Like all other delegations, we must begin by thanking the government and the people of Uruguay for the warm welcome we have received on this visit.
I should also like to express my personal thanks to the chairman of the meeting for his gift of the complete works of Rodo, and to explain to him that I am not beginning these remarks with a quotation from that great American for two reasons. The first is that I went back after many years to Ariel, looking for a passage that would represent at the present time the ideas of a man who is more than Urugunyan, a man who is our American, an American from south of the Rio Grande; but throughout his Ariel Rodo speaks of the violent struggle and opposition of the Latin American countries against the nation that fifty years ago was also interfering in our economy and in our political freedom, and it is not proper to mention this, since the host is involved.
And the second reason, Mr. Chairman, is that the chairman of one of the delegations here present gave us a quotation from Marti to begin his statement. We shall, then, reply to Marti with Marti’. To Marti with Marti but with the anti-imperialistic and anti-feudal Marti who died facing Spanish bullets, fighting for the freedom of his country and by Cuba’s freedom, trying to prevent the United States from spreading over Latin America, as he wrote in one of his last letters.
At that international monetary conference recalled by the President of the Inter-American Bank when he spoke of the seventy years of waiting, Marti said:
He who speaks of economic union speaks of political union. The nation that buys commands, and the nation that sells serves; it is necessary to balance trade in order to ensure freedom; the country that wants to die sells only to one country, and the country that wants to survive sells to more than one. The excessive influence of one country on the trade of another becomes political influence. Politics is the work of men, who surrender their feelings to interests, or who sacrifice part of their feelings to interests. When a strong nation gives food to another, it makes use of the latter. When a strong nation wants to wage war against another, it forces those who need it to ally themselves with it and to serve it. The nation that wants to be free must be free in commerce. Let it distribute its trade among other equally strong countries. If it is to show preference for any, let it be for the one that needs it least. Neither unions of American countries against Europe, nor with Europe against a country of the Americas. The geographic fact of living together in the Americas does not compel political union except in the mind of some candidate or some babbler. Commerce flows along the slopes of the land and over the water and toward the one who has something to trade, be it a monarchy or a republic. Union with the world, and not with a part of it; not with one part of it against another. If the family of republics of the Americas has any function, it is not to be herded behind any one of them against the future republics.
That, Mr. Chairman, was Marti seventy years ago.
Now, having performed the basic duty of recalling the past and reciprocating the delegate’s courtesy to us, I shall pass on to the fundamental part of my statement, an analysis of why we are here and the characteristics of this conference. And I must say, Mr. Chairman, that in the name of Cuba I disagree with almost all of the statements that have been made, although I do not know if I disagree with the speakers’ innermost thoughts.
I must say that Cuba interprets this as a political conference; Cuba does not acknowledge a separation of economic matters from political ones; it understands that they always go hand in hand. That is why there can be no experts speaking of technical matters when the fate of the peoples is at stake. I shall explain why this is a political conference. It is political because all economic conferences are political, but it is also political because it was conceived against Cuba and against the example represented by Cuba in the entire Western Hemisphere.
Let us see if this is not true. On the tenth, in Fort Amador, Canal Zone, General Decker, instructing a group of Latin American military personnel in the art of repressing peoples, spoke of the Montevideo Technical Conference and said that it is necessary to help it. But that is nothing. In his message of August 5, 1961, read at the inaugural session, President Kennedy said the following:
“Those of you at this conference are present at an historic moment in the life of this Hemisphere. For this is far more than an economic discussion or a technical conference on development. In a very real sense it is a demonstration of the capacity of free nations to meet the human and material problems of the modern world.”
I could continue with a quotation from the Prime Minister of Peru, when he was referring to political subjects; but in order not to tire the delegates, since I foresee that my statement will be somewhat lengthy, I shall refer to some of the statements made by the “experts”, and here I use quotation marks, taken from Topic V of the Agenda.
On page II, at the end, and as a definitive conclusion, it says: “Establishing, both at the hemisphere and the national levels, regular procedures for consultation among labor union advisory committees, in order that they may play an influential role in the policy development of the programs that may be agreed upon at the Special Meeting.”
And to reinforce my statement, so that there may be no doubt about my right to talk politics, which is what I plan to do in the name of the Government of Cuba, here is a quotation from page 7 of that same report concerning the same Topic V:
“Any delay on the part of democratic information media in assuming their duty to defend, unflaggingly and without material compromise, the essential values of our civilization, would be of irreparable damage to democratic society and would put those same media in imminent danger of losing the freedoms they now enjoy, as has been the case in Cuba” — Cuba, spelled out in full — “where today the press, radio, television, and motion pictures are all under the absolute control of the Government.”
That is to say, fellow delegates, that in the report under discussion Cuba is judged from the political standpoint. Very well. Cuba will speak the truth from the political standpoint, and from the economic standpoint, too.
We are in agreement with only one thing in the report on Topic V prepared by the experts, with one single sentence which describes the present situation:
“Relationships among the peoples of the Americas are entering upon a new phase,” it says, and that is true. It is just that this new phase is beginning under the sign of Cuba, Free Territory of the Americas, and this conference and the special treatment given to all of the delegations, and the credits that are approved, all bear the name of Cuba, whether the beneficiaries like it or not, because there has been a qualitative change in the Americas, a change that has enabled a country to rise up in arms, destroy an oppressive army, form a new people’s army, stand up to an invincible monster, await the monster’s attack, and defeat it also.
And that is something new in the Americas, gentlemen; that is what has led to this new language and to the fact that relations are easier among all, except, naturally, between the two great rivals of this conference.
At this moment Cuba cannot even speak of the Americas alone. Cuba is part of a world that is under anguishing tension, because it does not know if one of the parties — weaker but the more aggressive – will commit the clumsy blunder of unleashing a conflict which necessarily will be atomic. And Cuba is watchful, fellow delegates, because it knows that imperialism will succumb, wrapped in flames, but it knows that Cuba would also pay with its blood the price of the defeat of imperialism, and it hopes that this defeat may be achieved by other means. Cuba hopes that its sons may see a better future, and that they will not have to pay the price of victory with the lives of millions of human beings destroyed by atomic fallout.
The world situation is tense. Our meeting here is not only because of Cuba, not in the least. Imperialism has to make sure of its rear guard, because the battle is being waged on all sides, at a time of deep anguish.
The Soviet Union has reaffirmed its decision to sign a German peace treaty, and President Kennedy has announced that he would even go to war over Berlin. But it is not Berlin alone, it is not Cuba alone; there is Laos, and the Congo, where Lumumba was murdered by imperialism; there is divided Vietnam and divided Korea; Formosa in the hands of Chiang Kai-shek’s gang; there is Argentina, prostrate, and now they want to divide it, too; and Tunisia, whose people the other day were machine-gunned for committing the “crime” of wanting to recover their territory.
That is the way it is in the world today, fellow delegates, and that is how we have to see it in order to interpret this conference and be able to arrive at the conclusions that will permit our countries to move toward a happy future and orderly development, for otherwise they may become appendages of imperialism in the preparation of a new and terrible war; or they may also be bled by civil strife when their peoples-as almost all of you have said-tired of waiting, tired of being deceived again, start on the path that Cuba once started on: to take up arms, to fight on their own soil, to take away the weapons of the foreign army that represents reaction, and to destroy to its very foundations an entire social order that was made to exploit the people.
The history of the Cuban Revolution is short in years, Mr. Chairman, but rich in deeds, rich in positive facts, and rich, also, in the bitterness of the aggressions it has suffered.
We shall spell out some of them, so that it may be clearly understood that it was a long chain of events that led us here.
In October 1959, only the agrarian reform had been carried out as a basic economic measure by the revolutionary government. Pirate airplanes, coming from the United States, flew over Havana and, as a result of the very bombs they dropped, plus the fire from our anti-aircraft batteries, two persons were killed and half a hundred wounded. Later, there was the burning of the cane fields, which is economic aggression, aggression against our wealth, and which was denied by the United States until an airplane – pilot and all — exploded, and the evidence proved beyond the shadow of a doubt the source of the pirate aircraft. This time the American Government was kind enough to apologize. The Espaila sugar mill was also bombed by one of these aircraft in February 1960.
