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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

The "battle you are waging today for Cuba is a battle you are waging for the entire world"

Fidel Castro embraces American Paul Mayer when he arrives in Havana as part of the Pastors for Peace Caravan, 1992

Paul Mayer and other American pastors came to Cuba in defiance of the American economic blockade and despite great obstacles placed in their path. This was during some of the darkest days of the Cuban Revolution after counter-revolution had brought down the USSR and the Socialist Bloc leaving Cuba economically and politically isolated and under extreme pressure from the United States.

During a speech Castro gave to them after their arrival, in words that still remain important today over 30 years later, he said:

"When we talk about what's happening to Cuba, we're already talking about what could happen to any country in the world, especially any Third World country. That's why the battle you are waging today for Cuba is a battle you are waging for the entire world, a battle you are waging for the Third World and for all the nations which have been blockaded for centuries, because they were colonized, exploited and their children enslaved...

So, what has the world suffered? A 500-year-old blockade. What is neocolonialism? A blockade. What are those neoliberal and ultrareactionary policies? A blockade which forces governments to close their hospitals, to close their schools, to throw the people out onto the streets, to allow people to remain destitute. And in our country, not even during special period when our imports have been reduced to 25 percent of what they were have we closed one single school, one single day-care center, one single hospital. No one has been left destitute. When we don't have any work for them, we pay our workers a salary. At least we give them a salary and though they may have to go home, we don't abandon them...

What we are doing, the miracle we are performing...could not be performed in a capitalist society. That's why very rich countries that are not blockaded, countries in Latin America that receive aid from the World Bank and other financial institutions, and have a high number of exports, far higher than ours, have closed thousands of schools, hospitals and social institutions. That is what the world is going through. That is why I insist on the idea that to fight for Cuba's cause today is to fight for far more than just Cuba: It is to fight for a just cause for everyone. "

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