am referring to the socialist and communist revolutionary conviction. [long applause, chanting] I am not talking of any other. I am really talking to you from my heart. This reminds me of some things that were mentioned here and caused concern. I talked in part on 26 July about what we are doing and how we are doing it. Comrade Jose Luis Rodriguez had the unpleasant, unpleasant and difficult, task of explaining what we are doing and how we are doing it in the area of the economy in order to move ahead.

Vicky was telling me that many visitors were concerned over the matter of the risks entailed in the measures we are taking. And [words indistinct] that concerns is clearly expressed in one paragraph [word indistinct] I think that those who are concerned are right. First, because they are afraid, [word indistinct], and are concerned over what the effect that this opening we are involved in, these measures we are taking, will have on the fate of the revolution and, if as a result of all of this, in the future we will be different from what we are now. They are concerned that these certain measures will corrupt us.

We have said that we have introduced capitalist elements into our system, our economy. That is a fact. We have even talked of the consequences we have noticed in the use of those mechanisms. We are doing it. I talked to you of the world we are living in. Do not forget we are a country, or an island, surrounded by capitalism. It is everywhere, even above, meaning the cosmic space, because it is filled with satellites and who knows how many other things? Over that we have absolutely no ownership. You can be certain that if a dog goes into a park to relieve itself, U.S. satellites are observing it, photographing it, and reporting it. [long applause] Satellites [chuckles] are all over the world spying on everything.

Of course, that makes them the owners of communications. If we were to talk over the telephone with any country and say things that should not be said over the telephone, we would be big fools. There is no official government conversation in this country with anyone that they do not intercept. There are no conversations with political personalities or companies of some importance that they do not intercept. They intercept everything, because the blockade is much more than banning selling or purchasing. You have no idea what the blockade is.

The blockade is a tireless hounding against every commercial activity the country may try to conduct. Some visiting capitalists -- and this has happened recently -- come with their practices of corruption. Many of them are serious capitalists. Serious capitalists don't try to bribe people or cheat. They do bargain, and we have to bargain with them a lot because capitalists bargain in all negotiations. They bargain about everything. This is their law.

When we speak, we have to do it softly and close to the ear, I was telling Arnaldo over the telephone today. We know of many to whom we gave this advice and, having paid no attention, made telephone calls or sent faxes and a few days later had the U.S. ambassador, or a consul, or a U.S. official at their residence. Ambassadors have done this often.

Do not think it is easy! No, sir! It would not be easy for us to switch to capitalism: The Yankees would keep us from doing it! [applause] When I say Yankee, I use it with a pejorative intention only toward those who dislike us, not, not ever, as a concept applicable to the North American people. [applause]

They don't want us to do any kind of business, or invest in anything, or secure a credit, or privatize anything. They want none of that. We know very well that all they want is our heads. And they have not even bothered to bargain about this. [applause]

The blockade! The blockade is a very ponderous thing! It means constant persecution; it makes everything expensive. We have to look for goods thousands of miles from here. Ships cannot stop at any other port, so transportation is more expensive. Short-term commercial credits are very expensive. Everything is expensive for this country! Everything is difficult for this country! This is the blockade. It is much more than what one may think!

Of course, they are obstructing the measures we are adopting and must adopt.

If we were a nation with abundant natural resources, and there are such countries, we would receive hundreds and hundreds of millions, even billions, from banks of developed countries, because in those countries revenues come easily.

We know what it costs to produce one metric ton of sugar, how much we have to toil. When the revolution was won, one metric ton of sugar served to buy approximately, if I am not mistaken, seven or eight metric tons of sugar [as heard], at least.

This means that with one metric ton of sugar, at the price it brought at the beginning of the revolution, we were able to buy all the oil the country needed.

The difficult part began with the years of the special period. At times, when we have had to buy a metric ton of oil, we have used a metric ton of sugar only to be able to buy 1.3 or 1.4 metric tons of oil. Oil and sugar were almost on par, and everyone should be aware how much work is involved in obtaining a metric ton of sugar. Oil can be drilled in many areas, including the ocean and many other places, and oil producers can drill oil at a very low price from major oil fields. However, the oil crisis hit very few countries worldwide as hard as it did Cuba. At present, most of Cuba's exports must be used to buy oil.

