72 UNGA: Statement by the Representative of Cuba at the Special Commemorative Ceremony to pay tribute to the Commander-in-Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz. New York, November 28, 2017.

Dear Comrades,

On behalf of the people of Cuba, their government and the relatives, we express our gratitude for your attendance at this commemorative ceremony dedicated to paying homage to the life and work of the Commander-in-Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz.

Fidel Castro or Fidel, as we Cubans simply call him, was a man who never sought the path where advantage lay, but rather the path where duty lay. He had a deep humanistic vocation, a solid Christian education, a solid Marxist education, and a solid universal revolutionary background.

We Cubans said goodbye to Fidel a year ago, as you say goodbye to a father, a brother or a friend. He was our comrade in the front line of the trench, in the factories, in the sugar cane fields, in the universities, in the hospitals, in the schools, in sporting events, in confronting weather events. We Cubans bid farewell to an undefeated Fidel, who did not give up his principles, who never gave in to anyone, we bid farewell to a tireless fighter against imperialism, who denounced every vile and interventionist action anywhere in the world. We, the new and future generations of Cubans, share the same lineage.

Fidel generated political awareness with a clear pedagogical vocation, nothing in the world was alien to him and every injustice had to be fought.

His high sense of patriotism and social justice, led him to lead a movement against one of the bloodiest tyrannies ever suffered by Cuba, which lasted from March 10th, 1952 to December 31st, 1958, which not only shed the blood of the best sons and daughters of the Nation but also maintained a submissive policy that violated national sovereignty and deepened foreign economic domination in Cuba.  In the early hours of January 1st, 1959, a socialist and democratic revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble triumphed, with Fidel as a leader, who without giving up his guerrilla suit and his beard of the Sierra Maestra Mountains, understood what essential men understand: that you have to fight all your life.

With the Revolution, we Cubans were the owners of our destiny for the first time. The agrarian reform proscribed large estates and returned the land to the ones who worked it. Cuba was declared a territory free of illiteracy; the right to health care and the right to education at all levels were guaranteed free of charge. The scientific development of the country reached levels that in many cases are on a par with the developed countries. Life expectancy is 78.45 years; we have an infant mortality rate under five per 1,000 live births, which places us among the first countries in the world in this area. In Cuba there are no forced or public disappearances; journalists are not killed, there are neither organized mafias, nor drug trafficking, nor evictions. There is no need to pay for a transplant, or prosthesis, or to obtain a university degree, or to learn to play a musical instrument or to be an Olympic champion. We have a political system based on direct democracy, where the people participate and decide at all levels. This is only a sample of what Cubans have achieved and built under Fidel's guidance. Many more would be our achievements if we had not had the constant threat to the right of the Revolution to exist and the tight blockade imposed for more than 50 years.

Fidel Castro harmoniously combined the thinking of Simón Bolívar, José Martí and Carlos Marx, which gave the Cuban Revolution a projection of universality. His work made him a symbol of the anti-colonialist, anti-apartheid and anti-imperialist struggle, for the emancipation and full dignity of the peoples.

He argued with great clarity that the fundamental causes of the current conflicts are the poverty and underdevelopment that prevail in the vast majority of countries, and the unequal distribution of wealth and knowledge prevailing in the world. He denounced the current international economic order as unjust by nature, resulting from the conquest, colonization, enslavement and plundering of most of the Earth by the colonial powers, the rise of imperialism and bloody wars for new distribution of the world.

The struggles against racial oppression in Africa had in Fidel the maximum expression of internationalism, as defender of the rights of man. The revolutionary Cuba, the Cuba of principles, the Cuba of Fidel, could not remain impassive in the face of colonial desires in Africa, seeing how the philosophy of dispossession and the most brutal racism was established and took shape under the name of Apartheid. And we went to Africa, to pay off our debt to the continent and to honor the principle of internationalism. From Africa we returned only with our dead and with the satisfaction of having achieved our duty.

Comrades,

When you are born on an island and you have a giant like Fidel, you feel blessed. When the sea is not a border that prevents to give others what you believe yours, you recognize the greatness of Fidel's work, of the Cuban Revolution.

In the face of more than 600 attempts to assassinate him, in the face of media campaigns that were raised to defame him, in conditions of unequal struggle against the most powerful nation that has ever existed, Fidel leaves with his moral vest intact. His most effective weapon: the deep conviction that there is no force in the world capable of crushing the force of truth.

There were no impossible tasks for Fidel because his confidence in man's capacity to be better and to be good was infinite. His unwavering confidence in victory was rewarded with victory itself.

Cubans and all the revolutionaries of the world take as a beacon the example of Fidel Castro, who demonstrated, in the words of our president of the Councils of State and Ministers, "that it was possible, it is possible and it will be possible to overcome any obstacle, threat or turbulence in our firm commitment to build socialism in Cuba, or what is the same, to guarantee the independence and sovereignty of the homeland!"

On November 25th, 1956, Fidel departed with Raúl Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos, Ernesto Guevara and 78 other expedition members, to Cuba from the Mexican port of Tuxpan aboard the "Granma" yacht, aiming at restarting the armed struggle in the Sierra Maestra Mountains. As if he did not want to leave it to chance, the guerrilla man decided to depart towards immortality on November 25th, 2016, 61 years later.

We are not here today to mourn his death, we are here to celebrate his life, we are here to reiterate our firm commitment to the Commander not to let his example and ideas die.

We are here to reaffirm that the Cuban Revolution will continue its unstoppable march, with confidence and optimism and with the unselfish and incomparable support of all of you.

Thank you very much.