Castro Internet Archive

Comments on Czechoslovakia

Spoken: 1968.
Publisher: Havana Domestic Television and Radio Services in Spanish 0102 GMT 24 Aug 68.
Translated: US Government, Foreign Broadcast Information Service.
Transcription/Markup: US Government/Steve Palmer.
Source: Castro Speech Database.
Proofread Alvaro Miranda (April 2021).

[Speech by Cuban Prime Minister Maj Fidel Castro on the Czechoslovak situation – live]

[Text] As was announced today, my appearance here is to analyze the situation in Czechoslovakia. I am going to make this analysis in the light of revolutionary positions and of the international policy which our revolution and our party has sustained. Some of the things I am going to say here will in some cases run counter to the feelings of many people. In other cases, they will run counter to our own interests, and they will constitute serious risks to our country.

Even so, this is a moment of utmost importance to the revolutionary movement all over the world. It is our duty to analyze the facts objectively and to voice the opinion of our political leadership. It is the opinion of our Central Committee, of the leaders of our mass organizations, and of the members of our government, and I am sure that this opinion is deeply rooted in the tradition and sentiments of our people.

I think it is necessary in the first place to make at least a brief analysis of our position with regard to the events which have been taking place in Czechoslovakia. Our people have received sufficiently broad information on all these events. Although our party’s position with regard to these events has never been aired officially so to speak, because among other things, these events were in the process of development, and I am not obliged to analyze each one of the things happening every day in the world, I was keeping track of the development of the political process in that country.

Analysis of Czech Crisis

It was approximately at the beginning of this year that a number of changes began to occur in Czechoslovakia. There was talk, or rather, Mr Novotny did in fact resign as secretary of the party, although he remained as President of the Republic. Subsequently, an important military officer deserted to the United States. Then there were a number of demands for the President of the Republic to resign too, and a number of events and phenomena began to occur. A process began which they called a democratization process. The imperialist press invented another word, the word liberalization. They even began to label people progressives and conservatives. They called the supporters of a number of political reforms progressives, and the followers of the older leadership conservatives.

It was obvious over there – and I must give my opinion about both, the conservatives and the liberals; this reminds us a little of Cuba’s old history – that division existed between conservatives and liberals. A thing which of course was not supposed to happen in the political process of the socialist revolution. This had a number of implications in the world. Some began to sympathize with the so-called liberals or democratized persons. We observed what was happening. For example, on 24 April 1968 the newspaper Rude Pravo – organ of the Czechoslovak Communist Party – with the headline of favorable reaction by the U.S. press to events in Czechoslovakia, pointed out that the United States (?was following) a foreign policy more understanding of the new direction taken by Prague.

Possible Western Economic Aid

Here, [he loses his place] it seems that there is something missing, but in that dispatch it was told with some glee what had been the reaction of the U.S. press to the changes in Czechoslovakia, and in fact the U.S. press reaction – the capitalist press, the imperialist press – was very favorable to the changes in Czechoslovakia. Now everything that begins to receive the praise, support, enthusiasm, and applause of the imperialist press naturally begins to raise our suspicions. Later, on 2 May 1968, the press reiterates that Czechoslovakia and the United States are in a period when the return of Czechoslovak gold is requested. The Prague government repeated to Washington its request for the quick return of Czech gold held by the United States.

In a note sent on that date to the U.S. Embassy, the Czech Government describes the U.S. attitude as flippant, and pressed Washington to quickly remit a down payment of the 18,433 kilograms of gold that Washington was holding and that belonged indisputably to Czechoslovakia. It was gold stolen by the Nazis from the Czechs and confiscated by the United States as a guarantee of a settlement of affairs between the two countries.

Then on 11 June 1968, there was a possible loan by the United States to Czechoslovakia. That is, the possibility for Czechoslovakia. That is, the possibility for Czechoslovakia to receive a loan from the United States was planned on that date, according to reliable sources, by the vice president of the National Bank in New York in a conversation with Czech banking leaders. The vice president of the American [as heard] Bank, Miroslava (Kry) maintained that Poland and Yugoslavia had both received large loans from U.S. banks without changing the socialist principles of their societies. Here the argument advanced in favor of the loan was that other countries such as Poland, one of the countries that sent its troops to Czechoslovakia, had received large loans from U.S. banks. Something strange, don’t you think? [chuckles]

Hers is one dated 18 June 1968, a German magazine says that Czechoslovakia sought credits from the German Federal Republic. It says: The weekly Der Spiegel reveals today that Prague, fearing economic reprisals from Moscow, recently sought a loan from Bonn. The federal government however, according to the weekly, so as not to increase the existing tension with the Soviet Union, preferred to get off the hook with Czechoslovakia in a direct manner, and the Council of Ministers approved an idea of Minister of Economics Schiller to give Prague a guarantee for a World Bank loan. Der Spiegel writes that in exchange, Czechoslovakia has promised to give the GFR trade mission a wider scope in Prague and has also alluded to the possibility of normalizing diplomatic relations between both nations at the beginning of next year.

An economic conference between Czechoslovak and West German representatives began on 27 June – a 2-day conference began here today between Czechoslovakia and West German group is headed by the president of the above Bonn society, Ambassador Gebhardt von Walther, who was GFR ambassador in Moscow until the end of last year. Von Walther said that the West German representatives should know the needs and possibilities of the Czechoslovak economy.

He let it be understood that West Germany is ready to substantially increase economic relations with Czechoslovakia. Dr (Sejarik) said that the conference should serve to shed light on possibilities and be highly instrumental to the future development of economic relations between both nations, and so forth.

All of you may remember how, in the wake of the recognition of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the GFR drastically broke relations with us and this situation has continued all this time. In other words, I know how all these governments act, above all, how the GFR acts like Yankee imperialism’s principal pawn.

Liberals and Imperialism

Here we see a number of things, the beginning of a honeymoon in the relation between the liberals and imperialism. I have brought up some of this economic information on various dates simply because a number of political events transpired throughout this process. A veritable liberal hysteria began to develop over there. A number of political slogans began to be aired in favor of the creation of opposition parties, in favor of ideas which were frankly anti-Marxist and anti-Leninist, such as the idea that the party should cease to exercise the function which a party should exercise within a socialist society and that it should play the role of guide, reviewer, and the like – above all, a sort of spiritual director. In short, that power should cease to be a function of the Communist Party. [This was] revision of some alleged fundamentals on which a socialist regime, a transitional regime on the road to socialism and communism, that is to say, the so-called government of the dictatorship of the proletariat – in other words, a government in which power is exercised in the name of a class and against the old exploiting classes, which means that in a revolutionary process, political rights cannot be given away – the right to exercise political activities cannot be given to the old exploiters whose aim is to struggle precisely against the very essence and reason for the being of socialism.

A number of slogans and events began to appear and norms were adopted, such as (those pertaining) to bourgeois freedom of the press – in other words, the right of the counter-revolution and of the exploiters, and of the enemies of socialism themselves, to talk and write freely against socialism. Indeed, a process began in which key communications media were taken over and fell into the hands of reactionary elements. There were a number of slogans used in foreign policy which amounted to a frank rapprochement with capitalist ideas and theses, and to a rapprochement with the West.

Of course, all this linked to a number of slogans which were unquestionably correct. Some of these slogans won some sympathy for the liberalization or democratization movement. Even some European communist parties which were confronting their tragedy and their contradictions began to say that they were starting to look favorably upon the liberalization movement. It was a phenomenon is which everybody was trying to get a piece of the pie.

Then there were the problems in connection with incorrect methods of government, the bureaucratic policy, the alienation of the masses. In short, a number of errors for which they blamed the old leadership. There was also talk about the necessity of giving revolutionary orthodoxy to the development of the socialist revolution and the socialist system in Czechoslovakia.

