President Fidel Castro
Speech on Terrorism
September 11, 2001
Today is a day of tragedy for the United States. You know very well that hatred
against the American people has never been sown here. Perhaps, precisely because
of its culture, its lack of prejudice, its sense of full freedom with
a homeland and without a master-- Cuba is the country where Americans are treated
with the greatest respect. We have never preached any kind of national hatred,
or anything similar to fanaticism, and that is the reason for our strength,
because our conduct is based on principles and ideas. We treat all Americans
who visit us with great respect, and they have noticed this and said so themselves.
Furthermore, we cannot forget the American people who put an end to the Vietnam
War with their overwhelming opposition to that genocidal war. We cannot forget
the American people who in numbers that exceeded 80% of the population--
supported the return of Elián González to his homeland. (APPLAUSE)
We cannot forget their idealism, although it is often undermined by deception,
because as we have said often times in order to mislead Americans
to support an unjust cause, or an unjust war, they must first be deceived. The
classic method used by that huge country in international politics is that of
deceiving the people first, to count on their support later. When it is the
other way around, and the people realize that something is unjust, then based
on their traditional idealism they oppose what they have been supporting. Often
these are extremely unjust causes, which they had supported convinced that they
were doing the right thing.
Therefore, although unaware of the exact number of victims but seeing those
moving scenes of suffering, we have felt profound grief and sadness for the
We do not go around flattering any government, or asking for forgiveness or
favors. We neither harbor in our hearts a single atom of fear. The history of
our Revolution has proven its capacity to stand up to challenges, its capacity
to fight and its capacity to resist whatever it has to; that is what has turned
us into an invincible people. These are our principles. Our Revolution is based
on ideas and persuasion, and not on the use of force. I hope there is not anyone
in the world crazy enough to say that 1.2 million people were forced to march
along the sea front drive on July 26.
That has been our reaction, and we wanted our people to see the scenes and watch
the tragedy. We have not hesitated to express our sentiments publicly, and right
here I have a statement, which was drafted as soon as the facts were known and
handed out to the international media around 3:00 p.m. In the meantime, our
television networks were broadcasting news of the events. This statement was
scheduled to be read to the Cuban public tonight during the evening TV newscast.
I am going to move the time up a few minutes by reading to you here and now
the Official Statement from the Government of Cuba on the events that took place
in the United States:
The Government of the Republic of Cuba has learned with grief and sadness
of the violent surprise attacks carried out this morning against civilian and
official facilities in the cities of New York and Washington, which have caused
Cubas position against any terrorist action is well known.
Our history proves that, and those who know the history of our revolutionary
struggles know it well. It is not possible to forget that for over four
decades our country has been the target of such actions fostered from within
the United States territory.
Both for historical reasons and ethical principles, the Government of
our country strongly repudiates and condemns the attacks against the aforementioned
facilities and hereby expresses its most heartfelt sympathies to the American
people for the painful, unjustifiable loss of human lives resulting from these
In this bitter hour for all Americans, our people express their solidarity
with the American people and their full willingness to cooperate, to the extent
of their modest possibilities, with the health care institutions and any other
medical or humanitarian organization in that country in the treatment, care
and rehabilitation of the victims of this mornings events. (APPLAUSE)
This message has not only been made public, but has also been officially delivered
this afternoon, especially when we started to hear of the impressive numbers
of possible casualties, and knew that hospitals were full of injured.
Although it is not known whether the casualties are 5000, 10,000, 15,000 or
20,000, it is known that the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers and into
the Pentagon were carrying hundreds of passengers, and we have offered to provide
whatever we can, if necessary.
That is a country with great scientific and medical development and resources,
but at some point in time it could need blood of a specific type or plasma any
other product that we could donate, we would be most willing to give-- or medical
support or paramedics. We know many hospitals are short of specific technicians
and professionals. In other words, we want to express our disposition and readiness
to be helpful in relation to these tragic events.
There is a history to all of this, because as I said, we have been affected
by terrorism for more than forty years. We have even published that on specific
occasions we have informed the U.S. government of serious risks to the lives
of Americans. Here is an example; it is a page and a quarter long.