The current circumstances we are facing are not easy for us, [words indistinct]. The idea of the special period emerged as part of the country's defense plans in case of war. What to do if there is a full-blown blockade on Cuba by the United States and nothing comes in? How do we survive those conditions? This is the case of the special period in times of war. However, the collapse of the socialist bloc and the disappearance of the Soviet Union forced us to implement the special period in time of peace, as all commercial activities with the socialist bloc and the Soviet Union vanished abruptly, virtually overnight.

Formerly, we were paid a reasonable price for our sugar, which are not the [words indistinct]. The Lome Convention itself does not pay the world market price for our sugar, but a much higher price. I am telling you: the world sugar market is a sugar dump, where all the sugar produced by [word indistinct] is sold at a very low price. Most of the sugar bought by the United States itself came from Cuba, but later, as a reprisal, this country reduced the amount of sugar it bought a year from approximately 3 million metric tons to zero. They pay a slightly higher price to those countries that benefit from sugar quotas, and we had to sell our sugar at world market prices.

We lost all our supplies of fuel overnight, as well as our supplies of raw materials, food products, and the spare parts we used in our machinery -- which came from socialist countries -- and our factories. This was not the first time we experienced such a situation. When the U.S. blockade began, almost all our machinery and vehicles came from the United States, and recently, we experienced the same situation because what we have suffered is a double blockade. U.S. pressure on the former socialist countries was so great that they had to suspend almost 100 percent of their commercial activities.

Our country had to deal with all of this overnight, alone, without a single international banking institution willing to lend us a penny. No one, neither the IDB [Inter- American Development Bank] nor the World Bank nor the IMF wanted to lend us a penny. We had to face our problems on our own, with whatever we had. As we said until recently: We lost 70 percent of the country's imports. A country that had succeeded in supplying electric power to more than 90 percent of the population was suddenly left with only 40 percent of the usual amount of fuel it received.

I do not believe there is a country in Latin America -- not to say the rest of the world -- that could have withstood a blow as powerful as the one Cuba sustained. The worst part came with the intensification of the blockade, because during the time we maintained a good economic relationship with the Socialist Bloc and the Soviet Union, we were able to better defend ourselves from the blockade. We produced sugar and many other products. We had growing commercial relations with those countries, which were abruptly suspended. Do you believe any Latin American nation would have been able to sustain such a blow? For how many days? For how many weeks, at most? Could a different society withstand this situation?

This is also related to another aspect: the political aspect discussed in the democracy and participation conference. In other words, could Cuba withstand difficult situations without the socialist system, without the political and economic system that prevailed in our country when this situation took place?

I was talking to you earlier about the economic situation. It is better to continue talking in a somewhat orderly fashion. We lost all possibilities of obtaining investment capital, technology, and markets. We lost all markets. A real revolution had to be carried out under those conditions. A Marxist- Leninist revolution had to be carried out. We are not afraid of using that word. [applause] We can ask ourselves: What would Marx have done? It is almost certain that he would have said: Listen, don't get involved in carrying out a socialist revolution in the Third World. Wait until capitalism is fully developed and then, as a result of the development of the productive forces, the time will come to undertake the socialist revolution. That is perhaps what Marx would have told us.

Of course, we would have to see what Marx would have told us if we asked him what he would have done in view of the fact that we had carried out a socialist revolution at the doors of the United States. Well, I think he would have told us: I am happy to have had such outstanding disciples in the Caribbean. [applause]

You know that this was discussed a lot, the issue of socialism in a single country, whether socialism was possible when the revolution would break out in the more industrialized countries; one thought of Germany, England, of European countries. That was discussed for many years. But Marx did not stop with Marx, neither did the doctrine of socialism stop with Marx and Engels. Other great figures of revolutionary political thought came. Lenin came. One must state that Lenin and those who undertook the October revolution thought that in order to achieve socialism, revolution in Europe was necessary. The time came and the revolution did not take place in Europe. They adopted the decision that had to be made. Well, socialism had to be built in a single country. Of course, to say in a single country is relative. It was only one country with about 22 million square kilometers. We are a single country with 111,111 square kilometers, as a geographer said so the children would remember Cuba's surface in square kilometers.

