When Gaddafi, aged just 28 and a colonel in the Libyan army, inspired by his Egyptian colleague Abdel Nasser, overthrew King Idris I in 1969, he implemented important revolutionary measures such as agrarian reform and the nationalization of oil. The growing income was dedicated to economic and social development, particularly educational and health services for the small Libyan population located in a vast desert territory with very little arable land.
An extensive and deep sea of “fossil water” existed beneath that desert. When I heard about an experimental cultivation area I had the impression that, in the future, those aquifers would be more valuable than oil.
Religious faith, preached with the fervor that characterizes Muslim nations, in part helped to compensate for the strong tribal tendency which still survives in that Arab country.
Libyan revolutionaries devised and implemented their own ideas in relation to legal and political institutions, which Cuba, as a principle, respected.
We totally abstained from expressing any opinions concerning the concepts of the Libyan leadership.
We can clearly see that the fundamental concern of the United States and NATO is not Libya, but the revolutionary wave unleashed in the Arab world, which they wish to prevent at all costs.
It is an irrefutable fact that relations between the United States and its NATO allies [and Libya] in recent years were excellent until the rebellion in Egypt and in Tunisia arose.
In high-level meetings between Libya and NATO leaders, none of the latter had any problems with Gaddafi. The country was a secure source of high-quality oil, gas and even potassium supplies. The problems which arose between them in the early decades had been overcome.
Strategic sectors such as oil pumping and transportation were opened up to foreign investment.
Privatizations were extended to many public enterprises. The International Monetary Fund exercised its beatific role in the implementation of those operations.
Logically, Aznar was fulsome in his praise of Gaddafi and after him, Blair, Berlusconi, Sarkozy, Zapatero and even my friend the King of Spain, paraded past the sardonic regard of the Libyan leader. They were happy.
Although it might seem that I am mocking that is not the case; I am simply asking myself why they now want to take Gaddafi before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
They are accusing him 24 hours a day of firing on unarmed citizens who were protesting. Why did they not explain to the world that the weapons and, above all, the sophisticated machinery of repression possessed by Libya, was supplied by the United States, Britain and other illustrious hosts of Gaddafi?
I strongly oppose the cynicism and lies currently being used to justify the invasion and occupation of Libya.
The last time that I visited Gaddafi was in May 2001, 15 years after Reagan attacked his very modest residence, where he took me to see what was left of it. It received a direct hit from the aircraft and was considerably destroyed; his little daughter three years of age died in the attack: she was murdered by Ronald Reagan. There was no prior agreement on the part of NATO, the Human Rights Committee, or the Security Council.
My previous visit had taken place in 1977, eight years after the beginning of the revolutionary process in Libya. I visited Tripoli; I took part in the General People’s Congress in Sebha; I toured the first agricultural experiments with water pumped from the vast sea of fossil waters; I visited Benghazi, I was the object of a warm reception. It was a legendary country which had been the scenario of historic battles in World War II. It did not as yet have six million inhabitants, nor were its enormous volumes of oil and fossil waters known. The former Portuguese colonies in Africa had already been liberated.
We had fought for 15 years in Angola against mercenary armies organized along tribal lines by the United States, the Mobutu government, and the well-equipped and trained racist apartheid army. This army, following U.S. instructions, as is now known, invaded Angola in 1975 in order to prevent its independence, reaching the outskirts of Luanda with its motorized forces. A number of Cuban instructors died in that brutal invasion. Resources were sent with all urgency.
Expelled from that country by Cuban internationalists and Angolan troops to the border of South African occupied Namibia, the racists were given the mission of eliminating the revolutionary process in Angola.
With the support of the United States and Israel they developed nuclear weapons. They already possessed them when the Cuban and Angolan troops defeated their land and air forces in Cuito Cuanavale and, defying the risk – using conventional tactics and means – advanced toward the border with Namibia, where the apartheid troops were attempting to resist. Twice in their history our forces have been at risk of attack by those kinds of weapons: in October of 1962 and in southern Angola, but on that second occasion, not even deploying those nuclear weapons that South Africa possessed could they have prevented the defeat which marked the end of the odious system. Those events took place under the government of Ronald Reagan in the United States and Piet Botha in South Africa.
There is no talk of that and the hundreds of thousands of lives which the imperialist adventure cost.
I regret having to recall those events when another great risk is hovering over the Arab peoples, because they are not resigned to continue being the victims of plunder and oppression.
The Revolution in the Arab world so much feared by the United States and NATO is that of those who lack all rights in the face of those who flaunt all privileges, and thus is destined to be more profound than the one unleashed in Europe in 1789 with the storming of the Bastille.
Not even Louis XIV, when he proclaimed that he was the state, possessed the privileges of King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia and far less the vast wealth that lies below the surface of that almost desert country, where yankee transnationals determine the pumping and thus the price of oil in the world.
When the Libyan crisis began, extraction in Saudi Arabia rose to one million barrels a day at minimum cost and, in consequence, by that concept alone, the income of that country and those who control it has risen to one billon dollars a day.
No one should imagine that the Saudi people are swimming in money. There are moving accounts of the living conditions of many construction workers and those in other sectors obliged to work 13 to 14 hours a day for paltry wages.
Shocked by the revolutionary wave which is shaking the prevalent system of plunder, in the wake of what took place with workers in Egypt and Tunisia, but also unemployed youth in Jordan, the occupied territories of Palestine, Yemen and even Bahrain and the Arab Emirates with higher per capita income, the upper echelons of the Saudi hierarchy has been impacted by the events.
As opposed to other times, today the Arab peoples receive almost instantaneous information on events, albeit exceptionally manipulated.
The worst thing for the status quo of the privileged sectors is that those persistent events are coinciding with a considerable increase in food prices and the devastating impact of climate change, while the United States, the largest producer of corn in the world, is wasting 40% of that product and a significant part of soy production on biofuels to feed automobiles. Lester Brown, the best informed American ecologist in the world on agricultural products, can surely give us an idea of the current food situation.
The Bolivarian president, Hugo Chávez, is making a valiant effort to find a solution without NATO intervention in Libya. The chances of his attaining that objective would improve if he can achieve the feat of creating a broad movement of opinion before and not after the intervention takes place, and the peoples do not have to see the atrocious experience of Iraq repeated in other countries.