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Fidel Castro: “None of the present world problems can be solved with the use of force”

Speech given by Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Republic of Cuba, the day of the tragic events that occurred in the United States. September 11, 2001.

Today is a day of tragedy for the United States. You know very well that hatred against the American people has never been sown here. Perhaps, precisely because of its culture, its lack of prejudice, its sense of full freedom –with a homeland and without a master– Cuba is the country where Americans are treated with the greatest respect. We have never preached any kind of national hatred, or anything similar to fanaticism, and that is the reason for our strength, because our conduct is based on principles and ideas. We treat all Americans who visit us with great respect, and they have noticed this and said so themselves.

Furthermore, we cannot forget the American people who put an end to the Vietnam War with their overwhelming opposition to that genocidal war. We cannot forget the American people who –in numbers that exceeded 80% of the population– supported the return of Elián González to his homeland. (APPLAUSE) We cannot forget their idealism, although it is often undermined by deception, because –as we have said often times– in order to mislead Americans to support an unjust cause, or an unjust war, they must first be deceived. The classic method used by that huge country in international politics is that of deceiving the people first, to count on their support later. When it is the other way around, and the people realize that something is unjust, then based on their traditional idealism they oppose what they have been supporting. Often these are extremely unjust causes, which they had supported convinced that they were doing the right thing.

Therefore, although unaware of the exact number of victims but seeing those moving scenes of suffering, we have felt profound grief and sadness for the American people.

We do not go around flattering any government, or asking for forgiveness or favors. We neither harbor in our hearts a single atom of fear. The history of our Revolution has proven its capacity to stand up to challenges, its capacity to fight and its capacity to resist whatever it has to; that is what has turned us into an invincible people. These are our principles. Our Revolution is based on ideas and persuasion, and not on the use of force. I hope there is not anyone in the world crazy enough to say that 1.2 million people were forced to march along the sea front drive on July 26.

That has been our reaction, and we wanted our people to see the scenes and watch the tragedy. We have not hesitated to express our sentiments publicly, and right here I have a statement, which was drafted as soon as the facts were known and handed out to the international media around 3:00 p.m. In the meantime, our television networks were broadcasting news of the events. This statement was scheduled to be read to the Cuban public tonight during the evening TV newscast.

I am going to move the time up a few minutes by reading to you here and now the Official Statement from the Government of Cuba on the events that took place in the United States:

“The Government of the Republic of Cuba has learned with grief and sadness of the violent surprise attacks carried out this morning against civilian and official facilities in the cities of New York and Washington, which have caused numerous deaths.

“Cuba’s position against any terrorist action is well known.” Our history proves that, and those who know the history of our revolutionary struggles know it well. “It is not possible to forget that for over four decades our country has been the target of such actions fostered from within the United States territory.

“Both for historical reasons and ethical principles, the Government of our country strongly repudiates and condemns the attacks against the aforementioned facilities and hereby expresses its most heartfelt sympathies to the American people for the painful, unjustifiable loss of human lives resulting from these attacks.

“In this bitter hour for all Americans, our people express their solidarity with the American people and their full willingness to cooperate, to the extent of their modest possibilities, with the health care institutions and any other medical or humanitarian organization in that country in the treatment, care and rehabilitation of the victims of this morning’s events.” (APPLAUSE)

This message has not only been made public, but has also been officially delivered this afternoon, especially when we started to hear of the impressive numbers of possible casualties, and knew that hospitals were full of injured.

Although it is not known whether the casualties are 5000, 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000, it is known that the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers and into the Pentagon were carrying hundreds of passengers, and we have offered to provide whatever we can, if necessary.

That is a country with great scientific and medical development and resources, but at some point in time it could need blood of a specific type or plasma –any other product that we could donate, we would be most willing to give– or medical support or paramedics. We know many hospitals are short of specific technicians and professionals. In other words, we want to express our disposition and readiness to be helpful in relation to these tragic events.

