THE human species reaffirms with
frustrating force that it has existed for
approximately 230 million years. I do not recall any
affirmation that it has achieved any greater age.
Other kinds of humans did exist, like the
Neanderthals of European origin; or a third, the
hominid of Denisova in North Asia but, in no case
are there fossils more ancient than those of the
homo sapiens of Ethiopia.
On the other hand, similar remains
exist of numerous species living then, such as
dinosaurs, the fossilized remains of which date back
more than 200 million years. Many scientists talk of
their existence prior to the meteorite which struck
the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, provoking the death of
these mammals, some of which measured up to 60
meters in length.
Equally known is the prehistory of
the planet which we today inhabit, which broke away
from the solar nebula and cooled as a compact,
almost flat mass, constituted by a growing number of
well defined materials which, little by little,
acquired visible traits. It is not as yet known how
many remain to be discovered, and the previously
unknown uses which modern technology can contribute
to human beings.
It is known that the seeds of
certain edible plants were discovered and began to
be used around 40,000 years ago. There is also
confirmation of what was a sowing calendar, engraved
in stone approximately 10,000 years ago.
Science must teach all of us to be
more modest, given our congenital self-sufficiency.
In this way, we would be more prepared to confront
and even enjoy the rare privilege of existing.
Countless generous and
self-sacrificing people, in particular mothers, whom
nature endowed with a special spirit of sacrifice,
live in this exploited and plundered world.
The concept of fathers, which does
not exist in nature, is on the other hand, fruit of
social education in human beings and is observed as
a norm in any part of the world, from the Arctic,
where the Eskimos are to be found, to the most
torrid tropical jungles of Africa, in which women
not only look after their families, but also work
the land to produce food.
Anyone who reads the news arriving
every day on old and new behaviors of nature and
discoveries of methods for confronting events of
yesterday, today and tomorrow, will understand the
exigencies of our time.
Viruses are transforming themselves
in unexpected forms, hitting the most productive
plants or animals which make possible human
alimentation, making the health of our species more
insecure and costly, generating and aggravating
illnesses, above all among the elderly or infants.
How to honorably confront the
growing number of obstacles suffered by the
inhabitants of the planet?
Let us think that more than 200
human groups are disputing the Earth’s resources.
Patriotism is simply the widest sentiment of
solidarity achieved. We should never say that it was
only a little thing. It evidently began with family
activities of reduced groups of people which
historians describe as family clans, to explore ways
of cooperation among family groups who cooperated
with each other in order to undertake tasks within
their reach. There was a struggle among family
groups in other stages, until they reached higher
levels of organization such as, doubtless, tribes.
More than 100,000 years went by. Recollections
written on sophisticated parchment, however, date
back no more than 4,000 years.
The human capacity to think and
develop ideas was already notable, and I sincerely
do not believe that the Ancient Greeks were less
intelligent than contemporary humans. Their poems,
their philosophical texts, their sculptures, their
medical knowledge, their Olympic Games; their
mirrors, with which they set alight enemy ships by
concentrating the sun’s rays; the works of Socrates,
Plato, Aristotle, Galen, Archimedes and others,
filled the ancient world with light. They were men
of exceptional talents.
After a long road, we arrived at the
contemporary stage of human history.
Critical days were not long in
presenting themselves for our homeland, at 90 miles
from the continental territory of the United States,
after a profound crisis struck the USSR.
From January 1, 1959, our country
took charge of its own destiny after 402 years of
Spanish colonialism and 59 as a neo-colony. We no
longer existed as indigenous peoples who did not
even speak the same language; we were a mix of
whites, Blacks and American Indians who formed a new
nation with its virtues and defects like all the
rest. It goes without saying that the tragedy of
unemployment, underdevelopment and an extremely poor
level of education ruled on the island. The people
were in possession of knowledge inculcated by the
press and literature dominant in the United States,
which was unaware of, if it did not scorn, the
sentiments of a nation which had fought with arms
over decades for its independence and, in the end,
also against hundreds of thousands of soldiers in
the service of the Spanish metropolis. It is
essential not to overlook the history of the "Ripe
Fruit," dominant in the colonialist mentality of the
powerful neighboring nation, which made its power
prevail and not only refused the country the right
to be free today, tomorrow and for ever, but
attempted to annex our island as part of the
territory of that powerful country.
