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CASTRO'S MESSAGE TO THE POPE: On Indigenous Genocide, Conquest and Colonization

The Official Translation of Cuban President Fidel Castro's statement of welcome to Pope John Paul II, January 21, 1998:

Holy Father,

The land you have just kissed is honored by your presence. You will not find here the peaceful and generous Native people who inhabited this island when the first Europeans arrived. Most of the men were annihilated by the exploitation and the enslaved work they could not resist and the women turned into pleasure objects or domestic slaves...

There were also those who died by the homicidal swords or victims of unknown diseases brought by the conquerors. Some priests have left tearing testimonies of their protests against such crimes.

In the course of centuries, over a million Africans ruthlessly uprooted from their distant lands took the place of the enslaved Natives already exterminated. They made a remarkable contribution to the ethnic composition and the origins of our countries present population where the cultures, the beliefs and the blood of all participants in the dramatic history have been mixed.

It has been estimated that the conquest and colonization of this hemisphere resulted in the death of 70 million Natives and the enslavement of 12 million Africans. Much blood was shed and many injustices perpetrated, a large part of which still remains after centuries of struggle and sacrifices under new forms of domination and exploitation.

Under extremely difficult conditions, Cuba was able to constitute a nation. It had to fight alone for its independence with unsurmountable heroism and, exactly 100 years ago, it suffered a real holocaust in the concentration camps were a large part of its population perished, mostly old men, women and children; a crime whose monstrosity is not diminished by the fact that it has been forgotten by humanity's conscience. as a son of Poland and a witness of Oswiecim, you can understand this better than anyone.

Today, Holy Father, genocide is attempted again when by hunger, illness and total economic suffocation some try to subdue this people that refuses to accept the dictates and the rule of the mightiest economic, political and military power in history; much more powerful than the old Rome that for centuries had the beasts devour those who refused to abdicate their faith. Like those Christians horribly slandered to justify the crimes, we who are as slandered as they were, we choose a thousand times death rather than abdicate our convictions. The revolution, like the Church, also has many martyrs.

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