Category Archives: Cuba

International Left Debates Cuba’s New Economic Measures

by Richard Fidler
This issue of Socialist Voice draws attention to further commentaries on the implications of the sweeping economic and social measures announced by the Confederation of Cuban Workers (CTC) on September 13. We publish here excerpts from and links to articles by Jorge Martin, the international secretary of Hands Off Venezuela; Frank Josué Solar Cabrales, a social sciences professor in Santiago de Cuba; Helen Yaffe, a scholar in Britain who specializes in Cuba’s revolutionary history; and Ike Nahem, a leading activist in Cuba solidarity work in New York City. Continue reading

The Cuban Revolution: Challenges and Changes

A LeftViews article by Dave Holmes
For more than 50 years tiny Cuba (its population is currently about 11.25 million) has punched well above its weight in world politics. That’s because it carried out an authentic socialist revolution and has ceaselessly fought to defend and extend it in the teeth of remorseless pressure from its giant neighbour. Continue reading

Recent Media Coverage of Cuba: Selective Commendation, Selective Indignation

by Emily J. Kirk, John M. Kirk, and Norman Girvan
The January 2010 earthquake in Haiti caused some 230,000 deaths, left 1.5 million homeless, and has directly affected 3 million Haitians — 1/3 of the population. On March 31, representatives of over 50 governments and international organizations gathered at the United Nations Haiti Donor Conference to pledge long-term assistance for the rebuilding of Haiti. At the conference, Cuba made arguably the most ambitious and impressive pledge of all countries — to rebuild the entire National Health Service. While the efforts of other government have been praised, those of Cuba, however, have largely been ignored in the media. Continue reading

Cuba: Strides Towards Sustainability

by Helen Yaffe
Cuba marked the 50th anniversary of its revolution in 2009. The Cuban people have withstood five decades of hostility from the United States and its international allies. However, Cuba’s best form of resistance has been not just the assertion of national sovereignty, but the creation of an alternative model of development which places ecology and humanity at its core. Continue reading

Americas Summit: ALBA Nations Condemn Capitalism

Introduction. The following statement was issued on April 17 by six of the seven governments of the ALBA economic and social alliance in Latin America. (The seventh member, Ecuador, was unable to attend the meeting.) Speaking in Australia, Luis Bilbao, editor of the monthly magazine América XXI (published in Venezuela, Argentina and Uruguay), described the statement as “profound” and “historic.” Continue reading

‘We are facing something more than a mere financial crisis’

Cuban economist Oswaldo Martinez, with Fidel Castro

Cuban economist Oswaldo Martinez,
with Fidel Castro

An Interview with Cuban economist Oswaldo Martínez. 2009 started off badly. The international economic crisis is the top priority of governments, companies, international organizations and individuals preoccupied with having a roof to sleep under and food on the table.

The situation has surprised almost everybody, albeit Cuba to a lesser degree. Almost a decade ago, Commander Fidel Castro warned that the conditions were being created for the outbreak of a crisis of enormous dimensions. Continue reading

Why Cuba Still Matters

Introduction. This month, Monthly Review published a special issue on Cuba, marking the 50th anniversary of the island’s liberation from the U.S.-sponsored Batista dictatorship. The following is the concluding section of the lead article, “Why Cuba Still Matters.” The author, Diana Raby, argues that the Cuban people should be honoured not only for a half-century of resistance to U.S. blockade and subversion, not only for their world-leading educational and health systems, but for its new and original contributions to the world struggle for liberation. Continue reading

Cuba’s Revolution: 50 Years of Resistance

‘A Revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble.’ Speech by Raul Castro Ruz, president of the Council of Ministers of Cuba, at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, in Santiago de Cuba on January 1, 2009, “Year of the 50th Anniversary of the Revolutionary Triumph.” Continue reading

Cuba Supporters in Canada Launch Hurricane Relief Fund

Introduction, by Robert Johnson. Cuba has been assaulted in quick succession by three powerful hurricanes. Gustav, Hanna, and Ike left a trail of massive destruction, the worst that Cuba has experienced in more than four decades. This was a cruel blow to the Cuban people, who have set an example to the world of selfless generosity despite their limited material resources. Under the leadership of their workers and farmers government, Cubans have now set to work to repair the damage. Continue reading

Is Cuba Done With Equality? — Not So!

By Fred Feldman. Cuba’s June 11 announcement of modifications to its wage structure to introduce productivity incentives has aroused a great deal of critical comment among radicals and socialists. The issues are sharply posed in “Of Pay and Productivity: Is Cuba Done With Equality?” an article by Moshe Adler in Counterpunch, a radical U.S.-based webzine. Continue reading

Fidel: ‘My only wish is to fight as a soldier in the battle of ideas’

fidel.jpgOn Monday, February 18, Fidel Castro informed Cuba’s National Assembly that he will “neither aspire to nor accept” the positions of President of the State Council and Commander in Chief when elections are held this coming weekend.

Socialist Voice has always been a devoted partisan of the Cuban revolution. We join our voices to the millions worldwide who are saluting this great revolutionary leader. For the views of two Socialist Voice’s editors on the challenges facing Cuba in this time of transition, see Cuba Stands Firm! (PDF: 257 KB)

Below, we reprint three articles:

  • Fidel’s Message to the People of Cuban (February 18)
  • “Fidel’s Political Stature Praised Worldwide,” from the Cuban newspaper Granma (February 21)
  • Revolutionary Appreciation and Respect to Fidel Castro, a letter from the Democratic Socialist Perspective of Australia (February 19)

A Message to the People of Cuba

Dear compatriots:

The moment has come to nominate and elect the State Council, its President, its Vice-Presidents and Secretary.

For many years I have occupied the honourable position of President. On February 15, 1976 the Socialist Constitution was approved with the free, direct and secret vote of over 95% of the people with the right to cast a vote. The first National Assembly was established on December 2nd that same year; this elected the State Council and its presidency. Before that, I had been a Prime Minister for almost 18 years. I always had the necessary prerogatives to carry forward the revolutionary work with the support of the overwhelming majority of the people.

There were those overseas who, aware of my critical health condition, thought that my provisional resignation, on July 31, 2006, to the position of President of the State Council, which I left to First Vice-President Raul Castro Ruz, was final. But Raul, who is also minister of the Armed Forces on account of his own personal merits, and the other comrades of the Party and State leadership were unwilling to consider me out of public life despite my unstable health condition.

It was an uncomfortable situation for me vis-à-vis an adversary which had done everything possible to get rid of me, and I felt reluctant to comply.

Later, in my necessary retreat, I was able to recover the full command of my mind as well as the possibility for much reading and meditation. I had enough physical strength to write for many hours, which I shared with the corresponding rehabilitation and recovery programs. Basic common sense indicated that such activity was within my reach. On the other hand, when referring to my health I was extremely careful to avoid raising expectations since I felt that an adverse ending would bring traumatic news to our people in the midst of the battle. Thus, my first duty was to prepare our people both politically and psychologically for my absence after so many years of struggle. I kept saying that my recovery “was not without risks.”

My wishes have always been to discharge my duties to my last breath. That’s all I can offer.

To my dearest compatriots, who have recently honoured me so much by electing me a member of the Parliament where so many agreements should be adopted of utmost importance to the destiny of our Revolution, I am saying that I will neither aspire to nor accept, I repeat, I will neither aspire to nor accept the positions of President of the State Council and Commander in Chief.

In short letters addressed to Randy Alonso, Director of the Round Table National TV Program — letters which at my request were made public — I discreetly introduced elements of this message I am writing today, when not even the addressee of such letters was aware of my intention. I trusted Randy, whom I knew very well from his days as a student of journalism. In those days I met almost on a weekly basis with the main representatives of the university students from the provinces at the library of the large house in Kohly where they lived. Today, the entire country is an immense university.

Following are some paragraphs chosen from the letter addressed to Randy on December 17, 2007:

“I strongly believe that the answers to the current problems facing Cuban society, which has, as an average, a twelfth grade of education, almost a million university graduates, and a real possibility for all its citizens to become educated without their being in any way discriminated against, require more variables for each concrete problem than those contained in a chess game. We cannot ignore one single detail; this is not an easy path to take, if the intelligence of a human being in a revolutionary society is to prevail over instinct.

“My elemental duty is not to cling to positions, much less to stand in the way of younger persons, but rather to contribute my own experience and ideas whose modest value comes from the exceptional era that I had the privilege of living in.

“Like Niemeyer, I believe that one has to be consistent right up to the end.”

Letter from January 8, 2008:

“…I am a firm supporter of the united vote (a principle that preserves the unknown merits), which allowed us to avoid the tendency to copy what came to us from countries of the former socialist bloc, including the portrait of the one candidate, as singular as his solidarity towards Cuba. I deeply respect that first attempt at building socialism, thanks to which we were able to continue along the path we had chosen.”

And I reiterated in that letter that “…I never forget that ‘all of the world’s glory fits in a kernel of corn.”

Therefore, it would be a betrayal to my conscience to accept a responsibility requiring more mobility and dedication than I am physically able to offer. This I say devoid of all drama.

Fortunately, our revolution can still count on cadres from the old guard and others who were very young in the early stages of the process. Some were very young, almost children, when they joined the fight on the mountains and later they have given glory to the country with their heroic performance and their internationalist missions. They have the authority and the experience to guarantee the replacement. There is also the intermediate generation which learned together with us the basics of the complex and almost unattainable art of organizing and leading a revolution.

The path will always be difficult and require from everyone’s intelligent effort. I distrust the seemingly easy path of apologetics or its antithesis the self-flagellation. We should always be prepared for the worst variable. The principle of being as prudent in success as steady in adversity cannot be forgotten. The adversary to be defeated is extremely strong; however, we have been able to keep it at bay for half a century.

This is not my farewell to you. My only wish is to fight as a soldier in the battle of ideas. I shall continue to write under the heading of “Reflections by comrade Fidel.” It will be just another weapon you can count on. Perhaps my voice will be heard. I shall be careful.

Thank you.

Fidel Castro Ruz

February 18, 2008, 5:30 p.m.


Fidel’s Political Stature Praised Worldwide

(from Granma, newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, February 21, 2008)

Dignitaries and public figures from around the world heaped praise Wednesday on Fidel Castro for his political stature after the Cuban leader announced he would not seek or accept reelection as president and commander and chief, when the new Cuban parliament convenes on Sunday.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told VTV viewers in a telephone interview that Fidel will always be on the front line.

“Fidel didn’t resign,” noted Chavez adding, “People like Fidel never retire.”

In Brazil, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, said that for the tranquility of Latin America it is important that this process take place calmly under the initiative of the revolutionary leader. “The great legend carries on. Fidel Castro is one of the great legends in the history of humanity,” said Lula.

Likewise, Bolivian President Evo Morales called Fidel a historic, revolutionary and anti-imperialist leader from whom he learned a lot, above all from his commitment to his people and the peoples of the world.

“Nobody can ignore that independent of the post he holds, Fidel Castro will continue being an undisputed leader, the moral authority of the people of Cuba, of the Cuban revolution and beyond,” said Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega at a press conference in San Salvador.

China expressed its hope that Fidel Castro promptly recovers his health and repeated its intention to further strengthen the ties of friendship with Cuba.

In Spain, visiting Honduran President Manual Zelaya said that his country’s relations with Cuba “will not change.” Cuban teachers and doctors are currently working in Honduras.

Mexican Senator Rosario Ibarra said Fidel is a “giant of freedom” and an example for many generations. “Personally I was very moved by the beautiful message from a person whom to me will always be the Comandante.

In a session of the Jamaican parliament, Primer Minister Bruce Holding praised the firmness and courage of Fidel and highlighted his unwavering commitment to the cause of his people.

Former Jamaican Primer Minister Portia Simpson-Miller said, “he is a legend, a giant, a champion.”

The Angolan National Liberation Movement (MPLA) said that the legacy of President Fidel Castro must be taken into account.

The Foreign ministry of Trinidad and Tobago issued a communiqué in which it recognizes and salutes the leadership of Fidel.

From Argentina, Chief of Cabinet Alberto Fernandez defended the “good ties” with Cuba and praised Fidel Castro, “a man to whom history will dedicate many pages.”


Revolutionary appreciation and respect to Fidel Castro

To Comrade Fidel Castro Ruz,
Commander in Chief,
President of the Republic of Cuba

Dearest Comrade:

Your comrades in the Democratic Socialist Perspective in Australia join millions of others around the world in offering our deepest appreciation and respect for your long and exemplary revolutionary service as President of the Republic of Cuba. In a world being condemned by capitalism to war, poverty, injustice, and now, an unprecedented global environmental crisis, the great example of revolutionary Cuba, and your personal leadership, have been beacons of hope.

Here on the other side of the world to Cuba, we are campaigning for the government of our wealthy country to simply match the medical and education aid that Cuba has provided to our neighbour, the newly independent, but poor and small nation of Timor Leste. This says something very profound about revolutionary Cuba. Cuba’s aid, based on international solidarity not the advancement of corporate profit, speaks to the hearts and minds of the ordinary people in our region. It champions the cause of socialism through deeds more eloquent and persuasive than many words.

It will be hard for others to match your historic leadership, but we are confident that the Cuban revolution, which has survived the unremitting and ruthless hostility of its powerful imperialist neighbour, will find the resources to live up to your fine example in revolutionary leadership.

