|May 1, 2000
Speech by Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the
Republic of Cuba, at the mass rally called by the Cuban youths, students
and workers on the occasion of the International Labor Day at the
Revolution Square. May Day, 2000.
We extend our gratitude to the admirable
personalities accompanying us today, and our recognition to the workers,
students and all of the people filling this square.
We are living through days of intense and crucial
battle. For five months we have been fighting restlessly. Millions of
our compatriots, almost without exception, have participated in this
fight. Our consciousness and the ideas sown by the Revolution throughout
more than four decades have been our weapons.
Revolution means to have a sense of history; it is
changing everything that must be changed; it is full equality and
freedom; it is being treated and treating others like human beings; it
is achieving emancipation by ourselves and through our own efforts; it
is challenging powerful dominant forces from within and without the
social and national milieu; it is defending the values in which we
believe at the cost of any sacrifice; it is modesty, selflessness,
altruism, solidarity and heroism; it is fighting with courage,
intelligence and realism; it is never lying or violating ethical
principles; it is a profound conviction that there is no power in the
world that can crush the power of truth and ideas. Revolution means
unity; it is independence, it is fighting for our dreams of justice for
Cuba and for the world, which is the foundation of our patriotism, our
socialism and our internationalism.
In real and concrete terms, for 41 years now we
have confronted a neighbor located just 90 miles away, the most
formidable power that has ever existed in a world that has become
unipolar and hegemonic.
This time the struggle has taken on a particularly
critical character, as a consequence of the kidnapping of a child. Has
he by chance been the only one? No! Many Cuban children have been
separated from one of their parents and illegally taken to the United
States without the slightest possibility to recover them by turning to
the U.S. authorities
In just the first two and a half years of the
Revolution, some 14,000 children were taken out of the country
clandestinely, in this case with the consent of their fathers, mothers,
or both. These parents were victims of deceit, taken in by a carefully
crafted and deliberately fabricated rumor based on a fictitious law
spread by the U.S. intelligence services and their agents in Cuba
leading these parents to believe that they would be deprived of their
paternal rights over their children. The subsequent abrupt suspension by
the U.S. government of regular flights between Cuba and the United
States left these parents separated from their children, many of whom
suffered terribly feeling helpless and uprooted.
On this most recent occasion, a humble father
turned to our government for help: his son, who had not even turned six,
had suffered a horrible tragedy. Without the father’s knowledge or
consent, the child had been taken out of the country illegally as part
of an irresponsible and hazardous misadventure organized by an
aggressive and violent criminal. As Elián’s maternal grandmother
Raquel stated upon arrival in New York on January 21 seeking her
grandson’s liberation, that abusive individual had dragged her
daughter into this tragedy.
The boat sank and the boy watched his mother drown.
She was an excellent worker, a member of the Young Communist League and
the Communist Party, and all those who knew her thought highly of her.
She was one of the victims among the 11 Cubans who lost their lives that
day. Like many others throughout the last 34 years, they were led to
their deaths by a monstrous and bloody aberration known as the Cuban
Adjustment Act, which promotes illegal migration and the smuggling of
humans. Like millions of people from poor countries on this and other
continents, they travel to the United States lured by the ostentatious
luxury and extravagant displays of consumer societies.
In the particular case of Cuba, these attractions
are enhanced by the tremendous privileges granted by the aforementioned
legislation exclusively to the Cubans traveling illegally to the United
States from Cuba, which come on top of four decades of a blockade and an
economic war as abhorrent as this law. Thus, in spite of the migratory
agreements signed by the two countries, Florida is being filled with
criminals who arrive by illegal means. Five out of every ten individuals
who reach the United States in this way have criminal records that
include burglary and other similar crimes.
As it is known, this child managed to survive by
remaining adrift on an inner tube for more than 30 hours. The
Cuban-American terrorist mob, created by irresponsible U.S.
administrations after their own image and likeness, took control of the
child as an invaluable poster boy. A corrupt and sinister individual
--simply a distant relative who had only seen the child once in his
life-- was given temporary
custody. Completely under the mob’s control, he refused to surrender
Elián when his father claimed the boy after he was released from
Consequently, with their usual tenacity our people
immediately began the fight to demand that the child be returned to his
father and the close relatives with whom he had always lived.
According to international law and the legal
standards prevailing both in the United States and Cuba, the proper
procedure would have been to immediately return the child to his country
of origin and to resolve any dispute in a Cuban court of law. However,
almost 10 days would pass before a response was given to the diplomatic
note presented by the Ministry of Foreign Relations demanding the return
of the child as requested by the father from the very beginning. By that
time, the first public protests had taken place in Cuba, and they have
continued up until today.
