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Che Guevara's Speech
Transcript of Che Guevara's Speech
Kennedy and USA's stated position
to complete the revolution of the Americas, to build a hemisphere where all men can hope for a suitable standard of living and all can live out their lives in dignity and in freedom
[Address at White House Reception for Latin American Diplomats and Members of Congress, March 13, 1961]
To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge – to convert our good words into good deeds—in a new alliance for progress – to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty."
-John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961
....The Alliance for Progress could very well provide the stimulus to carry out more intensive reform programs. But unless these are initiated rapidly and begin soon to show positive results,
it is probable that they will not be sufficient to counterbalance the growing pressure of the extreme left
. The years ahead will witness, almost surely, a race between those who are attempting to initiate evolutionary reform programs and those who are trying to generate mass support for
fundamental economic and social revolution
. If the moderates are left behind in this race they could, in time, see themselves
deprived of their mass support and caught in an untenable position between the extremes of right and left.
At the 1961 Alliance for Progress
March 13, 1961—the day President Kennedy announced the Alliance for Progress—the pirate attack on our refinery at Santiago de Cuba took place, endangering the installations and taking the life of one of those defending it.
We were thus again faced with an accomplished fact.
In that speech, which I have no doubt will be remembered,
Kennedy also said that he hoped the peoples of Cuba and the
Dominican Republic, for whom he felt great sympathy, could
join the community of free nations. Within a month there
was Playa Girón [Bay of Pigs invasion], and a few days later
President Trujillo was mysteriously assassinated.
always enemies of President Trujillo; we merely take note of
the bare fact, which has not been clarified in any way up to the
Afterward, a true masterpiece of belligerence and political
naiveté was prepared, called the White Paper....
“The Castro regime refuses to negotiate amicably.” This
in spite of our having said many times that we will sit down
on an equal basis to discuss our problems with the United
States. I take advantage of the opportunity now, on behalf of
my government, Mr. President, to state once more that Cuba is
ready to sit down to discuss as equals everything that the US
delegation wishes to discuss, but on the strict basis that there
be no prior conditions. In other words, our position is very
clear on this matter.
The United States will be faced with the necessity, probably
sooner than it is thought, of pointing out to the conservatives,
the oligarchy, the newly rich, the national and foreign moneyed
sectors in general, the military, and the clergy, that they will
in the last analysis have to choose between two things: to
contribute to the establishment in Venezuela of a society based
on the masses, in which they
retain part of their status quo and
or to be faced with the loss of both
and very possibly
their own death at the hands of a firing squad
Che's Speech at the Alliance for Progress 1961, Uruguay
Acknowledged the political agenda of the United States, not just it's economic agenda as stated by Kennedy
Highlights the clear contradictions of the Kennedy's call for "freedom" in Latin America with his examples of the Bay of Pigs and the realities of society on Cuba post-Batista
Che quotes at length an intercepted document outlining the political goals of the Alliance for Progress
Shows through these documents, and actions of the U.S. against Cuba, that
the Alliance for Progress is nothing more than another imperialist strategy to maintain U.S. hegemony and control (U.S. and National Bourgeois) of Latin American resources (i.e. crops and people)
White Paper Propaganda
Hypocrisy of the Alliance for Progress
Essentially, Che's speech reveals the intentions of the US government:
To try and isolate Cuba, and prevent the spreading of revolutionary movements against U.S. imperialism, economic hegemony, and U.S. backed dictators
In order to quell a people's movement, the U.S. wanted to try and use imperialist techniques used on U.S. citizens (i.e. the creation of a middle class, more public control rather than private control, and the implementation of a "social democratic" leader)
US will stop revolutions by any means necessary:
Ex. the extensive amount of money used to hunt down and kill Che Guevara
Bay of Pigs, Actions against Cuba post-revolution
In October 1959, the only fundamental economic measure
that the revolutionary government had carried out was the
Pirate planes coming from the United States
flew over Havana’s airspace
and as a result of the bombs that
they dropped and the fire of our antiaircraft batteries, two
people were killed and 50 were wounded.
Then there was the
burning of the sugarcane fields,
which constitutes economic
aggression, an aggression against our wealth.
States denied all responsibility until a plane blew up—pilot
and all—and the origin of those pirate craft was indisputably
. This time the US government was kind enough
to offer apologies.
The España sugar mill was also bombed in
February 1960 by these planes.
On the U.S. Aggression Post-Revolution
It is a report of a secret
document addressed to Ambassador Moscoso in Venezuela by
his advisers John M. Cates, Jr., Irving Tragen, and Robert Cox.
In one of the paragraphs, speaking of the measures that
must be taken in Venezuela to make a real Alliance for Progress
directed by the United States, this document states:
What Was Really Happening?
