President Castro addresses rally in Quito
News from Cuba | Tuesday, 11 August 2009
By Jorge Martín Blandino for Granma International
"Today, 200 years after the beginning of our struggles for independence, we are in a similar situation"
"I feel very excited and happy," Raúl affirmed in the evening of Monday, August 10, addressing some 30,000 people in Quito and describing his unforgettable and intense visit to Ecuador, the first by the Cuban president to that Central American sister nation.
Raúl, Chávez and Zelaya were received with a standing ovation as they arrived at a rally in the Atahualpa Olympic Stadium, a veritable fiesta of the people, who were enthusiastically celebrating their resounding victory in the April elections.
Correa welcomed Cuba, Venezuela and Honduras with cheers of "Viva!" and did the same for Fidel, Che and Raúl, seconded by the voices of the men and women who filled the capital stadium.
Chávez spoke first, combining music, poetry and remarks full of patriotic and revolutionary spirit and denouncing the aggression being suffered by the peoples of the continent, thrilling the crowd.
Zelaya was next, once again exposing the abuse to which his people have been subjected since the reactionary coup d’état in Honduras, and expressing thanks for the solidarity they have received.
Correa then invited the Cuban president to take the microphone. Raúl noted that Ecuador, particularly Quito, had the honor of having initiated the American independence movement, quickly followed by Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia and many other places on the continent.
He reflected on the fact that, given the ebb and flow of history, 200 years after those independence struggles began, we are today living in a similar situation, with our peoples facing serious challenges and dangers.
Raúl mentioned the growing popular movement for social justice and real sovereignty, the counterpart of which is the desperate attempts of national oligarchies and their foreign masters to turn back the achievements of the peoples.
As examples, he mentioned the actions of reactionary forces in Venezuela and Bolivia and more recently against Honduras, and warned that these will persist as the forces of the people continue becoming stronger. "The installation of United States military bases in Latin America is not a coincidence, nor is it to combat - as they say -drug trafficking or the guerrilla fighters," he affirmed.
He briefly summed up all of the acts of aggression suffered by the Cuban people since 1959, and said that the Revolution would not have been able to sustain itself without the decided support of the great majority of people.
He concluded by congratulating President Correa for his decision to place himself at the service of his compatriots and reaffirmed Cuba’s decision to support the Ecuadorian people.
President Correa resumed the emotional day by thanking his people for the victory attained and reaffirming his commitment to continue working for the benefit of his poorest compatriots. "Not one step backwards! Ever onwards to victory! Venceremos! he concluded.
At close to noon, the Cuban president and his accompanying delegation arrived at the seat of the National Assembly, where President Rafael Correa Delgado’s inauguration ceremony took place. The event was attended by eight other heads of state and government, as well as vice presidents and other prominent political figures from many nations and international agencies.
It was a moving and symbolic ceremony. Correa’s speech at the opening of his second mandate was both an assessment of achievements to date and a clear exposition of the main objectives and tasks of the Citizens Revolution he is leading.
"Very serious, moving and persuasive," was Fidel’s description of Correa’s speech, in a message he sent that included an embrace for the Ecuadorian people. In transmitting that message at the rally, Raúl added that he was convinced that Correa’s speech would go down in history.
Almost immediately afterward, the heads of state and government and general secretaries of international agencies present were taken to the Palace of Government to attend a lunch given by the Ecuadorian president. Before entering the beautiful building, Raúl greeted the people who had spontaneously gathered there.
MEETING WITH CHAVEZ
In the afternoon, the Cuban president met with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías. Their fraternal, warm exchange focused on issues linked to the close relations between the two countries and the international situation.
FIRST PLACE: THE CHAPEL OF HUMANITY
"This is the first time I’ve come to Ecuador and this is the first place I am visiting," were Raúl’s words to Pablo Guayasamín, son of that beloved friend of Cuba, Oswaldo Guayasamín, and president of the foundation that bears the name of that exceptional Ecuadorian painter.
Immediately, the Cuban president and the rest of his delegation paid tribute to the great artist and fighter for the rights of the poor, at the foot of the "Tree of Life" where the artist’s ashes are held, and very close to those of the revolutionary writer Jorge Enrique Adoum and of Emilo Verdruga, a grandson of Guayasamín who died in an airplane accident.
At the entrance to the residence where the artist lived, Raúl was received by his widow, Marujita, and a large group of sons and daughters, grandchildren and other relatives. "How good it is to have you here, visiting the same places Fidel did seven years ago," several of them said as they greeted him.
For more than an hour, they toured the Chapel of Humanity, a veritable hymn in tribute to human beings, particularly the poor and their endless struggle for life. A resounding cry denouncing oppression and injustice is present in each work of art by this extraordinary man, who one day said, "I wept because I had no shoes until I saw a boy who had no feet."
TRIBUTE TO MARTI IN THE "HALFWAY POINT OF THE EARTH"
The busy morning schedule continued with a brief visit to the so-called City of the "halfway point of the Earth." There, on the line that marks the equator at zero latitude, stands a 30-meter-high tower, a monument containing a museum of the ethnic groups and nations that populate Ecuador.
A few meters from this original monument, the most visited site in the country, is the José Martí Plaza, where the delegation paid tribute to Cuba’s national hero, together with representatives from the Cuban embassy staff, internationalist workers, and their families, with whom the Cuban president chatted for a few minutes.
Translated by Granma International