Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-96-185 Daily Report 21 Sep 1996 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Cuba: Castro Addresses U.S. Friendship Caravan

PA2209015196 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cubavision Networks in Spanish, 0030 GMT 21 Sep 96 PA2209015196 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cubavision Networks Spanish BFN [Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro to bid farewell to the U.S. Pastors for Peace friendship caravan at the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center in Havana; date not given -- recorded, with passage-by-passage translation into English; translated from the Spanish]

[FBIS Translated Excerpt] [passage omitted thanking Reverend Lucius Walker, praising participants who fasted] A question could be posed to the U.S. Administration that is blockading Cuba. In the first place, no one has the right to suppress the will of another people. Why blockade our country? We are a people who have been fighting for a better life for our children. We are a country with an education budget that grows every year in spite of the difficulties. Why is our country blockaded when we are doing that? Why blockade a country that has the highest number of teachers and physicians per capita? Why blockade a country where not a single school has been shut down even during these hard times? It is quite the opposite, new schools have been opened. Why blockade a country where you can find a school in the mountains with one teacher for three students? You can even find the case of a teacher for only one student to prevent that kid from going illiterate just because he lives in a remote region. Why blockade a country that has been stripped of half of its doctors? It is a country with the largest number of doctors per capita in the entire world. [applause]

We are a country that continues to train doctors. Why blockade a country where, in spite of all the difficulties, you do not find barefoot children on the streets? We are a country that has been able to keep our kids in uniforms even though the delivery of fabric material to make the uniforms has been delayed. Hundreds of thousands of new uniforms will be made. Why blockade a country where you do not find organ trafficking going on by people wishing to make money off other people's lives? We are a country with no child prostitution. We are a country with no death squads, with no missing persons for the past 37 years. We are a country in which people are not murdered, where people are not tortured in spite of all the slander, in spite of all the things that have been said about our country. We are a country in which not one state crime has been committed, where justice and dignity are our people's first love, as Jose Marti said.

What do they want for us to be? Do they want us to be what we see around the world? Abandoned, forsaken, and neglected people. Do they want us to be people without the possibility of making a living? Drug addicts? All the vices in our country have been suppressed not by force but by conviction and by our country's capability to work for a consensus. We have been able to do away with those evils. Why do they want to bring those evils back to us?

Instead of blocking Cuba, almost all the rest of the world would have to be blocked, beginning right with the United States. I wonder, even under those conditions, would it be fair to block you? So many millions and tens of millions of Americans who have been so much deceived by the enormous resources available to those who wield power. We also recall that Lincoln once said: One can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. You are the experts in American history. You should know better about this. [applause] [passage omitted on chit-chat on how Lincoln should be quoted; recognition of Walker's struggle, Canada's help to Walker]

Your victory will be attained by the struggle of the believers and nonbelievers alike. As for the nonbelievers you have found along the way here, I know you can also find this percentage of nonbelievers in the United States, too. The American people have very deep religious roots. That is why the Bible is so strong there. That is where the strength of your movement lies. It also lies in the great truths that have been the foundation of that country. I am talking about the enormous contents of justice and dignity for which that country has always worked for. That is why you are respected. That is why politicians must listen to your words. They cannot reject your words. They cannot deny that your words are really eloquent and have great strength. As we listened to the words of people like you, the unity which our people want to preserve between believers and nonbelievers came to our minds. [passage omitted praising Pastor for Peace's eight-months struggle with U.S. Customs]

And we are proud to have companions in that struggle for justice, to have companions like you. Also like you, we have great faith in the fact that those principles shall prevail and sooner or later [words indistinct] although not many people can see clearly, we need to pursue those principles in order to face up to the mountains of problems that overwhelm the world today. They take many forms, particularly the form of violence, there are growing problems everywhere. These problems cannot be solved by making war or by using nuclear weapons. No one knows what they want those weapons for, especially when it is said that the Cold War no longer exists. What a deceit! What a great lie that is! Banning nuclear tests but not banning nuclear weapons which are tantamount to 1 million tons of TNT. [passage omitted on recollection of days of fast, tenacity of Pastors for Peace]

