Global Voices Censored

An antidote to Global Voices Online


Over the last year while recovering from his illness, Fidel has reflected upon and written about the major issues of the past 50 years. This page is dedicated to these reflections.

The Cuban people love and revere their greatest hero and freedom fighter, Jose Marti. The following is Fidel’s reflection on the life of Marti in a 2003 speech he gave on the anniversary of his birth.

January 28, 2008A Tribute to Martí

Five years ago, Cuba’s capital hosted the International Conference “For
World Equilibrium”
, which was attended by delegates from forty three
countries of all continents, to honor Martí on the occasion of his 150th

I talked to them all on the evening of January 29 of that year 2003. By a
mere chance –or rather, by more than a single chance– that moment of 1953
repeated itself, although under significantly different circumstances. Back
in 1953 we had to honor Martí’s memory by liberating our Homeland from the
imperialist yoke. This time it was necessary to wage our struggle in the
field of ideas to counter the threats against humanity uttered by the US
President in his speech at the West Point Academy. What I said on that day,
which is consistent with my deepest convictions, has become a starting point
for most of the reflections I wrote during the period of convalescence I
went through. It is my modest tribute to the Master. I likewise salute the
hundreds of intellectuals, men and women of thought, who once again gather
with the same purpose of paying tribute to José Martí on the occasion of
his155th birthday. I could not find any better words to honor him! I would
request our press to publish it, if possible, in the inner pages, to avoid
taking space from other important news about this commemoration.

Fidel Castro Ruz

Speech given by Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Republic of Cuba, at
the closing of the International Conference for World Balance, held in honor
of the 150th anniversary of the birth of our National Hero, José Martí,

January 29, 2003

Distinguished participants in the International Conference for World
Balance, held in honor of the 150th anniversary of the birth of José Martí;

Esteemed guests;

Fellow Cubans:

What does Martí mean to Cubans?

When he was barely 18 years old, Martí wrote a document entitled “Political
Prison in Cuba”, after his own experience of being cruelly imprisoned, with
his feet shackled, at the age of 16. In it, he declares, “God exists,
however, in the idea of good, which watches over the birth of every being,
and leaves in the soul that embodies it a pure tear. The good is God. The
tear is the source of eternal feeling.”

For us Cubans, Martí is the idea of good that he described.

Those of us who resumed the fight for independence first initiated on
October 10, 1868 on July 26, 1953, precisely 100 years after the birth of
Martí, had learned from him, above all else, the ethical principles without
which a revolution cannot even be conceived. From him we also learned his
inspirational patriotism and a higher concept of honor and human dignity
than anyone in history could have ever taught us.

He was a truly extraordinary and exceptional individual. The son of a
military man, born into the home of a Spanish father and mother, he grew
into a prophet and forger of the independence of the land of his birth; an
intellectual and poet, still an adolescent when the first great battle broke
out, he was later able to conquer the hearts, the following, the support and
the respect of old and experienced military leaders who had covered
themselves in glory in that first war.

A fervent lover of peace, unity and harmony among men, he did not waver in
organizing and initiating the just and necessary war against colonialism,
slavery and injustice. His blood was the first to be spilled and his life
was the first to be offered up as an indelible symbol of altruism and
self-sacrifice. For many years, he remained forgotten and unknown to a large
part of the people for whose independence he had fought. But his immortal
ideas rose up from his ashes, like the Phoenix, so that almost half a
century after his death, an entire people took up a colossal battle,
confronting the most powerful enemy any large or small country had ever

Today, a few hours after the 150th anniversary of his birth, hundreds of
brilliant thinkers and intellectuals from throughout the world have rendered
him an emotional tribute with the profound recognition deserved by his life
and work.

Beyond Cuba, what did he give to the world? An exceptional example of a
creator and humanist worthy of being remembered throughout the centuries.

Why, and whom to? To those who are struggling today, and those who will
struggle tomorrow, for the same dreams and hopes of saving the world; and
because as fate would have it, humanity today has awoken to the dangers that
he foresaw and warned of through his profound vision and inspired genius.

The day on which he fell, May 19, 1895, Martí was sacrificing his own life
for the right to life of all the inhabitants of the planet.

In his now famous unfinished letter to his close friend Manuel Mercado,
which Martí interrupted to march off to an unexpected battle, a battle that
no one could keep him from, Martí left recorded for history his innermost
thoughts. And although they are so often repeated and thus so well known, I
will nevertheless repeat them once again: “I am in daily danger of giving my
life for my country and duty, for I understand that duty and have the
courage to carry it out – the duty of preventing the United States from
spreading through the Antilles as Cuba gains its independence, and from
overpowering with that additional strength our lands of America. All I have
done so far, and all I will do, is for this purpose.”

