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Castro Addresses Students

I am very pleased by the presence at this meeting of the minister of Higher Education, of the rectors of the universities in Havana, a representative group from the Young Communist League (UJC), chaired by its First Secretary, the provincial leadership and the National Federation of Secondary Education Students.

I well remember that November 17th of 2005. We were celebrating International Students’ Day. You, the university students, had decided that I should speak on that day.  They told me it was the 60-year anniversary of my starting university studies at the end of 1945.  At that time I was just a bit younger than I am today; I was your age.  But together we have lived through a phase of life.

I thought that that meeting we had at the University of Havana, 5 years ago, would never be repeated. I was 79 years old then. But just two months ago, to be more exact, when I presented the second book about our revolutionary war, “The Strategic Counter-offensive”, at the Great Auditorium on September 10, 2010, at the end, I spoke with many of the veterans of those battles and at the exit from that hall I greeted an enthusiastic group of university student leaders who were waiting there, I chatted with them, and they explained to me their anxious anticipation of the 17th so I could talk about the speech.

I liked that group. They were not promoting any “cultural revolution”; they wanted to hear a reflection once more about the ideas put forth that day.

That meeting was already theirs.  It seemed to me that a lot of time would pass between September 10th and November 17th; other things were going through my mind and I answered: “We’ll see each other on that day”.

Nevertheless I knew that that speech raised some worries, given the moment we were living, facing a powerful enemy that was threatening us more and more, blockading our economy with an iron will and making efforts to sow discontent, promoting the violation of laws and the illegal departures from our country, taking away a youthful, cultural and technically well-educated work force reserve.  Many of them were later led to illicit activities and crime.

There was also the fact of my tendency to be self-critical and ironic about our actions.  Even though my words were stinging, I defended principles and made no concessions.

I was remembering all that, but not the exact words I had used, the bulk of the arguments wielded and the considerable length of the speech.

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