Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-95-199 Daily Report 15 Oct 1995 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Reportage on Fidel Castro's Official Visit to Uruguay

Gives Speech at Town Hall

PA1610012095 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks in Spanish, 0157 GMT 15 Oct 95 PA1610012095 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks Spanish BFN [Speech by President Fidel Castro at the Town Hall in Montevideo, Uruguay, after receiving the keys to the city on 14 October -- recorded]

[FBIS Translated Text] Dear [words indistinct], president of the government junta and of the municipal junta [laughter], distinguished members of the audience, brother Uruguayans [applause]:

You have given me the keys. I take it these are more than just the keys to the city. These are the keys to the hearts of the Uruguayan people. [applause]. [Words indistinct]

My problem is now [words indistinct] not to allow myself to be carried away by emotion to comply with all the norms, which is my obligation on a visit such as this. My problem is what to do with this microphone. [laughter]

At any rate, if you cannot hear me louder it is not my fault, it is the fault of the microphone. [laughter] Perhaps if I bring it closer to me. [laughter]

This will still be a good athletic test, which will allow me to disprove the slander that I am almost 70 years old. [laughter, applause]

I will undergo the test of a man in his 20's. When I came here the last time, exactly 36 years, five months, and 11 days ago [applause], I was 32 years old. You can imagine how I felt, a guerrilla let loose in Buenos Aires, not in Buenos Aires, yes in Buenos Aires first and then in Montevideo, with all the impetus one feels when one comes down the mountains after a struggle that was not very long, but rigorous, and the inexperience of a boy.

Now, I come with the experience of a young adult, [laughter] but without that noticeable energy of my 32 years. The organizers of the program did not bear this mind. [laughter] It was an organized conspiracy between protocol and our ambassador. Of course, there are no more things in the schedule because there are no more seconds on the clock. [laughter]

Those who truely believe the Olympic competitions are in Atlanta next year are wrong.

For me [chuckles] the Olympic competition is taking place today. We are now in the wee hours when I am supposed to close today's schedule [chuckles], and I, with the intendant's permission, will decorate myself with a gold medal for this. [laughter, applause]

Time is [passage indistinct] the blockade is, simply put, truly cruel, because it goes against men and women, against children and elders. It is already 36 years old and has been applied by the world's and history's most powerful country against a truly small country of the Caribbean, which has tried for a long time, since the last century, to preserve its independence, because its proximity to U.S. coasts seemed to suggest to many U.S. politicians that Cuba's inevitable fate was to become part of that great state that (?was in formation).

Thus, we could say that from the times of the first U.S. presidents to the present Cuba has had to defend its independence and avoid suffering the fate of our fraternal people of Puerto Rico, who speak Spanish and think like us, but, as the year 2000 draws near, is still a U.S. possession.

I said at the Congress today that we do not want to be... [pauses] to experience a situation such as Puerto Rico's. We do not want to be Miami. We want to be Cuba. [applause] We want to be Havana. It was not an open ideological difference that provoked the blockade and the hostility, it was a simple agrarian reform law that was not socialist in nature. We could say that it was virtually a capitalist agrarian reform, but given that certain companies actually owned up to 200,000 hectares of land, U.S. companies, that is, as soon as the law was approved, on a 19 May 36 years ago, plans to organize the Playa Giron Invasion started. This is similar to what happened to Guatemala during the Arbenz administration.

What would have been the cost of a victorious invasion in Playa Giron? Ask the Guatemalans, who had to endure a victorious invasion. The government was defeated, and a regime based on force was established. You know how many Guatemalans have disappeared since then? In nearly 50 years? More than 100,000 Guatemalans have disappeared. Guatemala is a country where the term prisoner was unknown; it has not existed in 50 years. They are have been called missing. This is an incredible story because of its magnitude and cruelty. There is still war in Guatemala.

We do not want to face Guatemala's fate. This is why we have struggled so much, and we have built confidence while struggling. For how long? For as long as necessary.

There is no limit, because we are not the ones who will establish limits. We will never be the ones to establish limits to our freedom. [applause] I said that the blockade was hard, very hard. Even if we needed aspirin to ease a headache we cannot buy one aspirin in the United States [words indistinct] so many diseases that need to be cured or eased. Nothing. We cannot buy [words indistinct]. We cannot buy even a grain of food in the United States.

Some nongovernment organizations have continuously made some donations consisting of medicines and food, but they are not products that we can buy [words indistinct] can buy nothing. But it is not only this, but that every action or activity that we carry out in the world is systematically blocked [perseguida] by the U.S. Government.

There used to be a socialist bloc. Blows were shared by more countries. Now the blows fall only on us. All the propaganda of the radio and television stations -- those of the government and not in general -- those controlled by counterrevolutionary elements are directed against us. More than 1,000 hours a week of radio broadcasting promote sabotage against the economy and subversion.

In the past other countries also received blows -- China, Vietnam, the DPRK -- but now the United States has reached peace with those countries, and the blows formerly directed at them are now directed at us.

No one knows why, no one knows why this special treatment. We are the only blockaded country in the world, the only totally blockaded country. In the U.S. Congress, there is a strong tendency to promote harsher laws, a more merciless blockade, as if this were possible, against Cuba. Those gentlemen are perhaps discussing it right now. Why? That was never done against South Africa during the days of apartheid. When we were shedding our blood fighting racism at South Africa's border, it was not done. It was never done against anyone, and we are not promoting it either. Why? What is the punishment for?

