By Fidel Castro Ruz
President of Cuba
Free Territory in the Americas
‘The empire is now attempting to turn events around to what Gaddafi has done or not done, because it needs to militarily intervene in Libya and deliver a blow to the revolutionary wave unleashed in the Arab world.’
As some people know, in September of 1969, Muammar al-Gaddafi, a Bedouin Arab soldier of unusual character and inspired by the ideas of the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, promoted within the heart of the Armed Forces a movement which overthrew King Idris I of Libya, almost a desert country in its totality, with a sparse population, located to the north of Africa between Tunisia and Egypt.
Libya’s significant and valuable energy resources were progressively being discovered.
Born into the heart of a Bedouin community, nomadic desert shepherds in the region of Tripoli, Gaddafi was profoundly anti-colonialist. It is known that a paternal grandfather died fighting against the Italian invaders when Libya was invaded by the latter in 1911. The colonial regime and fascism changed everyone’s lives. It is likewise said that his father was imprisoned before earning his daily bread as an industrial worker.
Even Gaddafi’s adversaries confirm that he stood out for his intelligence as a student; he was expelled from high school for his anti-monarchical activities. He managed to enroll in another school and later to graduate in law at the University of Benghazi, aged 21. He then entered the Benghazi Military College, where he created the Union of Free Officers Movement, subsequently completing his studies in a British military academy.
These antecedents explain the notable influence that he later exercised in Libya and over other political leaders, whether or not they are now for or against Gaddafi.
He initiated his political life with unquestionably revolutionary acts.
In March 1970, in the wake of mass nationalist protests, he achieved the evacuation of British soldiers from the country and, in June, the United States vacated the large airbase close to Tripoli, which was handed over to military instructors from Egypt, a country allied with Libya.
In 1970, a number of Western oil companies and banking societies with the participation of foreign capital were affected by the Revolution. At the end of 1971, the same fate befell the famous British Petroleum. In the agricultural sector all Italian assets were confiscated, and the colonialists and their descendants were expelled from Libya.
State intervention was directed toward the control of the large companies. Production in that country grew to become one of the highest in the Arab world. Gambling was prohibited, as was alcohol consumption. The legal status of women, traditionally limited, was elevated.
The Libyan leader became immersed in extremist theories as much opposed to communism as to capitalism. It was a stage in which Gaddafi devoted himself to theorizing, which would be meaningless to include in this analysis, except to note that the first article of the Constitutional Proclamation of 1969, established the ‘Socialist’ nature of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
What I wish to emphasize is that the United States and its NATO allies were never interested in human rights.
The pandemonium that occurred in the Security Council, in the meeting of the Human Rights Council based in Geneva, and in the UN General Assembly in New York, was pure theater.
I can perfectly comprehend the reactions of political leaders embroiled in so many contradictions and sterile debates, given the intrigue of interests and problems which they have to address.
‘Almost immediately [after the Cuban Revolution], the empire promoted against our people dirty warfare, counterrevolutionary gangs, the criminal economic blockade and the mercenary invasion of the Bay of Pigs, guarded by an aircraft carrier and its marines ready to disembark if the mercenary force secured certain objectives.’
All of us are well aware that status as a permanent member, veto power, the possession of nuclear weapons and more than a few institutions, are sources of privilege and self-interest imposed on humanity by force. One can be in agreement with many of them or not, but never accept them as just or ethical measures.
The empire is now attempting to turn events around to what Gaddafi has done or not done, because it needs to militarily intervene in Libya and deliver a blow to the revolutionary wave unleashed in the Arab world. Through now not a word was said, silence was maintained and business was conducted.
Whether a latent Libyan rebellion was promoted by yankee intelligence agencies or by the errors of Gaddafi himself, it is important that the peoples do not let themselves be deceived, given that, very soon, world opinion will have enough elements to know what to believe.
In my opinion, and as I have expressed since the outset, the plans of the bellicose NATO had to be condemned.
Libya, like many Third World countries, is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77 and other international organizations, via which relations are established independently of economic and social system.
Briefly: the Revolution in Cuba, inspired by Marxist-Leninist and Martí principles, had triumphed in 1959 at 90 miles from the United States, which imposed the Platt Amendment on us and was the proprietor of our country’s economy.
Almost immediately, the empire promoted against our people dirty warfare, counterrevolutionary gangs, the criminal economic blockade and the mercenary invasion of the Bay of Pigs, guarded by an aircraft carrier and its marines ready to disembark if the mercenary force secured certain objectives.
