Speech by His Excellency Mr. Rafael Correa Delgado, president of the Republic of Ecuador, at the commemoration event for the 50th anniversary of the entry of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro into Havana, at Ciudad Libertad, January 8, 2009
President Raúl Castro Ruz, I expect that compañero Fidel is watching us, so an immense Latin American and solidarity-filled embrace for him (Applause)
Dear commanders, combatants of this heroic gesture: the Cuban Revolution, the liberation of Cuba, the most significant milestone in the history of Latin America in the 20th century and an example for the entire world;
Dear officials of the Cuban government;
Ministers and officials from the Ecuadorian government who are accompanying me on this visit;
Representatives of the media;
Dear sisters and brothers from Cuba, Ecuador, Latin America, and the rest of the world, for each and every one of you, a warm embrace (Applause):
Today, January 8, 2009, when — at the invitation of the Cuban Revolution — we are here representing the Ecuadorian people and their Citizen’s Revolution, it is worth asking the question: When did the Cuban Revolution begin?
Perhaps on July 26, 1953, when Fidel, leading the Centenary Generation, etched the name of the Moncada Garrison into history?
Maybe it was on November 25, 1956 when the Granma set sail from Veracruz carrying 82 guerrillas?
Or perhaps it was long before that, in the early hours of April 11, 1895, when José Martí and his group of compatriots disembarked at Playitas de Cajobabo in order to begin the Necessary War and bring the yoke of Spanish colonialism to an end?
Perhaps it would be better to think that this Revolution, the hope and fate of Our America, began in the struggles against colonialism, with the major reference of our emancipatory vocation symbolized by the Liberator Simón Bolívar.
Because Manuela Sáenz and Antonio José de Sucre, José Martí and Emiliano Zapata, Eloy Alfaro and Augusto César Sandino, Manuel Rodríguez and José Carlos Mariátegui, Antonio Maceo and Máximo Gómez, and all the compatriots of the continent devoted their lives to the liberation of our Great Homeland harbored by the image and flag of Bolívar.
We should acknowledge then, that the Revolution began when Fidel, Raúl, Che, Haydée, Camilo, and the Cuban revolutionaries followed the path and profound footsteps of a historic struggle.
Following in these footsteps meant and continues to mean, at any moment in time, being honest, being transparent, and always telling the truth, just as the Liberator did when he said: “Blessed is he who, running between the obstacles of war, politics, and public misfortunes, preserves his honor intact.”
Fifty years ago, in this very same place, Fidel said: “I believe that this is a decisive moment in our history: the dictatorship has been defeated. The joy is immense. But there is still much to be done. Let us not deceive ourselves by believing that everything will be much easier from now on; the future will perhaps be much more difficult.”
“Telling the truth is the first duty of every revolutionary,” stated Fidel. “Deceiving the people, stirring up deceptive illusions will always bring the worst consequences, and I believe that we have to warn people against excessive optimism.”
“How did the Rebel Army win the war? By speaking the truth. How did the dictatorship lose it? By lying to the soldiers. . . . And for this reason, I want to begin — or rather, continue — with the same system: always telling the truth to the people,” stated Fidel, in this very same place, exactly fifty years ago.
This ethical torch, and the greatest devotion to the legitimate aspirations of the peoples of Cuba and Latin America, has permitted this Revolution to remain in force, with pride and dignity, in the defense of the most prized assets pursued by the people: freedom and sovereignty.
This marvelous people, the Cuban people, a heroic people, has taught the world that Revolution has a destiny. That it is a process of the spirit, that it is forged by human spirit, and that, once underway, there is no power that is capable of stopping it, however powerful it believes itself to be.
Today, fifty years later, that distant January 1, 1959, or that January 8 half a century ago, are already glorious dates for every revolutionary movement around the world. But they would not be if the movement that culminated in it had been conceived simply as the climax of the insurrection against injustice, despotism, and corruption.
The fight against that injustice, that despotism, and against corruption is an eternal one, and will never end.
It is for this reason that the January 1st and 8th of 50 years ago are glorious. . . . And they are majestic, because from that moment onward, the Cuban people have taught the world that a revolution is constructed from the dawn of every day and, also, based on the lesson we learn from each mistake.
This process is exemplary because it was capable of achieving the real national independence, freedom, sovereignty, and self-determination of the Cuban people.
This process is extraordinary because it secured the reestablishment of human rights for all Cuban men and women. It is the recognition that the first constitutional right of all human beings is their full dignity. The Cuban Revolution made real the declaration of its leaders: the Cuban people know that no compatriot will be left to his or her own fate under any circumstance whatsoever.
The Cuban Revolution has no skeletons hidden in the closet of its history and has never practiced torture or “disappearances.”
The Cuban Revolution has eliminated racial and gender discrimination and at the same time has defended the rights of children and the widespread protection of the rights of the Cuban family.
Cuba’s declaration in 1961 as the First Illiteracy-Free Territory in America continues to be an example for our peoples, and that same conviction transformed garrisons into schools, and told the Cuban people: “Read, don’t just believe,” thus democratizing access to the world of the written word and its spirits.