After the terrorist attacks against our hotels by the terrorist mob in Florida
that organized and paid for the terrorist attacks against Cuba, as well as the
assassination plots organized against me when I have needed to travel abroad,
a group headed by that monster Posada Carriles we had already caught some
of his accomplices, who were foreign mercenaries, when they entered our national
territory-- intended to repeat the sophisticated procedure used with the bombs
planted in hotels or places frequently visited by foreign tourists, like La
Bodeguita del Medio Restaurant, that could explode up to 99 hours after being
set up. They could travel here, plant the bomb on the plane, party for three
days, and go back to their country before the bomb exploded. There was the case
of a Salvadoran mercenary who planted five bombs in hotels and other public
places and attempted to make them blow up almost simultaneously, one after the
other. You can see how far they had gone.
We made contact with the U.S. Government more than once through confidential
channels, and here I have one of the direct messages that we sent to the President
at that time. These were messages sent through confidential channels, not official
ones, through fully trustworthy friends of ours who were also friends of his,
and we precisely explained everything that we wanted them to convey. Part of
this information has already been released to the public, but I will give you
An important issue.
Number one: Plans for terrorist actions against Cuba continue to be hatched
and paid by the Cuban American National Foundation using Central American mercenaries.
Two new attempts at setting up bombs in tourist resorts have been undertaken
before, and after, the Popes visit.
In the first case, those responsible failed, they were able to escape
and return to Central America by plane leaving behind the technical means and
explosives which were then seized.
In the second case, three mercenaries were arrested with explosives and
other means. They are Guatemalans. They would have received 1500 USD for every
bomb exploded. These were among the first caught, not the one who planted
the most bombs.
In both cases they were hired and supplied by agents of the ring organized
by the Cuban American National Foundation. Now, they are plotting and taking
steps to set up bombs in planes from Cuba or any other country airline carrying
tourists to, or from, Cuba to Latin American countries.
The method is similar: to hide a small device at a certain place inside
the plane, a powerful explosive with a fuse controlled by a digital clock that
can be programmed 99 hours in advance, then easily abandon the plane at foreseen
destination; the explosion would take place either on the ground or while the
plane is in flight to its next destination. Really devilish procedures: easy
to handle mechanisms, components whose detection is practically impossible,
a minimum training required for their use, almost absolute impunity. Extremely
dangerous to airlines and to tourist facilities or of any other type. Tools
suitable for a crime, very serious crimes.
If they were revealed and their possibilities exposed, we
were opposed to revealing the technology used they might become
an epidemic as the hijacking of planes once became. Other Cuban extremist groups
living in the United States are beginning to move in that direction.
The American investigation and intelligence agencies are in possession
of enough reliable information on the main people responsible. If they really
want to, they have the possibility of preventing in time this new modality of
terrorism. It will be impossible to stop it if the United States doesnt
discharge its fundamental duty of fighting it. The responsibility to fight it
cant be left to Cuba alone since any other country of the world might
also be a victim of such actions.
We passed this information on to them, and they paid so much attention that
they even consulted with us on the advisability of sending airlines a text issued
by the U.S. Government.
They sent us the text in which the airlines were informed of the following:
We have received unconfirmed information of a plot to place explosive
devices aboard civilian aircraft operating between Cuba and Latin American countries.
Those involved in the plot plan to leave behind a small explosive device aboard
an aircraft... Basically, they explained what we had informed them of.
We cannot discount the possibility that the threat could include international
air carrier operations from the United States.
The U.S. Government continues to seek further information to clarify,
and substantiate or refute, this threat.
We expressed our opposition to issuing that kind of warning because one of the
objectives of those individuals was to create panic. We also explained that
there were other procedures that we used. We set up the appropriate watch systems
wherever there was any risk of bombs, we searched and knew who could plant them
and who were involved. We kept watching, which is what has to be done, if you
do not want to grow panic or make a scandal or grant the perpetrators the possibility
to attain their objective, which was to impinge on the economy of the country
and sow terror.
