Fidel Castro's 1960 Address to the U.N. General Assembly: "The Problem of Cuba and its Revolutionary Policy" - Part 4 of 4
by Ron Kurtus (revised 27 November 2005)
Cuban leader Dr. Fidel Castro spoke before the United Nations on 26 September 1960. We have divided his 2-hour speech into four half-hour segments. This is the final part of his speech.
Questions you may have include:
- How can I use this speech to improve my writing skills?
- How can I use this address to improve my speaking skills?
- What is the historical significance of the speech?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Audio of address
You can hear an audio of Fidel Castro's speech to read along. Note that it is not Castro's voice but a slightly mechanical computerized voice. Unfortunately, it does not contain the inflection and emphasis of a true orator.
Note: If you want to hear the text being read, click the Play button. It takes a few seconds for the sound to start. The voices are somewhat mechanical for computer use.
Length of speech segment = 29 min. 34 sec. Total length of speech = 1 hr. 55 min. 27 sec.
Since the speech is so long, we have divided it into four 30-minute segments, with a new page for each section.
Continuation - Part 4
Who is going to industrialize Latin America? The monopolies? Certainly not. There is a report by the economic Commission of the United Nations which explains how private capital, instead of going to the countries that need it most for the establishment of basic industries to contribute to their development, is being channeled referentially to the more industrialized countries, because there, according to their beliefs, private capital finds greater security. And, of course, even the Economic Secretariat of the United Nations has had to admit there there is no possible chance for development through the investment of private capital--that is, through the monopolies.
The development of Latin America will have to be achieved through public investment, planned and granted unconditionally without any political strings attached, because, naturally, we all like to be representatives of free countries. None of us like to represent a country that does not feel itself in full possession of its freedom.
None of us wants the independence of this country to be subjected to any interest other than that of the country itself. That is why assistance must be given without any political conditions.
That help has been denied to us does not matter. We have not asked for it. However, in the interest of and for the benefit of the Latin American peoples, we do feel duty bound out of solidarity, to stress the fact that the assistance must be given without any political conditions whatsoever. There should be more public investments for economic development, rather than for "social development," which is the latest thing invented to hide the true need for the economic development of countries.
The problems of Latin America are similar to those of the rest of the world: to those of Africa and Asia. The world is divided up among the monopolies; the same monopolies that we find in Latin America are also found in the Middle East. There the oil is in the hands of monopolistic companies that are controlled by France, the United States, the United Kingdom the Netherlands....in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, in short, in all corners of the world. The same thing is true, for instance, in the Philippines, and in Africa. The world has been divided among the monopolistic interests. Who would dare deny this historic truth? The monopolistic interests do not want to see the development of countries and the people themselves. And the sooner they recover or amortize the capital invested, the better.
The problems the Cuban people have had to face with the imperialistic government of the United States are the same which Saudi Arabia would face if it nationalized its oil, and this also applies to Iran or Iraq; the same problems that Egypt had when it quite justifiably nationalized the Suez Canal; the very same problems that Indonesia had when it wanted to become independent; the same surprise attacks as against Egypt and the Congo.
Have colonialists or imperialists ever lacked a pretext when they wanted to invade a country? Never! Somehow they have always found a pretext. And which are the colonialist and imperialists countries? Four or five countries--no, four or five groups of monopolies are the owners of the wealth of the world.
If a being from another planet were to come to this Assembly, one who had read neither the Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx nor the cables of the United Press or the Associated Press or other monopolist publications, if he were to ask how the world had been divided, and he saw on a map that the wealth of the world was divided among the monopolies of four or five countries, he would say, without further consideration; "The wealth of this world has been badly distributed, the world is being exploited."
Here in this Assembly, where the majority of the underdeveloped countries are represented, he would say: "The majority of the peoples that you represent are being exploited; they have been exploited for a long time. The form of exploitation may have changed, but you are still being exploited." That would be the verdict.
In the address made by Premier Khrushchev there is a statement that attracted our attention because of the value of its contents. It was when he said that "the Soviet Union has no colonies or investments in any country."
How great our world would be today, our world which today is threatened with catastrophe, if all the representatives of all nations were able to say: "Our country has no colonies and no investments in any foreign country"!
There is no use in going all over the question again. This is substance of the matter, the substance of peace and war, the substance of the armaments race. Wars, since the beginning of mankind, have occurred for one, fundamental reason; the desire of some to despoil others of their wealth.
Do away with the philosophy of plunder and you will have done away forever with the philosophy of war!
Do away with the colonies, wipe out the exploitation of countries by monopolies, and mankind will have reached a true era of progress!
