Cuban President Fidel Castro during an address to the United Nations in 1960 Image Courtesy: AP Photo
January 1, 1959
Fifty seven years ago, Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista fled from the national capital as the rebel forces of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara closed in. This historic occasion marked the end of a brutal, pseudo-imperialist regime, which was replaced by the revolutionary, guerrilla fighters headed by Castro. For fifty seven years, the Cuban republic has remained a socialist state, defying all the attempts by its looming neighbour to interfere.
Amidst great public support, Fidel Castro, the first President of Cuba, addressed the United Nations General Assembly in 1960. We reproduce extracts from the speech which was centred on denouncing Colonialism and Imperialism in all kinds and forms, and empowering colonial states to fight for their freedom.
Now, to the problem of Cuba. Perhaps some of you are well aware of the facts, perhaps others are not. It all depends on the sources of information, but, undoubtedly, the problem of Cuba, born within the last two years, is a new problem for the world. The world had not had many reasons to know that Cuba existed. For many, Cuba was something of an appendix of the United States. Even for many citizens of this country, Cuba was a colony of the United States. As far as the map was concerned, this was not the case: our country had a different colour from that of the United States. But in reality Cuba was a colony of the United States.
How did our country became a colony of the United States? It was not because of its origins; the same men did not colonise the United States and Cuba. Cuba has a very different ethnical and cultural origin, and the difference was widened over the centuries. Cuba was the last country in America to free itself from Spanish colonial rule, to cast off, with due respect to the representative of Spain, the Spanish colonial yoke; and because it was the last, it also had to fight more fiercely.
How can an unpopular regime, inimical to the interests of the people, stay in power unless it is by force? Will we have to explain to the representatives of our sister republics of Latin America what military tyrannies are?
Spain had only one small possession left in America and it defended it with tooth and nail. Our people, small in numbers, scarcely a million inhabitants at that time, had to face alone, for almost thirty years, an army considered one of the strongest in Europe. Against our small national population the Spanish Government mobilized an army as big as the total forces that had fought against South American independence. Half a million Spanish soldiers fought against the historic and unbreakable will of our people to be free.
For thirty years the Cubans fought alone for their independence; thirty years of struggle that strengthened our love for freedom and independence. But Cuba was a fruit -- according to the opinion of a President of the United States at the beginning of the past century, John Adams -- it was an apple hanging from the Spanish tree, destined to fall, as soon as it was ripe enough, into the hands of the United States. Spanish power had worn itself out in our country. Spain had neither the men nor the economic resources to continue the war in Cuba; Spain had been defeated. Apparently the apple was ripe, and the United States Government held out its open hands.
How can an unpopular regime, inimical to the interests of the people, stay in power unless it is by force? Will we have to explain to the representatives of our sister republics of Latin America what military tyrannies are? Will we have to outline to them how these tyrannies have kept themselves in power? Will we have to explain the history of several of those tyrannies which are already classical? Will we have to say what forces, what national and international interests support them?
The military group which tyrannized our country was supported by the most reactionary elements of the nation, and, above all, by the foreign interests that dominated the economy of our country. Everybody knows, and we understand that even the Government of the United States admits it, that that was the type of government favoured by the monopolies. Why? Because by the use of force it was possible to check the demands of the people; by the use of force it was possible to suppress strikes for improvement of living standards; by the use of force it was possible to crush all movements on the part of the peasants to own the land they worked; by the use of force it was possible to curb the greatest and most deeply felt aspirations of the nation.
That is why governments of force were favoured by the ruling circles of the United States. That is why governments of force stayed in power for so long, and why there are governments of force still in power in America. Naturally, it all depends on whether it is possible to secure the support of the United States.
Source: Excerpted from the speech delivered at the United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 1960. For the entire text of the speech visit: http://lanic.utexas.edu/project/castro/db/1960/19600926.html