Fidel Castro

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A revolution is a fight to the death between the future and the past.

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (13 August 192625 November 2016) was a Cuban politician and communist revolutionary who governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008. Politically a Marxist–Leninist and Cuban nationalist, Castro also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Under his administration, Cuba became a one-party communist state, where industry and business were nationalized and state socialist reforms were implemented throughout the society.

Quotes[edit]

Condemn me, it does not matter: history will absolve me.
I am not a dictator, and I do not think I will become one.
What do they think? That this is a bourgeois liberal regime? NO! There is nothing liberal in us! We are collectivists! We are communists! There will be no Prague Spring here!
  • I feel my belief in sacrifice and struggle getting stronger. I despise the kind of existence that clings to the miserly trifles of comfort and self-interest. I think that a man should not live beyond the age when he begins to deteriorate, when the flame that lighted the brightest moment of his life has weakened.
    • Letter from prison (19 December 1953)
  • Weapons for what? (¿Armas, para qué?) To fight against whom? Against the revolutionary government, that has the support of the whole people? … Weapons for what? Hiding weapons for what? To blackmail the President of the Republic? To threaten to break the peace here? To create organizations of gangsters? Is it that we are going to return to gangsterism? Is it that we will return to daily shootouts in the capital? Weapons for what?
  • I am not a dictator, and I do not think I will become one. I will not maintain power with a machine gun.
    • I Won't Be a Dictator, interview with Ruth Lloyd (January 1959), printed in The Spokesman-Review (24 May 1959)
  • Men do not shape destiny. Destiny produces the man for the hour.
    • I Won't Be a Dictator (1959)
  • I am not a communist and neither is the revolutionary movement, but we do not have to say that we are anticommunists just to fawn on foreign powers.
    • Resignation announcement (17 July 1959)
  • Fellow workers and peasants, this is the socialist and democratic revolution of the working people, with the working people, and for the working people. And for this revolution of the working people, by the working people, and for the working people we are prepared to give our lives.
    • Original Spanish: "Compañeros obreros y campesinos, esta es la Revolución socialista y democrática de los humildes, con los humildes y para los humildes. Y por esta Revolución de los humildes, por los humildes y para los humildes estamos dispuestos a dar la vida."
      • On 16 April 1961, in a funeral oration in Vedado for victims of the air raids the day before, Fidel Castro referring to the January 1959 Cuban Revolution. Quoted in José Ramón Fernández. 2001. Playa Giron/Bay of Pigs: Washington's First Military Defeat in the Americas, p. 56
  • If we had paused to tell the people that we were Marxist-Leninists while we were on Pico Turquino and not yet strong, it is possible that we would never have been able to descend to the plains.
    • Speech on the anniversary of the Granma landing (2 December 1961)
  • I propose the immediate launching of a nuclear strike on the United States. The Cuban people are prepared to sacrifice themselves for the cause of the destruction of imperialism and the victory of world revolution.
    • As quoted in "Castro Wanted a Nuclear Strike" in The New York Times (October 23, 1992)
  • The Alliance for Progress is an alliance between one millionaire and many beggars.
    • Interview with C. L. Sulzberger, The New York Times (November 7, 1964), p. 26.
  • Warfare is a means and not an end. Warfare is a tool of revolutionaries. The important thing is the revolution! The important thing is the revolutionary cause, revolutionary ideas, revolutionary objectives, revolutionary sentiments, revolutionary virtues!
  • scorn relations with the imperialist Government of the United States, a Government of genocide and decadence
    ..