As long s that step is not taken, as long as that stage is not reached, the world will have to live constantly under the nightmare and fear of being involved in any crisis, in an atomic conflagration. Why? Because there are some who are interested in perpetuating this exploitation.
We have spoken here of the Cuban case. Our case has taught us because of the problems we have had with our own imperialism, that is, the particular imperialism that is ranged against us. But, since all imperialism are alike, they are all allies. A country that exploits the people of Latin America, or any other parts of the world, is an ally of the exploiters of the rest of the world.
There are a number of problems which have already been discussed by several delegations. For reasons of time, we should like merely to express our opinion on the Congo problem. Of course, since we hold an anti-colonialist position against the exploitation of underdeveloped countries, we condemn the way in which the intervention by the United Nations forces was carried out in the Congo. First of all, these forces did not go there to act against the intervening forces, for which purpose they were originally sent. All necessary time was given, so that the first dissension could occur. And as that was not enough, further time was given, and the way was opened for the second division. And finally, while broadcasting stations and airfields were seized, the opportunity was provided for the emergence of the third man, as they always call the saviors who emerge in these circumstances. We know them only too well, because in the year of 1943 one of these saviors appeared in our country, and his name was Fulgenico Batista. In the Congo his name is Mobutu. In Cuba, he paid a daily visit to the American Embassy, and it appears the same thing is going on in the Congo. Is it because I say so? No, because no less than a magazine which is one of the most fervent supporters of the monopolies and therefore cannot be against them, is the one that says so. It cannot favor Lumumba, because it favors Mobutu. But it explains who Mobutu, is, how he began to work, and finally Time magazine says in its latest issue: "Mobutu became a frequent visitor to the United States Embassy and held long talks with officials there. One afternoon last week Mobutu conferred with officers of Camp Leopold and got their enthusiastic support. That night he went to Radio Congo--which Lumumba had not been allowed to use--and abruptly announced that the army was assuming power."
In other words, all this occurred after frequent visits and lengthy conversations with the officials of the United States Embassy. This Time Magazine speaking, the defender of the monopolies.
In other words, the hand of the colonialist interest has been clear and visible in the Congo, and our opinion is consequently that colonialist interests have been favored and that every fact indicates that reason and the people of the Congo are on the side of the only leader who remained there to defend the interests of his country, and that leader is Lumumba.
As regard the problem of Algeria, we are, I need hardly say, 100 percent in support of the right of the people of Algeria to independence.
And it is, furthermore, ridiculous--like so many ridiculous things in the world which have been artificially created by vested interests--to claim that Algeria is part of France. In the past, similar claims have been made by other countries in an attempt to keep their colonies.
However, these African people have been fighting a heroic battle against the colonial power for many years. Perhaps, even while we are calmly talking here, Algerian villages and hamlets are being bombed and machine-gunned by the French Army. Men may well be dying in a struggle in which there is not the slightest doubt where the right lies, a struggle that could be ended even without disregarding the interests of that minority which is being used for denying nine-tenths of the population of Algeria their right to independence. Yet we are doing nothing. So quick to go to the Congo, and such lack of enthusiasm about going to Algeria!
We are, therefore, on the side of the Algerian people, as we are on the remaining colonial peoples in Africa, and on the side of the Negroes who are discriminated against in the Union of South Africa. Similarly, we are on the side of those peoples that wish to be free, not only politically--for it is very easy to acquire a flag, a coat of arms, an anthem, and a color on the map--but also economically free, for there is one truth which we should all recognize as being of primary importance, namely, that there can be no political independence unless there is economic independence, that political independence without economic independence is a lie; we therefore support the aspirations of all countries to be free politically and economically. Freedom does not consist in the possession of a flag, a coat of arms, and representation in the United Nations.
We should like to draw attention here to another right: a right which was proclaimed the Cuban people at a mass meeting quite recently, the right of the underdeveloped countries to nationalize their natural resources and the investments of the monopolies in their respective countries without compensation; in other words, we advocate the nationalization of natural resources and foreign investments in the underdeveloped countries.
And if the highly industrialized countries wish to do the same thing, we shall not oppose them.
If countries are to be truly free, in political matters, they must be truly free in economic matters, and we must lend them assistance. We shall be asked about the value of the investments, as we in return will ask: what about the value of the profits from those investments, the profits which have been extracted from the colonized and underdeveloped peoples for decades, if not for centuries?
We should like to support a proposal made by the President of the Republic of Ghana, the proposal that Africa should be cleared of military bases and thus of nuclear weapon bases, in other words, the proposal to free from the perils of atomic war. Something has already been done with regard to Antarctica. As we go forward on the path of disarmament, why should we not also go forward towards freeing certain parts of the world from the danger of nuclear war?