There is a history to all of this, because as I said, we have been affected by terrorism for more than forty years. We have even published that on specific occasions we have informed the U.S. government of serious risks to the lives of Americans. Here is an example; it is a page and a quarter long.

After the terrorist attacks against our hotels by the terrorist mob in Florida that organized and paid for the terrorist attacks against Cuba, as well as the assassination plots organized against me when I have needed to travel abroad, a group headed by that monster Posada Carriles –we had already caught some of his accomplices, who were foreign mercenaries, when they entered our national territory– intended to repeat the sophisticated procedure used with the bombs planted in hotels or places frequently visited by foreign tourists, like La Bodeguita del Medio Restaurant, that could explode up to 99 hours after being set up. They could travel here, plant the bomb on the plane, party for three days, and go back to their country before the bomb exploded. There was the case of a Salvadoran mercenary who planted five bombs in hotels and other public places and attempted to make them blow up almost simultaneously, one after the other. You can see how far they had gone.

We made contact with the U.S. Government more than once through confidential channels, and here I have one of the direct messages that we sent to the President at that time. These were messages sent through confidential channels, not official ones, through fully trustworthy friends of ours who were also friends of his, and we precisely explained everything that we wanted them to convey. Part of this information has already been released to the public, but I will give you an example:

“An important issue.

“Number one: Plans for terrorist actions against Cuba continue to be hatched and paid by the Cuban American National Foundation using Central American mercenaries. Two new attempts at setting up bombs in tourist resorts have been undertaken before, and after, the Pope’s visit.

“In the first case, those responsible failed, they were able to escape and return to Central America by plane leaving behind the technical means and explosives which were then seized.

“In the second case, three mercenaries were arrested with explosives and other means. They are Guatemalans. They would have received 1500 USD for every bomb exploded.” These were among the first caught, not the one who planted the most bombs.

“In both cases they were hired and supplied by agents of the ring organized by the Cuban American National Foundation. Now, they are plotting and taking steps to set up bombs in planes from Cuba or any other country airline carrying tourists to, or from, Cuba to Latin American countries.

“The method is similar: to hide a small device at a certain place inside the plane, a powerful explosive with a fuse controlled by a digital clock that can be programmed 99 hours in advance, then easily abandon the plane at foreseen destination; the explosion would take place either on the ground or while the plane is in flight to its next destination. Really devilish procedures: easy to handle mechanisms, components whose detection is practically impossible, a minimum training required for their use, almost absolute impunity. Extremely dangerous to airlines and to tourist facilities or of any other type. Tools suitable for a crime, very serious crimes.

“If they were revealed and their possibilities exposed,” –we were opposed to revealing the technology used– “they might become an epidemic as the hijacking of planes once became. Other Cuban extremist groups living in the United States are beginning to move in that direction.

“The American investigation and intelligence agencies are in possession of enough reliable information on the main people responsible. If they really want to, they have the possibility of preventing in time this new modality of terrorism. It will be impossible to stop it if the United States doesn’t discharge its fundamental duty of fighting it. The responsibility to fight it can’t be left to Cuba alone since any other country of the world might also be a victim of such actions.”

We passed this information on to them, and they paid so much attention that they even consulted with us on the advisability of sending airlines a text issued by the U.S. Government.

They sent us the text in which the airlines were informed of the following: “We have received unconfirmed information of a plot to place explosive devices aboard civilian aircraft operating between Cuba and Latin American countries. Those involved in the plot plan to leave behind a small explosive device aboard an aircraft…” Basically, they explained what we had informed them of.

“We cannot discount the possibility that the threat could include international air carrier operations from the United States.

“The U.S. Government continues to seek further information to clarify, and substantiate or refute, this threat.

We expressed our opposition to issuing that kind of warning because one of the objectives of those individuals was to create panic. We also explained that there were other procedures that we used. We set up the appropriate watch systems wherever there was any risk of bombs, we searched and knew who could plant them and who were involved. We kept watching, which is what has to be done, if you do not want to grow panic or make a scandal or grant the perpetrators the possibility to attain their objective, which was to impinge on the economy of the country and sow terror.

