In a TV interview in Havana on the evening of November 1, 1962, Cuban Premier Fidel Castro provided a detailed account of his meetings with Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations U Thant, who had been in Cuba for two days of talks in the immediate aftermath of the Cuban Missiles Crisis. It includes a long section where Castro reads what is purported to be a transcript of one of their meetings.
Date: November 1, 1962
Author: Fidel Castro
Title: Fidel Castro 1 November Interview
Archival Source: Folder 27, Box 1, Cuban Missile Crisis Series, John J. McCloy Papers, Amherst College
Note: The text version below should be accurate, but I recommend checking against the original scanned version above before citing or quoting.
There is no way to independently verify that the short-hand transcript Castro reads is a full and accurate record of the actual discussion.
The original interview was conducted in Spanish. The translation was done by the U.S. government for its own internal use, likely by either the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service or the State Department.
2 November 1962
FIDEL CASTRO 1 NOVEMBER INTERVIEW
Havana in Spanish to the Americas 0145 GMT 2 November 1962
(Live interview with Fidel Castro in television studios of station CMQ; Luis Gomez Wanguermert, moderator)
(Text) Wanguermert: Good evening televiewers. The Cuban radio and television stations have joined the national hookup this evening in order to broadcast the statement of the premier and commander in chief. Dr. Fidel Castro, on the talks held in Havana with U.N. Secretary General U Thant and other current subjects.
Commander Castro, what can you tell us about U Thant's visit to Havana?
Castro: Well, the talks held with U Thant, the U.N. secretary general, lasted two days, and I thought that the best way to inform the people of this matter was to read the copies of the conversations.
The following should be pointed out and considered: On the first day talks of a general nature were held in which our country's position was set forth. On the second day he wanted to discuss several confidential matters. I then asked him if he minded if the shorthand version of the first day's talks, in which the entire position of the Cuban revolution on the reasons for Cuba's conduct is set forth—if he minded if I made it public. He agreed. We also promised him that the points--the questions and the matters of a confidential nature he might discuss, labeling them as such, not for our sake cut for his—would not be published for the time being. However, everything that was discussed is right there. Therefore, I shall read the shorthand version of the conversations held at the Presidential Palace on 30 October 1962 which began at 1510 hours.
U Thant—I shall read the names of the persons sneaking—so U Thant—there is one point I should like to bring up—(Castro explains—Ed.) he (U Thant—Ed.) is speaking: In the discussions I had in New York, both with the representatives of the Soviet Union and with the representatives of the United States, General [Indar Jit] Rikhye was always present, and I feel that his presence would be useful at this meeting with the Premier.
We: We do not mind. General Rikhye is invited to participate in the interview.
U Thant: First of all, Mr. Premier, I should like to thank you and your government for your invitation to visit Cuba, not only for this mission, but also for the invitation given me earlier. As I informed you when I accepted your invitation, I came as soon as possible, I am certain that today and tomorrow we shall have very fruitful talks toward finding a solution with regard to Cuba's sovereignty and independence.
We: We can talk for as long as is necessary. We have plenty of free time to give you.
U Thant: As you well know the Cuban problem was presented to the [United Nations] Security Council last week during the meetings of the 45 neutral countries, principally those which had attended the Bandung and Belgrade conferences. Two meetings were held, and they sent representatives to confer with me—since I also belong to a-neutral country and participated in the two meetings—to ask me to take the initiative, the initiative which could contribute to the peaceful solution of this problem.
On 24 October I decided to take this initiative. After I heard the statements by the three delegations in the Security Council I came to the conclusion that the immediate problem was to make an appeal to the three powers and I called upon Premier Khrushchev to suspend the arms shipments to Cuba voluntarily for two or three weeks and upon President [John F.] Kennedy to lift the quarantine voluntarily; and then I called upon Your Excellency to voluntarily suspend the construction of the missile bases to give us an opportunity to discuss the problem calmly. Immediately after my request the Security Council suspended its meetings to give me a chance to put my plans into effect.
On the following day I learned that Soviet ships are approaching the quarantine area. I sent a second appeal to Premier Khrushchev and to President Kennedy asking them to avoid a direct confrontation on this matter, so that I could have the few days necessary to discuss this matter. On the same day I sent you a letter to which you very kindly replied asking me to visit Cuba. The subject of this letter was the suspension of missile base construction in Cuba.
Since then there have been communications between Premier [Nikita] Khrushchev and President Kennedy, between Premier Khrushchev and myself, between President Kennedy and myself. Naturally, Your Excellency also replied to my letter of 27 October, The contents of this letter are already known to the public because it has been published.
As I see the problem. Your Excellency, it is in two parts: one immediate and the other long term. For the time being the Security Council wishes to deal with the solution of the immediate problem.
The object of my negotiations with the three powers I mentioned concerns only the immediate problem, naturally. However, the United Nations will have to be involved in some way in the solution of the long terra problem.
Several factors are involved in the immediate problem: The first is that Premier Khrushchev responded to my request, giving instructions to the Soviet ships to keep away from the quarantine area for the time being for several days. President Kennedy replied that he was prepared to avoid a direct confrontation with the Soviet ships if they were not carrying armaments, and Premier Khrushchev told me very explicitly that the Soviet ships are not carrying armaments at present.
