[News] Fidel Castro on Vilma Espin
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 21 11:29:05 EDT 2007
REFLECTIONS BY THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF
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.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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