Havana Times carried the official translation of Fidel Castro's Sept. 3 speech at the University of Havana. I am passing it along here:
MESSAGE TO THE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS OF CUBA
My dear comrades:
I asked that we meet early, before the heat of our sun becomes too intense.
This stairway, to which I never imagined I would be returning, keeps some indelible memories of the years when I began to become aware of our era and our duty. One can acquire knowledge and awareness throughout one’s lifetime but never in any other stage of one’s existence will a person again have the purity and selflessness with which, being young, one faces up to life. At that age, I discovered my true destiny.
Thus it is inevitable that, at these moments, I am accompanied by the memory of so many comrades whom I knew exactly 65 years ago. It was during the first week of September that I entered this University, the only one in the country. It is best that I don’t even try to ask for each one of them, and I just hold on to the memory of when they were all young and full of enthusiasm and, as a rule, selfless and pure.
I am extremely encouraged to have present those who today, as we were in yesteryear, even incomparably more well-educated, freer and more aware.
In those days, the power of the brute force and the brutality of force fell upon this university hill, the lack of conscience and the corruption applied upon our people.
Thanks to the example of those preceding us, to the students massacred at the demand of the hordes called the Spanish volunteers, many of whom were born in this country who took up service for the Spanish tyranny, thanks to the Apostle of our Independence and to the blood spilt by dozens of thousands of patriots in three wars of Independence, we have really been preceded by a history which inspired our struggles. We didn’t deserve to be a colony of an empire that was even more powerful, that took over our Homeland and a good portion of our national conscience, sowing fatalism with the idea that it was impossible to shake off such a hefty yoke.
Worse still, a powerful exploiting sector had arisen which, at the service of the Empire’s interests, was plundering the wealth of our people, keeping them shackled and ignorant by force and, not on a few occasions, using others born in the country to act as the torturers and murderers of their own brothers and sisters.
The Revolution put an end to those horrors and it is because of that that we are able to meet here on this September morning.
How far away we were after the triumph to think that, on an occasion like this, we would be returning to meet in efforts even greater and with higher aims than those which, at a certain time, seemed to us to be the highest goals of peoples, in the name of justice and happiness for human beings.
It would not seem to be possible that a country as small as Cuba would be seen forced to carry the weight of the struggle against those who have globalized and submitted the world to an inconceivable plunder, and have imposed a system which today is threatening the very survival of humankind.
I am not speaking only in favour of the interests of our nation. One might say that such objectives have been left behind, in the measure that existence and the well-being of peoples stopped being our objectives, in the name of world interests, without which the life of nations is impossible. It is also certain that, in our struggles for national and social emancipation, our country, the bastion of Spanish colonialism in this hemisphere, was the first to be occupied and the last to rid itself of the yoke after more than 400 years of domination.
Our struggle for national liberation was mixed together with the tenacious efforts of the workers of our country for their social liberation. It was not an act of will; it was an act of fate. The merit of the Cuban people is that they knew how to understand and strengthen the indissoluble bonds between both. (Applause and cries of “¡Viva Fidel!”)
The time humankind has to fight this battle is incredibly limited. Throughout more than three months of unceasing struggle I modestly made the effort to reveal, to an inattentive world, the terrible dangers that threaten human life on our planet. It is well-known, and I have no other alternative than to remember the fact, that we are not living in an age of chivalry and the steel of the swords accompanied by crossbows that were preceded for centuries by battering rams that demolished walls or tried to do so, or war chariots drawn by horses with knives mounted on the wheels; weapons, in brief, always cruel, but with limited destructive power that humans used to wage war on each other since they invented the mace, up to World Wars I and II, when automatic weapons were used , tanks, combat planes and flying fortresses, submarines, torpedoes, armoured vehicles and aircraft carriers that raised the toll of lives lost to tens of millions of humans, and to hundreds of millions of victims of destruction, the wounded, the sick and the hungry, inevitable consequences of wars.
Two nuclear devices were used at the end of the last war. Mankind had never before conceived such terrible destruction and extermination. More than 60 years ago we speak of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; with that we have indicated that the destructive power of accumulated weapons is equal to more than four hundred and forty times the power of one of those bombs. That’s how it is, that’s what mathematics tells us. I add no more because I would have to use rather tough words about the causes and the people responsible for that extremely sad reality.
But that was not enough. The desire for economic and military domination by the first ones to use those terrifying instruments of destruction and death lead humankind to the real possibility of dying out, which we face today. I don’t need to give you arguments for something you already know very well. The problem of peoples today, shall we say, of more than seven billion human beings, is to prevent that such a tragedy should occur.
I am not happy speaking about the painful truth that constitutes something of shame for everything that is identified as policy or government. This truth was deliberately hidden from the world and the difficult task of warning humankind of the real danger it is facing has fallen upon Cuba. We must not falter in that activity. Faced with sceptics, our unmistakable duty is to continue fighting the battle. It is a fact that a growing number of persons in the world have become aware of the reality.