Let the other people, let the West make up a little for what it has made Africa suffer, by preserving it from the danger of atomic war and declaring it a free zone as far as this peril is concerned. Let no atomic bases be established there! Even if we can do nothing else, let this continent at least remain a sanctuary where human life may be preserved!
We support this proposal warmly.
On the question of disarmament, we wholeheartedly support the Soviet proposal, and we are not ashamed to do so. We regard as a correct, precise, well-defined and clear proposal.
We have carefully studied the speech made here by President Eisenhower--he made no real reference to disarmament, to the development of the underdeveloped countries, or to the colonial problem. Really, it would be worthwhile for the citizens of this country, who are so influenced by false propaganda, to compare objectively the statements of the President of the United States with those of the Prime Minister of the Soviet Union, so that they could see which speech contains genuine concern over the world's problems, so that they could see who spoke clearly and sincerely, and so they could see who really wants disarmament, and who is against it and why. The Soviet proposal could not be clearer. Nothing could be added to the Soviet explanation. Why should there be any reservations when no one has every before spoken so clearly of so tremendous a problem?
The history of the world has taught us the tragic lesson that arms races always lead to war; but never has the responsibility been greater, for never has war signified so was a holocaust for mankind. And the Soviet Union has made a proposal regarding that problem which so greatly concerns mankind--whose very existence is at stake--a proposal for total and complete disarmament. What more can be asked? If more can be asked, let us ask it; if we can ask for more safeguards, let us do so; but the proposal could not be clearer or better defined, and, at this stage of history, it cannot be rejected without assuming the responsibility involved in the danger of war and of war itself.
The representative of the Soviet Union has spoken openly--I say this objectively--and I urge that these proposals be considered, and that everybody put their cards on the table. Above all, this is not merely a question of representatives, that is a matter of public opinion. The warmongers and militarists must be exposed and condemned by the public opinion of the world. This is not a problem for minorities only: it concerns the world. The warmongers and militarists must be unmasked, and this is the task of public opinion. This problem must be discussed not only in the General Assembly, but before the entire world, before the great assembly of the whole world, because in the event of a war not only the leaders, but hundreds of millions of completely innocent persons will be exterminated, and it is for this reason that we, who meet here as representatives of the world--or part of the world, since this Assembly is not yet complete, it will not be complete until the Peoples' Republic of China is represented here--should take appropriate measures.
One-quarter of the world's population is of course absent, but we who are here have the duty to speak openly and not to evade the issue. We must all discuss it; this problem is too serious to be overlooked. It is more important than economic aid and all other obligations, because this is the obligation to preserve the life of mankind. Let us all discuss and speak about this problem, and let us all fight to establish peace, or at least to unmask the militarists and warmongers.
And, above all, if we, the underdeveloped countries, want to preserve the hope of achieving progress, if we want to have a chance of seeing our peoples enjoying a higher standard of living, let us struggle for peace, let us struggle for disarmament; with a fifth of what the world spends on armaments, we could promote the development of all the underdeveloped countries at a rate of growth of 10 percent per annum. With a fifth of the resources which countries spend on armaments, we could surely raise the people's standard of living.
Now, what are the obstacles to disarmament? Who is interested in being armed? Those who are interested in being armed to the teeth are those who want to keep colonies, those who want to maintain their monopolies, those who want to retain control of the oil of the Middle East; the natural resources of Latin America, of Asia, of Africa, and who require military strength to defend their interests. And it is well known that these territories were occupied and colonized on the strength of the law of force; by virtue of the law of force million of men were enslaved, and it is force which sustains such exploitation in the world. Therefore, those who want no disarmament are those interested in maintaining their military strength in order to retain control of natural resources, the wealth of the people of the world, and cheap labor in underdeveloped countries. We promised to speak openly, and there is no other way of telling the truth.
The colonialists, therefore, are against disarmament. Using the weapon of world public opinion, we must fight to force disarmament on them as we must force them to respect the right of peoples to economic and political liberation.
The monopolies are against disarmament, because, besides being able to defend those interests with arms, the arms race has always been good business for them. For example, it is well known that the great monopolies in this country doubled their capital shortly after the Second World War. Like vultures, the monopolies feed on the corpses which are the harvest of war.
And war is a business. Those who trade in war, those who enrich themselves war, by must be unmasked. We must open the eyes of the world and expose those who trade in the destiny of mankind, in the danger of war, particularly when the war may be so frightful that it leaves no hope of salvation.