Anyway, they published the information. That was fine with us since we had already
strengthened our mechanisms to capture those individuals. They have not even
been able to plant a small bomb ever since, and the watch system remains in
place where necessary. When they plotted the assassination attempt in Panama,
we knew more than they were planning, and more than they knew. That is for sure.
There is the Miami Mafia making efforts to release the terrorists caught in
fraganti and arrested in Panama. They have already planned how to do it and
the country through which they would evacuate them and how. They would pretend
to be sick and be moved. They freely receive visitors from Miami. We even know
that they contributed to an infiltration through Santa Clara a few months ago.
Thanks to many friends that we have everywhere and to men like those (he points
to the pictures of the Cuban patriots incarcerated in Miami for seeking information
on terrorist plan against Cuba), the country has been able to defend itself
from that terrorism. (APPLAUSE)
I say this here because the truth is that there are more papers and notes, and
we have sometimes sent verbal messages, and sometimes we have left written evidence,
and one of the arguments that we have used is irrefutable: The United States
is the country with the largest number of extremist organized groups, 400 of
which are armed.
The hijacking of planes a method used against Cuba-- became a universal
plague, and it was Cuba that solved this problem when, after repeated warnings,
we sent two hijackers back to the United States. It is painful because they
were Cubans but we had issued public warnings, so they came and we returned
them. We complied with our public pledge, yet they never again provided us with
any information about them to give to their relatives. They have their own ways
of doing thins. No one knows what they will do. I know they were sentenced to
40 years imprisonment, and that put an end to those hijackings.
But, listen, they have 800 groups of extremists. Sometimes they have locked
themselves in a place for a certain reason and have burned themselves to death.
They have groups, which due to political or sometimes religious reasons are
prone to the use of force or to prepare poisons and products to act against
the US authorities. I am not talking about the Mafia people. I am talking about
the hundreds of extremist organized groups acting within the United States.
They blew up that building in Oklahoma not so long ago.
The United States is the country that is most vulnerable to terrorism; it is
the country with more planes, more dependable on technical resources, electric
grids, pipelines, etceteras. Many members of these groups are fascists and they
do not mind killing. Mentally speaking, they must be closer to madness than
to a balanced intelligence. We have said to the US authorities that it is necessary
to avoid the dissemination of these methods, we use that argument because they
are easy to use and a danger for that country.
At this very moment, I mean, as I arrived here, there was no element of judgment
to say who could have exploded those bombs, because it could have been an action
planned and carried out by any of these groups, which have already done it before,
like in the case of Oklahoma, or it could have been done by groups from abroad.
However, it is evident based on the details received-- that it was effectively
organized, in other words, with sufficient organization and synchronization,
by people who have the knowledge, the training and by pilots who were able to
drive these huge Boeings, by people who coordinated the exact times at which
they would act. They undoubtedly hijacked the planes, diverting them from their
planned route; and had the pilots who could drive the planes directly against
one tower or other targets and some minutes later against the other, and nearly
at the same time, a third plane was crashed against the Pentagon.
In other words, they are very well trained and organized people and not necessarily
operating in large groups. It is impossible to imagine the damage that can be
caused by a small group of 20, 25 or 30 people, who are extremists devoted to
certain ideas, and it is in the United States where they can cause most damage.
You can perceive how they studied the time at which more people would be in
the offices, around 9:00 am, the damage they could make, and the thousands of
casualties they could provoke.
Actually, given the special characteristics of this event, it is now necessary
to look for clues. That is the reason why I believe the most important duty
of American leaders is to fight terrorism, and these tragedies are partly the
result of the use of terrorist methods against other countries, like in the
case of Cuba and other countries for a number of years. The idea of terrorism
has been disseminated, and there is no power in the world today, regardless
its size, that can avoid events of this nature because bigots, people who are
totally indifferent to death, carry them out. Thus, the struggle against such
methods is difficult.
