BRASILIA, December 18, 2008

President Raúl Castro today highlighted the preparation of the Cuban people in confronting the blockade, which has no perspective, and reiterated his disposition to dialogue with the United States on the basis of absolute equality of conditions.


“It’s been almost 50 years now, it’s time for it to end, it’s dying,” the Cuban president said in comments to reporters during his official visit to Brazil at the invitation of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

“If we ask ourselves, why the blockade? What’s the blockade for? Unless it’s for some incomprehensible revenge against a people who have never attacked the United States, and it is dying even more after the summit we just concluded in Sauípe, in Salvador de Bahía.”

“It’s time to start getting ready, because the blockade has no perspective; the gentleman, the president of the United States said during his election campaign that he will ease the blockade, but if it’s maintained, that is the carrot and the stick,” Raúl Castro said.
He noted that more than 70 percent of Cuban citizens today were born under the conditions of the blockade and under the limitations imposed by the blockade.

“What I mean is that we are trained, we are prepared for the blockade and for the hurricanes that will become, or already are more frequent, and what’s worse, more powerful.”

“Nobody has been able to defeat us; Spanish colonialism couldn’t, even when they assembled close to 300,000 soldiers in the late 19th century, in the last war of that century.”

“Mr. Obama, President of the United States, whose virtues we acknowledge, should know that now is the moment of truth,” the Cuban president added.

“Why don’t they lift the blockade? Mrs. Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state in the William Clinton administration, stated that, for that to happen, Cuba had to make gestures. Gestures of what? Gestures for what? Why gestures by a small country under attack?”

Raúl Castro revealed that he had received a letter from a former president announcing that change was near, and that “if we make some public gestures…and I immediately answered, with the same affection with which he wrote his letter, that the time for gestures was over in Cuba.”

Gestures must be bilateral, the Cuban president said. There are no more unilateral gestures.

He commented on the remarks he had made at the lunch given in Itamaraty with respect to the fact that in Latin America: “we are adults, we want to speak with our own voices now, Cuba and the whole continent, beginning with Brazil, which is the big brother.”

“One has to take some kind of advantage found all unfortunate events. In terms of the disaster of this crisis of the economy, finance and of every kind, we must at least take advantage of it by eliminating that global tutelage on the part of certain countries of the European Union, who still continue to look down on us.

“We’ll respect whoever wants to continue with the complexes of the past; one has to get used to living with pluralism,” Raúl added to reporters at the Brazilian Foreign Ministry.

“It may seem strange to you all that a Cuban communist is talking like this, but I k now what false unanimity is,” he said.

“The world would be a very boring place if we all had to think alike; difference is a virtue. We have to know how to deal with discrepancies, respecting others, but demanding respect for ourselves.”

“That’s the problem with the blockade. We will wait patiently. You all have heard our speeches, including the ones in Salvador de Bahía; I didn’t even mention the word imperialism once – that’s unusual – we’ve been saying it for half a century, everybody knows that by now.”

“We are seeing the consequences of what that system is; Cuba is prepared. It is one of the countries — by contrast— that is prepared to deal with this crisis, which is quite complicated, and nobody knows when it will end.”

In response to a question about counterrevolutionaries in Cuba, Raúl responded categorically with a question – “What dissidents are you talking about? I know about that story inside and out, and the $57 million that the U.S. Congress approved last year for paying agents.”

“That’s the role they are playing; those dissidents. Why don’t you talk to me about our five heroes who did nothing against the United Sates and who have been in prison for 10 years, one of them sentenced to two life terms.”

The Cuban president noted, “we have already said that we are willing to talk with Mr. Obama, wherever and whenever he decides, but under absolute equality of conditions, without the slightest shadow over our sovereignty.”

Translated by Granma International