Move Toward Capitalism

Thus did these undercurrents develop in tandem, one in justification of the change, another which transformed this change into a frankly reactionary policy. This caused a division of opinion. For our part, I did not have any doubt – and this is a very important thing – I did not have any doubt that the Czechoslovak regime was developing dangerously toward a substantial change in the system. In short, the Czechoslovak regime was moving toward capitalism and it was inexorably marching toward imperialism. About this we did not have the slightest doubt.

I want to start by discussing this because I also want to cover some other matters with regard to what was going on there. There are some in the world who do not have this opinion. Many thought this danger did not exist. Many looked favorably upon a certain freedom of artistic expression and some of these things because, naturally, there are many people in the world who are sensitive regarding these problems. Many errors have been committed concerning these problems and many blunders have been made. Logically, certain sectors, above all the intellectuals, are very sensitive about certain means for coping with this.

The intellectuals are also concerned about other problems. They have been very sensitive to Vietnam problems and all these matters, although it must be said that a part of the progressive thought of the world, which lives with their own problems – the general problems of Europe, the problems of the developed world, the problems of the developed society – places more emphasis on problems which are of less concern to a large part of the world.

The problems of a world which lives under imperialist oppression, neocolonialism, capitalist exploitation in the underdeveloped areas of the world, and billions of human beings who practically live under conditions of hunger and misery and without hope, are not the problems of intellectuals. They are more interested in questions such as whether they ought to let their grow long or not. It may well be a very debatable issue, but [Castro chuckles] it certainly is not an issue which is of concern to people who want to know whether they have a possibility or hope of eating. And thus, some emphasized the positive aspects which that evolution may have had and others emphasized negative aspects. Some favored new methods and placed their hopes in them and some did not have any hope. I reached that conclusion at the outset. I had no doubt that the Czechoslovak political situation was deteriorating and Czechoslovakia was sliding downhill to a return to capitalism and would inexorably fall into the hands of imperialism.

Western Imperialists’ Campaign

It is very important because I think that this opinion of mine, which I honestly held and still hold, is very important in order to determine what our position is in connection with these events. Of course, the imperialist world welcomed this situation with great satisfaction and abetted it in every way and without any question whatsoever. They rubbed their hands with satisfaction at the thought of the debacle which this would mean to the socialist world in one way or another.

The imperialists have abetted it and have publicly said many times what their policy is toward the East European socialist nations.

They have always talked in Congress and the newspapers about fanning the flames of liberalism, going so far as promoting and making viable selected types of economic aid and using as many forces as they could over there to create an opposition to socialism. The imperialists are waging this campaign not only in Czechoslovakia but in all East European nations including the Soviet Union. They try by every means to mount publicity campaigns in favor of the way of life of the developed industrial society and in favor of the tastes and the consumer goods of the developed bourgeois societies. They do this on the radio and through what they call cultural exchange programs. They very subtly try to awaken in the masses admiration and an appetite for such tastes, for such consumer habits.

They know full well that the development of these feelings run counter to the revolutionary sentiments of the masses and to the spirit of sacrifice of the masses. The imperialists make much use of the entire bourgeois facade, the utter luxury of a class society which has greatly developed the art and refinement of consumer tastes and luxury, which cannot ever be the aspirations of the socialist societies or of the peoples who seek to march toward communism.

They have a policy called the East European policy, through which they manage their resources, their commerce, with this in mind. They do not do this with Cuba. To Cuba they apply a policy of incessant persecution in all the markets so that we cannot buy, well, or acquire even a little seed, so that we cannot acquire anything. They are relentlessly executing this policy against Cuba. Why? We must ask why. They know that they have not the slightest possibility of penetrating our country with such maneuvers. The imperialists know this and they know it full well.

They have no chance of applying these maneuvers, to come here to crack or soften up the revolutionary spirit of the Cuban people. Therefore, they carry out an implacable war incessantly, always trying to place us in the worst position. This has been its policy all this time. Everyone knows that there is not trade of any kind between Cuba and the United States, because even though they always had a policy to sell us medicines – it was always academic – what medicine can we by? They have prohibited even the sale of medicines to our country. The imperialists have forced us to spend much more money for many things. Their blockade puts us in a difficult situation to obtain essential products which cost us a fortune, and all those things we have mentioned on other occasions.

Opinion on Intervention

I wish to quickly make the first important statement that we considered Czechoslovakia to be heading toward a counter-revolutionary situation, toward capitalism and into the arms of imperialism. This is the operative concept in our first position toward the specific fact of the action taken by a group of socialist countries. That is, we consider that it was unavoidable to prevent this from happening – at any cost, in one way or another.

Of course, let us not become impatient, because we propose to analyze this in line with our ideas. Discussing the form is not really the most fundamental thing. The essential thing, whether we accept it or not, is whether the socialist bloc could permit the development of a political situation which lead to the breakdown of a socialist country and its fall into the arms of imperialism. From our viewpoint, it is not permissible and the socialist bloc has the right to prevent it in one way or another.

We first wish to begin by establishing what our opinion is about this essential matter. Now, it is not enough to explain simply that Czechoslovakia was heading toward a counterevolutionary situation and that it had to be stopped. It is not enough to conclude simply that the only alternative was to prevent it and nothing more. We must analyze the causes and determine the factors which made possible and necessary such a dramatic, drastic, and painful remedy. What are the factors which required a step unquestionably involving a violation of legal principles and of international standards, which have often served as shields for peoples against injustices and are so highly regarded in the world?

What is not appropriate here is to say that the sovereignty of the Czechoslovak state was not violated. That would be fiction and a lie. The violation was flagrant, and on this we are going to talk about the effect on sovereignty, and on legal and political principles. From the legal viewpoint, it cannot be justified. This is quite clear. In our judgment, the decision on Czechoslovakia can be explained only from the political viewpoint and not from a legal viewpoint. Frankly, it has absolutely no legality.

What are the circumstances that have permitted a remedy of this nature, a remedy which places in a difficult situation the entire world revolutionary movement, a remedy which constitutes a really traumatic situation for an entire people – as is the present case in Czechoslovakia – a remedy which implies that an entire nation has to pass through the most unpleasant circumstances of seeing the country occupied by armies of other countries, although they are armies of the socialist countries. A situation in which millions of beings of a country have to see themselves today in the tragic circumstance of electing and choosing either to be passive toward these circumstances and this event – which so much brings to mind previous episodes – or to struggle in comradeship with pro-Yankee agents and spies, the enemies of socialism, the agents of West Germany, and all that fascist and reactionary rabble that in the heat of these circumstances will try to present itself as champions of the sovereignty, patriotism, and freedom of Czechoslovakia?

Logically, for the Czechoslovak people this experience and this fact constitute a better and tragic situation. Therefore, it is not enough simply to conclude that it has arisen as an inexorable necessity and even, if you wish, as an unquestionable obligation of the socialist countries to prevent such events from happening. [One must inquire] what are the cases, the factors, and the circumstances that brought forth – after 20 years of communism in Czechoslovakia – a group of persons whose names do not even appear anywhere, and this petition directed to other countries of the socialist camp, asking them to send their armies to prevent the triumph of the counterrevolution in Czechoslovakia and the triumph of the intrigues and conspiracies of the imperialist countries interested in breaking Czechoslovakia from the community of socialist countries?

Could it be imagined, gentlemen, that at the end of 20 years of communism in our country – of communist revolution, of socialist revolution – that under any circumstances it could happen that a group of honest revolutionaries in this country, terrified at the prospects of an advance or, better said, of a retrogression toward counter-revolutionary positions and imperialism, would see the need of asking the aid of friendly armies to prevent such a situation from occurring?

What would have remained of the communist consciousness of this people? What would have remained of the revolutionary consciousness of this people, of the dignity of this people, of the revolutionary morale of this people? What would have remained of all those things that mean for us essentially the revolution if such circumstances should one day arise?