In March of that year, the steamship Le Couvre, which was bringing arms and ammunition from Belgium, exploded at the docks of Havana, causing a hundred dead, in an accident which the experts classified as intentional.
In May 1960, the conflict with imperialism became open and acute. The oil companies operating in Cuba, invoking the right of might and ignoring the laws of the republic that clearly specified their obligations, refused to refine the petroleum we had purchased from the Soviet Union, in the exercise of our free right to trade with the whole world and not with one part thereof, as Marti put it.
Everybody knows how the Soviet Union responded, sending us, with real effort, hundreds of ships to carry 3,600,000 tons per year our total imports of crude petroleum — to keep in operation all of the industrial machinery which works on the basis of petroleum today.
In July 1960 there was the economic aggression against Cuban sugar, which some governments have not yet perceived. The differences became more acute, and the OAS meeting took place in Costa Rica in August of 1960. There-in August 1960, as I said-the Meeting [of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs] declared that it “Condemns energetically the intervention or threat of intervention, even when conditional, by an extra-continental power in the affairs of the American republics” and declared that “the acceptance of a threat of extracontinental intervention by any American state endangers American solidarity and security, and that this obliges the Organization of American States to disapprove it and reject it with equal vigor.”
That is to say, the American republics, meeting in Costa Rica, denied us the right to defend ourselves. This is one of the strangest denials ever made in the history of international law. Naturally, our people are a little refractory with respect to the voice of technical meetings and they met in the Assembly of Havana and approved unanimously — more than a million hands raised to the skies, one-sixth of the country’s total population — the Declaration of Havana, which states in part as follows:
The People’s National General Assembly reaflirms-and is sure that in doing so it is expressing the common criterion of the peoples of Latin America-that democracy is incompatible with financial oligarchy, with the existence of discrimination against the Negro and the excesses of the Ku Klux Klan, and with the persecution that deprived scientists such as Oppenheimer of their jobs, that for years prevented the world from hearing the wonderful voice of Paul Robeson, a prisoner in his own country, and that led the Rosenbergs to their death, in the face of the protests and the horror of the whole world and despite the appeals of the leaders of various countries and of Pope Pius XII.
“The People’s National General Assembly of Cuba expresses the Cuban conviction that democracy cannot consist merely in the exercise of an electoral vote which is nearly always fictitious and is directed by large landowners and professional politicians, but rather in the right of the citizens to decide their own destinies, as this People’s Assembly is now doing. Furthermore, democracy will exist in Latin America only when its peoples are really free to choose, when the humble are no longer reduced – by hunger, by social inequality, by illiteracy, and by the judicial systems — to the most hopeless impotence.
And further, the People’s National General Assembly of Cuba condemned “the exploitation of man by man, and the exploitation of the underdeveloped countries by imperialist financial capital.”
That was a declaration of our people, made before the world, to show our determination to defend with arms, with blood, with our lives, our freedom and our right to control the destinies of the country, in the way that our people deem most advisable.
Later came many skirmishes and battles, sometimes verbal, sometimes otherwise, until in December 1960 the Cuban sugar quota in the United States market was definitively cut. The Soviet Union responded in a way which you already know, other Socialist countries did likewise, and contracts were signed to sell four million tons throughout the socialist area at a preferential price of four cents, which naturally saved the situation for Cuba, which unfortunately is still a single-crop country, like the majority of the American nations, and which was as dependent on one market and one product — at that time — as the other republics are today.
It seemed that President Kennedy had inaugurated the new era which had been spoken of so much. In spite of the fact that there had also been a rough verbal exchange between President Kennedy and the Prime Minister of our government, we hoped that things would improve. President Kennedy gave a speech in which he gave clear warning of a series of positions to be taken in the Americas, but he seemed to be announcing to the world that Cuba’s case should be considered as something that had already taken shape, as a “fait accompli”.
We were then mobilized. The day after Kennedy’s speech, we ordered demobilization. Unfortunately, on March 13, 1961, President Kennedy spoke of the “Alliance for Progress”. On that same day, there was a pirate attack against our refinery in Santiago, Cuba, which endangered the installations and took the life of one of the defenders. So once again we were faced with a de facto situation.
In that speech, which I have no doubt will be memorable, Kennedy also said that he hoped that the people of Cuba and the Dominican Republic, for whom he expressed great friendship, might rejoin the society of free nations. One month later the events at Playa Giron took place, and a few days later [former] President Trujillo was mysteriously assassinated. We were always the enemies of President Trujillo, and we are just establishing the bare facts of the case, which to this date has not been clarified in any way.
Later, there came a true masterpiece of belligerency and political ingeniousness, which wound up under the name of the White Paper. According to the magazines, which say so much in the United States, even provoking President Kennedy’s anger, its author was one of the distinguished advisers of the United States Delegation with us today. It is an accusation full of misrepresentations of Cuba’s real situation, conceived in preparation of what was forthcoming.
“The revolutionary regime betrayed their own revolution,” so said the White Paper, as if it were the judge of revolutions and how to make revolutions, and the great evaluator of the revolutions of the Americas.
“The Castro regime [in Cuba] offers a clear and present danger to the authentic . . . revolution of the Americas . . ~ because the word “revolution,” as one of the members of the presidential staff said, also needs to clean up once in a while.
“The Castro regime refuses to negotiate on a friendly basis…” despite the fact that many times we have said that we would sit down on an equal footing to discuss our problems with the United States, and I wish to take advantage of this opportunity, Mr. Chairman, to affirm once more on behalf of my government that Cuba is willing to sit down to discuss on equal footing anything that the delegation of the United States may wish to discuss, on a strict basis of nothing more than no previous conditions at all. That is to say, our position in this matter is very clear.
The White Paper called upon the people of Cuba to engage in subversion and revolution “against the Castro regime”; however, on April 13, President Kennedy once more spoke and categorically affirmed that he would not invade Cuba and that the armed forces of the United States would never intervene in Cuba’s internal affairs. Two days later, unidentified aircraft bombed our airports and made ashes out of most of our air force, an ancient remnant that the Batista people had left behind in their flight.
In the Security Council, Mr. Stevenson gave emphatic assurances that it was Cuban pilots, of our air force, “unhappy with the Castro regime,” who had done this thing and he stated that he had talked with them.
On April 19 there was the unsuccessful invasion, when our entire people united and on a war footing, showed once again that there are forces stronger than generalized propaganda, forces stronger than the brute force of arms, and values more important than the values of money. They crowded down the narrow ways that led to the battlefield and many of them were massacred en route by the enemy’s superior aircraft. Nine Cuban pilots with their old planes, were the heroes of the day. Two of them gave their lives; seven are outstanding examples of the triumph of the arms of freedom.
Playa Giron was over, and to say nothing more about this, since “confession takes the place of evidence,” fellow delegates, President Kennedy took upon himself the total responsibility for the aggression. Perhaps at that time he did not recall the words he had uttered a few days before.
We might have thought that the history of aggressions had ended; however, as the newspapermen say, “I’ve got news for you.” On July 26 of this year, groups of armed counterrevolutionaries at the Guantanamo Naval Base lay in wait for Major Raul Castro in two strategic places, in order to assassinate him. The plan was intelligent and macabre. They would shoot at Major Raul Castro as he traveled down the highway from his house to the rally with which we were celebrating the anniversary of our revolution. If they failed, they would dynamite the base, or rather, they would detonate the already dynamited bases of the box from which our companion Raul Castro was to preside over that patriotic rally. And a few hours later, fellow delegates, American mortars, located on Cuban soil, would open fire on the Guantanamo Naval Base. The world would then clearly explain the case to itself: the Cubans, exasperated because in one of their private quarrels one of those “Communists they have there” was assassinated, launched an attack on the Guantanamo Naval Base, and the poor United States had no choice but to defend itself.
