President Fidel Castro
Speech on Peaceful Solution to International Terrorism
Ciego de Avila, Cuba
September 29, 2001

Fellow countrymen:

A peaceful solution would still be possible.

The present situation is so tense that nobody could write a speech hours before delivery and be certain that it is not outdated. I am also running the risk of sounding too optimistic even when I am not. However, it is my duty to say what I think.

The unanimous shock suffered by all peoples of the world on September 11, due to the insane terrorist attacks against the American people, which could be seen live on television, has created exceptional conditions for the eradication of terrorism without the need to unleash a useless and perhaps endless war.

Terrorist actions in the United States, as anywhere else in the world, inflict terrible damage on the peoples fighting for a cause that objectively they consider to be fair.

Terror has always been an instrument of the worst enemies of Mankind bent on suppressing and crushing the peoples’ struggle for freedom. It can never be the instrument of a truly noble and just cause.

All throughout history, almost every action intended to attain national independence, including that of the American people, was carried out with the use of weapons and nobody ever questioned, or would question, that right. But, the deliberate use of weapons to kill innocent people must be definitely condemned and eradicated for it is as unworthy and inhuman as it is repulsive, the same as the historic terrorism perpetrated by the oppressing states.

In the present crisis, real possibilities still exist to eradicate terrorism without a war but the main obstacle is that the most notable political and military leaders in the United States refuse to listen to any word said against the use of weapons and in favor of a truly effective solution to the worrisome problem, heedless of the fact that it would be very honorable for the American people to accomplish that objective while avoiding blood shedding.

The decision-makers are only betting on war actions. They have associated honor with war. Some speak of the use of nuclear weapons as if it were as simple as having a cup of tea. Others affirm that paratroopers will be employed in irregular warfare tactics. Someone has even speculated on the advisability of using lies as a weapon although others have shown more rationality and common sense but still along the war line. Objectivity and rationality are not abundant. Many people have been made to believe that only belligerent formulas are viable regardless the loss of American lives.

It is hard to know whether the final tactic and strategy of struggle have already been decided upon to use against a country whose communications and technological infrastructure as well as material conditions seem to have hardly left the Stone Age behind. Will irregular warfare tactics with squadrons of aircraft carriers, armored warships, cruisers and submarines be used in a landlocked country? Why send also scores of B-1 and B-52 bombers, hundreds of modern fighter planes, thousands of missiles and other strategic weapons? What are they going to shoot against?

Meanwhile, confusion and panic prevail in the rest of the world, while opportunistic positions motivated by convenience and national interests are not lacking. Some have torn their honor to pieces. And, following the initial atmosphere of uncertainty there is a bizarre and widespread ostrich reflex despite the fact that there are not even enough holes to hide heads.

Many seem not to have realized yet that, on September 20, before the United States Senate, the end of independence was decreed for every other state --without exceptions-- as well as the end of the United Nations’ role.

Nevertheless, no one should be misled into thinking that the peoples of the world, and a number of honest political leaders, will not react as soon as the war actions become a reality and their horrific images start to be seen. These will then take the place of the sad and shocking images of the events in New York at a time when forgetting them would bring irreparable damage on the spirit of solidarity with the American people that is today a primary element towards the eradication of terrorism, without the need to resort to a war of unpredictable consequences and avoiding the death of an incalculable number of innocents.

The first victims can already be seen. They are the millions trying to escape the war and the dying children with ghastly appearance whose images will move the world to pity without anyone being able to prevent their dissemination.

It is a great mistake on the part of the United States and its NATO allies to believe that the strong nationalism and religious sentiments of Muslims can be neutralized with either money or a promise of assistance, or that their countries can be permanently intimidated by force. There are already statements from religious leaders of major nations, that have no affinity whatsoever with the Taliban, who are voicing their resolute opposition to a military attack. Meanwhile, contradictions are beginning to arise among the United States’ allies, both in Center and South East Asia.

On the other hand, xenophobia, hatred and scorn for every Muslim country are starting to emerge. An important European head of government has just said in Berlin that Western civilization is superior to Islamic and that the West will keep on conquering peoples, even if that means confrontation with the Islamic civilization, which has remained stuck where it was 1400 years ago.

In an economic situation such as the world is experiencing today, when extremely serious problems affecting Mankind remain unresolved, including its own survival which is threatened by other evils unrelated to the destructive power of modern weaponry, one wonders: Why this obstinate course of starting a complicated and open-ended war? Why are the American leaders showing such arrogance when their enormous power gives them the privilege of showing some moderation?

It would suffice to return to the United Nations Organization the prerogatives that it has been deprived of and let the General Assembly, its most universal and representative body, be the center of that fight for peace --regardless of its limitations due to the arbitrary veto right of the Security Council standing members, most of them also a part of NATO-- and for the eradication of terrorism with total and unanimous support from the world opinion.

Under no circumstances should those responsible for the brutal attacks against the American people be allowed to go unpunished, if they can be identified. An honorable condition for every country would be that they are tried by an unbiased court of law that would ensure the reliability of the evidence and that justice be done.

Cuba was the first country to speak of the need for an international struggle against terrorism just a few hours after the tragedy brought on the American people on September 11. We also said that: "None of the present problems of the world can be solved by force. [...] The international community should build a world conscience against terrorism. [...] Only the intelligent policy of seeking strength through consensus and the international public opinion can decidedly uproot this problem [...] this unimaginable event should serve to launch an international struggle against terrorism. ...] The world cannot be saved unless a path of international peace and cooperation is pursued."

We firmly stand by these views.

It is indispensable to return to the United Nations its role in the attainment of peace.

I harbor no doubts that the Third World countries --I dare say almost everyone of them without exception, despite their political and religious differences-- would be willing to go alongside the rest of the world in this struggle against terrorism as an alternative to war.

I think that these ideas do not, in any way, tarnish the honor, the dignity and the predominant political or religious principles of any of the above-mentioned states.

I am not talking here on behalf of any of the poor and underdeveloped countries of the world. I am simply expressing my deepest conviction as I am aware of the tragedy of these peoples that have been exploited and humiliated for centuries where, even without a war, inherited poverty and underdevelopment, hunger and curable diseases are silently killing scores of millions of innocents every year.

For these people, saving peace with dignity, with independence and without a war is the cornerstone of the struggle that we should wage together for a truly just world of free peoples.

Cuba is not motivated by any economic interest or by opportunism, much less by any fear of threat, danger or risk. But this people that, as it is widely known, has most honorably endured over four decades of economic warfare, blockade and terrorism is entitled to explain, reiterate and insist on its viewpoints; and, it will not hesitate to do so until the very last minute.

We are, and we will continue to be, opposed to terrorism and opposed to war! No matter what happens, nothing will separate us from that line!

The dark clouds on the horizon of the world today, will not prevent the Cubans from continuing to work restlessly on our wonderful social and cultural programs as we are persuaded that it is a human endeavor unparalleled in history. And even if the promised wars were to turn them into mere dreams, we would still fall with honor defending such dreams.

Long live the Revolution and Socialism!

Patria o Muerte!