But no circumstances of that kind will ever occur in our country. First, because we believe that it is a duty and fundamental responsibility of those who direct a revolution to prevent deformations of such a nature that might make possible such circumstances. Secondly, gentlemen, for an unquestionably practical reason and not only a moral elemental reason, because we could ask if it would be worth the trouble if, after 20 years, to survive a revolution one had to resort to such procedures. And also, for a very simple practical reason: who would false personalities of this country ask to send armies? The only armies that we have in our vicinity are the Yankee army and the armies of the puppets allied with the Yankee imperialists, the because we are too alone in this part of the world for there ever to exist the most remote possibility of saving this revolution by asking aid of allied armies.

And it must be said that I do not know anyone capable of having enough shame to do such a thing if they had the need and opportunity to do it, because what kind of communists would we be and what kind of communist revolution would this be if at the end of 20 years we found ourselves having to do such a thing to save it?

Always, when we have thought about foreign aid, we have never had the idea of foreign aid to fight against the imperialist soldiers and against the imperialist armies. I simply analyze these facts because I know that, legally, our people are concerned with an explanation of these concepts. Such things are not in our idea of the revolution.

I do not think that a person can justify the appeal of high-ranking persons, because the justification can only be the political fact in itself – that Czechoslovakia was marching toward a counterrevolutionary situation and this was seriously affecting the entire socialist community. And besides, there is no lack of figleaves of any kind. It is the political fact in itself, with all its consequences and all its importance. (?As) we were saying, recognizing that and nothing else is simply enough.

Or if it is obligatory, it is elementary to draw from this most bitter experience all the political conclusions. And as it is possible, we repeat: In these circumstances, an analysis must be made of all the factors. For the communist movement, there is the unavoidable duty of investigating deeply the causes leading to such a situation, a situation inconceivable for us, the Cuban revolutionaries. If such action is impossible for us Cuban revolutionaries – we who saw the necessity for carrying out this revolution 90 miles from imperialism – we also know that we cannot fall into these circumstances because it would mean the very end of the revolution and falling into the worst situation, [word indistinct] by our enemies, full of hatred. But this is not the reason for making or trying to make this profound analysis.

Communist Ideals

We can enunciate some of the facts and concepts, such as the bureaucratic methods for the direction of the country; the lack of contact with the masses, an essential question of all really revolutionary movements; and the forgetting of communist ideals, and what is meant by the forgetting of the communist ideals – forgetting that men is class societies, that the exploited ones in the society of classes, the enslaved ones, fight for a whole series of ideals.

When they talk of socialism, when they talk of communism, they talk not only of a society in which exploitation disappears de facto, and poverty resulting from this exploitation disappears, and underdevelopment resulting from this exploitation disappears, but also of all those beautiful aspirations which constitute the communist ideal and a classless society.

They speak of a society without selfishness, of a society in which man ceases being a miserable slave of poverty, in which society ceases to work for profits and all society begins to work for necessities and to establish among men the reign of justice, fraternity, equality, and all the ideals of human society and peoples who have always aspired to attain these possible objectives as we have explained on other occasions, as we were fully explaining precisely on 26 July.

If in later stages it were necessary for our revolutionary people to go deeply into these concepts of what is meant by the communist society, [it would be found that] the ideal of the communist society cannot be the ideal of the industrialized bourgeois society. It can in no way be the ideal of the society of capitalist bourgeois consumption.

The communist ideal cannot for a single instant omit internationalism. Those who struggle for communism in any country of the world can never forget the rest of the world and the situation of misery, underdevelopment, poverty, ignorance, exploitation in the rest of the world. What misery has accumulated, what poverty! Not for an instant can one forget the needs and realities of this world.

We understand that the masses of the people cannot be educated in a really internationalist awareness, in a really communist awareness, if one is permitted to forget these realities of the world, the threats these realities involve – realities of confrontation with imperialism, of the dangers of softening up involved in the drawing away from the mind of the people all these real problems so as to try to move the masses only through incentives and only through aspirations of consumption.

European Socialism

We can say – and today it is necessary to speak sincerely and frankly – that we have observed to what point these ideals and these internationalist sentiments, and that state of alert, that awareness of world problems have disappeared or have been manifested only in a very subtle manner in some socialist countries of Europe. We are not going to say that these have manifested themselves in all socialist countries, but [simply] in more than one socialist country of Europe.

Cuban visitors and scholarship students have many times returned saturated with dissatisfaction and disgust, and have said: The youth there are not being educated in the ideals of communism; the youth there are not educated in the principles of internationalism; the youth there are highly influenced by all the ideas and by all tastes of the Western European countries; in many places there they speak only about money; in many places all they talk about is incentives, about material incentives of all sorts, about profits, and wages; and really an internationalist, a communist awareness is not being developed.

Some have told us with astonishment: Well, volunteer work does not exist; people are paid for performing volunteer work; payment for volunteer work is [word indistinct]; it is almost a heresy from the Marxist viewpoint on simple volunteer work. All sorts of practices are followed, including: if a plane makes a good landing or another plane does not land well; if a man makes a good or poor parachute jump – there goes an incentive or something else. Many of our people, many of our men have more than once suffered trauma because of this vulgarization of material incentives of that making of men’s awareness vulgarly materialistic.

Peace Advocates

In addition to all this, there has been the preaching which advocates peace. Within the socialist countries there has been a constant and widespread preaching. And we ask ourselves: What is behind all these campaigns? Do we say this because we are advocates of war? Do we say this because we consider ourselves enemies of peace? We are not advocates of war; we are not advocates of universal holocausts. We have to say this because the analysis of these matters leads to clinches, schemes, charges of warmongering, of being incendiaries of war and of irresponsibility, and so forth and so on.

On this matter we hold a position. The dangers posed to the world by the existence and aggressiveness of imperialism are unquestionable. The threat handing over the world because of the tremendous contradiction existing between the fact of a great part of the world being dominated by imperialism and the people’s desire and need to liberate themselves from the imperialist yoke is unquestionable. Those who are incendiaries of war are the imperialists; the imperialists are the adventurers.

Very well, these threats are realities – realities – and these realities are not erased simply by preaching in our own homes, by an excessive desire for peace. In any event, they can preach peace in the enemy camp, but never in their own camp, because this will only bring about the disappearance of combat spirit, a weakening of the people’s readiness to face risk, sacrifices, and all the consequences that the international reality entails. That international reality imposes all sorts of sacrifices, not only the danger of sacrificing our blood but also sacrifices of a material nature. When the peoples know that the realities of the world, the independence of the country, and their internationalist duties, demand making investments and sacrifices to strengthen the country’s defenses, the masses will be much better prepared to work enthusiastically in this direction – to make sacrifices and to understand this need, being aware of the dangers caused by their unwillingness to make these sacrifices when their minds have been influenced and softened by an incessant, senseless, and unexplainable campaign for peace.

That is a very strange way to defend peace. It was for that reason that at the outset we committed so many blunders – either through ignorance or ingenuousness. It has been a long time since we have painted signs saying: “Long live peace! Long live this or that!” At the beginning, either to mimic or to imitate, everything that came here was repeated, until the time came when we said: What sense does the sign “Long live peace” make? Let us place this sign in New York: “Long live peace in New York! Long live peace in Washington!” Let us preach peace there in the midst of the only ones responsible for the fact that peace is not secure, in the midst of the only ones who are really belicose, in the midst of the only ones responsible for war, the only ones among whom the preaching of peace could at least help to weaken the tremendous taxes imposed upon the people to finance adventuresome, aggressive, colonizing, imperialist, and exploiting war – and not here in our camp.

Softening of Revolutionary Spirit

A series of opinions, ideas, and practices which we do not understand has really contributed to the relaxation and softening up of revolutionary spirit in the socialist countries, to ignoring the problems facing the underdeveloped world, to ignoring the ghastly poverty which exists; to a tendency to maintain with the underdeveloped world trade practices that are the same trade practices followed by the capitalist, bourgeois, and developed world. This does not prevail in all countries, but it does in several countries.

