Speech in Havana at a ceremony honoring him for receiving the Lenin prize Broadcast by Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 0453 GMT 20 May 1961 Mark-up and editnig by the Workers' Web project
HISTORY DOOMS IMPERIALISTS
by Fidel Castro
Friends from foreign countries, visitors' delegations, comrades of the revolution:
During the course of the history of humanity, the causes of war have been exploitation and plunder. Ever since man has been aware of historical evolution, all wars have been caused by these two reasons. In order to understand who is guilty of war and who is fighting for peace, one must understand that perfectly well. Those who support war, those guilty of war have always been the exploiters, those who seek to seize the wealth and the natural resources of other nations, of their own people. Thus exploitation and plunder have cost people oceans of blood.
During our appearance in the United States in this name of Cuba, we said that when the philosophy of exploitation and plunder ends, then the philosophy of wars would end. This is something which humanity is going through at this moment and we can prove it quite clearly. The danger of war which threatens nations and humanity does not come from those who love justice, or from those who love the progress of humanity, or from the men who desire a better life for man, a better future for humanity. It does not come from those who fight for freedom, sovereignty,and independence of nations; for the fight of self-determination; for the right of nations to enjoy their natural resources and their work.
The threats to peace and humanity come from those who defend colonialism; who defend imperialism; who are against the right of the colonies to be free, the right of men to develop their economy, the right of nations to their sovereignty; who oppose the rights of men to be free and to enjoy a better life. The threat of war, in the world today as always in the course of history, comes from those who want to maintain the right of plunder and exploitation over man. The world is now closer than ever to the opportunity, or to the moment, when war could be eradicated forever. The world is also closer than ever to the moment when exploitation and hunger could be eradicated forever from humanity. The world is facing these two prospects, and yet the world is being threatened by war.
Who is guilty of war; who is threatening war; who is dealing in war; who threatens humanity with this curse? To reply to this, the reasoning power of a five-year-old child is sufficient: It is the colonialists and imperialists who are threatening the peace of the world, who threaten wars, who constantly place humanity on the brink of war. Why must the colonialists and imperialists threaten war and resort to war? They use the danger and the threat of war for several reasons: first of all, because they represent a world which is dying out, a world of decadence, a social system which is outdated, modes of life doomed to disappear.
They are condemned by history. History, the natural history of men and human society dooms them to disappear. And so they seek to halt the inevitable course of history, to halt human society, and they also want to prevent, by means of force, what they cannot hold up in any case, because it is an invariable law of history. They are against this event which is inevitable. Those who fight for history, who fight in accordance with the laws of historical process, do not have to oppose history by force. These people know that these laws of history cannot be held up by force, and that these laws of history will be carried out. They do not despair, as the child who grows does not despair.
There are those who seek to maintain the exploitation of nations by oligarchies, the exploitation of man by man, and since only force can keep man in exploitation, in submission, since only force can keep peoples in colonialism, under the economic or political domination of other peoples; the only ones that need armies, violence; and destructive weapons are those who defend oppression, exploitation of man by man, colonialism, monopolies and imperialism; for all these things are maintained in this century by violence, force, and weapons. And when disarmament is proposed-total disarmament of nations, the destruction of nuclear weapons, the disappearance of armies and substitution of police forces, the disappearance of naval and air squadrons-the only ones opposed to this disarmament are those who cannot renounce the use of force, violence, squadrons, planes, and nuclear arms; because if the imperialists and colonialists were to disarm, then who could prevent the freedom on the colonies, of the people?
How could Portugal maintain a colony in Angola without armies there? How could colonialists maintain themselves in the Congo without colonial armies? How would they maintain control of resources of other countries if not with weapons, armies, and threats of war? How could they maintain intervention in Laos if not with their arms, interventionist colonialist armies, spy corps, and subversive means? How could they have intervened in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, and other sister American nations without squadrons, marines, and powerful armies? How could they maintain control of so many nations without military bases, armies, and squadrons? They cannot renounce these things without renouncing imperialism, colonialism, interventionism, the exploitation of many by man.