It is obvious that they underestimated our people,
who have not rested a single day in fighting for something absolutely
just, and who have conveyed to the American people and the rest of the
world their message of pain and indignation over the injustice committed
against a humble Cuban family and the terrible crime perpetrated against
this child. Elián has endured almost five months of mental torture,
psychological pressure and political manipulation. Not even Dante could
have described the hell he has been through!
These events aroused the sympathies of tens of
millions of American families with children, grandchildren,
great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews of Elian’s age. For them, as
for the rest of the world, it became increasingly clear that there could
be no political or ideological justification for such a barbaric and
harsh crime against a child and his father, regardless of their
The Miami terrorist mob and its allies from the
extreme right in the United States have accused us of politicizing the
case, when we have actually been fighting against this crime through
peaceful means. Not a single window has been broken at the U.S.
Interests Section, not a single stone has been thrown at that building,
not a single American official or visitor has been harassed, not a
single U.S. flag has been trampled on or burned in our streets.
I wonder what the U.S. government would have done
if a similar situation had been created with a barely six years old
American child kidnapped in Cuba and subjected to the appalling
treatment this child has sustained in that country.
Throughout almost five months --from the time the
child was found off the Florida coast--
inconceivable things have happened and all kinds of abuses and
mistakes have been made. Despite their knowledge of the situation, until
very shortly before the boy was rescued, the various branches of the
administration showed little concern over his mental health and the
scandalous public exhibition and manipulation of which he was a victim,
or something even more reprehensible: the physical dangers he was
The chief of the commando force involved in the
rescue operation recently stated that the resistance to the raid was
perfectly organized and that there were numerous armed men around the
house where the child was being held captive, just as the Cuban
government had warned the State Department and publicly denounced
between March 22 and April 22.
The last seven-point proposal sent by the Attorney
General to the child’s father, at close to 10:00 p.m. on Friday, April
21 --approximately seven hours before Elián was freed from his
kidnappers at 5:00 a.m. the following day-- contained three points that
I did not want to read at the mass rally in Jagüey Grande where we
commemorated the painful episode of the Bay of Pigs mercenary invasion.
I felt they were simply too grotesque and so I opted for the 24
four-hour truce of which I spoke, in recognition of the decision finally
adopted by the Attorney General, although we remained profoundly
concerned about future events. Those
“2. Saturday morning Elián and Lázaro’s
family will fly to Washington on a USMS (United States Marshall Service)
plane under the supervision of the USMS. DOJ (Department of Justice)
will transport them directly to Airlie House. The child will be guarded
“3. During the residence at Airlie, Elián will
live with Juan Miguel, who will have full authority over Elián except
for any condition of parole or other limitations imposed by the INS such
as departure control. Upon Juan’s arrival at Airlie House, the AG
General) will parole Elián into Juan Miguel’s care. Lázaro’s
family will reside at Airlie House in separate quarters.
“4. The parties will remain in residence at the
site while the CA (Court of Appeals) 11 injunction remains in effect, or
until the AG in consultation with experts determines it is appropriate
to change the arrangements.
Nothing could be more
humiliating, or more closely resemble the imprisonment or kidnapping of
Juan Miguel with his wife and two sons. It was the beginning of a new
stage in the psychological torture of the whole family, even worse than
that sustained by the boy in Miami.
Those who have seen Marisleysis’ hysteria on
television and know who the sinister Lázaro really is, and also all the
honest psychiatrists, fully understand what this absurd and impossible
cohabitation would have meant for Elián and his family. This is
precisely what the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) was
demanding. It was such a proposal that led to Juan Miguel’s almost
suicidal decision to immediately leave for Miami with his wife and son
to personally rescue Elián.
But, those crazed counterrevolutionary ringleaders
were so stupid that they opposed this proposal, even though it was
exactly what they themselves had been demanding, except that they wanted
it to take place in Miami, and not in Washington.
The well-known Congressman Bob Menéndez, a
lobbyist and close ally of the Miami mob, together with an assistant
under-Secretary of State spent Friday, April 21, desperately searching
for a place similar to Airlie House in the Miami area.
These facts I have related to demonstrate the
shameful lengths reached by the Attorney General to avoid the use of
force. Nobody in our country ignores the potential dangers lying on the
twisted path taken by the U.S. authorities --under pressure from the
CANF-- to resolve what
would have been a simple migratory case if it had not involved a Cuban
Here are a few facts that support this statement:
First: The three judges on the panel responsible
for ruling on the mob’s appeal are not trustworthy. The response to
the Attorney General’s request for them to legally direct Lázaro González
to surrender the child, after his obvious failure to abide by the INS
order, will go down in history as a prime example of outrageous, biased
and overbearing conduct. On that day, they decreed that a child of any
age and nationality could apply for asylum in the United States against
his or her parents’ will. On the other hand, the martyred child has
been forced to remain in the United States until the legal proceedings
have concluded. Nothing was said, however, about the failure to abide by
the order issued to the kidnapper to surrender the child. The Attorney
General had no choice. She was forced to either make shameless
concessions or to use force. She did both. Only fate and the skill of
the marshals prevented the worst from happening, and the child was
rescued safe and sound.