Technical aid – gentlemen, as you know, our country has great need for technicians, great need for technicians. However, when we render some technical assistance, we do not think of sending anyone a bill. We think that the least that an underdeveloped country, a socialist and revolutionary country can do, the least way in which it can help the underdeveloped world is with technology. It does not enter our mind to send anyone a bill for arms that we give or to send anyone a bill for technical assistance. It does not even enter our minds to mention it. If we are going to give aid and we are going to mention it every day, what we are going to do is constantly humiliate those to whom we are giving aid. I believe that one should not talk about it too much. But that is the way we are, and it is no virtue. One cannot claim it as a virtue. It is a basic thing. The day we have thousands and thousands of technicians, surely, gentlemen, the most basic of our duties is to contribute at least technical aid to the countries that achieve their liberation after us or that need our assistance.

All these ideas have never been brought up. All these problems that have a great bearing on communist awareness, internationalist awareness, and which are not given the place they should have in the education of the masses in the socialist camp – have much to do with the terrible softening up which explains these situations.

We all know that the leadership that Czechoslovakia generally had for 20 years was a leadership saturated with many vices of dogmatism, bureaucracy, and in sum, many things which cannot be considered a model of a truly revolutionary leadership. When we here present our views on the pseudoliberal nature of this group, which has been praised so much by imperialism, it does not at all mean that we are expressing our support for that [former] leadership. We must keep in mind that that leadership, with which we maintained relations from the beginning, sold us many arms that were war booty captured from the Nazis and we have been paying and are still paying for weapons that belonged to the Hitlerite troops that occupied Czechoslovakia. Naturally, I am not referring to the weapons which a country has to manufacture as an industrial and commercial product, especially if it is a country with a limited economy. We do not pretend to say: Give away the arms you manufacture in your industry as part of the social production and trade exchange to a country with relatively few resources. But they sold to us many weapons that belonged to the Nazi armies, and we have to pay for them and we are still paying for them. That is a reality.

It is the same as if any country that liberated itself from imperialism needed the rifles that we took from Batista, and we were not rushing to given them away, and then were to charge it – a country ridden with poverty, with many needs, an underdeveloped country – for the rifles. It is as if any country liberated itself tomorrow and we sent it some weapons – the San Cristobal carbines, the Springfield rifles and all such things belonging to Batista’s army – and we charged for them as if it were a great trade transaction. Does there exist doubt that this deviates from the most basic concept regarding the duty of a revolutionary country toward other countries?

On many occasions they sold us industries whose technology was very backward. We have seen the results of many of the economic ideas about trade transactions carried out in desperation to sell old weapons. There is no need to say that such practices led to circumstances under which a country that has carried out a revolution and needs to develop was sold old and obsolete weapons.

I am not going to say that this was always the case. However, all the concepts about financing, benefits, profits, and material incentives that were applied to foreign trade organizations led to desperation to sell an underdeveloped country any old weapon, and this naturally leads to discontent, disgust, misunderstandings, and a deterioration of relations with the underdeveloped world.

These are truths, and today we have to say bitter truths and to admit some bitter truths. We are going to take advantage of the occasion, not as an opportunity, but as a need to explain to ourselves some of things that otherwise would be inexplicable.

It would be very unfair if I did not say that we have known, and our country has known, many technicians from various countries, many Czechoslovak technicians, many good men, who have worked in this country loyally and enthusiastically. I am not referring to men but to institutions, and especially the institutions that deform men. even though there are institutions that deform men, many times we have seen men who have not been deformed by institutions.

Before learning this experience that we are analyzing today, we learned other experiences that explain how one phenomena led to another, another, and another, and at a given time in a society, revolutionary and communist awareness were far from developing; individualism, egoism, and indifference of the masses developed; the cooling of enthusiasm increased. For that reason, some as, if in Cuba enthusiasm is going to decrease or increase – if it is going to increase now, decrease later, and then increase. This has never worried us because experience has taught us that as one goes deeper into the revolution, enthusiasm becomes more conscious, and conscious enthusiasm increases and does not decrease.

Spirit of Sacrifice, Suffering

The spirit of sacrifice of the people increases – the discipline, the work capacity, the willingness – everything increases. That is what our own revolutionary experience has shown us, and we cannot imagine it diminishing. And we think that as we advance it will have to become greater and greater, and that when our country arrives a a higher stage, becomes a communist society, that enthusiasm, that awareness will reach incomparably higher degrees that any we have ever known. We have seen the attitude of the workers, the willingness to work, to accomplish difficult tasks, the willingness to do voluntary labor, the giving up of overtime, and a whole series of all kinds of activities; and there are no longer activities of 10 or 50 or 1,000 persons, but rather there are activities of hundreds of thousands of persons in this country – dozens of thousands of workers that go off to effect the harvests, leaving their families behind; dozens of thousands of young people who go wherever they are sent – Isle of Pines, Pinar del Rio, Camaguey – anywhere – to live under difficult conditions, under difficult housing conditions; and we have seen that this has increased in our country year by year, as awareness grows. Thousands of youth always willing to go anywhere as technicians, as anything; thousands of youths always saying that they are ready to go struggle where they are needed.

Our constant problem here is that everybody wants, everybody dreams of one day being permitted to leave the country so they can help the revolutionary movement anywhere. Our country has an internationalist awareness. Our country’s communist awareness has been growing – it has been growing day by day. And this is a real unquestionable asset of this revolution – for this revolution deals with and lives in world realities.

Perhaps, too, the fact of having the enemy only too close is favorable for us. Perhaps the fact that we are not protected by great armies favors us, the fact that we know that here we depend on our ability to resist, on our people’s willingness to fight and to make sacrifices, on our people’s willingness to give their lives; and because not only was the revolution effected through the effort of this people, not only was this revolution not imported in any way, not only is it a very autochthonous revolution, but also it has had to defend itself in tight spots with an enemy that is very near, and a very powerful enemy.

Our people have been developing that spirit of struggle, that spirit of combat, that willingness to challenge any danger that they have always had. And naturally, all those factors have contributed to the development of our revolutionary awareness. For surely – from the point of view of socialist ideas, from the point of view of revolutionary ideas – not a justification, but rather an explanation, an analysis of why such circumstances might arise in a country like Czechoslovakia is required. And they did indeed occur, and the need did indeed arise, the undeniable need – it is undeniable that there was only one alternative – to prevent it. But to prevent it, of course, the price that has to be paid is a very high price. For a people such as ours, with such a historical revolutionary tradition, who for many years had to face the problems of intervention and struggled against all of Yankee imperialism’s policies, it is logical that there be an emotional reaction. Many people, in the face of that fact that armies from outside the country’s borders have had to enter in order to prevent a catastrophe, and since logically, for different reasons, awareness, concepts, and repudiation of those actions have been formed, only the development of our people’s political awareness can given the ability to analyze when analysis becomes necessary.

And even when this – it is necessary to admit it – even when it violates rights such as the right of sovereignty, our judgment considers as the more important interest the rights of the world revolutionary movement and of the people’s struggle against imperialism, which is in our judgment the fundamental question, and without any doubt, the tearing away of Czechoslovakia and its fall into the arms of imperialism would have constituted a very hard blow – harder still – to the interests of the world revolutionary movement.

Bourgeois Liberal Economic Reforms

And we must learn to analyze these realities, and [to learn] when one interest must give way to another interest in order that romantic and idealistic positions that do not in with these realities may be avoided. We are against all those bourgeois liberal reforms within Czechoslovakia, but we are also against the liberal economic reforms that wee taking place in Czechoslovakia and that have also been taking place in other socialist camp countries. Of course, we have the criterion that we should not tell them how they should realize the building of socialism. But in the face of the occurrences: analysis.