Nowadays, many people are involved in this struggle, many people who share your feelings, in spite of the fact that during those days we were the victims of [words indistinct] suffocation, the one that was mentioned here before. I am talking about the incident of the small planes. We had no interest in creating an incident, much less at a time when you were waging that courageous struggle. The fast started on 17 February, I believe, and [words indistinct] 21 February. That was an open act of provocation, which had been repeated many times. They were doing it more daringly. So they really were putting us in a position in which we had to prevent them from continuing. We had to prevent them from overflying Havana. They did it more than once. But flying once, or twice, or three times more was fundamental because, believe me, we had been patient.

The problem was that the U.S. Administration had given us assurances that there would be no more flights, that there would not be any other violations of our airspace, such as the ones that had been taking place. These violations had been taking place several weeks earlier, when we warned our antiair forces that we could not allow them to continue with those provocations. In fact, we had to set up mechanisms because those acts of provocations take place in a few minutes. When we received assurances from the U.S. Government that the flights would not take place again, nobody remembered that those mechanisms were in place, that those orders were standing, namely for our forces not to allow the provocations to take place again. So when new violations were perpetrated... [pauses] something which they were constantly threatening to do by perpetrating illegal actions, presenting different flight plans, endangering civilian aviation in our region with those tricks and lies. In spite of that, we would have been capable of continuing to be patient, as we had been up until that moment. But our mistake was to believe, to believe that the orders from the American President would be respected and observed by these people.

But with that shamelessness typical of the Miami-based extreme right, they insisted time and time again until they finally were able to bring about the incident, precisely at the time you were fasting. Of course, all this took place during the electoral campaign, and you know what an election year is like in the United States. Anything is done, even dropping an atomic bomb, to win an election. That is the time for electoral demagoguery. When that time comes, human lives come second. The consequences of the irresponsible actions are not pondered. There are some people who feel that killing and dropping bombs is to be firm and to put up a stand.

This system, which has exerted a large influence on the life of our people, without reaching... [13-second break in reception] a system which some consider intolerable in the United States. They do not want to forgive us for having resisted after the demise of the socialist bloc and the dismantling of the USSR. Later, all the truth of what is going on there will be known. Just recently, an article written by the son of Gromyko was published. Gromyko, as you know, was a longtime Soviet diplomat. Evidently, the person who wrote the article is a well-informed person. The article is entitled, "How a Great Power Was Sold."

It contains all the history of how about 10 Track Two's, Track One's, 10 Track One's were introduced to corrode that country from within, to break it down, to disunite it. Who gained from that? When we received the terrible news of what the establishment of a capitalist system meant [45-second passage indistinct due to station interference] the article outlines all the steps that were taken, how it was done, how much money was spent to do what they did. It describes how it was done, and it also mentions the people who were mainly responsible for what happened. Of course, this is a subject that [words indistinct] it directly affects us [50-second passage indistinct due to station interference] the blockade is the main obstacle for the country's economic development.

Despite the disappearance of the USSR and the socialist bloc, we have shown that we are capable of moving forward. As I recently said, there are two possibilities: First, that no other country without the conditions of unity, of profound convictions, [words indistinct] justice, and understanding of our people, no other country would have been able to withstand the blockade. We have resisted. Second, no other country would have done as much as we have with so little. Dozens of billions of dollars are given to one country or another in the world -- I do not want to mention any country [30-second passage indistinct due to station interference] Why is there a sex market with children? Why are there drugs? Why is there corruption? How can there be democracy in countries where people learn overnight about strict laws that leave millions of people jobless, that leave the elders without a pension. In some countries not even the salaries are paid. I had never seen anything like that before. There are countries where salaries have not been paid in five months [words indistinct] will have to receive millions of dollars in aid, because not even salaries can be paid. In our country everything we have done, everything, each one of the economic measures we have taken has been discussed many times. They have been discussed with all the workers, peasants, students, in the National Assembly, and again afterward. Those measures are based on understanding and consensus among the people [words indistinct]. [applause] You do not see that in any other place. That is what they want to abolish here.