If the two powers agree, no armaments will be sent to Cuba for two or three weeks, and for two or three weeks if no arms are being shipped the United States will lift the quarantine.
What the United States wants to be sure of is that the Soviet ships will not carry armaments. What the United State wants is a machinery—an arrangement—through the United Nations which would assure it that during this period of two or three weeks no arms will enter Cuba.
The Soviet Union does not agree with this proposal. Yesterday the Soviet Government proposed another solution, that is, that the Soviet ships would permit inspections by the Red Cross, verification by the Red Cross that they are not carrying weapons…
This reply by the Soviet Union was communicated to the United States last evening. The [International Committee of the] Red Cross, which we contacted in Geneva by telephone yesterday, replied that in the name of world peace and international cooperation it would agree to take charge of this matter, either on the high seas or in the ports, of disembarkation, if the Cuban Government agreed.
I cannot take sides at all. I am not empowered to associate myself with any of the proposals. I only informed the Red Cross, the Soviet Union, and the United States that, with due consideration to Cuba's sovereignty, I would request this of the Red Cross, always subject to the consent of the Cuban Government. The three parties were informed of this, and it was reported that the Cuban Government would be informed of it.
Therefore, Your Excellency, the first point, which would help my work considerably, would be to know the attitude of the Cuban Government to the idea of the Red Cross checking the transportation of armaments on Soviet ships for the next two or three weeks. The question is: What would Cuba’s attitude be to this proposal?
President Dorticos: Are you speaking of the high seas, or Cuba?
U Thant: Of course, I informed the government of the Soviet Union and the United State of this proposal made by the Red Cross. The Soviet Government replied that this is a matter pertaining to Cuban sovereignty. I have not received a reply from the U.S. government on the matter. Would Your Excellency like to discuss the matter point by point or all together?
We: I would prefer you to continue your statement.
U Thant: The United States told me, and also said so during the negotiations and during the Security Council meetings that its main concern lies with the launching pads rather than the armament. Its principal concern is the missile launching pads. As is well known, last Sunday Premier Khrushchev instructed the Soviet technicians to dismantle the missile launching pads and to return the missiles to the Soviet Union. He also said that he would ask the United Nations to send teams to verify if this has actually been done.
I replied to the Soviet representatives that before a team could be sent to check on this the most important point was to obtain the prior consent of the Cuban Government. This matter could not be presented without the knowledge and consent of the Cuban Government and- no action could be taken which would violate its sovereignty.
I also informed both the Soviet representative and the U.S. Government that I would come to Cuba to present this viewpoint to Premier Castro and to his colleagues. Of course, both the Soviet Government and the U.S. Government agree on this point—that if the launching pads are removed tension will be reduced. What the United States is seeking through me is a temporary agreement prior to the conclusion of the dismantling of the pads.
I asked the Soviet representatives how long this would take. They asked Moscow, but this morning they had not received a reply.
What the United States is looking for is a temporary agreement with the United Nations, subject, naturally, to the authorization and consent of the Cuban Government. Naturally, no one knows how long this will take—one or two weeks, and perhaps more.
Thus, the first U.S. proposal is that if Cuba consents, a team of U.N. representatives consisting of persons whose nationalities are acceptable to the Cuban Government would be suggested. The second proposal would be a reconnaissance plane manned by persons acceptable to the Cuban, Russian, and American Governments. A plane with a Cuban, a Russian, and a U.S. representative on board for the two or three weeks this may last was also suggested. I replied to the United States that this proposal would also be presented to Premier Fidel Castro.
The United States informed me that as soon as this system has been put into practice it would make a public statement, in the Security Council if necessary, that it would harbor no aggressive intentions toward the Cuban Government and would guarantee the territorial integrity of the nation, I was asked to tell you this.
As I replied to the United States and to everyone, the most important thing is that all these decisions cannot be reached without the consent of the Cuban Government, I was told that if this decision was reached with agreement of the Cuban Government and the United Nations, not only would the United States make the statements in the Security Council but it would also lift the blockade.
I informed the United States yesterday that while I was conferring with premier Fidel Castro and the Cuban leaders, it would be ill advised for the blockade to be maintained, and I asked that it be suspended. This morning it was announced that the blockade had been suspended for the 48 hours of my visit to the Republic of Cuba.
As Your Excellency knows, I said in the Security Council that this blockade was highly unusual, not very common excepting in times of war. That is what I told the Security Council. This viewpoint is shared by the 45 countries which met and asked me to make this request.
Two of these 45 countries, who also have seats on the Security Council at this time—the United Arab Republic and Ghana—made statements in this connection during a meeting in the Security Council. Other countries of the 45 neutrals, particularly those which participated in the Belgrade conference, will make similar statements if given an opportunity. So much for the immediate problem.
Your Excellency, the Security Council did not authorize me to discuss the longterm problems, although this is something which will have to be discussed in the Security Council later. For the purposes of this first conversation, this is all I have to say to you, Your Excellency.
We: There is one point which confuses me: it concerns your proposals on inspection. They speak of two points here—.a team and a plane. I should like more explanation on this point. Please repeat to me the part referring to the inspection proposals.
U Thant: Both proposals would come from the United Nations and would consist of two units: one on land and the other from a plane for the period of the dismantling of the bases, that is, about two weeks.
