Opinions »

Speech at the official lunch hosted by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during his state visit to Brazil

Speech by Comrade Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, at the official lunch hosted by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during his state visit to Brazil, December 18, 2008, “Year 50 of the Revolution”.

(Stenographic Versions – Council of State)

Dear President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva;

Brazilian friends;

Distinguished representatives of the Diplomatic Corps and of the various Brazilian state institutions:

I am extremely pleased to be in Brazil today on an official visit as I promised our friend President Lula, a visit that is intended to further strengthen the historic relations between our peoples.

The ties of brotherhood between Cuba and Brazil have continued being reinforced throughout the years, enriched by a cultural identity which emanated from our roots. The only thing missing in this human closeness was the increase of the economic ties which multiplied under Lula’s government.

I would like to express my gratitude for the immediate solidarity aid of the Brazilian government to the Cuban people after the passing of three hurricanes that hit our country this year and caused material losses that amounted to millions and were equal to almost 20% of the GDP this year; in other words, close to 10 billion dollars.

Being in Brazil allows me to personally express what I have already communicated to President Lula in a letter: our condolences for the losses in human lives and material damages brought about by the floods in Santa Catarina State. I do so on behalf of a people who know all too well what it means to face up to disasters such as those.

I also thank Brazil for its permanent rejection of the economic blockade that has been imposed on us for almost 50 years and for the recent statements of solidarity and the demand for respect for Cuba by the Brazilian Congress.

Step by step, we Cubans and Brazilians, speaking with our own voices, respectfully and without intermediaries, have been sharing mutual positions in upholding international law, multilateralism, the right to self-determination of peoples, rejection of any attempts by any state to impose its will on others, and together we have the firm resolve to work for greater Latin American political coordination and for an integration that is more in line with social justice and the dignity of human beings.

At our recent meeting, we were remarking that we Latin Americans have now become of age, that we wish to speak for ourselves and have our full say to the northern neighbours in our continent as well as to Europe, Asia and the entire world, and we have to take steps that lead to that situation we have been aspiring to for centuries.

The meeting we have just concluded –summit meetings, because they were four, and Cuba participated in three of them – is the first step along that long road, but we have already covered a very large stretch in that lengthy road; what remains is not that long; it depends on Latin Americans, it depends on us getting rid of our complex, it depends on us being steadfast in our representation of the interests of our peoples before the greatest powers on the planet.

Cuba has been an experience during this half century. We accept friendship and difference with others. We have had to live some of these 50 years pushed back into a corner, but defending ourselves unwaveringly. Such resolve has demonstrated that our cause was just. Thus I can speak on behalf of a free and independent people, before the dear and big brothers and sisters of the Latin American continent: the people of Brazil, the prosperous and increasingly powerful Brazilian nation.

I shall not go on much longer. It has been said that Fidel’s speeches were long, not as long as those given by Chávez, and I have a reputation of being more to the point; I am not as intelligent as they are and I cannot speak about many things, much less off the top of my head; but in this case, it isn’t necessary for me to go on for very long.

I am not going to talk about trade, the progress we are making, the imbalance that we will balance out little by little, to the extent of our possibilities as a small country as compared to Brazil, but it is getting done and President Lula has referred to this; I share his words, from the beginning to the end of his speech –I think it deserves a short round of applause. (Laughter and applause)

Speaking about the summit we have just had in Salvador de Bahía, I was telling you that it is one more step on the complex road to the integration of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. And in that undertaking, respecting our differences, Cuba shall make every effort to attain this objective.

At a time in which the world is entering a crisis of unpredictable consequences –because all Nobel Laureates in Economics and all those on the planet who know the most about economics have not yet been able to come to any agreement about what the end of this road will be, only that it will fall more heavily on the poorest, as usual–, it is correct to believe, as that universal Brazilian, Oscar Niemeyer, would say, that the important thing is to always have the idea of a better world deep in our hearts, and if misfortunes multiply and darkness envelops us, it is worthwhile to light the lamp and take a risk. That is what we have done in Cuba.

For all of the above, I toast to this embrace in Brasília, thinking of the man who opened up the way and is accompanying us from Havana, Comrade Fidel Castro, in his affection for the Brazilian people and for you, Lula, in the unswerving faith he has always had that the virtues of the people and of mankind will prevail, and in his infinite conviction, which is the same of José Martí’s, that our America can save itself only if it is united.

Early this morning I arrived in Brazilia from Salvador de Bahía, where we met briefly with three other presidents: Chávez, Evo Morales and President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras; and we are leaving, again, in the early morning tomorrow. I’m not being thrown out; I’m leaving because I’m afraid I’m going to fall in love with Brazil and its people. (Laughter)

Thank you very much. (Applause)

Make a comment

Your email address will not be published. The mandatory fields are marked. *