A whole series of reforms were tending more and more to accentuate mercantile relations within the socialist society – profits, benefits, and all those things. In an article – there is an article around here somewhere, or maybe, with so many papers, the article has been misplaced – let’s look for it, well – Ah! Here it is; it hasn’t been lost – an article published in the newspaper Pravda regarding Czechoslovakia, the fact that – the following fact is pointed out: It says if the CPSU is constantly perfecting the style, the form and the method of the building of the party of the state – stresses Pravda – this same task is being effected in other socialist countries. It is being effected with tranquility, based on the fundamentals of the socialist system. But this observation is very interesting: Pravda says – unfortunately, it was on another basis that discussion of the matter of economic reform in Czechoslovakia developed. During that discussion, on one hand overall criticism of the entire earlier development of the socialist economy was presented, and on the other hand replacement of the principles of planning with spontaneous mercantile relations, leaving a wide margin for action (?by) private capital, was proposed.

Does this mean that they are also going to brake certain trends in the field of economy in the Soviet Union, too? Do they advocate putting the accent more and more on mercantile relations and on the effects of spontaneity on those relations – on those criteria that have been defending even the existence of the market and the beneficial effect of that market’s prices? This means that the Soviet Union is becoming aware of the need to brake that trend, for more than one imperialist press article speaks jubilantly of those trends, that have also appeared within the Soviet Union.

On reading these statements, we ask ourselves if this means that an awareness of the problem has been reached. In any case, we find it very interesting that this was noted in the Pravda editorial.

There is a series of matters worrying us. We are concerned that up to now, in the statements of the countries that sent their divisions to Czechoslovakia and in the explanation of the occurrences, no direct accusation of Yankee imperialism has been made. There has been exhaustive talk about all the antecedents, of all the occurrences, of all the deviations, of all the rightist group, of all that liberal group – there has been talk about everything they did. The activities of the imperialists, they intrigues of the imperialists are known, and we are nevertheless worried that neither the Communist Party nor the Soviet Government, nor the governments of the other countries that sent their troops to Czechoslovakia, have made any direct accusation of Yankee imperialism for its responsibility in the occurrences in Czechoslovakia. Certain vague references to world imperialism, to imperialist circles of the world, have been made, and certain more concrete references to West German imperialists circles. But who can fail to know that West Germany is simply a pawn of Yankee imperialism in Europe – the most aggressive, the most notorious? It is the CIA’s pawn, the Pentagon’s pawn, and the pawn of the imperialist government of the United States, and we certainly wish to express our concern that none of the statements has made a direct accusation of Yankee imperialism, the main cause of the machinations and the worldwide conspiracy against the imperialist [as heard] camp – against the socialist camp. And it is only elementary that we express this concern.

Yugoslav Problem

The occurrences in Czechoslovakia only serve to confirm to us the correctness of the positions and the theses that our revolution and our party have been maintaining – our position at the Tricontinental Conference, our positions in the Latin American Solidarity Organization, and our positions regarding all the international problems – there is a series of facts that confirm this point of view. It is known, for example, that one of the factors that we have explained – which explains – which has been a constant element of irritation in our relations with many countries of the socialist camp and with many communist parties is the problem of Yugoslavia.

Some people must have asked themselves the reason for that attitude – why Cuba is always emphasizing the role that the Yugoslav League of Communists Party plays in the world. What is the role of an instrument of imperialism that that party plays in the world?

Now, in relation to the occurrences in Czechoslovakia, the main promoter of all that bourgeois liberal policy – the main defender, the main promoter – was the organization of the so-called Yugoslav communists. They applauded with both hands all those liberal reforms, that whole concept of the party ceasing to be the instrument of revolutionary power, of power ceasing to be a function of the party – because this is very closely linked to the entire outlook of the Yugoslav League of Communists. All those criteria of political nature that completely deviate from Marxism, those criteria of an economic nature, are intimately linked with the Yugoslav League of Communists’ ideology.

However, (?it has happened) recently in many countries that the communist parties, including the communist parties of the Warsaw Pact, have begun quite to forget the role and nature of the Yugoslav League of Communists. They began to call Yugoslavia a communist country, they began to call it a communist party, to invite the Yugoslav League of Communists to meetings of the socialist countries, to meetings of base organizations of the communist parties; and this evoked our constant opposition, our constant disagreement, our constant taking or exception, expressed on various occasions.

And here we have the facts. It was this organization that was one of the principal promoters of the deformations of the political process in Czechoslovakia as the agent – that is what this organization is – of the imperialists.

Some will say that (?I err, but) I am going to show at least some facts. Tito was received as a hero in Prague a few weeks ago. This was the result of what? Of the ideological weakening, of the political weakness in the consciousness of the masses. And were we not saying, how this can be? And to what extremes we are going, when this element – known to be revisionist, condemned historically by the revolutionary movement, which has taken the role of an agent of imperialism – was received by a nation practically as a hero? Now, of course, Tito is one of those most scandalized by this event of the participation of Warsaw Pact countries in Czechoslovakia.

Cuban Purchase of Yugoslav Arms

I was saying that some will ask why have we been so tenacious in our attitude toward the Yugoslav League of Communists. We want to point out a fact, a very important fact from the beginning of the revolution regarding our relations with Yugoslavia. It was in the year 1959, when our country had already made the first laws, when not only had we begun in our country the agrarian reform that brought us into confrontation with imperialism, but also, in the United States, the first plot against us was already being hatched.

At that time we did not have relations as yet with the USSR or with other countries of the socialist camp. And we had to buy our arms in some capitalist countries. We made our first purchases of arms in Belgium and Italy. Because of pressure by the imperialists, and first not by pressure but by CIA conspiracy, there was an explosion on one of the ships coming from Belgium with arms, which resulted in around 80 victims. Later, the Belgian Government, under pressure from the U.S. Government, stopped selling arms.

Meanwhile, the United States was preparing its mercenaries against us and on the other hand was carrying out its policy of blockading our purchase of arms. The Italian Government at that time was under such pressures. We recall that we were trying to buy 16 mortars – 16 mortars from Italy, and they had already sold us four and (?some parts) of the other 12. But under pressure of the Yankee imperialists, they stopped the sale of the 12 pieces. That left us practically with four pieces and (?parts) of the others, but without the cannon.

In this situation, we turned to the Yugoslav Government to try to buy some arms, including the 12 cannon and some 120 mortars and some other pieces. And here we have a report by the comrade in charge of that mission, Maj. Jose M. Fernandez Alvarez.

And here is it in synthesis; I am going to read this information. It says:

In 1959, as the Batista tyranny was defeated, after the defeat of the tyranny, military equipment had to be acquired. This equipment was needed urgently and immediately to defend the revolution, whose laws and measures in process of being promulgated would surely cause hate among its logical enemies, who would try to destroy it.

On a tip that was given us, we got in touch with the ambassador of the Yugoslav republic at the end of 1959 and at the beginning of 1960, in a very superficial manner. Later, we went to visit him in the Yugoslav Embassy on 42nd Street and (Tercera) Miramar, accompanies by Maj Raul Castro. On this visit, the minister of the armed forces informed the ambassador of Cuba’s interest in buying arms and equipment, especially light infantry arms, rifles, machineguns, rocket launchers, mortars, and ammunition. The ambassador was evasive in general, and when the minister said something about payments, he said that the matter of arms was a different matter in regard to payments and that many details (?were involved). The minister indicated to the ambassador that I should stay in contact with him to learn about prices and the arms available, and to carry forward negotiations in this regard.

It as extraordinarily difficult to carry out this task since the lists were delayed. Evasive answers were constantly given us. It was said that there were no arms available and that they had to be manufactured, that the prices had not arrived; and when the prices were finally in our possession, they dealt especially with small caliber arms at extraordinarily high prices, even on the international market. Before this and afterward, when we tried to get arms in Yugoslavia, some comrades went to Yugoslavia and also tried to arrange for the purchase of arms with the same results, with the presentation of other obstacles.

