Spoken: August 10, 1967 in Havana’s Chaplin Theater.
First publicly disseminated: August 11, 1967.
Source: International Socialist Review, Vol.28 No.6, November-December 1967, pp.12-49.
Translated: unknown See Also: An alternate translation by the US Government: Foreign Broadcast Information Service at the University of Texas: Fidel Castro Speech Database.
Transcription/Markup: Daniel Gaido/Brian Baggins.
Public Domain: Castro Internet Archive 2006. This work is completely free.
It is not easy to deliver the closing address of the First Latin American Conference of Solidarity. In the first place, what should our attitude be? To speak as a member of one of the organizations represented here? Or to speak somewhat more freely, simply as a guest speaker?
I wish to say that we intend to express here the opinion of our Party and our people, which is the same opinion and the same points of view defended by our delegation in OLAS. (APPLAUSE)
Could we say that the Conference has achieved a great ideological victory? Yes, we believe so. Does this mean that the agreements were reached without ideological struggle? No, the agreements were not reached without ideological struggle. Were opinions unanimous? Was support of the Declaration read here unanimous? Yes, it was unanimous. Does it represent unanimous opinions? No, it does not represent unanimous opinions. Some of the delegations present here had reservations on various aspects, and they expressed their reservations.
Throughout the Conference, the international press has been trying to sound out to analyze, the development of the Conference. It has expressed various ideas on the ideological struggle that took place here. Some did so with more objectivity, others with less; some in a spirit of honest journalism, others without much journalistic honesty; some were jubilant when the opinions were unanimous and some were jubilant when they were not. And, of course, we must say that there were some within the Conference who were indiscreet; there were some indiscretions. For some agencies undoubtedly arranged to contact the delegations and various versions came out: some accurate, others less accurate, but undoubtedly revealing a certain lack of discretion on the part of delegates to the Conference.
Some things were discussed publicly while others, very few others, were not. In the case of those that were not discussed publicly, the objective was to come up with the most positive results possible. A deep sense of responsibility prevailed among many of the delegates to the Conference, for it sought to accomplish something useful and positive, beneficial to the revolutionary movement and adverse to imperialism. It was not because of the principles involved that some of the questions under discussion could not be made public. If some things were not discussed publicly, it was simply due to a sense of responsibility; to prevent public consideration of those questions from which the enemy could glean an advantage.
But, naturally, there were indiscretions, and nearly all the things discussed are known more or less. The agreements are clear and decisive.
The Conference was not the only event that took place during these days. There were certain events that made the delegates to this Conference not only participants in ideological and political discussions and agreements, but also witnesses to and judges of the activities of imperialism against our country.
Some will ask about our reason or reasons for setting these proofs before this Conference of OLAS. A few might consider this a strange coincidence. The most suspicious—principally those who represent a section of the press which has been continually hostile to the Revolution and, on many occasions, to the truth—might look quite skeptically upon the coincidence between the presence of counterrevolutionary infiltrators in our country and the OLAS Conference.
Some spokesmen of imperialism have said that we made these presentations simply to demonstrate that imperialism intervenes in Cuba, and with a view to the next Conference of Foreign Ministers. These ideas might be legitimate if a case of fair play were involved; but, on the part of imperialism, there can be no fair play. These men were presented simply because such infiltrations have occurred systematically and incessantly in our country since the beginning of the Revolution. If this Conference of the OLAS were to last some time more, it could be said that every week we could bring here proof of the number and the kind of agents and the kind of missions that imperialism carries out against our country. Every week! It is unusual for a week to go by without our capturing one of these individuals.
Is it, perhaps, necessary for us to prove that imperialism carries out subversive activities against our country? Is it, perhaps, necessary for us to prove that imperialism carries out all sorts of crimes against our country and that it has been, for over eight years, openly intervening in the affairs of Cuba?
Yesterday someone expressed doubts as to whether the CIA was so naive—so naive!—that, instead of sending food specially prepared for such missions, hydrophilized, dehydrated, it would be so foolish as to include ordinary canned fruit. We have no intention of using this rostrum to humiliate anyone in particular, even less, persons who have been authorized to enter the country. And simply, without any personal allusions, I want to refer to the doubts, the thoughts, the ideas. Is it not, perhaps, extreme naïveté to believe that the CIA is a perfect, wonderful, highly intelligent organization, incapable of making the slightest mistake? But was it not in a book written precisely by US journalists that we read sinister accounts of dozens and dozens of stupidities and crimes committed by the CIA? Are we to think that the CIA is so perfect that it cannot make mistakes? Wasn’t the mistake which the CIA, the Pentagon, the State Department, imperialism as a whole, made at Gir6n ten thousand times greater than that? Wasn’t that a much greater mistake? (APPLAUSE) It was a far greater mistake than the insignificant detail—probably done without consulting anyone—of picking up some canned fruit, or whatever it was, from the well-stocked pantry of the mother-ship! And to attempt—on such a flimsy excuse—to cover up evidence that anyone with a minimum of common sense and good judgment would deny! It is really extraordinary that there are people in the United States who believe such things; that the CIA is a good angel, incapable of committing misdeeds, or crimes; that the things the CIA does against Cuba are yet to be proved; that the CIA, moreover, is incapable of committing stupidities.
Perhaps the CIA commits crimes ... This they accept or they reject. But it is necessary to analyze from a moral standpoint—from a moral standpoint!—whether the crimes of the CIA or the imbecilities of the CIA are the heart of the matter.
We are not going to ask anybody in particular, but we ask ourselves, we ask those who are listening to us, if there is anyone in the world who can believe that the CIA is not a sinister, interventionist criminal organization, inconceivably unscrupulous?
The fact that we are used to imperialist acts of vandalism must not cloud our responsiveness or our ability to judge these facts from a moral standpoint. In one sense, these are simply things that happen to our country practically every day. But if we analyze the facts more deeply, how many principles, how many international laws, how many norms of civilization, how many moral standards does the United States Government officially violate through the CIA? Like vulgar pirates, using the flag of any country, yet more immoral than the pirates of old—for the pirates of old, we hear, used the pirate flag, and piratical Yankee imperialism uses the flag of any country in the world.
The use of any methods, the use of official documents, of official United States maps, the use of forged documents, the use of any resource or means whatsoever, to carry out their intentions. And of course, why speak of the moral or legal aspects of the aims of these activities?
When it became evident yesterday, that one of these individuals had been seen only a few days ago in a Miami restaurant by the clerk, Charles; the manager, Joe; the cook, Sam ... and even the cat, (LAUGHTER) when it was obviously too far fetched to believe that our imagination had put this man on the stand, then up cropped another theory: that perhaps, instead of the CIA, an organization of anti-Castro exiles was involved.
Is it that the United States Government does not consider itself responsible for the crimes committed by those organizations in the US? Are they now going to say that they are not responsible, when they are the ones who organized all those people, nourished them, indoctrinated them, trained them—trained them in US institutions? Does the fact that an exile organization may be involved exonerate the US Government from responsibility?
But unfortunately for certain interested persons, this did not concern a group of exiles working with the CIA, but rather it involved direct CIA organization. The embarrassing thing about this is that it was organized directly by the CIA, not indirectly through counterrevolutionary organizations. For the CIA works through counterrevolutionary organizations, but it also works — as was explained to you — directly.
Of course, CIA technique is superior when it works directly; when we say superior technique, we do not mean to say superior intelligence. Is there electronic equipment that never goes wrong? This simply shows that electronic equipment is much more intelligent than the CIA and much more infallible.
And as for the insinuation that markets and Five and Ten Cent Stores in the US come stocked with this automatic equipment that transmits long messages in a fraction of a second or a minute—one of the most modern electronic devices ... if they really sell CIA equipment in the United States, wonderful! Because, in that case, perhaps US revolutionaries will be able to buy stocks of such equipment for their inter-communications. (APPLAUSE)
Since when, in which store, in which Five and Ten can one buy these ultramodern, ultrasensitive, tiny sets capable of automatically transmitting messages in code over thousands of kilometers? One must really be naive! I do not criticize anybody for vacillating before such evident facts and refraining from comment, such as the journalist who said he was not a judge. (LAUGHTER) What a great fellow! (LAUGHTER) Really, the AP educates its little cadres well! (LAUGHTER) If you want to know what kind of judges these fellows are, analyze what they write day by day and you will see how “impartial” they are.
There is only one thing which is true—their statement that they are not judges. They are not judges because they are partial, and they are absolutely incapable of judging anything. For eight years, we have been reading the news put out by that agency, which is always serving imperialist interests, always concealing something, always defending something that is never good—even by mistake!—distorting everything.
We Latin Americans know these facts only too well. All the representatives present here know them well. These facts are known, above all, to those who have to suffer these lies, this reporting, which while serving the worst imperialist causes, is the only information available, to whole nations on this continent. And that is part of the imperialist mechanism, because those lying, truculent, fraudulent news agencies are part and parcel—part and parcel!—of the imperialist machinery. They are part and parcel of the instruments used by imperialism to carry out its policies.
Courtesy compels us to treat individuals with politeness, but courtesy does not compel us to refrain from stating some truths which are only too well known. (APPLAUSE)
Besides referring to some of those news dispatches, we might ask if they were written out of naïveté—if it is not perhaps naive to publish such dispatches—and why they do so. Of course, there is an agency here that tries to be objective very often—I wouldn’t say that it always is—and this is a British agency.
It says here:
“A group of Cuban anti-Castro exiles called the Escambray Second Front stated today in this city that the contingent of men whose capture was announced on this date in Havana were guerrilla members of that organization. Andres Nazario, General Secretary of the Front, pointed out that the guerrilla fighters had left for Cuba about four weeks ago.
“He added, ‘They were going to infiltrate into Cuba to carry out a mission of subversion and guerrilla warfare, joining up afterwards with patriots inside Cuba.’”
That is, this news dispatch removes all doubt. It is official confirmation from the US by the gentlemen who sent the counterrevolutionaries presented here. But there is something else. Here is an AP dispatch:
“Four of the captured exiles who were today presented in Havana as invaders were landed in Cuba by an anti-Castro military force based in Miami.
“The band of infiltrators was described today in Miami by its leader, Major Armando Fleites, as on a mission”—as on a mission—“to kill Prime Minister Fidel Castro. This would form part of a campaign of irregular warfare designed to overthrow the Communist regime.”
That is, we were not inventing anything when we stated the concrete mission of these men; we were not inventing anything when we presented, among other weapons, a 22 caliber pistol with silencer and bullets with potassium cyanide—a pistol that makes less noise than striking a match, with a silencer and bullets poisoned with potassium cyanide.
And what laws did that arrogant, incredible deed violate? What laws can we refer to, what principles, what norms? For even in all-out war, that type of bullet is absolutely banned.
And without anyone bothering him, the ringleader publicly declares to an imperialist news agency there, declares openly and calmly, in the name of an organization that has its own official shingle, that the group came to this country to assassinate a government leader.