When the U.S. Maine
battleship exploded in the port of Havana, the
Spanish army, comprising hundreds of thousands of
men, was already defeated. Just as one day, on the
basis of heroism, the Vietnamese defeated the
powerful army endowed with sophisticated equipment,
including Agent Orange, which affected so many
Vietnamese for life, and Nixon, on more than one
occasion, was tempted to use nuclear weapons against
that heroic people. It was not by chance that he
fought to soften the Soviet position with
discussions on food production in that country.
I would not be clear if I do not
point to a bitter moment in our relations with the
USSR. This was derived from our reaction on learning
of Nikita Khrushchev’s decision related to the 1962
October Crisis, the 51st anniversary of which is
When we found out that Khrushchev
had agreed with John F. Kennedy to withdraw the
nuclear missiles from the country, I published a
note of five points which I considered indispensable
for an agreement. The Soviet leader knew that
initially we warned the Chief Marshal of the Soviet
rockets that Cuba was not interested in being seen
as an emplacement for USSR missiles, given its
aspiration to be an example for other countries in
Latin America in the struggle for the independence
of our peoples. But despite this the Chief Marshal
of those weapons, an excellent person, insisted on
the need to have some weaponry which would deter the
aggressors. Given his insistence on the issue, I
stated that if it seemed to them an essential need
for the defense of socialism, that was different,
because, above all else, we were revolutionaries. I
asked him for two hours so that the leadership of
our Revolution could make a decision.
In relation to Cuba, Khrushchev had
conducted himself with much dignity. When the United
States totally suspended the sugar quota and blocked
our trade, he decided to buy what that country had
ceased to import, and at the same price; when, a few
months later, that country suspended oil quotas, the
USSR supplied us with the necessities of that vital
product without which our economy would have
suffered a major collapse. A fight to the death had
been imposed, given that Cuba would never surrender.
The battles had been very bloody, as much for the
aggressors as for us. We had accumulated more than
300,000 weapons, including the 100,000 we had taken
from the Batista dictatorship.
The Soviet leader had accumulated
great prestige. As a result of the occupation of the
Suez Canal by France and Britain, the two powers
which owned the canal and, with the support pf
Israeli forces, had attacked and occupied the
waterway, Khrushchev warned that he would use his
nuclear weapons against the French and British
aggressors who had occupied that point. Under
Eisenhower’s leadership, the United States was not
disposed at that moment to involve itself in a war.
I recall a phrase of Khrushchev’s at that time, "Our
missiles could hit a fly in the air."
Not long afterward, the world found
itself enveloped in extremely grave danger of war.
Unfortunately, it was the most serious as yet known.
Khrushchev wasn’t just one more leader, during the
Great Patriotic War he was outstanding as Chief
Commissar of the defense of Stalingrad, now
Volgograd, in the hardest battle waged in the world,
with the participation of four million men. The
Nazis lost more than half a million soldiers. The
October Crisis in Cuba lost him his position. In
1964 he was replaced by Leonid Brezhnev.
It was supposed that, although at a
high price, the United States would keep to its
commitment not to invade Cuba. Brezhnev developed
excellent relations with our country. He visited us
on January 28, 1974, developed the military might of
the Soviet Union, trained many officers of our
forces in the military academy of his great country,
continued the free supply of military armaments to
our country, promoted the construction of a water
cooled electronuclear power station at which maximum
security measures were implemented, and gave support
to our country’s economic objectives.
Upon his death on November 10, 1982,
he was succeeded by Yuri Andropov, director of the
KGB, who headed the funeral ceremony for Brezhnev
and took possession as president of the USSR. He was
a serious man, that is my appreciation of him, and
also very frank.
He told us that if we were attacked
by the United States we would have to fight alone.