This truth, the truth that today the armies and nuclear weapons could be discarded if it were not for the fact that the only opponents of the disappearance of wars are those who oppose the consecration of the most sacred rights of peoples and nations.
To struggle for the independence of peoples against colonialism is to struggle for peace. To fight against imperialism is to fight for peace. To fight for the liberation of man is to fight and work for peace. To oppose colonialism, imperialism, and the exploitation of man by man is to defend peace. To struggle against the warmongers is to defend peace. To denounce and unmask the warmongers is to defend peace. And to defend independence against colonialists is to defend peace and the right of self-determination of peoples. To defend the sovereignty of the nation is to struggle for peace. And Cuba has fought for peace by fighting the tyranny, combatting exploitation of man by man, defending self-determination, defending its sovereignty. And the men who died in Zapata peninsula defending Cuban sovereignty fell while fighting for peace. (applause)
And this recognition, this prize is deserved by those who have given their lives to defend peace, which means sovereignty, independence, and justice. Those who fought against imperialism and tyranny and have given their lives for our land deserve this prize. They deserve this prize first. Then, the people, who so tirelessly, firmly, and heroically have defended their sovereignty, justice, and independence deserve it. The people have not been intimidated by the warmongers, the infamous marines, the size of the bombs from the planes, or the destructive power of modern arms. If the Cuban people had cowered before the warmongers, and imperialists and had surrendered before the aggressions, the Cuban people would not have deserved this peace prize.
But the people have known how to prepare and organize. If our people had not armed to the teeth, imperialism would not have hesitated to attack us, to bathe our land in blood. And if the Cuban people had not prepared to resist any form of aggression, we would still be fighting in the national territory. The country would be involved in a long and terrible war. Hundreds of thousands of lives would have been lost. But in not hesitating to organize and reinforce their combat units, in not sparing valor and heroism, it was possible to destroy the embryo invasion, and destroy the beachhead, although at a high cost in lives. But the people did save hundreds of thousands of lives by defeating the enemy. The people made possible the destruction in a few hours of what would have become in short time a tremendous source of conflict in the world, which would have led to serious complication in the international field.
And our people, with this victory, offered a contribution to world peace our people awoke the solidarity of all the peoples and governments that defend peace, and with that universal act of solidarity they were able to stop and prevent the advance of the dangers of new imperialist aggressions. The men and women, the workers and the peasants, and the students, who for long hours day and night organized themselves, armed themselves, prepared themselves to defend the sovereignty of the country and its independence have made an effective contribution to world peace.
When we began this speech we had only one thought: the ones to be congratulated are the people, those who have fallen, because this honorable prize is a prize for the revolution, a prize for our people; and as such we have received it, feeling the same happiness you feel, thinking that it is a victory of an entire, united, firm, and heroic people. (applause)
The date brings us the recollection of that great Cuban independence fighter, our immortal Jose Marti. (applause) He, too, and all who sacrificed themselves and fell as he did to defend sovereignty and nationality, all Cubans who struggled for social justice against imperialism and exploitation, all of them deserve this peace prize. The present moment in history of our country is nothing but the climax of the effort of our people for more than a century-more than a century of struggle for complete independence, incessant battle, struggle, falls, and incessant uprisings, reverses, and new efforts to achieve the goal; more than a century of sacrifice, pain, and tears to achieve what we are today, what we have today. We are only the last in the series that fought for this.
We are the fortunate generation who have been able to harvest the fruits of that long effort and to sow the seeds from that harvest for future generations. We are the generation that has the pride of exhibiting the Lenin peace prize on our chest. And the Lenin prize symbolizes the efforts of humanity to rise from slavery and exploitation. It symbolizes the efforts of these peoples who have had to pay with their lives for their live of progress and peace. It signifies the sacrifice of those who have had to pay imperialism an enormous tribute to blood, tears, and mourning. It signifies millions of Russians, Chinese, Czechs, Poles, Germans, Rumanians, Bulgarians, Spaniards, Laotians, and Algerians in the struggle against nazism, fascism, German imperialism, Japanese imperialism, Yankee imperialism, French imperialism; against colonialism; against reaction and the exploitation of man by man.
