Remarks by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, and by various heads of state and dignitaries invited to attend the massive posthumous tribute to Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución, November 29, 2016, Year 58 of the Revolution.
From Here We Say: Hasta la Victoria Siempre
Remarks by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, during the massive posthumous tribute to Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución, November 29, 2016, Year 58 of the Revolution.
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Esteemed heads of state and government;
Gentlemen, leaders of delegations;
Dear people of Cuba:
Although it will be my responsibility to present the final speech, this coming December 3, when we gather in Antonio Maceo Plaza de la Revolución in Santiago de Cuba, I wish to express, at this time, in the name of our people, Party, and government, as well as the family, our sincere gratitude for your presence here at this event [applause], for the moving words you have expressed, and also for the extraordinary, innumerable demonstrations of solidarity, affection, and respect received from the entire planet, in this hour of pain and commitment.
Fidel dedicated his life to solidarity and led a socialist revolution “of the humble, by the humble, for the humble” that became a symbol of the anti-colonial, anti-apartheid, anti-imperialist struggle, for the emancipation and dignity of peoples.
His vibrant words resound in this Plaza today, as they did in the gathering of campesinos July 26, 1959, in support of the agrarian reform, which was like crossing the Rubicon and unleashed a death sentence of the Revolution. Here Fidel reaffirmed, “The agrarian reform is going ahead.” And we did it. Today, 57 years later, we are honouring the person who conceived it and led it.
In this place, we voted to approve, together with him, the First and Second Declarations of Havana, in 1960 and 1962, respectively. [Applause] Faced with aggression by the Organization of American States (OAS), Fidel proclaimed that “behind the Homeland, behind the free flag, behind the redeeming Revolution … there is an honourable people,” ready to defend its independence and “the common destiny of a freed Latin America.”
I was with Fidel in the building now occupied by the MINFAR, that is, the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, [on one side of the Plaza] when we heard the explosion of the French ship La Coubre, which had brought the first and only weapons we were able to purchase in Europe, and we left for the docks to aid the victims — because we knew that that explosion could only have come from the ship that was unloading those weapons — [and] a few minutes after our arrival, a lethal trap, a second explosion occurred. The two together caused 101 deaths and numerous injuries.
Here, with him, the Declaration of Cuba as an Illiteracy Free Territory, in December of 1961, was made, [applause], at the conclusion of the Literacy Campaign carried out by more than 250,000 teachers and students, which did not stop; while this same year, veterans of the Rebel Army and the nascent National Revolutionary Militias battled the mercenaries at Playa Girón, and in mountainous areas, armed bands infiltrated from abroad, which among many other vile acts, murdered 10 young literacy teachers. A victory was won in Girón, and at the same time, the entire country learned to read and write [applause], to ensure that, as Fidel said at that time, “The young have a future in their hands.” [Applause]
With great emotion, precisely here, we heard the Comandante en Jefe in this Plaza, during the solemn wake of October 1967, to pay tribute to the unforgettable Comandante Che Guevara, and returned here again, 30 years later, during the most difficult stage of the Special Period, to commit ourselves, before his remains, to follow his immortal example.
Moved and indignant, we attended the painful farewell to the 73 persons murdered by state terrorism in the bombing of the Cubana Airlines aircraft over Barbados, among them the young winners of all the gold medals in the 4th Central American and Caribbean Fencing Championships. On that occasion, we repeated with him, “When an energetic and virile people weeps” [shouts of: Injustice trembles!]. Exactly, “Injustice trembles!” [Applause]
This is the Plaza of important May Day marches in the capital: in 1966, against the Helms-Burton Act, which is still in effect; the enormous march of 1999, and the open tribunal of youth, students, and workers of 2000, when Fidel presented his conception of Revolution, which millions of Cubans have made their own with their signature, over the last few days, in a sacred act of commitment. [Applause]
This is the place where we have come to support the agreements reached at our Congresses of the Communist Party of Cuba.
In this same spirit, the people have come over these last few days, with much participation from youth, to render heartfelt tribute and swear loyalty to the ideas and work of the Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution. [Applause]
Alongside the monument to José Martí, national hero and intellectual author of the assault on the Moncada Garrison, where we have gathered for over half a century in moments of extraordinary pain — and to honour our martyrs, proclaim our ideals, revere our symbols, and consult the people regarding important decisions — precisely here, where we commemorate our victories, we say to you, alongside our self-sacrificing, combative, heroic people: Hasta la victoria siempre! [Shouts of Siempre! and applause]
[Shouts of: “Viva Fidel! Viva Raúl!”]