For our part, we repledge our complete solidarity for the Cuban revolution, the other socialist revolutions in the making and those which are still to come. Every revolution that takes place in this 21st century will in no small part owe a large debt to the Cuban revolutionary example and Cuban solidarity.

While your role as head of a great revolutionary state has come to an end, your role as revolutionary teacher and inspirer of millions in struggle for a better world, continues. We are privileged to continue as some of your proudest students.

Revolutionary salute!

Peter Boyle,
National Secretary
on behalf of all the members of the Democratic Socialist Perspective in Australia

Review: Latin America at the Crossroads

Cuban Communist Makes the Case for International Revolution

By John Riddell

Roberto Regalado. Latin America at the Crossroads. Translation by Peter Gellert. Ocean Press (www.oceanbooks.com.au), 2007, US$17.95; América latina entre siglos. Ocean Press, 2007, US$17.95.

This compact book by Roberto Regalado, a veteran member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, strongly reaffirms the need for revolution in Latin America and beyond.

Regalado, a section chief in the Cuban CP’s Department of International Relations, is anything but dogmatic. He is attentive to recent new trends in Latin American economics and politics and respectful toward the diverse currents of socialist opinion. He stresses the importance of the new features of Latin American social struggles: the role of peasants, the landless, indigenous peoples, women, environmentalists, and others.

But his careful and unpretentious analysis leads toward a striking conclusion: only a revolutionary seizure of political power by the masses can open the road to social progress south of the Rio Bravo and even within the imperialist countries.

Advent of neoliberalism

In just 232 pages Regalado provides a handbook of Marxist politics, outlining Marxism’s basic anticapitalist premise and examining closely the evolution of revolutionary and reformist schools of thought through the twentieth century.

The dominant trend shaping the present situation, he argues, is the advent of “neoliberalism”—a concerted capitalist offensive aimed at sweeping away the gains made by working people during the last century and at deepening the subjugation of Third World countries.

Neoliberalism has entailed increased government intervention to increase capitalist profits, which, as Regalado points out, is a symptom of the system’s crisis. Yet ironically, its advent led social democratic parties in imperialist countries to reaffirm that there is no alternative to accepting capitalist rule.

At their best, Regalado says, these parties aimed to rally support for neoliberalism’s harsh measures in return for their more gradual implementation. “After having wagered everything on the welfare state,” he adds, “the bankruptcy of that ideological construction today places … [social democracy] in the public pillory.” Unwilling to consider a perspective of superseding capitalism, its only course is total surrender.

As a result, the outcome of the great reformist experiment in imperialist countries is that “it was not social democracy that reformed capitalism, but capitalism that reformed social democracy.”

Regalado argues that an anticapitalist strategy is urgent not only in the most oppressed nations but also in the richest and most privileged. Echoing a theme often voiced by Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro, he sums up his case:

“Rosa Luxemburg posed the problem in terms of ‘socialism or barbarism.’ Slightly more than seven decades after Luxemburg’s death, barbarism threatens humanity’s very existence.”

Collapse of the Soviet bloc

In Regalado’s view, the conditions governing working people’s response to neoliberalism were greatly worsened by the collapse of the Soviet Union and allied Eastern European regimes during 1989-91, which led to a “strengthening of imperialist power, interference, and intervention on a world scale, and the erosion of the credibility of the ideas of revolution and socialism.”

Without attempting a full analysis, Regalado notes two factors that led to the collapse:

  • On the economic front, he quotes Panamanian theorist Nils Castro’s comment that “Stalinist rigidity” led to placing “the priorities of bureaucratic political control and the perpetuation of the regime” above “those of the scientific and technical revolution,” to the point where Soviet productive relations “wound up becoming obstacles” to the development of productive forces.
  • Politically, Regalado notes that “the Soviet Union was not able to combine centralism with democracy.” The ruling party and state “never managed to trust … workers and peasants enough to allow them to exercise the democratic rights that Marx, Engels, and Lenin dreamt for them.” Instead, “the perpetuation of power became the objective” of the ruling elite.

To this forceful analysis should be added the fact that the Stalinist elite pursued power not merely for its own sake but to protect massive economic privileges, frequently placing its narrow interests above those of world socialism.

Regalado notes that “socialist states” in Eastern Europe and Asia and also in Cuba followed “the general criteria of organization and the political and economic functioning of the Soviet Union, without questioning at the time” the so-called “Soviet model.”

This is clearly significant with regard to Cuba’s future path. Stalinist distortions in Cuba have received much discussion on the island. Yet with regard to the Cuban experience, Regalado is too modest. It is important to note the ways in which Cuba is fundamentally different from the other post-capitalist states that Regalado refers to.

Despite a couple of attempts, no privileged bureaucracy conquered Cuba’s Communist Party and government. Cuba’s internationalist perspective, as this book itself testifies, remained firmly oriented to the needs of worldwide liberation. And the Cuban masses have never been repressed and excluded from the exercise of power in the way that they were in the Soviet Union and under other Stalinist regimes.

Latin America thrown into turmoil

The second and longer part of Latin America at the Crossroads takes a close look at the region’s evolution during the last few decades. It briefly outlines the history and character of Latin American society since the conquest and provides an effective survey of major events of recent decades.

Regalado’s long involvement with the region’s politics enables him to provide striking portraits of significant turning points. Notable is his description of the fall of the FSLN government in Nicaragua in 1990. Sandinista errors and weakening Soviet support played a role, he says, but the decisive factor was the implacable U.S. war against the regime.

This forced the Sandinistas into a compromise peace that obliged them to “continue taking steps that weakened the foundations of revolutionary power.” In this context, the 1990 vote lost by the FSLN was a rigged election in which “it faced a certain defeat, although this was not foreseen by the Sandinista leadership.”

Regalado also notes the “violations of sovereignty, independence, and self-determination” represented by the forced removal of Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 by U.S. – and, we must add, Canadian – troops and the subsequent fraud, perpetrated with Canada/U.S. support, in an unsuccessful attempt to deny victory to René Préval in the 2006 presidential elections. He criticizes the Latin American governments that are participating in the Haiti occupation for complicity in these crimes.

Neoliberalism’s devastating impact

Following the victory of the Cuban revolution, Regalado states, Latin America witnessed a wave of mass anti-capitalist struggles that placed imperialist rule in question in several countries. During the 1970s and 1980s, however, imperialism was largely successful, through direct intervention and through sponsoring brutal dictatorships, in quelling this wave of struggle.

“Once the ‘pacification’ of Latin America was accomplished and the subordination of the bourgeoisies of the subcontinent reaffirmed, the phase of institutionalizing the new system of continental domination by U.S. imperialism began,” he writes.

The three pillars of this new model, he explains, were affirmation of the forms of representative democracy, establishment of “free trade,” and an increase in direct U.S. military presence and control across the region. Foreign debt was utilized as the initial tool to break resistance by Latin American governments; they were then herded into hemispheric covenants which provided steadily increasing scope for U.S.-sponsored intervention in national politics.

As the U.S.-sponsored coup in 1990 against Haiti’s democratically elected president showed, the new order’s respect for “democracy” applies only to governments that play by Washington’s rules. Moreover, national elections are swayed by arrogant interventions by U.S. government agencies.

Traditionally, capitalist rule and exploitation in Latin America rested on a “system of social and political alliances,” which continued even during periods of dictatorship, Regalado says. During the decades since 1970, however, a “transnational concentration of wealth and political power has been imposed on the region.”

This evolution has “destroyed not only the social and political alliances” on which class rule had previously been based, but destroyed also “the economic and social matrix that would have permitted [this rule] to be restabilized,” Regalado says. This helps explain “why political, economic, and social crisis exploded everywhere in Latin America in the transition from the 20th to the 21st centuries.”

Toward conquest of political power

Despite major gains by popular movements, however, Regalado emphasizes that imperialist domination is still firmly entrenched in Latin America. Even where powerful popular upsurges have taken place, left parties lose far more elections than they win. Victory has come, he states, where the left has accumulated political capital over time and built unified, rooted movements. And even so, left victories in Brazil and Uruguay were insufficient to “endanger the institutional equilibrium.”

“Only in the elections of Chávez and Evo Morales was there a direct link between the weakness of the institutional political system, the rise in the social movements, and a popular political force taking office, in circumstances in which it was possible to break, at least in part, with the restrictions imposed by the model of domination.”

(Regalado’s book went to press too early for him to analyze recent victories of popular forces in Ecuador and Nicaragua.)

Regalado concludes with a ringing reaffirmation of the need for revolution:

“History shows that the reform of capitalism in progressive fashion is viable only in those places and at those moments when it was compatible with the process of capital accumulation. This compatibility does not exist today, either in Latin America or in any other region of the world….

“Sooner or later, the popular content and capitalist ‘packaging’ of the political processes developed by the Latin American left today will lead to an untenable contradiction, because only a revolutionary social transformation, however it may be accomplished in the 21st century, will resolve the problems of Latin America.”

Regalado acknowledges the importance of attempts to redefine the concept of socialism through criticism of the “Soviet model.” He also underlines the importance of socialist democracy, which he defines in terms calling to mind the strengths of revolutionary Cuba:

“A political system … based on mechanisms of popular participation and representation capable of establishing a consensus that guarantees unity of thought and action on the key points of socialist construction and of mutually reinforcing this unity through the free and constructive flow of all ideas and proposals that reflect the diverse interests of the sectors of society for whose benefit such an effort is being undertaken.”

And this, Regalado specifies, requires nothing less than “the seizure of political power” under conditions where “those holding power in the world will cling to it to the very end.”

The Spanish edition of Latin America at the Crossroads, updated from the English version, is being widely read and studied across Latin America. The book thus typifies the way in which Cuba’s example and ideas have served to introduce socialism to a new generation of fighters across the region. This is in itself an excellent reason for socialists and social activists in English-speaking countries to study it closely.

Bolivia and Cuba: Radical Action Needed Now to Stop Global Warming

Letter from Bolivian President Evo Morales
to the members of the United Nations, September 24, 2007

Sister and brother Presidents and Heads of States of the United Nations:

The world is suffering from a fever due to climate change, and the disease is the capitalist development model. Whilst over 10,000 years the variation in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels on the planet was approximately 10%, during the last 200 years of industrial development, carbon emissions have increased by 30%. Since 1860, Europe and North America have contributed 70% of the emissions of CO2. 2005 was the hottest year in the last one thousand years on this planet.

Different investigations have demonstrated that out of the 40,170 living species that have been studied, 16,119 are in danger of extinction. One out of eight birds could disappear forever. One out of four mammals is under threat. One out of every three reptiles could cease to exist. Eight out of ten crustaceans and three out of four insects are at risk of extinction. We are living through the sixth crisis of the extinction of living species in the history of the planet and, on this occasion, the rate of extinction is 100 times more accelerated than in geological times.

Faced with this bleak future, transnational interests are proposing to continue as before, and paint the machine green, which is to say, continue with growth and irrational consumerism and inequality, generating more and more profits, without realising that we are currently consuming in one year what the planet produces in one year and three months. Faced with this reality, the solution can not be an environmental make over.

I read in the World Bank report that in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change we need to end subsidies on hydrocarbons, put a price on water and promote private investment in the clean energy sector. Once again they want to apply market recipes and privatisation in order to carry out business as usual, and with it, the same illnesses that these policies produce. The same occurs in the case of biofuels, given that to produce one litre of ethanol you require 12 litres of water. In the same way, to process one ton of agrifuels you need, on average, one hectare of land.

Faced with this situation, we – the indigenous peoples and humble and honest inhabitants of this planet – believe that the time has come to put a stop to this, in order to rediscover our roots, with respect for Mother Earth; with the Pachamama as we call it in the Andes. Today, the indigenous peoples of Latin America and the world have been called upon by history to convert ourselves into the vanguard of the struggle to defend nature and life.

I am convinced that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, recently approved after so many years of struggle, needs to pass from paper to reality so that our knowledge and our participation can help to construct a new future of hope for all. Who else but the indigenous people, can point out the path for humanity in order to preserve nature, natural resources and the territories that we have inhabited from ancient times.

We need a profound change of direction, at the world wide level, so as to stop being the condemned of the earth. The countries of the north need to reduce their carbon emissions by between 60% and 80% if we want to avoid a temperature rise of more than 2º in what is left of this century, which would provoke global warming of catastrophic proportions for life and nature.

We need to create a World Environment Organisation which is binding, and which can discipline the World Trade Organisation, which is propelling us towards barbarism. We can no longer continue to talk of growth in Gross National Product without taking into consideration the destruction and wastage of natural resources. We need to adopt an indicator that allows us to consider, in a combined way, the Human Development Index and the Ecological Footprint in order to measure our environmental situation.

We need to apply harsh taxes on the super concentration of wealth, and adopt effective mechanisms for its equitable redistribution. It is not possible that three families can have an income superior to the combined GDP of the 48 poorest countries. We can not talk of equity and social justice whilst this situation continues.

The United States and Europe consume, on average, 8.4 times more that the world average. It is necessary for them to reduce their level of consumption and recognise that all of us are guests on this same land; of the same Pachamama.

I know that change is not easy when an extremely powerful sector has to renounce their extraordinary profits for the planet to survive. In my own country I suffer, with my head held high, this permanent sabotage because we are ending privileges so that everyone can “Live Well” and not better than our counterparts. I know that change in the world is much more difficult than in my country, but I have absolute confidence in human beings, in their capacity to reason, to learn from mistakes, to recuperate their roots, and to change in order to forge a just, diverse, inclusive, equilibrated world in harmony with nature.