As a result of our revolutionary effort and our socialism, we are the country with the lowest illiteracy rate among all Third World countries [applause]. We are the country of the world with the highest number of teachers and professors per capita, of the entire world. [applause] Our infant mortality rate is less than 10 per 1,000 live births despite the blockade and the special period. It is less than 10 despite the difficulties with food and medicine. It is the country of the world with the highest number of doctors per persons, in the world, more than Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. It is the country of the world with the highest number of physical education teachers per person. We have a high cultural level, a high percentage of men and women doing scientific research. Despite the difficulties, we have maintained that.

We had good trade relations with the USSR and the socialist bloc. We were paid fair prices for our products, and we obtained credit. We were protected against the phenomenon of unequal trade. If what they sold us increased in price, what we sold them also increased in price. All of that was abruptly lost; however, not a single school has been closed in our country. Not a single clinic, not a single hospital, not a single child care center has been closed. [applause]

We distributed what was left over in an equitable manner, and absolutely no one was left unprotected. In our country, in 36 years of revolution, there has not been a single case of a missing person. There has not been a single murdered person [applause] and despite the enemy's campaigns and lies, there has not been a single tortured person. No one knows about any tortured persons. [applause]

What they want to do is to punish a people's independent spirit, the dignity of a people, their right to self-determination. We cannot be planning on going to India to tell them which God they should worship or in what Church they must pray.

Or go to the Middle East or Iran to tell them what their religion and their interpretation of the Bible should be, or what their models should be. We cannot go to Rome and tell the Church what it must do with its principles and doctrines. Do not laugh, a blockade would have to be imposed on the entire world simply because of differences of opinion. A powerful country such as the United States, what type of government should it have? Because, in short, more than 90 percent of the population votes in our country [applause] [words indistinct] the president. Now there are two candidates [indistinct] about 25 percent of the votes. They need I do not know how many millions of dollars; there are reports that Perot could become an independent political party candidate because he has about $5 billion. In our country, absolutely no one, not even a politician nor a [indistinct] needs a single cent. [words indistinct] But we cannot plan on telling the United States to change their system and what they have to do.

But in our country, everybody takes an interest in politics; they have an elevated political intelligence. They take an interest in the problems. The measures we are taking to come out of the special period are discussed with each [indistinct]. It is not enough for us to say, well, here is this idea, let us try it out. We discuss it with the people, then we discuss it with the Assembly, and afterwards we discuss it again with the people, and we seek the consensus of the people. I think that explains the miracle, five years since the collapse of the Socialist Bloc and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, of Cuba's existence, and it will continue to exist. [applause] Some day history will write [indistinct] carried out by our people, and today it will write the name of Uruguay and the Uruguayans in gold letters. [applause]

It does not matter that time goes on. He died here, in 1850. He was away from the country for many years. But one day, full of history, [words indistinct] are everywhere. [applause]

Someday, the Americas as a whole, already beginning to recognize [indistinct], will also recognize Cuba, and they will bring into their institutions and, more importantly, into their hearts the memory of the resistance it was able to offer for so long.

We, as Latin Americans, the same way we admire our countries' history, our countries's glorious history -- we admire Artigas, San Martin, Sucre, Bolivar, Juarez, Marti, and so many of our forefathers who struggled for independence for their tenacity. Throughout the continent they faced one of the one biggest powers of that time, which was Spain.

We also had to struggle against that power, which had 300,000 soldiers in little Cuba, plus the soldiers it had mustered throughout the entire continent during the war of independence. [words indistinct] When we finally became independent in 1959, we were forced to continue struggling to maintain it. Then we reached a social model that we do not regret, nor will we ever regret it. [applause] When this model disappeared in Europe, and we had to (?raise awareness), we continued to defend it as we do today -- to defend the fatherland, the revolution, and the conquests of socialism. [applause]

We have not forsaken, nor will we ever forsake our goals, regardless of how much belt-tightening and reforms we need to make. What is important, above all, is who this government represents; what is important is that the people have the power just as our country intended. If we allow openings and reforms that are unavoidable, not only to perfect our system, but also to face current circumstances, we will invariably continue defending our goals and objectives even if we are punished for that.

It has been proven that everything we have done for the people and by the people has been understood by some as a reason to suffocate, as a reason to punish. We understand it differently -- the reason to struggle, the reason to resist, the reason to triumph [applause] without forgetting to love those who were our best friends, without ever forgetting the people of Uruguay, who have acted with so much solidarity toward the people of Cuba for such a long time.

When we were a colony, Marti was appointed consul in New York. He was also appointed Uruguay's representative to the Washington monetary conference. Uruguay acted in solidarity with Marti. When Marti's fatherland finally became entirely free, few countries in the world gave us us so much friendship, warmth, and so much solidarity as we received from the people of Uruguay. These same people who expressed it 36 years ago and continue to do so today. We ourselves are amazed that after so many years of lies and the smear campaign against our fatherland, this friendship has been maintained.

This has only one explanation and is something that is well understood by Uruguayans -- we have known how to continue being faithful, invariably faithful to our principles. Many thanks.