    We have supported, we are supporting and we shall sup port revolutionary movements in Latin America.
    ..
    We feel very well outside the O.A.S., in fact better than inside. The O.A.S. is an organization that is bound to disappear.
  • We have a theoretical concept of the Revolution which is a dictatorship of the exploited against the exploiters.
    • As quoted in With Fidel : A Portrait of Castro and Cuba (1976) by Frank Mankiewicz and Kirby Jones, p. 83
    • Variant: The revolution is a dictatorship of the exploited against the exploiters.
      • As quoted in Words of Wisdom : From the Greatest Minds of All Time (2004) edited by Mick Farren, p. 138
  • With what moral authority can they speak of human rights — the rulers of a nation in which the millionaire and beggar coexist; the Indian is exterminated; the black man is discriminated against; the woman is prostituted; and the great masses of Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, and Latin Americans are scorned, exploited, and humiliated? How can they do this — the bosses of an empire where the mafia, gambling, and child prostitution are imposed; where the CIA organizes plans of global subversion and espionage, and the Pentagon creates neutron bombs capable of preserving material assets and wiping out human beings; an empire that supports reaction and counter-revolution all over the world; that protects and promotes the exploitation by monopolies of the wealth and the human resources of whole continents, unequal exchange, a protectionist policy, an incredible waste of natural resources, and a system of hunger for the world?
  • I never perceived a contradiction in the political revolutionary field between the ideas I maintained and the idea of that symbol, that extraordinary figure who had been so familiar to me since I began to reason.
    • On Jesus Christ, as quoted in Fidel and Religion (1985) by Frei Betto
  • Let us yield a bit. Let us grant socialism a few more years. Socialism is so obsolete, it is dying by itself.… Did I say socialism? I assure you on my honor this was not a mental slip. This was a slip of the tongue. Do not forget that. Capitalism—and I say it with such gustocapitalism is so obsolete that it is dying by itself.
  • This country … abounds in that Cuba is a heaven in the spiritual sense of the word, and we prefer to die in heaven than serve in hell.
    • Speech at the First World Congress on Literacy (2 February 2005) paraphrasing a line in John Milton's Paradise Lost; quoted in Granma
  • When I was a young boy, my father taught me that to be a good Catholic, I had to confess at church if I ever had impure thoughts about a girl. That very evening, I had to rush to confess my sin. And the next night, and the next. After a week, I decided religion wasn't for me.
    • As quoted in The Atheist's Bible (2007) edited by Joan Konner, p. 62
  • Soon, I'll be like all the others. The time will come for all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban Communists will remain as proof on this planet that if they are worked at with fervor and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need, and we need to fight without a truce to obtain them.
  • They corrupt the morals of young girls and destroy posters of Che! What do they think? That this is a bourgeois liberal regime? NO! There is nothing liberal in us! We are collectivists! We are communists! There will be no Prague Spring here!
  • Revolution is the sense of the historical moment; 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 emancipating ourselves, by ourselves and with our very own efforts; it is challenging the dominant powerful forces within and outside of the social and national arena; it is defending the values one believes in at the cost of any sacrifice; it is modesty, selflessness, altruism, solidarity and heroism; it is fighting with audacity, intelligence and realism; it is never telling a lie or violating ethical principles; it is the profound conviction that there is no force on earth that can crush truth and ideas. Revolution is unity, it is independence, it is fighting for our dreams of justice for Cuba and the world that is the basis of our patriotism, our socialism and our internationalism.