– Speeches by Foreign Representatives, Havana, November 29, 2016 –
The extraordinary significance of the life and work of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz for Cuba and the world, was highlighted by various heads of state and dignitaries invited to attend the massive posthumous tribute to the leader of the Cuban Revolution, in Havana’s historic José Martí Plaza de la Revolución, November 29.
We Will Continue Fighting for These Ideas in Order to Build a World of Justice and Peace
Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa Delgado, in his remarks honouring the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, stated, “Peoples of Our America and the world: Fidel is dead. He died undefeated. Only the inevitable passing of time could defeat him. He died on the same day as he and 82 other patriots departed from Mexico to make history. He died honouring his name. Fidel, worthy of faith. The faith bestowed in him by his people and all of the Greater Homeland. The faith that was never disappointed, and least of all betrayed.”
After highlighting the importance of uniting the people of Our America, Correa said that with Fidel “with Camilo Cienfuegos, with Che, with Hugo Chávez Frías, we learned to believe in the new Latin American man, able to carry out, through organization and conscience, the constant struggle of liberationist ideas to build a world of justice and peace.”
“We will continue struggling for these ideas. We swear. Hasta la victoria siempre Comandante!” concluded the Ecuadoran leader.
Cuba Changed History in Africa
Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, stated that the passing of Fidel “is a painful loss for the South African people. He stood with us in solidarity, supporting our struggle including the international campaign to isolate the apartheid regime. We knew that we could rely on Cuba, a trusted friend and ally of the oppressed.
“The deep and undying special relationship between Cuba and Africa was cemented by the blood of heroic Cuban soldiers who paid the supreme sacrifice for their belief in anti-imperialism, freedom and justice.
“Cuba deployed close to half a million soldiers and officers in Africa, to support the struggles for national independence or against foreign aggression, over 30 years.
“Cuba was not looking for gold, diamonds, or oil in Africa.
“The Cubans only wanted to see freedom, and an end to the treatment of Africa as a playground of powerful nations while people suffered.”
Cuba Mourns the Loss of a Great Leader, Teacher and Father
Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica and President Pro Tempore of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) described Fidel as a true friend who reached out “to newly independent countries across Latin America and the Caribbean to assist in areas where Cuba was relatively strong. This was especially evident in the training of medical doctors and other health care workers, and the granting of scholarships in other disciplines.
“CARICOM will be forever grateful to Fidel and to you, the Cuban people for the great sacrifices you have made, against great adversity, in annually sustaining the training of our professionals for decades on both a bilateral and multilateral basis.
“Cuba now mourns the loss of a great leader, teacher and father; we share the pain and emptiness that you feel, for we have lost a faithful and valued friend. His memory lives on in our mission to provide for our people and to build a world in which justice, fairness and peace prevail.”
Fidel and His Ideas Live in the Hearts of Millions
Salvador Sánchez Cerén, President of El Salvador noted that Fidel had a special appreciation and respect for the Salvadoran people. “Like thousands of Salvadoran youth, I came to know of Fidel through Radio Rebelde. For us, listening to him, signified the awakening of our political consciousnesses and the decision to change the sad reality of our country, the victim of a cruel military dictatorship.
“I remember that feeling of solidarity and support for the struggle in the Sierra Maestra and later with the triumph of the Revolution, a humanist project admired for its resistance and dignity in the face of constant U.S. aggression.”
He went on to note that tributes by “the Cuban people and the entire world, this immense affection, shows us that Fidel and his ideas live in the hearts of millions of people following his example of tireless struggle for the good of humanity.”
We Bid Farewell to an International Symbol of Struggle and Resistance
Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of the Republic of Greece, stated in the Plaza de la Revolución, “As befits this great 20th century revolutionary, today we bid farewell to Comandante Fidel. We say goodbye to an international symbol of struggle and resistance who, through his example, inspired the struggles of peoples across the world for independence, liberty, justice and dignity.
“We bid farewell to the Fidel of the poor, the humble, the oppressed, and those who never give up, your Fidel, our Fidel, the Fidel that belongs to all corners of the world, the Fidel that belongs to history.
“It is a great honour to be participating in this historic moment on behalf of the people of Greece, a people that live in a corner of the planet very far away from you geographically, but close in regards to the values and ideals for which you have struggled and continue to struggle.”
He Will Remain Alive in Our Hearts and Our Memory
Abdelkader Bensalah, President of the Council of the Nation of Algeria, expressed to the Cuban people and government “our sincere condolences on the loss of one of the best sons of this land of kindness, the island of liberty, Cuba,” on behalf of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Algeria, Abdelaziz Buteflika, and the Algerian government and people.
