• Michael Laxer

"Our people have done nothing but break their chains!" - Fidel Castro Sept. 2, 1960



Today is the anniversary of the speech Fidel Castro gave before a crowd of one million people announcing the First Declaration of Havana on September 2, 1960.


As the Great Soviet Encyclopedia outlined in 1979:


The Havana Declaration of 1960, or the First Havana Declaration, was adopted by the First National General Assembly of the people of Cuba on Sept. 2, 1960, in Havana. The declaration was the response of the people of Cuba to the Declaration of San José, adopted in August 1960 at the seventh conference of foreign ministers of member nations of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Costa Rica. The aim of the San Jose Declaration was to create a legal basis to justify the aggression of the USA against revolutionary Cuba.

Excerpt from Castro's speech:


But why did they want to condemn Cuba? What has Cuba done to be condemned? What has our people done to merit the Costa Rico Declaration? Our people have done nothing but break their chains! Our people have done nothing, harming no other people and taking nothing from any other people, than to fight for a better destiny. Our people have wanted only to be free, our people have wanted only to live from their own works, and our people have wanted nothing but to live from the fruits of their efforts. Our people have wanted nothing except to have what is theirs, that what is produced from their land, that what is produced with their blood, that what is produced with their sweat should be theirs.


The Cuban people have only wanted the decisions guiding their conduct to be theirs, that the flag with the solitary star which flutters over our homeland should be theirs and theirs alone! They wanted their laws to be their own, their natural wealth to be their own, and their democratic and revolutionary institutions to be their own. They wanted their fate to be their own, a fate in which no interest, no oligarchy and no government, however powerful it might be, would have a right to interfere.


And it must be our freedom, because it has cost us much sacrifice to win it. Sovereignty must be ours and complete, because our people have been fighting for sovereignty for a century. The wealth of our land and the fruits of our labor must be ours, because our people have had to sacrifice much for this and all that has been created has been created by the people, and all there is here of wealth has been produced by our people, through their sweat and their labor.


Our people had a right to be a free people one day. Our people had a right to govern their own destiny one day. Our people had a right to expect one day to have a government which would not defend the foreign monopolies, which would not defend the privileged interests, which would not defend the exploiters, but which would put the interests of the people and their homeland above the interests of the greedy foreigners, a government which would put the interests of the people, the interests of the peasants, the interests of the workers, the interests of the young people and children, the interests of the women and the old people above the interests of the privileged and the exploiters...


This was what the revolution inherited when it came to power: an economically underdeveloped country, a people which had been the victim of every kind of exploitation. This was what the revolution found at the end of its heroic and bloody struggle. And revolutions are not undertaken to leave things as they were. Revolutions are undertaken to correct all the injustices. Revolutions are not undertaken to protect and promote privileges. Revolutions are undertaken to aid those who need to be aided. Revolutions are undertaken to establish justice, to put an end to abuse, to put an end to exploitation. And our revolution was undertaken for this, and to this end those who fell gave their lives, and to achieve this goal so many sacrifices were made. - from Fidel Castro's speech in Havana, September 2, 1960 proclaiming the First Declaration of Havana


Full speech and declaration: Speech delivered by commander in chief Fidel Castro Ruz at the great popular rally staged by the people of Cuba at the Civic Square of the Republic on 2 September 1960

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