Commenting on the first part of the interview published on Monday, August 30 by the director of La Jornada in that prestigious Mexican newspaper, a citizen of Our America who read it on the CubaDebate website voiced his opinion with words that were so profound that I decided to include the crux of his thoughts in this message to the university students of Cuba:
“I call out to all the countries that today are involved in military conflicts. Please, always think about achieving true peace, that is what we need most. Our children, our grandchildren and the human beings of this world, all of us will thank you. We need to live in peace and security on a planet that day by day becomes less liveable. It is very easy to understand. Nuclear weapons should disappear, no country should have them, atomic energy should only be used for good. THE ONLY REAL VICTORY IS IN ACHIEVING PEACE.
“Today we face two great challenges: the consolidation of world peace and saving the planet from climatic changes. The first is to achieve a lasting peace on solid bases, the second is to reverse climate change. We have to become aware of these problems that we ourselves have created and that we are the protagonists of the changes we must attain. The panorama of the last century was not the same as the one in this century. Weaponry, at this time, is much more sophisticated and deadly and the planet is weaker and more polluted.
“World Conference on Climate Change in Cancun […] the only opportunity left to us. […] We are getting to a critical point where there is no turning back. At that moment, because we are afraid, we would like to do anything to save our lives, but by now everything is in vain and it is too late. The opportunities in our lives appear before us just once and we must know how to make use of them. Our Mother Nature is like a passive smoker who still has not become addicted, we are making her sick indiscriminately.”
“Nobody has the right to use violence against any human being, country or nation. Nobody can cut down a tree if he hasn’t first planted three. […] We cannot turn our backs on nature. Quite the opposite, we must always embrace her tightly. Because we ourselves are nature, we are part of that fan of many colours, sounds, balance and harmony. Nature is perfect.
“Kyoto signified hope for all human beings …”
“If we do nothing. Nobody will be saved, there will be no safe place on earth, not in the air, not in the cosmos. The great energy that accumulates daily because of the greenhouse effect, since the solar rays are trapped and emit more energy every day onto the surface of the earth. It will cause natural disasters having unpredictable consequences. Would there be anyone on earth with a button that would be able to stop such a disaster?”
“…we cannot lose any time on anachronistic wars that weaken us and use up our energies. Enemies make wars. Let us eliminate all the causes that make men see other men as their enemies. Not even those who face each other in a war are aware that this is the solution to their problems, they react to their emotions and ignore their consciences mistakenly thinking that the road to peace is war. I say, without the least margin for error, that peace is attained with peace and: IF YOU WANT PEACE, GET READY TO CHANGE YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS (Applause).”
Here you have the essence of his words, quite simple and within the reach of any citizen on earth.
On Wednesday, September 1st, as I was writing this message, information appearing on the CubaDebate website brought us the following news: “A new wave of leakage about an attack on Iran’s nuclear targets being prepared by Israel together with the United States might this time have a basis in reality, as expressed in an article printed this Tuesday by George Friedman, the executive director of the prestigious Stratfor Centre, which has some former CIA analysts among its collaborators..” He is a well educated person with prestige.
The information goes on to say:
“There have been numerous occasions on which different versions of the possible attack on the Islamic Republic presumably filtered from secret services have been spread. According to experts, it dealt with an attempt to exert psychological pressure on Teheran to make it seek consensus with the West.”
“…this technique didn’t work and it is highly unlikely that it will be used again with the same objective, states Friedman…”
“‘It is a paradox, but the new slew of rumours about war may this time be directed towards trying to convince Iran precisely that there will be no war, while in reality, war is now being prepared’ …”
“The analyst completely discards the fact that Tel Aviv is daring to embark on a military operation without counting on the support of the Pentagon.”
“At the same time, the expert warns that the most serious consequence of the possible attack against Iran would be that the Islamic Republic would block the Strait of Ormuz, between the Oman and Persian Gulfs, and that would collapse 45% of world oil supplies thus shooting prices sky high and making world economic recovery after the recession difficult.”
Thus concludes the information.
I find it incredible that the fear of an attack is due to consequences that the price of oil may suffer and to the struggle against the recession. I myself do not harbour the least doubt that the capacity for Iran’s conventional answer would provoke a ferocious war, control of which would escape the hands of the warring parties and it would become an irremediable global nuclear conflict. That is what I maintain.
An important AFP dispatch states that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned this Wednesday in a BBC interview when talking about his memoirs being released, that the international community might have no other alternative than the military option if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons.”
“Blair concluded that he thought that there was no alternative to this if they continue developing nuclear weapons. They should receive this message loud and clear, he added, echoing a threat that has already been made several times by the US and Israel.