Major Points Addressed
Guevara, Che, María Del Carmen. Ariet, and Javier Salado. Our America and Theirs: Kennedy and the Alliance for Progress : The Debate at Punto Del Este. Melbourne, Vic.: Ocean, 2006. Print.
"Distinguished delegates, we call for an Alliance for Progress,
an alliance for our progress, a peaceful alliance for the progress
of all. We are not opposed to being left out in the distribution
of loans, but we are opposed to being left out in participating
in the cultural and spiritual life of our Latin American people,
to whom we belong.
What we will never allow is a restriction on our freedom to trade and have relations with all the peoples of the world.
And we will defend ourselves with all our strength against any attempt at foreign aggression, be it from an imperial power or be it from some Latin American body that concurs in the desire of some to see us wiped out."
U.S.'s Assessment of Latin American Masses
U.S. Analysis of Capitalism
This shows that the U.S. was fully aware that a
social revolution would lead to the ending of poverty
, as they acknowledge that it is the wealthy oligarchy who control the land, wealth, and well-being of the nation as a whole. This document is advising the ruling class of Venezuela to shift to a society "based on the masses" ( i.e. a U.S. model ) in order to avoid the inevitability of the revolution of the masses.
The radical redistribution of land from May 1959 and the reduction of housing rents — to a maximum of 10% of a person’s income — were the among the most important measures in undermining racism. They gave livelihood, security and dignity where before there was none. Black Cubans were also assisted with affirmative action programs, and the discriminatory private health and education systems were abolished. Free health care and free education benefited blacks the most.
Free education was established for all Cubans. From preschool to PhD, free education was guaranteed both in the Cuban constitution and in practice, the cost of tutoring, books, pencils and pens all free. Cuba now has more teachers per capita than any other country in the world.
Cuba’s 1976 constitution states: “The state guarantees this right by providing free medical and hospital care by means of the installations of the rural medical service network, polyclinics, hospitals, preventative and specialized treatment centres; by providing free dental care; by promoting the health publicity campaigns, health education, regular medical examinations, general vaccinations and other measures to prevent the outbreak of disease.”
According to the Word Health Organization, life expectancy in Cuba is now 78 years — 76 years for men and 80 years for women. In comparison, the US life expectancy at birth is 75 and 80 years for males and females respectively. In 1959, average life expectancy in Cuba was just 58 years.
If we are to meet a problem so staggering in its dimensions, our approach must itself be equally bold, an approach consistent with the majestic concept of Operation Pan America. Therefore I have called on all the people of the hemisphere to join in a new Alliance for Progrcss - alianza para Progreso - a vast cooperative effort, unparalleled in magnitude and nobility of purpose, to satisfy the basic needs of the American people for homes, work and land, health and schools - techo, trabajo y tierra, salud y escuela.
First, I propose that the American Republics begin on a vast new 10-year plan for the Americas, a plan to transform the 1960's into an historic decade of democratic progress. . .
We meet together as firm and ancient friends, united by history and experience and by our determination to advance the values of American civilization. For this new world of ours is not merely an accident of geography. Our continents arc bound together by a common history-the endless exploration of new frontiers. Our nations are the product of a common struggle -the revolt from colonial rule.
And our people share a common heritage - the quest for the dignity and the freedom of man. . .
As a citizen of the United States let me be the first to admit that we North Americans have not always grasped the significance of this common mission,
just as it is also true that many in your own countries have not fully understood the urgency of the need to lift people from poverty and ignorance and despair
. But we must turn from these mistakes-from the failures and the misunderstandings of the past-to a future full of peril but bright with hope.
Throughout Latin America-a continent rich in resources and In the spiritual and cultural achievements of its people-
millions of men and women suffer the daily degradations of hunger and poverty. They lack decent shelter or protection from disease. Their children are deprived of the education or the jobs which arc the gateway to a better life. .
What does that mean?
…in persuading the majority of Latin American states to join
in a quarantine of Cuba, it would not be totally successful. Certainly
Mexico and Brazil would refuse to cooperate and would
serve as a channel for travel and other communication between
Latin America and Cuba.
…that benefit the poorest classes, the attraction of the Cuban
example will increase and will continue to inspire imitators on
the left in the whole region. The danger is not so much that a
subversive apparatus, with its center in Havana, could export
revolution, as that growing extreme poverty and discontent
among the masses of the Latin American people may provide
the pro-Castro elements opportunities to act.
The urban unemployed and the
landless peasants of Venezuela and Peru, for example, who
have hoped that Acción Democrática and the APRA would
implement reforms, constitute a quick source of political
strength for the politician who convinces them that change can
be implemented much more rapidly than the social democratic
movements have promised.