We: I do not understand why this is asked of us. Could you explain a little better?
U Thant: The explanation given by the United States why it is making the request is that it wants to be certain that the pads are actually dismantled and that the missiles are returned to the Soviet Union.
We: What right has the United States to ask this? I mean, if this is based upon a real right or if it is a demand based upon force, or a position of strength.
U Thant: This is my viewpoint: it is not a right. Such a thing could only be done with the approval and consent of the Cuban Government.
We: We do not exactly understand why this is asked of us because we have not violated any right, we absolutely have not attacked anyone. All our actions have been based upon international law. We have done absolutely nothing outside the norms of international law.
On the other hand, we have been the victims first of all of a blockade, which is an illegal act, and in the second place, of the attempt to determine from another what we have a right to do or not to do within our frontiers. It is our understanding that Cuba is a sovereign state no more nor less than any member nation of the United Nations with all the attributes inherent in any of these states.
Moreover, the United States has repeatedly been violating our airspace without any right, committing an intolerable act of aggression against our country which it has sought to justify by an OAS decision, but this decision is not valid for us. We were even expelled from the OAS [Organization of American States]. We can accept anything that is just, that does not imply a reduction of our sovereignty. The rights violated by the United States have not been reestablished, and we do not accept any imposition by force.
I believe that this question of inspection is one more attempt to humiliate our country, therefore we do not accept it. This request for inspection is to confirm their attempt to violate our right, to act within our frontiers with complete freedom, to decide what we can or cannot do within our frontiers. This line of ours is not a new one; it is a viewpoint we have invariably and always maintained.
In Cuba's reply to the joint U.S. resolution we said textually: The threat of a direct armed attack if Cuba strengthens itself militarily to a degree to which the United States talks the liberty of deciding is absurd. We do not have the slightest intention of giving an account or of consulting the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives with regard to the weapons we deem it advisable to acquire and the measures to take to fully defend our country.
Do we not have the rights which the international norms, laws, and principles recognize for every sovereign state anywhere in the world? We have not granted and do not plan to grant the U.S. Congress any sovereign prerogative. This viewpoint was confirmed in the United Nations by the President of the Republic of Cuba, and also during many public statements made by me as premier of the government, and this is a firm stand of the Cuban Government.
All these steps were taken for the security of the country in the face of a systematic policy of hostility and aggression. They were all taken in accordance with the law and we have not abandoned our determination to defend these rights.
We can negotiate in all sincerity and in all honor. However, we would not be honorable if we were to consent to negotiate a sovereign right of our country. We are prepared to pay the necessary price for these rights, and this is not just so much talk, but an attitude very keenly felt by our people.
U Thant: I understand Your Excellency's sentiments perfectly. That is why I told the United States and others clearly: Any U.N, action in Cuban territory can be undertaken only with the consent of the people and the Government of Cuba. I told them that in the name of peace, which is ardenly desired by everybody and by all inhabitants of the world. I told the 45 countries that I agreed to come to Cuba without having any commitment to either side.
Last night and this morning, before I began my trip, certain press reports said I was coming to settle the details of the United Nations' presence in Cuba. That is completely erroneous. That would be a violation of the sovereignty of the Republic of Cuba. I have come here only to present the other side's viewpoints and explore the possibilities of finding a peaceful solution. The 45 countries that asked me to come also know what position is legal and what is not, but in the name of world peace, and for a period of only one or two weeks, perhaps three, they asked me to come to try to find a possible solution.
Your Excellency, my conscience is clear on this point. The United Nations can only undertake an action of this sort when it has the consent of the government involved. It is not the first time this has happened. In Laos, when a situation existed there that threatened international peace, the United Nations established itself in that territory only after obtaining the consent of the Government of Laos. In 1956, in Egypt, in the UAR, a situation arose and the United Nations established itself in Egypt, and still is in Egypt, with the consent of the government. Similarly, in 1958, in Lebanon, another situation threatening world peace arose, and the United Nations vent in only after it had obtained consent of the Government of Lebanon. One condition is absolutely necessary: In order to undertake an action of that nature, the consent of the government involved must be obtained.
We: In the case of the Congo too?
U Thant: And in the case of Somalia.
We: In the case of the Congo I have understood they requested it of the United Nations.
U Thant: In the Congo the petition was presented by the Government of the Congo.
We; In the Congo the government that requested it is buried now. In the first place, our government has not the slightest doubt of the fine intentions and the disinterestedness and honesty with which the present U.N. Secretary General is working. We have no doubts at all about his intentions, his good faith, his extraordinary interest in finding a solution for the problem, this in all sincerity. I understand the interest we all should feel in peace, but the path of peace is not the path of sacrificing the rights of peoples, of violating the rights of peoples; that is precisely the path that leads to war. The path of peace is the path of guarantees for the rights of peoples and the peoples' readiness to defend those rights.
In every case mentioned by the Secretary General, Laos, Egypt, Lebanon, and the Congo, which I Just mentioned—in all of these cases we see nothing but a series of aggressions against the rights of the peoples. All were caused by the same thing. The road to the past world war was the road marked by the annexation of Austria, the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, tolerated acts of German imperialism—and it led to that war. And we are keenly aware of those dangers. We know the paths aggressors like to take. We guess the path the United States wants to take with regard to us. Therefore it is really hard to understand how it is possible to speak of immediate solutions independently of future solutions, when the matter of greatest interest is not to pay any price for peace now, but to guarantee peace definitely, and not to be paying daily the price of an ephemeral peace.