We, the small and underdeveloped countries, urge the whole Assembly and especially the other small and underdeveloped nations to devote themselves to this task and to have this problem discussed here, because afterwards we will never forgive ourselves if, through our neglect or lack of firmness and energy on this basic issue, the world becomes involved once again in the perils of war.
We have just one more point to discuss, which, according to what we have read in some newspapers, was one of the points the Cuban delegation was going to raise. And this, of course, is the problem of the Peoples Republic of China.
Other delegations have already spoken about this matter. We wish to say that the fact that this problem has never been discussed is in reality a denial of the "raison d'etre" and of the essential of nature of the United Nations. Why has it never been discussed? Because the United Nations Assembly going to renounce its right to discuss this problem?
Many countries have joined the United Nations in recent years. To oppose discussion of the right to representation here of the People's Republic of China, that is, of 99 percent of the inhabitants of a country of more than 600,000,000 is to deny the reality of history, the facts of life itself.
It is simply an absurdity; it is ridiculous that this problem is never even discussed. How long are we going to continue the sad business of never discussing this problem, when we have here representatives of Franco, for instance?
At this point is its appropriate to ask by what right the navy of an extra-continental country--and it is worth repeating this here, when so much is being said about extra-continental interference--intervened in a domestic affair of China. It would be interesting to have an explanation. The sole purpose of this interference was to maintain a group of allies in that place and to prevent the total liberation of the territory. That is an absurd and unlawful state of affairs from any point of view, but it constitutes the reason why the United States Government does not want the question of the People's Republic of China to be discussed. And we want to put it on record here that this is our position and that we support discussion of this question, and that the United Nations General Assembly should seat the legitimate representatives of the Chinese people, namely, the representatives of the Government of the People's Republic of China.
I understand perfectly that is somewhat difficult for anybody here to free himself of the stereotyped concepts by which the representatives of nations are usually judged. I must say that we have come here free from the prejudices, to analyze problems objectively, without fear of what people will think and without fear of the consequences of our position.
We have been honest, we have been frank without being Fran coist (APPLAUSE), because we do not want to be a party to the injustice committed against a great number of Spaniards, still imprisoned in Spain after more than twenty years, men who fought together with the Americans of the Lincoln Brigade, as the comrades of those same Americans who were there to do honor to the name of that great American, Lincoln.
In conclusion, we are going to place our trust in reason and in the decency of all. We wish to sum up our ideas regarding some aspects of these world problems about which there should be no doubt. The problem of Cuba, which we have set forth here, is a part of the problems of the world. Those who attack us today are those who are helping to attack others in other parts of the world.
The United States Government cannot be on the side of the Algerian people, it cannot be on the side of the Algerian people because it is allied to metropolitan France. It cannot be on the side of the Congolese people, because it is allied to Belgium. It cannot be on the side of the Spanish people, because it is allied to Franco. It cannot be on the side of the Puerto Rican people, whose nationhood it has been destroying for fifty years. It cannot be on the side of the Panamanians, who claim the Canal. It cannot support the ascendancy of civil power in Latin America, Germany or Japan. It cannot be on the side of the peasants who want land, because it is allied to the big landowners. It cannot be on the side of the workers who are demanding better living conditions in all parts of the world, because it is allied to the monopolies. It cannot be on the side of the colonies which want their freedom, because it is allied to the colonizers.
That is to say, it is for the Franco, for the colonization of Algeria for the colonization of the Congo; it is for the maintenance of its privileges and interests in the Panama Canal, for colonialism through the world. It is for the German militarism and for the resurgence of German militarism. It is for Japanese militarism and for the resurgence of Japanese militarism.
The Government of the United States forgets the millions of Jews murdered in European concentration camps by the Nazis, who are today regaining their influence in the German army. It forgets the Frenchmen who were killed in their heroic struggle against the occupation; it forgets the American soldiers who died on the Seigfried Line, in the Ruhr, on the Rhine, and on the Asian fronts. The United States Government cannot be for the integrity and sovereignty of nations. Why? Because it must curtail the sovereignty of nations in order to keep its military bases, and each base is a dagger thrust into sovereignty; each base is a limitation on sovereignty.