History Will Absolve Me[edit]

Words to Intellectuals (1961)[edit]

  • This is not some special law or guideline for artists and writers. It is a general principle for all citizens. It is a fundamental principle of the revolution. Counterrevolutionaries, that is, the enemies of the revolution, have no rights against the revolution, because the revolution has one right: the right to exist, the right to develop, and the right to be victorious.
  • In other words: Within the revolution, everything; against the revolution, nothing. Against the revolution, nothing, because the revolution also has its rights, and the first right of the revolution is the right to exist, and no one can oppose the revolution's right to exist. Inasmuch as the revolution embodies the interests of the people, inasmuch as the revolution symbolizes the interests of the whole naion, no one can justly claim a right to oppose it.
  • The revolution cannot seek to stifle art or culture since one of the goals and fundamental aims of the revolution is to develop art and culture, precisely so that art and culture truly become the patrimony of the people.
  • Our conclusion is that the compañeros of the National Council of Culture are as concerned as all of you are about achieving the best conditions for the development of creative work by artists and intellectuals. It is the duty of the revolution and the revolutionary government to see that there is a highly qualified agency that can be relied upon to stimulate, encourage, develop and guide - yes, guide - that creative spirit.

The Second Declaration of Havana (1962)[edit]

  • The capitalist system of production, once it had given all it was capable of giving, became an abysmal obstacle to the progress of humanity.
  • All reactionary classes in all historical epochs, when the antagonism between exploiters and exploited reaches its highest peak, presaging the arrival of a new social regime, have turned to the worst weapons of repression and calumny against their adversaries.
  • Divisionism, a product of all kinds of prejudices, flase ideas and lies; sectarianism, dogmatism, a lack of breadth in analyzing the role of each social layer, its parties, organization and leaders - these obstruct the necessary united actions of the democratic and progressive forces of our people.
  • This epic before us is going to be written by the hungry Indian masses, the peasants without land, the exploited workers. It is going to be written by the progressive masses, the honest and brilliant intellectuals, who so greatly bound in our suffering Latin American lands. A struggle of masses and of ideas. AN epic that will be carried forward by our peoples, mistreated and and corned by imperialism; our peoples, unreckoned with until today, who are now beginning to shake off their slumber. Imperialism considered us a weak and submissive flock; and now it begins to be terrified of tat flock; a gigantic flock of 200 million Latin Americans in whom Yankee monopoly capitalism now sees its gravediggers.
  • The anxiety felt today is an unmistakable symptom of rebellion. The very depths of a continent are profoundly moved, a continent that has witnessed four centuries of slave, semi-slave, and feudal exploitation beginning with its aboriginal inhabitants and slaves brought from Africa, up to the nuclei of nationalities that emerged later: white, black, mulatto, mestizo and Indian, who today are made brothers and sisters by scorn, humiliation and the Yankee yoke, and are brothers and sisters in their hope for a better tomorrow.
  • At Punta del Este a great ideological battle unfolded between the Cuban Revolution and Yankee imperialism. Who did they represent there, for whom did each speak? Cuba represented the people; the United States represented the monopolies. Cuba spoke for America's exploited masses; the United States for the exploiting, oligarchical, and imperialist interests; Cuba for sovereignty; the United States for intervention; Cuba for the nationalization of foreign enterprises; the United States for new investments of foreign capital. Cuba for culture; the United States for ignorance. Cuba for agrarian reform; the United States for great landed estates. Cuba for the industrialization of America; the United States for underdevelopment. Cuba for creative work; the United States for sabotage and counterrevolutionary terror practiced by its agentsthe destruction of sugarcane fields and factories, the bombing by their pirate planes of the labor of a peaceful people. Cuba for the murdered teachers; the United States for the assassins. Cuba for bread; the United States for hunger. Cuba for equality; the United States for privilege and discrimination. Cuba for the truth; the United States for lies. Cuba for liberation; the United States for oppression. Cuba for the bright future of humanity; the United States for the past without hope. Cuba for the heroes who fell at Giron to save the country from foreign domination; the United States for mercenaries and traitors who serve the foreigner against their country. Cuba for peace among peoples; the United States for aggression and war. Cuba for socialism; the United States for capitalism.
  • And to the Black? What "alliance" can the system of lynching and brutal exclusion of the Black offer to the fifteen million Negroes and fourteen million mulattoes of Latin America, who know with horror and rage that their brothers in the North cannot ride in the same vehicles as their white compatriots, nor attend the same schools, nor even die in the same hospitals?