And of course Cuba is not Austria, nor the Czechoslovak Sudetenland, nor the Congo. We have the most resolute Intention of defending our rights, in the face of all difficulties and risks. And it is necessary for the U.N. Secretary General to know this determination of ours so he can succeed in his mission, or at least be able to work with a perfect knowledge of this circumstance.
U Thant I understand your sentiments perfectly, as well as the viewpoints Your Excellency has expressed. As for the point of immediate solutions and long-term solutions, I wish to say that the Security Council has authorized me to seek means of obtaining peace in this area. I understand that immediate solutions and long-term solutions are intimately interrelated, and for those long-term solutions we should explore the possibilities in the light of the situation as it exists now. The Security Council has given me authorization for that. In practice, it is very hard to separate the two. I believe that, if we find an immediate solution for this, it will lead us to a permanent solution, not just for the United Nations but for all interested parties.
In mentioning Laos and the other cases where the United Nations has established itself, I agree with you, but I also want to say that the United Nations, in those places, has succeeded in removing or averting aggression from without. I thought, if you please, that the U.N. presence in Cuba for a period of perhaps more than three weeks may likewise lessen or eliminate the danger of aggression. It is my opinion that, in current and future times, the presence of the United Nations in certain countries will serve especially to remove and avert aggression.
President Dorticos: I would like to say something. I agree with what our Premier has said about our full understanding of the high mission the Secretary General is carrying out with such nobility. That mission, of course, is none other than to seek means of guaranteeing peace in this critical situation.
It seems there is a question to be defined: Where is the danger of war? In the aims of one kind or another that Cuba has, or is the aggressive U.S. designs against Cuba? We believe aggression is what can engender war. The arms that exist in Cuba, regardless of what they may be, will never begin an aggression. Therefore, we ask ourselves: Why is inspection, and an acceptance of inspection, a condition for guaranteeing peace? To guarantee peace it would suffice for the united States to pledge, with all necessary guarantees through the United Nations, not to attack Cuba. That is why we have set forth—and our Premier has repeated it here very clearly—that the questions of a long-term solution, if they can be called that, are intimately connected with the immediate solution of the crisis.
The immediate solution of the crisis would come as soon as the United States offered guarantees against an attack on Cuba, minimum guarantees that are contained in the declarations made by our Premier on 28 October and which are surely known to the Secretary General. A U.N. stay in Cuba for purposes of inspection, which the Revolutionary Government of Cuba does not accept because of the reasons set forth by the Premier, would at most mean a guarantee for two or three weeks of that peace, which he has rightly called ephemeral. Immediately afterward, the danger of war would resume, because the conditions that favor North American aggression against Cuba would remain.
Let the United States give the guarantees that we demand as a minimum, and the solution of the immediate problem will have begun. I would say, in the last instance that for the purpose of obtaining peace now, there are no immediate questions to be discussed. We believe the five points contained in the declarations made by our Premier are ingredients that form part of the immediate discussion intended to guarantee peace. We believe that these five points are not deferred for long-term discussion, but that circumstances demand that they should be part of the immediate discussion because, in our opinion, they are minimum conditions for guaranteeing peace.
I repeat, peace is not endangered by our arms; peace is in danger because of the aggressive conduct of the United States, and negotiations and discussions covering these five points are what will immediately eliminate the dangers of war. That is our understanding of the problem.
Ü Thant: First, I want to thank Your Excellencies, the President and the Premier, for their kind words for my person and the post I occupy, and I am in full agreement with both as to the solution we may find, for short-term agreements should also include negotiations for long-term, agreements. But in terms of the United Nations, I believe the best solution—and in this I believe the 110 member nations will agree—is for the United Nations, through the Security Council, to provide U.N. representatives to seek and find the long-term solution.
But right now, at this moment, I do not believe the United Nations, and its Security Council, can arrive at a positive, acceptable long-term solution in the best interests of everybody and world peace. If a longterm solution is found, it will be in the best interests of all and of world peace, but I believe it is difficult to obtain at present in the United Nations.
We: I understand that-if that short-term solution of which the Secretary speaks were not achieved, it would be simply because the United States does not want it and would persist in demanding inspection as a humiliating act for Cuba, because, for purposes of that unilateral security which the United States demands, the Soviet Government's decision to withdraw the arms of a strategic nature which had been brought for the defense of the Republic of Cuba should have sufficed.
The Cuban Government has not hindered the withdrawal of those arms, and the Soviet Government’s decision is in itself a decision of a public nature. The mere fact that it was made in this manner in the public view has had an effect on world public opinion. The United States knows that that decision was made seriously by the Soviet Union and that, in fact, the strategic weapons are being withdrawn.
If what the United States wants, besides that, is to humiliate our country, it will not get it. We have not hesitated an instant in the decision to defend our rights. We cannot accept impositions that can be force only on a conquered country. We have not desisted from our determination to defend ourselves, even to such an extent that they will never be able to impose conditions on us, because first they will have to destroy us and annihilate us, and in any case they will not find anybody here on whom to impose humiliating conditions. (Prolonged applause)
U Thant: On the subject of the U.S. declaration, the United States has said that it will make a public declaration of nonaggression and respect for Cuba's territorial integrity once the missiles have been dismantled end withdrawn. In my opinion, on that there is no disagreement.