They began, amid the blockade, the great historic feat of building socialism in a single country. Lenin thought of the revolution in China, the revolution in the colonized countries. He gave a great impetus to and extraordinarily enriched Marxist-Leninist thought. A force was in fact created. It has played an extraordinary role in the world. It served as a balance. The capitalist world, terrified of the ideas of socialism, began to be concerned about social problems, the workers' situation, etc. These were concerns it never had before. One does not know the service provided to the world by the existence of a socialist camp, especially the existence of the Soviet Union.

World War II was recently being commemorated, rather the end of World War II. Everyone should have really remembered that the Soviet Union suffered 27 million dead in that war. [applause]

If it had not been for socialism, the Nazi regime would have seized the world for a length of time impossible to estimate. Historians are the ones who can conjecture about this. It was really that socialist country that halted and destroyed Hitler's best armored and motorized divisions. [applause]

The facts are irrefutable. The country offered resistance. The tanks appeared behind Soviet lines and the people continued fighting. In that war, which began with new techniques and tactics, the resistance collapsed in a matter of weeks. The British withstood bombing that was very intense. Other countries which did not have a natural barrier of that nature were invaded and subjugated. Let us talk of the noble Yugoslavians, who fought so hard against Hitler's divisions. That Yugoslavia is today destroyed and involved in an absurd, incredible, and apparently unsolvable war. It is really a victim of the desire to eliminate anything that smells of socialism.

The Soviet Union resisted. I think it was a great feat. We know the history of all the errors, and if we want to use a stronger word, of all the outrages that were committed in that process. They ranged from the personality cult, terror, abuse of power, forced collectivization, and all those phenomena.

Socialism had to be perfected; it did not have to be destroyed. The only winners in the destruction of socialism were the imperialist countries. At the beginning there was a big fiesta, now Western politicians are nervous because they don't know what will happen next. That country is now a Third World country, one with the most powerful nuclear weapons and enduring serious domestic threats, as we saw recently.

All this, to obtain what? I do believe that a struggle for peace and disarmament was necessary. I think that a wise world could have negotiated to secure an objective that could have been secured without the dissolution and disintegration of the Soviet Union.

It has been said here that what occurred there was the result of erroneously following a model. But no, it was not that alone. This cannot be explained with just one word. They let themselves get infiltrated from within. They let the propaganda of consumer societies influence them. They were blinded by capitalism. Many people thought that in a short while they would be living as if in Paris, London, all those places. This is a fact. Now we see the results. There was naivete, incompetence, errors in the destruction of what millions of Hitlerian soldiers were unable to destroy, of what had cost 27 million lives, in that war. It would have been worthwhile to have saved the objectives for which they struggled.

I say that peace could have been envisaged, but there was this arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Everyone today knows that Reagan's strategy was to ruin the USSR through the arms race, which they could very well not afford. His strategy called for imposing on the Soviet Union an arms race that went beyond Soviet economic capabilities. The Soviet leaders acted mistakenly -- as did the rest of the world's leaders. They were unable to struggle for true peace without producing the disintegration of entire nations. The consequences of this disintegration are still unknown.

For the time being, the situation represents a big burden on the world economy, which has to find billions every year to try to save the situation there, and no one knows exactly what will happen there.

This is the situation now in a country that had an economic system that was shaped for 70 years, more than 70 years. It has disintegrated. It will return some day. No doubt about it. This can be visualized in many countries, although not in all.

Hatred and strong nationalistic feelings have been unleashed, but in many countries that formed part of the Soviet Union we can see there is a wish to create at least a common market.

The fact is that we lost, as I was telling you, the market, commerce, everything, and had to find a solution. I have wondered what Marx would say about this. Now I wonder what Lenin would say. I am sure Lenin would tell us: Go on doing what you are doing.

This is why on 26 July I said that any Marxist-Leninist would do what we are doing. They also had to do it, they had to appeal to the new economic policy, a famous policy in a historic period. Furthermore, at a given moment Lenin considered the idea of building capitalism under the leadership of the proletariat.

