Fidel Castro on the Latest Crisis of Capitalism in the
“More Than One Trillion Dollars Lost from Pensions
speech of July 26, 2002
The following text was posted on the Internet by the
Information Office of the Cuban Interests Section, which states that the speech
was “given by Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz, president of the Republic of Cuba, at a
public rally held at the ‘Abel Santamaria Cuadrado’ Revolution Square in
[the town of] Ciego de Avila on the occasion of the 49th anniversary of the
attacks on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Barracks.” We have not
tried to give explanatory notes for the many references that will probably not
be familiar to non-Cubans. We note only that “the special period” refers to
the times of economic difficulty after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union,
Cuba’s main trading partner at the time.
History has proved that nothing could defeat our people in its noble endeavors and that weapons are no more powerful than ideas.
Gomez and Maceo, their tenacity and heroism, ride today
like invincible horsemen through our fields; Cespedes and Agramonte bear with
them the constitution and the justice for which they shed their blood in the
free and sovereign republic they proclaimed in 1868. Marti's ideals live on in
the nation of workers that we are today, as nothing could prevent that, from the
proletarian spirit of a country built over centuries with the blood and sweat of
slaves and workers, the deepest yearning for freedom and justice that our
national hero demanded would flow with inextinguishable strength, that is, our
socialism. What we are today we have defended with honor and a sense of humanism
and justice that will live on like an eternal flame.
Glory be especially to this July 26 and to those who on
the same date forty-nine years ago shed their blood and gave their lives to
resume with ever growing consciousness the march down the road opened by their
Glory be to the people that, educated in just ideas and
heroic traditions, has stayed true to them until today and will stay true
tomorrow and ever onward to victory!
What are we, what shall we be if not one single
history, one single idea, one single will for all times?
Ciego de Avila and Moran, yesterday a line of
barricades that the enemy tried to use to divide the country, the East from the
West, what are they this July 26? They are an indestructible path linking the
thought, the heroism, and the will to struggle of that imperishable bulwark with
whose independence Marti wanted to prevent and did prevent the powerful and
expansionist neighbor to the North from spreading through the Antilles and
falling with that additional force on our American lands.
People of Ciego de Avila and fellow Cubans from the
former province of Camaguey, without the memory of your sacrifices of yesterday,
our dreams of today would be impossible.
Hardly twelve years ago, many in the world expected to
see Cuba, the last socialist state in the West, crumble. Not much time has gone
by, and today, instead, quite a number of us on this earth are waiting to see
how the developed capitalist world led by the United States disengages from the
colossal and chaotic economic mess in which it is enmeshed. Those who yesterday
talked so much about the end of history might be wondering if this profound
crisis is not the beginning of the end of the political, economic, and social
system it represents.
Nevertheless, being aware of the disaster affecting
that system does not necessarily mean to be unrealistic, to indulge in excessive
optimism or to see mirages in the midst of what is still an arid desert.
The men who to some degree foresaw a fragment of the
future, as a rule perceived the demise of their era's tragedies as closer and
imminent. However, one would have to be really blind to fail to understand that
the barbaric and cruel world order that humanity endures today cannot last much
History has shown that new eras have always arisen from
the profound crises of any dominant system.
The 21st century will not be like the century that just
ended, when the human population grew four times more than it had grown in the
hundreds of thousands of years that people wandered among the woods, groves,
rivers, and lakes of the earth, seeking sustenance in obscure corners of the
planet which are today threatened with preemptive and surprise attacks. Today,
one could almost envy those noble barbaric predecessors!
When Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848, it
seemed that almost the only limit to the inexhaustible fount of riches that
would make possible a truly just and worthy social system for human beings was
the exploitative and merciless capitalist system born from the bourgeois
revolution. Not even his wondrous genius could imagine how much damage
capitalism was yet to bring on humanity.
Lenin discovered and analyzed its imperialist phase.
Today, almost one hundred years later, humanity is
suffering under the horrors of its neoliberal globalization.
New and enormous challenges have surfaced in each of
these stages that lead it closer to its end.
Hardly 30 years ago, few people in the world discussed
the environment. Ideas or themes linked to the destruction of the forests, soil
erosion and salinity, climate change, the disappearing ozone layer, melting
icecaps, whole cities and nations doomed to fatally disappear beneath the sea,
polluted air and water, and overexploited oceans—all that seemed to be
inventions of doomsday scientists and not pressing realities.
What does it mean for the overwhelming majority of
humanity—the spectacular breakthroughs of science, space flights, the possible
colonization of Mars, and things like that? What is it they promise to the
billions of starving and diseased people, total or functional illiterates, who
live on this planet?
And what does the alleged existence of the United
Nations and the General Assembly mean to them, when the only thing that counts
there is the Security Council, where five countries have veto power, and a real
tyranny on any matter is exerted by the dominant hegemonic superpower?
