Fidel Castro answers George W. Bush
Source Louis Proyect
Date 02/06/02/10:57

Fidel Castro: June 1 Speech Rebutting the Lies of George W. Bush

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cuba to the United Nations 315
Lexington Avenue New York, N.Y. 10016 (212) 689-7215 * FAX (212)

Official Translation


Dear compatriots from Holguin, Granma, Las Tunas and from all of

On May 20, the day of the shameful show in Miami, it was ironic to
listen to Mr. W. Bush claim strongly for independence and freedom,
not for Puerto Rico but for Cuba; and to talk much about democracy,
not for Florida but for Cuba. Mr. W. made a special point of
defending private property, as if it did not exist in Cuba.

I then realized that years pass. The days are really far now when a
man spoke from his wheelchair with a soft voice and a persuasive
accent. He spoke as a President of the United States of America and
he inspired respect. It was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He did not
speak like a showoff or a thug, nor was the United States the
hegemonic hyperpower it is today.

At that time, Ethiopia had been occupied. The bloody Spanish Civil
War had begun. China was being invaded and nazi-fascism was a threat
to the world. Roosevelt, who I think was a real statesman, was
striving to steer his country away from a dangerous isolationism.

I was then a sixth or seventh grader. I was 12 or 13 years old. I had
been born deep in the countryside, where there was no electricity.
Sometimes the only way to get there was riding a horse through very
muddy dirt roads. Back then, I spent most of the year in a rigid and
segregationist boarding school in Santiago--that is, in sexual
apartheid, where the boys were kept at great distance from the girls,
in schools that were light-years away from each other---with several
interspersed holidays and a longer vacation in summer time when I
came to Biran.

Those of us who were privileged could have shoes, clothes and be well
fed; however, a sea of poverty surrounded us. I don't know how large
is Mr. W's Texas ranch. I do remember that my father had over 24,700
acres of farmland. Of course, that meant hardly anything as extensive
areas, between 272,710 and 284,245 acres, surrounded the family land
owned by the West Indies Sugar Company and the United Fruit Company.

I remember that when it was announced that the President of the
United States would speak it was tantamount to saying that God would
speak. And it was only natural, since everything came from there: the
beautiful, the good and the useful things, from a razor blade to a
locomotive; from a postcard of the Statue of Liberty to one of those
Western films, which fascinated both children and adults.

Moreover, "it was from there that our freedom and independence had
come". That was what the dozens of thousands of farm laborers and
farmers with no land of their own were told in those areas where they
could only work part of the year cleaning or cutting sugar cane. They
went hungry and barefoot, dressed in rags and lived in terror of the
"rural guard"--a special force created by the administrators of the
country and armed with Springfield rifles and long and thin machetes
that became famous. They also used to wear big hats and ride
seven-foot-Texas horses that scared with their imposing sizes our
undernourished workers ruthlessly suppressed by those guards, if they
as much as threatened to revolt or go on strike.

In those immensely extensive fields, where there were huts,
thatched-roof shacks, impoverished villages and sugar mills, it was
hard to find a single very poor classroom for the 200 or 300 children
who lived in the area; there were no books, very few school materials
and sometimes not even a teacher. It was only in the hamlets that
sprang up around the big sugar mills that there were one or two
physicians who basically cared for the families of the foreign sugar
companies' local managers and senior operatives.

On the other hand, a rather strange character could be easily found
everywhere. He had no more than a third or a fourth grade of grammar
school, but that meant being practically a wise man as compared to
the masses of illiterates. He was often a godfather of somebody's
child and an occasional visitor of the families living in the
countryside. He was in charge of things related to elections. He
obtained the peoples' ID cards and the promise of their votes; he was
the politician's crony.

The people in the countryside did not intend to sell their votes, but
rather help "their friend". With few exceptions, the candidates with
most money in their chests, who could hire more political cronies,
won the races either for national legislative office or for other
county or provincial elective positions. If any of those elections
was intended to change the President--never the political or social
system, which was unthinkable--and if there was any conflict of
interests, it was the rural guard that decided who the new leaders
would be.

Most of our people were either illiterate or semi-illiterate and they
depended on a miserable job arbitrarily handled by an employer or an
elected official. The people had no choice, as they even lacked the
minimum indispensable knowledge to decide on the increasingly complex
issues of this world.

As for the history of our homeland, they only knew the legend passed
down by the grandparents and the parents about past heroic struggles
fought in the colonial days; eventually, it was fortunate that it was
that way. As for the traditional political parties, where the
oligarchies that served the empire prevailed, how could our people
understand them? Who could teach them? Where could they read about
it? With what alphabet? How could that information be passed on?

The brilliant and heroic effort of the leftist intellectuals of the
time, who made remarkable progress under those circumstances, clashed
with the insurmountable walls of a new imperial system and the
centuries old experience of the ruling classes to keep the peoples
oppressed, exploited, confused and divided.

The only property right known by most Cubans before 1959 was the
right of the big foreign companies and their allies of the national
oligarchy to own enormous amounts of farmland in our country, as well
as the country's natural resources and biggest factories, the crucial
public services, the banks, the storage facilities, the ports, the
hospitals and the private schools that served with excellence a
negligible minority of privileged population.

As fate would have it, I was honored to be born precisely in the
territory of this province, in a place that is 33.5 miles in a
straight line from this Plaza, but which is very close to my memory,
hardly ten millimeters or ten seconds from my mind.

In those enormous sugar cane fields, I could only see dozens of
thousands of farmers with no land to tilt or sharecroppers paying
huge rents but without any contracts to back the arrangement, and
constantly threatened and evicted by those riders of Texan horses.