Weeks earlier, in Santo Domingo, Martí had signed the Montecristi Manifesto
alongside that exemplary Latin American patriot Máximo Gómez, a native of
the Dominican Republic chosen by Martí to serve as military leader of the
Cuban forces. At that moment, shortly before setting off for Cuba, Martí
expressed, among many other brilliant revolutionary ideas, something so
admirable that I feel the need to repeat it, at the risk of becoming
tedious: “The Cuban independence war (…) is an event of great human
significance and timely service which the judicious heroism of the Antilles
lends to stability and fair treatment among the American nations and to the
still uncertain balance in the world.”

What foresight is reflected in this last phrase, which has become the
central theme of this conference. There is nothing more necessary and vital
today than that distant and seemingly utopian balance.

One hundred and six years, four months and two days after José Martí’s
letter to Manuel Mercado, and 106 years, five months and 26 days after Martí
and Gómez signed the Montecristi Manifesto, the president of the United
States, in a speech to that country’s Congress on September 20, 2001, made
the following statement:

“We will [use] every necessary weapon of war.”

“Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any
other we have ever seen.”

“Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are
with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

“I’ve called the Armed Forces to alert, and there is a reason. The hour is
coming when America will act, and you will make us proud.”

“This is civilization’ s fight.”

“The great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time – now
depends on us.”

“The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. […]
And we know that God is not neutral.”

In a speech made on June 1, 2002, on the 200th anniversary of West Point
Military Academy, the president of the United States, among other things,

“In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of
action. And this nation will act.”

“Our security will require transforming the military you will lead – a
military that must be ready to strike at a moment’s notice in any dark
corner of the world […] ready for preemptive action when necessary to
defend our liberty and to defend our lives.

“We must uncover terror cells in 60 or more countries.”

“We will send diplomats where they are needed, and we will send you, our
soldiers where you’re needed.”

“We are in a conflict between good and evil… we do not create a problem,
we reveal a problem. And we will lead the world in opposing it.”

I wonder what thoughts would have flashed, at the speed of light, through
the brilliant mind of a man like Martí, wounding him deep in his soul, had
he been around to hear these words in a world now inhabited by over 6.4
billion human beings, all of whom, for one reason or another, from the
super-rich to the super-poor, are facing a grave threat to their very

It was not a madman who spoke these words from the dark corner of an insane
asylum. They are backed by tens of thousands of nuclear weapons; millions of
bombs and warheads; tens of thousands of precision guided missiles;
thousands of bombers and fighter planes, manned and unmanned; dozens of
naval squadrons and detachments with aircraft carriers and nuclear and
conventionally powered submarines; military bases, held with and without
consent, in every corner of the world; military satellites that spy over
every square kilometer of the planet; secure and instant communications
systems, capable of wiping out the communications of any other country and
simultaneously intercepting billions of conversations; fabulous arsenals of
chemical and biological weapons; and a military spending budget of close to
400 billion dollars, which could be used to confront and resolve many of the
world’s most pressing problems. It was the man who controls and can order
the use of all these means who made the threats contained in the statements
quoted above. The justification? The brutal terrorist attack of September
11, which cost the lives of thousands of people in the United States. The
entire world joined in solidarity with the U.S. people and indignantly
condemned the attack. With the unanimous support of world opinion, the
scourge of terrorism could be confronted from every angle and all political
and religious currents.

The battle, as Cuba maintained, had to be fundamentally political and
ethical, in the interests and with the support of all of the peoples of the
world. Nobody could conceive of the idea of confronting absurd, discredited
and unpopular terrorist strategies that hurt innocent people, implemented by
individuals, groups, organizations, and even some states or governments, by
fighting back with brutal state terrorism on a global scale, with one
superpower claiming the right to the possible extermination of entire
nations, and perhaps even resorting to the use of nuclear arms and other
weapons of mass destruction.

At this very moment, as we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of
José Martí, quite possibly the first person in history to put forward the
concept of world balance, a war is about to break out as a consequence of
the most colossal imbalance in military power ever seen on this Earth.
Yesterday marked the deadline issued by the most formidable power in the
world for the use of its unilateral right to unleash its arsenal of the most
sophisticated weapons in existence against another nation. And it would do
so with or without the authorization of the United Nations Security Council,
an institution that is in itself questioned owing to the existence of veto
power, the exclusive prerogative of five countries that are permanent
members, and the resulting negation of the most basic democratic principles
for the remaining almost 200 states represented in the United Nations
General Assembly.