How can it be explained that there 200 million children
who work for a living, others who are sold in the marketplaces of pleasure, or
die by the millions every year when their lives could be saved with just a few
What can we feel proud of?
What kind of humanity do we belong to?
It is necessary to build an awareness of these
We should send this simple message of truth to the
billions of people who in one way or another are experiencing this and are aware
of it, so that no sophisticated weapons or mechanisms of deceit and lies can
destroy the conscience of our species.
Selfishness, ambition, hatred, envy, rivalries, the
worst instincts are sown everywhere. Education is what the overwhelming majority
of people on this planet mostly lack, and that is what turns newborn babies into
human beings. A minimal amount of political education for young people and
adults would allow them to understand the world's realities.
Perhaps, of the evils brought about by developed
capitalism none is so nefarious as the way of life and the consumerist habits,
as unrealistic as they are unattainable, which advertising drums into the world
population 365 days a year, 24 hours a day at a cost of a trillion dollars. If
this amount were spent on instilling values and on rationally educating nations,
the face of the earth would change.
Human beings are not educated [by advertising] to
realistic patterns of consumption and distribution that include our infinite
cultural and spiritual wealth. These could realistically be within humankind's
reach without destroying nature, as could food, housing, and other essential
material goods. Actually, the exact opposite is done, which constitutes an
Cuba is a modest example of what could be done with a
minimum of resources. Our current struggle becomes especially important as we
find ourselves up against the hostility and aggression of a government which is
the sum of the most overwhelming powers that have ever existed. It is,
nevertheless, completely lacking in the ethical, social, and humanist values,
which an endangered species like ours needs to survive.
Twenty U.S. universities have introduced crash courses
to explain the complicated tangles created by neoliberal capitalism's latest
feat: accounting fraud. What is accounting fraud? It is barefaced robbery, a
criminal swindling of millions and millions of Americans who had bought shares
in big companies or had invested hundreds of billions of dollars in them. It is
a fraud that directly affects retirees who had invested their money in these
seemingly juicy shares.
The fraud scandal has given rise to controversies and
direct and indirect accusations between political leaders in the United States.
President Bush, in a recent speech given in Alabama, insinuated that the blame
lay with the previous U.S. administration. He said that the U.S. economy was
suffering a hangover from the economic binge of the 90s. He did not mention
President Clinton by name but he criticized that culture of endless corporate
profits in the stock markets where no one ever thought about the future.
The Democratic leadership has coincided with major
newspapers in responding with harsh direct criticisms linking the current
president with the same practices that he now pretends [to want] to get rid of.
They have mentioned the case of a company [Harken] that was on the brink of a
crisis, and how Mr. Bush, fully informed of the situation as a board member,
sold his shares for $848,560, while the price was still high.
Additionally, the leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate has asked the body regulating the Stock Exchange to publish information about the privileged loans received by the president, at low interest rates, when he worked for the Harken Energy Company.
Accusations are flying while “millions of investors
and pensioners have seen their savings and pensions reduced by more than one
trillion dollars,” to quote one prominent newspaper.
In the midst of the present economic crisis, which
began in 2000, the effects on the stock markets in the United States and Europe
have been devastating and have had a serious impact on the world economy,
dealing a blow to hopes of a slight recovery in 2002.
More than 50% of U.S. consumers have shares in the
stock market, which could negatively impact on the economic recovery.
Unemployment in the United States has now risen to 6%.
Company profits have fallen in five consecutive quarters.
From March 2000 to date the Dow Jones and NASDAQ
indices, the most important for the New York Stock Exchange, have fallen, the
former by around 31.6% and the latter by 73.9%. The New York Stock Exchange has
lost $1.4 trillion in the last two weeks.
On July 23, the New York Stock Exchange plummeted again because of the [exposure of] accounting fraud at WorldCom, the second largest world communications company. On July 24, it closed at a relatively high trend, and yesterday, July 25, it was announced that 12 investment banks were under investigation for possible links with the accounting frauds. Nobody knows what surprise tomorrow might bring.
After several years of high surpluses, the current
administration is accused of bringing back budget deficits with its economic
Public debt has risen to 6 trillion dollars, which is
equivalent to a $66,000 per capita debt for every American.
The trade deficit continues to grow, while government
spending in 2002 could exceed 500 billion dollars.
The external financing they receive has fallen to less
than half the previous amount and so has foreign investment.
The dollar has been devalued against the Euro and the
The interest rate has fallen to its lowest level in 40
years, a symptom of uncertainty and insecurity.
There are some positive economic indicators, which do
little to offset the set of overwhelmingly unfavorable factors just mentioned.
I have not said a word about what is happening in Latin
America where, according to information known to our people, the economic and
social situation is terrifying and getting worse.