That was the plan that our security forces, considerably more efficient than they were thought to be, discovered a few days ago.
So, because of all these things I have related I believe that the Cuban Revolution cannot come to this assembly of distinguished experts to speak of technical matters. I know that you are thinking, “and furthermore, because they don’t know,” and perhaps you are right. But the basic thing is that politics and facts, so stubborn that they are constantly appearing in our midst, prevent us from coming to speak of figures or to analyze the perfect accomplishments of the I-A ECOSOC experts.
There are a number of political problems floating around. One of them is political and economic: the question of the tractors. Five hundred tractors is not an item of exchange. Five hundred tractors is what our government considers as possible reparations for the material damages caused by 1,200 mercenaries. They would not pay for a single life, because we are not in the habit of measuring the lives of our citizens in terms of dollars or equipment of any kind. And much less the lives of the children and the women who died there in Playa Giron.
But we would like to add that if this seems to be an odious transaction stemming from the days of the pirates, that is, to exchange human beings — whom we call worms-for tractors, we could exchange human beings for human beings. We address ourselves to the gentlemen from the United States. We wish to remind them of the great patriot, Pedro Albizu Campos, dying now after years and years spent in the dungeons of the empire, and we offer them anything they want for the freedom of Albizu Campos; and we wish to remind the countries of the Americas who have political prisoners in their jails that we could make a trade. No one responded.
Naturally, we cannot force this trade. It is simply in the hands of those who believe that the freedom of the “brave” Cuban counterrevolutionaries — the only army in the world that ever surrendered completely, almost without casualties-who believe that these people should go free, then let them free their political prisoners, and all the Americas will have shining jails, or at least the political jails will cause no worries.
There is another problem, also of a political and economic nature. It is, Mr. Chairman, that our air transport fleet, plane by plane, is being kept in the United States. The procedure is simple: some ladies get on board with weapons hidden in their clothing; they hand these to their accomplices; the accomplices shoot the guard. put a pistol to the pilot’s head, the pilot makes a beeline for Miami, a company – legally of course, because everything is done legally in the United States — files a claim for debts against the Cuban State, and then the plane is confiscated.
But it so happens that one of many patriotic Cubans-and there was also a patriotic American, but he is not one of ours-a patriotic Cuban who was traveling around there, and without anybody’s telling him any- thing, he decided to amend the record of twin-engine plane thieves, and he brought a beautiful four-engine plane to Cuban shores. Naturally, we are not going to use that four-engine plane, for it is not ours. We respect private property, but we also demand the right to be respected ourselves, gentlemen; we demand the right of havin~ no more farces; the right of having American agencies that can speak up and tell the United States: “Gentlemen, you are committing a vulgar abuse; you cannot take planes away from a State, even though it is against you; those airplanes are not yours; return them or you will be punished.” Naturally, we know that unfortunately there are no inter-American agencies having that much strength.
We appeal, however, to this august gathering, to the sentiments of fairness and justice of the delegation of the United States, to normalize the situation of the respective airplane robberies.
It is necessary to explain what the Cuban Revolution is, what this special affair is that has made the blood of the empires of the world boil, and has also made the blood of the dispossessed of the world — or at least of this part of the world — boil, but with hope.
It is an agrarian, antifeudal, and anti-imperialist revolution, transformed by its internal evolution and by external aggressions into a socialist revolution, and it so proclaims itself before the Americas; it is a socialist revolution.
It is a socialist revolution that took land from those who had much and gave it to those who worked on that land as hired hands, or distributed it in the form of cooperatives among other groups of persons who had no land to work, not even as hired hands.
It is a revolution that came to power with its own army and on the ruins of the army of oppression; that took possession of this power, looked round about, and undertook systematically to destroy all of the previous forms of the structure maintained by the dictatorship of an exploiting class over the exploited class.
It completely destroyed the army as a caste, as an institution, but not as men, except for the war criminals, who were shot, also in the face of public opinion of the hemisphere, and with a very clear conscience.
It is a revolution that reaffirmed national sovereignty, and for the first time raised the issue, for itself and for all countries of the Americas and for all peoples of the world, of the recovery of territories unjustly occupied by other powers.
It is a revolution with an independent foreign policy; Cuba comes here to this meeting of the American States as one among many Latin American countries; it goes to the meeting of the nonaligned countries as one of their important members; and it sits in on the deliberations of the Socialist countries and these look upon it as a brother.
It is a revolution with humanistic characteristics. It feels solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world; solidarity, Mr. Chairman, because, as Marti also said, “A true man should feel on his cheek the blow against the cheek of any man.” And every time an imperial power enslaves any territory, it is striking a blow at all of the inhabitants of that territory.
That is why we fight, indiscriminately, without asking questions about the political system or the aspirations of countries that are fighting for their independence; we fight for the independence of those countries; we fight for the recovery of occupied territory. We support Panama, that has a strip of its territory occupied by the United States. We say Malvinas Islands, not Falkland Islands, speaking of those that lie south of Argentina, and we say Isla del Cisne [Swan Island] when speaking of the island that the United States snatched away from Honduras and from which vantage point it is committing aggression against us by telegraph and radio.
We fight constantly here in the Americas for the independence of the Guianas and the British West Indies; where we accept the fact of an independente Belize, because Guatemala has already renounced its sovereignty over that part of its territory; and we fight also in Africa, in Asia, anywhere in the world where the powerful oppress the weak, so that the weak may gain their independence, their self-determination, and their right to govern themselves as sovereign states.
Our country — and excuse my mentioning this — on the occasion of the earthquake that devastated Chile, assisted that nation as far as it was able with its only product, sugar. Small assistance, but nonetheless it was help given that demanded nothing in return; it was simply a gift to a friendly people, of something to eat to carry them through those difficult hours. That country does not have to thank us, and much less does it owe us anything. Our duty led us to give what we gave.
Our revolution nationalized the national economy; it nationalized the basic industries, including mining; it nationalized all our foreign trade, which is now in the hands of the State and we began to diversify, trading with all the world; it nationalized the banking system in order to have in its hands an effective instrument for the technical control of credit according to the needs of the country.
Our workers now participate in the direction of our planned national economy, and a few months ago, the revolution carried out its urban reform, which gave each inhabitant of our country the house in which he lived, to be his property, the one condition being that he would continue paying the same amount he had been paying, in accordance with a table, for a certain number of years.
It took many steps to affirm human dignity, one of the first having been the abolition of racial discrimination-because racial discrimination did exist in our country, fellow delegates, in a more subtle form, but it did exist. The beaches in our island formerly could not be used by the Negro or the poor, because they belonged to private clubs and because the tourists who came from other places did not like to go swimming with Negroes.
Our hotels, the large hotels of Havana, built by foreign companies, did not permit Negroes to sleep in them, because the tourists from other countries did not like Negroes.
That is what our country was like. Women had no equal rights; they were paid less for the same work, they were discriminated against, as is the case in most of our American countries.
The cities and the rural areas were two zones in permanent struggle against each other, and the imperialists obtained from this struggle sufficient manpower to be able to pay the laboring man poorly and sporadically.
All of these things were subject to our revolution, and we also accomplished a true revolution in education, culture, and health.
This year illiteracy will be ended in Cuba. One hundred and four thousand instructors of all ages are traveling through rural Cuba teaching 1,250,000 illiterates to read — because there were illiterates in Cuba; there were 1,250,000 of them, many more than the official statistics of previous times had indicated.