What guarantee does the father now have that the
reunion with his son will be final? None!
Second: The Nuevo
Herald reported on April 26 that on the previous day, Tuesday, April
26, a group of 11 senators had called a meeting with Attorney General
Janet Reno in order to “discuss concerns.” When she was asked,
“what would happen if the Atlanta Court of Appeals or any other court
decided that the child should be granted asylum,” the Attorney General
answered, “Then I believe we will have to send him back to Miami.”
The danger that this court will decide that the
child has the right to asylum is real. It would fully coincide with the
doctrine that it followed in its April 19 ruling and with what the
terrorist mob demanded. Nobody could guess the reaction of the
international public, and the public in the United States itself, if Elián
were torn away from Juan Miguel and sent back to the living hell of the
González’ house, now that they have seen everything that was done to
the child in Miami and witnessed the moving images of the father and
son’s reunion. It is impossibility, but this is what the Attorney
General said, and this is what the Atlanta panel could decide.
Third: On April 26, the ANSA news agency issued
the following report from Washington: “‘Wye River’ --that is the name of the place
where Juan Miguel and his family are staying-- ‘was chosen because it
is very good for a child, who can play on its grounds. And it is big
enough so that the relatives can potentially be there without bothering
one another,’ said a Department of Justice official who asked for
As you can see, this is a recurrence of the old
and sinister idea contained in the previously mentioned horrifying
points in the proposal sent to Juan Miguel on the critical night of
Friday, April 21. And none other than an “anonymous” Justice
Department official stated it.
Fourth: On April 26, Gregory Craig, Juan
Miguel’s attorney, presented to the three-judge panel at the Atlanta
Court of Appeals what is known as an emergency motion requesting Juan
Miguel’s intervention in the proceedings. The motion also requested
that Juan Miguel replace Lázaro González as the child’s sole legal
representative, both in his capacity as the only surviving parent and as
Elián’s “next friend”, a strange term used in the U.S. legal
proceedings when a minor has no close relative to represent him or her
in court, which obviously does not apply in Elián’s case.
On the following day, April 27, the Atlanta panel
refused to recognize Juan Miguel as the child’s sole representative,
but granted him the right to intervene in the proceedings, although
voting was divided on the latter point.
With regard to this matter, the New York Times reported on April
28, “In a mixed decision on the Elián González case, a federal
appeals court today put off a request by the boy’s father to serve as
his sole legal representative, which would have effectively ended the
court challenge... In its ruling, the appellate court panel said it was
‘hesitant’ to grant Juan Miguel González the right to intervene in
the case at this late date, but had agreed to the request because he was
the boy’s father. One of the three judges dissented.
“The court also said it would be ‘premature’
to decide whether the boy’s father should serve as Elián’s sole
The well-founded motion presented by Juan
Miguel’s attorney and his sound arguments were dismissed by the panel
with regard to the father serving as sole representative of his son.
According to legal experts, if the ruling to be
made by the three judges on May 11 is divided, that is, based on a
two-to-one vote, the losing side could request that all of the judges on
the Atlanta Court of Appeals pass judgment on the case and not only the
three who have been assigned to it.
In any case, the experts say, this recourse would
mean a further possibility of prolonging the duration of legal
proceedings, and could always be followed by an appeal before the
There are five other alternatives that could be
pursued to draw out the proceedings indefinitely.
At the same time, the mob’s attorneys have
applied for various orders and definitions.
Fifth: Going back to April 25, AP reported the
following from Laredo, Texas: “‘The Clinton administration should
try to persuade Elián González’s father to stay in the United States
to raise his son here,’ said Republican presidential candidate George
W. Bush. ‘I hope the government explains to the father that, if he
prefers to, he can raise his son in freedom, that the father can stay
here in the United States. It is important for our government to
remember that the mother was fleeing in search of freedom, to bring her
son to freedom. I hope that the government convinces the father to raise
his son in the United States of America.’”
Sixth: On the following day,
according to a wire report from the EFE news agency, Hillary Clinton,
the U.S. president’s wife, during a radio interview in Buffalo, New
York, “expressed her hope that the father of the little Cuban boy Elián
González, Juan Miguel, will eventually decide to seek exile and live in
the United States.
