|BOOK ON FIDEL CASTRO PRESENTED IN GENEVA ON 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF CUBAN REVOLUTION|
|Friday, 09 January 2009|
On the 50th anniversaries of the Cuban Revolution and the triumphant entry of Fidel Castro into Havana, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cuba to the United Nations in Geneva hosted a commemorative event, the centerpiece of which was the presentation of the book Fidel’s Ethics of Violence by Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka.
Braving a cold snap said to be the most intense in almost two decades sweeping Europe, the event was attended by the Ambassadors of Russia, China, Iran, Mexico, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Qatar, Guatemala, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Djibouti, Myanmar, the Dominican Republic, and Switzerland, among others.
Among those present was Prof. Jean Ziegler who as a young man accompanied Commander Ernesto Che Guevara for twelve days when the latter was in Geneva in 1964 for the inaugural meeting of UNCTAD.
The Cuban Ambassador Juan Antonio Fernandez Palacios delivered a speech on the occasion, followed by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka. The Sri Lankan Ambassador formally presented hardback and paperback editions of his book to the Permanent Representative of Cuba. This was followed by remarks on the book by the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia.
The text of the speech by the Cuban Ambassador, His Excellency Juan Antonio Fernandez Palacios, follows:
“Exactly fifty years ago, a huge caravan of uniformed and rebellious people led by Fidel Castro entered victoriously the streets of Havana, as the culmination of the Revolutionary War. At that moment, a new era known as “the Cuban Revolution” began. Since then, we have had unquestionable victories and achievements, as well as a revolutionary scope which, overall, ensure the historical continuity of a process that has been genuinely popular since its beginning, and that has been marked by an ethic of dignity and solidarity.
Today, we commemorate the first half-century of a social project that has been characterized by an intense, humanistic and revolutionary scope since its very beginning. This uniqueness is expressed not only inside of Cuba but also outside its borders, in its internationalist work, in its solidarity with the struggles of other peoples against colonialism, imperialism and apartheid. Likewise, in keeping with our times, thousands of Cuban professional and technical workers are currently providing their services in more than 60 countries of the Third World, in areas such as health and education. All of this is only possible because our people have been formed on the basis of Marti’s principle that “Homeland is Humanity”.
It is indeed a great honor and satisfaction for us to attend the presentation of the book Fidel’s Ethics of Violence, written by the Ambassador of Sri Lanka, Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka. This work seeks to reveal the very essence of the ethics and morality of the Cuban Revolution, seen through an analysis of Fidel Castro’s political thought.
In Fidel’s Ethics of Violence, the author acknowledges the highly important role played by the leader of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, in the development of the Cuban revolutionary process, analyzed through the ethical and moral dimension which characterizes his thought and action. According to the author, the ethics of the Cuban Revolution can be seen in the figure of the Commander-in-Chief, who combines in his person, the most authentic feelings of “Cubanism”, Latin Americanism and internationalism, as well as a profound admiration for Marti’s thought.
One of the remarkable merits of this work is its detailed analysis of the ethics and morality of the Cuban Revolution in these 50 years of socialist project, as well as its argumentation, through concrete examples, of the principles that have always guided our actions, based on Marti’s idea that “One must do, in each moment, what is necessary at that time”.
The road of the Revolution has been long and difficult, but passable for millions of Cubans who keep their heads held high and bet for the Revolution, a Revolution made by all and for the benefit of all. Fifty years after the victory, when several generations of Cubans coexist and have the unique privilege of living under the guidance of the protagonists of the Triumph of the Revolution, our first challenge will continue to be the defense of our conquests.
I would like to thank our dear friend, Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka for his effort, dedication and confidence in the preparation of this work, and I invite you all to share the ideas and criteria proposed in his book Fidel’s Ethics of Violence.”
The text of the speech by Ambassador Jayatilleka is as follows:
“Excellency Juan Antonio, your Excellencies, Friends,
It is a great honor for me to receive this invitation on this anniversary, the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution and of the triumphant entry of the commander in chief Fidel Castro into Havana, in 1959.
Before I officially make the presentation of the book, which is hardback and paperback editions, to His Excellency, I would like to accept his invitation to say a few words. I will not bore you by repeating anything in the book. I will just explain a little bit about how it comes to be that a Sri Lankan ambassador writes a book about Fidel. It is not an autobiographical story that I want to narrate but I just want to draw your attention to something that is little known; that is the special relationship between Cuba and Sri Lanka. That is part of the context which made the book possible.