I am completely in agreement with the Premier that the U.N. actions involve an invasion of the rights of a member state, and in this case, speaking of Cuba, if it is not in agreement, with accepting a U.N. action, then my duty—what I must do—is to inform those who made the proposal of this. It is not my intention here to impose anything. My duty is merely to explain the possibilities for finding the means, the manner, or the form by which we could find a peaceful solution, without making concrete proposals. I shall take into account everything that has been said here this afternoon and I shall return, I shall go back, to make my report to the parties interested in this.
I feel that this meeting has been very useful, and if the Premier is agreeable we can meet again tomorrow, before I leave. Meanwhile, I can be thinking over carefully what the President and the Premier have said about this matter.
We: To conclude, I should like to reply on the question of Red Cross inspection. We also oppose that inspection in our ports. I wonder, if the Soviet Union authorizes inspection of its ships on the high seas, why would it then be necessary to inspect them again in Cuban ports? In the second place, I see that the Secretary centers his interest on getting the United States to make that public declaration, that pledge in the United Nations, that it will not invade Cuba.
On this point, I wish to say first that the United States has no right to invade Cuba and that it is impossible to negotiate with a premise not to commit a crime, with a mere promise not to commit a crime, and that in the face of that danger we trust more to our determination to defend ourselves than to the words of U.S. Government. But moreover, if the United Nations attaches great value to a public commitment entered into in that body by the United States, such as a commitment not to invade, why not concede equal value to the public commitment to the United Nations made by the USSR to withdraw the strategic weapons it sent for the defense of the Republic of Cuba?
These would be two equally public commitments. If one of them needs no additional guarantee—that is, the U.S. commitment not to invade Cuba—why does the Soviet Union’s commitment to withdraw its strategic weapons need the additional guarantee of inspecting us?
We shall meet you again with pleasure as often as you wish and at the time you choose.
U Thant: Many thanks, Your Excellency.
(Castro speaks for himself at this point—Ed,): And that was the end of the first meeting. At the second meeting, he began by saying: “I want to thank the government and the people for the hospitality and the facilities they have afforded me in this country. The motive for this new meeting is to exchange opinions on certain confidential matters I have in mind.”
Thus, at this second meeting, he started off by saying it would deal with matters of a confidential matter. We agreed with him not to make public the things he said. Fundamentally, at this second meeting we maintained our viewpoints from the first meeting and brought up a few things, such as the danger inherent in the violations of our airspace, the danger of an incident, and the fact that it was indispensable for the United States to suspend those flights.
At the same time, the U.N. Secretary General asked us for information about the plane which the U.S. Defense Department reported had disappeared on one of its flights to Cuba. We gave him the information he requested, and, at the same time, we agreed on acceding to his request to send the body of the pilot, who died while on an illegal flight over our territory – we decided for human reasons to return the body.
As a matter of fact, we regretted that this North American had to die in our country as a result of the illegal acts, in violation of our sovereignty, ordered by the U.S. Government. We hope the circumstances that resulted in that death will not be repeated; that is, that the causes that resulted in that death will not be repeated.
In general terms, the opinion of the government regarding the U.N. Secretary General is that he is an honest and impartial person who has real desire to struggle to find solutions for these problems. He also appeared to be a competent person, and he, in reality did inspire our confidence. That is the conclusion we drew from the meeting we had with him, from the way he expressed himself, from the respect he showed at all times toward the ideas of our country and toward the rights of our country.
Moreover, we understand that at this moment the U.N. Secretary General is carrying out a very important mission which enhances the post he holds, and, at the same time, if he achieves success in that effort, is will undoubtedly increase the prestige of the United Nations. It is possible that that institution will develop and carry out its work. It is at present carrying out a very important task.
Undoubtedly, it is of interest that the United Nations constitutes an institution guaranteeing the right of countries, and particularly the rights of the little countries. At this moment, it appears to us that the United Nations is carrying out that role well. In that sense, we give the United Nations all our support; that is, in the efforts and activities it is carrying out in favor of peace and to find a solution. This is apart from our having been intransigent with regard to the problem of inspection, because we consider that we cannot accept any inspection.
We cannot accept inspection for several reason. First, because we have no desire to sacrifice a sovereign principle of our country. A series of rights has been violated. Freedom of the seas has been violated by the United States. The United States is trying to meddle in things which we have a right to do or not do within our borders. The United States, in an open manner, has been violating the airspace of our country.
How, in the face of all those facts of aggression and violation, in the face of those acts of force, are we going to accept inspection of our country, an inspection which actually validates the pretensions of the United States to decide what kind of weapons we have or do not have the right to possess?
We have not renounced the right to possess the kinds of weapons we may consider convenient in the exercise of the sovereign power of our country. We have not renounced that right. We consider it one of our rights. How are we to authorize an inspection to validate a pretension of a foreign country? Therefore, we do not accept it.