Given the major significance of the U.S. economy for
that of the rest of the world, including Cuba’s, which in addition to the
blockade suffers the indirect damage caused by the international economic
crisis, the figures are far from encouraging for anyone. The set of problems
that are piling up in the world point objectively to a disaster for neoliberal
globalization and for that unsustainable economic order.
Since Cuba is a Third World country, it is also
suffering from low sugar and nickel prices. The 10-year sustained growth of
tourism of more than 15% annually was hit by the devastating terrorist attack on
the Twin Towers, the effects of the world economic crisis on this industry and
the growing cost of life insurance and fuel. Additionally submitted to an
economic blockade by the United States for more than 40 years, but saving and
managing its resources efficiently and honorably, there is no place here for
murky businesses, the plundering of public funds, money laundering, drug
trafficking, or any other similar situations. There are no children who don’t
have a school. They don’t go barefoot or panhandling. Thirteen vaccines protect
their health. The infant mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world. All
get immediate free medical care. All complete their sixth grade and almost one
hundred percent their ninth grade. Today, all options for studying are within
their reach. Their diet has improved. Their general education and art knowledge
are growing. Our young people are guaranteed the continuation of their studies
and a job when they turn 16.
Unemployment is not growing; it is falling, from 6%
about 2 years ago, and it will be 3.5% by the end of 2002. The number of
medicinal drugs in short supply for the population is clearly decreasing.
Medical services are improving and other new ones are being introduced. The
people are protected in case of natural disasters and receive immediate
assistance when have been affected; also, recovery after such events takes place
in record time. Hundreds of thousands of televisions are supplied every year.
Old schools are repaired and new ones are built. Audiovisual aids and computers
are being introduced into school and general education on a massive scale.
Programs such as the training of social workers and “University for All” are
coming into being. Teachers and professors-training-on-the-job to increase the
numbers of teaching staff and reduce classroom size are being educated. Computer
skills teachers are teaching this subject from preschool on. University
education is advancing significantly while we continue to help other countries
with education, health, and sport, free of charge.
The social and humane advantages of our system are
infinite. We are well ahead of many industrialized nations in many of the most
important areas of life and ahead of all of them in some areas such as
education, culture, scientific knowledge for the masses, and other fields. Not
all have been mentioned.
We have unity, a political culture of cohesion and
strength. Nothing can affect our brilliant future. In the battle of ideas no one
can go up against our intelligent and ever more cultured people.
We have been able to withstand the blockade for more than 40 years,
including 11 years of “the special period.” We have just waged a sound
struggle against lies, infamy, political subversion, and the attempt to impose
on our people the fickle will of the masters of the most powerful empire that
has ever existed. We did so with such impressive strength and popular support
that nobody should have any doubts that there is no way to break our invincible
will to win or to die defending our socialism, which we think is the most just,
humane, and decent society that can be conceived of. And with every minute that
passes the lies, the ignorance, the lack of culture, and the threats will crash
against the invincible spirit of our people.
Hardly three days ago, the Miami terrorist Mob created,
hand-fed, trained, and supported by the U.S. administration openly declared the
millions that it invests in interfering, destabilizing, and terrorist actions
against our people. One more proof of the lack of seriousness behind the
declarations, the lies, and the alleged policies of an administration that
promises to fight terrorism.
Even if only out of a sense of political decency, the
U.S. government should stop tolerating and supporting the extremist group which
made it put on such a ridiculous show on May 20, which only led to greater
unity, a strengthening of the revolutionary spirit and the patriotic
consciousness that the Cuban people has shown to the world.
The smallest municipality in Cuba is stronger than all
the scum that met with Bush in the James L. Knight Center in Miami [on May 20].
I have always said—and I shall never regret it—that
the American people, idealist by nature due to its ethical values and its
traditions of love of liberty, will be one of the Cuban people’s best friends
when it learns the whole truth about Cuba's honest and heroic struggle. It
showed this in an impressive way with its support for Elian’s return.
Scarcely 72 hours ago, the House of Representatives
also made an important gesture when, based on various criteria and viewpoints,
and even under assault by the hysterical screams and shouts of a little group of
Miami mobsters, it paid no heed to the arguments of the supporters of the
blockade and genocide against Cuba, voting with determination and courage for
three amendments that bring glory to that institution. It does not matter if the
executive, as was already announced, vetoes them, nor does it matter if new
ruses and provocations are invented to annul them.
We shall always be grateful for that gesture. I would
like to express our people’s gratitude to both Democratic and Republican
legislators who on that day acted intelligently and strongly, following their
own beliefs. We shall always be on the American people’s side in its struggle to
preserve the lives and interests of its citizens who might become innocent
victims of criminal terrorist attacks.
On this historical date for Cubans, I can assure you
that we wish for a sincere, respectful, and fraternal friendship between the
peoples of Cuba and the United States.
Long live socialism!
Patria o Muerte!