For now, we have before us the real task of imagining how the world can be ruled... [pauses] because the world with all these problems is becoming increasingly ungovernable. No one is capable. The United States, the U.S. Government wants to govern the world, but it cannot even govern itself. [applause] It cannot govern itself [words indistinct] the United States really needs a government. [laughter from the audience]. It is said that passing laws is governing. Depriving the elders and the sick of their rights? Is it possible to rule a country with laws that foster xenophobia and ethnic differences and oppressing the minorities? Not only the historical oppression of the U.S. Black population, but other racial groups as well, like the Hispanics [words indistinct] In all fairness, I must say that American Indians cannot be oppressed, because there are no more Indians left. Only a few live in reservations, which are still under discussion. Thousands of dollars must be invested [words indistinct]. Those laws are unfair. They are anti-immigrant laws. I do not think that it is an example for the world, or that it is a good example [words indistinct]. It is a wall between Latin America and the United States, there on the Mexican border, where the Mexicans try to cross from one part of their territory to the part of the territory that was taken from them 100-odd years ago in that famous war that they waged, an expansion war [word indistinct] history. The poverty and exploitation of the people there is known. This wall is 300 times bigger than the Berlin Wall, and it is more sophisticated. People die there every day, trying to cross over the wall; and more means and techniques are used every day while poverty, unemployment, and misery increase [words indistinct] and Latin America compel them to immigrate. That is an economic immigration because they have no way of solving their problems.

When one reads press dispatches, one can see how some people believe they can rule the world. According to a press dispatch, several days ago ... [rephrases] actually, a press dispatch released several days ago, the U.S. Government sent 40 agents to guarantee the security of the Haitian president. Haiti was invaded not long ago and now they must send -- since it is so difficult to rule the world -- 40 agents to defend those tasked with guarding the president's life. It is as if tomorrow, they decided to send 40 officers to protect our lives. I am so happy that they are trying to protect the life of the Haitian president, whom I deem to be a fine person and who leads a very poor and (?unstable) country, one with many problems. However, this is only a glaring example of what ruling the world is all about. If they continue on the same path, they will end up sending more security agents to protect the lives of many presidents in many countries. Is this the right way of guaranteeing peace and human progress?

For years, they have armed to the teeth military governments that seized power through coup d'etats. Now, they are discussing the sale of sophisticated weapons to Latin American countries. On the one hand, we have the UN intervention every time there is a war, a skirmish, any sort of problem, or a crisis; and on the other, we have weapons manufacturers trying to sell as many weapons as possible. Is this sale of weapons made to countries that lack hospitals and schools, countries that must then reduce the number of teachers, hospitals, and schools an attempt to globalize the world economy and increase competition? This is a true contradiction and the United States truly needs its security agents. The United States needs them so that small planes will not crash against the White House and so that people will not shoot at the White House from the sidewalk. [words indistinct] What I want to say, in two words, is that the United States must rule itself better before thinking about ruling the world. I can assure you that no one can rule the world. [applause]

Although I have taken longer than I thought, I do not want to leave out something: I want to let you know that I am pleased, grateful, and appreciative of what you have done and what you are doing. Recalling Cuba's actions in matters of solidarity, I was remembering that our revolutionary people have practiced their solidarity on a large scale. More than 500,000 Cubans have participated in international missions. [Twelve-second break in reception] More than 15,000 Cuban doctors have participated in international missions in the most distant and difficult places. I still remember that when Nicaragua needed teachers, we asked for volunteers, and 30,000 teachers came forward. We sent Nicaragua the number they had requested [words indistinct]: 2,000. This all occurred amid the dirty war and when some of those Cuban teachers were killed, another 100,000 Cuban teachers still volunteered to go there. I believe this illustrates the extent of our country's moral and internationalist potential. In addition, approximately 2,000 Cuban soldiers sacrificed their lives in actions linked to internationalist solidarity. We will never forget and today, we feel especially proud of the role played by our combatants in the fight against apartheid and racism. [applause]

The country against which a blockade is being imposed was the only one whose children fought [words indistinct]. No one ever mentions this. Now, Mandela is a good man. Before, he was bad, a terrible terrorist, who had been sentenced to 26 years... [rephrases] he spent 26 years in jail, but his sentence was still longer than that.