Of course, if they are manufacturing nuclear weapons they have no proof nor can they have any proof because they are using some research centres, doing research; they don’t have, for up to two or three years as they themselves have admitted, any material to begin manufacturing a bomb. This without taking into account that manufacturers of nuclear weapons have 25,000 nuclear weapons, without counting the unimaginable conventional ones. They have no proof of this, it’s a research centre. Is that a reason to attack them? Having a plant producing electrical energy, coming from uranium, that’s nothing constituting a crime and for them it is proof they are manufacturing weapons. They have already done it, they did it in 1981 against an Iraqi research centre, and they did it in 2007 against a Syrian research centre; they didn’t talk about that, it’s somewhat of a mystery why they didn’t speak of it. Because there are terrible things happening that nobody talks about and nobody prints them.
Well, that is the proof, because they are talking about attacking those reactors and those research centres. That’s why one cannot become confused by the little words “if they try” to manufacture nuclear weapons.
A new dispatch from the ITAR-TASS agency reports that sanctions against Iran will not report any desired results, the Iranian problem must not be resolved by any method using force. Today, Sergei Lavrov, head of Russian diplomatic services, stated this in his speech before students –what a coincidence – of the MGIMO International Affairs Institute.”
And the cable goes on:
“We come from the idea that no world problem should be resolved using force, he stated. Lavrov drew attention to the position of US President Barack Obama in regard to Iran, especially involving Iran in the negotiated process. We welcome a normalization in US-Iran relations, he added.
I would think that Russia is not just a member of the Security Council with the right to veto, but also a powerful country whose opinion cannot be ignored. Independently of the fact that in that Resolution of June 9th, all those with the right to veto supported the Resolution. Turkey and Brazil did not support it, and Lebanon abstained. That was a very important moment because the Resolution was approved; it authorized inspection of Iranian merchant vessels and also established a term, they said it was 90 days, and some say it expires on the 9th, other say on the 7th. It also says that on that day they have to inform if they attacked or not.
Now we must sit back and wait to see what they will do in this situation, how they value world opinion, what effect it will have, if they will invent another term or not, if they declare they are not going to do it, or if they ratify that they are going to do it, it might take a bit longer, but it cannot be a lot of time.
I recommend that we are watchful, that we ask our information media to communicate to us, so that we can closely follow the situation.
Thanks to the electronic media there are persons in the world, a growing number of persons who are being informed, because they cannot prevent that, besides even if the news agencies and the great information media in the hands of the powerful capitalist corporations keep silent, the world is finding out about it. I tell you this because of the number of messages that are arriving. I read you one opinion that I selected: it is at 4:52, at 4:54, another at 4:55, the comrades who collect these explain that they are coming from all parts of the world, not just from Latin America. It is impossible to collect and comment on them all, we have an idea about the state of opinions, about their credibility or not, and I can tell you that they are being given great credibility just as you are doing. It is clear, and that is decisive. It is a new stage, never have we seen a situation like this.
Therefore, I suggest to you, and to all our compatriots that are trying to be aware, and to our press media that inform us, because at times the international press keeps strangely silent and then suddenly a series of news items appears. The ones that are going to come out next, each day they will be more interesting.
Nobody can say exactly what is going to happen, because these events are unravelling.
What is going to happen on the 7th, the 9th, the 15th, the 20th? We have to make our plans, work plans, everyone makes their own. As for me, I will be concentrating; I am concentrating on this for a while now, collecting as much information as possible.
But in all this, we all play a part in the job, a part of the responsibility that doesn’t mean that we have to stop whatever we are doing.
Also, another very important country, it is the last one mentioned here, because it was the last cable, yesterday afternoon.
A Reuters dispatch states that the European Union is pressuring China to comply with sanctions against Iran.
Because besides the famous June 9th agreement, number 1929, establishing the sanctions I mentioned, these European satellite powers and those from other parts, imposed additional sanctions to strangle the country and, in this case, they were complaining about China, also about Russia in terms of what they were going to do, but it stated thus:
“The official responsible for the European Union foreign policy, Catherine Ashton, said on Thursday that China had been pressured to ensure that Chinese companies would not fill the void left by other companies that had abandoned Iran because of the sanctions …” It doesn’t say what sanctions, whether the ones by the Council or theirs, they must be referring to all of them, of course. .
Any honest person can understand the complexity of the very serious problem that today threatens the world.
Comrades, university students, as in other times which seem far away and which seem to me to have been just yesterday, I thank you for your presence and for the moral support you are providing for this struggle for peace (Applause). I urge you to not give up fighting for this. In this struggle, as in many others in years past, victory is possible (Applause).
May human life be preserved! May children and youth enjoy life in a world of justice! May parents and grandparents share with them the privilege of living!
The fair distribution of material and spiritual wealth, which mankind is capable of creating through the fabulous development of productive forces, that is the only possible alternative.
Thank you very much.