So that you remain relaxed I inform you that we have not considered this. It is not that we disagree with Lenin, but that our circumstances are different. Our process has made much progress. We have very solid pillars, and there is no need for considering the situation in such terms. I told you a while ago that if our country had much oil or similar resources, perhaps we would not have promoted large-scale tourism. We know the consequences of large-scale tourism. However, under the country's conditions, we cannot do without it.

Under our country's conditions, we could not do without foreign investments. I know that for years we fought foreign investment, that for years we were proud of the fact the people owned all the resources, industries, and assets in the country.

However, under current conditions we cannot do without foreign investment. We need it. We need capital, technology, and markets. These are determining factors. The absence of this means paralysis, stagnation. We pay dearly for this. We have to pay dearly for all loans. We must bargain for everything under very difficult conditions in the face of very intense U.S. opposition. But we must do it. There is no alternative.

Some friends have advised us to say we are doing this because this is great. We must tell the truth, that these measures were implemented to save the revolution and socialism's accomplishments. [applause]

We had to create mixed enterprises. We had to accept foreign investments. We had to depenalize possession of foreign exchange. Be certain that it pained us to do this. Very much so. We knew of the inequalities and privileges it would create, but we had to do it and we did it. Jose Luis has explained this. Practically speaking there are two currencies circulating right now. The day will come when only one currency will circulate. There is no rush for that day. We just have to work calmly in that direction. In the condition in which we were we could not give that up. People who have relatives abroad who can send $500, or $1,000, whatever, are privileged. Humble sugarcane and agricultural workers and others do not have this possibility. But we had to do it. We had to adopt measures of this nature, and I know this bothered you. However, we did not adopt them opportunistically; we adopted them as a revolutionary measure. [applause]

We have explained this to our people a 100 times. Income secured this way is not used to make anybody rich and does not go into anyone's pocket. Every single penny is be used on the people, on food... [applause] on medicine, on fuel, on electricity, on raw material necessary for production, so that the country can keep on going. The country, regardless of difficulties, is moving forward and in an orderly fashion. The people know regardless of sacrifices that this is the right road, the revolutionary road. There would have been huge investments in Cuba if there were no blockade.

We only need to look at events in China and Vietnam, which have received a downpour of investments. We have also received many offers from investors, but there has been a formidable barrier that discourages investment in our country.

In our country, I believe it is very important, extremely important, that we did this -- as everything we do -- with the people's consensus. We could not explain it any other way. None of the things we disliked were endorsed by the people, who are very sensitive, extremely sensitive, to any inequity or any privilege, because this is what the revolution instilled in us. The revolution also instilled in us the idea that we must protect the motherland, the revolution, this conquest, and that we must protect our independence and maintain our right to a future. We can never relinquish these achievements.

It is very encouraging for all of us to realize the extent to which the people have been able to understand this situation. Only a people with a political culture such as ours at this moment would have been able to understand this situation and to fight and resist. Are we, by chance, trying to deceive anyone? Absolutely not, we are not deceiving anyone. What we can affirm is that all of Cuba's lands are in the hands of Cuban peasants and farmers. [applause] What we can say is that all the homes, lands, nearly all the factories, and all the hospitals are in Cuban hands. We have not privatized one single hospital or one single school. [applause] The country owns the majority of its wealth. [applause]

But then again, what were we supposed to do? We had to choose between having an idle factory, completely deteriorating, going to waste, and accepting the participation of a capitalist entrepreneur within the factory who wanted to be our partner in production. Refusing to do the latter would have been absurd, because after the collapse of the Socialist Bloc, many factories ran out of fuel, power, raw materials, and spare parts. If an alternative emerges to enable us to keep at least half of that factory in our hands -- very often, the entire factory remains under our control -- we must proceed with these commercial partnerships. This choice is the logical and rational one, and it benefits the people. [applause]

We cannot act in terms of what we like or dislike, but we must act in terms of what benefits or does not benefit the nation and the people at this key juncture in our country's history. There are six km of beaches, which can be tapped, but we do not have the capital to build the hotels those beaches need. If we undertake a commercial operation, a joint venture or accept investment, we can do it. The existent hotels are either Cuban property or joint enterprises, and there are not that many. As I have said before: the work done by our enemies has influenced the amount of support we have received in this aspect. Despite everything, we have been able to accomplish this during the special period.

