Raul Castro: Our victory has been glorious – despite a bothersome neighbour

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The Independent Online

Nicolas Guillén's masterly verses synthesised what the January 1959 triumph brought to our people. "I have what I was meant to have," he said in one of his poems, referring not to material wealth but to being the masters of our own destiny.

This victory is twice as worthy for it has been attained despite the unhealthy and vindictive hatred of the powerful neighbour. One way or another, with more or less aggressiveness, every US administration has tried to impose a regime change in Cuba.

For many years, Cuban revolutionaries have abided by Martí's apothegm: "Freedom is most precious and one must either accept to live without it or be determined to buy it for its price."

On the 30th anniversary of the victory, Fidel said at this square: "We are here because we have put up a resistance." Ten years later, in 1999, from this same balcony, he said that the Special Period was "the most extraordinary page of revolutionary and patriotic glory... when we were left absolutely alone in the West, only 90 miles away from the United States, and we decided to continue forward." Fifty years on, we repeat the same thing today.

Today, we are not alone on this side of the ocean facing the empire. Today, the Revolution is stronger than ever. Does it mean there is less danger? No, it doesn't. Let's not entertain any illusions. As we commemorate this half-century of victories, it is time to reflect on the future, on the next 50 years when we shall continue to struggle incessantly.

The observation of the current disturbances in the contemporary world tells us that the coming years will not be easier. This is the truth; I am not saying this to scare anyone.

We should also keep in mind what Fidel told us all, but especially the youth, at the University of Havana on 17 November 2005: "This country could destroy itself, this Revolution could destroy itself, but they [the enemy] cannot destroy it. We could destroy it ourselves, and it would only be our fault." Never again shall poverty, ignominy, abuse and injustice return to our land! Never again shall the heart of our mothers be filled with pain and the soul of every honest Cuban succumb to shame!

Taken from the Cuban President Raul Castro's speech to the nation on the 50th anniversary of the revolution