Does the government of the United States not feel responsible for these acts? We directly accuse the US Government and hold it responsible for these acts. (APPLAUSE AND CRIES OF: “FIDEL, FOR SURE, HIT THE YANKEES HARD!”) We accuse President Johnson and hold him responsible for the fact that plans are drawn up with absolute impunity in the United States for the assassination of government leaders of another State, using the most abhorrent methods, and that these plans are not only put into operation—serious attempts are being made at this—but also brazenly made public.
These are certainly serious matters. They are more than serious; they are grave. And all these statements demonstrate the absolute truth regarding the charges and information offered to the people by the Revolutionary Government as normal procedure.
What is strange about that? What is strange about their sending other spies? What is strange about that? We could ask the CIA and see what they have to say about this man.
And, above all, we could ask the CIA what a US destroyer, a mother-ship, helicopter and a Neptune aircraft were doing today, anxiously searching for something 20 miles north of Pinar del Río Province.
And it so happens that at dawn yesterday, some fishermen ran into “Bichinche”—I think that’s his name.(1) (APPLAUSE)
No, don’t harbor any illusions. I understand your desires to see “Bichinche” captured.
They were in a boat because they took to sea in a rubber raft in accordance with the emergency instructions they have.
The fishermen spotted them at dawn. And the fishermen might have done better, they might have taken them aboard, but their boat was small and they were unarmed. But they immediately reported what they had seen and we immediately drew the conclusion as to who they were.
And, naturally, today we were competing with the CIA. (LAUGHTER) Our reconnaissance plane and the Neptune were so close to one another that our crew photographed the Neptune. I presume that they photographed our plane, too.
The CIA and the government of the United States were looking for “Bichinche” today (LAUGHTER) at the same time that our planes and our ships were trying to find “Bichinche.” (LAUGHTER) “Bichinche” has become almost famous. (LAUGHTER)
But what happened? What happened? The means of escape was very difficult to detect because it is a rubber raft that can be easily hidden in the mangrove trees during the day. And they try to help themselves by moving with the currents until they are picked up, but the CIA didn’t know that “Bichinche” was in trouble. But, since a note came out in the Sunday papers saying that they had re-embarked—since that was the theory of our Security Department, after it found the things that had been left ashore, and based on all the information ...
It isn’t easy to locate a robber raft. We do not know if the CIA, the destroyer, the plane or the helicopter found “Bichinche”. We, unfortunately, couldn’t locate him. But we were both competing, 20 miles north of Cuba, to see who could find that “needle in a haystack.” (LAUGHTER)
Perhaps “Bichinche” will get away. We won’t be sad about that. We are not in a hurry. Didn’t they fall into our hands today? They will, tomorrow or the day after. (APPLAUSE) And there are quite a few of them.
At the time of Girón, quite a number of “big fish”—as the people say—were caught ... More than a thousand! And many individuals who certainly did not imagine they would be caught here, were caught—because that was their fate—as instruments of the CIA.
We could ask, by the way, if anyone can tell us if the maps—the maps brought in by those CIA agents—are also sold at Five and Ten Cent stores in the United States. (LAUGHTER) Because we should certainly like to have some of those maps, for they are detailed with minute precision. And that was a military map, a military blueprint, with every detail: the sentry boxes, munitions depots, bases for launching anti-aircraft missiles. One asks oneself why the CIA wants such minutely detailed maps of our military installations. What are their objectives?
And these drawings—are they by any chance sold at Five and Ten Cent stores? Without any doubt, the objectives of this type of espionage are belligerent, the aims are aggressive.
And, naturally, there is something that does not appear in the drawings, and that is the courage of those who defend these military positions! (APPLAUSE)
Because that is something that certainly cannot be found either on the maps or in the imaginations of these gentlemen of the CIA.
But we believe the evidence is indisputable, and we are prepared to put it at the disposal of anyone.
And the capture of CIA agents has become commonplace here—it is a weekly occurrence. It isn’t even given publicity most of the time, because it is no longer news to anyone.
Is it necessary for us to prove that the imperialists are aggressors against Cuba? Does it have anything to do with the Foreign Ministers’ meeting of the OAS? To some extent, yes, and to some extent, no.
Is it our purpose to convince the OAS? Who is going to make such a joke? It is not our intention either to convince the OAS or to neutralize its agreements. We have other ways of neutralizing OAS agreements! (APPLAUSE) We intended, in any case, to demonstrate how cynical these gentlemen of the OAS are, we intended to demonstrate how brazen the gentlemen of the OAS, headed by the US Government, are. We intended simply to unmask them; we intended to demoralize them. That is one part of it. That’s why I say that it is true that it has some relation to the OAS meeting.
But we do not intend to use this as an excuse. The OAS does not have even an iota of self-respect, the OAS does not have one iota of morality. And none of the governments of this continent—which, with the exception of Mexico, (APPLAUSE) are admitted accomplices in acts of banditry against our country, just as they were in the intervention against the Dominican Republic and in all the misdeeds committed by imperialism—have the slightest right to invoke any law or to invoke any principle against Cuba’s acts in support of the revolutionary movement! (APPLAUSE) Because they have violated all norms, all rights, all principles. And this is their responsibility, not ours.
They are mistaken if they think that we are going to accept this imperialist order. Those who believe that we are going to accept this imperialist order, this law of “grabbing the lion’s share” that the imperialists are trying to impose on the world, this blackmail, they are very much mistaken, because our country will never be subjected to such an order.
The imperialists assume the right to commit every kind of misdeed in the world with entire impunity. They daily bomb North Viet Nam, utilizing hundreds of planes: that is the imperialist order, those are the laws of imperialism. They invade the fraternal Dominican Republic with 40,000 soldiers, they openly set up a puppet government there with their occupation troops; that is the order of imperialism, those are the laws of imperialism. A State such as Israel, at the service of the imperialist aggressors, gets hold of a large part of the territory of other countries, establishes itself there at the very edge of the Suez Canal and is already claiming the right to participate in the control of that Canal—so all that’s lacking now is for it to ask that a pipeline be installed to run from the Aswan Dam to irrigate the Sinai Peninsula. And there they are, and nobody knows how long they’ll stay, and the longer nothing is done, the longer they’ll stay: that is the order imperialism wants to establish, those are the laws imperialism wants to impose upon the world. To send murderers on missions with poisoned bullets to kill leaders of other States, to constantly send armed infiltration groups to a country they have been harassing for eight years. That is the imperialist order! Those are the laws imperialism wants to impose upon the world! And we are a small country, but we will not accept that order! We will not accept those laws! (PROLONGED APPLAUSE)
We are not a country of adventurers, of provocateurs, of irresponsible people, as some have wanted to picture us. We simply refuse to accept that order and those laws of imperialism. And if the price of this attitude by our country were the sinking of this country in the Bartlett Deep(2) and the wiping of our entire population off the face of the earth—if that were possible—we would prefer this to accepting that order and those laws that imperialism wishes to impose upon the world. (APPLAUSE AND SHOUTS OF: “FIDEL, FOR SURE, HIT THE YANKEES HARD!”)
Go out into the streets and ask any Cuban citizen—young or old; father, son, or mother—ask him what he prefers, what he would choose: the acceptance of such a Draconian order, submission to the dictates of imperialism, or death. (SHOUTS OF “PATRIA O MUERTE!”) you will find that there are very few who think differently, who prefer to accept the imperialist order. But do not think that all of them will be counterrevolutionaries; there will also be some who, invoking Marxism-Leninism, will say that that is what has to be done—that is, that we should accept submission to the imperialist Draconian order. There are such persons, and they may be found anywhere.
Do you gentlemen of the press want information? You already have some, and there will be more if you are a little patient.
There are currents, there are attitudes. And we do not impose attitudes on our people. We have tried both to teach and learn; we have tried to educate ourselves as consistent revolutionaries and help the people also to educate themselves as consistent revolutionaries.
No one would affirm that the problems of this country are easily solved, that the dangers threatening this country are insignificant or minor. No one will be able to make light of the situations which this small country faces resolutely, without hesitation, at the very doorstep of the most powerful imperialist country in the world—and not only the most powerful one, but the most aggressive; and not only the most powerful and aggressive; but the bloodiest, the most cynical, the most arrogant of the imperialist powers in the world.
The very essence of imperialist thinking is revealed in what the imperialists publish. Of course, we should state—to avoid any misunderstanding, so no honest person will mistakenly think I am referring to him—that we know that, in spite of the infamous conditions that prevail there, there are some honest writers and journalists in the United States. (APPLAUSE) I am not talking about them. But there are so many of the other kind that I am afraid someone may think we do not know how to distinguish between them. But here is a case which expresses the essence of imperialist thinking. It is an article from the New York Daily News entitled “Stokely, Stay There.” We would indeed be honored if he wished to remain here ...! (PROLONGED APPLAUSE) But he himself doesn’t want to stay here, because he believes that the struggle is his fundamental duty. But he must know that, whatever the circumstances, this country will always be his home. (APPLAUSE)
The article states:
“Stokely Carmichael, the Negro firebrand, is in Havana, capital of Red Cuba, after having stopped off at London and Prague, and we suggest that he remain in Havana, his spiritual home.
“As pointed out, we urge Stokely to remain in Red Cuba until this miserable island is rescued from communism, and then he can head for some other Red country. If Carmichael returns to the United States we think that the Department of Justice should throw the book at him.”
And in conclusion, after more of the same sort of thing, it states: While we are busy in Viet Nam, we can hardly crush Castro—although the Government could, and should, stop discouraging Cuban refugees who plan Castro’s destruction.”
Stop discouraging!—stop discouraging Cuban exiles who plan Castro’s destruction! Discouragement indeed! Discouragement indeed! “But let’s stick a reminder in Uncle Sam’s hat to trample Castro underfoot with all the force necessary to destroy his communist regime just as soon as we win the war in Viet Nam.” (JEERS AND BOOS)
If the danger posed in this country depended on a US victory in Viet Nam, we could all die of old age!
Observe how they express themselves, with what unbelievable exasperation, with what contempt, they speak of “a Negro firebrand,” of “the miserable island,” of “trampling underfoot.” Because it must be said that the imperialists are annoyed by many things, but most of all they are annoyed by the visit here of a Negro leader—of a leader of the most exploited and most oppressed sector of the United States—by the strengthening of relations between the revolutionary movement of Latin America and the revolutionary movement inside the United States. (PROLONGED APPLAUSE)
In the past few days, innumerable articles about Stokely’s trip have been published in the US press; some very insulting, others more subtle. They have elaborated a whole series of theories. Some say “Stokely is fooling Castro,” “Castro is fooling Stokely,” “Stokely wants to make him believe that he represents the Negro movement—the majority of the Negro movement—and Castro is using him.” Statements of that sort.
And they have gone still further. Some theorists have stated: “How strange that this country is not racist, and Stokely is a racist ... How strange! How strange!” Their aim is to create the impression that the Negro movement in the United States is a racist movement.
It is logical that the exploiters, who for centuries practiced racism against the Negro population, now label as racists all those who struggle against racism.
