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Day 17

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

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80th Birthday Message

It Is Our Duty to Save Our Species

by FIDEL CASTRO RUIZ

Dear compatriots and friends from all over the world:

In this period I have worked intensively ensure the objectives set for our country in the Proclamation of July 31st.

Currently, we are facing an adversary who has dragged the United States to such a disaster that the American people are almost sure to prevent him from completing his presidential term.

In thinking how to address you, intellectuals and prestigious personalities from the world, I found myself in a dilemma, since we could not assemble in a small room. It was only in the Karl Marx Theater that all the guests would fit but, according to the doctors, I was not yet ready for such a challenging engagement.

I opted for this way to address you all. You are well aware of my identification with Marti’s ideas about honor and glory, when he said that all the glory of the world fits in a kernel of corn.

Your generosity to me is truly overwhelming. There are so many people whose names I would like to mention here that I chose not to do that either. I beg your pardon for only mentioning one name, that of <>Oswaldo Guayasamin, since he embodied many of your greatest virtues.

He painted four portraits of me; the first in 1961. That one is lost. I have looked for it everywhere but it has not appeared. It was particularly painful as it became apparent to me what an exceptional person Guayasamin was. The second one, which he painted in 1981, is preserved at Guayasamin’s House in Old Havana. The third one, painted in 1986, is kept at the "Antonio Nunez Jimenez Foundation of Man and Nature". When we met, we were very far from even imagining that his fourth portrait would be his birthday present to me on August 1996.

His words were inspirational when he said: "In Quito or any other corner of the Earth leave the lights on, as I will be coming back late."

At the inaugural ceremony of the Man’s Chapel, I said about Oswaldo Guayasamin: "He was the noblest, most honorable and humane person I ever met. He created his work at light-speed and his human dimension defied all limits."

The work of creators will never be lost while this planet exists and human beings can breathe.

Today, thanks to technology, the works and knowledge created by man in thousands of years are within everybody’s reach, even if the impact of radiation from billions of computers and cell phones is still unknown.

A few days ago, the prestigious organization World Wildlife Foundation, based in Switzerland and considered the most important NGO in the world to monitor global environment, acknowledged that the set of measures implemented by Cuba to protect the environment made it the only country on Earth to meet the minimum requirements for sustainable development. This was for our country an encouraging honor, albeit one of limited world impact due to the low significance of its economy. Therefore, on November 23, I sent a message to President Hugo Chavez that read:

"Dear Hugo:

"The adoption of a Comprehensive Energy-Saving Program would make you the world’s most prestigious defender of the environment.

"The fact of Venezuela’s being the country with the largest oil reserves is of enormous importance, and would influence other other energy consumers to do the same, thus saving incalculable sums in investments.

"Just like Cuba, a nickel producing country, can mobilize resources amounting to billions of dollars for its development, Venezuela, a hydrocarbons exporter, could mobilize trillions.

"If the industrialized and wealthy countries were to succeed in achieving the miracle, of reproducing on the planet, solar fusion within the next decades, after first devastating the environment with their hydrocarbon emissions, how could the poor peoples that make up the immense majority of mankind live in this world?

"Hasta la victoria siempre!"

Finally, dearest friends who have honored us immensely with this visit to our country, it is with great sorrow that I bid you farewell for not being able to personally thank you and embrace every one of you. It is our duty to save our species.