In the second place, this constitutes a demand from a position of force, a position of force of the United States, and we do not yield to that position of force. We will never yield to positions of force, (Applause)
What Cuba defends in maintaining its position is not inconsiderable. It defends the sovereign right of countries. Moreover, it defends peace, because our position against the positions of force which is required by these things, our firmness against the demands of the aggressors and those who like to practice such a policy, is a position that will not encourage the aggressors.
The aggressor can be aggressors; that is, the world may find that there are aggressors, but the aggressors will find resistance in our country. The aggressors will find resistance to all kinds of these aggressions, be it physical or moral aggression such as this type of aggression, be it being attempted, or an aggression against a right. And they will not be encouraged by the position of Cuba! We are absolutely in the right and we are absolutely determined to defend that right.
Above all, as is clear in the explanation we gave the U.N. Secretary General, more than anything else this is an attempt to humiliate us. Therefore, the position of Cuba was and is that we do not accept inspection.
We have noted the conditions that are needed, and we repeated to the U.N. Secretary General in the second meeting that the Cuban view is that, if a real solution is desired for the existing tensions and problems in the Caribbean and on the continent, which also affect the entire world, it is necessary that the guarantees that Cuba demands be granted. Those guarantees have the virtue of being absolutely just demands, and all are based on the indisputable rights of our country – the ending of the economic blockade and all the measures of economic and commercial pressure which the United States exerts against our country all over the world and which is has been exercising against our country, aggressive acts that were part of the ingredients that aggravated the situation to the point it reached this time, aggressive acts they continue to commit at this moment.
We are constantly receiving reports of vessels which were coming to Cuba and whose goods were left in Mediterranean, European, or Latin American ports, good that were destined for Cuba. Just yesterday a report came of one or two ships, loaded with jute for our sugar production, which left their cargoes in a Mediterranean port because of pressure by the United States.
Moreover, we demand the cessation of all subversive activities and the launching and landing of weapons and explosives by air and sea, the organization of mercenary invasions, and the infiltration of spies and saboteurs—all actions which are carried out from U.S. territory and some accomplice countries. Do not a people have a right to demand guarantees against those actions? The cessation of the pirate attacks that are carried out from bases in the United States and Puerto Rico, the cessation of all violations of our airspace and territorial waters by U.S. planes and warships – that is to say our country requests that crime not be committed against it, that violations and illegal acts not be committed against it, and finally, that the naval base at Guanatanamo be withdrawn and the Cuban territory occupied by the United States be returned.
It is absurd that the withdrawal of friendly weapons be requested and that an enemy base be left in our country. That has absolutely no foundation! That is absolutely absurd! No one in any place in the world would dispute the right of our country to request the return of the territory on which this base is situated, a base where, in these days of crisis, troops were accumulating to attack our country. How are we going to be asked to withdraw friendly weapons, while enemy weapons remain within the heart of our country?
The United States says that it possesses that base by virtue of a treaty, an agreement between the United States and a Cuban government—of course, a Cuban government that emerged during the intervention. It was not through any treaty; it was through a unilateral agreement in the U.S. Congress, through an amendment they imposed on our constitution and imposed by the United States, by the United States in a law of its Congress, Cuba was warned that they would not depart the country if that amendment were not accepted, an amendment which contained the question of the naval base!
If they call that agreement legitimate, even more legitimate are the agreements between the Soviet Government and the most free government of Cuba, by virtue of which Those strategic missiles were situated in our country and for our defense. And if the United States has placed the world on the brink of war to demand the withdrawal of those missiles, then what right and justification has it to refuse to abandon the territory it occupies in our country?
We are not an obstacle to a solution of peace, a real solution of peace. We are not a warrior or a warlike people. We are a peaceful people, and being peaceful does not mean permitting oneself to be trampled upon. Not in the least! When the trampling comes, then we are as warlike as we must be to defend ourselves. Facts have demonstrated this.
We shall never obstruct a true solution of peace, and the conditions for a true solution of peace are the guarantees of the five points established by the Government of Cuba, The United States should begin by demonstrating its good faith, not with a promise—deeds and not words.
A really convincing deed would be for the United States to return to us the territory it occupies in the naval base of Guantanamo. That would be a much more convincing deed than any word, than any promise the United States could give.
If Cuba’s guarantees are not complied with there will be no true solutions of peace, and then we shall all have to continue living in this same atmosphere of tension in which we have been living up to now. We want solutions of peace, but solutions of peace with dignity. Moreover, there would be no peace without dignity, because the nations without dignity are not respected. We have a right to peace, to one kind of peace or another, to the peace which is neither peace nor war, simply because we were able to resist and were able to have dignity. We have the right to a peace, to a real solution of peace and sooner or later we shall obtain it because we have earned that right due to the spirit of our people, due to their resistance and their dignity.
Our cause, and ova: right to peace, will continue to gain ground throughout the world. Everyone also knows who is to blame for these problems, who is to blame for all these tensions. And the people of the world will go on giving support to our five points which are indispensable conditions for peace. Our people have won and will keep on winning even more the right to a worthy and to a just peace.
We must be allowed to work in peace. More than weapons we prefer to use instruments of work. More than to kill end destroy, we prefer to create. Our people are not permitted to create. They are constantly being forced to mobilize, to put themselves on a war footing, to defend themselves, to prepare themselves because they are forced to do so, not because we desire this policy.