We can say that in no operation could we make progress, despite our negotiations and great interest, since the Yugoslav representation here in Cuba did not make it feasible. As a conclusion to the foregoing, we can say that Yugoslavia’s attitude was markedly opportunistic, since it wanted to be paid in dollars and at black market prices for the few lines that it offered, and said that the total amount of the operation did not justify the difficulties that they would have with the United States over selling us arms. And they were reluctant to give us the lists and prices. They proposed that discussions be carried out through a private Yugoslav commercial company as a screen, in order that the operation should not appear under that country’s name, and in general little cooperation was shown. But it appeared that Yugoslavia did not want to make the sale to us, and on the other hand it appeared opportunist or at least intended to dissuade us from the conditions stipulated.

This was the attitude of that socialist, communist, revolutionary country when our country, in the face of the first dangers of imperialist aggression, wanted to buy arms from it, and that is why there is not one Yugoslav bullet here.

Imagine our surprise some months later when, one day, poking around in the archives, in the archives of the Batista government, we found the text of this document:

“From the military attache to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico, Mexico, D.F., 13 December 1958; Gen. Francisco Tabernilla Dolz, (?MP), Military City, Marianoa.

“My dear friend, I enclose various photographs which have been given me by the Yugoslav ambassador in this country – a great friend of mine. On a certain occasion I talked to him when I had been told that private negotiations were taking place about the possibility of acquiring armaments. He tells me that in fact he can supply us with various types of armaments that we might need, such as .30 06 rifles and so forth, and he talked about a type of boat like those in the photographs that could be of great use to us.

“He explains that he has an ample quantity of these torpedo boats, which would be very economical, since they produce with very cheap labor and have the best naval shipyards today, after the English. These boats have a speed of over 40 kilometers an hour. They have two antiaircraft machineguns, an antiaircraft gun, and torpedo launchers. There is also a great abundance of these torpedoes, which are very cheap. Although I explained to him that at this time the negotiations for any kind of armaments were suspended because we had acquired enough in other places, he told me that at any rate he would give me a list with exact specifications, cost, date of delivery, and freight charge to our ports. As soon as he gives me these data, I shall send them to you immediately.”

After talking about other matters, he signs it “Col. Chief A. P. Chaumon, military attache.”

Those who have read the history of Moncada know that this Chaumon was precisely the officer who perpetrated tens of assassinations in the Moncada garrison after the attack. He was the most criminal of all the officers, who assassinated tens of prisoners, and he was later sent to Mexico and was a “great friend” of the Yugoslav ambassador, to whom, 18 days before the triumph of the revolution in December 1958, when thousands of Cubans had been here – we had been fighting for 2 years – this ambassador, in the name of Yugoslavia, and after consulting, was offering all kinds of arms – cheap, economical, launches, everything.

How great, I say, was our indignation and surprise when we found this document in the archives, signed by the person who signed it, especially when we needed arms to defend ourselves from the imperialists, and they had put all kinds of obstacles in our way and did not sell us a single weapon, and they were offering arms to Batista just as the war was ending. As we are not going to hold the worst opinion, we are not going to have the worst concept of the role that this party played, when even the imperialists would not sell arms to Batista, when not even the Yankees would sell them arms, these gentlemen were offering good and cheap arms.

The communist movement for a long time – with much justification – kept that party ostracized. An infinity of articles written by all the parties appeared in publication against that movement, denouncing it, pointing a finger at it.

Afterward, naturally, some parties forgot this, and the friends, followers, the unconditionals, began also to forget this in the face of all the political preaching about the ideological resurgence of the revolutionary movement, which has led to these most dolorous situations.

And we wonder whether, perhaps, this bitter experience with Czechoslovakia will not lead to a rectification of these errors, and whether the party of the League of Yugoslav Communists will cease to be accepted as a communist party, as a revolutionary party, and will cease to be invited to mass meetings and the political organizations of the socialist camp.

We are seeing many interesting things as a result of these events. It is explained that the countries of the Warsaw Pact sent armies to put down on imperialist plot and the development of counterrevolution in Czechoslovakia. However, it has caused us to disagree and be discontented and to protest over the fact that these same countries have been fomenting relations and a rapprochement of an economic, cultural, and political nature with the oligarchical governments of Latin America, which are not simply reactionary governments, exploiters of their peoples, but are shameful accomplices in the imperialist aggressions against Cuba and shameful accomplices in the economic blockage against Cuba. And these countries have seen themselves stimulated and encouraged by the fact that our friends, our natural allies, have forgotten this cavalier role, this traitorous role, that these governments carry out against a socialist country, the blockage policy which those countries carry out against a socialist country.

Communist Relations With Latin America

And when we see that they explain the necessity for an internationalist spirit and for giving aid with troops to a brother country against the intrigues of the imperialists, we ask ourselves whether perhaps this policy of economic, political, and cultural rapprochement with these oligarchical governments, these accomplices of the imperialist blockade against Cuba, is not going to cease.

It is well to see now how those countries react to this situation. They say that all the Latin American bloc expressed, in the forum of the nations of the world, their unanimous repudiation of this Russian intervention in Czechoslovakia. A spokesman for the group said that “we all receive this intervention with sadness and we feel sympathy with the Czechs.

“The political result that this Soviet intrusion into Czechoslovak internal affairs will strengthen the anti-Soviet tendency in Latin America,” said the informant, and so on.

Then they said, “The source said that this Soviet attitude, the theory about areas influence that they have criticized so much, would enable the United States to claim the right to invade Cuba, inasmuch as it falls within its area of security.” These puppet governments have already begun to draw up the theory that Cuba should be invaded because it falls within an area of security. All these countries – there is a single exception, Mexico, which has been the only government that has not participated in plans for the blockade, aggressions, and imperialist actions against Cuba – all these same oligarchic governments that have received great consideration, delicate treatment, are the standardbearers in the United Nations of scandals and attacks against the socialist countries in connection with events in Czechoslovakia; these countries belonging to the Latin American bloc are even proposing a meeting of the General Assembly and are the most rabid accusers and critics of the Soviet Union and socialist countries because of these events.

These countries have been accomplices in the aggressions against Cuba; they are countries that have no right to speak of sovereignty or anything of that nature, countries that have no right to speak of intervention because they have been accomplices in all the wicked actions committed by imperialism against the people; the savage counterrevolutionary action executed in Santo Domingo, the aggressions against Cuba and many other Latin American nations. Such oligarchic governments as Brazil, Paraguay, and others sent troops there to Santo Domingo and are now the standardbearers of attacks and condemnation of the socialist camp because of the Czechoslovak events.

What magnificent justification! How well this shows the fairness of the positions that the Cuban Revolution has held regarding these events! And we also ask ourselves if this policy will be rectified or if the path of political, economic, and cultural rapprochement toward these countries will continue to be followed.

Some of them, such as Argentina, even shelled a Soviet fishing vessel – yes, shelled. I believe that they even wounded a crew member and then awaited the other vessels like fierce beasts. They have carried out gross and indecent actions against everyone, and yet this soft policy has been followed, a policy has been followed, a policy which in our judgment only encourages their attitude as accomplices in the aggressions against Cuba.

I have a very interesting press dispatch which says that Venezuela decided [does not finish sentence]: Caracas, 21 August – Venezuela has decided to suspend its talks with the Soviet Union and the communist bloc aimed at the resumption of diplomatic relations, in protest over the invasion of Czechoslovakia. The announcement was made by Foreign Minister Ignacio Irribaren Borges. The declaration says:

“In view of reports about the invasion of Czechoslovakia by troops of the Soviet Union and other East European countries, the Venezuelan Government declares that this act against the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of that country represents an open violation of the principles of nonaggression and of free determination of peoples included in the United Nations Charter and the principle of nonintervention set forth in Resolution 2131 of the General Assembly and invariably defended by Venezuela.