It is precisely the government that today proclaims its right to go over the
head of this Council that has most often exercised the privilege of veto
power. Seldom used by the other five, the radical changes in the balance of
military power among its members over the last 12 years will make it almost
impossible for this prerogative to be used against the wishes of one so
powerful not only because of its overwhelming military force, but its
economic, political and technological might as well.

The vast majority of world opinion is opposed to this announced war. But
what is most important is that according to recent surveys, up to 65% of
Americans oppose an attack without the approval of the Security Council.
This does not, however, constitute an insurmountable obstacle: now that the
troops have been sent and are ready for action, and the most sophisticated
weapons need to be tested, it is highly unlikely that war will not break
out, if the authorities of the country threatened with extermination do not
comply with all of the demands of those threatening them.

No one can know or predict what will happen in any war or similar situation.
The only thing one can say for certain is that the threat of a war in Iraq
has weighed down considerably on the world economy, currently facing a grave
and profound crisis which, combined with the fascist coup against the
Bolivarian government of Venezuela, one of the world’s largest oil
exporters, has raised the prices of this vital commodity to intolerable
levels for the vast majority of the other countries, especially the poorest,
before a single shot has even been fired in Iraq.

It is already generally accepted that the purpose of the war in Iraq is to
take possession of the world’s third largest reserve of oil and gas,
something that greatly concerns almost all of the other developed countries,
such as those of Europe, which import 80% of their energy, as opposed to the
United States, which currently imports barely 20% to 25% of the energy it

Yesterday, January 28, at 9:00 p.m., the president of the United States
declared to the U.S. Congress:

“The United States will ask the UN Security Council to convene on February 5
to consider the facts of Iraq’s ongoing defiance of the world.”

“We will consult. But let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein
does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the
world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.”

“And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might
of the United States military.”

He does not say a word about prior approval by the Security Council.

If we move away for the moment from the terrible consequences of a war in
that region, which the world’s sole superpower could impose at its will, the
imbalance suffered by the world today in economic terms is an equally
enormous tragedy.

Differences related to the rich and poor countries, both between them and
within them, have grown and deepened; in other words, there is an ever wider
gap in the distribution of wealth, the greatest scourge of our era,
resulting in poverty, hunger, ignorance, disease and unbearable pain and
suffering for countless human beings.

Why do we not dare to declare that there can be no democracy, free choice or
real freedom in the midst of such horrific inequalities, ignorance, total or
functional illiteracy, poor education and overwhelming lack of political,
economic, scientific and artistic knowledge, accessible only for a tiny
minority, even in developed countries, while the world is inundated with a
trillion dollars worth of commercial advertising, pushing consumption and
poisoning the masses with frustrated desires of unattainable dreams and
aspirations, creating waste, alienation, and the implacable destruction of
the natural conditions essential for human life? In barely a century and a
half from now we will have used up all of the available energy resources and
the known and potential reserves that it took nature 300 million years to
create, without a viable substitute anywhere in sight.

What do the masses know about the complex economic problems facing the world
today? Who has taught them what the International Monetary Fund is, or the
World Bank, the WTO, and other similar institutions? Who has explained to
them the economic crises, their causes and consequences? Who has told them
that capitalism, free enterprise and free competition barely even exist
anymore, and that 500 big transnational companies control 80% of world
production and trade? Who has taught them about the stock market, the
growing speculation with the commodities that the Third World countries
depend on and the buying and selling of currencies, totaling trillions of
dollars daily? Who has informed them that the Third World currencies are
pieces of paper that constantly decrease in value, while their reserves of
real or almost real money flee inexorably to the wealthiest countries, like
Newton’s law of gravitation, and who has told them of the terrible material
and social consequences of this reality? Or why we owe trillions of dollars
that can never be paid or collected, while tens of millions of people,
including children between the ages of 0 and 5, die of hunger and curable
diseases every year? How many know that the sovereignty of states hardly
even exists anymore, thanks to treaties that are drafted without absolutely
no participation by the Third World countries, and yet are used to keep us
ever more exploited and subjugated? How many are aware that our national
cultures are being increasingly destroyed?