Evo Morales Ayma
President of the Republic of Bolivia


Speech by Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Felipe Perez Roque,
to the UN high-level event on climate change in New York, September 24, 2007

Mr. President:

We met, as we are doing now, fifteen years ago at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro. It was a historic moment. There, we took on the commitment later on contained in the Convention on Climate Change and, subsequently, in the Kyoto Protocol. Cuba was then the first country to take the environmental issue to a constitutional platform.

That day, President Fidel Castro delivered a brief and fundamental speech, which overwhelmed those present in the plenary of such conference. He told profound truths, breaking them down one by one from an unwavering ethical and humanistic position:

“An important biological species is at risk of disappearing due to the rapid and progressive elimination of its natural habitat: man.

“… consumer societies are fundamentally responsible for the atrocious destruction of the environment.

“The solution cannot be to hinder the development of the neediest.

“If we want to save humanity from that self-destruction, there must be a better distribution of the available wealth and technologies on the planet. There must be less luxury and less squandering in a few countries so that there will be less impoverishment and less famine in a large portion of the Earth.”

The truth is that almost nothing was done afterwards. The situation is now a lot more critical, the dangers are greater and we are running out of time.

The scientific evidence is clear. Practical observation is overwhelming. These could only be called into question by irresponsible people. The last ten years have been the warmest. There is a decrease in the thickness of artic ice. Glaciers are receding. Sea level is on the rise. Also increasing is the frequency and intensity of hurricanes.

The future looks worse: some 30% of all species will disappear if global temperature increases by 1.5 to 2.5 degrees centigrade. Small island states are running the risk of disappearing under the waters.

In order to face the danger, we have agreed on two strategies. Mitigation, which is the reduction in and absorption of the emissions; and adaptation, referring to actions aimed at reducing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.

However, it is increasingly clear that this dramatic situation will not be tackled unless there is a shift in the current unbridled production and consumption patterns, presented as the dream to achieve through an unscrupulous and ongoing worldwide advertising campaign on which a trillion dollars is invested every year.

We have common but differentiated responsibilities. The developed countries, responsible for 76% of the emissions of greenhouse gases accumulated since 1850, have to bear the brunt of mitigation and must set the example. What is even worse is that their emissions increased by over 12% between 1990 and 2003, and those of the United States in particular grew by over 20%. Therefore, they must begin by honoring the ever-modest commitments contained in the Kyoto Protocol and by taking on new and ambitious goals to reduce emissions as of 2012.

The problem will not be resolved by purchasing the quota of the poor countries. That is a selfish and inefficient path. Nor will it be resolved by turning food into fuels as proposed by President Bush. It is a sinister idea. Real reductions must be achieved in the emission sources. A real energy revolution must take place with a focus on saving and efficiency. A great deal of political will and courage is required to wage this battle. Cuba’s modest experience, successful and encouraging despite the blockade and the aggressions that we suffer from, is proof that we can do it.

On the other hand, the fight against climate change cannot be an obstacle impeding the development of the over 100 countries that have yet to attain it and which, by the way, are not the historic culprits of what has happened; it has to be compatible with the sustainable development of our countries. We reject the pressures on the underdeveloped countries to enter into binding commitments to reduce emissions. What is more, the portion of global emissions pertaining to the underdeveloped countries must increase in order to meet the needs of their socio-economic development. The developed countries have no moral authority to demand anything on this issue.

Paradoxically, the countries that have caused the least global warming, particularly the small island states and the least developed countries, are the most vulnerable and threatened. For them to implement adaptation policies they need unrestricted access to clean technologies and to financing.

However, the developed countries are the ones monopolizing the patents, the technologies and the money. They are, therefore, responsible for the Third World to gain access to substantial amounts of fresh funding above the current Official Development Assistance levels, which are completely insufficient in fact. They must also be held accountable for the effective free transfer of technologies and the training of human resources in our countries – something which, of course, will not be resolved through the market or the neoliberal policies imposed through pressure and blackmail.

And the largest responsibility lies, without a doubt, with the country that most squanders, the one that most pollutes, the one that has the most money and technologies – which, at the same time, refuses to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and has not shown any commitment at all to this meeting convened by the United Nations Secretary-General.

Mr. President:

Cuba is hopeful that the forthcoming Bali Conference will produce a clear mandate for the developed countries to reduce, by 2020, their emissions by no less than 40% as compared to their 1990 levels; a mandate negotiated within the framework of the Convention and not in small cliques and selective collusions as proposed by the Government of the United States.

Cuba also expects that a mechanism be adopted to ensure the expeditious transfer to the underdeveloped countries of clean technologies under preferential terms, with the utmost priority to the small island states and the least developed countries, which are the most vulnerable.

We also expect that new and additional resources be allocated, and that financial support mechanisms be adopted to assist the underdeveloped countries in implementing our adaptation strategies. By way of example, if only half the money that our countries must pay every year in servicing a burdensome debt that does not cease to grow were set aside for these purposes, we would have over US$ 200 billion per annum. Another alternative would be to earmark merely the tenth of what the sole military superpower on the planet spends on wars and weapons and we would have another US$ 50 billion available. The money is there, but political will is lacking.

Mr. President:

The Secretary-General of the United Nations has called upon us today to send a powerful political message to the forthcoming Bali Conference. I find no better way to say it on Cuba’s behalf than to repeat Fidel’s words that 12 June 1992:

“Let selfishness end, let hegemonies end, let insensitivity, irresponsibility and deceit end. Tomorrow it will be too late to do what we should have done a long time ago.”

Thank you very much.

Fidel Castro: Remembering Chibás, 100 Years After His Birth

by Fidel Castro Ruz
August 25, 2007

[Socialist Voice Note: Eduardo René Chibás Rivas (1907-1951) was the founder of the Ortodoxos (Orthodox) party, of which Fidel Castro was a member. He aimed to expose government corruption and bring about revolutionary change through constitutional means.]

When I read Hart’s article, published by Granma in commemoration of Chibás’ birth, and saw it quoted a paragraph of the speech I delivered at the Colón Cemetery on January 16, 1959, eight days after my arrival in Havana following the revolutionary triumph, many memories of fallen, heroic comrades came to me. I thought of Juan Manuel Márquez, a brilliant orator and follower of Marti’s ideas and second chief of the Granma expeditionary force. I thought of Abel Santamaría, who was to take command of our forces were I to fall during the attack on the Moncada garrison; of Pedro Marrero, Ñico López, José Luis Tasende, Gildo Fleitas, the Gómez brothers, Ciro Redondo, Julio Díaz and practically all the members of the numerous contingent of young people from Artemisa who fell at Moncada or in the Sierra. The list is endless. All of them came from the rank and file of the Orthodox Party.

The first problem we faced was getting Batista out of office. Had Chibás been alive, Batista would not have been able to stage his coup d’état, because the founder of the Cuban (Orthodox) People’s Party kept a close eye on him and called him into question publicly and methodically. Following Chibás’ death, Batista was sure to lose the elections scheduled for June 1, 1952, two and a half months after the coup. Opinion polls were fairly reliable and Batista’s unpopularity was constantly growing, day after day.

I was at the meeting where the new Orthodox candidate was chosen. I was more of a bold intruder than an invitee. I was to enter parliament, to struggle in the name of a radical program. No one could have prevented this. Then, it was rumored that I was a communist, a word which prompted many negative reactions inculcated by the dominant classes. To have spoken of Marxism-Leninism then, or even during the first years of the Revolution, would have been foolish and clumsy. During the speech I delivered before Chibás’ grave, I spoke such that the people would understand the objective contradictions which our society faced at the time and which we still must face.

I spoke every day at a local radio station in the capital to deliver messages directly to tens of thousands of voters who had spontaneously joined the Orthodox Party. I also addressed the entire nation through the special supplements of the Alerta newspaper on several, nearly consecutive Mondays, publishing the proven accusations of corruption in the Prío government voiced between January 28 and March 4, 1952. Intuitively, I was able to predict and get inside Batista’s intentions of staging a coup. I denounced these intentions before the party leadership and asked them permission to use Chibás’ Sunday radio time to do so publicly. “We’ll look into it”, they told me. Two days later, they announced the following: “We have looked into the matter through our channels and there’s no indication of that whatsoever”. The coup could have been prevented but nothing was done. Months before, Chibás had already, painstakingly managed to prevent “a pact without ideology”, as he would call it, between members of the Orthodox party and the former Cuban (Authentic) Revolutionary Party. Most of the provincial party leadership had supported the pact. The economic system prevailing at the time made it easy for the oligarchy and land-owners to take control of the party leadership in nearly all of the country’s provinces. Only one party leadership remained loyal, the one in the capital, which was heavily influenced by radical intellectuals. Following the coup and at a time when unity was most dearly needed, what the oligarchy did was abandon the vast majority of the people at the mercy of the imperialist tempest. I continued to adhere to my revolutionary project, only that this time it would be an armed struggle, from the very beginning.

The day in which Chibás — whose body lay in state at the University of Havana — was to be buried, I proposed that the leadership of the Orthodox Party lead the enormous funeral procession to the Presidential Palace and seize the premises. I had spent the entire night answering questions from radio reporters and inciting the people to undertake radical actions. No one at the university paid any attention to the radio broadcasts that night. We had a disorganized, panic-stricken government, a demoralized army that had no intention of repressing that procession. No one would have held it back.

One year after the death of Chibás, I wrote a proclamation titled “A Harsh Blow”, which was mimeographed six days following Batista’s treacherous coup. What follows is the text of this proclamation.

Not a Revolution, but a harsh blow! Not patriots; but destroyers of civil liberty, usurpers, backward-minded individuals, adventurers thirsty for gold and power.

It was not a military uprising against the apathetic and lazy President Prio; it was a military uprising against the people, on the eve of an election whose results were a foregone conclusion.

There was no order but it was the people whose duty it was to decide democratically, in a civilized manner, on the men who would govern them, by political will and not by force.

A fortune would be spent in favor of the imposed candidate, nobody denies that, but that wouldn’t change the result just as the result was not changed by a flood of funds from the Public Treasury in favor of the candidate imposed by Batista in 1944.

It is completely false, absurd, ridiculous and childish that Prio would attempt a coup d’état, a clumsy excuse; his impotence and incapacity to attempt such an enterprise has been irrefutably demonstrated by the cowardice with which power was seized.

We were suffering from bad governance, but we were also suffering from years of waiting for a constitutional opportunity to avert the evil, and you, Batista, who remained in the shadows as a coward for four years and futilely indulged in politicking for another three, now you appear with your tardy, disturbing and poisonous remedy, ripping the Constitution to shreds when we were only two months away from reaching the goal through the official channels.

Everything you allege is a lie, a cynical justification, concealed vanity and not patriotic decorum, ambition and not ideal, greed and not civil nobility.

It was correct to overthrow a government made up of embezzlers and murderers; we tried to do this by civic channels, supported by public opinion and with the help of the masses; in contrast, what right do they who yesterday robbed and killed indiscriminately have to replace it in the name of bayonets?

It is not peace, it is the seed of hatred which is being sown. It is not happiness, it is mourning and sadness which the nation feels as it is faced with the tragic panorama it begins to discern. There is nothing in this world as bitter as the spectacle of a people who go to sleep in liberty and awaken in slavery.

Once again the military boot; once again Columbia dictating laws that remove and appoint ministers; once again tanks rumbling menacingly through our streets; once again brute force reigning over human rationality. We were becoming accustomed to living by the Constitution; we had twelve years without any great difficulties, even though there were some errors and rash actions. Superior states of civic coexistence can only be attained through arduous efforts. In a matter of a few hours, you, Batista, have demolished the Cuban people’s noble illusion.

All of the ills Prío was responsible for in three years, you committed in the course of eleven. Your coup is thus unjustifiable; it is not based on any serious moral reason, or on any social or political doctrine of any kind. It finds its only reason for existence in force, and its justification in lies. Your majority lies with the Army, never with the people. Your ballots are guns, never free wills; with them you can win a military uprising, but never clean elections. Your usurping against power lacks any principles to legitimize it; laugh if you will, but in the long run principles are more powerful than cannons. Principles are what form and nourish the people, what embolden them for battle, what they die for.

Do not call this outrage revolution, this disquieting and untimely coup, this treacherous stab in the back of the Republic which you have just given. Trujillo has been the first one to recognize your government, he knows who his friends are in the covey of tyrants who are battering America; that shows, more than anything else, the reactionary, militaristic and criminal nature of your coup. Nobody even remotely believes in the governmental success of your old and rotten covey; the thirst for power is too great; there is no moderation when there is no Constitution and law other than the will of the tyrant and his gang.

I know beforehand that your guarantee for life will be torture and humiliation. Your followers will kill even though you don’t want them to, and you will tranquilly consent because you owe yourself completely to them. Despots are masters of the people they oppress and slaves to the force on which they base their oppression. A torrent of lying and demagogic propaganda will rain down on us now, in your favor, from all sources, using both soft and hard methods, and your opposition will be deluged with vile slander; Prío did that also and it had no effect on the people’s consciousness. But the truth which illuminates the fate of Cuba and guides the steps of our people in this their difficult hour, that truth which you will forbid to be told, the whole world will know it; it will race clandestinely from mouth to mouth, down every man and woman, even though no one says it in public or publishes it in the press, and everyone will believe it and the seeds of heroic rebellion shall be sown in every heart; that is what guides every conscience.