This year we have extended compulsory primary education to nine years, and free and compulsory secondary education for all of the school population. We have carried out university reform, giving all the people free access to higher culture, to modern science and technology. We have greatly emphasized our national values as opposed to the cultural deformation produced by imperialism, and the expressions of our art are applauded by people all over the world-not by all, since in some places our art is not admitted; we are emphasizing the cultural heritage of our Latin America, giving annual prizes to writers from all parts of the Americas, the prize for poetry, Mr. Chairman, having been won by the distinguished poet, Roberto Ibanez, in the last contest; the social function of medicine is being extended for the benefit of humble farm and city workers; there are sports for all the people, as reflected in the 75,000 who paraded on July 25 in a sports festival held in honor of Major Yuri Gagarin, the world’s first cosmonaut; the beaches have been opened to all without distinction as to color or ideology, and also free of charge; and there are the Workers’ Social Centers, converted out of all the exclusive clubs in the country — and there were many.
So then, fellow delegates, the time has come to speak of the economic part of the agenda. Topic I, very broad, also prepared by very brainy experts, deals with planning for the economic and social development of Latin America.
I shall refer to some of the statements made by the experts, with the idea of refuting them from the technical standpoint, and I shall then express the points of view of the Cuban delegation as to what development planning is.
The first inconsistency that we see in the paper is contained in the following sentence: “The view is often expressed that an increase in the level and diversity of economic activity brings in its wake improvements in health conditions; it is the conviction of the group that such improvements are desirable in themselves, that they are an essential prerequisite for economic growth, and that, therefore, they must be an integral element in any meaningful development program for the region.”
This is also reflected in the structure of the loans of the Inter-American Development Bank, since in the analysis we made of the first 120 million loaned, we found that 40 million, that is, one-third, was directly for loans of this kind: for dwellings, water systems, sewers.
This is a little…I don’t know, but I would almost call it a colonial condition. I get the impression that what is intended is to make the outhouse a fundamental thing. This improves the social conditions of the poor Indian, the poor Negro, the poor man who leads a subhuman existence. “Let’s build him an outhouse and then, after we build him an outhouse, and after he is educated to keep it clean, then he can enjoy the benefits of production.” It should be noted, fellow delegates, that the subject of industrialization does not appear in the analysis made by the experts. To the experts, to plan means to plan outhouses. As for the rest, who knows how it will be done?
If the Chairman will permit, I want to express deep regrets, in behalf of the Cuban delegation, at having lost the services of an expert as efficient as the one who headed this First Group, Dr. Felipe Pazos. With his intelligence and his capacity for work, and with our revolutionary activity, in two years Cuba would be the paradise of the outhouse, even though we would not have even one of the 250 factories we have begun to build, even though we would not have agrarian reform.
I ask myself, fellow delegates, are they trying to pull somebody’s leg? Not Cuba’s — Cuba is not in this, since the Alliance for Progress is not made for Cuba but against it and there is no provision for giving it a cent — but the legs of the other delegates. Don’t you get a slight feeling that your leg is being pulled? Dollars are given to build highways, dollars are given to build sewers. Gentlemen, what are highways and roads built with, what are sewers built with, what are houses built with? You don’t have to be a genius to answer that. Why don’t they give dollars for equipment, dollars for machinery, dollars so that all of our underdeveloped countries, all of them, may become industrial-agricultural countries at one and the same time? It really is sad.
On page 10, speaking of the elements of the development planning, in Point 6, it shows who is the real author of this plan.
Point 6 states: “It can furnish a sounder basis for the provision and utilization of external financial assistance, particularly inasmuch as it provides more efficient criteria for judging individual projects.”
We are not going to furnish sounder bases for the provision and utilization because we are not the ones who provide; you are the ones who receive, not those who provide; we-Cuba-are the ones who look on, and the United States is the one that provides. This Point 6, then, was drafted directly by the United States; it is a recommendation of the United States; and this is the spirit of this whole bungling thing called Topic I.
Now I wish to state one thing for the record: We have spoken a great deal about politics; we have charged that this is a political confabulation and in our conversations with other delegates we have emphasized Cuba’s right to express these opinions, because Cuba is attacked directly in Topic 5.
However, Cuba has not come here to sabotage the meeting, as has been asserted by some newspapers or by many spokesmen of foreign news agencies. Cuba has come to condemn what is subject to condemnation from the standpoint of principles, but it has come here to work harmoniously, if that is possible, to try to straighten this out, this thing that was born misshapen, and it is willing to cooperate with all the delegates to straighten it out and make it a nice project.
The Honorable Douglas Dillon mentioned financing in his speech; that is important. In gathering together to speak of development we have to speak of financing, and all of us have gathered together here to speak with the only country that has capital for financing.
Mr. Dillon has said [in substance]: “Looking toward the coming years and toward all sources of external financing — international institutions, Europe, and Japan, as well as the United States, new private investments, and investments of public funds — if Latin America takes the necessary internal measures” – a prior condition — “it can logically expect that its efforts” — it isn’t even that if it takes the measures, the funds will be granted, but rather that “it can logically expect” — “that its efforts will be met by an inflow of capital of at least twenty billion dollars in the next ten years. And most of these funds will come from public resources.”
Is this what there is? No, there are 500 million dollars approved, that is what is being spoken of. This must be clearly emphasized, because it is the heart of the question. What does it mean?-and I assure you that I am not asking this for ourselves, but rather for the good of everybody — what is meant by “if Latin America takes the necessary internal measures,” and what is meant by “it can logically expect”?
I believe that after the work of the committees or whenever the United States representative deems it appropriate, it will be necessary to pinpoint this part a little, because twenty billion is an interesting figure. It is nothing more than two-thirds of the figure that our Prime Minister announced as being necessary for the development of America; a little push more and we get to the thirty billion mark. But we have to get those thirty billion cash on the barrelhead, one by one, in the national treasuries of each of the countries of America, except for this poor Cinderella, who will probably get nothing.
This is where we can help, not by blackmail, as is being looked for, because it has been said: “No, Cuba is the goose that lays the golden eggs; Cuba is there, and as long as Cuba is there, the United States will give.” No, we have not come here like that; we have come here to work, to try to fight on the level of principles and ideas, so that our countries may develop, because all or almost all of the delegates have said that if the Alliance for Progress fails, nothing can halt the wave of popular movements — I use my own terms, but this is what was meant — nothing can halt the waves of popular movements, if the Alliance for Progress fails, and we are interested in not having it fail, insofar as it may mean for the Americas a genuine improvement in the standard of living of their 200 million inhabitants. I can make this statement here in honesty and all sincerity.
We have diagnosed and foreseen the social revolution in the Americas, the real revolution, because events are shaping up otherwise, because an attempt is being made to halt the people with bayonets, and when the people realize that they can take the bayonets and turn them against those who hold them, those who hold them are lost. But if it is wished to lead the people along the path of logical and harmonious development, by long-term loans up to fifty years at a low interest rate, as Mr. Dillon announced, we are also in agreement.
The only thing, fellow delegates, is that we must all work together so that this figure may be made firm here and to make sure that the Congress of the United States will approve it, because you must not forget that we are faced with a presidential and legislative system, not a “dictatorship” like Cuba, where a representative of Cuba stands up and speaks in the name of the government, and is responsible for his actions. But things have to be ratified there, and the experience of many of the delegates has been that often the promises made have not been ratified there.
Well, I have a lot to say on each of the topics, so I shall hasten along here and then discuss them in a fraternal spirit in the committees. Just a few general figures, some general comments.
The rate of growth that is advanced as a very fine thing for all the Americas is 2.5 per cent net. Bolivia announced 5 per cent for ten years, and we congratulate the representative of Bolivia and tell him that with a little effort and mobilization of popular forces, he could say 10 per cent. We speak of 10 per cent development with no fear whatsoever; 10 per cent is the rate of development foreseen by Cuba for the coming years.
What does this mean, fellow delegates? It means that if all countries continue on the road they are now following, when all the Americas, which at present have a per capita income of around $330, obtain an annual growth of 2.5 per cent in their net product, somewhere around 1980 they will have $500 per capita. Of course, for many countries this will be really phenomenal.