It is a policy imposed upon us by the aggressors against our country. What our country wants is to work. What it wants is to develop its resources, to develop the people, and to progress with its peaceful work.
Some things are amusing. A few days before the crisis, barely two days earlier, we inaugurated the institute for basic sciences. Some 1,000 young people were to enter it to begin studying medicine. Within three days the institute for basic sciences was converted into an anti-aircraft artillery school, and thus went everything else. Compare one thing with the other: peaceful work and the desires and efforts of a nation to improve its well-being and health, to train all the doctors our peasants need and to train all the doctors our people need to raise their average life span and to improve their health.
There were SCO young people who had entered and within three days 800, 1,000, or 2,000 youths had to enter to be taught to kill, to be taught to handle not surgical instruments but cannon.
Our road, the desire of our people, is not the artillery school, but the institute of basic science; the rest are bitter tasks which have been imposed on us by the aggressors. Some days before this crisis, signs could be seen everywhere how the work of the revolution had advanced. Supplies were improving considerably—production, both agricultural and industrial, and the plans—the entire creative work of the revolution—were advancing at a high rate. And the organisms were devoted to creating the work conditions for next year, 1963, with the hope of achieving a leap ahead in the economy, a leap in the production.
But the crisis came, and the threat. Mobilization was necessary, the abandonment of all the projects, the abandonment of all the tasks, in order to assume under those circumstances the most sacred task which is the defense of the country. And we defend the fatherland because we want a country in which to work, not a country of parasites but a country of workers, a country of creators. And we want that country in order to work, to create!
That is why we must defend it before all else. And the ardor with which the people prepared to fight and to do whatever else was necessary demonstrates the love the people feel, more every day, for creative work. What were they defending in the trenches? What they are doing in the rural areas, what they are doing in the universities, what they are doing in the factories, what they are doing in the schools—that is what the people are going to defend in the trenches! And the more awareness they have of what they are doing, the more their love what they are doing, the more logical it is that they go to the trenches with more love and more courage.
We will not be an obstacle to any real solution of peace. We gladly offer our efforts toward that solution, to the effort being made by the United Nations to find that real solution of peace, to the effort being made by different neutralist countries to find that solution of real peace, a peace with dignity and with absolutely no lessening of any of the sovereign rights of our country. But if there is to be a lessening, we shall continue as we are. We shall not accept it. How long? As long as necessary.
We shall have patience, all the patience necessary, so that as the climax of all this struggle we shall someday attain that peace with all the attributes of a state that is totally and absolutely sovereign, which has always been the aspiration of our people. We must have patience.
We shall not accept just any little formula. We shall accept any formula of peace that is truly worthy. And I think that, with such a formula, not only we would profit, everyone would profit, the world would profit, America would profit, the United States would profit; that is to say, the very ones to blame for this situation would also profit from absolution of peace that is acceptable to our country.
And we express the view of our people when we say that we are ready to fight and to cooperate for that peace. We have proposed it, we have said it in all our proposals. Let us see if now, after this crisis which shook the world for several days, the conditions or the circumstances are achieved in order to attain that peace.
I still have some questions to deal with. In the course of this crisis, it may be said that during the development of the crisis there arose some differences between the Soviet Government and the Cuban Government. But I want to say something to all Cubans. It is not here that we should discuss those problems; it is not here, where our enemies might find it useful or try to profit from those discussions. We must discuss this with the Soviets at the level of government and party, sit down with them to discuss everything that might be necessary in the light of reason and principles.
It must be said that, above all, we are Marxist-Leninists, (Prolonged applause) Between the Soviet Union and Cuba there shall be no breaches!
We want to say another thing that we have confidence in the policy of principle of the Soviet Union and we have confidence in the leadership of the Soviet Union; that is to say, in the government and the leading party of the Soviet Union. (Applause)
If my compatriots were to ask me at this moment for an opinion, what should I tell them, what advice amid confused situations, things that have not been understood or are not well understood, what to do? I would say that what must be done is to have confidence, that what must be done is to understand that these international problems are extremely complex and extremely delicate, and that cur people, who have given evidence of great maturity, of extraordinary maturity, should demonstrate it in this way—taking care to analyze things, to make no premature judgments, to be disciplined, and, above all, to have confidence; moreover, to have complete faith in the revolutionary government, in the leadership of the revolutionary government; to have complete confidence that everything—all the problems, all the questions—will be discussed opportunely; to keep in mind that elements of judgment needed to understand certain things could even be missing; and to keep in mind that the dramatic and urgent circumstances in which events took place must not be forgotten.
Now there is time in which to discuss all that completely, and we shall discuss it. We must prevent the enemy from profiting from our impatience, from our judgments, because an honest revolutionary may make judgments; he has the right to form his opinions. But if the opinions he formed at a given moment about certain things that he does not understand well are voiced, there might also be someone around who is not a revolutionary, someone interested in creating distrust, division, and resentment. That is why the advice we must give is: Have confidence, be firm, and have faith; be guided by what we have said here today—that is what must be done in these circumstances and it is that which we must do.
Above all, and I say it with absolute sincerity—there are things I want to say in these moments in which a certain disagreement may have been created because of those misunderstandings or difference – it is good to remember, above all, want the Soviet Union has done for us. It is good remember, above all, what it has done for us in every one of the difficult moment we have had, how the friendly hand of the Soviet Union has been there with us after each Yankee blow—economic aggression, the suppression of the sugar quota, the suppression of the shipments of petroleum to our country – after each of the aggression we have endured, and we are grateful. We must say that here loudly.