That is why it has to be against the sovereignty of nations, because it must constantly limit sovereignty in order to maintain its policy of encircling the Soviet Union with bases. We believe that these problems are not properly explained to the American people. But the American people need only imagine how uneasy they would feel if the Soviet Union began to establish a ring of atomic bases in Cuba, Mexico, or Canada. The population would not feel secure or calm. World opinion, including American opinion, must be taught to see the other person's point of view. The underdeveloped peoples should not always be represented as aggressors; revolutionaries should not be presented as aggressors, as enemies of the American people, because we have seen American like Carleton Beals, Waldo Frank, and others, famous and distinguished intellectuals, shed tears at the thought of the mistakes that are being made, at the breach of hospitality towards us; there are many Americans, the most humane, the most progressive, and the most esteemed writers, in whom I see the nobility of this country's early leaders, the Washingtons, the Jeffersons, and the Lincolns. I say this is no spirit of demagoguery, but with the sincere admiration that we feel for those who once succeeded in freeing their people from colonial status and who did not fight in order that their country might today be the ally of all the reactionaries, the gangsters, the big landowners, the monopolists, the exploiters, the militarists, the fascists in the world, that is to say, the ally of the most reactionary forces, but rather in order that their country might always be the champion of noble and just ideals.
We know well what will be said about us, today, tomorrow, every day, to deceive the American people. But is does not matter. We are doing our duty by stating our views in, this historic Assembly.
We proclaim the right of people to freedom, the right of people to nationhood; those who know that nationalism means the desire of the people to regain what is rightly theirs, their wealth, their natural resources, conspire against nationalism.
We are, in short, for all the noble aspirations of all the peoples. That is our position. We are, and always shall be for everything that is just: against colonialism, exploitation, monopolies, militarism, the armaments race, and warmongering. We shall always be against such things. That will be our position.
And to conclude, fulfilling what we regard as our duty, I am going to quote to this Assembly the key part of the Declaration of Havana. As you all know, the Declaration of Havana was the Cuban people's answer to the Declaration of San Jose, Costa Rica. Nor 10, nor 100, nor 100,000, but more than one million Cubans gathered together.
At that Assembly, which was convened as an answer to the Declaration of San Jose, the following principles were proclaimed, in consultation with the people and by acclamation of the people, as the principles of the Cuban Revolution.
"The National General Assembly of the Cuban people condemns large-scale landowning as a source of poverty for the peasant and a backward and inhuman system of agricultural production; it condemns starvation wages and the iniquitous exploitation of human work by illegitimate and privileged interests; it condemns illiteracy, the lack of teachers, of schools, doctor and hospitals; the lack of old-age security in the countries of America; it condemns discrimination against the Negro and the Indian; it condemns the inequality and the exploitation of women; it condemns political and military oligarchies, which keep our peoples in poverty, prevent their democratic development and the full exercise of their sovereignty; it condemns concessions of the natural resources of our countries as a policy of surrender which betrays the interests of the peoples; it condemns the governments which ignore the demands of their people in order to obey orders from abroad; it condemns the systematic deception of the people by mass communications media which serve the interests of the oligarchies and the policy of imperialist oppression; it condemns the monopoly held by news agencies, which are instruments of monopolist trusts and agents of such interests; it condemns the repressive laws which prevent the workers, the peasants, the students and the intellectuals, the great majorities in each country, from organizing themselves to fight for their social and national rights; it condemns the imperialist monopolies and enterprises which continually plunder our wealth, exploit our workers and peasants, bleed our economies to keep them in a backward state, and subordinate Latin American politics to their designs and interests.
"In short, The National General Assembly of the Cuban People condemns the exploitation of man by man, and the exploitations of underdeveloped countries by imperialists capital.
"Therefore, the National General Assembly of the Cuban People proclaims before America, and proclaims here before the world, the right of the peasants to the land; the right of the workers to the fruits of their labor; the right of the children to education: the right of the sick to medical care and hospitalization; the right of young people to work; the right of students to free vocational training and scientific education; the right of Negroes, and Indians to full human dignity; the right of women to civil, social and political equality; the right of the elderly to security in their old age; the right of intellectuals, artists and scientists so fight through their works for a better world; the right of States to nationalize imperialist monopolies, thus rescuing their national wealth and resources; the right of nations to their full sovereignty; the right of peoples to convert their military fortresses into schools, and to arm their workers--because in this we too have to be arms-conscious, to arm our people in defense against imperialist attacks--their peasants, their students, their intellectuals, Negroes, Indians, women, young people, old people, all the oppressed and exploited, so that they themselves can defend their rights and their destinies."
Some people wanted to know what the policy of the Revolutionary Government of Cuba was. Very well, them, this is our policy.
(END OF SPEECH)
By no means, a long speech by Castro's standards, but still long enough. Castro brought across his points and grievances against the United States to the U.N.
Use this address by Fidel Castro to improve your skills in speech writing, public speaking, or history.
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Resources and references
Castro Speech Database - Embassy of Cuba and Univ. of Texas
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Fidel Castro's 1960 Address to the U.N. General Assembly: "The Problem of Cuba and its Revolutionary Policy" (Part 4 of 4)