What does Cuba expect to have in 1980? A per capita net income of $3,000-more than the United States has now. And if you don’t believe us, that’s all right too; we’re here to compete, gentlemen. Leave us alone, let us develop, and then we can meet again twenty years from now, to see if the siren song came from revolutionary Cuba or from some other source. But we hereby announce, with full responsibility, that rate of annual growth.
The experts suggest the replacement of inefficient latifundia and dwarf holdings with well-equipped farms. We say: Do you want to have agrarian reform? Then take the land from those who have a lot and give it to those who have none. That is the way to conduct agrarian reform, the rest is a siren song. The way to do it, whether you give land divided into parcels in accordance with all the rules of private property; whether you give it as collective property, or whether you have a mixed system — as we do – depends on the individual characteristics of each country. But agrarian reform is carried out by liquidating the latifundia, not by settling some far off place.
And I could talk like this about redistribution of income, which in Cuba was effectively achieved, because you take from those who have more and permit those who have less or have nothing to have more, because we have carried out our agrarian reform, we have carried out our urban reform, we have reduced electricity and telephone rates — which, parenthetically, was our first skirmish with the foreign monopolistic companies — we have made workers’ social centers and child centers where the workers’ children go to get food and live while their parents work, we have made popular beaches, and we have nationalized education, which is absolutely free. In addition, we are working on a comprehensive health plan.
I shall speak of industrialization later, because it is the fundamental basis of development, and that is how we interpret it. But there is a very interesting point — that is, the filter, the purifier, the experts, seven of them, I believe. Once again, gentlemen, there is the danger of “outhouse-ocracy,” stuck in the middle of the plans by which the countries want to improve their standard of living; another case of politicians dressed up as experts and saying yes here and no there; yes, this and that — but in reality because you’re an easy tool of the one who furnishes the means; and you, no, because you’ve done this wrong — but in reality because you’re not a tool of the one furnishing the means, because you say, for example, that you cannot accept aggression against Cuba as the price of a loan.
This is the danger, without counting the fact that the small countries, as is the case everywhere, receive little or nothing. Fellow delegates, there is only one place where the small ones have a right to “kick,” and that is here, where each vote is a vote. This matter has to be voted, and the small countries – if they are ready to do so can count on Cuba’s militant vote against the idea of the “seven,” meant to “sterilize,” to “purify,” and to channel the credit, with technical disguises, along different lines.
What is the position that will really lead to genuine planning, fully coordinated but not subordinated to any supranational agency?
We believe — and that is how we did it in our country, fellow delegates — that the prior condition for true economic planning is that the political power be in the bands of the working class. This is the sine qua non of true planning for us. Furthermore, it is necessary that the imperialistic monopolies be completely eliminated and that the basic activities of production be controlled by the state. With these three ends well tied together, one can begin planning for economic development; if not, everything is lost in words, speeches, and meetings.
In addition, there are two requisites which will make it possible or not for this development to take advantage of the latent potentialities lying within the people, who are waiting for them to be awakened. These are, on the one hand, rational central direction of the economy by a single power with authority to make decisions-I am not speaking of dictatorial powers, but decision-making powers-and, on the other, the active participation of all the people in the job of planning.
Naturally, in order to have all the people participate in planning, the people must own the means of production; otherwise, it will be difficult for them to participate. The people will not want to, and the owners of the companies where they work won’t either, it seems to me.
We can speak for a few minutes about what Cuba has obtained by following its path, trading with the world, “flowing along the slopes of commerce,” as Marti put it.
Up to this time we have contracted for loans amounting to 357 million dollars with the socialist countries, and we are engaged in conversations — which really are conversations-for a hundred and some million dollars more, with which we shall have reached 500 million dollars in loans during these five years. These loans, which give us possession and control over our economic development, amount to 500 million dollars, as we just said — the amount that the United States is giving to all the Americas — just for our small republic alone. This, divided by the population of Cuba and transferred to the Americas, would mean that to furnish equivalent amounts, the United States would have to give 15 billion pesos in five years, or 30 billion dollars — I speak of pesos or dollars, because in my country they are both worth the same — 30 billion dollars in ten years, the amount requested by our Prime Minister; and with this, if there is wise direction of the economic process, Latin America would be something altogether different in only five years.
Let us go on now to Topic II of the Agenda. And, naturally, before analyzing it, we shall state a political question.
Our friends in these meetings-and there are many of them, even though itmay not seem so-ask us if we are willing to come back in the family of Latin American nations. We have never left the Latin American nations, and we are fighting against our expulsion, against being forced to leave the family of Latin American republics. What we do not want is to be herded, as Marti said. Just that.
We denounce the dangers of economic integration of Latin America, because we know the examples of Europe, and furthermore, Latin America has already learned to the depths of its being what European economic integration cost it. We denounce the danger of having the processes of trade within free trade associations completely vested in the hands of international monopolies. But we also wish to announce here in this conference, and we hope our announcement will be accepted, that we are willing to join the Latin American Free Trade Association, as just another member, criticizing what ought to be criticized but complying with all the requisites, just as long as respect is given to Cuba, to its particular economic and social organization, and provided that its socialist government is accepted as an already consummated and irreversible fact.
And in addition, Cuba must be given equality of treatment and a fair share in the advantages of the international division of labor. Cuba must participate actively and it can contribute a great deal to improve many of the great “bottlenecks” that exist in the economies of our countries, with the help of planned economy, centrally directed and with a clear and well- defined goal.
However, Cuba also wished to propose the following measures: it proposes the initiation of immediate bilateral negotiations for the evacuation of bases or territories in member states occupied by other member states, so that there may be no more cases like the one denounced by the elegation of Panama, where Panama’s wage policies cannot be applied in a part of its territory. The same thing happens with us, and we should like this anomaly to cease, speaking from the economic viewpoint.
We propose the study of rational plans for the development and coordination of technical and financial assistance from all of the industrialized countries, without ideological or geographical distinctions of any kind; we also propose that guarantees be requested to safeguard the interests of the weaker countries; we propose the prohibition of acts of economic aggression by some member states against other member states; guarantees to protect Latin American businessmen against the competition of foreign monopolies; the reduction of United States tariffs on industrial products of the integrated Latin American states; and we state that as we see it, external financing would be good only if it took the form of indirect investments that met the following conditions: The investments should not be subject to political requirements and should not discriminate against state enterprises; they should be applied in accordance with the interests of the receiving country; the interest rates should not exceed 3 per cent and the amortization period should not be less than ten years and subject to extension in case of balance of payments difficulties; the seizure of or confiscation of ships and aircraft of a member country by another should be prohibited; and tax reforms should be initiated, removing the tax burden from the working masses and providing protection against the action of foreign monopolies.
Topic III had been dealt with just as delicately as the others by the experts; they have approached this matter with a gentle pair of tweezers, lifted the veil slightly, and let it drop immediately, because this is a tough subject.
“It might have been desirable — and it was tempting — ” they said, “for the Group to formulate broad and spectacular recommendations. But it was impossible to do so because of the numerous and intricate technical problems which would have had to be resolved first. Therefore, the recommendations actually set forth were confined to those considered technically feasible.”
I don’t know if I am overly perspicacious, but I think that I can read between the lines. Since there have been no verdicts, the delegation of Cuba specifically presents what should be achieved by this meeting: a guarantee of stable prices, without any “could” or “might,” without any “we would examine” or “we shall examine,” but just guarantees of stable prices; expanding or at least stable markets; guarantees against economic aggression, against the unilateral suspension of purchases in traditional markets, against the dumping of subsidized agricultural surpluses, and against protectionism for the production of basic commodities; creation of conditions in the industrialized countries for the purchase of primary products that have been subject to a higher degree of processing.
Cuba declares that it would be desirable for the delegation of the United States to state in the committees whether it will continue to subsidize its production of copper, lead, zinc, sugar, cotton, wheat, or wool. Cuba asks whether the United States will continue pressunng to stop member countries from selling their primary product surpluses to Socialist countries, thus increasing its own market.
And now we come to Topic V of the Agenda. Topic IV is nothing more than a report, but this Topic V is the other side of the coin.
