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Issue #1474      29 September 2010

In the name of justice and happiness

Fidel’s 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 (Belen University, Havana), 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 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 globalised 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 led 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 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 a solid basis, 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 …”

“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).”

Thank you very much.


Next article – Culture & Life – Fracking unwelcome

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