A lesson can be drawn from that: none of the problems affecting todays
world can be solved with the use of force, there is no global, technological
or military power that can guarantee total immunity against such acts, because
they can be organized by small groups, difficult to detect, and what is more
complicated, carried out by suicidal people. Therefore, the general effort of
the international community must be to put an end to a number of conflicts affecting
the world, at least in this area. It is indispensable to put an end to world
terrorism (APPLAUSE) and build a worldwide awareness against terrorism. I speak
on behalf of a country, which has lived through more than 40 years of Revolution,
and has gained much experience, a unified country with a high cultural level.
It is not a country of bigots. Here, it is not fanaticism that has been cultivated
but ideas, convictions and principles.
We could be in a better position to defend ourselves, and we have demonstrated
it. How many lives we have saved while so much money and resources have been
used to bring terrorism to our homeland! We have 40 years of experience, so
we are ten times better prepared than the United States to prevent such actions.
It is very important to know what will be the reaction of the US Government.
Possibly the days to come will be dangerous for the world, and I do not mean
Cuba. Cuba is the most peaceful country in the world for several reasons: our
policy, our kind of struggle, our doctrine, and also, comrades, for the absolute
absence of fear.
Nothing troubles us. Nothing intimidates us. It would be very difficult to put
together a package against Cuba, not even its inventor and the patent holder
would believe it, this is very difficult and today Cuba means something to the
world. (APPLAUSE) Cuba has a very high moral position, and a very sound political
position in the world. It does not even cross my mind, although there is one
of those Mafia fools trying to scheme something who I think even mentioned Venezuela
and Cuba; one of the so many Mafiosi, a despicable big mouth. But, no one will
pay the slightest attention, even though there will be tension and risks, depending
on how the US Government proceeds.
The days to come will be tense both inside and outside the United States. A
number of people will start to express their views.
Whenever there is a tragedy like this one, no matter how difficult to avoid
it may be, I see no other way but to keep calm. And if at some point I am allowed
to make a suggestion to an adversary who has been tough with us for many years,
but knows we can be tough too, knows we resist, and knows we are not stupid
and there is a little respect for our people, if under specific circumstances
it were correct to suggest something to the adversary, for the well being of
the American people and based on the arguments I have given you, we would advise
the leaders of the powerful empire to keep their equanimity, to act calmly,
not to be carried away by a fit of rage or hatred and not to start hunting people
down dropping bombs just anywhere.
I reiterate that none of the world problems not even terrorism-- can be
solved with the use of force, and every act of force, every imprudent action
that entails the use of force anywhere would seriously aggravate the world problems.
The way is neither the use of force nor the war. I say this here with the full
authority of someone who has always been honest, with the sound conviction and
the experience of someone who has been through the years of struggle that we
have lived in Cuba. It is only guided by reason and applying an intelligent
policy based on the strength of consensus and the support of the international
public opinion that such a predicament could definitely be solved. I think this
unexpected episode must be used to undertake an international struggle against
terrorism. However, this international struggle against terrorism cannot succeed
by killing a terrorist here and another one there, that is, by using similar
methods to theirs, sacrificing innocent lives. It is resolved, inter alia, by
putting an end to State terrorism and other repulsive crimes (APPLAUSE), by
putting an end to genocide and by honestly pursuing a policy of peace and respect
for unavoidable moral and legal standards. The world cannot be saved unless
a path of international peace and cooperation is pursued.
Nobody should think that we are trying to buy a ton of any thing in the US market.
We have proven that we can survive, live and make progress, and everything seen
here today is an expression of an unprecedented progress in history (APPLAUSE).
Progress is not achieved only through the manufacturing of automobiles; developing
peoples minds, providing knowledge and culture, and looking after human
beings accordingly makes progress. That is the secret of the tremendous strength
of our Revolution.
The world cannot be saved any other way, and I mean from violent situations.
May peace be accomplished everywhere to protect all the peoples from that plague
of terrorism, which is one of the plagues (APPLAUSE), because there is another
horrible plague today, which is called AIDS, for instance. There is another
plague, which kills tens of millions of children, teenagers and people in the
world, that is, starvation, diseases and lack of medical care and medications.