On the occasion of the Costa Rica Conference Fidel Castro said that the United States had attended “with a bag of gold in one hand and a club in the other.” Here today the United States comes with a bag of gold – fortunately a larger bag — in one hand, and the barrier to isolate Cuba in the other. It is, in any case, a victory of historic circumstances.
But in Topic V of the Agenda a program of measures is established for Latin America for the regimentation of thought, the subordination of the labor movement, and, if it can be done, the preparation of military aggression against Cuba.
Three steps are foreseen in reading it: mobilization, as of now, of Latin America media of information and publicity against the Cuban revolution and against the struggles of our countries for their freedom; the formation, at a later conference, of an Inter-Arnerican Press, Radio, Television, and Motion Picture Federation that will enable the United States to direct the public opinion organs of Latin America, all of them — right now there are not many that are outside its sphere of influence but it seeks them all – to exercise monopolistic control over new information agencies, and to absorb as many of the old ones as possible.
All of this is something extraordinary, which was announced here in all calmness and which in my country gave rise to deep discussion when something similar was done in a single instance. This is an attempt, fellow delegates, to establish a common market for culture, organized, directed, paid, mastered; the culture of all the Americas at the service of imperialistic propaganda plans, to show that the hunger of our peoples is not hunger but laziness. Magnificent!
To this we answer: The organs of public opinion of Latin America must be exhorted to support the ideals of national liberation of each Latin American country. An exhortation must be made for the exchange of information, cultural media, press organs, and for direct visits between peoples without discrimination, gentlemen, because a United States citizen -who goes to Cuba nowadays faces five years of prison upon returning to his country. The Latin American governments must be exhorted to guarantee the labor movement freedom to organize independently, to defend the interests of the workers, and to struggle for the true independence of their countries. We call for a total and absolute condemnation of Topic V as an imperialistic attempt to domesticate the only thing that our countries have been saving from disaster: national culture.
I shall take the liberty, fellow delegates, of presenting an outline of the objectives of Cuba’s first plan for economic development during the next four years. The general growth rate will be 12 per cent, that is, more than 9.5 per cent per capita, net. In the industrial field, the plan calls for the transformation of Cuba into the most highly industrialized country of Latin America in relation to its population, as may be seen from the following figures:
First place in Latin America in the per capita production of steel, electric power, and, except for Venezuela, in petroleum refining; first place in Latin America in tractors, rayon, shoes, textiles, etc.; second place in the world in the production of metallic nickel (up to now Cuba has produced only concentrates); nickel production in 1965 will amount to 70,000 metric tons, which is about 30 per cent of world production; and, in addition, it will produce 2,600 metric tons of metallic cobalt; sugar production of 8.~ to 9 million tons; and the commencement of the transformation of the sugar industry into a sugar-chemical industry.
In order to do this, which is easy to say, but which will require an enormous amount of work and the effort of an entire people and a very large amount of external financing, furnished from the standpoint of aid, not spoliation, the following measures have been adopted: more than one bilion pesos are going to be invested in industry — the Cuban peso is equivalent to the dollar — in the installation of 8oo megawatts of electric power. In 1960, the installed capacity — except for the sugar industry, which operates seasonally-amounted to 621 megawatts. The installation of 205 industries, of which the twenty-two more important ones are the following: a new plant for refining nickel ore, which will raise the total to 70,000 tons; a petroleum refinery for two million tons of crude petroleum; the first steel mill, with a capacity of 700,000 tons of steel, which in this four-year period will reach 500,000 tons; the expansion of our plants to produce seamed steel tubes, amounting to 25,000 metric tons; tractors, 5,000 units per year; motorcycles, 10,000 units per year; three cement plants and expansion of the existing ones for a total of 1.5 million metric tons, which will raise our production to 2.5 million per year; metal containers, 291 million units; expansion of our glass plants by 23,700 metric tons per year; one million square meters of flat glass; a new plant for making bagasse fiberboard, 10,000 cubic meters; a bagasse cellulose plant, 60,000 cubic meters, in addition to a wood cellulose plant for 40,000 metric tons per year; an ammonium nitrate plant, 60,000 metric tons; a plant for simple superphosphate, for 70,000 tons, and 81,000 metric tons of triple superphosphate; 132,000 metric tons of nitric acid; 85,000 metric tons of ammonia; eight new textile plants and expansion of existing ones with 451,000 spindles; a kenaf bag plant for sixteen million bags; and so on to others of lesser importance, going as high as 205 at the present time.
These credits have been contracted for thus far as follows: 200 million dollars with the Soviet Union; 60 million dollars with the Chinese People’s Republic; 40 million with the Socialist Republic of Czechoslovakia; 15 million with the Romanian People’s Republic; 15 million with the Hungarian People’s Republic; 12 million with the Polish People’s Republic; 10 million with the German Democratic Republic; and 5 million with the Democratic Republic of Bulgaria. The total amount contracted for to the present time is 357 million. The new negotiations that we hope to conclude soon are basically with the Soviet Union which, as the most highly industrialized country of the socialist area, is the one that has given us the most support.
As for agriculture, Cuba intends to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of foodstuffs, including fats and rice, but not in wheat; self-sufficiency in cotton and hard fibers; production of exportable surpluses in tropical fruits and other agricultural products which will triple the present levels of exports.
With respect to foreign trade, the value of exports will be increased by 75 per cent over the 1960 figure. There will be a diversification of the economy; with sugar and sugar by-products amounting to around 60 per cent of exports and not 80 per cent as at the present time.
With respect to construction; the plan calls for elimination of 40 percent of the present housing deficit, including bohios, which are our rural shacks, and a rational combination of building materials so that use of local materials may be increased without sacrificing quality.
There is a point that I should like to dwell on for a moment, and that is education. We have laughed at the group of experts who placed education and health as sine qua non conditions to starting on the road to development. To us this is an aberration, but it is no less true that once the road to development is started, education should progress parallel to it. Without adequate technological education, development is slowed down. Therefore, Cuba has carried out a complete reform of education; it has expanded and improved educational services and has prepared overall education plans.
At the present time it ranks first in Latin America in the allocation of funds to education; we devote 5.3 per cent of our national income to it. The developed countries allocate between 3 per cent and 4 per cent, and the Latin American countries between I per cent and 2 per cent of their national income. In Cuba, 28.3 per cent of the state’s current expenditures are for the Ministry of Education, and including other agencies that spend money for education, this figure increases to 30 per cent. The Latin Amencan country that ranks second in this respect allocates 2 I per cent of its budget to this purpose.
The increase in our budget for education from 75 million in 1958 to 128 million in 1961 represents an increase of 7 per cent. And total expenditures for education, including the campaign against illiteracy and school construction amount to 170 million, or twenty-five pesos per capita. In Denmark, for example, twenty-five pesos per capita per year are spent on education; in France, fifteen; in Latin America, five.
In two years, ten thousand schoolrooms have been provided and ten thousand new teachers appointed. Ours is the first country in Latin America fully to satisfy all primary instruction needs of the school-age population, an aspiration of the UNESCO Principal Project for Latin America by 1968, which has already been fulfilled in Cuba.
These measures and these really marvelous and absolutely accurate figures we present here, fellow delegates, have been made possible by the following action: nationalization of teaching, making it secular and free, and making possible the total utilization of its services; establishment of a system of scholarships to guarantee the satisfaction of all the needs of the students, in accordance with the following plan: 20,000 scholarships for basic secondary schools, grades seven to nine; 3,000 scholarships for pre-university institutes; 3,000 for art instructors; 6,000 for the universities; 1,500 for courses in artificial insemination; 1,200 for courses on agricultural machinery; 14,000 for courses in sewing and dressmaking and basic domestic science training for farm women; 1,200 for training of teachers for the hill areas; 750 for beginners’ courses for primary school teachers; 10,000 including both scholarships and study grants, for students preparing for technological teaching; and in addition, hundreds of scholarships for the study of technology in the socialist countries; establishment of one hundred centers of secondary education, so that each municipality will have at least one.
