Fidel meets with intellectuals: “The world should be a family”

Arléen Rodríguez and Rosa Míriam Elizalde / Photos: Roberto Chile

 

“I am not talking about saving humanity in terms of centuries or millenniums (…) “We have to begin to save humanity now,” said Fidel in a dialogue with writers attending the 20th edition of the International Book Fair, and which continued during more than five hours.

The words of the leader of the Cuban Revolution entailed all the urgency of this sentence, although his conversation with the writers was more relaxed and took various directions, which ranged from extremely high food prices to the protests shaking the Arab world, and taking in education for youth and the verses of the Cuban poet Plácido.

“Humanity has not even learned to survive,” and answers to the dramatic problems which face the planet “cannot be postponed,” added the Comandante en Jefe in what was a typical reencounter of friends who, not having seen each other for a while, conversed about the swift dynamic of world events in recent days, in recent years, in the last decade. And also about history, and its changes with the passage of time.

Culture Minister Abel Prieto introduced each one of the close to 100 guests, the majority of them known as assiduous participants in the Cuban Book Fair and other cultural and academic events, such as the Conferences of Economists on Globalization and Development.

THE MOST SERIOUS PROBLEM

After his warm words of greeting, Fidel suggested focusing the dialogue on one question: what do you think is the most serious problem we have today?

The responses ranged from the radicalization of progressive processes in the region and the world to the capacity to respond to conflicts which we are not trained to perceive and which take us by surprise. Many agreed on the need to coordinate the forces of the left and make better use of current modes of communication, which are new and challenging.

There was also talk of the possible domino effect of the social rebellions in North Africa and the Middle East, and there was no lack of interest as to how to involve the younger generations in the problems of this period, without them losing themselves in the seas of banality which summon them from every media outlet in the world.

The leader of the Cuban Revolution listened to them attentively, stroked his beard and read a few notes to share with the intellectuals.

HUMANITY: A SPECIES IN DANGER OF EXTINCTION

“There is one problem which, above all others, if it is not resolved, history won’t even exist. I think that we are facing a crisis of that nature. If I am right, it would be very improper—he noted to himself — but I am an optimist because, on the contrary, I wouldn’t be speaking in these terms. I wouldn’t be talking to you if I believed that life could not be saved.”

He went on to outline some of the theories concerning the emergence of the human species and its significance over time. “Apart from it being an issue that we like to discuss,” he commented, “the most important aspect is to assess how we are going to preserve life, the more that is meditated upon, the more important ideas we have.

Then, returning to what has been the most recurrent of his paramount concerns as a politician of universal vision, which he expressed close to 20 years ago at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in June of 1992, he warned, “An important biological species is at risk of disappearing due to the rapid and progressive destruction of its natural environment: humanity.”

“I think that the human species is in real danger of extinction and I think that we can and should make an effort so that this does not happen,” he insisted. “That is the principal issue that I would like to discuss with you.”

THE WORSE ACT OF TERRORISM IN HISTORY

It is impossible to forget the atomic bombs dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, on orders from President Harry Truman, when the end of World War II was imminent. This was “the worse act of terrorism ever committed,” and the testimony brought to Cuba by Japanese travelers on the Cruise for Peace was a reminder of this.

Nevertheless, more than half a century later human beings have done no less than surpass the irrational. The destructive power of current weapons is equivalent to 450,000 times those which marked a before and after in life on earth. As eminent scientists have proven, 100 of these weapons, in a local conflict, like the one between India and Pakistan, would be enough to provoke a nuclear winter, eight years with no sun, hidden by clouds of nuclear dust, Fidel insisted.

It was then that he asked his guests if they thought that there was something that could be done to save the species and read excerpts of the ideas he had recently written, appealing to the “grafting of talent and goodness” which make progressive intellectuals useful people, who create and put into action ideas to avoid disaster.

ISSUES DISCUSSED

These covered the food crisis provoked by prices driven by speculation, the scandalous purchase of millions of hectares in the Third World by transnationals; biofuels; the secrets of adequate human nutrition; the half-truths and deliberate lies about population growth and its impact on the price of food; the debts of the developed North which, in some cases, exceed the value of gross domestic products, although these are not discussed as much, or as critically, as those of the southern, less developed countries.

Fidel reaffirmed the need for the Cuban people to be aware of the spectacular increase in the price of food and the economic consequences it is creating in the world, including in our country, “We have a responsibility to provide information about the situation. To produce the amount of wheat the country consumes, 400,000 hectares of this crop is needed, with a yield equivalent to that attained in the United States.”

“We have to inform the people of what can be extracted from every square meter of land in our country,” he emphasized.

All of this was discussed with total involvement, not like the leaders of the so-called Western democracies, the financial institutions or even international agencies, including the UN, “a fraud” where the honest do not survive, since the powerful get rid of them when they do not bend to their designs.

Cuba was also discussed, its history, its resistance and the country’s capacity to confront aggression and debate openly whatever needs to be debated.

Fidel recalled how the Cuban Revolution attained such a radical and profound transformation, from the roots of a movement which arrived in the country with less than 25% of the forces originally conceived, a single automatic weapon – not 300 – and a few more than 50 rifles with telescopic sights; was virtually destroyed but, with a small group, emerged to defeat an army equipped, trained and financed by the U.S.

He referred to the ethics maintained by the Cuban guerrilla movement from its very beginnings, which won the respect and admiration of the adversary.

He recalled the actions of a group of young officers who led a rebellion on September 5, 1957, which included in its plans the bombing of the Columbia Garrison and the Presidential Palace, where the dictator Fulgencio Batista was hiding.

“They were serious, brave officers,” but if they had managed to take power, it would not have been possible to generate the strength needed to effect the profound revolution which took place in Cuba.

LIKE A FAMILY

“Why can’t the world act like a family?” Fidel asked, “We have no other planet to move to. Venus, named for the god of love, is terribly hot. The star closest to Earth is four light years away – one light-year is the distance a ray of light travels in a year at a speed of 300,000 kilometers per hour. We can’t move. Our life is here, on this planet, the only one we truly have,” he added.

“I think that we have to behave like a family and share what we have: some have oil, some food, those beyond, doctors…” And as if to share a dream or a destiny, he added, “Why can’t we think of the earth as the home of a single human family?”

At the end of the meeting, after listening to valuable comments by a number of participants, Fidel appealed to the group to work to bring the willpower of many together in this vital battle of ideas and invited them to see each other again within a year at Cuba’s next Book Fair. •

Translated by Granma International

 

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