It is claimed that they have no program. Well, that shows that often a movement can begin before a program is drawn up. But it is also false that the movement has no program. What is happening is that the Negro sector of the population of the United States at this moment, overwhelmed by daily repression, has concentrated its energies on defending itself, on resisting, on struggle.
But it will not be long before they will discover something that is inevitable according to the law of society, the law of history. And that is that the revolutionary movement in the United States will arise from this Negro sector, (APPLAUSE) because it is the most exploited and repressed sector, the most brutally treated in the United States (APPLAUSE); the revolutionary vanguard within the United States will arise from the most mistreated, the most exploited and oppressed of the Negro sectors. The revolutionary movement within US society will arise from this sector by the law of history—not for racial reasons, but for social reasons, reasons of exploitation and oppression, because this sector is the most long-suffering and oppressed—as has been the case in all epochs of history: as occurred with the Roman plebeians, the glebe serfs of the Middle Ages and the workers and peasants of modern times.
This is a social truth, a historic truth. Have patience, and from that oppressed sector the revolutionary movement will arise—vanguard of a struggle—that will one day liberate all of US society!
That is why we must reject—as injurious and slanderous—the attempt to present the Negro movement of the United States as a problem of racism. We hope they will give up the illusion that anyone has deceived anyone. The drawing together of the revolutionaries of the United States and those of Latin America is the most natural thing in the world, and the most spontaneous. And our people have been very receptive to and very capable of admiring Stokely for the courageous statements he has made in the OLAS Conference, because we know that this requires valor, because we know what it means to make such statements within a society that applies the most cruel and brutal procedures of repression, that constantly practices the worst crimes against the Negro sector of its population; and we know how much hatred his statements will arouse among the oppressors.
And, for this reason, we believe that the revolutionary movements all over the world must give Stokely their utmost support as protection against the repression of the imperialists, so that it will be very clear that any crime committed against this leader will have serious repercussions throughout the world. And our solidarity can help to protect Stokely’s life. (APPLAUSE)
And this is why—because all these inevitable events within the process are developing—revolutionaries are getting together, internationalism is being practiced. We believe that the attitude of this US revolutionary leader offers a great lesson, a great example of militant internationalism, something very characteristic of revolutionaries. We undoubtedly sympathize much more with this type of revolutionary than with the super-theoreticians, who are revolutionary in word but bourgeois in deed.
This internationalism cannot be merely proclaimed; it must be practiced! And the Negroes of the United States are offering resistance, they are offering armed resistance. They didn’t go around propounding theses, or talking about objective conditions before they seized weapons to defend their rights. They did not seek a philosophy—and, much less, a revolutionary philosophy—to justify inaction.
And we believe that if there is any country where the struggle is hard, where the struggle is difficult—that country is the United States. And here we have US revolutionaries setting an example and giving us lessons!
It always seems that we have to bring along some dispatches, certain papers, news items, especially to an event of this nature. We sincerely believe that we would not be fulfilling our duty if we did not express here that the OLAS Conference has been a victory of revolutionary ideas, though not a victory without a struggle.
A latent ideological struggle has been reflected in the OLAS. Should we hide the fact? No. What is gained by concealing it? Was it the aim of the OLAS to crush anyone, to harm anyone? No. That is not a revolutionary method; it is not in accord with the conscience of revolutionaries. But let us be clear about this—genuine revolutionaries!
We believe that revolutionary ideas must prevail. If revolutionary ideas should be defeated, the Revolution in Latin America would be lost or would be delayed indefinitely. Ideas can hasten a process—or they can delay it considerably.
We believe that the triumph of revolutionary ideas among the masses—not the masses in their entirety, but a sufficiently broad part of them—is an absolute requisite.
This does not mean that action must wait for the triumph of ideas, and this is one of the essential points of the matter. There are those who believe that it is necessary for ideas to triumph among the masses before initiating action, and there are others who understand that action is one of the most efficient instruments for bringing about the triumph of ideas among the masses.
Whoever hesitates while waiting for ideas to triumph among the greater part of the masses before initiating revolutionary action will never be a revolutionary. For, what is the difference between such a revolutionary and a rich landowner, a wealthy bourgeois? None whatsoever!
Humanity will, of course, change; human society will, of course, continue to develop — in spite of men and the errors of men. But that is not a revolutionary attitude.
If that had been our way of thinking, we would never have initiated a revolutionary process. It was enough for the ideas to take root in a sufficiently large number of men for revolutionary action to be initiated, and, through this action, the masses began to acquire these ideas; the masses began to acquire that awareness.
It is obvious that there are already in many places in Latin America a number of men who are convinced of such ideas, and who have begun revolutionary action. What distinguishes the true revolutionary from the false revolutionary is precisely this: one acts to move the masses, the other waits for the masses as a whole to acquire awareness before starting to act.
And a whole series of principles exists that one should not expect to be accepted without an argument, but which are essential truths, accepted by the majority, but with reserve by a few. This Byzantine discussion about the ways and means of struggle, whether it should be peaceful or non-peaceful, armed or unarmed—the essence of this discussion, which we call Byzantine because it is like an argument between two deaf and dumb people, is what distinguishes those who want to promote revolution, and those who do not want to promote it, those who want to curb it and those who want to promote it. Let no one be fooled.
Different terms have been employed: whether this is the only way, or not the only way; whether it is exclusive, or not exclusive. And the Conference has been very clear about this. It has not used the term, the only way, although it could be called the only way; it has referred, instead, to the fundamental way, to which the other forms of struggle must be subordinated. And, in the long run, it is the only way. To use the word “only”—although the sense of the word is understood and it is the right word—might lead to erroneous thinking about the immediacy of the struggle.
That is why we understand that the Declaration’s reference to the fundamental way, as the road that must be taken in the long run, is the correct formulation.
If we wish to express our way of thinking, that of our Party and our people, let no one harbor any illusions about seizing power by peaceful means in any country of this continent. Let no one harbor any such illusions. Anyone who tries to sell such an idea to the masses will be deceiving them completely.
This does not mean that one has to go out and grab a rifle tomorrow anywhere at all, and start fighting. That is not the question. It is a question of ideological conflict between those who want to make a revolution and those who do not want to make it. It is the conflict between those who want to act and those who want to hold back. Because essentially, it is not that difficult to decide if it is possible, if conditions are ripe, to take up arms or not.
No one can be so sectarian, so dogmatic, as to say that, everywhere, one has to go out and grab a rifle tomorrow. And we ourselves do not doubt that there are some countries in which this task is not an immediate task, but we are convinced that it will be a task in the long run.
There are some who have put forward theses that are even more radical than those of Cuba—that we Cubans believe that in such and such a country the conditions for armed struggle do not exist, and that this is not so. And the interesting thing is that this has been claimed in some cases by representatives who are not among those most in favor of the thesis of armed struggle. We will not be annoyed by this. We prefer that they make the mistake of wanting to make the revolution, although immediate conditions may be lacking, than that they make the mistake of never wanting to make the revolution. And let us hope that no one makes a mistake! But nobody who really wants to fight will ever have differences with us, and those who never want to fight will always have differences with us. (APPLAUSE)
We understand the essence of this matter very well. It is the conflict between those who want to impel the revolution and those who are deadly enemies of the ideas of the revolution. A whole series of factors have contributed to these positions.
This does not always mean that it is enough to maintain a correct position and nothing more. No, even among those who really want to make revolution many mistakes are made. It is true that there are still many weaknesses. But logically we will never have profound differences with anyone—in spite of their mistakes—who honestly maintains a revolutionary position. It is our understanding that revolutionary thought must take on new impetus; it is our understanding that we must leave behind old vices: sectarian positions of all kinds and the positions of those who believe they have a monopoly on revolution or on revolutionary theory! And, poor theory, how it has had to suffer in these processes. Unhappy theory, how it has been abused, and how it is still being abused!
And these years have taught us all to meditate more and analyze better. We no longer accept any “self-evident’ truths. “Self-evident” truths belong to bourgeois philosophy. A whole series of old clichés must be abolished. Marxist literature itself, revolutionary political literature itself should be renewed because repeating the same old clichés, phraseology and verbiage that have been repeated for 35 years wins over no one, convinces no one at all. (APPLAUSE)
There are times when political documents, called Marxist, give the impression that someone has gone to an archive and asked for a form: form 14, form 13, form 12; they are all alike, with the same empty words, in language incapable of expressing real situations. Very often, these documents are divorced from real life. And then many people are told that this is Marxism ... and in what way is this different from a catechism, and in what way is it different from a litany, from a rosary? (APPLAUSE)
And anyone who considers himself a Marxist feels virtually obligated to go to this or that manifesto. And he reads 25 manifestos of 25 different organizations, and they are all alike, copied from models, incapable of convincing anyone.
And nothing was farther from the thought and style of the founder of Marxism than empty words, than putting a straightjacket on ideas. Because Marx was, undoubtedly, one of the greatest and most brilliant prose writers of all time. But, worse than the phrases are the ideas they often encompass. Meaningless phrases are bad, but so are the accepted meanings of certain phrases. Because there are theses that are 40 years old; for example, the famous thesis concerning the role of the national bourgeoisies. How hard it has been to become convinced, finally, that this idea is an absurdity on this continent; how much paper, how many phrases, how much empty talk has been wasted while waiting for a liberal, progressive, anti-imperialist bourgeois.
And we ask ourselves if there is anybody who, at this time, can believe in the revolutionary role of a single bourgeoisie on this continent?
All these ideas have been gaining strength, have been held for a long time — a long series of theses.
I am not going to say that the revolutionary movement and the communist movement in general have ceased to play a role—even an important role—in the history of the revolutionary process and of revolutionary ideas in Latin America. The communist movement developed a method, style, and in some aspects, even took on the characteristics of a religion. And we sincerely believe that that character should be left behind.
Of course to some of these “illustrious revolutionary thinkers” we are only petit-bourgeois adventurers without revolutionary maturity. We are lucky that the Revolution came before maturity! (APPLAUSE) Because at the end, the mature ones, the over-mature, have gotten so ripe that they are rotten. (APPLAUSE)
But we consider ours a Marxist-Leninist Party, we consider ours a Communist Party. (APPLAUSE) And this is not a matter of words, it is a matter of facts.
We do not consider ourselves the teachers, we do not consider ourselves the pace-setters, as some people say we do. But we have the right to consider ours a Marxist-Leninist Party, a Communist Party.
We are deeply satisfied, and it is with great joy, not nostalgia, with happiness, not sadness, that we see the ranks of the revolutionary movement increasing, the revolutionary organizations multiplying, Marxist-Leninist spirit making headway—that is, Marxist-Leninist ideas—and we felt deeply satisfied when the final resolution of this Conference proclaimed that the revolutionary movement in Latin America is being guided by Marxist-Leninist ideas. (APPLAUSE)
This means that convent-like narrow-mindedness must be overcome. And we, in our Communist Party, will fight to overcome that narrow concept, that narrow-mindedness. And we must say that, as a Marxist-Leninist Party, we belong to OLAS; as a Marxist Leninist Party, we belong not to a small group within the revolutionary movement, but to an organization which comprises all true revolutionaries, and we will not be prejudiced against any revolutionary.
