From Mon Sep 18 06:30:20 2000
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2000 23:27:19 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Fidel Castro Visits NYC
Article: 104796
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Fidel Castro visits New York City

By Teresa Gutierrez, New York, Workers World, 21 September 2000

Fidel in New York City!

Years from now all of us who had the tremendous good fortune to hear Comandante Fidel Castro at Riverside Church on Sept. 8 during the week of the United Nations Millennium Summit will remember the occasion as one of the biggest moments in our lives. To be present at an event of such historic proportions is a golden and rare opportunity, clearly one of the most memorable occurrences in any revolutionary's life.

But with this tremendous opportunity comes the challenge and responsibility to do everything we can to once and for all lift the U.S. blockade of Cuba. With it comes the challenge to also do all that we can to advance the class struggle in the United States overall.

The wonderful opportunity to hear one of the greatest revolutionaries of all time speak should inspire the progressive and working-class movement in the United States to build a revolutionary movement so broad and so successful that it can lead the working class and the oppressed in this country to take its rightful place in history.

That would certainly be a great tribute to the teachings of Fidel Castro.

The president of Cuba has traveled to the United States only five times since the triumph of the revolution 41 years ago: In 1959, 1960, 1979, 1995 and this year.

So the Evening of Solidarity with the People of Cuba on Sept. 8 was an event that will be recorded in the chronicles of revolutionary history.

The New York Welcoming Committee for the Cuban Delegation to the United Nations Millennium Summit organized the rally. The Welcoming Committee is comprised of hundreds of Cuba solidarity and grassroots organizations.

This article will not attempt to report on the incredible speech Comandante Fidel made at the event. Fidel's four-hour presentation must first be issued from the Cuban government so that the movement here and around the world can study closely the official transcript. The speech will be printed in Workers World newspaper as soon as it is issued.

But for those who could not be at the event, let us take the liberty to make a comment or two.

First, how gracious and what a sign of a great leader Fidel is that he opened his remarks by acknowledging all those who could not make it into Riverside Church's main hall. Fidel sent greetings immediately to the hundreds in the room upstairs who could see and hear the program live on video equipment set up for the event. He sent greetings to the hundreds who were standing in line outside still waiting to get in and to those that could hear him through the live broadcast that had been set up for the rally in the streets.

It sent an absolute thrill through the crowds outside the main hall to get this recognition.

What followed was a smooth and tireless talk for four hours in a style that was warm and thoughtful but full of revolutionary principles and fire. Fidel fleshed out in detail some of the points he raised at the United Nations.

And what a significant moment it was when Fidel spoke of Cuba's contribution to save the life of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. Fidel brought the house down right then and there as thousands leaped to their feet to thunderously applaud and chant Fidel's and Mumia's names.

What a tremendous contribution Fidel made, not only to the class struggle but also to the struggle against racism. It was an incredible show of unity for the great leader from revolutionary Cuba to stand with the struggle to save Mumia and against racism right in the very heart of imperialism.

That kind of boldness and principle is exactly what socialist Cuba is all about.

It is a monumental feat to bring Cuba's president to the United States. Since the triumph of the revolution, the U.S. government and its counter-revolutionary lackeys in Miami have carried out countless attempts to assassinate this beloved leader.

So the President cannot just hop on a plane and come to the United States without a great deal of precaution and preparation. It is an enormous tribute to the masses and leaders of Cuba that President Fidel was alive to celebrate his 74th birthday this past August. Without the fierce loyalty and steeled determination of the Cubans to protect and defend their leader, the movement would not have had the opportunity to hear his profound words.

We salute the Cubans who allowed us the opportunity to sing a belated but joyous Happy Birthday to Fidel.

The Welcoming Committee for the Cuban Delegation must be proud of the role it played to assure that the Riverside Church meeting was successful. But the event did not proceed without a hitch. The problem was the role of the U.S. government. Through the hand of the Secret Service, the government did its part—though with little success—to undercut the event.

Fire marshals, taking orders from the Secret Service, didn't allow everyone at the event to take seats in the main hall or the overflow room. People were made to stand in lines for an unnecessarily long time in an attempt to put cold water on the mood of the moment.

The Secret Service even gave the church's crew technical directions on whether or not the beautiful banner that had been made for the event should be hung.

But all these devious and petty interventions had little effect. President Fidel Castro spoke to the revolutionary movement and Cuba solidarity movement in the year 2000 to tremendous accolades in the very city of finance capital.

All those who left after 2 a.m. on September 9 walked away—some of us floated away—with a fervor to be just like the Cubans: determined, united, socialist and steadfast against imperialism.

Long live the Cuban Revolution!
Long live President Fidel!