During the special period and using our own resources, we have also built major centers of scientific research, which is another area of interest in the country, and all of these centers are owned by the state. [applause] The country will preserve everything which can be preserved [applause] and will negotiate everything which can be negotiated. The country's current financial system is also owned by the state [applause]; and practically, everything is in the hands of the state. However, if we must introduce a specific amount of capitalism, we will do it and that is what we are doing.

We are doing it in spite of inconveniences. I must say something about this. Capitalists can make a 100 percent investment in an enterprise. If a capitalist has the necessary capital, a market, and technology we do not have, there could be almost 100 percent capitalist-owned enterprises. In such cases, we would benefit from the jobs created and the taxes paid. We would have to resign ourselves to that. It would be better if the factory were ours. It would be better if all the income were to go to the country. This was once a reality. Some time ago everything belonged to the country. Perhaps 50 years, maybe 100 years, will have to go by for this to happen again. I don't know.

But whenever the country can keep something, it should. It must conserve it. This is a principle, but we have neither fears nor any kind of guilty feeling. I think we are doing what revolutionaries must do at this given moment. The other position would be a fantasy, absurd, an impossible dream.

The key to everything, dear companeros and friends, is power. Who has power? The large landowners, the bourgeoisie, the rich? I speak of large landowners because this is what we had before but now we do not have large landowners. Our only large landowners are the cooperative workers and those from the Basic Cooperative Production Units, etc.

There are tens of thousands of independent farmers. Who has power? Is power in the hands of the bourgeoisie for the bourgeoisie? Is power in the hands of the capitalist for the capitalists? [crowd shouts: "No!"] Power is the key issue. Some of the things we are doing are aimed at finding economic efficiency. Some of the things we are doing are aimed at perfecting our socialism.

It is very difficult to place shoe repair under socialist or collective control, but there was a moment when the struggle was such that we nationalized everything. However, in society there is and there will always be tasks that are better tackled by an individual on his own rather than having the state carry out this work. Really. We have reached that conclusion. This has to do with private work, which arises from given needs.

Before returning to the issue I was discussing, I am going to wrap up this one on jobs.

When factories run out of raw material or are left without a foreign or domestic market, this produces much unemployment. What do neoliberal theoreticians recommend be done in these cases: Throw out all those people, close the factories, make a couple million people go hungry and give them nothing? We could not do that. No one single worker was left unprotected. They continued receiving their salaries for a certain period of time. If we had job openings here, we would try to find them jobs here. We have job openings, but not everybody is prepared to take any job. We continued protecting the workers.

If production drops sharply and money continues circulating, a problem arises that for us was very harmful. This was a problem we could not endure indefinitely. At the beginning this money circulation helps withstand the initial blow, to uphold the principle that no one goes unprotected. But soon we began to be flooded with money. There was a torrent of bills on the streets. We had to start collecting that money. Although the majority of the people have always worked with a patriotic spirit, there is always a certain percentage that does not have the same attitude and when this percentage had money -- considering the items they were able to buy and on which there were, and still are, regulations -- then if there were two employed in the house, one would cease working, perhaps this was a teacher, a professor, a nurse, technical personnel needed in factories, in schools, in hospitals. Let's suppose employees start failing to show up for work at a hospital. Let's say 80 percent of the employees show up steadily, but the other 20 percent do not need money and do not have the necessary spirit of sacrifice, understanding, and awareness and stop showing up.

When nurses, or technicians, or sanitary workers begin to skip work, hospitals begin to have problems. The same is true for schools and many other service institutions. This brings problems. We had this problem.

We had to take in that mountain of money, to implement a strong austerity and savings policy, to reduce subsidies. The situation was such that people were paying 150 pesos for one dollar.

We began adopting measures, but they were not dictated from above. We had to increase the prices of nonessential products, we had to impose taxes, suspend some gratuities. All the measures were discussed at the National Assembly and afterward the measures were discussed with the workers, and then sent back to the National Assembly, and then again back with the workers, students, and peasants. There is no single sector here with which the measures were not discussed as many as four times. The measures were explained and measures were adopted on the basis of the discussions and with the agreement of the people.