I do not know what the furious pleasure of the oppressors will be, when their treacherous whip hits human backs like a new Cain against their brothers, but I do know that there is an infinite happiness in fighting them and raising a strong arm while saying: I don’t want to be a slave!

Cubans: again we have a tyrant, but again we will have the likes of Mella, Trejo and Guiteras; there is oppression in our homeland but one day there will be freedom again.

I invite all brave Cubans, all the brave militants of the Glorious Party of Chibás; the time has come to make sacrifices and fight; should our lives be lost, nothing is lost; “to live enchained is to live in dishonor and outrage. To die for the Homeland is to live.”

Fidel Castro

When this irreverent article was not published —who would dare publish it?— it was distributed at the Colón Cemetery by friends and sympathizers in the Orthodox Party on March 16, 1952.

On August 16, 1952, the clandestine newspaper El acusador published an article entitled “A Critical Assessment of the Cuban (Orthodox) People’s Party”, under the pseudonym of “Alejandro”. As I have already offered a critical assessment of that party, I thought it apt to include the following analysis:

Above and beyond the commotion of the cowards, the mediocre and the fainthearted, it is necessary to voice a brief but courageous and constructive assessment of the Orthodox Movement, following the fall of its great leader Eduardo Chibás.

The formidable and sharp criticisms of the champion of the Orthodox Party left it such an immense profusion of popular emotion that it brought it right to the doors of Power. Everything was done, and all that remained was to know how to hold on to the ground already gained.

The first question each honest Orthodox member must ask himself is the following: Have we enhanced the moral and revolutionary legacy left us by Chibás…, or, on the contrary, have we misappropriated part of that legacy…?

He who thinks that until this moment everything has been done well, that we have nothing to reproach ourselves for, is not sufficiently severe with his conscience.

Those sterile feuds that followed the death of Chibás, those colossal scandals, for reasons that were not exactly ideological but purely selfish and personal, still echo like bitter blows of the hammer on our conscience.

That dreadful process of going to the rostrum to clarify pointless disputes was a grave symptom of lack of discipline and responsibility.

March 10th came unexpectedly. It was to be expected that such a serious event would rip from the roots of the Party the petty quarrels and the sterile personal ambitions. Was that what actually happened…?

To the amazement and indignation of the Party masses, the clumsy disputes cropped up again. The culprits were so foolish that they did not realize that there was narrow room in the press to attack the regime, but ample room to attack the Orthodox Party. Those who have helped Batista in like fashion have not been few.

No one would be shocked that such a necessary recount should be made today, when it is the time for the great masses who, in bitter silence, have suffered these losses, and there is no more fitting moment than today to be accountable to Chibás at his tomb.

That immense mass of the Cuban People’s Party is on its feet, more determined than ever. It asks at this hard moment…Where are those who were candidates…those who wanted to be the first in the positions of honor at the assemblies and in the executive, those who would go on tours and chart tendencies, those who would claim their places on the platform at the large rallies and who now no longer go on tours, or mobilize the grass roots, or ask for the positions of honor in the front line of combat…?

Whoever has a traditional concept of politics could be pessimistic when faced with this vision of truths. On the other hand, for those with a blind faith in the masses, for those who believe in the uncompromising force of great ideas, the indecision of the leaders will not be a reason for weakness or despair, because these vacancies will be occupied in short order by upright men who come from the rank and file.

The moment has come for revolution and not politics. Politics is the consecration of the opportunism of those who have the means and the resources. Revolution opens the door to true worthiness, to those who possess courage and sincere ideals, to those who bare their chest and uplift the banner. The Revolutionary Party requires a revolutionary leadership, young and from the ranks of the people, in order to save Cuba.

Alejandro.

Later, we set up a clandestine radio station which did what Radio Rebelde would later do in the Sierra. In relatively little time, the mimeograph, broadcaster and the few things we had fell to the hands of the coup officers. I then learned the rigorous rules to which the conspiracy which culminated with the attack on the Moncada garrison had to adhere.

Shortly, a small volume which expounds on two fundamental ideas that were expressed in two of my speeches — the one I delivered at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro over 15 years ago and at the international conference titled “Dialogue among Civilizations”, held two and a half years ago — will be published. I ask readers to study the two documents in depth. I apologize for this act of self-publicity, from which I hope you, not I, will profit.

Fidel Castro: The Empire and the Independent Island

by Fidel Castro Ruz
August 14, 2007

The history of Cuba during the last 140 years is one of struggle to preserve national identity and independence, and the history of the evolution of the American empire, its constant craving to appropriate Cuba and of the horrendous methods that it uses today to hold on to world domination.

Prominent Cuban historians have dealt in depth with these subjects in different periods and in various excellent books which deserve to be readily available to our compatriots. These reflections are addressed especially to the new generations with the aim of helping them learn about very important and decisive events in the destiny of our homeland.

Part I: The Imposition of the Platt Amendment as an appendix to the Neocolonial Cuban Constitution of 1901.

The “ripe fruit doctrine” was formulated in 1823 by Secretary of State and later President John Quincy Adams. The United States would inevitably achieve taking over our country, by the law of political influence, once colonial subordination to Spain had ended.

Under the pretext of blowing up the “Maine” –a still unraveled event of which it took advantage to wage war against Spain, like the Gulf of Tonkin incident, an event which was demonstrably prefabricated in order to attack North Vietnam –President William McKinley signed the Joint Resolution of April 20, 1898, stating “…that the people on the island of Cuba are and by right ought to be free and independent”, “… that the United States herewith declare that they have no desire or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over said island, except for pacification thereof, and they affirm their determination, after this has been accomplished, to leave the government and control of the island to its people.” The Joint Resolution entitled the President to use force to remove the Spanish government from Cuba.

Colonel Leonard Wood, chief commander of the Rough Riders, and Theodore Roosevelt, second in command of the expansionist volunteers who landed in our country on the beaches close to Santiago de Cuba, after the brave but poorly utilized Spanish squadron and their Marine infantry on board had been destroyed by the American battleships, requested the support of Cuban insurrectionists who had weakened and defeated the Spanish Colonial Army after enormous sacrifices. The Rough Riders had landed without horses.

Following the defeat of Spain, representatives of the Queen Regent of Spain and of the President of the United States signed the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898 and, without consulting of the Cuban people, agreed that Spain should relinquish all claim of sovereignty over and title to the island and would evacuate it. Cuba would then be occupied by the United States on a temporary basis.

Already appointed U.S. military governor, Army Major General Leonard Wood, issued Military Order 301 of July 25, 1900, which called for a general election to choose delegates to a Constitutional Assembly that would be held in the city of Havana at twelve noon on the first Monday of November in 1900, with the purpose of drafting and adopting a Constitution for the people of Cuba.

On September 15, 1900, elections took place and 31 delegates from the National, Republican and Democratic Union parties were elected. On November 5, 1900, the Constitutional Convention held its opening session at the Irijoa Theatre of Havana which on that occasion received the name of Martí Theatre.

General Wood, representing the President of the United States, declared the Assembly officially installed. Wood advanced the intention of the United States government: “After you have drawn up the relations which, in your opinion, ought to exist between Cuba and the United States, the government of the United States will undoubtedly adopt the measures conducive to a final and authorized treaty between the peoples of both nations, aimed at promoting the growth of their common interests.”

The 1901 Constitution provided in its Article 2 that “the territory of the Republic is composed of the Island of Cuba, as well as the islands and neighboring keys which together were under Spanish sovereignty until the ratification of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898”.

Once the Constitution was drafted, the time had come to define political relations between Cuba and the United States. To that end, on February 12, 1901, a committee of five members was appointed and charged with studying and proposing a procedure that would lead to the stated goal.

On February 15, Governor Wood invited the members of the committee to go fishing and hosted a banquet in Batabanó, the main access route to the Isle of Pines, as it was known then, also occupied at that time by the U.S. troops which had intervened in the Cuban War of Independence. It was there in Batabanó that he revealed to them a letter from the Secretary of War, Elihu Root, containing the basic aspects of the future Platt Amendment. According to instructions from Washington, relations between Cuba and the United States were to abide by several aspects. The fifth of these was that, in order to make it easier for the United States to fulfill such tasks as were placed under its responsibility by the above mentioned provisions, and for its own defense, the United States could acquire title, and preserve it, for lands to be used for naval bases and maintain these in certain specific points.

Upon learning of the conditions demanded by the U.S. government, the Cuban Constitutional Assembly, on February 27, 1901, passed a position that was opposed to that of the U.S. Executive, eliminating therein the establishment of naval bases.

The U.S. government made an agreement with Orville H. Platt, Republican Senator from Connecticut, to present an amendment to the proposed Army Appropriations Bill which would make the establishment of American naval bases on Cuban soil a fait accompli.

In the Amendment, passed by the U.S. Senate on February 27, 1901 and by the House of Representatives on March 1, and sanctioned by President McKinley the following day, as a rider attached to the “Bill granting credit to the Army for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 1902,” the article mentioning the naval bases was drafted as follows:

“Art. VII.- That to enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its own defense, the government of Cuba will sell or lease to the United States lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points to be agreed upon with the President of the United States.”

Article VIII adds: “…the government of Cuba will embody the foregoing provisions in a permanent treaty with the United States.”

The speedy passage of the Amendment by the U.S. Congress was due to the circumstance of it coming close to the conclusion of the legislative term and to the fact that President McKinley had a clear majority in both Houses so that the Amendment could be passed without any problem. It became a United States Law when, on March 4, McKinley was sworn in for his second presidential term in office.

Some members of the Constitutional Convention maintained the view that they were not empowered to adopt the Amendment requested by the United States since this implied limitations on the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Cuba. Thus, the military governor Leonard Wood hastened to issue a new Military Order on March 12, 1901 where it was declared that the Convention was empowered to adopt the measures whose constitutionality was in question.

Other Convention members, such as Manuel Sanguily, held the opinion that the Assembly should be dissolved rather than adopt measures that so drastically offended the dignity and sovereignty of the people of Cuba. But during the session of March 7, 1901, a committee was appointed yet again in order to draft an answer to Governor Wood; the presentation of this was entrusted to Juan Gualberto Gómez who recommended, among other things, rejecting the clause concerning the leasing of coaling or naval stations.

Juan Gualberto Gómez maintained the most severe criticism of the Platt Amendment. On April 1, he tabled a debate of the presentation where he challenged the document on the grounds that it contravened the principles of the Treaty of Paris and of the Joint Resolution. But the Convention suspended the debate on Juan Gualberto Gómez’s presentation and decided to send another committee “to ascertain the motives and intentions of the government of the United States about any and all details referring to the establishment of a definitive order to relations, both political and economic, between Cuba and the United States, and to negotiate with the government itself, the bases for agreement on those extremes that would be proposed to the Convention for a final solution.”

Subsequently, a committee was elected that would travel to Washington, made up of Domingo Méndez Capote, Diego Tamayo, Pedro González Llorente, Rafael Portuondo Tamayo and Pedro Betancourt; they arrived in the United States on April 24, 1901. The next day, they met with Root and Wood who had earlier traveled back to his country for this purpose.

The American government hastened to publicly declare that the committee would be visiting Washington on their own initiative, with no invitation or official status.

Root, Secretary of War, met with the committee on April 25 and 26, 1901 and categorically informed them that “the United States’ right to impose the much debated clauses had been proclaimed for three-quarters of a century in the face of the American and European world and they were not willing to give it up to the point of putting their own safety in jeopardy.”

United States officials reiterated that none of the Platt Amendment clauses undermined the sovereignty and independence of Cuba; on the contrary, they would preserve them, and it was clarified that intervention would only occur in the case of severe disturbances, and only with the objective of maintaining order and internal peace.

The committee presented its report in a secret session on May 7, 1901. Within the committee there were severe discrepancies about the Platt Amendment.

On May 28, a paper drafted by Villuendas, Tamayo and Quesada was tabled for debate; it accepted the Amendment with some clarifications and recommended the signing of a treaty on trade reciprocity.

This paper was approved by a vote of 15 to 14, but the United States government didn’t accept that solution. It informed through Governor Wood that it would only accept the Amendment without qualifiers, and warned the Convention with an ultimatum that, since the Platt Amendment was “a statute passed by the Legislature of the United States, the President is obliged to carry it out as it is. He cannot change or alter it, add or take anything out. The executive action demanded by the statute is the withdrawal of the American Army from Cuba, and the statute authorizes this action when, and only when, a Constitutional government has been established which contains, either in its body or in appendices, certain categorical provisions, specified in the statute (…) Then if these provisions are found in the Constitution, the President will be authorized to withdraw the Army; if he does not find them there, then he will not be authorized to withdraw the Army…”

The United States Secretary of War sent a letter to the Cuban Constitutional Assembly where he stated that the Platt Amendment should be passed in its entirety with no clarifications, because in that way it would appear as a rider to the Army Appropriations Bill; he indicated that, otherwise, his country’s military forces would not be pulled out of Cuba.

On June 12, 1901, during another secret session of the Constitutional Assembly, the incorporation of the Platt Amendment as an appendix to the Constitution of the Republic passed on February 21 was put to the vote: 16 delegates voted aye and 11 voted nay. Bravo Correoso, Robau, Gener and Rius Rivera were absent from the session, abstaining from voting in favor of such a monstrosity.