Cuba increased by more than eleven times the number of doctors it possessed. From the 6,286 doctors in 1958, the country came to have 72,416 in 2007; in other words, one for every 155 inhabitants. Cuba is the country with the highest number of doctors per capita in the world, and Latin America has been the beneficiary of a responsible policy, deeply rooted in humanism and solidarity.
We have witnessed, with Latin American pride, the practice of a principled foreign policy, based on the pillars of international law: equality among nations, self-determination, and mutual respect, as well as on the defense of social justice and the dignity of all human beings on the planet, particularly with respect to the rights of the peoples of the Third World.
From this Latin American territory, we come to express our most profound solidarity with the Cuban revolutionary process.
From the Equator, from this territory that harbored the Bolivarian struggles, we have come to Ciudad Libertad to express our jubilation for these past fifty years. And we do so with the same conviction that led us to establish, in our own land, one of the most advanced constitutions in Latin America.
We have come from this continent reinforced and revived by the social memory that is permitting us to settle the scores of history.
This settling of scores begins with the genuine vindication of the indigenous population, pillaged, exploited, humiliated, offended, and, paradoxically, also used and manipulated. For that reason, today, the Ecuadorian state is pluri-national, it is intercultural and pursues equality in its diversity; in other words, the most authentic execution of true democracy. . . . Likewise with the Afro-Ecuadorian people who, like the Cuban people, are the drum and flag of our homeland.
Many years ago, two of my people’s democrats, Eloy Alfaro and Federico Proaño, were the subject of a tribute by José Martí.
Alfaro, according to the Cuban national hero, was one of the few Americans by creation and, his combatants from the coast, the guerrillas, the brothers of the Mambises, founded this Ecuadorian land which today is emerging and rising up.
With respect to our insurgent fighter Federico Proaño, Martí said:
“For the enemies of the free will of man and its free employment in America, Proaño had nothing more than tooth and nail. And his pen, fine and fierce, outlined with one stroke, illuminated by an uproar, equipped with a sting, opened up like two wings, before the majesties of man and Nature.”
And history continues. The Cuban Revolution had an Ecuadorian martyr, journalist and patriot Carlos Bastidas Argüello, murdered in May 1958 by Batista’s henchmen. . . .
We pay tribute to Carlos Bastidas today, for being the dignified representative of the pride and sacrifice of our peoples (Applause).
And, in tribute to this Revolution, cemented in the most noble principles deposited throughout the history of humanity — solidarity, universality, unity, independence, and, above all, dignity — today we are calling for and demanding . . . an end to the criminal blockade, premeditated ethnocide by the same powers as always (Applause), those same powers which have subjected to the most perverse injustice René González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, and Fernando González, patriots, about whom, if it’s any consolation, Silvio Rodríguez has said: “We must understand what they are suffering — the lashings of a beast against an unbearable light” (Applause).
Fortunately, today Latin America does not belong to any empire. We, the heirs of José Artigas, José de San Martín, Rosa Campuzano, Miguel de Hidalgo, and also Rigoberta Menchú, Camilo Torres, Leonidas Proaño, Hebe de Bonafini, and Chico Mendes, do not believe in one sole form of thinking, because our identity has the face of each and every one of us.
We honor the essence of the Cuban Revolution, considering it transcendental for the evolution of humanity.
Because we believe that its principles are fundamental in order to secure the wellbeing of our peoples.
On honoring this Revolution, we reiterate the words spoken fifty years ago by Comandante Fidel Castro, words that, today, we make our own:
“From this moment, the lavish receptions and ovations are over; from now on . . . it’s work, tomorrow will be a day the same as any other, and every other one like it, and we will become used to freedom.”
We, from our Andean Ecuador, from Guayas to Chimborazo, from the homeland of Alfaro and Manuelita, join these festivities for justice and dignity.
We, in the greatest execution of sovereignty, denounce as you do, an illegitimate, illegal, and immoral foreign debt (Applause).
For us . . . socialists of both the mind and the heart, revolution will never be sorrowful, it will always be a fiesta, because it will be a celebration of equality between men and women; because it will be an exercise of solidarity between human beings and the earth.
And so, we will celebrate the Cuban Revolution with the words of poet Fayad Jamís:
“For this freedom
of song in the rain,
we will have to give everything,
even our shadows
and it will never be enough.”
With the protective shadow of Bolívar and Martí. . .
With this renascent entry of Fidel into Ciudad Libertad. . .
And with the memory of Che, we say, with dignity and with all our heart. . .
¡Hasta la victoria siempre!
¡Viva Cuba! (Cries of “¡Viva!”)
¡Viva Ecuador! (Cries of “¡Viva!”)
¡Viva América Latina! (Cries of “¡Viva!”)
“Discurso de Rafael Correa en Cuba en el 50 aniversario de la revolución,”
“CUBA: Visita de Correa refuerza relaciones bilaterales,” TeleSur
Read it in Spanish at <granma.cu/espanol/2009/enero/vier9/este.html>.