We asked him if they could supply weapons free of
charge as had been the case. He replied in the
affirmative. We then communicated to him, "Don’t
worry, send us the weapons which the invaders took
Only a minimum of compañeros
were informed of this matter, given that it would
have been highly dangerous if the enemy had this
We decided to ask other friends for
sufficient weapons in order to organize one million
Cuban combatants. Compañero Kim Il Sung, a
veteran and impeccable combatant, sent us 100,000 AK
rifles and their corresponding park without charging
What contributed to unleash the
crisis? Khrushchev had perceived Kennedy’s clear
intention to invade Cuba as soon as the political
and diplomatic conditions were prepared, especially
after the crushing defeat of the mercenary Bay of
Pigs invasion, escorted by assault warships from the
Marine Infantry and a yanki aircraft carrier.
The mercenaries controlled the airspace with more
than 40 aircraft including B-26 bombers, air
transport planes and other support aircraft.
A prior surprise attack on the
principal airbase did not find our aircraft lined
up, but dispersed to various points, those which
could be moved and those that lacked parts. It
affected just a few. The day of the traitorous
invasion our planes were in the air before dawn,
headed for Playa Girón. Let us just say that an
honest U.S. writer described it as a disaster.
Suffice it to say that at the end of that adventure
only two or three expeditionaries were able to
return to Miami.
The invasion programmed by the U.S.
armed forces against the island would have suffered
tremendous losses, far higher than the 50,000
soldiers they lost in Vietnam. They did not then
have the experience that they acquired later.
It will be recalled that, on October
28, 1962, I stated that I was not in agreement with
the decision, not consulted with or known by Cuba,
that the USSR would withdraw its strategic missiles,
for which launch pads were being constructed, to a
total of 42. I explained to the Soviet leader that
this step had not been consulted with us, an
essential requisite of our agreements. The idea can
be put in one sentence, "You can convince me that I
am wrong, but you cannot say that I am wrong without
convincing me," and I enumerated five points, to
remain sacrosanct. 1. An end to the economic
blockade and all measures of commercial economic
coercion exercised by the United States in all parts
of the world against our country. 2. An end to all
subversive activities, the launching of landing of
arms and explosives by air and by sea, the
organization of mercenary invasions, filtration of
spies and saboteurs, all of these actions carried
out from U.S. territory and some complicit countries.
3. An end to pirate attacks perpetrated from bases
in the United States and Puerto Rico. 4. An end to
all violations of our air and maritime space by U.S.
warplanes and warships. 5. Withdrawal from the
Guantánamo Naval Base and the return of the Cuban
territory occupied by the United States.
It is equally very well known that
the French journalist Jean Daniel interviewed
President Kennedy after the October Crisis; Kennedy
recounted the very difficult time he had
experienced, and asked him if I was really aware of
the danger of that moment. I asked the French
reporter to travel to Cuba, to talk with me and
clarify that question.
Daniel traveled to Cuba and asked
for an interview. I called him that night and
conveyed to him that I wanted to see him and
converse with him about the issue, and suggested
that we talk in Varadero. We arrived there and I
invited him to lunch. It was midday. I turned on the
radio and at that moment a glacial dispatch
announced that the President had been assassinated
There was virtually nothing left to
talk about. Of course, I asked him to tell me about
his conversation with Kennedy; he was really
impressed with his contact with the president. He
told me that Kennedy was a thinking machine; he was
really traumatized. I didn’t see him again. For my
part, I investigated as far as I could, or rather,
imagined what happened that day. Lee Harvey Oswald’s
conduct was really strange. I knew that he had
attempted to visit Cuba not long before the
assassination of Kennedy, and that it was supposed
that he shot at a moving target with a
semi-automatic rifle. I am very well acquainted with
the use of that weapon. When one fires, the sight
moves and the target is lost in an instant;
something which does not happen with other types of
firing systems. The telescopic lens, of various
degrees of power, is very precise if the weapon is
supported, but obstructs when used against a moving
object. It is said that two lethal shots were fired
consecutively in a fraction of a second. The
presence of a lumpen, known for his trade, who
killed Oswald in no less than a police precinct,
moved by the pain that Kennedy’s wife would be
suffering, would seem to be a cynical joke.