“The events that have occurred are a source of serious concern to the Venezuelan Government because they constitute a disturbance of international juridical order, an open employment of superior force, and a serious setback to the people’s aspirations for peaceful coexistence.

“The Venezuelan Government considers that the invading troops must withdraw immediately and unconditionally.

“The Venezuelan Government interprets the sentiments of the Venezuelan people by expressing its profound support for and solidarity with the Czechoslovak people.”

The Venezuelan Government did not assume such an attitude, did not make such a statement, did none of these things when the Yankee troops landed in Santo Domingo. There was no break of relations, no interruption of trade or economic activities – absolutely nothing. And now it takes the luxury of throwing in the face of the socialist countries that type of relations which they have been begging, in reality, that type of relations which they have been begging from that government, which is among the most reactionary and one of the best accomplices of Yankee imperialism; and now it insults [restriega] the socialist countries. These are the results of such a policy when the hour of events, the hour of truth arrives.

The same occurs with the communist parties of Europe that at this time have fallen prey to vacillation. We ask if perhaps in the future the relations with communist parties will be based on their principles or will continue to be governed by their degree of submissiveness, satellitism, and lackeyism, and if only those who unconditionally accept everything and are unable to express absolutely no disagreement with anything will be considered friends. Observe those who have criticized us many times, how under these circumstances they have now fallen confused in the midst of the great hesitations.

Our party did not hesitate to help the Venezuelan guerrillas when a rightist and traitorous leadership, deviating from the revolutionary line, abandoned the guerrillas and entered into shameful connivance with the regime. At that time we analyzed who was right – the group committed to maneuvering and political chicanery, which betrayed the fighters, which betrayed the dead, or those who continued to uphold the banner of rebelliousness. We did not take into account the numbers involved in the rightist group; we took into consideration who was right. We did not take into account how many members of the Central Committee or Politburo were involved, because right has nothing to do with numbers.

At that time the revolutionaries remained in the minority, keeping the banner of guerrilla warfare flying. We were loyal to the same positions that we hold today when we supported guerrillas over and above the rightist leadership in Venezuela, when for the same reason we supported the Guatemalan guerrillas over and above the maneuvers and betrayals of the rightist leadership in Guatemala, and when we supported the Bolivian guerrillas over and above the maneuvers and betrayal of the rightist leadership in Bolivia.

However, we were accused of being adventurers, of intervening in the affairs of other countries and in the affairs of other parties. I ask, in the light of the facts and in the light of the bitter reality which led the Warsaw Pact countries to send their forces to crush a counterrevolution in Czechoslovakia and to support a minority there – so it is said – against a majority with rightist positions; I ask if they will cease supporting also in Latin America those rightist, reformist, submissive, and conciliatory leaderships, enemies of revolutionary armed struggle who oppose the people’s liberation struggle.

In the face of this example, in the face of this bitter experience, I ask if the parties of those countries which support the decision made in Czechoslovakia will cease supporting those rightist groups which are betraying the revolutionary movement in Latin America. Surely we do not believe in the possibilities of improvement [of relations] by the socialist camp with imperialism under present conditions, and really under no conditions so long as such imperialism exists. We do not and cannot believe in the possibilities of improvement between the socialist camp and the imperialist U.S. Government so long as that country represents the role of international gendarme, an enemy of the revolution throughout the world, an aggressor against the people and a systematic opponent of revolution throughout the entire world. And much less do we believe in that improvement in the midst of such a criminal and cowardly aggression as the aggression against Vietnam.

Position on East-West Relation

Certainly our position on this is very clear: Either one faces the reality of the world – either one is really internationalist and really and resolutely supports the revolutionary movement in the world, and relations then with the imperialist U.S. Government cannot be improved; or relations with the imperialist U.S. Government are improved, but only at the expense of ceasing to loyally support the world revolutionary movement.

This is our thesis, this is our position

Here is a press dispatch from Washington – 22 August – “The Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia hinders any rapprochement between East and West, U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk stated here publicly today. The situation created can compromise ratification of the nonproliferation treaty by the U.S. Senate, the chief U.S. diplomatic official added. He issued this press statement upon leaving a cabinet meeting at the White House, a meeting devoted to the Czechoslovak problem and the Vietnam situation.”

We can only express our happiness over this. Our people are aware of the position assumed by the Cuban delegation toward this famous nonproliferation treaty, a treaty which amounted to a permanent concession of monopoly of a technology of a power source which will be essential to the future of mankind.

We were especially concerned over the fact that this meant that many countries of the world would accept an imperialist U.S. Government monopoly over those weapons, which could be used at any time against any nation, since, in addition, that draft treaty was accompanied by an astounding declaration in defense of the countries signing the treaty which were threatened by nuclear arms. Such countries as Vietnam and Cuba, if they desired to differ and not agree with that type of treaty and even less to sign it under circumstances in which the aggression against Vietnam was being carried out in the sharpest manner, were deprived of any protection. Theoretically the imperialists could even have the right to attack us with nuclear weapons. Of course, all are aware of our position.

In the light of events, in the fact of an imperialism that is always plotting, always conspiring against the socialist camp, we ask if we should continue maintaining idyllic hopes of an improvement in relations with the imperialist government of the United States. We ask, in line with the events in Czechoslovakia – in the relations with Yankee imperialism – a position will not be adopted that will imply the renunciation of such idyllic hopes. And it is said here that this will make rapprochement more difficult, and that the new ratification is endangered. In our opinion, the best thing that can happen is for it not be ratified.

The statement by TASS explaining the decision of the governments of the Warsaw Pact says in its final paragraph: “The brother nations firmly and resolutely oppose their unbreakable solidarity against any threat from abroad. They will never permit anyone to snatch away even a single link of the socialist community.” We ask: Does this statement include Vietnam? Does this statement include Korea? Does this statement include Cuba? Does it consider Vietnam, Korea, and Cuba as links in the socialist camp that cannot be snatched away by the imperialists?

On the basis of this declaration, Warsaw Pact divisions were sent to Czechoslovakia, and we ask: Will Warsaw Pact divisions be sent to Vietnam also if the imperialists increase their aggression against that country and the people of Vietnam ask for this aid? Will Warsaw Pact divisions be sent the the Korean Democratic Republic if the Yankee imperialists attach that country? Will Warsaw Pact divisions be sent to Cuba if the Yankee imperialists attack our country, or simply if, in the face of the threat of an attack by the Yankee imperialists, our country requests it? [long applause]

We accept the bitter necessity which demanded the sending of troops to Czechoslovakia. We do not condemn the socialist countries that adopted this decision; but we, as revolutionaries, and on the basis of principles, have the right to demand that a consistent policy of adopted in all the other questions that affect the revolutionary movement in the world.

Defense of Cuban Revolution

Regarding our country, why hide [the fact] that many dangers will arise? The partisans of armed military attack on Cuba almost rub their hands with joy. Even today we have a cable to this effect. We must say how we see things. It is perhaps the principle of sovereignty, is it perhaps the law, that has protected and continues to protect our country in the fact of Yankee invasion? No one believes this. If it were the law, if it were the principle of sovereignty that was protecting our country, it is certain that this revolution would have disappeared from the face of the earth.

What has protected this revolution, what made it possible, was the blood of the sons of this country, the bloody fighting against the bailiffs and against the armies of Batista, the bloody fighting against the mercenaries, the willingness here to fight to the last man in defense of the revolution – as shown in the October crisis – and the conviction of the imperialists that here they will never be able to execute a maneuver or military parade. What defends this revolution is not a simple abstract legal principle that is recognized internationally.

What defends this revolution is the unity of our people, their revolutionary consciousness, their combative spirit, and their decision to die to the last man in defense of the revolution and the country. I do not believe that even our enemies have any doubts about the mettle and the spirit of this people. What defends the sovereignty of a country or a just cause is a people who are capable of feeling this cause as its own, capable of having a profound conviction about the justice of this cause, and the decision to defend it at any price. This is precisely what protects our revolution and what protects the sovereignty of our country in the face of the imperialist threat that has always existed here.