In the cities, very few owned their dwellings for which they had to
pay very high rents. I never saw hospitals or schools for ordinary
people and their children; I did not see brigades of doctors and
teachers. I only saw extreme poverty, injustice and hopelessness
everywhere. The Cuban people had been confiscated and stripped of any

It was imperative to resume the struggle. The chains had to be
broken. A deep revolution was indispensable. We had to be willing to
either win or die for it. And we decided to fight.

The socialist revolution has created in Cuba more property owners
than all those created by capitalism throughout centuries. Today,
hundreds of thousands of peasant families own their land, for which
they do not even pay taxes. Others have it in usufruct, free of
charge, and they exploit it either individually or in cooperatives;
they are the owners of the machinery, the workshops, the livestock
and other goods. But, most important of all is that the Revolution
gave the people the property of their own country. What the
Revolution eradicated was the property of the basic means of
production, of the financial institutions and of other crucial
services which were in the hands of those who plundered and exploited
the people--and made fortunes on the workers' sweat--or that only
served the rich and the privileged, leaving the poor and the black
people out.

The nostalgia over their property that the leader of an imperial
government might feel could be overcome by seeing that, in addition
to the farmers, millions of families in the cities presently own
their dwellings, for which they do not even pay taxes.

Out of a historical necessity to leave behind a legacy of
underdevelopment, Cuba shares with foreign companies those
productions that it would not have access to with its own
technologies and funds, but no international financial institution or
foreign private capital can determine over our destiny.

Nor does a single penny end up in Castro's pockets or those of his
followers. No senior Cuban revolutionary leader has a dollar in a
bank, or a personal bank account in hard currency in Cuba or anywhere
else. None of them can be bribed. The hundreds of foreign companies
doing business in Cuba today know that very well. None of our leaders
is a millionaire like the President of the United States, whose
monthly wage is almost twice that of all the members of the State
Council and the Council of Ministers in a year. None can be included
in the long list of Mr. W's neoliberal friends in Latin America who
are Olympic champions of misappropriation and theft since the few who
do not steal from the public coffers and State taxes steal from the
poor and the hungry the surplus value of their work while killing
hundreds of thousands of Latin American children every year whose
lives could be saved. That is the system that Mr. W. longs to impose
on Cuba as a model. His insults are unwarranted, thus, he should not
complain from our tough responses.

The end of the exploitation of human beings and true equality and
justice is, and will be, the objective of a Revolution that will
never cease to be what it is.

The work of the Revolution has been remarkable all over the country,
and huge in the dear and heroic eastern region, which was the poorest
and most backward. Of the five eastern provinces, the three--Holguin,
Granma and Las Tunas--that have sent more than 400,000 combative and
enthusiastic people to this rally, have attained in a few years
social and human achievements unparalleled in the world.

Some data of what they had before and what they have after the
triumph of the Revolution:

Infant mortality rate: before, over 100 per one thousand live births;
today, 5.9, well below the United States.

Life expectancy at birth: before, 57 years; today, 76.

Number of doctors: before, 344; today, 10, 334.

Health units: before, 46; today, 4,006.

Hospital beds: before, 1,470; today, over 12,000.

Schoolteachers: before, 1,682; today, 77,479.

Universities: before, 0; today, 12.

Illiteracy rate: before, 40.3%; today, 0.2%.

Grammar school graduates: before, 10% of only 34 percent of children
in school age who attended public school; today, one hundred percent
of children attend grammar school and 99.9% graduate.

TV sets for audiovisual education: before, 0; today, 13,394.

PCs for computer science education from kindergarten to sixth grade:
5,563 that benefit 237,510 children.

Over 27,000 youths between the ages of 17 and 29, who had no jobs,
are studying middle and higher education in recently established
Schools for the Comprehensive Education of the Youth, for which they
receive remuneration.

These three provinces have 62 museums, 62 cultural centers, 21 art
galleries and 72 libraries.

Every child in Cuba, regardless of his parents' income and the color
of his skin, has high quality health care services ensured from his
birth until the end of his life. The same applies to education, from
kindergarten up until graduation as a PhD, and that absolutely free
of charge.

No other country in Latin America gets even remotely close to Cuba in
any of these indicators. In Cuba, there is not one single child
begging in the streets or working to make a living instead of
attending school. Nor are there narcotics that poison and destroy
teenagers and young people.

This is not a tyranny, as Mr. W. has claimed. It is justice, it is
true equality among human beings, it is general learning and culture
without which there is not, there cannot be nor will there ever be
true independence, freedom and democracy anywhere on Earth.

Mr. W. should be ashamed to call those societies where corruption,
inequality and injustice prevail, and which are being destroyed by
the neoliberal model, examples of independence, freedom and

For Mr. W. democracy only exists where money solves everything and
where those who can afford a $25,000 a plate dinner--an insult to the
billions of people living in the poor, hungry and underdeveloped
world--are the ones called to solve the problems of society and the
world, the same that will determine the fate of a great nation like
the United States, and the rest of the planet.

Don't you be a fool, Mr. W. Show some respect for the minds of people
who are capable of thinking. Read some of the 100 thousand letters
sent to you by our children. Do not insult Jose Marti. Do not invoke
his sacred name in vain. Stop using his phrases out of context in
your speeches. Show some respect for others and for yourself.

The criminal blockade he has promised to tighten will only multiply
the honor and glory of our people against which their wicked plans
will smash, I assure you.

Compatriots: In the face of dangers and threats, long live today more
than ever the Socialist Revolution!

Homeland or Death!

We shall overcome!

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