Johnson, a good oil magnate, lost no
time in taking a plane headed for Washington. I do
not wish to make imputations; that is a matter for
them, but the plans were to involve Cuba in the
assassination of Kennedy. Later, after some years
had passed, the son of the assassinated President
visited and dined with me. He was a young man full
of life, who liked to write. Shortly afterward,
traveling in a stormy night to a vacation island in
a simple aircraft, it apparently failed to find its
goal and exploded. I also met in Caracas with the
wife and young children of Robert Kennedy, who was
Attorney General, and a negotiator with Khrushchev’s
envoy and had been assassinated. Thus the world
marched on since then.
Very close now to ending this
account, which coincides with the 87th birthday of
its author on August 13, I ask you to excuse me for
any imprecision. I have not had time to consult
News dispatches talk almost daily
about issues of concern accumulating on the world
According to the Russia Today
television channel website, Noam Chomsky stated,"’he
U.S. policy is designed to increase terror."
"According to the eminent
philosopher, U.S. policy is designed so as to
increase terror among the population. ‘The U.S. is
conducting the most impressive international
terrorist campaign ever seen [...] that of the drone
planes and the special forces campaign…’"
"The drone planes campaign is
creating potential terrorists."
"In his view, it is absolutely
amazing that the North American country performs on
one hand a massive terror campaign that can generate
potential terrorists against oneself, and on the
other hand it proclaims that it is absolutely
necessary to have mass surveillance to protect
"According to Chomsky, there are
many similar cases. One of the most striking, in his
opinion, is that of Luis Posada Carriles, accused in
Venezuela of participating in an attack on a plane
aboard which 73 people were killed…"
Today, I am especially recalling the
best friend I had in my years as a political
activist – a very modest and poor man forged in the
Bolivarian Army of Venezuela – Hugo Chávez Frías.
Among the many books which I have
read, impregnated with his poetic and descriptive
language, there is one which distills his rich
culture and his capacity for expressing his
intelligence and his sympathies in rigorous terms,
through the 2,000-plus questions put to him by the
likewise French journalist, Ignacio Ramonet.
On July 26th this year, when he
visited Santiago de Cuba on the occasion of the 60th
anniversary of the assault on the Moncada and Carlos
M. de Céspedes garrisons, Ramonet dedicated to me
his latest book, Hugo Chávez Mi primera vida.
(Hugo Chávez: My First Life).
I experienced the healthy pride of
having contributed to the drafting of this work,
because Ramonet subjected me to an implacable
questionnaire, which, despite everything, served to
coach the author on this material.
The worst thing is that I had not
completed my task as a leader when I promised him to
On July 26, 2006, I fell seriously
ill. As soon as I understood that it would be
definitive, I didn’t hesitate for an instant to
announce on the 31st that I was resigning from my
posts as President of the Councils of State and
Ministers, and proposed that the compañero
designated to exercise this task should immediately
proceed to occupy it.
I still had to complete the promised
revision of One Hundred Hours with Fidel. I
was prone, I feared losing consciousness while I was
dictating and sometimes I fell asleep. Nevertheless,
day by day, I replied to the devilish questions
which seemed to me to be interminably long; but
persisted until I finished.
I was far from imagining that my
life would be prolonged another seven years. Only in
this way did I have the privilege of reading and
studying many things which I should have learned
before. I think that the new discoveries have
In relation to Hugo Chávez there
remained many questions to answer, from the most
important moment of his existence, when he assumed
his post as President of the Republic of Venezuela.
There is not one question to respond to in terms of
the most brilliant moments of his life. Those who
knew him well know the priority he gave to those
ideological challenges. A man of action and ideas,
he was surprised by an extremely aggressive illness
which caused him great suffering, but he confronted
it with great dignity, and with profound pain for
his family and close friends who loved him so much.
Bolívar was his teacher and the guide who directed
his steps through life. Both of them brought
together sufficient grandeur to occupy a place of
honor in human history.
All of us are now awaiting Hugo
Chávez, Mi Segunda Vida (Hugo Chávez: My Second
Life). Without him, nobody could write the most
authentic of histories better.
Fidel Castro Ruz
August 13, 2013