That is, there is a much wider movement on this continent than that of just the Communist Parties of Latin America; we are committed to that wide movement, and we shall judge the conduct of organizations not by what they say they are, but by what they prove they are, by what they do, by their conduct.
And we feel very satisfied that our Party has wholeheartedly entered into this wider movement, the movement that has just held this first Conference.
The importance of the guerrilla, the vanguard role of the guerrilla ... Much could be said about the guerrilla, but it is not possible to do so in a meeting like this. But guerrilla experiences on this continent have taught us many things—among them the terrible mistake, the absurd concept that the guerrilla movement could be directed from the cities. This is the reason for the thesis that political and military commands must be united. This is the reason for our conviction that it is not only a stupidity but also a crime to want to direct the guerrillas from the city. And we have had the opportunity t appreciate the consequences of this absurdity many times. It is necessary that these ideas be overcome, and this is why we consider the resolution of this Conference of great importance. The guerrilla is bound to be the nucleus of the revolutionary movement. This does not mean that the guerrilla movement can rise without any previous work; it does not mean that the guerrilla movement is something that can exist without political direction. No! We do not deny the role of the leading organizations, we do not deny the role of the political organizations. The guerrilla is organized by a political movement, by a political organization. What we believe incompatible with correct ideas of guerrilla struggle is the idea of directing the guerrilla from the cities. And in the conditions of our continent it will be very difficult to suppress the role of the guerrilla.
There are some who ask themselves if it is possible in any country of Latin America to achieve power without armed struggle. And, of course, theoretically, hypothetically, when a great part of the continent has been liberated there is nothing surprising if, under those conditions a revolution succeeds without opposition—but this would be an exception. However, this does not mean that the revolution is going to succeed in any country without a struggle. The blood of the revolutionaries of a specific country may not be shed, but their victory will only be possible thanks to the efforts, the sacrifices and the blood of the revolutionaries of a whole continent. (APPLAUSE)
It would, therefore, be false to say that they had a revolution there without a struggle. That will always be a lie. And I believe that it is not correct for any revolutionary to wait with arms crossed until all the other peoples struggle and create the conditions for victory for him without struggle. That will never be an attribute of revolutionaries. There are those who believe that a peaceful transition is possible in some countries of this continent; we cannot understand what kind of peaceful transition they refer to, unless it is to a peaceful transition in agreement with imperialism. Because in order to achieve victory by peaceful means—if in practice such a thing were possible, considering that the mechanisms of the bourgeoisie, the oligarchies and imperialism control all the means for peaceful struggle ... And then you hear a revolutionary say: They crushed us; they organized 200 radio programs, so and so many newspapers, so and so many magazines, so and so many TV shows, so and so many of this and so and so many of that. And one wants to ask him: What did you expect? That they would put TV, radio, the magazines, the newspapers, the printing shops, all this at your disposal? Or are you unaware that those are the instruments of the ruling class designed explicitly for crushing the revolution? (APPLAUSE)
They complain that the bourgeoisie and the oligarchies crush them with their campaigns, as if that were a surprise to anyone. The first thing that a revolutionary has to understand is that the ruling classes have organized the State so as to dedicate every possible means to maintaining themselves in power. And they use not only arms, not only physical instruments, not only guns, but all possible instruments to influence, to deceive, to confuse.
And those who believe that they are going to win against the imperialists in elections are just plain naive, and those who believe that the day will come when they will take over through elections are even more naive. It is necessary to have lived in a revolutionary process and to know just what the repressive apparatus is by which the ruling classes maintain the status quo, just how much one has to struggle, how difficult it is.
This does not imply the negation of forms of struggle. When someone writes a manifesto in a newspaper, attends a demonstration, holds a rally or propagates an idea, he may be using the so-called famous legal means. We must do away with the differentiation between legal and illegal means; methods should be classified as revolutionary or non-revolutionary.
The revolutionary employs various methods to achieve his ideal and his revolutionary aim. The essence of the question is whether the masses will be led to believe that the revolutionary movement, that socialism, can come to power without a struggle, that it can come to power peacefully. And that is a lie! And any persons in Latin America who assert that they will come to power peacefully are deceiving the masses. (APPLAUSE)
We are talking about conditions in Latin America. We don’t want to involve ourselves in other problems which are already large enough—of those of the revolutionary organizations of other countries, such as in Europe. We are addressing Latin America. And of course, if they would only confine their mistakes to themselves ... But no, they try to encourage the errors of those of this continent who are mistaken! And to such an extent that part of the so-called revolutionary press has attacked Cuba for our revolutionary stand in Latin America. That’s a fine thing! They don’t know how to be revolutionaries over there, yet they want to teach us how to be revolutionaries over here. But we are not anxious to start arguments. We already have enough to think about But, of course, we will not overlook the direct or indirect, the overt or covert attacks of some neo-Social Democrats of Europe. (APPLAUSE)
And these are clear ideas. We are absolutely convinced that, in the long run, there is only one solution, as expressed in the Resolution: guerrilla warfare in Latin America.
Does this mean that if a garrison rises in rebellion because there are revolutionaries in it we should not support the rebellion because it is not a guerrilla struggle? No! It is stupid to think, as one organization did, that the Revolution would be made with the rebellion of garrisons only. It is no less stupid to have a rebellion in a garrison and afterwards let it be crushed by overpowering forces. New situations are arising; new situations may arise—we do not deny that. For example, in Santo Domingo a typical case came up: a military uprising that began to take on a revolutionary character.
But, of course, this doesn’t mean that the revolutionary movement has to wait around for what may come up, for what may take place. Nobody was able to foresee, nobody was able to estimate the form, the character that the revolutionary movement would take on, especially as a result of imperialist intervention.
In other words, by stressing the role of the guerrilla as an immediate task in all those countries where true conditions exist, we do not discard other forms of revolutionary armed struggle.
The revolutionary movement must be ready to take advantage of, and support, any expression of struggle that may arise, that may develop or that may strengthen the position of the revolutionaries. What I do not believe is that anybody who considers himself a revolutionary can wait around for a garrison to rebel in order to carry out revolution, that any revolutionary can dream of making a revolution through the rebellion of garrisons. The uprising of military units may constitute a factor—one of those unforeseeable factors that may arise—but no really serious revolutionary movement would base itself on those eventualities. Guerrilla warfare is the main form of struggle, but it does not exclude any other expressions of armed struggle that may arise.
And it is necessary—most necessary—that these ideas be clarified, because we have had very bitter experiences; not the blows or reverses of a military nature, but rather the frustrations of a political nature, the consequences—sad and disastrous for the revolutionary movement in the long run—of a series of wrong concepts. The most painful case was that of Venezuela.
In Venezuela the revolutionary movement was growing. The revolutionary movement there has had to pay dearly the consequences of the absurd concept of trying to lead the guerrillas from the city, of trying to use the guerrilla movement as an instrument for political maneuvering, of trying to use the guerrilla movement as a tool of dirty politics: the consequences that can arise from incorrect attitudes, from wrong attitudes and, on many occasions, from immoral attitudes.
The case of Venezuela is well worth taking into consideration, for if we do not learn from the lessons of Venezuela, we will never learn.
Of course, in spite of treason, the guerrilla movement in Venezuela is far from being crushed. And we, gentlemen, have every right to use the word “treason.”
We know there are some who do not like this; some will even feel insulted. May those who do not also carry the seeds of treason in their hearts one day be convinced that they have no reason to feel insulted.
The case of Venezuela is eloquent in many aspects. For in Venezuela a group—which, with all these wrong concepts, was in the leadership of a Party—almost achieved what neither imperialism nor the repressive forces of the regime could achieve.
This Party, or rather the rightist leadership of the Venezuelan Party, has come to adopt a position which smacks of an enemy of revolutionaries, an instrument of imperialism and the oligarchy. And I do not say this for the sake of talking; I am not a slanderer, I am not a defamer.
We have some unfinished business with that group of traitors. We have not encouraged polemics; we have not incited conflicts; far from that for a long time we have kept silent while enduring a barrage of documents and attacks from that rightist leadership, as that leadership forsook the guerrilla fighters and took the road of conciliation and submission.
We were the victims of deceit. First they spoke to us about a strange thing—for many of these problems begin with a series of strange things —they began to talk of democratic peace. And we would say: What the devil does that democratic peace mean? What does that mean? It’s strange, very strange.” But they replied, “No, that’s a revolutionary slogan to widen the front, to unite forces, to present a broad front.” A broad front? Well, theoretically speaking, who would oppose this? “No, have faith in us.”
Then after a few months, they began to speak of tactical retreats. Tactical retreats? How odd! If they had told us the truth we might have disagreed, we might have had doubts, whatever the case; but never ...
A tactical retreat: that is what they said to the rank and file, that is what they said to the people. The tactical retreat was followed by an attempt to end the struggle, an attempt to suppress the guerrilla movement. For anyone knows that in a guerrilla movement there is no tactical retreat. A guerrilla group that retreats is like an airplane that cuts off its engine in mid-flight: it falls to the ground. Such a tactical retreat must have been the brainchild of some genius in high-flown revolutionary theories. Whoever has an idea of what a guerrilla group is, and begins to hear talk of retreat by the guerrillas, will say: “This man is talking a lot of nonsense.” There can be total withdrawal of guerrillas, but not retreat.
Gradually they let their mask slip, until one day they revealed themselves completely and said: “Let’s take part in the elections.” They spoke out in favor of elections.
But even before they declared themselves in favor of elections, they committed one of the vilest deeds that a revolutionary party can commit: they began to act as informers, as public accusers of the guerrillas. They took advantage of the case of Iribarren Borges.(3) They utilized that episode to begin speaking out openly and publicly against the guerrilla movement, practically throwing it into the claws of the government beasts. The government had the weapons and the soldiers with which to pursue the guerrillas who would not retreat; but the so-called Party or the rightist leadership of the Party which had assumed its command, took it upon itself to arm, both morally and politically, the repressive forces fighting the guerrillas. We have to ask ourselves honestly, how could we, a revolutionary party, cover up, in the name of an argument of a cloistered a cathedra type of thinking, the attitude of a party that was trying to morally arm the repressive forces fighting the guerrillas.
And so the phrasemaking began, the accusations began. They said that we were creating factionalism, that we were creating factionalism!
A group of charlatans weren’t under judgment here but a group of guerrilla fighters who had been in the mountains for years, who had gone there and had then suffered every form of neglect, of abandonment. Could revolutionaries have said, “Yes, once again you are right, you who have been deceiving us, you who began by telling us one thing, then another, and ended up by doing this.”
Naturally, we publicly expressed our condemnation —after a series of statements had already been issued by that rightist leadership against our Party—of the treacherous ways in which they were slandering and attacking the revolutionaries, using the Iribarren incident as a point of departure.