The worst thing about the Amendment was the hypocrisy, the deceit, the Machiavellianism and the cynicism with which they concocted the plan to take over Cuba, to the lengths of publicly proclaiming the same arguments made by John Quincy Adams in 1823, about the apple which would fall because of gravity. This apple finally did fall, but it was rotten, just as many Cuban intellectuals had foreseen for almost half a century, from José Martí in the 1880’s right up to Julio Antonio Mella, assassinated in January of 1929.

Nobody better than Leonard Wood himself to describe what the Platt Amendment would mean for Cuba in two sections of a confidential letter to his fellow in the adventure, Theodore Roosevelt, dated on October 28, 1901:

“There is, of course, little or no independence left Cuba under the Platt Amendment. (…) the only consistent thing to do now is to seek annexation. This, however, will take some time, and during the period which Cuba maintains her own government, it is most desirable that she should be able to maintain such a one as will tend to her advancement and betterment. She cannot make certain treaties without our consent (…) and must maintain certain sanitary conditions (…), from all of which it is quite apparent that she is absolutely in our hands, and I believe that no European government for a moment considers that she is otherwise than a practical dependency of the United States, and as such is certainly entitled to our consideration. (…) With the control which we have over Cuba, a control which will soon undoubtedly become possession, (…) we shall soon practically control the sugar trade of the world. (…) the island will (…) gradually become Americanized and we shall have in time one of the richest and most desirable possessions in the world.”

Part II: The Application of the Platt Amendment and the Establishing of the Guantanamo Naval Base as a Framework for Relations between Cuba and the United States.

By the end of 1901, the electoral process which resulted in the triumph of Tomás Estrada Palma, without opposition and with the support of 47 percent of the electorate, had begun. On April 17, 1902, the President-elect in absentia left the United States for Cuba where he arrived three days later. The inauguration of the new President took place on May 20, 1902 at 12 noon. The Congress of the Republic had already been constituted. Leonard Wood set sail for his country in the battleship “Brooklyn”.

In 1902, shortly before the proclamation of the Republic, the United States government informed the newly elected President of the Island about the four sites selected for the establishing of naval bases -Cienfuegos, Bahía Honda, Guantanamo and Nipe – as provided by the Platt Amendment. Not even the Port of Havana escaped consideration since it was contemplated as “the most favorable for the fourth naval base”.

From the beginning, despite its spurious origins, the Government of Cuba, in which many of those who fought for independence participated, was opposed to the concession of four naval bases since it considered two to be more than enough. The situation grew tenser when the Cuban government toughened its stand and demanded the final drafting of the Permanent Agreement on Relations, with the goal of “determining at the same time and not in parts, all the details that were the object of the Platt Amendment and setting the range of their precepts”.

President McKinley had died in September 14, 1901 as a result of gunshot wounds he had sustained on the 6th of that month. Theodore Roosevelt had advanced to such a degree in his political career that he was already Vice President of the United States and so he had assumed the presidency after the shooting of his predecessor. Roosevelt, at that time did not deem it to be convenient to specify the scope of the Platt Amendment, so as not to delay the military installation of the Guantanamo Base, given what that would mean for the defense of the Canal whose construction France had begun and later abandoned in the Central American Isthmus, and which the voracious government of the empire intended to complete at all costs. Nor was he interested in defining the legal status of the Isle of Pines. Therefore, he abruptly reduced the number of naval bases under discussion, removed the Port of Havana suggestion and finally agreed to the concession of two bases: Guantanamo and Bahía Honda.

Subsequently, in compliance with Article VII of the constitutional appendix imposed on the Constitutional Convention, the Agreement was signed by the Presidents of Cuba and the United States on February 16 and 23, 1903, respectively:

“Article I. – The Republic of Cuba hereby leases to the United States, for the time required for the purposes of coaling and naval stations, the following described areas of land and water situated in the Island of Cuba:

“1st. In Guantanamo”…(A complete description of the bay and neighboring territory is made.)

“2nd. In Bahia Honda…” (Another similar description is made.)

This Agreement establishes:

“Article III. –While on the one hand the United States recognizes the continuance of the ultimate sovereignty of the Republic of Cuba over the above described areas of land and water, on the other hand the Republic of Cuba consents that during the period of the occupation by the United States of said areas under the terms of this agreement the United States shall exercise complete jurisdiction and control over and within said areas with the right to acquire for the public purposes of the United States any land or other property therein by purchase or by exercise of eminent domain with full compensation to the owners thereof.”

On May 28, 1903, surveying began to establish the boundaries of the Guantanamo Naval Station.

In the Agreement of July 2, 1903, dealing with the same subject, the “Regulations for the Lease of Naval and Coaling Stations” was passed:

“Article I.- The United States of America agrees and covenants to pay the Republic of Cuba the annual sum of two thousand dollars, in gold coin of the United States, as long as the former shall occupy and use said areas of land by virtue of said agreement.”

“All private lands and other real property within said areas shall be acquired forthwith by the Republic of Cuba.”

“The United States of America agrees to furnish to the Republic of Cuba the sums necessary for the purchase of said private lands and properties and such sums shall be accepted by the Republic of Cuba as advance payment on account of rental due by virtue of said Agreement.”

The Agreement which governed this lease, signed in Havana by representatives of the Presidents of Cuba and the United States respectively, was passed by the Cuban Senate on July 16, 1903, ratified by the President of Cuba a month later on August 16, and by the President of the United States on October 2, and after exchanging ratifications in Washington on October 6, it was published in the Gazette of Cuba on the 12th of the same month and year.

Dated on December 14, 1903, it was informed that four days earlier on the 10th of the same month, the United States had been given possession of the areas of water and land for the establishing of a naval station in Guantanamo.

For the United States Government and Navy, the transfer of part of the territory of the largest island in the Antilles was a source of great rejoicing and they intended to celebrate the event. Vessels belonging to the Caribbean Squadron and some battleships from the North Atlantic Fleet converged on Guantanamo.

The Cuban government appointed the Head of Public Works of Santiago de Cuba to deliver that part of the territory over which it technically exercised sovereignty on December 10, 1903, the date chosen by the United States. He would be the only Cuban present at the ceremony and just for a brief time since, once his mission was accomplished, without any toasts or handshakes, he left for the neighboring town of Caimanera.

The Head of Public Works had boarded the battleship “Kearsage”, which was the U.S. flagship, where he met Rear Admiral Barker. At 12:00 hours a 21-gun-salute was given and along with the notes of the Cuban National Anthem, the Cuban flag which had been flying on board that vessel was lowered, and immediately the United States flag was hoisted on land, at the point called Playa del Este, with an equal number of salvos, thus concluding the ceremony.

According to the articles of the Agreement, the United States was to dedicate the leased lands exclusively for public use, not being able to establish any type of business or industry.

The U.S. authorities in said territories and the Cuban authorities mutually agreed to surrender fugitives from justice charged with crimes or misdemeanors subject to the laws of each party, as long as it was required by the authorities who would be judging them.

Materials imported into the areas belonging to said naval stations for their own use and consumption would be exempt from customs duties, or any other kind of fees, to the Republic of Cuba.

The lease of these naval stations included the right to use and occupy the waters adjacent to said areas of land and water, to improve and deepen the entrances to them and their anchorages and for anything else that would be necessary for the exclusive use to which they were dedicated.

Even though the United States acknowledged the continuation of Cuba’s definitive sovereignty over those areas of water and land, it would exercise, with Cuba’s consent, “complete jurisdiction and domain” over said areas while they occupied them according to the other already quoted stipulations.

In the so-called Permanent Treaty of May 22, 1903, signed by the governments of the Republic of Cuba and the United States, future relations between both nations were detailed: in other words, what Manuel Márquez Sterling would call “the intolerable yoke of the Platt Amendment” was thus put firmly in place.

The Permanent Treaty, signed by both countries, was approved by the United States Senate on March 22, 1904 and by the Cuban Senate on June 8 of that year, and the ratifications were exchanged in Washington on June 1st, 1904. Therefore, the Platt Amendment is an amendment to an American law, an appendix to the Cuban Constitution of 1901 and a permanent treaty between both countries.

The experiences acquired with the Guantanamo Naval Base were useful to apply measures in Panama that were equal or worse, in the case of the Canal.

In the United States Congress, it is customary to introduce amendments, whenever a law which is of urgent necessity for its content and importance is being debated. This frequently obliges legislators to put aside or sacrifice any conflicting criteria. Such amendments have more than once affected the sovereignty for which our people tirelessly struggle.

In 1912, the Cuban Secretary of State, Manuel Sanguily, negotiated a new treaty with the U.S. State Department whereby the United States would relinquish its rights over Bahia Honda in exchange for enlarging the boundaries of the Guantanamo station.

That same year, when the uprising of the Partido de los Independientes de Color (Independent Colored Party) took place, which the Liberal Party government of President José Miguel Gómez brutally repressed, American troops came out of the Guantanamo Naval Base and occupied several towns in the former Oriente Province, near the cities of Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba, with the pretext of “protecting the lives and properties of U.S. citizens”.

In 1917, because of the uprising known as “La Chambelona” carried out by the elements of the Liberal Party in Oriente who were opposed to the electoral fraud that had re-elected President Mario García Menocal of the Conservative Party, Yankee regiments from the Base headed for various points in that province of Cuba, under the pretext of “protecting the Base water supply”.

Part III: The Formal Repeal of the Platt Amendment and Continued Presence of the Guantanamo Naval Base.

The advent of the Democratic administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the United States in 1933 opened the way to a necessary accommodation of the relationship of domination that the U.S. exercised over Cuba. The fall of the Gerardo Machado’s tyranny under the pressure of a powerful popular movement, and the subsequent installation of a provisional government headed by the university professor of physiology, Ramón Grau San Martin, were a serious obstacle to the achievement of the program demanded by the people.

On November 24, 1933, U.S. President Roosevelt issued an official statement encouraging the intrigues of Batista and Sumner Welles, the Ambassador to Havana, against Grau’s government. These included the offer to sign a new commercial treaty and repeal the Platt Amendment. Roosevelt explained that “…any Provisional Government in Cuba in which the Cuban people show their confidence would be welcome”. The impatience of the U.S, administration to get rid of Grau was growing, as from mid-November the influence of a young anti-imperialist, Antonio Guiteras, was increasing in the government, which would take many of its more radical steps in the weeks to come. It was necessary to swiftly overthrow that government.

On December 13, 1933, Ambassador Sumner Welles returned definitively to Washington and was substituted five days later by Jefferson Caffery.

On January 13-14, 1934, Batista convened and presided over a military meeting at Columbia, where he proposed to oust Grau and appoint Colonel Carlos Mendieta y Montefur, which was agreed to by the so-called Columbia Military Junta. Grau San Martin presented his resignation at dawn on January 15, 1934 and left for exile in Mexico on the 20th of the same month. Thus, on January 18, 1934, Mendieta was installed as President after the coup d’état. Although the Mendieta administration had been recognized by the United States on January 23rd of that year, actually the fate of the country was in the hands of Ambassador Caffery and Batista.

The overthrow of the Grau San Martin provisional government in January 1934, as a result of internal contradictions and a whole series of pressures, maneuvers and aggressions wielded against it by imperialism and its local allies, meant a first and indispensable step towards the imposition of an oligarchic-imperialistic alternative to solve the Cuban national crisis.

The government headed by Mendieta would take on the task of adjusting the bonds of the country’s neo-colonial dependency.

Neither the oligarchy reinstated in power, nor the Washington government, were in position to ignore the feelings of the Cuban people towards neocolonialism and its instruments. Nor was the United States unaware of the importance of the support of Latin American governments –Cuba among them– in the already foreseeable confrontation with other emerging imperialist powers such as Germany and Japan.

The new process would include formulae to ensure the renewed functioning of the neocolonial system. The “Good Neighbor” policy was very mindful of Latin American opposition to Washington’s open interventionism in the hemisphere. The aim of Roosevelt’s policy was to portray a new image in its hemispheric relations through the “good neighbor” diplomatic formula.

As one of the adjustment measures, on May 29, 1934 a new U.S.-Cuba Relations Treaty, modifying the one of May 22, 1903, was signed by the other Roosevelt, perhaps a distant relative of he who had landed in Cuba with the Rough Riders.

Two days earlier, on May 27, at 10:30 a.m., when United States Ambassador Jefferson Caffery was getting ready, as was his custom, to leave his residence in the Alturas de Almendares, he was the target of an assassination attempt; three shots were fired by several unidentified individuals from a car. The next day, May 28th, at noon, as it was driving along Quinta Avenida in the Miramar district, the car assigned to the First Secretary of the United States Embassy, H. Freeman Matthews, after having dropped off the diplomat at the Embassy, was attacked by several individuals traveling in a car and armed with machine guns. One of them approached the chauffeur and told him that he should let Matthews know that he was giving him one week to get out of Cuba: then he smashed the windshield of the car and sped off.

These acts that revealed a general climate of anti-United States hostility could have precipitated the signing of the new Relations Treaty that proposed the alleged end of the unpopular Platt Amendment.