On Behalf of the Movement of Nonaligned Countries (1979)[edit]

  • We are united in our determination to change the present system of international relations, based as it is on injustice, inequality and oppression. In international politics we act as n independent world force.
  • We aspire to a new world order, one based on justice, fairness and peace; one that will replace the unjust and unequal system of prevailing today, in which, as the final summit declaration states: "Wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few powers whose wasteful economies are maintained by the exploitation of workers as well as by the transfer and plunder of of the natural and other resources of the peoples of Africa, Latin America, Asia and other regions of the world."


University of Havana address (2005)[edit]

Here is a conclusion I’ve come to after many years: among all the errors we may have committed, the greatest of them all was that we believed that someone really knew something about socialism, or that someone actually knew how to build socialism. It seemed to be a sure fact, as well-known as the electrical system conceived by those who thought they were experts in electrical systems. Whenever they said: “That’s the formula”, we thought they knew.
Speech at the Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of his admission to University of Havana (17 November 2005)
  • I would dare say that today this species is facing a very real and true danger of extinction, and no one can be sure, listen to this well, no one can be sure that it will survive this danger.
    Well, the fact that the species would not survive was discussed about 2,000 years ago. I remember that when I was a student I heard of the Apocalypse, a book of prophesy in the Bible. Apparently, 2000 years ago someone realized that this weak species could one day disappear.
  • We are speaking of life, because whenever we speak of universities, we speak of life.
    What are you? If I were asked that question right now, I would have to say that you are life, you are symbols of life.
  • Man is born egotistical, a result of the conditioning of nature. Nature fills us with instincts; it is education that fills us with virtues. Nature makes us do things instinctively; one of these is the instinct for survival which can lead to infamy, while on the other side, our conscience can lead us to great acts of heroism. It doesn’t matter what each one of us is like, how different we are from each other, but when we unite we become one.
    It is amazing that in spite of the differences between human beings, they can become as one in a single instant or they can be millions, and they can be a million strong just through their ideas. Nobody followed the Revolution as a cult to anyone or because they felt personal sympathy with any one person. It is only by embracing certain values and ideas that an entire people can develop the same willingness to make sacrifices of any one of those who loyally and sincerely try to lead them toward their destiny.
  • Here is a conclusion I’ve come to after many years: among all the errors we may have committed, the greatest of them all was that we believed that someone really knew something about socialism, or that someone actually knew how to build socialism. It seemed to be a sure fact, as well-known as the electrical system conceived by those who thought they were experts in electrical systems. Whenever they said: “That’s the formula”, we thought they knew. Just as if someone is a physician. You are not going to debate anemia, or intestinal problems, or any other condition with a physician; nobody argues with the physician. You can think that he is a good doctor or a bad one, you can follow his advice or not, but you won’t argue with him. Which of us would argue with a doctor, or a mathematician, or a historian, or an expert in literature or in any other subject? But we must be idiots if we think, for example, that economy is an exact and eternal science and that it existed since the days of Adam and Eve, and I offer my apologies to the thousands of economists in our country.
  • All sense of dialectics is lost when someone believes that today’s economy is identical to the economy 50 or 100 or 150 years ago, or that it is identical to the one in Lenin’s day or to the time when Karl Marx lived. Revisionism is a thousand miles away from my mind and I truly revere Marx, Engels and Lenin.

Quotes about Castro[edit]

  • Fidel is a man of tremendous personal magnetism, destined to assume the role of leader in any movement in which he takes part. He has all the characteristics typical of a great leader: audacity, force, the desire to keep his ear attuned to the will of the people. But he has other important qualities: the capacity to absorb knowledge and experience, a grasp of the overall picture in a given situation, boundless faith in the future.
    • Che Guevara in 1961, as quoted in Marxism in Latin America (1968) by Luis Aguilar, p. 173
  • I wanted to meet you for many reasons, above all, because you are a very brave man.
  • Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution never bowed to the U.S. empire, not once in over half a century. The Cuban revolution produced the finest educational system in the Caribbean and much of the world. They sent their doctors all around the earth.

The world mourns the passing of a giant. Fidel Castro Ruiz, comandante de la revolución, presente.

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