Logically, that provoked the irate and indignant protest of that rightist leadership, which made us the butt of a series of tirades. They did not answer a single one of our arguments; they were unable to answer even one, and they wrote a maudlin reply to the effect that we were ignoble, that we had attacked an underground Party, that we were fighting a most combative, a most heroic anti-imperialist organization. And they drafted a reply against us.
Why has it been necessary to bring that reply here? Because that document became the argument of a gang, a whole gang of detractors and slanderers of the Cuban Revolution. And that incident signaled the beginning of a real international conspiracy against the Cuban Revolution, a real conspiracy against our Revolution.
We feel that this is a problem that must be clarified; at least the truth must be clarified.
I am going to read this answer, if you’ll pardon me, even though it is rather lengthy. Of course, it is an answer full of phrases which are not at all kind to us, but if you’ll permit me I would like to read this answer, which has been made public, (APPLAUSE) the so-called “Reply of the Communist Party of Venezuela to Fidel Castro.” And may this be a starting point for refuting some things that have been said about Cuba and about the Revolution.
“Fidel Castro, Secretary General of the Communist Party (in power) of Cuba, and Prime Minister of the Socialist Government of Cuba, taking advantage of his comfortable position, has attacked the Communist Party of Venezuela, an underground Party, with hundreds of its militants in prison, dozens of them having been killed in the mountains and streets of the cities; and now subject to relentless persecution daily, while new victims fall even as Fidel Castro speaks.
“The man who is tolerated in all his verbal excesses, thanks to the fact that Cuba occupies the front line of the anti-imperialist struggle, should have the elementary finesse to be careful of his language when referring to the Communist Party struggling in the country which in all of Latin America is that most intervened by Yankee imperialism and is fighting it under the most difficult conditions. Knowing who he is and with the whole world listening, Fidel Castro has not hesitated to insult a Communist Party which is hardly able to answer due to repression.
“Therefore: Fidel Castro’s action is ignoble, takes unfair advantage and is treacherous and lacking the nobility and gallantry that have always characterized the Cuban Revolution.
“Second: Fidel Castro has expressed a negative judgment concerning the murder of Iribarren Borges, even claiming a right to express an opinion on this matter. Nevertheless, with surprising nerve, he wants to deny the same right to the CPV. Fidel Castro, evidently does not want the Communist Party of Venezuela, which acts in Venezuela, which is in Venezuela, to express an opinion, to pass judgment on a Venezuelan political event which took place on Venezuelan soil and closely affects the life of the CPV. On the other hand, he himself can do so from Cuba.
“According to his peculiar point of view, we are on speaking terms with and play up to the government. He does the same and pretends to be the voice of an intangible revolutionary oracle. This strange way of reasoning shows an irresponsible arrogance and self-sufficiency not appropriate in a Chief of State.
“As to the event itself, the CPV said exactly the same thing that Fidel Castro did, no more, no less. On the other hand, we assert that what does play up to reaction and imperialism are speeches such as that of Fidel Castro”—they don’t even thank me (LAUGHTER)—“slander like that which he has hurled against our Party, his efforts to divide it, and such matters as the murder of Iribarren Borges.
“Third: The CPV claims the right to plan its own policy without anybody’s interference. Cuba has marched along a hard, revolutionary road with honor, in this she is an example and inspiration to us. But the one thing that we have never been, are not, and never will be, is an agent of Cuba in Venezuela, or of any other Communist Party in the world.
“We are Venezuelan Communists, and we do not accept the tutelage of anyone, no matter how great his revolutionary merits may be.
“If there is any revolutionary group in Venezuela that submits with pleasure to the tutelage and patronage of Fidel Castro, that is its business. The CPV will never do it. If Fidel Castro does not like it, so much the worse for him. Now then: Why does Fidel Castro intervene precisely at this time against the CPV? Because the CPV has already begun to defeat in practice, and not only ideologically, the anti-Party faction of Douglas Bravo; because the Party and the Communist Youth have attained great political and organizational successes in applying their policy; because our recent feat, the rescue of comrades Pompeyo, Guillermo and Teodoro, has filled all the militant Communists of the country with enthusiasm and renewed energy; and because, finally, the anarchistic, adventurous policy of the anti-Party group has shown the inevitability of its failure and has helped enormously in the clarification of problems under discussion.
“That is precisely why Fidel Castro has thrown all the weight of his prestige against the CPV in a desperate attempt to help the anarchistic group of adventurers, which he sponsored and urged on so the CPV would go under.
“Nevertheless, our policy and the facts prove daily what the adjectives ‘hesitant’ ‘halting’ and ‘opportunist’—that Fidel Castro applied to the leadership of the CPV—are worth. And that is proved here in Venezuela, even in spite of the things Fidel Castro has done to us, and, surely, will continue doing to us.
“But let him and the whole CPV understand this clearly: we will not even discuss the sovereignty of the CPV.
“Fourth: Fidel Castro has described the leadership of the CPV as cowardly, in a new demonstration of that irritating tendency of his to believe himself possessed of a monopoly on bravery and courage. We Venezuelan Communists do not suffer from childish exhibitionism; we do not go around proclaiming our virtues in this field. When Fidel Castro was a child, that great patriarch of Venezuelan communism Gustavo Machado was already storming Curacao and invading Venezuela, arms in hand.
“And from then on, the history of the CPV, which is a political history, was also the history of the men who confronted Gómez’s terror and that of Pérez Jiménez; the men who directed the insurrection of January 23, 1958; the men who were responsible for Fidel Castro’s receiving a plane loaded with arms when he was still in the Sierra Maestra; and the men who, if they have hesitated in anything during the last eight years, have not faltered in risking their lives.
“This answer of ours is the best demonstration we can give Fidel Castro of what the leadership of the CPV is really like. Accustomed to believe in his power as a revolutionary High Pasha, he thought his speech would surely crush and confound us. He couldn’t be more mistaken, and now Fidel Castro will see why Yankee imperialism and its agents insist so much on liquidating this Venezuelan Communist Party.
“Fifth: In his speech, Fidel Castro shows that he wants to assume, once more, the role of a sort of arbiter of the revolutionary destiny of Latin America—a superrevolutionary who, if he had been in the place of all the Communists of Latin America, would have already made the Revolution.
“On another occasion we referred to the characteristics of the Cuban struggle and to the place where Fidel Castro would still be if it had occurred to him to hoist the red flag in the Sierra Maestra. At the moment we only want to reject the role of revolutionary “papa” that Fidel Castro adopts.
“We firmly reject his presuming to believe that he and only he can decide what is and what is not revolutionary in Latin America. In Venezuela this question is judged by the CPV, before itself and its people, before no one else. But of this Fidel Castro,—highest dispenser of revolutionary diplomas, who asks what North Viet Nam would say if Cuba were to trade with South Viet Nam—we only want to ask if he thinks about what the Spanish people have to say about his trading with Franco and the Spanish oligarchy, or what the Negro peoples of Zimbabwe, Rhodesia, and the patriots of Aden might say about his trading with imperialist Britain. Or is it that what Fidel Castro considers as opportunism in others, in him would be washed away by the holy waters of his own self-sufficiency?
“Sixth: This is an unpleasant polemic and one that makes the enemy jump with joy; but which evidently cannot be deferred any longer. Fidel Castro himself forced us to the limit with his speech. All right, then. We will argue. And just as we claim our descent from Simón Bolivar and the fathers of our homeland in our anti-imperialist struggle, so we tell Fidel Castro that the descendants of Simón Bolívar and Ezequiel Zamora will never tolerate anybody’s using language as insolent and provoking as that which he used in his speech on March 13.
“The Venezuelan believes himself neither above nor below anybody else; but if there is one thing that will provoke his fiery militant pride, it is an insult.
“And already Fidel Castro must have started to realize that he has stumbled against something different, that he has come UP against the Venezuelan Communists.
“Seventh: We realize that such acts as Fidel Castro’s will cause us difficulties but we do not despair.
“We have the calm conviction of those who know they are right, and we have the revolutionary passion to defend it.”
March 15, 1967
Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Venezuela:
Pompeyo Márquez, Guillermo García Ponce, Alonso Ojeda Olaechea, Pedro Ortega Díaz, Eduardo Gallegos Mancera, Teodoro Petkoff, Germán Lairet.”
“Without comment,” it says above. “Answer of the Communist Party of Venezuela to Fidel Castro.” And below: “Please reproduce and distribute. Second Front-Alpha 66, 109 South West 12 Avenue, Miami, Florida. 33-130.”
Do not think that I have gotten this letter from a spokesman of a party or from a political newspaper. Thousands of copies of this letter were sent to Cuba from the United States by the Organization “Second Front-Alpha 66,” the same people who sent that gang with guns and bullets treated with cyanide to murder Prime Minister Fidel Castro, as they said. And this certainly requires some comment. In the first place, I am not going to refer now to what I said that night, because it would take too long. It is not true that we personally insulted anyone. We did not call anyone in that Party a coward; we said that the political line was cowardly. I was not insulting or offending anyone or saying so-and-so is a coward.
Naturally, far from answering any criticisms made, they drew up this document and published it. It was one of the many that they have written and, naturally, we have compiled. Our Party has been working on a document to answer this and all the intrigues of these gentlemen, which will be released at an opportune moment. But a series of imputations are made in this document, the same ones that have been made against the Revolution, against our Party, and not only by imperialism ... not only by imperialism. Among other things, these gentlemen did not hesitate in accusing us, in accusing our Party, of intervening in the internal affairs of the Venezuelan Party and of intervening in the internal affairs of Venezuela.
They accused us of having agent in Venezuela, they insinuated that the guerrilla group—the combatants who refused to retreat and surrender—was a group of Cuban agents. These were exactly the same as the slanderous accusations made by the US State Department.
In this document Cuba was also accused of trying to be an arbiter, of trying to direct the Latin American revolutionary movement: exactly the same accusations that imperialism makes against us. In this document they even include false statements, even mentioning arms which came from Venezuela—but these did not come when we were in the Sierra Maestra; they were 150 weapons that came when our troops were advancing on Santiago de Cuba, in December, when the columns of Camilo Cienfuegos and Ernesto Guevara had already taken an important part of Santa Clara. (PROLONGED APPLAUSE) They practically throw in our faces the sending of a planeload of arms which they claim they sent. They almost try to say that the war was won with these arms ... And they were not the ones who sent these arms. And they are so short of arguments, so short of arguments, that they have had to resort to such deceptions.
Perhaps someday the Venezuelan people will ask them about the millions of dollars they collected throughout the world on behalf of the guerrilla movement—which they abandoned, whose members they left without shoes, clothing, food, and even the bare necessities; and which they have accused and attacked without scruples of any kind. Some day—I repeat—the Venezuelan people may ask these swindlers how much they collected throughout the world: the figures, the numbers, the data.
And what did they do? For our part we do not ask them anything; we are not interested. When we help someone, we truly help him, we do not ask him for an accounting of what he did with this aid.