In the political area, there are absolutist ideas, a single way of thinking
that they try to impose on the world thus promoting rebellious attitudes and
This world cannot be saved and this has nothing to do with terrorism--
if this unfair economic and social order continues to be developed and applied
leading the world to a catastrophe, to a blind alley for the 6.2 billion people
who live today on this planet which is increasingly destroyed and led to poverty,
unemployment, hunger and despair. The masses in different historical places
like Seattle, Quebec, Washington and Genoa have proven that.
We expressed our opposition to publishing that kind of warning, because one
of the goals of those individuals was to create panic. We also explained that
there were other procedures that could be followed, like the ones that we use:
we set up the appropriate watch systems wherever there was any risk of bombs,
we searched and knew who could plant them and who was involved in these plans.
We kept watching, which is what has to be done, if you do not want to spread
panic or create a scandal or grant the perpetrators the possibility to achieve
their goal, which was to damage the countrys economy and sow terror.
In any case, they published the information. That is fine with us, we had already
strengthened our mechanisms to capture those individuals, they have not even
been able to plant a small bomb ever since, and the watch system is still in
place where necessary. When they plotted the assassination attempt in Panama,
we knew more than they themselves did about what they were planning. That is
Now the Miami mob is working on freeing the terrorists caught in flagrante delicto
and arrested in Panama. They have already planned how to do it, which country
they will evacuate them through and how. They will feign an illness and then
make their move. They are freely receiving visitors from Miami, and even participated
in the sending of armed infiltrators to Cuba, through Santa Clara, some months
Thanks to the many friends that we have everywhere and to men like those (he
points to the pictures of the Cuban patriots imprisoned in Miami for gathering
information on terrorist plans against Cuba), the country has been able to defend
itself against terrorism (APPLAUSE).
I am pointing this out here because there is a reality, there are more papers
and notes, and we have sometimes sent verbal messages, and sometimes we have
left written evidence, and one of the arguments that we have used is irrefutable:
the United States is the country with the largest number of organized extremist
groups, and 400 of them are armed.
The hijacking of airplanes a method invented for use against Cuba-- became
a universal plague, and it was Cuba that ultimately solved this problem when,
after repeated warnings, we sent two hijackers back to the United States. It
was painful, because they were Cubans, but we had issued public warnings, they
came here and we returned them. We complied with our public pledge and yet they
never again provided us with any information about them to pass on to their
relatives. They have their own way of acting. I know they were sentenced to
40 years imprisonment, and that put an end to the hijacking of airplanes.
But listen, they have 800 extremist groups over there. At times they have locked
themselves up some place for some reason and they have burn themselves to death.
There are groups formed for many reasons, often political, sometimes religious,
that are prone to violence and the use of force, or the poisoning of products
as a means to take action against the US authorities. I am not talking about
the mob people. I am talking about hundreds of organized extremist groups acting
within the United States. They blew up that building in Oklahoma not so long
The United States is the country most vulnerable to terrorism. It is the country
with the most planes, with the greatest dependence on technical resources, electrical
power grids, gas pipelines, and so on. Many of the people in these groups are
fascists who do not mind killing. Mentally speaking, they must be closer to
insanity than to a balanced intelligence. We have told the U.S. authorities
that these methods should not be publicized, because they are easy to use and
a danger for them.
As I arrived here, there was no evidence as to who could have planted those
bombs, because it may have been an action planned and carried out by any of
these groups, which have already done such things, like in the case of Oklahoma,
or it may have been done by groups from abroad. However, it is evident, based
on the details received, that it was very effectively organized, in other words,
with a high degree of organization and synchronization, by people who have the
knowledge and the training, and by pilots who were able to handle these large
Boeings, by people who coordinated the exact time at which they were going to
act. They undoubtedly hijacked the planes, diverting them from their scheduled
routes, and had pilots who could steer the planes directly into a tower or other
target, and then the other tower a few minutes later, and at nearly the same
time, another against the Pentagon.
In other words, they are people who are very well trained and organized, and
they do not necessarily need to be from large groups. It is unimaginable the
damage that can be caused by a small group of 20, 25 or 30 people, who are extremist
fanatics fully devoted to certain ideas, and the place where they can do the
most damage is the United States. You can see how they studied the time at which
more people would be in the offices, around 9:00 a.m., the damage they could
do, and the thousands of casualties they could cause.