The new Relations Treaty provided for the suppression of the right of the United States to intervene in Cuba and that:

“The United States of America and the Republic of Cuba, being animated by the desire to fortify the relations of friendship between the two countries and to modify, with this purpose, the relations established between them by the Treaty of Relations signed in Havana, May 22, 1903, (…) have agreed upon the following articles:

(…)

“Article 3.- Until the two contracting parties agree to the modifications or abrogation of the stipulations of the agreement in regard to the lease to the United States of America of lands in Cuba for coaling and naval stations signed by the President of the Republic of Cuba on February 16, 1903, and by the President of the United States of America on the 23rd day of the same month and year, the stipulations of that agreement with regard to the naval stations of Guantanamo shall continue in effect in the same form and conditions with respect to the naval station at Guantanamo. So long as the United States of America shall not abandon the said naval station of Guantanamo or the two Governments shall not agree to a modification of its present limits, the station shall continue to have territorial area that it now has, with the limits that it has on the date of the signature of the present Treaty.”

The United States Senate ratified the new Relations Treaty on June 1, 1934, and Cuba on June 4. Five days later, on June 9, ratifications of the Relations Treaty of May 29th of the same year were exchanged, and with that the Platt Amendment was formally repealed, but the Guantanamo Naval Base remained.

The new Treaty legalized the de facto situation of the Guantanamo naval station, thus rescinding the part of the agreements of February 16 and 23 and July 2 of 1903 between the two countries relating to the lands and waters in Bahia Honda, and the part that referred to the waters and lands of the Guantanamo station was amended, in the sense that they were enlarged.

The United States maintained its naval station in Guantanamo as a strategic surveillance and control site, in order to ensure its political and economic predominance in the Caribbean and Central America and to defend the Panama Canal.

Part IV: The Guantanamo Naval Base from the formal end of the Platt Amendment until the Triumph of the Revolution.

After the signing of the Treaty of Relations of 1934, the territory of the “naval station” underwent a gradual fortifying and equipping process until, in the spring of 1941, the Base became established as an operational naval station with the following structure: naval station, air naval station and Marines Corps Base and warehouse facilities.

On June 6, 1934 the United States Senate had passed a bill which would authorize the Secretary of the Navy to sign a long-term contract with a company that would undertake to supply adequate water to the Naval Base in Guantanamo; however, prior to this, American plans already existed for the construction of an aqueduct which would bring in water from the Yateras River.

Expansion continued, and by 1943 other facilities were constructed by contracting the Frederick Snare Company. This hired 9,000 civilian workers, many of them Cubans.

Another year of tremendous expansion of the military and civilian facilities on the Base was 1951. In 1952, the United States Secretary of the Navy decided to change the name of the U.S. Naval Operating Base to “U.S. Naval Base”; by that time its structure already included a Training Center.

The Constitution of 1940, the Revolutionary Struggle
and Guantanamo Naval Base until December 1958.

The period between the end of 1937 and 1940 was characterized, from a political point of view, by the adoption of measures that allowed for elections for the Constitutional Assembly to be called and for them to take place. The reason why Batista agreed to these democratizing measures was that it was in his interest to move towards the establishment of formulae that would allow him to remain at the center of political decisions, and thus ensure the continuity of his power within the new order arising under the formulae that he had implemented. At the beginning of 1938 the agreement between Batista and Grau to install a Constitutional Assembly was made public. The Constitutional Convention, inaugurated on February 9, 1940, concluded its sessions on June 8 of that same year.

The Constitution was signed on July 1st, 1940 and promulgated on July 5 that same year. The new Law of Laws established that “the territory of the Republic consists of the Island of Cuba, the Isle of Pines and other adjacent islands and keys, which were under the sovereignty of Spain until the ratification of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. The Republic of Cuba shall not conclude or ratify pacts or treaties that in any form limit or undermine national sovereignty or the integrity of the territory”.

The oligarchy would strive to prevent the materialization of the more advanced principles in this Constitution or at least to restrict their application to a maximum.

Part V: The Guantanamo Naval Base since the Triumph of the Revolution.

Since the triumph of the Revolution, the Revolutionary Government has denounced the illegal occupation of that portion of our territory.

On the other hand, since January 1st, 1959, the United States turned the usurped territory of the Guantanamo Naval Base into a permanent source of threats, provocation and violation of Cuba’s sovereignty, with the aim of creating trouble for the victorious revolutionary process. Said Base has always been present in the plans and operations conceived by Washington to overthrow the Revolutionary Government.

All kinds of aggressions have come from the Naval Base:

  • Dropping of inflammable materials over free territory from planes flying out of the Base.

  • Provocations by American soldiers, including insults, the throwing of stones and cans filled with inflammable materials and the firing of pistols and automatic weapons.

  • Violations of Cuban jurisdictional waters and Cuban territory by American military vessels and aircraft from the Base.

  • Plans for self-aggression on the Base that would provoke a large-scale armed struggle between Cuba and the United States.

  • Registering the radio frequencies used at the Base in the International Frequency Registry in the space corresponding to Cuba.

On January 12, 1961, the worker Manuel Prieto Gómez who had been employed at the Base for more than 3 years was savagely tortured by Yankee soldiers on the Guantanamo Naval Base, for the “crime” of being a revolutionary.

On October 15 of that same year, the Cuban worker Rubén López Sabariego was tortured and subsequently murdered.

On June 24, 1962, Rodolfo Rosell Salas, a fisherman from Caimanera, was murdered by soldiers at the Base.

Likewise, the devious intent of fabricating a self-provocation and deploying American troops in a “justified” punitive invasion of Cuba has always been a volatile element at Guantanamo Base. We can find an example of this in one of the actions included in the so-called “Operation Mongoose”, when on September 3, 1962 American soldiers stationed in Guantanamo would shoot at Cuban sentries.

During the Missile Crisis, the Base was reinforced in terms of military technology and troops; manpower grew to more than 16,000 Marines. Given the decision of Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev to withdraw the nuclear missiles stationed in Cuba without previously either consulting or informing the Revolutionary Government, Cuba defined the unshakeable position of the Revolution in what came to be known as the “Five Points”. The fifth point demanded withdrawal from the Guantanamo Naval Base. We were on the brink of a thermonuclear war, where we would be the prime target as a consequence of the imperial policy of taking over Cuba.

On February 11, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson reduced the number of Cuban personnel working at the Base by approximately 700 workers. They also confiscated the accumulated retirement funds of hundreds of Cuban workers who had been employed on the Base and illegally suspended payments of pensions to retired Cuban workers.

On July 19, 1964, in a blatant provocation made by American border guards against the Cuban border patrol sentries, Ramón López Peña, a young 17-year-old soldier, was murdered at close range while he was on guard in the sentry-box.

On May 21, 1966, and in similar circumstances, soldier Luis Ramírez was murdered by shots from the Base.

In hardly three weeks of the month of May in 1980, more than 80,000 men, 24 vessels and some 350 combat aircraft took part in Solid Shield-80 exercises; as part of its dynamic, this included the landing of 2,000 Marines at the Naval Base and the reinforcement of the facility with an additional 1200 troops.

In October 1991, during the 4th Communist Party Congress in Santiago de Cuba, planes and helicopters from the Base violated Cuban air space over the city.

In 1994, the Base served as a support station for the invasion of Haiti: American air force planes used Base airports for this. More than 45,000 Haitian emigrants were kept on the Base until mid-1995.

Also in 1994, the well-known migration crisis was produced as a result of the tightening up of the blockade and the tough years of the Special Period, the non-compliance with the Migratory Agreement of 1984 signed with the Reagan Administration, the considerable reduction in the number of visas granted and the encouragement of illegal emigration, including the Cuban Adjustment Act signed by President Johnson more than four decades ago.

As a result of the crisis created, a declaration made by President Clinton on August 19, 1994 transformed the Base into a migratory concentration camp for the Cuban rafters, in numbers close to 30,000.

Finally, on September 9, 1994 a Joint Communiqué was signed by the Clinton administration and the Cuban government. This saw the United States committing to prevent the entry into its territory of intercepted illegal emigrants and to issue a minimum of 20,000 annual visas for safety travel to the United States.

On May 2, 1995, as part of the migratory negotiations, the governments of Cuba and the United States also agreed what on this occasion was called a Joint Declaration establishing the procedure for returning to Cuba all those who continued trying to illegally migrate to the United States and were intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Notice the specific reference to the illegal emigrants intercepted by the Coast Guards. Thus the basis had been laid of a sinister business: the traffic of persons. The Murderous Act was maintained, thus turning Cuba into the only country in the world subjected to such harassment. While approximately 250 thousand people have safely traveled to that country, an incalculable number of women, children and people of all ages have lost their lives as a result of the prosperous traffic of emigrants.

Following an agreement by the two governments, as from the migratory crisis of 1994, regular meetings between the military commands of each side were initiated. A strip of mined territory would sometimes be flooded by tropical rainstorms and overflowing rivers. On many occasions our sappers had put their lives in danger to save persons who were crossing the restricted military zone in that area, even with children.

The Guantanamo Naval Base since
the enactment of the Helms-Burton Act.

This Act, signed by President William Clinton on March 12, 1996, in its Title II about “Assistance to a Free and Independent Cuba”, Section 201 related to the “policy toward a transition government and a democratically elected government in Cuba”, establishes in its Point 12 that the United States must “be prepared to enter into negotiations with a democratically elected government in Cuba either to return the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo to Cuba or to renegotiate the present agreement under mutually agreeable terms”. Something worse than what was planned by military governor Leonard Wood, who had landed on foot along with Theodore Roosevelt in the proximity of Santiago de Cuba: the idea of having an annexationist of Cuban descent administrating our country.

The War in Kosovo in 1999 resulted in a great number of Kosovar refugees. The Clinton government, embroiled in that NATO war against Serbia, made the decision to use the Base to accommodate a number of them, and on this occasion, for the first time, with no previous consultation whatsoever as usual, it informed Cuba of the decision made. Our answer was constructive. Even though we were opposed to the unjust and illegal conflict, we had no grounds on which to oppose the humanitarian aid needed by the Kosovar refugees. We even offered our country’s cooperation, if it should be needed, in terms of medical care or any other service they might need. Finally, the Kosovar refugees were never sent to the Guantanamo Naval Base.

The manifesto called “The Oath of Baraguá” of February 19, 2000 expressed that “in due time, since it no longer constitutes a prioritized objective at this moment even though the right of our people is very just and cannot be waived; the illegally occupied territory of Guantanamo must be returned to Cuba.” At that time, we were involved in the struggle for the return of the kidnapped boy and the economic consequences of the brutal blockade.

The Guantanamo Naval Base
since September 11.

On September 18, 2001, President Bush signed United States Congress legislation authorizing the use of force as a response to the September 11 attacks. Bush used this legislation as a basis to sign a Military Order on November 13 of that same year which would establish the legal bases for arrests and trials by military tribunals of individuals who didn’t hold U.S. citizenship, as part of the “war on terrorism”.

On January 8, 2002 the United States officially informed Cuba that they would be using the Guantanamo Naval Base as a detention center for Afghan war prisoners.

Three days later, on January 11, 2002, the first 20 detainees arrived, and the figure reached the number of 776 prisoners coming from 48 countries. Of course none of these data were mentioned. We assumed they were Afghan war prisoners. The first planes were landing full of prisoners, and many more guards than prisoners. On the same day, the government of Cuba issued a public declaration indicating its willingness to cooperate with medical assistance services as required, clean-up programs and a fight against mosquitoes and pests in the area surrounding the base which is under our control, or any other useful, constructive and humane measure that might come up. I remember the data because I was personally involved in details concerning the Note presented by the MINREX in response to the United States Note. We were very far from imagining at that moment that the U.S. government was getting ready to create a horrendous torture center at that base.

The Socialist Constitution proclaimed on February 24, 1976 had set forth in its Article 11, section c) that “the Republic of Cuba repudiates and considers as null and illegal those treaties, pacts or concessions concerted under conditions of inequality or which disregard or diminish her sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

On June 10, 2002, the people of Cuba, in an unprecedented process of popular referendum, ratified the socialist content of that Constitution of 1976 as a response to the meddling and offensive expressions of the President of the United States. Likewise, it mandated the National People’s Power Assembly to amend it so that it would expressly state, inter alia, the irrevocable principle which must govern the economic, diplomatic and political relations of our country with other states, by adding to the same Article 11, section c): “Economic, diplomatic and political relations with any other State may never be negotiated under aggression, threat or coercion by a foreign power.”

After the Proclamation to the People of Cuba was made public on July 31, 2006, the U.S. authorities have declared that they do not hope for a migration crisis but that they are pre-emptively preparing to face one, with the use of the Guantanamo Naval Base as a concentration camp for illegal migrants intercepted in the high seas being a consideration. In public declarations, information reveals that the United States is expanding its civilian buildings on the Base with the aim of increasing their capacity to receive the illegal emigrants.

Cuba, for her part, has taken all possible measures to avoid incidents between the armed forces of both countries, and has declared that she is abiding by the commitments contained in the Joint Declaration on migratory issues signed with the Clinton administration. Why is there so much talking, threats and brouhaha?

The symbolic annual payment of $3,386.25 for the lease of the territory occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base was maintained until 1972 when the Americans adjusted it themselves to $3,676. In 1973, a new adjustment was made for the value of the old U.S. Gold dollar, and for that reason the cheque issued by the Treasury Department was since then increased to $4,085.00 each year. That cheque is charged to the United States Navy, the party responsible for operations at the Naval Base.

The cheques issued by the government of the United States, as payment for the lease, are in the name of the “Treasurer General of the Republic of Cuba”, an institution and official who, many years ago, have ceased to function within the structure of the Government of Cuba. This cheque is sent on a yearly basis, through diplomatic channels. The one for 1959, due to a mere confusion, was entered into the national budget. Since 1960 until today these cheques have not been cashed and they are proof of the lease that has been imposed for more than 107 years. I would imagine, conservatively, that this is ten times less than what the United States government spends on the salary of a schoolteacher each year.

