Castro: 'Force is no solution'

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Castro: 'Force is no solution'

Following are excerpts from a speech by Cuba's President Fidel Castro to a mass rally in the University of Havana on May 4.

Brutal and destructive air strikes are taking place in the very heart of Europe, which are causing devastation, death and terror. Religious and ethnic conflicts have been considerably aggravated and thus hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, also horrified by the bombs and the war, are migrating.

NATO and its members, the USA included, is involved in what can be described, whether they like it or not, as genocide. That is what results from depriving 1 million people of electricity and heating, overnight and in mid-winter. Also from cutting off all communications, sources of energy and transportation, destroying non-military facilities providing crucial services and tearing to pieces all the means of life created by a nation.

Such destructive frenzy, either by mistake or recklessness, is directly killing or injuring thousands of civilians.

Europe is involved in a conflict hazardous to itself and the world. An extremely serious precedent is being set in defiance of international law and the United Nations, and resulting in an increasingly complicated situation.

Only a political, and not a military solution is possible, based on respect for the rights of every nation in that region, and every religion, ethnic group and culture: a solution for both Serbians and Kosovars.

The problem cannot be solved by force. When the people are willing to fight, no power, regardless of its might, can throw them down on their knees.

The aggressor thought that the Serbians would surrender to the first bombs. Thousands and thousands of bombs have been dropped; however, we do not perceive any weakening in their will to fight. This we know by keeping in touch with three Cuban diplomats in Belgrade.

We are told by those diplomats about the extraordinary morale of the Serbian people, and particularly the people in Belgrade where planes are constantly flying at low altitude, thundering in the sky, terrorising and causing traumas in children, youth, women and elders.

The aggressors do not want to use ground forces since they believe that their smart bombs and guided missiles can solve the problem. But the problem cannot be resolved with missiles, bombs or ground troops because when the people are determined to fight they do so everywhere, from all directions, and every house may become a fortress, every man or woman a combatant.

We know very well how we would conduct a struggle in our country under similar conditions. No one can conquer a country that is willing to fight. It is wrong to try to conquer it.

It already happened in Vietnam where the Americans understood it only when they had lost more than 50,000 lives and killed 4 million Vietnamese. Well, now they are in a similar situation. Europe and NATO have become the hostages of a subjective factor: the decision the Serbians might adopt to resist to the end.

This does not mean that we are against anybody's rights; we support both, the rights of the Serbians and the Kosovars' rights.

When we were recently informed that Guantánamo Naval Base would be used to accommodate 20,000 Kosovar refugees, we immediately agreed, and I think it is the first time that we have agreed with anything the US has done in that base. Not that they requested our permission or agreement; they simply were kind enough to communicate to us their purposes.

The last thing they expected was our reply. We agreed not only to 20,000 Kosovar refugees being sheltered there but also said we were willing to cooperate as much as possible in providing care for those refugees. We offered our hospital services if required, our doctors and any other cooperation within our capabilities.

Finally, they were not sent in and it was a clever thing to rectify that decision because they would have been much criticised. The truth is that none of the NATO countries really want to accept refugees. There is much xenophobia and selfishness in the West.

They had said they would accept from 80,000 to 100,000 but they have only accepted a few thousand because they do not want to have Kosovar refugees in their own territories.

Although we strongly condemn the brutal and genocidal attacks against the Serbian people, we also share in the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of refugees dragged to such condition by a series of longstanding factors, not only historical but also associated with the disintegration of Yugoslavia, a country that had lived in peace for 40 years after World War II.

Those who stirred up the national, ethnic and religious conflicts are greatly responsible for what is happening there now. Many of Europe's public figures are aware of Europe's responsibility in that process. Those who so lightly agreed to use all their sophisticated military technology against what was left of the former Yugoslavia bear a great responsibility for what is going on there and the misery of those hundreds of thousands of refugees.

We advocate solutions for all the parties involved: refugees, citizens of Kosova, Serbians and people of other nationalities living there, and all the nations that make up what is left of Yugoslavia today. Our sympathies are with all the suffering people there.

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