President Fidel Castro
Speech on Peaceful Solution to International Terrorism
Ciego de Avila, Cuba
September 29, 2001
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delivery and be certain that it is not outdated.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
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
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
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
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.