The Lenin prize reminds us that other peoples have had to pay a greater tribute than we have been paying to imperialism in our effort to be free. We are reminded of the leader of the Soviet proletariat, who fought so much for peace: Lenin, whose slogan of "Bread, peace, and land" converted that imperialist war into a socialist revolution.
Socialism meant peace, bread, and land against imperialism, and the imperialist war, against the hunger of peasants who were sent to die in trenches to defend the privilege of aristocratic classes that plundered the nations and peoples.
Greater Understanding of Soviets
With the lessons taught us by imperialism, with their acts of terrorism and espionage, we have learned what the Soviet people had to suffer from the interference of imperialists in their internal affairs. We have learned of the battles the Soviets had to fight. (Applause, chanting) Now we admire more and we better understand the Soviet people. Now we better appreciate their heroism, their efforts, their struggle. We understand the number of mercenaries the imperialists organized in their territory, isolated from the world by lies. The campaign used against the Soviet peoples by landowners, clergy, colonialists, imperialists, and the yellow press of the entire world was like the one used against use. The artists, the humble, the exploited, defend us; while the powerful, the millionaires, the yellow press, the clergy, the falangists of America, the Nazis of America, the fascists of America, the reactionaries of America, the enslavers of America, the torturers of America, the political parties of America, the thieves of America, the murders of America, the hirelings of America attack us. (chanting)
The traitors, those sold to Yankee gold, those sold to the Yankee State Department, the submissive, those who bow to the powerful North, the corrupt spirits are the ones that attack the glorious and heroic revolution of the small country of the American continent which has been the first to break the chains that linked it to exploiting imperialism. (chanting)
It is those who attack the workers and peasants of the small American nation which have broken the chains. The obscurantists, those who keep American in illiteracy, are the ones who attack the small country waging the biggest struggle ever against ignorance and lack of culture. All that is rotten in this continent attacks the revolution. The rotten fruits that do not want to fall, shaken by the continental wind caused by the Cuban revolution, and these rotten fruits try to defy the law of gravity of history by virtue of which imperialism, colonialism, and slavery are obliged to fall.
All that is rotten in America fights against what is best in America, against the workers, progressive intellectuals, artists, students. The best of America fights for Cuba. The best of America goes into the street against Yankee imperialism. The best of America goes into the street to repulse the Nixons, the Eisenhowers, the agents of imperialism.
The best of America goes into the street challenging the abusive police, and leaves in the streets of the capitals of America a rosary of dead and wounded. The best of America has even left dead on the streets of this continent when our heroic soldiers were fighting in the battlefront. The best of American bestirs itself and supports us even though we have no money.
For although imperialism wants to maintain its power through its millions, the people do not support those who come with their miserable dollars that they have taken from the sweat and work of Latin America, The peoples do not sell themselves to imperialism. The peoples are with Cuba, which does not have gold to offer, but which does have something much more powerful than millions of dollars. When they awake in America and try to understand why the peoples support Cuba, a poor country, the answer is this:
Cuba represents the desire of justice of America. Cuba represents (chanting) the pain of the oppressed of America. Cuba represents the hunger for justice, bread, work, and land of the workers and peasants of America. And with mountains of millions of dollars they will not be able to bury the justice of the Cuban revolution.
Cuba Forced U.S. Aid
When our militiamen and soldiers were falling and dying in Zapata peninsula, they were helping Latin America. The Yankee Congress did not approve the credit of 500 million dollars until the defeat of the invasion. They tried to save the 500 millions by the invasion. Without the victory of the Cuban revolution in Playa Giron the 500 million law would still be pigeonholed in the U.S. Congress. It was the victory of our people that hurried the imperialists to approve that credit. When the Yankee dollars arrive in the pockets of the Latin American oligarchies, the least they will be able to say if they are a bit honest is: Thanks, Cuban revolution, for you helped us get these millions. Thanks, Cuban revolution, for until today the Yankee shark has not remembered the Latin American sardines. Thanks, Cuban revolution, because until now the Yankee shark never had taken it upon itself to help even the reactionary groups that have been serving it.