At another point in his speech he emphasized, “The leader Fidel Castro lived like a giant, and will remain after his departure as a legend and a highly valuable legacy for generations that will be inspired by his thinking to erect solid foundations in the interest of building a world where justice, dignity and freedom prevail; while his struggle will enlighten them in the forging of virtues such as self-denial, sacrifice, honesty, loyalty to others, and adherence to principles at any cost.”
The Chinese People Have Also Lost a Dear Comrade and a Sincere Friend
Li Yuanchao, Vice President and Member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said that during his life, Fidel was devoted to the friendship between Cuba and China: “He followed very closely and highly valued the progress of our development. With his personal attention and support, Cuba became the first Latin American country to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. Fifty-six years have passed since then, and Chinese-Cuban relations are advancing considerably, providing fruitful results of practical cooperation in various fields.”
The Chinese leader added that the friendship between the two peoples grows every day and is inseparable from the commitment and concern of Fidel. He noted that the Chinese people would miss Fidel deeply, and that this was an enormous loss for Cuba and the Latin American peoples.
Speaking to those gathered in Havana he stated, “It is not only you who lose a preeminent son, but the Chinese people also lose a dear comrade and sincere friend.”
He Dedicated His Life to Efforts to Defend the Rights of the Oppressed
Majid Ansari, Vice President for Legal Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, noted that what had united “this multitude of people and heads of state, special envoys from dozens of countries, and organizations from all over the world, is the tribute to one of the most outstanding revolutionaries of the day, the late Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz. Someone whose name is recognized across the world not only as a Cuban fighter and independentist, but as a revolutionary thinker and a liberator for all the peoples of Latin America and the oppressed of the world.
“A person who dedicated his life to the efforts to defend the rights of the oppressed and the fight against colonialism, for which his name, together with those of the great liberation leaders of history, will be eternally engraved in the memory of humanity.”
His Ideas and Dreams Are Dear to Many Peoples, His Cause Will Triumph
Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Russian State Duma, referring to the significance of the figure of Fidel Castro Ruz, stressed that the Cuban leader dedicated his life to the struggle for the freedom and independence of his country: “He loved his country and his people infinitely; his life has been the example of a true patriot. They could not break his will, nor that of the Cuban people.”
Continuing his speech, he highlighted that Fidel Castro became a symbol of the Cuban struggle, a struggle that was crowned with successes. “We have a duty to remember that it is thanks to him that Cuba has managed to preserve the most valuable thing that any state can have: its independence. Even today his ideas and dreams are dear to many peoples, therefore his cause will triumph.”
Fidel Will Live Eternally in the Just Cause of the Revolution of the Heroic Cuban People
Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Chairwoman of the National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, stated that with the departure of Comrade Fidel Castro, the Party, the state and the Cuban people have lost their historic, legendary leader. “The international communist and revolutionary movements have lost a firm, audacious, and experienced leader. The Communist Party, the state and the people of Vietnam have lost a very dear, beloved comrade and brother combatant.”
She noted that the Vietnamese people “always have engraved in our hearts the immortal phrase that Comrade Fidel dedicated to us: For Vietnam, we are ready to give even our own blood.
“We have full confidence that Comrade Fidel will live forever in the just cause of the Revolution of the heroic Cuban people, and in the hearts of the brotherly peoples of the world.”
A Great Leader, an Exceptional Revolutionary, a Firm Militant
HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, speaking on behalf of the State of Qatar, said, “We have today attended the memorial service of a great leader, an exceptional revolutionary, a firm militant, an inflexible fighter, a symbol of resistance, who reached every corner of the globe, and was present in the minds of all.
“Fidel Castro was a giant of the struggle for national liberation. He maintained an unshakable faith in the right of the peoples to self-determination, at a time when most of the world’s peoples were subjected to colonialism. He fought for the causes in which he had faith, inspired millions of human beings who lived under the yoke of colonialism in different parts of the planet. He occupied a crowning place among the great heroes of liberation movements in the twentieth century.”
He concluded by stating, “His legacy, his struggle, his steadfastness in the face of challenges will always be a source of inspiration for this generation and future generations.”
His Legacy Will Be a Symbol of Hope for a Just and Happy Life Among Humble People
Victor Sheiman, Special Envoy from the Republic of Belarus, explained that, in his country, highly valued is the enormous contribution of Fidel Castro to the development of friendly relations between countries.
“As Aleksandr Lukashenko, President of the Republic of Belarus, said, the luminous name of the audacious Comandante is written in gold letters in the history of establishing strategic collaboration between Belarus and Cuba.
“I am sure that the immortal work of Comandante Fidel will continue its victorious path. His legacy will be a symbol of hope for a more just and happy life among humble people. Over the decades, Belarus has been a loyal friend and trustworthy partner of our sister Cuba, and it will be so in the future.