Anyway, they published the information. That was fine with us since we had already strengthened our mechanisms to capture those individuals. They have not even been able to plant a small bomb ever since, and the watch system remains in place where necessary. When they plotted the assassination attempt in Panama, we knew more than they were planning, and more than they knew. That is for sure.

There is the Miami Mafia making efforts to release the terrorists caught in fraganti and arrested in Panama. They have already planned how to do it and the country through which they would evacuate them and how. They would pretend to be sick and be moved. They freely receive visitors from Miami. We even know that they contributed to an infiltration through Santa Clara a few months ago.

Thanks to many friends that we have everywhere and to men like those (he points to the pictures of the Cuban patriots incarcerated in Miami for seeking information on terrorist plan against Cuba), the country has been able to defend itself from that terrorism. (APPLAUSE)

I say this here because the truth is that there are more papers and notes, and we have sometimes sent verbal messages, and sometimes we have left written evidence, and one of the arguments that we have used is irrefutable: The United States is the country with the largest number of extremist organized groups, 400 of which are armed.

The hijacking of planes –a method used against Cuba– became a universal plague, and it was Cuba that solved this problem when, after repeated warnings, we sent two hijackers back to the United States. It is painful because they were Cubans but we had issued public warnings, so they came and we returned them. We complied with our public pledge, yet they never again provided us with any information about them to give to their relatives. They have their own ways of doing thins. No one knows what they will do. I know they were sentenced to 40 years imprisonment, and that put an end to those hijackings.

But, listen, they have 800 groups of extremists. Sometimes they have locked themselves in a place for a certain reason and have burned themselves to death. They have groups, which due to political or sometimes religious reasons are prone to the use of force or to prepare poisons and products to act against the US authorities. I am not talking about the Mafia people. I am talking about the hundreds of extremist organized groups acting within the United States. They blew up that building in Oklahoma not so long ago.

The United States is the country that is most vulnerable to terrorism; it is the country with more planes, more dependable on technical resources, electric grids, pipelines, etceteras. Many members of these groups are fascists and they do not mind killing. Mentally speaking, they must be closer to madness than to a balanced intelligence. We have said to the US authorities that it is necessary to avoid the dissemination of these methods, we use that argument because they are easy to use and a danger for that country.

At this very moment, I mean, as I arrived here, there was no element of judgment to say who could have exploded those bombs, because it could have been an action planned and carried out by any of these groups, which have already done it before, like in the case of Oklahoma, or it could have been done by groups from abroad. However, it is evident –based on the details received– that it was effectively organized, in other words, with sufficient organization and synchronization, by people who have the knowledge, the training and by pilots who were able to drive these huge Boeings, by people who coordinated the exact times at which they would act. They undoubtedly hijacked the planes, diverting them from their planned route; and had the pilots who could drive the planes directly against one tower or other targets and some minutes later against the other, and nearly at the same time, a third plane was crashed against the Pentagon.

In other words, they are very well trained and organized people and not necessarily operating in large groups. It is impossible to imagine the damage that can be caused by a small group of 20, 25 or 30 people, who are extremists devoted to certain ideas, and it is in the United States where they can cause most damage. You can perceive how they studied the time at which more people would be in the offices, around 9:00 am, the damage they could make, and the thousands of casualties they could provoke.

Actually, given the special characteristics of this event, it is now necessary to look for clues. That is the reason why I believe the most important duty of American leaders is to fight terrorism, and these tragedies are partly the result of the use of terrorist methods against other countries, like in the case of Cuba and other countries for a number of years. The idea of terrorism has been disseminated, and there is no power in the world today, regardless its size, that can avoid events of this nature because bigots, people who are totally indifferent to death, carry them out. Thus, the struggle against such methods is difficult.

