They tell me to keep my mouth shut

September 4, 1962

Sometimes I think we have exchanged the American brand of imperialism for the Soviet brand of imperialism. No, that’s not quite fair. After all, the Americans are threatening to annihilate us, to bomb us, to invade us and overthrow us. That is good old-fashioned imperialism. But these damned Soviets, supposedly our friends, our brothers, our fraternal keepers—these people are just as arrogant, just as bad at listening to us.

For example, I say in my 26th of July speech that the world is getting smaller, that if the Americans attack us, they will be committing suicide. This is manifestly true. It is true because the Soviets have seen fit to deploy the ultimate weapons on our territory. So what do the Soviets say? They tell me to keep my mouth shut, to keep the secret, to not give any hint that Cuba will soon possess the means on the island to blow the gringos to kingdom come. But how can the gringos be deterred from annihilating us if they don’t even know we possess the means to destroy them? This is crazy! This Soviet paranoia about telling the truth, about being up front and honest about our mutual right to protect ourselves—this must be left over from Stalin’s era, when if you told the truth you spent the rest of your life in the salt mines of Siberia.

Then there is the matter of the perfectly legal document outlining our agreement. I am a lawyer, trained as a lawyer, and I know something about the proper procedures. We have a right under international law to enter into agreements that involve our basic security. That is the first thing: there is no reason to be ashamed to tell the truth, as if we were doing something criminal, something to be ashamed of. So I sent Che to see Khrushchev late last month to protest about keeping the agreement—the legal and binding agreement—a big secret. Che told Nikita there is nothing to be ashamed of. Nikita laughs at him—that’s what Che said. Nikita just laughed. Then Che said that this goes beyond legal issues. He said that if you lie to the Americans about the deployment (as the Russians have been doing for months); if you are constantly issuing reassurances that, no way, it is just out of the question that the Soviet Union would ever deploy nuclear weapons outside the Soviet Union (and Khrushchev did just a few days ago, I have heard); then when they find out, Kennedy and the gringos are going to go apeshit! You don’t have to be a genius to know this. You just have to read the American newspapers. Just a few days ago, on 28 August, Senator Capehart of Indiana called for a “full-scale invasion of Cuba.” Hello, Nikita! Anybody home in Moscow these days?

Now this: a statement by Kennedy today that threatens us with an attack and invasion, basically, if the gringos discover nuclear weapons in Cuba. So we were right and the Soviets were wrong. The attacks by the mercenary gusanos are increasing. They happen every day, sometimes more than once a day. True, we have killed that traitor we call “El Loco” from the so-called Movement to Recover the Revolution—in Camaguey. But El Loco and his people are supported by the CIA. They are CIA employees. They should call the group the Movement to Recover Imperialist Enslavement! Our spies in Miami report that the American military buildup in south Florida has become massive. All that is lacking is for the Americans to discover what is really going on in Cuba, then bang! There is going to be one helluva crisis. I am not sure Nikita as the cojones for such a confrontation with the gringos. We—we are used to this. We are used to putting everything on the line in resisting the Americans. We are used to risking total annihilation in order to preserve our revolution. Even now, our people are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, if the Soviets will stand up to the Americans.