This year in Cuba, as I already stated, illiteracy is being wiped out. It is a wonderful sight. Up to the present time, 104,500 brigade members, almost all of them students between the ages of ten and eighteen, have flooded the country from one end to the other, going directly to the cabins of the farm people and the homes of workers, to convince the old people who no longer want to study and thus to eliminate illiteracy.
Whenever a factory eradicates illiteracy among its workers, it raises a flag announcing this fact to the people of Cuba; whenever a farm cooperative becomes free of illiteracy among its members, it hoists a similar pennant; and there are 104,500 young students, who have as their insignia a book and a lamp, to carry the light of education into the backward areas, and who belong to the “Conrado Benitez” Brigades, named in honor of the first martyr of education of the Cuban Revolution, who was hanged by a group of counterrevolutionaries for the serious crime of being in the mountains of our country teaching the people how to read.
This is the difference, fellow delegates, between our country and those that are fighting against it.
One hundred and fifty-six thousand volunteer fighters against illiteracy, workers and professionals, work part time in this teaching field; 32,000 teachers head this army, and only with the active cooperation of all the people of Cuba could figures of such magnitude have been achieved.
This has all been done in one year, or rather, in two years: seven regimental headquarters have become school campuses; twenty-seven barracks have become schools; and all of this while there was danger of imperialistic aggression. The Camilo Cienfuegos school campus at the present time has five thousand pupils from the Sierra Maestra and is building units for twenty thousand pupils; we intend to build a similar campus in every province; each school campus will be self-sufficient in food, thus initiating the farm children in agricultural practices.
In addition, new teaching methods have been instituted. Primary school enrollment increased from 602,000 in 1958 to 1,231,700 in 1959; secondary school enrollment from 21,900 to 83,800; business schools, from 8,900 to 21,300; technological schools, from 5,600 to 11,500.
Forty-eight million pesos have been invested in school construction in just two years.
The National Printing Office guarantees textbooks and other printed material for all school children free of charge.
Two television networks, covering the whole country, make possible the use of this powerful medium for mass education. Likewise, the entire national radio system is at the disposal of the Ministry of Education.
The Cuban Institute of Motion Picture Art and Industry, the National Library, and the National Theater, with representatives throughout the whole country, complete this great system for the dissemination of culture.
The National Institute of Sports, Physical Education, and Recreation, whose initials are INDER, promotes physical development on a massive scale.
This, fellow delegates, is the cultural picture in Cuba at this time.
Now we come to the final part of our statement, the part containing definitions, because we want to establish our position very clearly.
We have denounced the Alliance for Progress as an instrument designed to separate Cuba from the other countries of Latin America, to sterilize the example of the Cuban Revolution, and then to bend the other countries to the wishes of the imperialists.
Permit me to offer full proof of this.
There are many interesting documents in the world. We shall distribute to the delegates some documents which came into our hands and which show, for example, the opinion held by the imperialists of the government of Venezuela, whose foreign minister attacked us harshly a few days ago, perhaps because he understood that we were violating laws of friendship with his people or his government.
However, it is interesting to point out that friendly hands sent us an interesting document. It is a report on a secret document addressed to Ambassador Moscoso in Venezuela by his advisers, John M. Cates, Jr., Irvin Tragen, and Robert Cox.
This document, in one of its paragraphs, states, speaking of the measures Venezuela must take in order to have a real Mliance for Progress, directed by the United States:
Reform of the Bureaucracy. All plans that are made [speaking of Venezuela] all programs initiated for the economic development of Venezuela, either by the Venezuelan Government or by United States technicians, will have to be implemented through Venezuela’s bureaucracy. But, as long as the civil service of that country is characterized by ineptitude, indifference, inefficiency, formalism, party favoritism in the granting of jobs, corruption, duplication of functions, and the building of private empires, it will be practically impossible to have dynamic and effective projects go through the government machinery. Therefore, a reform of the administrative structure is possibly the most basic need, since not only would it be directed toward correcting a basic economic and social imbalance, but would also imply a reconditioning of the very instrument which should shape all of the other basic reforms and development projects.
There are many interesting things in this document which we shall place at the disposal of the delegates; for example, where it speaks of the natives. After the natives are taught, the natives can be permitted to work. We are natives, and nothing more. But there is something interesting, fellow delegates, and that is the recommendation made by Mr. Cates to Mr. Moscoso as to what has to be done. It reads as follows:
The United States will be forced, probably sooner than is expected, to point out to the right-wings, the oligarchy, the nouveaux riches, the national and foreign economic circles in general, the military, and the clergy that in the long run they will have to make a choice between two things: either contribute to the establishment in Venezuela of a society based on the masses, maintaining at the same time their status quo and their wealth, or face the loss of both (and perhaps death itself before the firing squad) [this is a report by Americans to their Ambassador] if the forces of moderation and progress are displaced in Venezuela.
Then this is completed, giving the picture and all the machinations by which this conference began to develop, with other reports of secret instructions sent to Latin America by the United States Department of State concerning the “Cuban case.”
This is very important, because it shows where the lamb’s mother was. It says — and I shall take the liberty of quoting a few extracts from it, though we shall distribute it later, in deference to the brevity that I have already violated somewhat:
From the beginning, it was generally understood in Latin America that the United States backed the invasion, and that it would therefore be successful. The majority of the governments and the responsible sectors of the people were prepared to accept a fait accompli, although there were misgivings about violation of the principle of non-intervention. The Communists and other strongly pro-Castro elements immediately took the offensive with demonstrations and acts of violence directed against United States agencies especially in Argentina, Bolivia, and Mexico. However, these anti-American and pro-Castro activities received limited backing and produced less results than might have been expected.
The failure of the invasion discouraged the anti-Castro sectors, who considered that the United States should do something dramatic to restore its damaged prestige, but it was received with glee by the Communists and other pro-Castro elements.
In most cases, the reactions of the Latin American governments were not surprising. With the exception of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the republics that had already broken or suspended relations with Cuba expressed their understanding of the United States position. Honduras joined the anti-Castro camp, suspending relations in April and proposing the formation of an alliance of Central American and Caribbean nations to have it out with Cuba by force. The proposal-which was also suggested independently by Nicaragua-was quietly dropped when Venezuela refused to back it up. Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama expressed serious concern over the penetrations of the Soviets and of international Communism in Cuba, but favored some sort of collective action by the OAS — “collective action by the OAS” brings us into familiar ground-to deal with the Cuban problem. A similar opinion was expressed by Argentina, Uruguay, and Costa Rica. Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, and Mexico refused to support any position that would imply intervention in Cuba’s internal affairs. This attitude was probably very strong in Chile, where the Government found strong opposition in all circles to open military intervention by any State against the Castro regime. In Brazil and in Ecuador the matter provoked serious splits in the Cabinet, in Congress, and in the political parties. In the case of Ecuador, the intransigent pro-Cuban position adopted by President Velasco was shaken but not altered by the discovery of the fact that Ecuadorean Communists were being trained in that country in guerrilla tactics by pro-Castro revolutionaries. [Parenthetically, and this is my comment, that is a lie.]
Likewise, there are few doubts that some of the previously uncommitted elements in Latin America have been favorably impressed by Castro’s capacity to survive a military attack, supported by the United States, against his regime. Many of those who had previously hesitated to commit themselves, assuming that the United States would in time eliminate the Castro regime, may now have changed their minds. Castro’s victory has shown them the permanent and workable nature of the Cuban revolution [this is a report by the United States.] In addition, his victory has no doubt aroused the latent anti-United States attitude that prevails in a large part of Latin America.
In every respect, the member states of the OAS are now less hostile toward United States intervention in Cuba than before the invasion, but a majority of them — including Brazil and Mexico, which accounted for more than half the population of Latin America-are not willing to intervene actively or even to join a quarantine against Cuba. Nor can it be expected that the Organization would give its prior approval to direct intervention by the United States, except in the event that Castro were to be involved beyond a doubt in an attack against a Latin American government.
