Ethics and humane use of violence
the 50th anniversaries of the Cuban Revolution and the triumphant entry
of Fidel Castro into Havana, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative
of the Republic of Cuba to the United Nations in Geneva hosted a
commemorative event, the centrepiece of which was the presentation of
the book Fidelís Ethics of Violence by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, Ambassador
and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka.
According to the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the
Republic of Cuba to the United Nations in Geneva Juan Antonio Fernandez
Palacios this work seeks to reveal the very essence of the ethics and
morality of the Cuban Revolution, seen through an analysis of Fidel
Castroís political thought. We publish below excerpts of Ambassador
Jayatillekaís speech at the event.
Sri Lanka recognised the Cuban revolution almost hours after it was
born, in 1959, itself. The ruling party which started this, once again,
is in office today. And this was a major change for us, because just
before that, the Sri Lankan Government that was in office before was a
government that did not recognise, that did not have diplomatic
relations with either Russia or China.
So the fact that we elected a government that recognised not only
Russia and China but the Cuban revolution as it was born, indicates to
you, the warmth which the Sri Lankan people and the government of the
day had for Cuba.
And this warmth was of a very special nature because in that same
year, 1959, Sri Lanka was honoured by a visit, in August, of the
Commandante Ernesto Che Guevara. And Sri Lanka is now preparing the
commemorating of this, of the 50th anniversary of the visit of Che.
That is the broad context which may go somewhere in explaining how
come a Sri Lankan writes about Cuba.
But there is also a personal aspect: I was a boy when I was
introduced by my father to an illustrious Cuban diplomat, Armando Bayo,
who was the son of General Alberto Bayo, who Fidel sought out to train
the guerillas, including Che, who were about to embark on the Granma.
So the first Cuban ambassador of the revolutionary Cuba to Sri Lanka
was his son, Mr. Armando Bayo, who is no longer alive, he died seven
years ago. And this was my first encounter with a Cuban diplomat.
Debt to Cuba
Now, all of us, certainly those of us of the in the so called Third
world, owe a lot to Cuba. And I would have to speak all night if I were
to enumerate the ways in which we owe Cuba.
But I thought that since we have received so much from Cuba, in terms
of blood shed in the most just causes, in terms of education, in terms
of doctors, in terms of assistance after the tsunami, for decades, those
of us in the countries of the so-called Third World have accumulated a
moral debt, a huge moral debt to Cuba. And Cubans never asked for land,
bases or anything in return.
So it is incumbent on us I think, to repay, to whatever extent
possible, this debt. And it is as a gesture of a payment, in a way, that
I came around to write this book.
One last thing about the book and this is the only thing Iím going to
tell you, about the book itself. I understood through my own experiences
in Sri Lanka, in a conflict-ridden, war-torn country, that Cubans today
have provided us with an answer and an example concerning one of the
most fundamental problems we face as humanity. And that is the problem
of the way in which to resist injustice.
Now, throughout human history, people have always resisted injustice.
When it was necessary, people have resisted violently. But we also know
that a number of other problems have arisen due to the incorrect or
excessive use of violence.
What I saw in the practice and the doctrine of Fidel is that he has
set an example as to the ethical and humane use of violence on the
occasions where it is impossible to avert that use.
Violence has never been a first resort for Cuba, it has always been a
last resort. For Fidel, whether it was against dictatorship or in
supporting just causes, such as the struggle against the Apartheid in
Angola, violence has been a last resort.
But, even when it was exercised as a last resort, it was exercised in
a surgical manner, as humanely as possible. And I must say, certainly as
a Sri Lankan, as a Sri Lankan diplomat, that is something that very few
of us, including my country, have been able to do.
I noticed in my studies and in my research, that Cuba was able to do
this whether Fidel was fighting as a guerilla leader or whether he was
giving leadership as a statesman. Whether it was the rebel army or
whether it was the internationalist volunteers who were fighting
shoulder to shoulder with others on other continents.
So, as an insurgent movement and as a State, Cuba maintained the
moral high-ground. And today when we watch whatís happening in other
parts of the world on television screens or when we grapple with the
issues of human rights and humanitarian issues, and our own national
experiences, we would understand the value of the example that Fidel,
Che Guevara, Raul and Cuba have set.
An example to movements struggling for liberation, movements of
resistance, that at no time were innocent non combatants targeted.
And also a lesson to states because Cuba has fought against counter
revolutionary forces in its own country, it has fought against terrible
oppressive forces but I must state, I have never encountered, in my
research, including interviews with the last Defence Minister of
Apartheid South Africa. He could not provide me with one single example
of anything like a violation of human rights, still less an atrocity
committed by Cuban troops.
So, this is the lesson that is contained, that I am trying to convey
in my book. And credit is not due to me because all that I have done is
to abstract from the practice of Fidel and hold up a mirror to the
experiences and examples of Fidel and Cuba.