“Fidel has not gone, Fidel remains. The clear image of the invincible Comandante, his political legacy, with be with us forever.”
Fidel Is Greater than His Own Life, He Is Installed Forever in the History of Humanity
Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, emphasized his admiration for the unity and strength of the Cuban people, “A few hours ago, I heard the pro-imperialist bourgeois press say: And now, what will Cuba do without a leader? And we are seeing, the entire world is seeing the Cuban people more united, stronger than ever, to continue defeating imperialist domination.
“Fidel has been a true father to the excluded, to the marginalized, the discriminated, to the poor of the earth. Fidel teaches us that the only road of our peoples is that of unity and integration. Fidel is a true builder of peace with social justice.
“We would like to tell you, brothers and sisters, Fidel has not died, because the peoples don’t die, at least not those who struggle for their liberation; this is Fidel.”
At another point in his remarks, Morales said, “Fidel is greater than his own life; he is installed forever in the history of humanity.”
Fidel’s Lessons Will Continue to Guide Our Struggle for a New World Order
Hage Gottfried Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia, after highlighting the Namibian people’s love for Fidel and the importance of Cuba’s internationalist missions in Africa, said, “Fidel sent thousands of troops to Angola and Namibia to free these countries from South African oppression. Cuito Cuanavale was a milestone in the history of Southern Africa. In particular, the battle made possible the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 435, and that led to the independence of Namibia in 1990.
“We still have much to learn from a man who lived and died on his own terms.”
The Namibian leader likewise emphasized that Fidel’s lessons will continue to be “a guide in our struggle for a new world order. We must remain united, despite colonialism, and always stay united until victory.”
Fidel Castro Constructed Revolutionary Cuba
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto evoked “the memory of a man who made history,” recalling that on November 25, 1956, the same date he died, Fidel and 82 brave compatriots departed from the banks of the River Tuxpan, on the coast of Veracruz, aboard the Granma. The mission they had charted was to construct a new government to be at the service of the Cuban people, guided by the ideals of liberty, justice, and equality. Since then, the Republic of Cuba and the Cuban people have provided an “example of dignity and perseverance,” Peña Nieto said.
“No doubt, Fidel Castro was the constructor of revolutionary Cuba, but even more, he was an emblematic figure of the second half of the 20th century.
“Cuba and Mexico are friends and neighbours, our countries are joined by deep, irreplaceable ties. The waters of the Caribbean Sea have linked our history for centuries; the language and culture we share remind us that Cuban and Mexican hearts beat in solidarity and friendship.”
Fidel Is Held More Firmly Than Ever in the Hearts of This People
Daniel Ortega Saavedra, President of the Republic of Nicaragua, referred to the help the Cuban Revolution has provided the Nicaraguan people in difficult times, and added, “Just as Fidel is held more firmly than ever in the hearts of this people, he is firm in the hearts of Latin American and Caribbean peoples, in the hearts of the peoples of Asia, Africa, and in the hearts of a good part of the U.S. people, a good part of European peoples.” He said that Fidel had understood these new times, not any easy task, and was able to adapt to changes, while he held a conception that was repeated only once, in Nicaragua. Ortega said, “It was Fidel and Raúl, and this people, who entered Managua triumphantly on July 19, 1979. [Applause] That was the last victorious revolution of the 20th century.
He Is Not Gone. He Remains Undefeated Among Us — Absolved, Absolutely Absolved by History!
Nicolás Maduro Moros, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, spoke to the huge crowd, emphasizing the strong ties between the Cuban and Bolivarian revolutions. Referring to Fidel’s lifelong devotion, he said, “He went beyond fulfilling his mission on this earth, beyond the greatest expectations there could have been. Few lives have been so full, so luminous. He goes undefeated, this is better, as you say, he is not gone. He remains undefeated among us, absolved — absolutely absolved by the great history of the homeland.”
At another point, Maduro said, “It is up to us now; it is up to you, women; it is up to you, students, youth, workers, professionals, campesinos, patriotic soldiers; it is up to us, men and women, it is up to us today to raise the banners of dignity and freedom for the peoples.”
(Photos: Granma, Cuba Debate, Estudio Revolucion, Periodica Escambray, Telesur, University of Havana, UCI, Prensa Presidencial Venezuela, A. Montero Reyes, On Cuba, R. Segura, A.P. Janset, Periodica Vanguardia, ACN, Ahors, M. Hernandez.)
Source: TML Weekly, Supplement – No. 47, December 4, 2016
Principles are worth more than life itself – Fidel Castro, 1994