BY THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF
Vilma is dead. Even though the news
was expected, it was still an impact. Out of respect for her
delicate health condition, I never raised her name in my
Vilma’s example today is more necessary than ever.
She devoted her entire life to the struggle for women’s rights
when in Cuba most women were discriminated against as human beings,
the same as in the rest of the world, with only the honorable
It was not always this way throughout the
historical evolution of our species, leading her to fulfill the
social role befitting her as a natural workshop where life is
In our country, women came out from under one of
the most horrible forms of society, that of a Yankee neo-colony
under the aegis of imperialism and its system, where everything
that the human being is capable of creating was turned into
When what has been defined as the exploitation of
man by man started far back in history, the mothers and children
of the dispossessed bore the brunt of the burden.
Cuban women used to work as domestic servants, or
in luxurious shops and bourgeois bars, selected for their good
looks. Factories assigned them the simplest jobs, the ones that
were the most repetitive and worst paid.
In education and healthcare --services provided on
a small scale-- their indispensable cooperation was as teachers
and nurses who had only been offered basic training. The country,
2,009.92 miles from end to end, only had one higher education
center located in the capital and later, several faculties in
university campuses in two other provinces. As a rule, the only
young women who could study there were those from the most
affluent families. In many activities, the presence of a woman was
not even dreamed of.
For almost half a century, I have been witness to
Vilma’s struggles. I cannot forget her presence at the meetings of
the July 26 Movement in the Sierra Maestra. She was eventually
sent by the movement's directorate to carry out an important
mission on the Second Eastern Front. Vilma did not shrink from any
After the triumph of the Revolution, she began her
ceaseless battle for the rights of Cuban women and children, which
led her to found and lead the Federation of Cuban Women. There was
no national or international forum too distant for her to attend
in defense of her assailed homeland and of the noble and just
ideas of the Revolution.
Her gentle voice, steady and timely, was always
listened to with great respect in Party, State and mass
Today women in Cuba make up 66 percent of the
technical work force of the country, and they take part, in the
main, in almost all the university degree courses. Previously,
there were hardly any women involved in scientific activities,
since science and scientists did not exist, but exceptionally. In
this field as well, today women are in the majority.
Revolutionary duties and her immense work load
never prevented Vilma from fulfilling her responsibilities as a
loyal wife and mother of several children.
Vilma is dead. Long live Vilma!
Fidel Castro Ruz
June 20, 2007.