Barely a year and a half later, it threatened us with the power of its nuclear arsenal. A war of that nature was about to break out.
All the Latin American countries, with the exception of Mexico, took part in the criminal blockade which is still in place, without our country ever surrendering. It is important to recall that for those lacking historical memory.
In January 1986, putting forward the idea that Libya was behind so-called revolutionary terrorism, Reagan ordered the severing of economic and commercial relations with that country.
In March, an aircraft carrier force in the Gulf of Sirte, within what Libya considered its national waters, unleashed attacks which destroyed a number of naval units equipped with rocket launchers and coastal radar systems which that country had acquired in the USSR.
On April 5, a discotheque in West Berlin frequented by U.S. soldiers was the target of a plastic explosives attack, in which three people died, two of them U.S. soldiers, and many people were injured.
Reagan accused Gaddafi and ordered the Air Force to respond. Three squadrons took off from 6thFleet aircraft carriers and bases in the United Kingdom, and attacked with missiles and bombs seven military targets in Tripoli and Benghazi. Some 40 people died, 15 of them civilians. Warned in advance of the bombardments, Gaddafi gathered together his family and was leaving his residence located in the Bab Al Aziziya military complex south of the capital. The evacuation had not been completed when a missile directly hit the residence, his daughter Hanna died and another two of his children were wounded. That act was widely rejected; the UN General Assembly passed a resolution of condemnation given what was a violation of the UN Charter and international law. The Non-Aligned Movement, the Arab League and the OAU did likewise in energetic terms.
On December 21, 1988, a Pan Am Boeing 747 flying from London to New York disintegrated in full flight when a bomb exploded aboard, the wreckage fell on the locality of Lockerbie and the tragedy cost the lives of 270 people of 21 nationalities.
Initially, the United States suspected Iran, in reprisal for the death of 290 people when an Airbus belonging to its state line was brought down. According to the yankees, investigations implicated two Libyan intelligence agents. Similar accusations against Libya were made in the case of the French airline on the Brazzaville-N’Djamena-Paris route, implicating Libyan officials whom Gaddafi refused to extradite for acts that he categorically denied.
A sinister legend was fabricated against him, with the participation of Reagan and Bush Senior.
From 1975 to the final stage of the Regan administration, Cuba dedicated itself to its internationalist duties in Angola and other African nations. We were aware of the conflicts developing in Libya or around her via readings and testimonies from people closely linked to that country and the Arab world, as well as impressions we retained from many figures in different countries with whom we had contact during those years.
Many known African leaders with whom Gaddafi maintained close relations made efforts to find a solution to the tense relations between Libya and the United Kingdom.
The Security Council had imposed sanctions on Libya which began to be overcome when Gaddafi agreed to the trial, under specific conditions, of the two men accused of the plane sabotage over Scotland.
Libyan delegations began to be invited to inter-European meetings. In July 1999 London initiated the reestablishment of full diplomatic relations with Libya after some additional concessions.
In September of that year, European Union ministers agreed to revoke the restrictive trade measures imposed in 1992.
On December 2, Massimo D’Alema, the Italian prime minister, made the first visit to Libya by a European head of government.
With the disappearance of the USSR and the European socialist bloc, Gaddafi decided to accept the demands of the United States and NATO.
When I visited Libya in May 2001, he showed me the ruins left by the treacherous attack during which Reagan murdered his daughter and almost exterminated his entire family.
In early 2002, the State Department announced that diplomatic talks between the United States and Libya were underway.
In May, Libya was once again included on the list of states sponsoring terrorism although, in January, President George W. Bush had not mentioned the African country in his famous speech on members of the ‘axis of evil.’
At the beginning of 2003, in accordance with the economic agreement on compensation reached between Libya and the plaintiffs, the United Kingdom and France, the UN Security Council lifted its 1992 sanctions against Libya.
Before the end of 2003, Bush and Tony Blair reported an agreement with Libya, which had submitted documentation to British and U.S. intelligence experts about conventional weapons programs and ballistic missiles with a range of more than 300 kilometers. Officials from both countries had already visited a number of installations. It was the result of many months of conversation between Tripoli and Washington, as Bush himself revealed.
Gaddafi kept his disarmament promises. Within five months Libya handed over the five units of Scud-C missiles with a range of 800 km and hundreds of Scud-B which have a range exceeding the 300 kilometers of defensive short-range missiles.