A lesson can be drawn from that: none of the problems affecting today’s world can be solved with the use of force, there is no global, technological or military power that can guarantee total immunity against such acts, because they can be organized by small groups, difficult to detect, and what is more complicated, carried out by suicidal people. Therefore, the general effort of the international community must be to put an end to a number of conflicts affecting the world, at least in this area. It is indispensable to put an end to world terrorism (APPLAUSE) and build a worldwide awareness against terrorism. I speak on behalf of a country, which has lived through more than 40 years of Revolution, and has gained much experience, a unified country with a high cultural level. It is not a country of bigots. Here, it is not fanaticism that has been cultivated but ideas, convictions and principles.

We could be in a better position to defend ourselves, and we have demonstrated it. How many lives we have saved while so much money and resources have been used to bring terrorism to our homeland! We have 40 years of experience, so we are ten times better prepared than the United States to prevent such actions.

It is very important to know what will be the reaction of the US Government. Possibly the days to come will be dangerous for the world, and I do not mean Cuba. Cuba is the most peaceful country in the world for several reasons: our policy, our kind of struggle, our doctrine, and also, comrades, for the absolute absence of fear.

Nothing troubles us. Nothing intimidates us. It would be very difficult to put together a package against Cuba, not even its inventor and the patent holder would believe it, this is very difficult and today Cuba means something to the world. (APPLAUSE) Cuba has a very high moral position, and a very sound political position in the world. It does not even cross my mind, although there is one of those Mafia fools trying to scheme something who I think even mentioned Venezuela and Cuba; one of the so many Mafiosi, a despicable big mouth. But, no one will pay the slightest attention, even though there will be tension and risks, depending on how the US Government proceeds.

The days to come will be tense both inside and outside the United States. A number of people will start to express their views.

Whenever there is a tragedy like this one, no matter how difficult to avoid it may be, I see no other way but to keep calm. And if at some point I am allowed to make a suggestion to an adversary who has been tough with us for many years, but knows we can be tough too, knows we resist, and knows we are not stupid and there is a little respect for our people, if under specific circumstances it were correct to suggest something to the adversary, for the well being of the American people and based on the arguments I have given you, we would advise the leaders of the powerful empire to keep their equanimity, to act calmly, not to be carried away by a fit of rage or hatred and not to start hunting people down dropping bombs just anywhere.

I reiterate that none of the world problems –not even terrorism– can be solved with the use of force, and every act of force, every imprudent action that entails the use of force anywhere would seriously aggravate the world problems.

The way is neither the use of force nor the war. I say this here with the full authority of someone who has always been honest, with the sound conviction and the experience of someone who has been through the years of struggle that we have lived in Cuba. It is only guided by reason and applying an intelligent policy based on the strength of consensus and the support of the international public opinion that such a predicament could definitely be solved. I think this unexpected episode must be used to undertake an international struggle against terrorism. However, this international struggle against terrorism cannot succeed by killing a terrorist here and another one there, that is, by using similar methods to theirs, sacrificing innocent lives. It is resolved, inter alia, by putting an end to State terrorism and other repulsive crimes (APPLAUSE), by putting an end to genocide and by honestly pursuing a policy of peace and respect for unavoidable moral and legal standards. The world cannot be saved unless a path of international peace and cooperation is pursued.

Nobody should think that we are trying to buy a ton of any thing in the US market. We have proven that we can survive, live and make progress, and everything seen here today is an expression of an unprecedented progress in history (APPLAUSE). Progress is not achieved only through the manufacturing of automobiles; developing people’s minds, providing knowledge and culture, and looking after human beings accordingly makes progress. That is the secret of the tremendous strength of our Revolution.

The world cannot be saved any other way, and I mean from violent situations. May peace be accomplished everywhere to protect all the peoples from that plague of terrorism, which is one of the plagues (APPLAUSE), because there is another horrible plague today, which is called AIDS, for instance. There is another plague, which kills tens of millions of children, teenagers and people in the world, that is, starvation, diseases and lack of medical care and medications.


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