Moreover, there is another even more moving thing, at least it impresses me extraordinarily—the Soviet men, the Soviet men we have met here, the technicians who have come to work with us in our rural areas, the teachers, professors, engineers, planners, technicians of all kinds, the interest, the devotion, the fondness with which they have helped us.
Moreover, there are military technicians, men who have been ready to die here with us, who have helped us in the instruction, training, and preparation of our fighting forces; who have worked with us for months and years, teaching our men to fight; who have worked with us for months, years, teaching our men to fight and organizing that formidable army we have at this moment; all the weapons they have sent us, the basic weapons of our armed forces which are all weapons that the Soviet Union has sent us and for which the Soviet Union has not charged us! (Applause)
I should like to say that several months ago the Soviet Union decided to cancel all the debts of our country for armaments. Some of these matters are of a military nature, which must be treated with great care. Nevertheless, I will explain something; for example, the strategic weapons for our defense. Those weapons, the strategic weapons were not the property of Cuba. That is not the case with the tanks and an entire series of weapons, which are our property. The strategic weapons were not our property.
In the agreements by virtue of which they were sent to our country to strengthen our defenses against the threats of attack, it was decided that those strategic weapons, which are very complex and require very specialized personnel, would continue under the direction of Soviet personnel and continue being the property of the Soviet state. That is why, when the Soviet Government decided to withdraw those weapons, which belonged to it, we respected that decision.
I explain this so that the reasons why the withdrawal was decided on by the Soviet Government can be understood. That is why I was saying that, even though we may have some well-founded reason for discontent over some fact, some details, more than ever, we must remember how good, generous, noble, and friendly the Soviets have been toward us, and I was precisely speaking of the technicians, whom we have seen at our side, ready to die, to sacrifice their lives in the defense of our country. They are magnificent men. That is why another thing that we must feel at this moment more than ever is appreciation, affection, respect, and gratitude towards those men. I believe that that is the conduct which we must follow at this moment. (Applause)
That is what we must show, and, above all, we must conduct ourselves better than ever during these moments, with higher morale than ever and with more greatness than ever.
Let it not be thought that the withdrawal of the strategic weapons disarms us. This does not mean that we are disarmed. I can assure you that we have formidable means of defense, powerful means of defense, extraordinary resources with which to defend ourselves.
The strategic weapons are leaving, but all the other weapons—all the other weapons are staying in car country, and they are very powerful means of defense, with which we can face any situation. There is no reason for confusion; there is no reason for confusion. The confusion will pass little by little.
There is one matter I want to stress, one observation I want to make, and it involves the people, the conduct, of the people during these days, I want to say that the action of the people has surpassed everything even the most optimistic could ever have imagined in determination, valor, and discipline. It must be said that thousands of men who were not militiamen, who did not become militiamen during these four years of revolution, became militiamen during this crisis. It must be said that thousands of persons who did not belong to mass organizations or committees for the defense of the revolution went to register in the mass organizations during these days.
It must be said that the enemy was unable, inside our country, to count on allies of any kind. It must be said that during these days of extreme crisis it was not necessary to arrest anybody. Even men and women who criticized the revolution—in this decisive hour the patriotic, revolutionary core became apparent in them and they went to enlist, and they went to enlist for a battle that according to every prospect was a serious battle, a terrifying battle; a battle that could be fought with conventional weapons or with atomic weapons.
The President of the United States tried to intimidate our people, these people whom he called a captive people, when he spoke of how we might be a target for atomic attacks, and the result was that there were more a target for atomic attacks, and the result was that there were more be told how the women went to work, and how the pensioners went to work to replace the men in the trenches.
It must be noted that, although this was the greatest mobilization of all, it was the one that affected production the least. Never during a mobilization had production gone as it did. The people’s discipline was truly impressive, the people’s ardor, the people’s valor.
Impressive also was the organization acquired by our people, above all by our revolutionary armed forces, and the efficiency with which the commands operated. It was demonstrated how the revolution has been creating discipline, has been shaping a people. By harassing us, the enemy has made us disciplined, has made us organized, has made us battle-hardened. The result of these four years of harassment has made a heroic people, a people more than Spartan, for it is said that in Sparta, the mothers sent their sons off with the words, “With you shield, or on it.” And here, an entire people, men, women, and children, young and old, told themselves, “with our shield, or on it.” (Prolonged applause)
A people like that are an invincible people. A people like that, who in that manner so calmly, so admirably, confront such difficult situations, are a people who have a right to win what they aspire to, which is peace, respect, to keep inviolate their dignity and their prestige, because we have long-range moral missiles that cannot be dismantled and will never be dismantled! (Prolonged applause) And that is our most powerful strategic weapon, of strategic defense and strategic offense!
And so here I want to bear witness today more than ever to our admiration for our people. And all we revolutionaries should feel doubly obliged, after this experience, to fight for our people, to work tirelessly for our people. I want to say here today from the very bottom of my heart, in conclusion, I want to say, that today more than ever, I feel proud of being a son of this people.
Fatherland or death, we will win! (Applause)