Nevertheless, there is one argument which has gone all the rounds, and is going to have a full answer. There was something that became the gang’s argument, the argument of the “Mafia.” (Perhaps, if it were not for these painful circumstances, we would not have to discuss this problem.) This is the argument of our trade with Spain, with England and the other capitalist countries. Of course, this argument, or this problem, was not originally under discussion at all. This was not what was being discussed. Why, then, did these gentlemen bring this problem into the discussion? Why did they bring this argument into the discussion? They did so in connection with our critical position on financial and technical aid extended to the Latin American oligarchies.
In the first place, there has been a deliberate attempt to distort our views. Furthermore, these gentlemen of the rightist leadership of the Communist Party of Venezuela had a goal, and they pursued it in a very immoral manner. Once, when Leoni’s administration was seeking to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, we were asked what we thought of it and we voiced our opinion; these gentlemen were also asked, and they also responded negatively to the idea.
Why do these gentlemen resort to this argument and drag in a problem that was not being discussed with them? It is very clear, it forms part of the plot of the conspiracy in which they and their fellows are participating with imperialism to create a serious conflict between the Cuban Revolution and the socialist countries. It is unquestionable that this argument is one of the basest, most despicable, most treacherous and most provocative. It is an attempt to find a contradiction between our position and our trade with capitalist countries. But this argument until very recently has been bruited about by the “Mafia,” and not only has it been published openly—the capitalist press also published it, and the counterrevolutionary organizations have circulated this letter—but this vile argument has also been spread about sotto voce in corridors and powwows by the detractors of and conspirators against the Cuban Revolution.
In the first place, they are lying when they state that Cuba is opposed to trade. In every international body, in every economic conference, in all organizations in which Cuba has taken part as a State, we have constantly denounced the imperialist policy of blockade, and we have denounced the acts of the government of the United States against our country as a violation of free trade and of the right of all countries to trade with each other. Cuba has inflexibly maintained that position at all times; that has been a policy pursued by our country and the entire history of the commercial relations of our country bears it out. Our position does not refer to commerce; it has never referred to commerce. And our position is known by the Soviet Union; we have stated our viewpoint to them.
We were talking about financial and technical help given by any socialist State to the Latin American oligarchies. These things must not be confused; one thing should not be confused with the other! Some socialist states even offered dollar loans to Sr. Lleras Restrepo(4) because he was in difficulties with the International Monetary Fund.
And we asked ourselves: How can this be? This is absurd! Dollar loans to an oligarchic government that is repressing the guerrillas, that is persecuting and assassinating guerrillas! And the war is carried out with money—among other things, because the oligarchies have nothing with which to wage war except money, with which they pay mercenary forces.
And such things seem absurd to us—as does everything that implies financial and technical aid to any country that is repressing the revolutionary movement, to countries that are accomplices in the imperialist blockade against Cuba. That we condemn. It is unfortunate that we have to go into this problem in detail, but, naturally, it is the number one argument employed by the “Mafia.” And it is logical. Cuba is a small country against which the United States practices a cruel blockade. At Gran Tierra we explained to some of those present here how the imperialists do everything within their power to prevent our obtaining even such insignificant things as handfuls of new seeds, varieties of rice, cotton or anything else, seeds for grain, vegetables, anything.
No one can imagine to what lengths the imperialists go to extend the economic blockade against our country. And all those governments are accomplices; all those governments have violated the most elemental principles of free trade, the right of peoples to trade freely; those governments help imperialism in its attempts to starve the people of Cuba.
And if that is true, if that is the case, and if internationalism exists, if solidarity is a word worthy of respect, the least that we can expect of any State of the socialist camp is that it refrains from giving any financial or technical aid to those regimes. (PROLONGED APPLAUSE AND SHOUTS OF “FIDEL")
It is truly repugnant that this vile argument is used, as if to test the revolutionary steadfastness of this country, or to provoke conflicts with it. And, truly, this nation’s steadfastness, its policy based on principle, its decision, has been to act in a responsible way, yes! Carefully, yes! So as to prevent, wherever possible, polemics and conflicts. Yes. But never let it be believed that any circumstance, irrespective of its difficulty, any problem, no matter how great, will enable them to drive our dignity or our revolutionary conscience to the wall. Because if that were true, if the leadership of this Party were thus disposed, we would have given up long ago in the face of the greatest and most lethal danger, the danger to which our adamant political position toward imperialism has exposed us.
And it is equally repugnant that they try to find a contradiction between this position and Cuba’s commercial policy with the capitalist world. The imperialists have tried to maintain the blockade. And the question is not what countries we do trade with, but rather how many countries throughout the wide world we do not trade with, simply because, one by one, and under the incessant and growing pressure of the imperialists, they have broken trade relations with us.
We have never broken off those relations. Imperialism has taken care of that, in the same way that it has seen to it that these countries, one by one, broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba. We have never broken relations with anyone. That is a weapon that imperialism has used against the Cuban Revolution, in diplomatic relations, in commercial relations.
And it is worthwhile to speak about commercial relations, as well, for some of the “Mafia”—and how else can I describe those who so slanderously and basely attack our Revolution, without any serious and powerful argument—have spoken of our not having broken off diplomatic relations with the State of Israel. Neither did our country break off relations with Albania when a great number of countries from the socialist camp did so; we did not break off relations with Federal Germany, but Federal Germany did not want to accept our establishing relations with the German Democratic Republic. And even though we knew that the consequences would be the breaking off of diplomatic and commercial relations with the Federal Republic, this country had not the slightest hesitation in being among the first to establish diplomatic relations with the German Democratic Republic. (APPLAUSE) And this country has never hesitated to put political principles above economic interest. If this were not so, we should long since have found millions of reasons to reconcile ourselves with imperialism, especially in these times when it has become so fashionable to do so.
To make the slightest insinuation that we follow a selfish policy of self-interest in our international positions is to forget what this country has paid for its unyielding stands, its solidarity with a great number of countries—Algeria among them—notwithstanding the fact that this gave another country, one of the biggest buyers of Cuban sugar, an excuse to cede to the pressure exercised by imperialism and to stop buying our sugar. And there are many cases.
Our people always understood, and we believed that everybody understood quite clearly, that every time the imperialists failed in their pressures to keep others from purchasing from or selling to us, it meant a victory for our Revolution over the blockade. And we have always regarded as an expression of, in a certain sense, a position of self-defense—and we have spoken publicly about this, and stated it in the Plaza de la Revolución only a short time ago—the fact that the European countries could not accept, and why they could not accept imperialist pressuring. Why Europe, in spite of its economic and industrial development, must contend with competition from the Yankee monopolies, the attempts of the Yankee imperialists to take over their economies, and why—as a question of self-interest—it was impossible for them to yield to US imperialist pressuring. Moreover, since Cuba paid its bills and paid promptly, and since Cuba offered an expanding market the imperialists met with resounding failure in their attempts to force the entire capitalist world to break off trade relations with Cuba, as they had desired.
What has this to do with our arguments? What has it to do with our statements? If the imperialists had succeeded, the path of the Revolution would have been much more difficult.
Do we trade with the socialist camp? Yes, in trade which is practically all barter, on the so-called clearing basis, which has a value only in the country with which the agreement exists. But if our country needs certain things such as medicines of a certain kind, things essential for the life of our people, and the trading organizations in a socialist country say, We do not have them,” we must look for them in other markets and pay in the currency of that country. This is where imperialism tries to crush us. And if we have bought medicines in capitalist countries—because we cannot get them, or a similar product, in a socialist country, in order to save the lives of sick people, of children, to reduce—as we have reduced—the infant mortality rate, the mortality rate in general, (APPLAUSE) and attain the position Cuba has today, for instance in public health and in many other fields, apparently we are criminals; apparently we are people without principles; apparently we are immoral; apparently we are the opposite of what we claim to be.
The same applies to the argument concerning the breaking off of relations with the State of Israel. I think no one can have the slightest doubt regarding the position of Cuba in that painful problem: a position of principle, an uncompromising position, a firm position. It is just that we do not like fig leaves.
What is of a State which acts as an instrument of Yankee imperialism, which is, in turn, the instigator, the protector, of that State. And that is why I ask those of the “Mafia,” those who seek to slander Cuba with such arguments, why they don’t break relations with the United States? (APPLAUSE) It just happens that if we are not obedient “yes-men,” we are immoral, we are a people without principles, we are a people full of ideological contradictions ... And all this is simply part of a repugnant conspiracy to create a conflict between the Cuban Revolution and the states of the socialist camp.
We are not instigators of conflicts, we do not seek unnecessarily, gratuitously, to create conflicts of this nature. I believe that through confronting a powerful enemy, the interdependence among the movements, the parties, the revolutionary states, will grow to a high degree.
A country as small as ours, without any possibility of economic self-sufficiency, in need, principally, of the arms to defend itself from Yankee imperialism, must very much desire this. No one can picture us as acting in an irresponsible manner and creating problems that can be avoided. But between that position, the idea that this country can be intimidated with provocations of that sort, and Cuba’s position, there is a profound abyss.
And actually, behind all of this there is a conspiracy between these elements of the reactionary “Mafia” within the revolutionary movement and Yankee imperialism to create a conflict between our Revolution and the States of the socialist camp. Because what they, in fact, seek, what they demand, what they urge, is that the socialist camp also join in the imperialist blockade against Cuba.
This is exactly what they really want and they do not hide it. The same March 18, three days after their widely-publicized “reply,” an AP news dispatch came from Caracas—because a certain Party spokesman, who had frequent dealings with the AP, frequent conversations with the AP, became very much a figure-of-the-moment as spokesman for that rightist leadership, and the AP, overjoyed, reported: “Fidel Castro has no ideology. ‘He is a revolutionary but he is not a politician,’ a leader—now in the underground—of the Venezuelan Communist Party told the Associated Press today.”
I cannot imagine what interest Leoni could have in persecuting these clandestine gentlemen, yielding, cringing denouncers of the Cuban Revolution, or why they talk of the great feat involved in the liberation of the illustrious “Tom,” “Dick” and “Harry.” In fact, the only one who profited from that was Leoni and not the people of Venezuela nor the revolutionary movement, because Leoni gained from it a pack of bloodhounds, who only fall short of asking him to provide them with rifles so that they may set out to punish those criminal, bandit, factionist and divisionism agents of Cuba. And since these “journalists,” in connection with their missions, must often play the role of journalists, and occasionally like to promote certain contradictions, the journalist added: “When asked if the CPV was not siding with the enemy by trying to have the Soviet Union withdraw its support from Castro, the spokesman replied: ‘We coincide dangerously with the Venezuelan government, but remember that we support the Cuban Revolution and the Cuban Communist Party.’” Evidently I am the bad man, the intruder, the provocateur, the revolutionary “Pasha,” etc., etc. (LAUGHTER) “‘Our attack is not against the Cuban Revolution, but against Castro, who has insulted us.’”
