I hope I never have reason to be ashamed

These words will be published tomorrow, on February 29. A great many tasks lie immediately ahead of us. The 10th International Conference of Economists on Globalization and the Problems of Development, a conference I have always attended and in which I have always expressed different points of view, will begin on Monday the 3rd. Judging by the international developments we’ve witnessed, this conference will doubtless be of great importance, owing to the presence of prestigious economists, some Nobel Prize laureates and two eminent heads of State.I wish to address a specific issue in this, today’s reflection.

In the course of these days of voluntary rest, I have read numerous cables issued by the traditional press agencies or over the Internet. Among these, I found a dispatch, issued from Cuba and published on the BBC World web site, whose blatant personal attack is indeed repugnant. Published on February 25, one day following the election of the president of the Council of State, under the sub-headline of El Peso de las reflexiones (“The Importance of the Reflections”), it states:

Fidel Castro appears to want to reassure the new government and promises “to be cautious” in expressing opinions in his editorials, which are divulged by all of the country’s media, including the radio and television. In his reflections, it adds, he essays a new gesture of modesty, not only asking to be addressed as “comrade Fidel” but also that his articles not appear on the front page of the official newspaper and that the other media divulge a mere summary of these pieces. According to the article, this is strictly formal for, even if his reflections appear on the sports page, their significance will not, as a result, be lessened: nationally and internationally, any comment made by “comrade Fidel” will have immense repercussions. In a sense, the note alleges, it is a sword of Damocles hovering over the heads of the country’s leaders, for all of them know it would be extremely difficult to pursue any policy that is publicly condemned by Castro. The relationship between the Castro brothers, we learn, is a mystery seasoned by the most varied rumours. It is said they locked themselves up in a room and argued for several hours, and that their yelling could be heard outside of Fidel’s office. None of this, the article tells us, can be confirmed, for there is no proof, only alleged witnesses. In Cuba, however, as in no other country, wherever there’s smoke, there’s fire, and the “grapevine”, the oral transmission of information, is almost always in the right.

Other important US newspapers, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, expressed their frustration but did not resort to such vulgar insults.

Many picture our country as a steam cauldron that is about to burst. They are thrown off balance by how it has heroically held its ground for half a century.

The wise and serene words Raúl spoke after the 609 members of the National Assembly in attendance unanimously elected him president of the Council of State, his sincere arguments, disentangled the tangle of illusions that had been woven around Cuba. Those who know me and Raúl well know that, out of a basic sense of dignity and respect, we could never hold such a meeting. More than a few people still harbor hopes of seeing the sudden collapse of a heroic revolution, which stood and continues to stand victorious in spite of half a century of imperialist aggression.

Now, they are howling like wolves whose tails have been caught in traps. How particularly vexed they seem by the election, as First Vice President, of Machadito, the Organizational Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, to whom the Constitution entrusts the most important tasks as regards leading the people towards socialism.

In the world of nebulous speculation and protocol, what counts is state leadership and the party organization is considered a meddlesome intruder, an internal principle. In the specific case of Cuba, it should suffice to know that Raúl has all the legal and constitutional faculties and prerogatives he needs to govern our country. As he himself explained, I was consulted during the process of putting together a list of candidates for the position of first vice president that he held, and of which no one was stripped. I did not demand to be consulted. It was Raúl and the country’s top leaders who decided to consult me. Similarly, it was my decision to ask the Candidacy Commission to include Leopoldo Cintra Frías and Alvaro López Miera, who joined the Rebel Army combatants when they were only 15, on the list of candidates for the Council of State. The two are much younger than McCain and have more experience as military leaders, as demonstrated by their victorious internationalist feats.

Polito led the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, to the southeast, and the counteroffensive, southwest, with over 40,000 Cuban volunteer combatants and more than 30,000 Angolan soldiers under his command, troops that drove the last Apartheid army invaders out of Angola.

The U.S. government created the conditions that would permit racist South Africa, in certain circumstances, to use a nuclear weapon against those troops.

López Miera once bombed his own troops when, near Luanda, he ordered the multiple launch artillery to fire at his own positions, under attack and nearly occupied by the South African forces that invaded Angola for the first time in 1975.

These were the moves the chess board itself decided. They were not the fruit of Raúl’s alleged militaristic tendencies, nor was it a question of different generations or factions rabidly fighting over a mundane slice of power. With respect to myself, I say again that I cling to no position, as I expressed in my message to the people of February 18, 2008.

One person who was left speechless was the intellectual author of Kosovo’s “independence”. In my reflection of February 21st, I described him as “an illustrious Spanish personality, once an impeccable socialist and minister of culture, who for some time now an advocate of war and the use of weapons” (In addition to this, at various points in time, he was a government spokesman, minister of education and science and minister of foreign affairs).

What did he say? “Yesterday’s news could have been more open and better. I am not certain whether a transition has begun from the political point of view… Anything that could point to a political transition towards democracy is welcome.”

He spoke as though we lived in Franco’s Spain, a close ally of the United States, and not in Cuba, where they have invested more than 100 billion dollars, much more valuable than today’s dollars, to blockade and destroy the country.

What a man! There’s no way to shut him up! What is his name? The Roundtable program already mentioned the sin and the sinner two or three days ago: Javier Solana.

What party is he affiliated with? Spain’s Socialist Worker’s Party. He would not travel to our country because Cuba, in connection with the invasion of Serbia, urged the world to try him as a war criminal in an international court. As Spain’s Foreign Minister, he welcomed me at Madrid airport when the 2nd Latin American Summit was held in the Spanish capital. He seemed like an angel back then!

Even Aznar, who advised Clinton to bomb the Serbian television station, an action which caused the deaths of dozens of people, understands that, right now, on the eve of elections, one cannot play with the issue of nationalities, as everyone realizes that, with such precedents, the Basque Country and Catalonia could invoke such a principle within the European Community, and we are talking about two of Spain’s most industrialized nations. The Scots and the Irish could proceed in similar fashion.

With the fate of human species in such hands, it is as if we were dancing happily at the edge of a precipice, where the vanity of no few leaders of the globalized capitalist world reigns, putting all countries at risk. The humanitarian, educational and artistic values achieved with its own resources by the Cuban Revolution they seek to destroy means nothing to them, if it does not submit to the dictatorship of the free market. The latter and its blind laws are miring the human species in an unsustainable economic crisis and bringing about changes to the natural conditions of life that could prove irreversible.

It is to fight against that that I write Reflections. Had I unlimited time, I would be willing to write to recall ideas that are today dispersed in speeches, interviews, conversations, declarations, meetings, reflections and things of that nature. I have invested tons of paper and tons of sound – symbolically speaking – but I have no reason to be ashamed of that.

Fidel Castro Ruz
February 28, 2008