In fact, they now have to look for clues, any clues, because this event has
special characteristics. That is the reason why I believe the most important
duty of U.S. leaders is to fight terrorism, and these tragedies are partly the
result of the use of terrorist methods against other countries, as in the case
of Cuba for so many years. The idea of terrorism has been broadly disseminated,
and there is no power in the world today, regardless of its size, that can avoid
events of this nature, because the bigots who carry them out are totally indifferent
to death. Thus, the struggle against such methods is difficult.
A lesson can be drawn from this: none of the problems affecting todays
world can be solved with the use of force; there is no global, technological
or military power that can guarantee immunity against such acts, because they
can be organized by small groups, difficult to detect, and what is more complicated,
used by suicidal people. Therefore, the general effort of the international
community must be to put an end to a number of conflicts affecting the world,
at least in this area; there should be an end to world terrorism (APPLAUSE)
while a worldwide awareness is built. I speak on behalf of a country that has
lived through more than 40 years of Revolution and has gained much experience,
a unified country with a high cultural level. This is not a country of bigots.
It has not been bigotry but rather ideas, convictions and principles that have
been cultivated here.
We are in a better position to defend ourselves, and we have demonstrated it.
Just look at the number of lives we have saved while so much money and resources
have been used to sow terrorism in our homeland! We have 40 years of experience,
so we are ten times better prepared than the United States to prevent such episodes.
It is very important to know what the reaction of the U.S. Government might
be. Possibly the world will be living dangerous days, and I am not talking about
Cuba. Cuba is the most peaceful country in the world, for several reasons: our
policies, our forms of struggle, our doctrine, our ethics, and also, comrades,
and due to an absolute absence of fear.
Nothing troubles us. Nothing intimidates us. It would be very difficult to concoct
a slanderous accusation against Cuba; not even its inventor and the patent holder
would believe it. It would be very difficult. And Cuba means something in the
world today. (APPLAUSE) It has a very high moral position, and a very sound
political position in the world. I cannot even conceive of such a thing, although
one of those mob fools is already attempting to scheme, and I think he even
mentioned Venezuela and Cuba; one of the many members of that mob, one of those
contemptible charlatans. No one will pay the slightest attention to him, but
there will be tension and danger, depending on the U.S. Governments reaction.
The days to come will be tense both inside and outside the United States. A
number of people will start putting forward opinions.
Whenever there is a tragedy like this, no matter how difficult to avoid it may
be, I see no other way but to remain calmed. And if at some point I were allowed
to make a suggestion to the adversary who has been so tough on us for many years,
but who knows we are tough, knows we resist, and knows we are not stupid, and
there is just a little respect for our people, but if under certain circumstances
it were correct to suggest something to the adversary, for the well-being of
the American people and based on the arguments I have given you, we would advise
the leaders of that powerful empire to remain calm, to act with a cool head,
to avoid getting carried away by a fit of rage or hatred, and not to start trying
to hunt people down by throwing bombs just anywhere.
I reiterate that none of the worlds problems, not even terrorism, can
be solved with the use of force, and every act of force, every imprudent action
that entails the use of force anywhere, is going to seriously aggravate the
The way is neither the use of force nor the war. I say this with the full authority
of someone who has always talked honestly, of someone with sound convictions
and the experience of surviving the years of struggle that Cuba has lived through.
Only reason, and the intelligent policy of seeking strength through consensus
and international public opinion, can definitely eradicate this problem. I think
this unexpected episode should be used to undertake an international effort
against terrorism. However, this international struggle against terrorism cannot
be won by eliminating a terrorist here and another one there, by killing people
here and there, using similar methods to theirs and sacrificing innocent lives.
It can only be won, among other ways, by putting an end to State terrorism and
other repulsive forms of killing (APPLAUSE), by putting an end to genocide,
and by seriously pursuing a policy of peace and respect for moral and legal
standards. The world cannot be saved unless a path of international peace and
cooperation is pursued.