The list of questions would be endless. I will pose just one more to those
who live off of hypocrisy and lies about the most sacred rights of all human
beings, all of the world’s peoples, and humanity itself as a whole: Why not
erect a living monument to the beautiful and profound truth contained in
Martí’s maxim, “To be educated is the only way to be free”?

I say this on behalf of a people that has unwaveringly resisted for more
than four decades under a rigorous blockade and relentless economic war,
compounded by the loss of almost all its foreign markets, trade and supplies
after the collapse of the socialist bloc and the USSR, and which stands
today as one of the most united, socially developed peoples in the world,
with one of the highest degrees of basic knowledge, political awareness, and
artistic culture.

If we have succeeded in some way in honoring the hero whose fruitful birth
we are commemorating today, it is by having demonstrated that a small and
poor country, despite inevitable errors committed in its learning process,
can do much with very little.

The Cuban people’s greatest monument to his memory is having built and
defended this trench, so that no one could overpower with that additional
strength our lands of the Americas and the world.

From him, we learned the infinite value and power of ideas.

The economic order imposed on humanity by our powerful neighbor to the north
is unsustainable and unendurable. The most sophisticated weapons can do
nothing to impede the course of history.

Those who for centuries have supplied and continue to supply surplus value
and cheap labor now number in the billions. They cannot be exterminated like
flies. They are becoming increasingly aware of the injustices inflicted on
them, through the hunger, suffering and humiliation they endure as human
beings, rather than through the schools and education denied to them, and
despite the worn-out lies with which the monopolistic use and abuse of the
mass media attempts to maintain them in eternal and impossible submission.
They have been given eloquent lessons in rather recent times, such as those
of Iran, Indonesia, Ecuador and Argentina. Without firing a single shot,
without even having a weapon to fire, the masses can wipe out governments.

There are ever fewer soldiers of national armies willing to shoot and
massacre their own compatriots. The world cannot be governed with a foreign
soldier carrying a rifle, helmet and bayonet in every factory, every school,
every park, every community, large or small.

A growing number of intellectuals, educated workers, professionals and
members of the middle classes of the developed countries are joining the
struggle to save humanity from the relentless wars against the peoples and
against nature.

Throughout history, it has been demonstrated that great crises give rise to
great solutions, and that great leaders have arisen in and from these

Let no one believe that individuals make history. Subjective factors have an
influence, and historical processes can be speeded up when individuals have
the right ideas, or set back when they are wrong, but they do not determine
the final outcome. Not even a man as brilliant as Martí –or we could also
mention Bolívar, Sucre, Juárez, Lincoln, and many other admirable men like
them– would be remembered by history if he had been born, for example, 30
years earlier or later.

In the case of Cuba, if our national hero had been born in 1823 and turned
30 in 1853, in the midst of a slavery-based and annexationist society owning
large plantations and enormous masses of slaves, and without the existence
yet of the powerful national and patriotic sentiments forged by the glorious
precursors who initiated our first war of independence in 1868, then he
would not have been able to play a major role in the history of our country.

That is why I firmly believe that the great battle will be fought on the
battleground of ideas, not of weapons, but without renouncing their use in
cases like that of our country or others in similar circumstances if a war
is forced upon us, because every force, every weapon, every strategy and
every tactic has its antithesis borne of the inexhaustible intelligence and
awareness of those who fight for a just cause.

In the people of the United States themselves, whom we have never viewed as
our enemy, or blamed for the threats and aggression we have suffered for
more than 40 years, we can see a friend and potential ally of the just
causes of humanity, based on their ethical roots. We saw this already during
the war in Viet Nam. We saw it in something that touched us as closely as
the kidnapping of little Elián González. We saw it in their support for the
struggle of Reverend Martin Luther King. We saw it in Seattle and Quebec
City, where they fought alongside Canadians, Latin Americans and Europeans
against neoliberal globalization. We have begun to see it again in their
opposition to an unnecessary war, without at least the approval of the
Security Council. We will see it tomorrow, as they join with the other
peoples of the world to defend the only path that can save the human species
from the insanity of human beings themselves.

If I were to dare to make a suggestion to the illustrious visitors gathered
here, it would be something that I can see you are already doing.
Nevertheless, at the risk of tiring you, I will allow myself to repeat and
reiterate: in the face of the sophisticated and destructive weapons with
which they seek to intimidate and subject us to an unjust , irrational and
unsustainable social and economic world order: Sow ideas! Sow ideas! And sow
ideas! Build awareness! Build awareness! And build awareness!

Thank you very much.


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