Cuban-U.S. Relations

Now, the imperialist have not ceased for a single instant to dream of the destruction of our country. These dangers will now naturally increase. Well, now, precisely now – because we must talk of things at the necessary moment – once again we are going to set forth our position – the position of our revolutionary government – in regard to the United States. To say it now, precisely when to say things has a real and not simply a declamatory or theoretical significance. It is all the more necessary to express our position, because some speculations have been made about possible improvement of relations between Cuba and the United States.

The revolutionary government has at no time expressed the slightest interest in improving its relations with the imperialist U.S. Government. It has not shown, nor will it show, nor will it pay the least attention or express directly or indirectly, tacitly or expressly, any kind of consent to discuss with that government as long as it is a government which represents the bulwark, of reaction in the world, the international gendarme, enemy of revolutionary movements, aggressor in Vietnam, aggressor in Santo Domingo, and interventionist in revolutionary movement. This has been, is, and will be unquestionably the position of the Revolutionary Government of Cuba.

Never, under no circumstances – the comrades of our Central Committee know this, they know that this is the line adopted by our committee – that never, under no circumstances, even in the most difficult circumstances, will this country approach the imperialist government of the United States, even if one day it puts us in the position of having to choose between keeping the revolution alive or taking such a step. Because gentlemen, beginning at that movement, no revolution would continue living.

If one day this revolution, in order to survive, has to pay for its security and survival the price of concession to Yankee imperialists, we would prefer – as our Central Committee unanimously prefers and as our people prefer – that this people sink with out revolution rather than survive at such a price. [applause]

In the United States there are honest and progressive people, people who oppose blockades, aggressions, and all those things. Naturally, we have always maintained a friendly attitude toward those who honestly have held such a position, toward those who oppose the Vietnam war and the imperialist policies of the United States. Well, regarding the government of that country, our position is clear, absolutely unmistakable. We are not interested in economic relations and we are not yet interested in diplomatic relations of any kind.

Their criminal blockade has been in effect for 10 years. They have taught us to defend ourselves and to form a revolutionary conscience. They know that it will not be easy to sink us. They know that they will not be able to scare us with their threats or to subdue us. They know it will not be easy to starve us to death under any circumstances. We have struggled these 10 years, making enormous efforts. The time is not far when we shall begin to reap the fruits of our efforts. We are prepared to live 20 years – a whole lifetime – without relations of any sort with them. We repeat, regardless of the circumstances, we will wait until Yankee imperialism ceases to be Yankee imperialism, and we will have enough patience and courage to persevere for as long as is necessary. This is our position. This is the only revolutionary position.

We know that they will start trying th threaten us. They will not be successful in this. It is difficult for them to instill fear or dread in this country because this country has learned to live for 10 years in the face of this enemy and its threats. Let us say sincerely that we prefer this clear situation. We prefer this position of risk to those indefinite positions that can lead to a weakening of our spirit of defense. We have not had a war alarm for a long time. We have not had any tense situation for a long time. Now, because of these incidents, several cables have reported that our armed forces have been placed partially on the alert. Yes, immediately; our forces will never be taken by surprise. Our philosophy of struggle includes the basic concept that we will never be taken by surprise. We prefer to be excessively on the alert than to be surprised. Under all circumstances we have always been on the alert and ready, and never have been surprised. The following is our philosophy; we shall never have to give the order to fight, because that order has been permanently given. It is unnecessary to give the order.

One will never be able to enter this country against our will. The circumstances will never exist, no one will ever enter here without at the very start encountering a closed and implacable battle. It is not necessary to sound the alarm for battle. Neither will the order to stop firing ever be given in the face of an aggression. Never will a surrender be accepted. These are three basic concepts of our philosophy against the Yankee imperialist forces.

This philosophy has been drilled into our people who are prepared to fight to the very last man. This also is part of our philosophy. Man has to die one way or another. The only sad way to die is to die shamefully with one’s back to the enemy. We are not warmongers, but revolutionaries prefer to die fighting rather than from natural death. This does not mean that we shall provoke wars to avoid a natural death. Not even revolutionaries can always do what they prefer. Duty will always come first. This – and everybody knows this – is what really defends our sovereignty.

A phase of threats will begin. We will be more occupied in the future than we have been in the past. We will not abandon our work or our development plans; not even this will they achieve. Our present organizational level will go forward. We will carry out our plans and we will strengthen our defense and increase our fighting ability.

Well, here already is the cable from Brazil. A paper that serves as one of the greatest spokesman of the oligarchy there says: “The Soviet interference in an internal matter of Czechoslovakia reopens the Cuban question, which had appeared to be healed, and of which no more was being said.” Thus begins an extensive editorial of Jornal do Brazil in its yesterday’s edition. In a story entitled, Here and There, the paper says textually:

“With the entrance of Soviet troops into Czechoslovakia, several points of equilibrium in the world balance of power need to be automatically reappraised. We cannot fail to recognize that the Cuban presence now takes on a new meaning in the light of the cold and brutal realism that led the Soviet Union to feel insecure simply because one country of the communist orbit decided to debate the need for freedom.

“Moscow intolerance was obvious in its hushing all the words of order so that it could give the floor to brute force. If the USSR can soil the principle of selfdetermination of the peoples simply because it considers that Czechoslovakia is a territory under its ideological jurisdiction, then there is no way of invoking the same doctrine to prevent the Cuba case from being studied in the light of the specific interest of continental unity.

“There are notorious differences in the two cases. First, Czechoslovakia has not broken with socialist principles, nor has it opposed politically the bloc to which it belongs. Only in the internal plane did it eliminate the rigidity of the suffocating dictatorship and permit itself to be led to a discussion in which the word freedom came to be considered a dimension without which socialism is a farce. Cuba’s situation is very different. The Havana government is out of step with the ensemble of the continental countries, whose commitments are to democracy and freedom. The Havana communist regime, besides being an exception, is assuming the mission of exporting subversion to the point of financing groups that perturb democratic order in Latin America.

“As long as the Soviet Union was capable of permitting the breeze of freedom that blew in Czechoslovakia, the world had the impression that finally the large nations, the captains of the blocs, were playing in a more tolerant manner than with the automatism of military interventions. But the panorama brutally and unexpectedly changed. The brunt of Soviet violence was brought to bear against the Czechoslovak attempt to practice freedom.

“The situation automatically changes as far as Cuba is concerned. Not because of the effect of any compensation, but rather because of the simple fact that it is necessary to reevaluate the balance of power on the world scale. The Cuban problem will be reopened, and Brazil, which rose to the defense of the principle of nonintervention, will have to keep in mind that the Rio de Janeiro Treaty is the appropriate legal document for reexamination of the problem.

“The Cuban question is thus converted, since the early hours of yesterday morning, into a current matter, and should be reconsidered without the wrong connotations which reported it in a rather unrealistic manner. The Soviet aggression on Cuba is exposing its flank in Latin America to inevitable investigation.”

So concludes the editorial in Jornal do Brasil in its edition of yesterday, 22 August.

And it pretends to say that this is a realistic examination. There is a wee difference, gentlemen of Jornal do Brasil and of Brazil and other oligarchs; and this is that we Cuban revolutionaries would drive Brazil’s best divisions out of Cuba in a matter of hours with kicks in the ass. [prolonged applause]

And the same goes for the best divisions of the imperialist Government of the United States. We are ready, like the Vietnamese, to struggle for 100 years if necessary [applause]. That is the only slight difference, imperialist and oligarchic gentlemen. We willingly maintain our positions and will always maintain them without being frightened by any kind of threat.

Fatherland or death! 

We will win!

Last updated: 10 April 2021