“He made it clear,”—he made it clear!—“that the Communist Party of Venezuela wished that the Soviet Union would get Castro out of the way.” They accuse me of trying to interfere in their internal affairs. And they say that nothing arouses their fury and their revolutionary ardor and their pride more than someone who tries to meddle with them—not that imperialism or Leoni meddle, but that somebody makes a criticism with all the justified reasons that I have explained here. “... that the Communist Party of Venezuela wished that the Soviet Union would get Castro out of the way.” And they put forth the thesis that someone could get Castro or anybody else out of the way, remove or install anybody.
Where did they get such farfetched theories? Although it is hardly strange, since we have a surfeit of farfetched theories.
This gentleman states that the Communist Party of Venezuela would like the Soviet Union “to get Castro out of the way.” Let’s forget Castro. Really, these gentlemen are naive, they are farfetched, they are ridiculous. It is not Castro but a Revolution that they must get out of the way! A simple head cold could get Castro out of the way. (LAUGHTER) But no one can get a genuine Revolution out of the way! (APPLAUSE)
Am I perhaps a slanderer? In the “Mafia” there are some who will react just as those who doubted our witnesses and questioned our evidence, and who will say: “That is a lie, a slander.” But on August 1 of this year, an AP news dispatch datelined in Washington, from Ary Moleón—and these gentlemen play a role in all of this — reports: “The highest Venezuelan diplomatic official present here advised today against loosely labeling the Havana meeting of the Latin American Organization of Solidarity as communist, saying that those who attend it are, in effect, anarcho-Castroites.”
So now they borrow and exchange vocabulary among themselves! Pompeyo and his retinue saying that we intervene in the internal affairs of Venezuela. Tejera Paris and his clique saying: No, no, no. They aren’t Communists; they are anarcho-Castroites. Pure ideological exchange, ideological commerce between Tejera Paris and Pompeyo, between the State Department and the rightist leadership of the Communist Party of Venezuela. Now they borrow one another’s concepts and words.
When have we ever seen imperialism treating communists with so much delicacy? When has it ever used so much sweetness, decency, finesse, if the image it has tried to create of a Communist is the worst possible: the most heartless, degenerate, depraved, cruel and savage of human beings?
And suddenly: No! Be very careful! Don’t call those people Communists! Communist is a more sacred, more respectable, more venerable, more decent, friendly, conciliatory word. (APPLAUSE) Tejera Paris, the great ideologist of tropical communism! (LAUGHTER)
“The Venezuelan Ambassador to the White House, Enrique Tejera Paris, said that this distinction is fundamental”—it is indeed fundamental; this theoretician knows what he is talking about!—“if we want to understand a situation that is more complex than the simple application of labels.”
What care, what exquisite delicacy, what subtlety, what differentiation! What? Call these people Communists? They are anarcho-Castroites. And they are really bad! (LAUGHTER)
“Tejera stressed that the present meeting in Havana is not only to protest against the other governments of the hemisphere, but against the established Communist Parties in Latin America.”
What a defense lawyer we have here, saying that this meeting was called to attack the parties! And since when have the imperialists been so exquisitely concerned about the Parties? And who appointed Tejera Paris defense counsel for the Parties?
“The diplomat recalled that the Communist Party of his country has accused Castro’s regime of intolerable intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela and of appointing himself arbiter of the Latin American Revolution.”
Beware! Do not be confused; these are anarcho-Castroites; they are dangerous, they are bad; do not call these people Communists: do not forget that the Venezuelan Communist Party accused Castro of intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela; do not forget that it accused him of trying to set himself up as an arbiter.
Have we ever seen the like before? Has anyone ever used such refined language and exquisite courtesy in speaking of the Communists of this continent?
I believe that what is intolerable is this, what is really painful is this: offense, diatribe and slander from imperialism are a thousand times preferable to praise from imperialism. Tell me who defends you, and I will tell you who you are! Tell me who attacks you, and I will tell you who you are! (APPLAUSE)
As far as we know, no one, no oligarch, no imperialist, no imperialist henchman, ever printed one of my speeches for distribution by the thousands. Never! Not a speech, not a phrase, not a line, not a word. Leoni did not have my speech printed; he did not distribute it; if he read it, he probably made a gesture of disgust. Alpha 66, a well-known organization of counterrevolutionaries in Miami, which, in complicity with the CIA, organizes personal attacks with potassium cyanide and silencers, had thousands of copies printed of the declaration made by that leadership and distributed them all over the world.
Heirs of Bolívar? What an offense to the memory of Bolívar! They would have accused Bolivar himself of being an interventionist. What accusations would they not have made against him?
They call themselves sons of Bolívar, followers of Bolívar, and speak of the hundreds of dead? What right have they to speak in the name of the dead, they who betray the dead? What right have they to invoke martyrs, they who are thinking of running for office as representatives, senators and mayors, and canvass for votes with pictures of the fallen and betrayed heroes?
Because that declaration against Cuba was made in March. In April they issued a long document. If you were to read it—it is long and I am not going to read it—you would see the cliché-ridden style. This was a hybrid product of three or four stock models, because it is long. It is the document in which they propose an alliance with the bourgeois parties, and which ends by saying—this is the final note:
“Finally, the armed movement at this moment is unable to play a decisive role, because of the stagnation of the guerrilla fronts and the armed struggle in general, a situation made more serious by the false political ideas and operations prevailing in the anarcho-terrorist group.”
Anarcho-adventurist, anarcho-terrorist, anarcho-Castroite! Any day now, Johnson will be talking about the anarcho-terrorists!
“In view of this national movement, the Central Committee has resolved that the Party should take active part in the next elections, under the slogan ‘Neither continuation nor Caldera —a change’; a change favoring democratic freedom and national sovereignty, a change toward the independent development of Venezuela.
“The electoral campaign is being conducted under conditions of governmental advantage and repression. The Party will struggle against this situation, to turn the elections into a baffle against the reactionary clique that leads the AD and the government.”(5) Amen. (LAUGHTER)
That is, the dead will appear on campaign posters! And in this country, we know about these things, our people know about such things, and these things only produce nausea and repugnance, because we had our fill of this. The one thing that no one will ever be able to tell our people is that this is a Communist attitude, nobody; for even at the beginning of communism, in the middle of the last century, when the Communist Manifesto was written, Marx always said that Communists should support the most militant and progressive sectors of the bourgeoisie. These so-called Communists join the cheap politicians of the bourgeoisie to oppose the heroic guerrilla fighters. Our people and the Venezuelan people certainly have to know that this kind of apostasy, this trade in the blood of those who have fallen, this effrontery in sending men to die, in leading them wrongly, in order to present themselves afterwards on election posters ... our people know that history does not forgive this, that history will never forgive such a crime.
These gentlemen do not have to be destroyed; they just have to be left alone, because they will destroy themselves.
We know the environment we live in; the reactions, the temperaments, the characters of our peoples. And we know that the most shameful, the most abominable thing is to send men to their deaths in order, later on to solicit votes in the name of these betrayed dead. And here is the last dispatch, from yesterday, following the same line of thought, on which the “Mafia” and imperialism coincide:
“The American nations are today considering a request from Venezuela to denounce the Cuban regime of Prime Minister Fidel Castro as harmful to the cause of peaceful coexistence which the Soviet Union propounds.
“The question—which could explode in the rear guard of Castro’s Moscow-supported regime—would be an answer to the call of the Conference of the Latin American Organization of Solidarity to fight for the seizure of power through armed struggle.”
It says that the Associated Press obtained a copy ... They’re very clever. They get copies from everywhere. This is point four of that document that they say has eleven points, which they publish in this dispatch:
“To express to the extra-continental governments who actively support the present government of Cuba the serious concern of the OAS member-states, inasmuch as such support tends to encourage the interventionist and aggressive activities of the Cuban regime against the other countries of the Western Hemisphere, and, until these activities cease, the cause of peaceful and active coexistence among the nations of the world will suffer.
“To this effect, it is recommended to the governments of the OAS member-states that joint or separate steps be taken concerning those States that actively support the present Government of Cuba, in order to reiterate this expression of concern.”
Peaceful coexistence? And this terminology in the mouths of the OAS and its clique? This terminology in the mouths of the OAS and its clique, of sending—in a few words—groups or commissions of the OAS to visit the governments of the socialist States so that they will withdraw their aid to Cuba. It’s incredible! It’s incredible to be seeing and hearing these things! What do these gentlemen base this on? How can they be so shameless? How do they dare to do such a thing?
And point five:
“To ask the governments which support the Organization of Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America to withdraw their support of that organization as well as of the Second Tricontinental Conference, scheduled to be held in Cairo in January 1968; and reiterate the categorical repudiation of that organization by the member-States of the OAS; repudiation of that organization, whose purposes—as shown by the resolutions of its first Conference which took place in Havana in January 1966—are to promote the separation of the peoples into groups divided by sectarianism and violence.
“To that effect, it recommends that the governments of the member-States approach the American States and the organizations supporting the Tricontinental Organization, individually or as a group, in order to insist on this proposal.”
Since the governments of certain States belong and others do not belong to the organizations, it follows that these gentlemen feel inspired to approach the State organizations that have been at the Tri-continental and say to them: “They are no good; repudiate those people; leave the Tricontinental.”
If this doesn’t smell of imperialism ordering the world around, then what does it mean, gentlemen? What is it? What have we come to? What nerve these gentlemen have! What illusions, and what shameless pretensions!
But at any rate, the machinations of the “Mafia” and imperialism are very evidently trying to isolate Cuba completely, to proclaim the total blockade of Cuba, so that not even a grain of birdseed will enter this country. They coincide in their despair; they are dreaming, they are raving, they imagine atrocious, dreadful things. And this country is isolated, it is absolutely alone. Poor people! If that hypothesis were possible—and it isn’t—they’d have to suffer the shock of seeing that forsaken country, without a grain of birdseed, living, resisting, working and marching onward.
This small country has not accumulated enough merits in the eyes of the world, has not accumulated enough merits with regard to the Revolution. And often we have imagined the conditions under which imperialism would impose a total blockade on this country, surround Cuba with its ships, and prevent everything from coming in. Would they crush the Revolution? I am asking the people: Would they crush the Revolution? (EXCLAMATIONS OF: “NO!”)
That is a most solid ‘No,” coming from the heart of a revolutionary people. (PROLONGED APPLAUSE) In short: if we were not prepared for everything—for everything—we could not call ourselves revolutionaries.
We do not deliberately promote conflict, problems, difficult situations.
That will never be the attitude of the Revolution. They’ll never see an irresponsible, absurd attitude adopted by the Revolution, no! But neither will they see the Revolution hesitating, the Revolution giving up; they’ll never see the Revolution yielding one iota of its principles!