Consequently, all sectors began to apply themselves and the result is that approximately 2.7 billion pesos of over 11 billion pesos have been withdrawn from circulation in one year. Persons who had retired from work began to reappear requesting jobs. They reappeared in hospitals, schools, and other services because we had to create among the population a need to live and to earn a salary. Otherwise, services, production, everything would begin to deteriorate. The important thing was the method and the results are what I just explained to you. [Words indistinct] money for something more.

Today with $1 hardly anyone can get more than 35 pesos. We can say that we are one of the few countries in the world where the peso has been revalued. [applause] We are beginning to obtain benefits from those measures we have adopted. The economy is being bolstered. We are being really prepared to face the situation in whose name? In the name of the people. For whom? For the people. That is why I go back to the thought I interrupted a few moments ago: Who has the power? That is the key. Because if the people, workers have the power -- not the rich or the millionaire -- then a policy in favor of the people can be devised, respecting the existing conditions, conditions agreed upon with a specific enterprise.

Everyone must respect each other's interests; we are not thinking about nationalizing anyone.

For each business affected, a contract has been drawn up, in which everything is stipulated, the years it lasts, etc. But as long as the people control power, they will have everything. For today, for tomorrow, or for the day after tomorrow, for the year 2020 or 2050 or 2100, what the people can never lose is power. [applause]

This key idea is associated with the question of democracy and participation. If we say: listen, we believe that our political system is better than any other anywhere in the world, there would be people who would smile. They would think this is a joke. They are so used to toxins, like the inveterate smoker who smokes four packs a day or 10 cigars. They are accustomed to nicotine. Others are perhaps used to heroin; others are used to cocaine, marijuana, or any of those products. [Words indistinct] of what they want to apply against us now [words indistinct] knows in what municipality, because at the beginning of this century and up to the half of this century, the world was full of colonies. That is why there wasn't much talk about human rights, and there was a lot of talk about representative democracy.

I remember when I was a young man there was a map [word indistinct] showing British possessions in red, French possessions in another color, and there was not a single independent country. Perhaps there was one or two. France and England controlled nearly everything on the map, if the ambassadors whom I respect and appreciate will excuse me. I am talking about the past, ambassadors, not the present. The colors of Spain, France, and England dominated the map. You looked at Asia and [words indistinct]. China had their own color, but everyone knew it was a semi-colony. Up until 50 years ago, we knew what prevailed in the world. And it was after World War II that the liberation movement of the colonies began.

We knew what Latin America was back then without exception, including ourselves. Yes man and yes man; or yes, sir, like Robertico said this afternoon. Orders came and in general they were not discussed; they were observed and enforced. However, we had our own colors on the map.

Then came the Cold War and all the options of representative democracy and so many things and theories.

I would not say that our model has the intention of being a useful model for all. No, no, no. I would not dare say that. I believe that many of the experiences of our model can be of use to some countries. I believe that every country must devise its own model and it must have the right to do so. And no one can come here in the name of anything to try to impose the model it wishes on any country. [applause]

It is as if we address a message to the queen of England proposing that there should be a republic there, because, otherwise, we will establish a blockade against Great Britain; or if we address his holiness the pope to propose the creation of a chamber of representatives, a senate there, or a universal vote of all priests of the world.

I cite these examples because they show how absurd it is to have so many people telling us what we must do. Well, we have learned to say, we don't feel like it! We don't feel like it! [applause] [Words indistinct] useless to reason, they come with the same thing over and over again.

What we say is that our model is good for us, simply that. If we don't defend our model, we defend our right to have a model. Now if they want to compare, that's it! [applause]

One of the tragedies of this hemisphere during its fight for independence was that it imported European systems -- and the U.S. system. When they brought the U.S. system here, they even brought a model of the U.S. Capitol building. I do not know if you have passed by there, but it was copied from the Capitol building in Washington. Today it is a scientific study center. [applause] Our National Assembly meets in the convention palace, or here. Not in that capitol building. Now it is a historical building. We even see it as an architectural jewel, which belongs to old Havana. The capitol even produces income from tourists. But it is a scientific-technical center, a library, and many other things. It used to be full of -- in all respects, with few exceptions -- bandits and thieves of all sorts. [applause] [chanting]

Everyday there is a scandal somewhere in the world: In Europe, in Latin America; whether the political parties misappropriate funds; whether political parties received millions; whether votes were bought; whether the large multinational and major companies gave this much, and that much, and so much. As a general rule, I would ask the most splendid representative democracies in the world: let he who fears sin cast the first stone, and let he who does not, cast the first stone. [laughter, applause] Let he without sin cast the first stone.