Both the Platt Amendment and the Guantanamo Naval Base were unnecessary. History has shown that in a great number of countries in this hemisphere where there has not been a revolution, their entire territory, governed by the multinationals and the oligarchies, needs neither one nor the other. Advertising took care of their mostly ill-trained and poverty-stricken populations by creating reflexes.

From the military point of view, a nuclear aircraft carrier, with so many fast fighter-bombers and escort ships supported by technology and satellites, is several times more powerful and can move to any point on the globe, wherever the empire needs it the most.

The Base is needed to humiliate and to carry out the filthy deeds that take place there. If we must await the downfall of the system, we shall wait. The suffering and danger for all humanity shall be great, like today’s stock market crisis, and a growing number of people forecast it. Cuba shall always be waiting in a state of combat readiness.

‘The only thing that any Cuban revolutionary should never question is our unwavering decision to build socialism’

Heroic deeds take place everyday, in every corner of the country

Speech by General Raúl Castro Ruz, in the city of Camagüey, Cuba on July 26 2007, “Year 49 of the Revolution”

Friends accompanying us here today;

People of Camagüey, good morning;

Compatriots:

Exactly one year ago, as we were listening to the speeches given by the Commander in Chief in Bayamo and Holguín, we could hardly even suspect what a hard blow was awaiting us.

Next July 31 will be the first anniversary of Fidel’s Proclamation, and to the delight of our people he is already taking on more and more intense and highly valuable activities, as evidenced by his reflections which are published in the press, even though, not even during the most serious moments of his illness, did he fail to bring his wisdom and experience to each problem and essential decision.

Those who are amazed at our people’s capacity to rise to the level of every challenge, no matter how great, do not know them very well

These have truly been very difficult months, although with a diametrically different impact to that expected by our enemies, who were wishing for chaos to entrench and for Cuban socialism to collapse. Senior U.S. officials even made statements about taking advantage of this scenario to destroy the Revolution.

Those who are amazed at our people’s capacity to rise to the level of every challenge, no matter how great, do not know them very well, since this is really the only behavior consistent with our history.

The battle waged by many generations of Cubans is well-known, from La Demajagua and Moncada, right up to the present, always facing enormous obstacles and powerful enemies. So much sacrifice and difficulties! How many times did we have to recommence the struggle after each setback!

Suffice it to recall that in the years following that July 26, 1953, we spent years in prison, the exile, the Granma, the guerrilla and the clandestine struggles, until five years, five months and five days after the attack on Moncada, victory was attained on the first day of January, 1959.

In those days, much like what is happening today even within the very United States, lies could not hide reality, although our people then were much less educated and less politically aware than they are now.

The vast majority of Cubans joined the cause headed by a leader who brandished the truth like his main weapon against the enemies of his people, who instead of making demagogic promises warned them, from his very first speech in Havana, that perhaps everything would be much more difficult in the years ahead.

The conclusion of the U.S. government hierarchy at that time was also consistent with its history: they had to destroy this people who dared to dream of justice, dignity and sovereignty, and if not, make them suffer to the utmost. The example set by Cuba was far too dangerous in a poor, subdued and exploited continent.

But they were unable to bring us to our knees. Our response was to massively transform ourselves into combatants; to stoically withstand shortages and difficulties; to sweat in the fields, factories and trenches; to wage countless victorious battles and to establish landmarks in internationalist aid.

Before the mortal remains of each of the 3,478 victims of terrorist acts directly organized, supported or allowed to happen by the United States authorities; before the fallen in defense of the Homeland or in the fulfillment of their internationalist duty, our people confirmed their commitment to their heroes and martyrs, to their Mambi heritage and to the examples of Martí, Céspedes, Maceo, Gómez and Agramonte, perpetuated by men such as Mella, Martínez Villena and Guiteras, symbols of the ideas and actions of an infinite number of anonymous patriots.

In essence, this has been the last half century of our history. There has been not one minute of truce in the face of the policies of the United States government, aimed at destroying the Revolution.

Heroic deeds take place everyday, in every corner of the country

In this forging of effort and sacrifice, the morale and conscience of this people has reached new heights; sons with the stature of Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and René González have been born, able to assume with serenity, valor and dignity the duress of an unjust imprisonment, scattered in different prisons of the United States.

They are examples, but they are not exceptions, since millions of Cuban men and women are not intimidated by danger or hardship.

The exploit occurs daily in every corner of this land, as our brave athletes are demonstrating at the Panamerican Games.

And so it has been during the more than 16 years of the Special Period, of sustained effort by the entire country to overcome the difficulties and press onwards –and so it must still be, since we have not yet come out of the Special Period.

Thus, it is twice as commendable that a province attains the status of Outstanding, which as we all know is bestowed after evaluating the results obtained in the main fields.

This year, the provinces of Ciudad de La Habana, Granma, Villa Clara and Camagüey attained this distinction, and we congratulate them on behalf of the Commander in Chief, of the Party and of all the people, for having reached this important triumph. Also to Cienfuegos, Matanzas and Sancti Spiritus for the acknowledgement received, and to Las Tunas for displaying heartening advances.

In order to decide which of them would be the venue of this main celebration, the Political Bureau especially considered the day-to-day efforts, silent and heroic in the face of difficulties. And in this way, the people of “El Camagüey”, as the Mambi used to call it, achieved these results.

The advances are the fruit of the efforts of hundreds of thousands of comrades; of the laborers, peasants and the rest of the workers; of the indispensable contributions of intellectuals, artists and workers in the cultural sector; of the heroic housewives and retirees; of the student members of the Middle-level Education Students Federation and the Federation of University Students; of our children; of the Cuban Women Federation, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the Association of Combatants and the community Party cells who make such an important contribution to society.

Without them, without the daily work, study and sacrifice of so many men, women and children, the bugle of the Agramonte cavalry would not be resounding anew on these great flatlands.

Well then, it should not happen as it does in baseball, where the victories go only to the players and the defeats go to the team manager. It would not be fair to fail to publicly acknowledge the important role played by the leaders of the Party, the Government, the UJC and the mass and social organizations at every level, as well as the numerous administrative cadres to attain this success.

In particular, I should like to stress the good work of comrade Salvador Valdés Mesa, the current Secretary General of the Workers Union Central, who for a long time and up to 13 months ago, was the First Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee, and the excellent relief provided until the present by comrade Julio César García Rodríguez.

We need to bring everyone to the daily battle against the very errors that aggravate objective difficulties stemming from external causes

It is only fair and necessary to acknowledge what has been achieved in recent years, in these provinces and in the rest of the country, but with a clear conscience about our problems, our inefficiencies, our errors and our bureaucratic and/or slack attitudes, some of which gained ground in the circumstances deriving from the Special Period.

Pointing out the important results attained in these provinces does not mean that we ignore that the rest of the country is working. In the eastern provinces, for example, it has been necessary to do this under very difficult conditions, with a shortage of resources resulting from both objective and subjective reasons.

Nevertheless, efforts do not always bring the results hoped for. Efficiency largely depends on perseverance and good organization, especially of systematic controls and discipline, and in particular on where we have succeeded in incorporating the masses to the struggle for efficiency.

We need to bring everyone to the daily battle against the very errors which aggravate objective difficulties derived from external causes, especially those induced by the United States’ economic blockade which really constitutes a relentless war against our people, as the current administration of that country is especially bent on finding even the slightest of ways to harm us.

One could point to a myriad of examples. I shall limit myself to mentioning the obstacles to the country’s commercial and financial transactions abroad, often directed at the purchase of food, medicines and other basic products for the people, and the denial of access to banking services through coercion and the extra-territorial imposition of its laws.

There are also the almost insurmountable obstacles imposed by that government that goes to ridiculous lengths to prevent its people from traveling to Cuba and also on the Cuban residents there coming to visit their relatives; the denial of visas not just to our officials, but to artists, athletes, scientists and, in general, to anyone who is not willing to slander the Revolution.

As our Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently denounced, we can add to all of this the obstacles to the fulfillment of what is established in the migratory agreements with regards to the minimum number of visas to be granted annually.

This policy encourages those who turn to illegal emigration and are received there as heroes, often times after endangering the lives of children, and in spite of the fact that such an irresponsible behavior puts at risk not only the safety of Cubans, but also of Americans, the ones who the government constantly claims to be protecting, since whoever risks trafficking with human lives for money, would probably not hesitate in doing so with drugs, arms or other such things.

Cuba, for her part, will continue to honor her commitments to the migratory accords, as she has done until today.

The past twelve months have constituted a remarkable example of our people’s maturity, steadfast principles, unity, trust in Fidel, in the Party and above all in themselves.

Despite our deep sorrow, no task was left undone. There is order in the country and a lot of work. The Party and the Government bodies are functioning on a daily basis in the collective search for the most effective response possible for every problem.

There is not one issue pertaining to the development of the country and the people’s living conditions that has not been dealt with responsibly, working to find a solution. There is no task in the Battle of Ideas, the Energy Revolution and others promoted by the Commander in Chief that is paralyzed. As it is always the case in matters of such magnitude, we have had to make adjustments and postponements, and others might be needed in the future, due to material imperatives and the threats we are all aware of.

Operation Caguairán has made it possible to substantially strengthen our country’s defensive capacity

At the same time, our people have continued since then, with serenity, discipline and modesty, to prepare themselves to face up to any enemy military adventure.

Hundreds of thousands of militiamen and reservists of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, together with officers, sergeants and soldiers in the regular army have carried out Operation Caguairán, allowing for a substantial increase in the country’s defense capability, attaining levels of combat readiness that are superior to those of any other period.

It is a great effort in moments when our resources are scarce, but it is simply essential. It shall continue, as it has up till now, with the greatest of rationality, both from the material point of view as well as in the use of our people’s time.

We cannot fool around with defense! The Commander in Chief directed and reaffirmed it yet once again just a few days ago. For us, as I have said so many times, avoiding a war is tantamount to winning it, but to win it by avoiding it, we must sweat a lot and invest quite a few resources.

The resounding popular response to the Proclamation of the Commander in Chief threw all the enemy plans into crisis mode; but the enemy, far from evaluating the reality and correcting its errors, insists on stubbornly crashing into the same rock. They speculate about an alleged paralysis in the country and even about a “transition” in progress. But no matter how hard they close their eyes, reality shall take care of destroying those stale, old dreams.

As the press has reported, Operation Caguairán will carry on in the next months. It will allow us to train about a million compatriots and will have as its crowning glory the Bastion 2008 Strategic Exercise which will take place at the end of the year.

By that date, therefore, we shall be better prepared to resist and win on all fronts, including defense.

Our people will never give an inch before pressure or blackmail by any country or group of countries

By that time the elections will also have taken place in the United States and the mandate of the current president of that country will have concluded along with his erratic and dangerous administration, characterized by such a reactionary and fundamentalist philosophy that it leaves no room for a rational analysis of any matter.

The new administration will have to decide whether it will maintain the absurd, illegal and failed policy against Cuba or if it will accept the olive branch that we offered on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the landing of the Granma. That is, when we reasserted our willingness to discuss on equal footing the prolonged dispute with the government of the United States, convinced that this is the only way to solve the problems of this world, ever more complex and dangerous.

If the new United States authorities were to finally desist from their arrogance and decide to talk in a civilized manner, it would be a welcome change. Otherwise, we are ready to continue confronting their policy of hostility, even for another 50 years, if need be.

Fifty years seem like a long time, but soon we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution and the 55th anniversary of Moncada, and among so many tasks and challenges those years have gone by and we have hardly noticed. Furthermore, practically 70% of our population was born after the blockade was imposed, and so we are well trained to continue resisting it and finally defeating it.

Some who have been influenced by enemy propaganda or are simply confused, do not perceive the real danger or the undeniable fact that the blockade has a direct influence both on the major economic decisions as well as on each Cuban’s most basic needs.

Directly and on a daily basis, it weighs heavily on our food supply, transportation, housing and even on the fact that we cannot rely on the necessary raw materials and equipment to work with.

The enemy established it half a century ago for this reason, as we were saying, and today it still dreams of forcing us to submit to its will. President Bush himself insists on repeating that he will not allow the Cuban Revolution to continue. It would be interesting to ask him just how he intends to do that.

How little they have learned from history!

In his Manifesto published on June 18, Fidel said to them once again what every revolutionary on this island is convinced of: “They shall never have Cuba!”

Our people will never give an inch of ground under the attempt of any country or group of countries to pressure us, nor will it make the slightest unilateral concession to send any kind of signal to anybody.

We have a duty to precisely identify and profoundly evaluate every problem within our range of action

With respect to the economic and social tasks ahead of us, we know the tensions that Party cadres are subjected to, especially at the base, where there’s hardly ever a balance between accumulated needs and available resources.

We are also aware that, because of the extreme objective difficulties that we face, wages today are clearly insufficient to satisfy all needs and have thus ceased to play a role in ensuring the socialist principle that each should contribute according to their capacity and receive according to their work. This has bred forms of social indiscipline and tolerance which, having taken root, prove difficult to eradicate, even after the objective causes behind them are eradicated.

I can responsibly assure you that the Party and government have been studying these and other complex and difficult problems in depth, problems which must be addressed comprehensibly and through a differentiated approach in each concrete case.

