[News] Fidel Castro on Vilma Espin

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 21 11:29:05 EDT 2007



      Vilma is dead.  Even though the news was expected, it was still 
an impact. Out of respect for her delicate health condition, I never 
raised her name in my reflections.

      Vilma's example today is more necessary than ever.  She devoted 
her entire life to the struggle for women's rights when in Cuba most 
women were discriminated against as human beings, the same as in the 
rest of the world, with only the honorable revolutionary exceptions.

      It was not always this way throughout the historical evolution 
of our species, leading her to fulfill the social role befitting her 
as a natural workshop where life is forged.

      In our country, women came out from under one of the most 
horrible forms of society, that of a Yankee neo-colony under the 
aegis of imperialism and its system, where everything that the human 
being is capable of creating was turned into merchandise.

      When what has been defined as the exploitation of man by man 
started far back in history, the mothers and children of the 
dispossessed bore the brunt of the burden.

      Cuban women used to work as domestic servants, or in luxurious 
shops and bourgeois bars, selected for their good looks. Factories 
assigned them the simplest jobs, the ones that were the most 
repetitive and worst paid.

      In education and healthcare --services provided on a small 
scale-- their indispensable cooperation was as teachers and nurses 
who had only been offered basic training. The country, 2,009.92 miles 
from end to end, only had one higher education center located in the 
capital and later, several faculties in university campuses in two 
other provinces.  As a rule, the only young women who could study 
there were those from the most affluent families. In many activities, 
the presence of a woman was not even dreamed of.

      For almost half a century, I have been witness to Vilma's 
struggles.  I cannot forget her presence at the meetings of the July 
26 Movement in the Sierra Maestra.  She was eventually sent by the 
movement's directorate to carry out an important mission on the 
Second Eastern Front.  Vilma did not shrink from any danger.

      After the triumph of the Revolution, she began her ceaseless 
battle for the rights of Cuban women and children, which led her to 
found and lead the Federation of Cuban Women.  There was no national 
or international forum too distant for her to attend in defense of 
her assailed homeland and of the noble and just ideas of the Revolution.

      Her gentle voice, steady and timely, was always listened to 
with great respect in Party, State and mass organization meetings.

      Today women in Cuba make up 66 percent of the technical work 
force of the country, and they take part, in the main, in almost all 
the university degree courses.  Previously, there were hardly any 
women involved in scientific activities, since science and scientists 
did not exist, but exceptionally.  In this field as well, today women 
are in the majority.

      Revolutionary duties and her immense work load never prevented 
Vilma from fulfilling her responsibilities as a loyal wife and mother 
of several children.

      Vilma is dead.  Long live Vilma!

Fidel Castro Ruz

June 20, 2007.

2:10 p.m.

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