As of October, 2002, a marathon of visits to Tripoli began: Berlusconi, in October 2002; José María Aznar, in September 2003; Berlusconi again in February, August and October of 2004; Blair, in March of 2004; the German Schröeder, in October of that year; Jacques Chirac, November 2004. Everybody happy. Money talks.
Gaddafi toured Europe triumphantly. He was received in Brussels in April of 2004 by Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission; in August of that year the Libyan leader invited Bush to visit his country; Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Texaco and Conoco Philips established renewed oil extraction operations through joint ventures.
In May of 2006, the United States announced the removal of Libya from its list of nations harboring terrorists and established full diplomatic relations.
In 2006 and 2007, France and the U.S. signed accords for cooperation in nuclear development for peaceful ends; in May, 2007, Blair returned to visit Gaddafi in Sirte. British Petroleum signed a contract it described as ‘enormously important,’ for the exploration of gas fields.
In December of 2007, Gaddafi made two trips to France to sign military and civilian equipment contracts for 10 billion euros, and to Spain where he met with President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Contracts worth millions were signed with important NATO countries.
What has now brought on the precipitous withdrawal of U.S. and other NATO members’ embassies?
It all seems extremely strange.
George W. Bush, father of the stupid anti-terrorist war, said in a speech to west Point cadets, ‘Our security will require … the military you will lead, a military that must be ready to strike at a moment’s notice in any dark corner of the world. … to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives.
‘We must root out terrorist cells in 60 countries or more … with our friends and allies, we have to stop their proliferation and confront regimes which harbor or support terrorism, as is required in each case.’
What might Obama think of that speech?
What sanctions will the Security Council impose on those who have killed more than a million civilians in Iraq and those who everyday are murdering men, women and children in Afghanistan, where just recently the angry population took to the streets to protest the massacre of innocent children?
An AFP dispatch from Kabul, dated today, March 9, reveals, ‘Last year was the most lethal for civilians in the nine-year war between the Taliban and international forces in Afghanistan, with almost 2,800 deaths, 15% more than in 2009, a United Nations report indicated on Wednesday, underlining the human cost of the conflict for the population.
‘… The Taliban insurrection has intensified and gained ground in these last few years, with guerrilla actions beyond its traditional bastions in the South and East.
‘At exactly 2,777, the number of civilian deaths in 2010 increased by 15% as compared to 2009,’ the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan annual report indicated.
‘On March 3, President Barack Obama expressed his profound condolences to the Afghan people for the nine children killed, as did U.S. General David Petraeus, commander in chief of the ISAF and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
‘… The UNAMA report emphasizes that the number of civilian deaths is four times greater than the number of international forces soldiers killed in combat during the same year.
‘So far, 2010 has been the most deadly for foreign soldiers in the nine years of war, with 711 dead, confirming that the Taliban’s guerilla war has intensified despite the deployment of 30,000 U.S. reinforcements last year.’
Over the course of 10 days, in Geneva and in the United Nations, more than 150 speeches were delivered about violations of human rights, which were repeated million of times on television, radio, Internet and in the written press.
Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, in his remarks March 1, 2011 before Foreign Relations ministers in Geneva, said:
‘Humanity’s conscience is repulsed by the deaths of innocent people under any circumstances, anyplace. Cuba fully shares the worldwide concern for the loss of civilian lives in Libya and hopes that its people are able to reach a peaceful and sovereign solution to the civil war occurring there, with no foreign interference, and guarantee the integrity of that nation.’
Some of the final paragraphs of his speech were scathing.
‘If the essential human right is the right to life, will the Council be ready to suspend the membership of states that unleash war?
‘Will it suspend states which finance and supply military aid utilized by recipient states for mass, flagrant and systematic violations of human rights and attacks on the civilian population, like those taking place in Palestine?
‘Will it apply measures to powerful countries which are perpetuating extra-judicial executions in the territory of other states with the use of high technology, such as smart bombs and drone aircraft?
‘What will happen with states which accept secret illegal prisons in their territories, facilitate the transit of secret flights with kidnapped persons aboard, or participate in acts of torture?
We fully share the valiant position of the Bolivarian leader Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).
We are against the internal war in Libya, in favor of immediate peace and respect for the lives and rights of all citizens, without foreign intervention, which would only serve to prolong the conflict and NATO interests.
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 9, 2011
‘Reflections Of Fidel’ – Translated by Granma International (http://www.Granma.cu)