All of us, from the leaders to the rank-and-file workers, are duty-bound to accurately identify and analyze every problem in depth, within our working areas, in order to combat the problem with the most convenient methods.

This differs greatly from the attitude of those who use existing difficulties to shield themselves from criticisms, leveled against them for not acting with the necessary swiftness and efficiency, or for lacking the political sensitivity and courage needed to explain why a problem cannot be solved immediately.

I will limit myself to drawing your attention to these crucial issues. A simple criticism or appeal will not solve these problems, even when they are made at a ceremony like this. They demand, above all else, organized work, control and dedication, day after day; systematic rigor, order and discipline, from the national level down to the thousands of places where something is produced or a service is offered.

I remind you that not all problems can be solved overnight

This is where the country’s efforts are headed, as they are in other areas of similar importance and strategic significance. We are working hastily but not desperately, avoiding unnecessary public statements so as not to raise false hopes. And, again, speaking with the sincerity which has always characterized the Revolution, I remind you that all problems cannot be solved overnight.

I am not exaggerating when I say that we face a very trying international economic situation, where, in addition to wars, lack of political stability, the deterioration of the environment and the rise in oil prices —apparently an irreversible trend— we now face, like comrade Fidel has recently denounced, the decision made primarily by the United States, to transform corn, soy and other food products into fuel. This move is bound to make the price of these products, and those directly dependent upon these such as meats and milk prices, climb dramatically as it has been the case in recent months.

I will just mention some figures. Today, the price of an oil barrel is around 80 dollars, nearly three times what it was only 4 years ago, when it was priced at 28 dollars. This has an impact on practically everything, for, to produce anything or to offer any kind of service, one requires a given quantity of fuel, directly or indirectly.

Another case in point is the price of powdered milk, which was 2,100 dollars the ton in 2004. This already placed great strains on our ability to make this product available, as its import meant an investment of 105 million dollars. A total of 160 million dollars were spent to purchase the needed quantities in 2007, as prices shot up to 2,450 dollars the ton. In these four years, nearly 500 million dollars have been spent in these purchases.

Currently, the price of powdered milk is over 5,200 dollars the ton. Therefore, should domestic production not continue to increase, to meet consumption needs in the next 2008, we would have to spend 340 million dollars in milk alone, more than three times what was spent in 2004. That is, if prices do not continue to rise.

In the case of milled rice, it was priced at 390 dollars a ton in 2006 and is sold today at 435 a ton. Some years ago, we were buying frozen chicken at 500 dollars a ton. We made plans on the assumption its price would go up to 800; in fact, it went up to its current price of 1,186 dollars.

This is the case with practically all products the country imports to meet, essentially, the needs of the population, products which, as it is known, the people purchase at prices which have practically remained unchanged in spite of the circumstances.

And I am talking of products that I think can be grown here –it seems to me that there is plenty of land– and we have had good rains last year and this. As I drove in here I could see that everything around is green and pretty, but what drew my attention the most, what I found prettier was the marabú (a thorny bush) growing along the road.

Nobody — not a single person in any country— can afford the luxury of spending more than they have

Therefore, any increase in wages or decrease in prices, to be real, can only stem from a greater and more efficient production and services offer, which will increase the country’s incomes.

No one, no individual or country, can afford to spend more than what they have. It seems elementary, but we do not always think and act in accordance with this inescapable reality.

To have more, we have to begin by producing more, with a sense of rationality and efficiency, so that we may reduce imports, especially of food products –that may be grown here– whose domestic production is still a long way away from meeting the needs of the population.

We face the imperative of making our land produce more; and the land is there to be tilted either with tractors or with oxen, as it was done before the tractor existed. We need to expeditiously apply the experiences of producers whose work is outstanding, be they in the state or farm sector, on a mass scale, but without improvising, and to offer these producers adequate incentives for the work they carry out in Cuba’s suffocating heat.

To reach these goals, the needed structural and conceptual changes will have to be introduced.

We are already working in this direction and a number of modest results can already be appreciated. As demanded by the National Assembly of the People’s Power, all debts to farmers were settled; in addition to this, there has been a discrete improvement in the delivery of inputs to some productive sectors and a notable increase in the prices of various products, that is to say, the price the state pays to the producer, not the price the population pays, which remains unchanged. This measure had an impact on important production items, such as meat and milk.

Producing the Most Milk Possible

With respect to milk production and distribution, we are aware that the material resources we have managed to secure for the livestock industry are still very limited. However, in the last two years nature has been on our side and everything indicates that we will reach the planned figure of 384 million liters of milk, which is still far lower than the 900 million we were producing when we had all the fodder and other required inputs.

In addition to this, since March, an experiment has been underway in six municipalities —Mantua and San Cristóbal in Pinar del Rio, Melena del Sur in La Habana, Calimete in Matanzas, Aguada de Pasajeros in Cienfuegos and Yaguajay in Sancti Spiritus—where 20 thousand liters of milk have been directly and consistently delivered by the producer to 230 rationed stores and for social consumption in these localities every day.

In this fashion, we have eliminated absurd procedures through which this valuable food product traveled hundreds of miles before reaching a consumer who, quite often, lived a few hundred meters away from the livestock farm, and, with this, the product losses and fuel expenses involved.

I will give you one example or maybe two in order to mention one from Camaguey. Currently, in Mantua, one of the western most municipalities in Pinar del Rio, 2,492 liters of milk, which meet established consumption needs, are being distributed directly to the municipality’s 40 rationed stores and 2,000 liters of fuel are being saved every month.

What was the situation until four months ago?

The closest pasteurizer is located in the Sandino municipality, 40 kilometers away from Mantua, the most important town in the area. Thus, in order to deliver the milk to that plant, a truck had to travel a minimum of 80 kilometers –because distances are different– each day to make the round journey. I say “a minimum” because other areas of the municipality are even farther away.

The milk that children and other consumers in Mantua receive on a regulated basis, once pasteurized at the Sandino plant, returned, shortly afterwards, on a vehicle which, as it is logical to assume, had to return to its base of operations after delivering the product. In total, it traveled 160 kilometers, a journey which, as I explained, was in fact longer.

I don’t know if at the moment this is still the case but some time ago, as I was touring the southeast of Camaguey and in a place known as Los Raules –my namesake– I asked a few questions. It happened that all the milk produced at Los Raules was brought to Camaguey for pasteurizing, and the milk assigned to the children at Los Raules had to be taken back there after that. Is that still the case?

On one occasion, not long ago, less than a year, I asked if that insane and absurd crisscrossing had been eliminated. I assure you that I was told it had, and now we are finding out this.

Try thinking about things like these and you’ll see the spending they mean.

The commendable aim of all of this crisscrossing was, as we can see, to pasteurize all milk. This measure makes sense and it is necessary in the case of large urban centers —even though it is customary in Cuba to boil all milk at home, whether the milk is pasteurized or not— and all milk needed to supply cities will thus continue to be stocked and pasteurized, but it does not prove viable for a truck –or hundreds of trucks– to travel these long distances every day to deliver a few liters of milk, to places which produce enough of it to be self-sufficient.

As from the victory of the Revolution, the Cubans have learned to travel from west to east, mostly from east to west really, but our wishes to travel have led us to make the milk travel as well.

In addition to the municipalities participating in this experiment, which I mentioned already, another 3,500 rationed stores in other municipalities and provinces are also directly distributing milk, and over 7 million liters of milk have already been distributed.

This procedure will gradually begin to be applied in more and more places, as expediently as possible but without any rash attempts at making it a general formula. In all cases, its application will be preceded by a comprehensive study that demonstrates its viability in a specific place and reveals the existence of the needed organizational and material conditions.

We will continue to work in this direction until all of the country’s municipalities that produce the needed quantities of milk become self-sufficient and can complete, within their jurisdiction, the cycle which begins when a cow is milked and ends when a child or any other person drinks the milk, to the extent that present conditions allow.

That is to say, the chief aim of these efforts is to produce as much milk as possible, and I say this is possible in the overwhelming majority of municipalities, except for those in the capital of the country, that is, those which are not in the outskirts of the city, because there they can produce milk too. There are already some capital cities in various provinces that can produce enough in their main municipalities; such is the case of Sancti Spiritus. And, we must definitely produce more milk!

I mean, the main purpose is to produce more milk to first ensure what we need for our children. We are talking about a basic food for children, and for the ill people; we cannot fool around with that either. But we should neither renounce the possibility that others may also receive it in the future.

Additionally, this program intends to continue increasing fuel savings; something very important, too.

This program responds to today’s existing situation, where dreams of the vast imports of fodder and other inputs of decades past, when the world was very different from what it is today, are just that: dreams.

This is but one example of the abundant resources that become available when we organize ourselves better and analyze an issue as deeply as required, mindful of all the involved factors.

We are studying the possibility of securing more foreign investment

I reiterate that our problems will not be solved spectacularly. We need time and, most importantly, we need to work systematically and with devotion to consolidate every achievement, no matter how small.

Another nearly endless source of resources —if we consider how much we squander—is to be found in saving, particularly, as we said, the saving of fuel, whose price is increasingly prohibitive, and very unlikely to decrease.

This is a task of strategic importance which is not always undertaken with the necessary care, and wasteful practices have not yet been halted. The example with the milk is enough.

Wherever it is rational to do so, we must also recover domestic industrial production and begin producing new products that eliminate the need for imports or create new possibilities for export.

In this connection, we are currently studying the possibility of securing more foreign investment, of the kind that can provide us with capital, technology or markets, to avail ourselves of its contribution to the country’s development, careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past, owed to naivety or our ignorance about these partnerships, of using the positive experiences we’ve had to work with serious entrepreneurs, upon well-defined legal bases which preserve the role of the State and the predominance of socialist property. ¡

We shall step up our cooperative efforts with other nations more and more, aware that only united, and on the basis of utter respect for the path chosen by every country, will we prevail. Proof of this are the steps we are taking forward next to our brothers in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua, and our solid ties to China and Vietnam, to mention but a few noteworthy examples of the growing number of countries in all continents with which relations of all kinds are being re-established and extended.

We will continue to make a priority of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and the growing international movement of solidarity towards the Revolution. We will also continue to work with the United Nations Organization and other multilateral organizations of which Cuba is a member, which respect the norms of international law and contribute to the development of nations and to peace.

The only thing that any Cuban revolutionary should never question is our unwavering decision to build socialism

Many are the battles we face simultaneously and which require us to bring together our forces to maintain the unity of the people, the Revolution’s greatest weapon, and to take advantage of the potential of a socialist society like ours. The coming People’s Power elections will be a new opportunity to demonstrate how extraordinarily strong our democracy —a true democracy—is.

It is the duty of each and every one of us, of Party cadres especially, not to allow ourselves be overwhelmed by any difficulty, no matter how great or insurmountable it may seem to us at a given moment.

We must remember how, despite the initial confusion and discouragement, we managed to face up to the first, harsh years of the Special Period early the last decade, and how we managed to move forward. What we said then we can more justifiably repeat today: Yes, we can do it!

In response to bigger problems or challenges, more organization, more systematic and effective work, more studies and predictions on the basis of plans where our priorities are clearly established and no one attempts to solve their problems at any cost or at the expense of others.

We must also work with a critical and creative spirit, avoiding stagnation and schematics. We must never fall prey to the idea that what we do is perfect but rather examine it again. The one thing a Cuban revolutionary will never question is our unwavering decision to build socialism.

It was with the same profound conviction that, in this very place, on July 26, 1989, exactly 18 years ago to this day, Fidel historically and prophetically affirmed that, even in the hypothetical case that the Soviet Union were to collapse, we would continue to move forward with the Revolution, determined to pay the steep price of freedom and to act on the basis of dignity and principles.

History has offered abundant proof that our people’s determination is as hard as rock. To honor this determination, we are duty-bound to question everything we do as we strive to materialize our will more and more perfectly, to change concepts and methods which were appropriate at one point but have been surpassed by life itself.

We must always remember — and not to repeat it from memory like a dogma, but rather to apply it creatively in our work every day—what comrade Fidel affirmed on May 1st, 2000, with a definition which embodies the quintessence of political and ideological work:

“Revolution means a sense of our moment in history, it means changing all that ought to be changed; it is full equality and freedom; it is being treated and treating others like human beings; it is emancipating ourselves by ourselves, and through our own efforts; it is defying powerful and ruling forces inside and outside of the social and national spheres; it is defending values that are believed in at the cost of any sacrifice; it is modesty, selflessness, altruism, solidarity and heroism; it is fighting with audacity, intelligence and realism; it is never lying or violating ethical principles; it is the profound conviction that there is no force in the world capable of crushing the strength of truth and ideas. Revolution is unity, it is independence, it is fighting for our dreams for justice for Cuba and for the world, it is the foundation of our patriotism, our socialism and our internationalism.”

The best tribute we can pay the Commander in Chief today, the greatest contribution to his recovery we can make, is to ratify the decision to make a guide of those principles and, most importantly, to act in accordance with them every day, at whatever post has been assigned us.

True to the legacy of our glorious dead, we will work tirelessly to wholly meet the directives of his Proclamation, the many he has given us since then and as many as he gives us in the future.

There is no room for fear of difficulties or danger in our country, which shall never lower its guard before its enemies. That is the essential guarantee that, in our squares and, should it be necessary, in our trenches too0, these are the cries that shall always resound in our land:

Long live the Revolution!

Long live Fidel