Those millions will not reach the people. They will stay in hands of the oligarchies. What would those millions have meant in the time of the regime of exploitation? Batista misused millions miserably. What would 100 millions have meant? It would mean more luxury for the clubs, more discrimination, more Cadillacs in the street, more trips to Paris, more banknotes on numbers in the gambling casinos, more thefts, more millions for the generals, more dirty deals and a greater gap between the all-powerful and the poor.
How could there be improvement for the people without justice and social improvement? To strengthen the monopolies means to widen the gap, to make the rich more powerful and the humble more weak and poor. That is the only possible significance of the millions with which the Yankees try to put out the flame our revolution has started in the sister nations. Imperialism respects only peoples that rebel, that rise up and fight. With all the attacks on us, imperialism is telling America what a small nation is capable of when it defends its rights. This small nation of six million has aroused the entire continent. This small island has moved the entire continent, as we had not done it when we were servilely accepting exploitation. We moved the continent when we got rid of the yoke, when we declared ourselves a completely free and sovereign nation; when we nationalized the banks, the refineries and the monopolies. Imperialism has taught the American peoples this lesson. It has shown the panic of imperialism when a nation rises to regain its rights. This explains why no matter how many millions imperialism spends, sympathy for the Cuban revolution will continue. America will continue to awaken, and this is what the Yankees fear. This is what they find hard to understand. They do not realize that this is a historic thing that cannot be stopped by arms or anything. History condemns imperialism to disappear. The imperialists should study history if they want to learn what is happening to them.
Today it was necessary to think about this in order to understand what struggle for peace means. The peace movement is spreading through England, because the English do not want their country to be a base and become a atomic target. The Yankees do not even confer or consult with their allies whose countries are covered with bases. That is giving rise to the growth of the peace movement. This is happening even in the United States. Intellectuals are rising up, thinking men are rising up, honest and just men are speaking out to the government, condemning the intervention in Cuba as an act that violates international law. It is heartening to see how the Negroes are standing up valiantly.
Many professors, judges, and students from many parts of the United States have condemned the attack on Cuba. This is a hopeful sign because it means that the U.S. people are awakening. It means that one day the U.S. people will also awake and will put an end to that band of insolent millionaires and militarists. The U.S. people sooner or later will open their eyes to this reality and will put an end to all the shame and hate signified by the imperialist system. The peace movement is growing in the heart of the United States.
That is what is needed: for peace lovers of the world to rise and demand the right of humanity to live and to be free from the terrible threat of war. What we all want is peace, for the good of all peoples, including the U.S. people. We peace fighters distinguish between people and governments. The warmongers are exposing the American people to destruction. The peace fighters struggle for peace for all peoples and for their welfare and happiness, including the U.S. people.
All peoples need peace. Only the arms makers and monopolies need war. The peoples need peace to progress, to create, to advance. Our people need peace. Our people want peace to carry out revolutionary work. We do not need Yankee millions. What we need is peace. With or even without peace, we will defeat illiteracy in less than a year. There is hardly a family without a literate son. We need peace to advance, to find work for every Cuban, to fight against illness and suffering, to continue the work of the revolution. We sincerely want peace and we want them to leave us in peace. We have said this a thousand times. But we have had to bear air attacks, invasions, economic attacks, mercenary attacks. We have had to live with guards posted. Why? That is the price of freedom, the price of sovereignty, the price of peace. We want peace but while there is a threat we will continue arming and preparing to defend our sovereignty. We will continue acquiring more weapons and preparing without rest, no matter how many weapons are necessary to defend our sovereignty.
We want peace, but we will not stop strengthening our defense. This is the price of peace, so that imperialists will know that they cannot invade our country with impunity, so they will know that we will defend to the end. We will see what happens in Latin America, if imperialist attacks continue.