Now, is there an assembly in one of these splendid democracies which does not have at least one millionaire, which does not have at least one multi-millionaire, which does not have a huge lobby of major and multinational companies? Is there any one which has not spent a cent in elections, which has not collected money in one way or another? How can you be a representative without money? Is there any other nation in the world that can say that not a single one of those representatives -- and we have more than 500 -- spend a single penny on his campaign? Is there any one of those splendid democracies which is representative? I do not want to judge too harshly so as not to offend. [laughter]

In our country, we have an assembly with characteristics that are not shared by any other assembly. In our country, the party does not postulate the candidates. Is there any other nation in which the party or parties do not postulate their candidates? There is one called Cuba. [applause]

The people postulate their candidates. We could say this is an Athenian-type democracy if it were not for the fact that Athens had patricians and slaves. The patricians had all the rights, and the slaves had none. There were other categories of citizens who also did not have any rights. For every free man there were at least two slaves; 30 percent of the citizens had political rights. A Greek democracy without slaves and without citizens deprived of public rights -- that is the people.

It is the people who met. Men and women in the flesh meet in each electoral district and propose the candidates for district delegates. They are the ones who elect them. The district delegates are the members of the provincial, municipal assemblies, and are the ones who nominate the candidates to the National Assembly. It is not the party, and streets are not covered with propaganda, posters, and all that garbage we see in other parts of the world each time there is an electoral campaign. In our country the principle that the people nominate and the people elect prevails.

In many so-called democratic countries the party is the one that nominates the candidates. It issues a list. It is known that according to surveys, candidates one, two, and three will be elected deputies. That is all. The parties nominate.

In our country, there is no intervention. We do not have a multiparty system, but we have a million-partisan system [millonaripartidismo], because each one of the 11 million inhabitants in our country has a right to nominate and elect. [applause] No one is told to nominate this or that person or to vote for one candidate or another. Everybody here knows what to do by heart. Some find it hard to understand the miracle of a 97.1 percent voter turnout.

What do we see in other parts of the world? [words indistinct] there is not the slightest chance of a fraud. The pioneers are the ones who guard the ballot boxes. Is there any country in which the ballot boxes are not guarded by policemen with bayonets to prevent them from being stolen as they are carried from one place to another? The documents and ballots are altered.

Even foreign journalists are [words indistinct] beside the ballot boxes when the votes are counted. Ah! If a revolutionary slogan comes up, it prompts a wide smile. In some people, not all. Some want to see how many votes are blank, how many counterrevolutionary votes [words indistinct]. They are there to see, they are present, without any restrictions to control the [words indistinct]. That is our system, and people go to vote.

Why do only a few people vote in the United States? Only half of the voters go to the polls. The president is elected with 25 percent of the vote. Magnificent democracy! And after that, citizens couldn't care less. They can be led into a nuclear war without even realizing it. They wake up in the morning and when they read the newspaper they find out they are invading other countries. [applause] [Words indistinct] because the president carries a briefcase [carterita]. Well, the leaders of the nuclear powers carry a briefcase. I remember the days of the Cold War. I used to wonder what would happen if the man were in the bathroom when the crisis broke out? [laughter] Or what would happen if that day he remembered he had a wife? Oh, my, what about the briefcase? And what about the quick reply? Not even the Roman emperor had that power.

A little briefcase with which one man could start launching rockets, as it could send the signals. That is truly a representative democracy! Very much so. It is just marvelous, gentlemen! That is why no one goes to vote, and why no one believes in elections, or in anyone, or in politicians. There is a crisis of confidence in political parties in the world. Many candidates prefer to run independently and they win. Of course. Can a humble farmer, a humble teacher, a humble professor without a cent in the bank become a deputy or senator, for example in the United States? Can he? What a difference!

Our deputies here do not have a single penny and do not need money either. They have to get more than 50 percent of the votes or of the valid votes in order to be elected. The people think... [pauses] The last elections were an example. Lots of people went out to vote in the middle of the Special Period. The way they voted was impressive. Why change that?