“‘I hope that this taste
of freedom and opportunity he has had with his son during this time
might help him to reconsider staying definitively in the United
“‘I am convinced that many
people would be happy to take him in if he decides to defect,’ said
the first lady, using the term applied to soldiers who resolve to
abandon their own country and seek refuge in another, usually an enemy
In other words, they do not
mind talking about instigating the defection of a father who has been
viciously slandered for months. They cannot even conceive of an
honorable Cuban. First, they accused him of being a coward, who did not
dare to travel to the United States and did not even care about his son.
Then, they claimed that the Cuban government would not allow him to go
to the United States, so that he did not defect. Now, that they have
seen him arrive with his wife and infant son, at the exact time, hour
and minute he should do so, they have still not recovered from their
amazement at Juan Miguel’s dignity, courage and sense of honor. They
are trying to keep him there indefinitely in the hope of enticing him
away. They are all working in unison in pursuit of the same goal: to
ensure that the boy never returns to Cuba, and thus deal a moral blow to
the proud and heroic people that produced Juan Miguel and Elián.
Where are the ethics of that
country’s political leaders? How can they be so utterly ignorant of
the realities of Cuba? Why such contempt? How long will they go on
believing their own lies?
On April 27, a whole series of
limitations and obstacles were suddenly imposed on the movements of the
Cuban officials responsible for Juan Miguel, his wife and his two sons,
who are currently 70 miles away. Only four visas were granted for the
children who should travel to the United States to help with Elián’s
recovery, and they have been limited to a 15-day stay. An absurd formula
has been developed by which they must rotate every two weeks; and none
of the crucially needed specialists requested by the family has received
permission to travel to the United States. Obviously, the purpose was to
isolate Juan Miguel, his wife and the two children in the distant Wye
River estate in Maryland.
Coinciding with Mr. Bush and
Mrs. Hillary Clinton’s
statements, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in an interview
with the Fox TV network, “We have some very serious problems with Cuba
and we are going to maintain the embargo law” --that is what she calls the
blockade and the economic war-- “and
the Cuban Democracy Act” --that
is how she refers to the genocidal Helms-Burton Act.
It is amazing, though, because
nobody in Cuba had asked the U.S. government for forgiveness nor had
anyone asked it to put an end to this blockade, which is becoming
increasingly unsustainable and is definitely crumbling because it is
obsolete and it is ever more costly in political and moral terms for the
The forefathers who instituted
our homeland’s heroic tradition of challenging the United States’
two-hundred-year old dream of annexing Cuba taught us that rights are
demanded, not begged for. Nothing will be easy with regard to Cuba in
the future. Forty years resisting all sorts of aggressions and
injustices, and the war of ideas we have been waging ceaselessly
throughout five long months have made us much stronger.
We will fight tirelessly against the murderous
Cuban Adjustment Act; against the cruel Helms-Burton Act, whose sponsors
deserve to stand trial for the crime of genocide, according to the
conventions signed in 1948 and 1949 by both Cuba and the United States;
and against the Act whose namesake, Robert Torricelli, is an ally of the
Miami terrorist mob.
We will fight against the blockade and the
economic war that our people have endured for almost half a century. We
will fight against all subversive activities carried out from within the
United States, including terrorist acts aimed at destabilizing our
nation, and we will fight for the return to our homeland of the
territory illegally occupied in our country. We will fulfill everything
we pledged in the Baraguá Oath, in honor of the indelible and immortal
memory of Antonio Maceo, the Bronze Titan.
We do not blame the American
people; we blame those who are responsible for the lies used to deceive
them for much longer than Lincoln ever imagined. On the contrary, we pay
tribute to the overwhelming majority of those people who, despite all
those lies, have opposed the odious crime committed against a small
It would be wise for the
current and future leaders of the United States to realize that David
has grown and that he has gradually become a moral giant who does not
throw stones with his sling, but rather examples and ideas against which
the Goliath of finances, colossal wealth, nuclear weapons, the most
sophisticated technology and worldwide political power based on
selfishness, demagogy, hypocrisy and lies is completely
To ensure that they do not get
their hopes too high over their ridiculous and Pyrrhic victory arising
from the loathsome resolution adopted in Geneva, based on slander and
imposed by the U.S. government through humiliating pressures and the
backing of its NATO allies, during that same session Cuba put forward
six resolutions in favor of Third World nations. They were all adopted
by an overwhelming majority, with the United States voting against every
single one, generally with the sole support or abstention of the small
group of its wealthy European allies.
The peoples of an ungovernable
world, who suffer poverty and indigence and are exploited and plundered
at an ever-growing rate, will be our best comrades in arms. We certainly
lack the financial resources to cooperate with them. Instead, we have an
extraordinary and selfless human capital that the wealthy countries do
not have and never will possess.
Patria o muerte!