For Patria o Muerte has many meanings. It means being revolutionaries until death, it means being a proud people until death! And the fact that we speak about Patria o Muerte does not mean that we have a sense of fatalism. It is the expression of a certain determination. When we say “death,” we mean that not only we would be dead, but many of our enemies would be dead, as well. Destroy our people? No matter how many of its soldiers Yankee imperialism sends here to die, it cannot destroy this country! (PROLONGED APPLAUSE)
These incidents, these attitudes are calling us all to order; they are calling us all to reason, to clarify things. These attitudes are the result not of development, but of the deterioration of revolutionary ideas and of revolutionary conscience. The resolutions of OLAS do not mean that everything is done. They do not mean that the struggle has ceased. The Tricontinental, also, had resolutions, and there were those who signed the resolutions and forgot all about them afterwards.
There must be struggle. We have to struggle. And the statement that Cuba wants to set itself up as an arbiter, a head, a leader is more than ridiculous. I am going to tell you what we really think. There is no reason why there should be leading people and much less leading men! It is leading ideas that are needed! (APPLAUSE) And revolutionary ideas will be the sole, true guide of our peoples. We tight for our ideas! We defend ideas! But to defend ideas does not mean to claim to lead anyone. They are our ideas and we defend them, these revolutionary ideas. But nothing could be more ridiculous, because the world does not need countries which lead, Parties that lead, or men who lead. The world, and above all our Latin American world, needs ideas that lead.
And the ideas will arise in the process. We know the process. At the beginning, when a few of us began to think about the idea of an armed struggle in our country and we began to struggle, very few believed in this possibility—very few. And for a long time there were very few of us. And afterwards, little by little, these ideas began to gain prestige, began to catch on, and the moment came when everybody believed them and the Revolution won.
How difficult it was to get the idea accepted that the struggle of the people against modern professional armies was possible in order to make a revolution! And when that was finally demonstrated, after the triumph of the Revolution, what happened? Everybody believed in this truth in such a way that the counterrevolutionaries believed that it was also a truth for them, and there followed the organization of counterrevolutionary guerrilla groups and counterrevolutionary gangs, and even the most garrulous park-bench counterrevolutionaries grasped the idea, joined a gang and took to the hills. Then it be came necessary to show them they were mistaken, that this was true for revolutionary action against the oligarchies, but that a counterrevolution of oligarchs, guerrilla warfare of oligarchs and of reactionaries against a social revolution, was impossible. And how difficult it was! Until we finally showed that this was true. We have had to point out two facts: that it is impossible for oligarchs to defend themselves against the people’s struggle; and that it is impossible for the people to be defeated by counterrevolutionary guerrilla gangs. And the CIA knows that. Do you know who are probably the most convinced of the effectiveness of armed revolutionary guerrilla warfare and of the oligarchies’ incapacity to resist the armed guerrilla struggle by the people? Do you know who? The CIA, Johnson, McNamara, Dean Rusk, Yankee imperialism. They are the most convinced.
And one asks oneself: How is it possible that these counterrevolutionaries let themselves be confused and deceived and dragged into armed counterrevolutionary struggle against the Revolution, if it is impossible to win? The reason, we are forced to admit, gentlemen, is that these counterrevolutionaries are more consistent than many who call themselves superrevolutionaries.
They are most consistent. They wrongly believe in that and let themselves be dragged in ... Naturally, afterwards they always say the same thing, that is a rule without exception: that they had been fooled, that they had been deceived, that they believed that the army, that the militia ... All that. We’ve heard it over and over again. We know it ...
And, of course, the ideas in our country have had to develop dialectically, in struggle, in clashes. And it will be the same in every country; no country will be free from this clash of ideas. These clashes of ideas exist even in Cuba. No, the fact that we have a revolutionary people does not mean that there are no antagonisms, no contradictions. We are in contradiction here with the counterrevolution and imperialism; and there are also contradictions with those who share these ideas of the reactionary gentlemen of the Venezuelan Party.
And in this country we also have our micro-faction—we can’t call it a faction because it has no volume, it has no size, it has no possibilities, it has nothing—it is a micro-faction that has existed. Where does that micro-faction come from? From the old resentful sectarians. For our Revolution has its history; our Revolution has its history. I said that at the beginning very few believed in it; afterwards many did.
Our Revolution went through that process; it passed through the process of sectarianism. The sectarians created serious problems for us, with their ferocious opportunism, with their inexorable policy of persecution against many people. They brought elements of corruption into the Revolution. And naturally, the Revolution, with its methods, its patience, made criticisms; it was splendid, it was generous with that sectarianism.
And not only that. We had to be careful to prevent criticism of sectarianism from creating neo-sectarianism in the ranks of the Revolution; and that was also prevented. But some sectarian elements held on, they swallowed their resentment, and each time they have had a chance they have expressed it. There are those who never believed in the Revolution except in an opportunistic way, trying to profit by the efforts of the revolutionary people, trying to climb high in a shameful way. They never believed in the Revolution, they haven’t learned in eight years, nor will they learn in ten years. They will never learn.
Let this be clearly understood: I am not referring to old Communists, for the worst expression of sectarianism, of the activities of those sectarians, has been in trying to involve the concept of old Communists with their pseudo-revolutionary attitudes.
It should be stated that the Revolution counts, and has always counted, on the support of the real Communists in this country.
But logically, during the time of sectarianism, many cowards who had deserted the ranks of the old Party turned up again. Opportunism, sectarianism, brings on all this: isolated from the masses, it tries to gain strength through favoritism. And then followed enrollment after enrollment and privileges. Of course, afterward, when the Revolution called a halt to sectarianism, it prevented expressions of sectarianism of another kind. That has always been our stand, that has always been the stand of the revolutionary leadership, which has always tried to overcome those problems in the style characterizing our Revolution, without falling into excesses of any kind, preferring to sin by omission rather than by excess.
And here we also have our micro-faction made up of old sectarians, which is not the same as old Communists. And I repeat: the greatest harm is that they have tried, although in vain, to instill their unhealthy ideas, their resentful ideas, into the old, true revolutionaries. They were the ones, for example, who thought at the time of the October Crisis that we should have let Yankee imperialism inspect us, search us from head to foot, let the planes fly over low, all of that! They have been systematically opposed to all the concepts of the Revolution, to the deepest, sincerest, purest revolutionary attitudes of our people, to our concepts of socialism, of communism, of everything.
That is, no one will be exempt. And this micro-faction has the same attitudes as that “Mafia”; this splinter group constitutes a new form of counterrevolutionary activity, in that it has the same goals as Alpha, as Faria, as Pompeyo and Company, as McNamara, Johnson and that gang.
Now the CIA has a new thesis: why is it interested in planning so many assassination attempts and other things? Its thesis now is that Castro has to be eliminated in order to check the Revolution. For imperialism is losing ground. At the beginning it wanted to do away with everything revolutionary; now, the more ground it loses, the more frightened it gets. Now its thesis is to make the line of the Revolution more moderate, to change that line, to move Cuba into a more moderate position —and in this, Alpha, Johnson, Faria, the CIA, the micro-faction and political “Mafia” all coincide. And they are harboring illusions.
Really, I’m not interested in buying an insurance policy. I don’t care a fig what they believe! I’m not interested in being indebted to our enemies for their ceasing to consider me their true enemy. I’m not interested in being indebted to our enemies for calling their actions to a halt. They are within their rights; they are within their rights. I do not intend to buy any insurance policy.
But I think it is necessary to tell you that the line of this Revolution is not the “Castro line”; it is the line of a people, it is the line of a leading group with a real revolutionary history. (LONG APPLAUSE) And it is the essential line of this Revolution!
The “Mafia” groups encourage one another; the international “Mafia” has been encouraged, greatly encouraged, by the idea that insurmountable antagonisms, insurmountable conflicts, may arise between the Cuban Revolution and the socialist camp. Really, the only thing we can say is that it is an honor to our Revolution that our enemies think about it so much; likewise, all Latin American revolutionaries must regard it as an honor that imperialism has given so much attention to the problem of OLAS. They were quick with threats; they postponed the OAS conference; they said they were going to do a lot of things, they were going to “clean the place up,” that this meeting could not take place. And the OLAS Conference has been held—true representation of a genuine revolutionary movement, whose ideas are solid because they are based on reality. OLAS is the interpreter of tomorrow’s history, interpreter of the future, for OLAS is the wave of the future (Tr. N.: olas means “waves” in Spanish), symbol of the revolutionary waves sweeping a continent of 250 million.
This continent is pregnant with revolution. Sooner or later, it will be born. Its birth may be more or less complicated, but it is inevitable. We do not have the slightest doubt of this. There will be victories, there will be reverses, there will be advances, there will be retreats. But the dawn of a new era, the victory of the peoples in the face of injustice, in the face of exploitation, in the face of oligarchies, in the face of imperialism—whatever the mistakes that men may make, whatever the mistaken ideas that may be obstacles on the road—is inevitable.
We have spoken to you with complete and absolute frankness. We know that true revolutionaries will always feel solidarity with Cuba. We know that no true revolutionary, that no true Communist on this continent, as among our people, will ever let himself be drawn into those positions which would lead him to an alliance with imperialism, which would make him go hand in hand with the imperialist masters against the Cuban Revolution and against the Latin American Revolution.
We do not condemn anyone a priori, we do not close the doors to anyone, we do not attack any persons en masse, lumped together; we express our ideas, we defend our ideas, we debate these ideas. And we have absolute confidence in the revolutionaries, in the true revolutionaries, in the true Communists. They will not fail the Revolution, just as our Revolution will never fail the revolutionary movement of Latin America. (APPLAUSE)
We do not know what awaits us, what vicissitudes, what dangers, what struggles. But we are prepared; each day we try to be better prepared; we will be better and better prepared. But one thing we can say; we are calm, we are secure, this little island will always be a revolutionary wall of granite and against it all conspiracies, all intrigues, all aggressions will be smashed to splinters. (APPLAUSE) And high upon this revolutionary wall there will fly forever a banner with the legend: Patria o Muerte! Venceremos! (OVATION)
(1) “Bichinche,” according to the testimony of one of the captured CIA agents, was the code name for the missing CIA agent Castro mentions. “Chinche” is Spanish for “bed bug,” hence “bichinche” would suggest “double bed bug.”
(2) Bartlett Deep is the area of ocean floor between the Caymen Islands and Jamaica off the southern coast of Cuba.
(3) Julio Irabarren Borges, a Venezuelan public official, was kidnapped March 1, 1967 and found killed March 3. The event teas used as a pretext for suspending constitutional rights and attacking the Cuban government. March 4, the Venezuelan Communist Party condemned the assassination as anarchistic and terrorist. March 6, Granma, the official organ of the Cuban Communist Party central committee, carried a declaration by Venezuelan guerrilla leader Ellas Manuitt claiming responsibility for the assassination, as an “application of revolutionary justice.” Fidel Castro covered this whole history in his March 13 speech commemorating the tenth anniversary of the attack on the presidential palace, the full text of which is contained in a special issue of World Outlook, Vol.5 No.13. In the speech, Castro condemned the Venezuelan Communist Party for its opportunistic support of the government side, tantamount to demanding punishment of the guerrilla leaders.
(4) Carlos Lleras Restrepo, President of Colombia.
(5) Acción Democrática, the Venezuelan government party.
Last updated on 19 June 2009