When our men were fighting to defend Angola against the apartheid forces, the Republic of South Africa [RSA] already had seven nuclear warheads. No one ever spoke about that. No one every spoke about the nuclear warheads that the RSA had during the war. Is someone going to tell us now that they did not know that the RSA had nuclear weapons? Since there were Cubans there, some people must have wished the RSA would use their nuclear warheads against the Cubans, however, we sort of felt, we suspected they had nuclear warheads and we took the necessary measures in case they used them. We took all the measures and provisions to prevent them from inflicting more damage and even to prevent them from reaching our troops. No one talks about that.

I was thinking about those things. I was reflecting on that while you were talking. I recalled those days. I am thinking that what you are doing today is a great encouragement for us. It makes us feel more satisfied about the principles for which the revolution has stood in the course of these 35 years. You are not talking about a blockade imposed on a selfish country. You are talking about a blockade imposed on a generous people. [Words indistinct] in different countries of the world. The policy of our people has not been one of selfishness, which is really what has been prevailing among politicians. Today an economic and political doctrine has been imposed on the world. That is why we were thinking that we do not have to be ashamed of the role we have played. At least everything you are doing for us is something that is in keeping with our history and with our conscience. I met with you a few days ago. Some of you had to return but the first day you arrived I really admired the noble feelings that left in me an unforgettable impression. I met many men and women from the two countries. I met the youngest and the oldest. I say people of all ages in between, some were almost adolescents, others were older adults. I saw people of different churches; some were nonbelievers. Perhaps the nonbelievers did not know that Lucius was bringing nonbelievers, too. [sentence as heard] I feel so much respect for Lucius, I do not know if I should address Lucius as you or sir [tu o usted]. It would be more respectful of me perhaps to call him by his last name, but I prefer to call him by his first name. He mentioned the hundreds of thousands of people who cooperated with you as the caravan passed. There is something I cannot forget. I believe it reflects what you are. When you were shaking hands with me, before I could say a word, you said thank you, thank you for the struggle of the Cuban people, thank you for your resistance. I have never seen anything like that. At a moment when we were supposed to say thank you, you were the ones thanking us. What an example of humility that is. [applause]

The list I have with me here, the list of the computers you brought for medical purposes is being checked out by our comrades. A total of 45 computers will be delivered to the emergency rooms of our polyclinics. We will deliver 169 computers to municipal drug stores because that combines medical care with [words indistinct]. The doctors will immediately know where patients can locate the drug or medication and the people will be able to look for their medicine there. We will allocate 41 computers for hospitals in rural areas. We have allocated 20 computers for municipal data centers. Sometimes I cannot read the person's handwriting on this list. Sometimes the five looks like a six and the two looks like an eight. I have not added the figures yet. Yes. The others, 160 computers, will go to the data network. The computers have already been allocated for the different institutions. We will have to see how we are doing in terms of spare parts. They will need maintenance. We will need to see how we will keep them in good shape. Perhaps a good day, a caravan will bring spare parts for these computers. [applause]

Let us congratulate brother Lucius and the brothers and sisters involved in this task for their great example they have given to the world. They have really enhanced our conviction that this hard struggle waged with the weapons of principles and morals, will be won. Ethics, morals, and faith cannot be destroyed by anything. [applause]

They may destroy cities, they may kill, but they will never be able to remove the values which we have been building on from our hearts.

I congratulate you for this magnificent interpretation which you have done of the Scriptures. Those principles, those interpretations cannot be destroyed. I congratulate you brothers and sisters of the Pastors for Peace movement from the United States and Canada. I congratulate you all and I would like to convey to you my deepest recognition and our everlasting gratitude. We will win! [applause]