Sri Lanka recognized the Cuban revolution almost hours after it was born, in 1959, itself. The ruling party which started this, once again, is in office today. And this was a major change for us, because just before that, the Sri Lankan government that was in office before was a government that did not recognize, that did not have diplomatic relations with either Russia or China. So the fact that we elected a government that recognized not only Russia and China but the Cuban revolution as it was born, indicates to you, the warmth which the Sri Lankan people and the government of the day had for Cuba.
And this warmth was of a very special nature because in that same year, 1959, Sri Lanka was honored by a visit, in August, of the Commandante Ernesto Che Guevara. And Sri Lanka is now preparing the commemorating of this, of the 50th anniversary of the visit of Che. That is the broad context which may go somewhere in explaining how come a Sri Lankan writes about Cuba.
But there is also a personal aspect: I was a boy when I was introduced by my father to an illustrious Cuban diplomat, Armando Bayo, who was the son of General Alberto Bayo, who Fidel sought out to train the guerillas, including Che, who were about to embark on the Granma. So the first Cuban ambassador of the revolutionary Cuba to Sri Lanka was his son, Mr. Armando Bayo, who is no longer alive, he died seven years ago. And this was my first encounter with a Cuban diplomat.
Now, all of us, certainly those of us of the in the so called Third world, owe a lot to Cuba. And I would have to speak all night if I were to iterate the ways in which we owe Cuba. But I thought that since we have received so much from Cuba, in terms of blood shed in the most just causes, in terms of education, in terms of doctors, in terms of assistance after the Tsunami, for decades, those of us in the countries of the so-called Third World have accumulated a moral debt, a huge moral debt to Cuba. And Cubans never asked for land, bases or anything in return. So it is incumbent on us I think, to repay, to whatever extent possible, this debt. And it is as a gesture of a payment, in a way, that I came around to write this book.
One last thing about the book and this is the only thing I’m going to tell you, about the book itself. I understood through my own experiences in Sri Lanka, in a conflict-ridden, war-torn country, that Cubans today have provided us with an answer and an example concerning one of the most fundamental problems we face as humanity. And that is the problem of the way in which to resist injustice. Now, throughout human history, people have always resisted injustice. When it was necessary, people have resisted violently. But we also know that a number of other problems have arisen due to the incorrect or excessive use of violence. What I saw in the practice and the doctrine of Fidel is that he has set an example as to the ethical and humane use of violence on the occasions where it is impossible to avert that use. Violence has never been a first resort for Cuba, it has always been a last resort. For Fidel, whether it was against dictatorship or in supporting just causes, such as the struggle against the Apartheid in Angola, violence has been a last resort. But, even when it was exercised as a last resort, it was exercised in a surgical manner, as humanely as possible. And I must say, certainly as a Sri Lankan, as a Sri Lankan diplomat, that is something that very few of us, including my country, have been able to do.
I noticed in my studies and in my research, that Cuba was able to do this whether Fidel was fighting as a guerilla leader or whether he was giving leadership as a statesman. Whether it was the rebel army or whether it was the internationalist volunteers who were fighting shoulder to shoulder with others on other continents. So, as an insurgent movement and as a State, Cuba maintained the moral high-ground. And today when we watch what’s happening in other parts of the world on television screens or when we grapple with the issues of human rights and humanitarian issues, and our own national experiences, we would understand the value of the example that Fidel, Che Guevera, Raul and Cuba have set. An example to movements struggling for liberation, movements of resistance, that at no time were innocent non combatants targeted.
And also a lesson to states because Cuba has fought against counter revolutionary forces in its own country, it has fought against terrible oppressive forces but I must state, I have never encountered, in my research, including interviews with the last Defence Minister of Apartheid South Africa. He could not provide me with one single example of anything like a violation of human rights, still less an atrocity committed by Cuban troops.
So, this is the lesson that is contained, that I am trying to convey in my book. And credit is not due to me because all that I have done is to abstract from the practice of Fidel and hold up a mirror to the experiences and examples of Fidel and Cuba.
And with those words, I would like to end my words. Thank you”
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