Prisoners for Bulldozer Tractors
Now we will refer to a pending problem. It is related to our declaration about the mercenary prisoners, and our decision to return them, in exchange for an indemnification for the damages they have caused the country of 500 bulldozer tractors, can be considered a contribution to peace. Giving their friends the opportunity of recovering the men they sent to the adventure of the Zapata peninsula can be considered an act in favor of peace. The imperialist government assumed responsibility for the invasion. The entire world knows of the details, the orders, and the direct participation of the high command of the U.S. army, of the Central Intelligence Agency, and of the U.S. Executive. The President of the United States himself declared publicly that he was responsible for that attack.
If that is the case, let him also assume the responsibility of repairing the damage. It is clear that we are not going to expect that gentleman to worry about our people, but we do understand that he is obligated to care about what is his, that he is obliged to care for the invaders he sent on that adventure.
We here very seriously repeat that, inasmuch as that idea has been welcomed by the people, understood and supported by the people, we are ready to send them, excluding the criminals, to return to them their brigade if they are ready to pay in compensation for the harm done to the country 500 bulldozers; not 500 small tractors, of course, but 500 heavy tractors with which the country can repair the material damage, although the country can never be compensated for the lives it lost.
At least, that way, instead of feeding them and wasting man hours taking care of these men, the sacrifice will serve to develop our economy and our agriculture. Of course, some may ask if they would not be used against us again. But we are unworried about 1,000 mercenaries, or even 10,000 mercenaries. We have been waiting here for the Yankees' direct aggression. One thousand mercenaries are so little. Also that proves the confidence of the victory of the revolution. We know that if they send 20 expeditions like this we can put them out of combat in less than 72 hours. If they send only mercenaries it would be a short thing, but if the mercenaries come with direct intervention, that will mean a battle, of course. But sooner or later, we will defeat them.
The revolution does not waste any time in preparing. Every minute that passes we are more prepared. We work faster than imperialism. For every one they train we recruit and train 1,000. We will send the priests to Franco gratis.
The brigade of mercenary prisoners will be sent if they (the United States) are agreed to compensate for the harm done with 500 tractors. Are the people in agreement with that proposal? (The crowd roars its approval)
So, if the people are in agreement there is no need for more talk. They are talking of going to the Red Cross. That is not necessary. The transaction is simple. Straight away tomorrow we will send them a committee of prisoners to arrange all the pertinent transactions; and the order will be thus: for each part of the total indemnification that arrives we will send part of the invaders; beginning with the least important to the more important. That is to say, first, the least important and then the more important, and the most important when the last shipment of agricultural equipment has arrived. We are honest enough and have enough credit not to need any kind of intermediary. Let the tractors come on the ferry and the groups of invaders will go on the ferry.
For that purpose we will send a committee of the prisoners-not important ones-to transact the payment of the indemnification and the procedure through which that indemnification will arrive.
If not, they (the prisoners) are the one who will have to compensate for the damages. They would have to do it by working as long as may be necessary to compensate the country for the damage they have done. If the imperialist bosses want to make this compensation, very well. The revolution is ready to accept this form, which is, on the part of the revolution, a generous gesture that also demonstrates the confidence the revolution has in itself, the confidence of the people in themselves.
Moreover, these gentlemen know well what they have seen here. They know how the people are. They will know the way they were handled. They know well what is here and perhaps they can serve those over there as good advisers. But what is important is that the people be in accord, and on that basis the sooner they bring the bulldozers and take them (the mercenaries) away the better. (Crowd shouts)
We will not exchange them for weapons. We will not exchange them for bullets. We will not exchange them for money. That proposal was made on the second anniversary of the agrarian reform. We will exchange them for agricultural equipment to give even greater impetus to the agrarian reform, and let them not make impossible comparisons. These gentlemen who landed here came with weapons in their hands, they attacked the national territory by surprise, they were armed by a foreign government and in the service of a foreign government. This crime is punished with capital punishment all over the world.
So the fact that the revolution is willing to accept compensation is only because the revolution is practical, the revolution is generous. The revolution gains by it and demonstrates its strength; not a feigned strength but real strength. With this the revolution demonstrates the little attention it gives the mercenaries that may want to come here, be they 1,000, 10,000 or 100,000. (applause)
Now, Mr. Kennedy has the floor, the State Department has the floor. They have already confessed that they sent them. Let us see if they are going to confess that they are going to leave them. It is up to them. We will limit ourselves to waiting calmly.