Even if the United States were successful — which seems improbable — in persuading a majority of the Latin American states to join in a quarantine against Cuba, the attempt would not be completely successful. It is certain that Mexico and Brazil would refuse to cooperate and would serve as a channel for travel and other communications between Latin America and Cuba.
Mexico’s long-standing opposition to intervention of any kind would not be an unsurmountable obstacle to collective action by the OAS against Cuba. The attitude of Brazil, however, which exercises strong influence over its South American neighbors, is decisive for hemisphere cooperation. As long as Brazil refuses to act against Castro, it is probable that a number of other nations, including Argentina and Chile, will not wish to risk adverse internal repercussions to please the United States.
The magnitude of the threat represented by Castro and the Communists in other parts of Latin America will probably continue to depend basically on the following factors: (a) The ability of the regime to maintain its position; (b) its effectiveness in showing the success of its way to dealing with the problems of reform and development; and (c) the ability of non-Communist elements in other Latin American countries to furnish feasible and popularly accepted alternatives. If, by means of propaganda, etc., Castro can convince the disaffected elements existing in Latin America that basic social reforms are really being made [that is to say, if the delegates become convinced that what we are saying is true) that will benefit the poorer classes, the attractiveness of the Cuban example will increase and it will continue to inspire leftist imitators in this entire area. The danger is not so much that a subversive apparatus, based in Havana, may export the revolution, but that increasing poverty and unrest among the masses of the Latin American people will give the pro-Castro elements an opportunity to act.
After considering whether we intervene or not, they reason as follows:
It is probable that the Cubans will act cautiously in this regard for some time. They probably are not desirous of risking the interception or discovery of any acts of piracy or military supplies coming from Cuba.
Such an eventuality would result in a greater stiffening of Latin American official opinion against Cuba, perhaps to the point of giving tacit backing to United States intervention, or at least of providing possible reasons for sanctions by the OAS. For these reasons, and because of Castro’s concern over the defense of his own territory at this time, the use of Cuban military forces to support insurrection in other areas is extremely improbable.”
And so, for any of you delegates who have any doubts, the government of the United States announces that it would be very difficult for our troops to intervene in the national affairs of other countries.
As time goes by, and in view of the absence of direct Cuban intervention in the internal affairs of neighboring states, present fears of Castroism, of Soviet intervention in the regime, of its “socialist nature” — the quotation marks are theirs-and the repugnance against Castro’s police – state repression will tend to diminish and the traditional policy of non-intervention will be reaffirmed.
It goes on to say:
Aside from its direct effect on the prestige of the United States in that area — which undoubtedly has dropped as a result of the failure of the invasion — the survival of the Castro regime might have a profound effect on American political life in the coming years. It is preparing the scene for a political struggle on the terms promoted by Communist propaganda for a long time in this Hemisphere, with the “popular” [in quotation marks] anti-American forces on the one hand and the dominant groups allied with the United States on the other hand. The governments that promise evolutionary reforms for a period of years, even at an accelerated pace, will be faced with political leaders who will promise an immediate remedy for social ills through the confiscation of property and the overturning of society. The most immediate danger of Castro’s example for Latin America might well be the danger to the stability of those governments that are at present attempting evolutionary social and economic changes, rather than for those that have tried to prevent such changes, in part because of the tensions and awakened hopes accompanying such social changes and economic development. The unemployed city-dwellers and landless peasants in Venezuela and Peru, for example, who have been waiting for Accion Democratica and APRA to make reforms, are an easy source of political strength for the politician who convinces them that the change can be made more quickly than has been promised by the Social Democratic movements. The popular support at present enjoyed by groups seeking evolutionary changes, or the potential support they might normally obtain as the Latin American masses become more politically active, would be lost to the extent to which extremist political leaders, using Castro’s example, might arouse support for revolutionary change.
And in the last paragraph, gentlemen, our friend present here says:
The Alliance for Progress might well furnish the stimulus to carry out more intensive reform programs, but unless these programs are started quickly and soon begin to show positive results, it is probable that they will not be enough of a counterweight to increasing pressure from the extreme left. The years ahead of us will almost certainly witness a race between those forces that are attempting to initiate evolutionary reform programs and those that are trying to generate support by the masses for fundamental economic and social revolution. If the moderates lag behind in this race, they might in time be deprived of the support of the masses and caught in an untenable position between the extremes of the right and the left.
These, fellow delegates, are the documents that the delegation of Cuba wanted to present to you, to make an unvarnished analysis of the “Alliance for Progress.”
We all know the innermost feelings of the Department of State of the United States: “We have to get the Latin American countries to grow because otherwise we shall get a phenomenon called ‘Castroism,’ which is awful for the United States.”
Well, then, gentlemen, let us have the Alliance for Progress on these terms: Let there be a genuine growth in the economies of all of the member countries of the Organization of American States; let them grow, so that they may consume their products, not to become a source of wealth for United States monopolies; let them grow to ensure social peace, not to create new reserves for a future war of conquest; let them grow for us, not for outsiders. And to all of you, fellow delegates, the delegation of Cuba wishes to say with all frankness: We, with our own conditions, want to be a part of the Latin American family; we want to live together with Latin America; we want to see it grow, if possible, at the same pace we are growing, but we are not opposed to its growing at a different pace. What we do demand is a guarantee of nonaggression against our borders.
We cannot stop exporting an example, as the United States wishes, because an example is something intangible that transcends borders. What we do give is a guarantee that we will not export revolutions, we guarantee that not a single rifle will leave Cuba, that not a single weapon will leave Cuba for battle in any other country of America.
What we cannot assure is that Cuba’s ideas will not be applied in any other country of America, and what we do assure you in this conference is that if urgent measures of social improvement are not adopted, the example of Cuba will take fire in various countries, and then that comment which gave so much food for thought, uttered by Fidel on a certain twenty-sixth of July, and which was interpreted as aggression, will again be true. Fidel said that if social conditions remained as they were, “the cordillera of the Andes would be the Sierra Maestra of the Americas.”
We, gentlemen, call the Alliance for Progress the alliance for our progress, the peaceful alliance for the progress of all. We are not opposed to being left out in the distribution of credits, but we are opposed to being left out of participation in the cultural and spiritual life of our Latin American peoples, of which we are a part.
What we shall never accept is a curtailment of our freedom to trade and to have relations with all countries of the world, and what we shall defend ourselves against with all our strength is any attempt of foreign aggression, whether it comes from an imperial power or from any Latin American organization that incorporates the desires of some to see us wiped out.
To conclude, Mr. Chairman, fellow delegates, I want to tell you that some time ago we held a meeting of the Staff of the Revolutionary Forces of my country, a staff to which I belong. The matter concerned aggression against Cuba, which we knew was coming, although we did not know when or where. We thought it would be large, indeed it would be very large. This took place before the famous warning by the Premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, that his rockets could reach beyond Soviet borders. We had not requested that aid, and were not aware of that willingness to aid us. That is why we held our meeting, knowing that an invasion was coming, to face our final fate as revolutionaries. We knew that if the United States invaded Cuba, there would be a blood bath, but in the end we would be defeated and expelled from all inhabited areas of the country.
Then we, the members of the staff, proposed that Fidel Castro withdraw to a mountain redoubt, and that one of us take charge of the defense of Havana. Our Prime Minister and chief, speaking in words that ennoble him — as do all of his acts — then answered that if the United States invaded Cuba, and if Havana were defended as it should be, hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children would die under the thrust of Yankee weapons, and that the leader of a people in revolution could not be asked to hide in the mountains, that his place was there with the beloved fallen, and that there, with them, he would fulfill his historic mission.
The invasion did not materialize, but fellow delegates, we maintain that spirit. That is why I can predict that the Cuban Revolution is invincible, because it has a people and because it has a leader like the one who is ruling Cuba.
by Ernesto Che Guevara