José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), sent a congratulatory letter to Fidel Castro, historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, from Rome, Italy, on April 29, which we reproduce in full below:

Dear Commander:

I have the honor to address you in my capacity as Director-General of the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), to sincerely congratulate you and all the Cuban people for having fulfilled the goal set in advance by the World Food Summit, held in Rome in November 1996, and that he proposed to halve the number of undernourished people in each country by the year 2015.

As you may recall, you honored us with his presence in that Summit and delivered a brief but powerful speech, which still lingers in the collective memory of our Organization. You concluded by saying: "the bells that toll today for those who die of hunger every day, will toll tomorrow for humanity if it refused, failed or could not be wise enough to save them."

And they say that you said in the press conference that followed the Summit that even if the target were achieved we would not know what to say to the other half of humanity if it would not be freed from the scourge of hunger. They are concepts that until today still retain their meaning and value.

It’s been 17 years since then. Now I have the great pleasure to inform you that the decision of its members and for the first time in its history, the FAO Conference, to be held next June in Rome, take the total eradication hunger as the number one goal of our organization.

At that time, we will pay a tribute to Cuba and 15 other countries that have been most successful in reducing hunger. To all of them we will give a certificate of recognition for having met the target of the Summit in advance. The countries that accompany Cuba are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chile, Fiji, Georgia, Ghana, Guyana, Nicaragua, Peru, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Thailand, Uruguay, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Besides reiterating my congratulations on the significant success achieved by your country, I wish you well-being and success for you and all the Cuban people.

Yours with great esteem and appreciation,

José Graziano da Silva