The rainy season is coming and the most important work of the tractors will be done in the coming dry season. But in the meantime they can build roads and many things. (Crowd shouts).
The compensation must be made with all guarantees, and the equipment must be in perfect condition. They must have, for example, replacement parts, of course. (Crowd shouts)
Don't you worry because the compensation must be complete and satisfactory for the damage they cause the country. (Crowd shouts)
We hope to clean this up and devote ourselves to work. Let the imperialists know that next time it will cost more. (Crowd shouts) "That is the basis point; on that basis we will discuss the other details. Understand? That is why today is not the time to discuss, because in a discussion they should now know what we are going to propose. First, find out if they are willing to negotiate on that basis with, more or less, the general terms of the negotiation. We will do all to make it an honorable and useful thing that will completely compensate the revolution.
We will first begin to negotiate, immediately, without intermediaries. Let them send whomever they want to negotiate. We are going to send a group of theirs there to negotiate their own indemnification-a small group, it does not matter. One swallow does not make a summer. A handful is not the brigade. It is being held there. It is complete. Never has an expeditionary army been captured so completely as it was here. It was complete, except for the dead and a few that might have escaped of the ones that did not die in the swamps. They are all prisoners. There are 1,200 prisoners. (Crowd shouts)
There is a member of the civil government here. That member of the civil government will be exchanged for Molina, who is a prisoner there. Mr. Artime is here. He was not a member of the brigade but a member of the so-called junta they have in the United States. Mr. Artime is not member of the brigade. He is a member of the junta, and he will remain. We are willing to return him on condition that they return Molina.
So we can put an end to this inglorious chapter of the imperialist aggression against our country. We have had to be careful not to cause trouble. We have had to suffer many provocations.
CIA Submarine Attack
Some extraordinarily strange events have taken place, such as the case of one of our navy ships which carried the director of the national development office, Capt. Gonsalves (Lina?); who was also the leader of the squad; the head of a naval group. He was with several other militiamen, several revolutionary comrades. Some 10 miles from our coasts they sent an SOS saying: "They have sunk us; they have sunk us."
They repeated that phrase over and over. There was not time to ask for an explanation. The launch, the R-43, was slowly sinking, taking water. It appears, according to our deductions, although, naturally, it is very difficult to present conclusive proof, but our conclusion is that this ship was sunk by a torpedo penetrating it, fired, possibly, from a submarine. They explained: 'They have sunk us; they have sunk us,' at the first call. On the third call, they gave their position. They were asked to explain how the attack took place, and they said that it was as if they hit something; the effect of a penetrating torpedo.
My impression is that the vessel was sunk by some submarine of the Central Intelligence Agency. It is somewhat similar to the Pa Coubre explosion, similar to the attack of our bases. There is never any security against attacks by the freebooters and pirates of imperialism.
We have had to live under threat for long time. We have one consolation: imperialism has failed in all attempts, from the press campaign to the invasion. They have failed and they will continue to fail. We are sure we will continue victoriously ahead. We have noted a rebirth of revolutionary fervor, which was always great, but now it is greater.
The successes of the revolutionary measures have created confidence in the revolution. We have many tasks ahead. We have to institutionalize the revolution on the basis of democratic socialism, without the exploitation of man by man. One can see what has been done in these two and a half years. Our achievements give us an indication of what we can do in the coming years. We are picking up speed. Things can be done faster now. A feeling of responsibility has grown.
The people are developing politically. The understand political and national problems. Revolutionary consciences are being developed. Divisionism has been left behind. Every Cuban is proud of being part of the movement that is lighting the way for Latin American peoples. That is what we are today, a flame that indicates the road to the liberation of the peoples, an inextinguishable flame. That is the fruit of two and a half years.
Glory to Marti; glory to Lenin; glory to peoples who fight against exploitation!
Long live peace!
Fatherland or death;
We shall conquer!
Original: HISTORY DOOMS IMPERIALISTS by Fidel Castro