They want to break the country into 1,000 pieces. Who gains if the country is broken up into 1,000 pieces as has occurred in the former socialist bloc countries? There you see 25 parties, 35 parties, 45 parties, and you say, hum, they are a group, but a group of crazy folks. [laughter]

Why has Cuba resisted? It has resisted because of its socialist and political system. Those who predicted the collapse of the country can see for themselves what happened.

Cuba is respected more the more it resists. [applause] Cuba is willing to earn the respect of the world. We are not going to learn to suck our thumbs, and I hope we never become idiots. One of the qualities of these people beside being fun-loving, rowdy, and rebellious, is that these are a resourceful people. It is a country of intelligent people. It would be better to say we are a people with cultivated intelligence. There are many intelligent people here who have not had the opportunity to learn to read and write. One of the characteristics is that we are a enterprising people, who think and reflect. Our people cannot be underestimated.

This is our system. Why do they want it changed? What for? What we have to do is improve it, which is what we are doing. That is what we did with the latest constitutional reforms. Some people say it is for the transition. What transition? We already did the transition. We did the transition 36 years ago, and we made all the changes that needed to be made. [applause]

Transition to what? Capitalism? There will be no transition to capitalism. [applause] People said this is neither Heaven nor hell. Let us say it is purgatory, where they say that with a little patience and a little influence peddling, such as the prayers people carry out for the poor souls, you can get to Heaven. They say you can leave purgatory, but you can never leave hell. [applause]

If we are in purgatory, we are not going to return to hell. We are at least going to escape Satan. [laughter, applause] We are going to be waiting for the moment to reach Heaven. Is that not true, Robertico? The resolution said it: It is neither as good as they say nor as bad as others claim. I am going to tell the truth. I believe it is a little better than what they say; No, not of what they say; it is a little worse than what they say, meaning we are not as good and I totally agree. I cannot honestly say, however, that we are halfway there.

Following the years the revolution has been in power in this country, after the work it has done for our people, and after resisting these five years, and after confronting the great colossus of the north, in a world that has become unipolar, and when we were left alone in this world, I mean to say without support from any country, I believe this has merit. If one has a sense of history and the youth are capable enough -- I think they will be more than capable enough -- then history will have to record the great feat, the great page that our country is writing at this moment. [applause]

We may not be Heaven, but they will have to award you, not us, an Olympic medal. You will have to be awarded the Olympic medal because it will depend upon you, especially the new generation, for our Revolution to get where it must go, the Heaven we just mentioned, with which I know Robertico disagrees. He has said about three times that perfect would be the most boring thing on Earth. Isn't it? But to think that the perfect exists, Robertico, is the most illusory thing on this world. What is perfect today is no longer perfect tomorrow.

A Greek philosopher once said no one bathes twice in the same river. Today's perfection can be tomorrow's imperfection. We must be modest, we must be humble, but we must not underestimate ourselves. That is what I think. I am not defending my part in this business, in which I am responsible for many things or for the mistakes that may have been committed. I am defending you. [laughter, applause]

Dear comrades, beloved friends. You did not want me to speak. [laughter, applause; crowd shouts: "Fidel, Fidel!"] Do not stand up because I am about to finish. [laughter] You have expressed your deepest and most affectionate gratitude. I thank you for your presence. We are honored, happy, and encouraged. We are going to continue our struggle with a greater confidence because we know there are many noble and good people in the world who understand us, who wish us much success and want to help us with a little grain of sand here and there.

We are not going to forget this meeting. We will be ready and at the orders of the youth of the world. As we said yesterday we will not organize a festival, we are going to organize a world festival. [applause]

Some 1,200 or 1,300 delegates have come here. We can hold a world festival with 10,000. Our country has an excellent organizational capability. We have excellent youth. You have seen it in the last few days. They have organized everything. They collected aid and assistance from people who could cooperate with them, but they were the ones who came up with the idea and who organized everything. We must pay a tribute to the organizational capability of our youth for this success. [applause, chanting]

After what I have explained to you today, it would not be surprising for me to end by saying with great conviction:

Socialism or death, fatherland or death, we will win!

We will see each other again. [applause]