Comrade Anura Dissanayake, Member of the Political Bureau of the JVP, delivered the keynote address at the ‘Che’ Commemoration organized by the Socialist Youth Union (SYU) and held at Viharamahadevi Indoor Stadium on 22nd October, 2012.
Former Ambassadress of Cuba Ms. Nirsia Castro Guevara, all foreign representatives, Comrades of the National Committee of the SYU and all other comrades,This commemoration we celebrate amidst torrential rain is very important to us. We are encouraged and are stimulated by the participation of representatives from Cuba, the Socialist Cuba built with boundless sacrifices and colossal mediation of Comrade Che. Also, the participation of so many numbers of foreign delegates indicates that they would join hands with the JVP to change the existing social system and create a better society in our country.
What’s the environment where this ‘Che’ commemoration is being celebrated? On one hand the imperialism has unleashed its murderous, barbaric terrorism throughout the world. As such, commemorating Comrade Che, who fought against imperialism, has become important than in any other time. What does the masses in our country that are suffering and distressed say? They have not got any value for their lives. It is a time the masses that struggle to achieve such lives need the sacrifice, inspiration, example and humanity of Che.
Most of the manoeuvres carried out by imperialism have failed. Despite building their countries by draining resources of countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, colossal crises have erupted in capitalist countries. According to 2012 reports unemployment in the USA has risen to 8.1. During the first quarter of this year 300,000 have joined the unemployed in that country. During the recession in 2008 8.8 million lost their jobs. More than half the number of graduates in the country has not been provided with job opportunities. This is the doom confronted by the world power that manipulates the economic- political agenda of the world. One sixth in the USA is confronted with a food shortage. One fourth of children under the age of six suffer from starvation. The US launched a web site recently to link the starved with the eaters. A large number of people in these states are unable to meet their ends meet.
This is so in the UK as well. The unemployment rate has largely increased after 16 years. 22% of the youth are not employed. The economic growth rate has fallen. These countries made a big noise that the capital they build would bring peace, independence and food for the people in the world. However, to halt the breakdown in their countries they carry out idiotic, offensive interventions in periphery countries. Military interventions are carried out. Thousands were murdered in Afghanistan. Iraq was invaded and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were murdered. What’s the aim of the USA today? To partition Iraq into three parts. Sudan was divided. Now, steps are being taken to separate Darfur from Sudan. About 450,000 have been murdered in this struggle; 2.5 have been displaced. Serbia was separated from Croatia. Today imperialism is murdering people to find a solution for their crisis. They are waging wars, exploiting resources and are piling up wealth. Now, attempts are made to intervene in Iran. Do we have to allow imperialism to continue unabated?
At present the world production is US$70,0000 million. 75% of this production is absorbed by the 5% of the wealthiest in the world. It is such an era that has been created. The poorest 40% of the world get only 5% of the world production. Do you think this is a state that should be tolerated? When the population in the world is 7 billion, one billion is starving and are illiterate. Hence, what imperialism has spread throughout the world are starvation, famine, murder and death.
There is a struggle against imperialism. This is why Comrade Che said “fight against imperialism wherever it may be.” Today is such an era. Che said everyone who is suppressed by imperialism in anywhere in the world was his brother. Today, we too should say “everyone battered by imperialism are our brothers.” Comrade Che is the ‘ideal’ of the struggle against imperialism. He adorned the highest position in Cuba after the Revolution. However, he was not satisfied with socialism only in Cuba. He supported liberation struggles of several countries in order to bring liberation to unlimited number of masses. In the end he was murdered by CIA conspirators in Bolivia. It is such a hero who stood steadfast against imperialism that we are talking about today. This is why Comrade Che is important for us. We also have a struggle against backward capitalism like in our country that takes refuge in imperialism.
Is our country a suitable place for youth and children to live in? No, it is a country that has been bankrupted economically. What’s the state income for 2008? The income exploited from masses by burdening them with heavy taxes was Rs.680,000 million. The government paid Rs.590,000 million as debt for that year. Only Rs.90,000 million was left. A large amount has to be allocated for salaries, defense, Samurdhy and fertilizer subsidy. What happened in 2010? Even after imposing unlimited taxes on milk food, sugar, potatoes, garlic the income received was only Rs.830,000 million. The installment debt that had to be paid was Rs. 820,000 million. In 2011 the state income was Rs.950,000 million but the installment debt was Rs.890,000 million. This is such a country. Is the money collected by burdening the masses given to us? What future could such a country bring to our youths and children?
The loss in AirLanka is Rs.190,000 million. Ceylon Petroleum Corporation lost Rs.90,000 million last year. The loss this year is Rs.100,000 million. Their pals are taken in for state services and they carry out wasteful spending. Billions are lost and the country is dragged to an economic precipice. This is a country that has been given over to racketeers. When the world is going forward out country has been dragged backwards.
After the Second World War the World has taken a great leap forward. Aircrafts that could fly at a speed of sound have been manufactured. Where are we? We have no buses to go home after 7.00 p.m. Superior arts and literary works are being created in the world. What do we get to enjoy from these classical creations of films, drama and music? Films have been brought down that a family cannot view sitting together. The world has taken colossal steps in knowledge. We have received only an insignificant portion of the massive inventions in computer and IT technologies. Our country has become one that does not make any significant production. We have become a country where everything from sugar, onions, chillies, milk and ragi (kurakkan) has to be imported. We are left with a very backward country, a country that has been brought under the yoke of imperialism.
Our lands are given over to multi-national companies. 20 acres in Galle face where the Army headquarters was has been given to a Hong Kong company. Last week a cabinet paper was presented to hand over 8 acres from Slave Island in Colombo to India. 14 islands near our shores have been given over to multi-national companies. India is given the right for exploration of oil in Mannar Basin. 2/7 portion of a reserve that has 1.4 million barrels has been already given to India. Who carries out all constructions in our country? All are done by foreign companies. When Hambantota harbor or Norechcholai power plant were built our engineers, architects, draftsmen, masons, plumbers or technicians were not involved. All we had to do was to supply granite. The 72 km rail road from Medawachchiya to Thallaimannar is constructed by an Indian company. Our country is being subjected to the grip of imperialists. This country has been made a place without any justice.
What has happened to education on our country? A system of education that would open avenues only for the elite and the affluent and ban knowledge for lower classes is being planned. SB proposes to put up private universities. Rs.8.5 million for a medical degree. Can parents of the youth present here spend Rs. 150,000 a month for their children to get a medical degree? Government’s own reports say 42% of the population earn less than one dollar a day. We think that the judiciary is very fair. It is not so. There are prisoners from Colombo slums as they have used drugs. However, those drug dealers and racketeers who bring down drugs to this country are enjoying life in the society. Children of poor parents have been imprisoned while large scale racketeers, who maintain drug businesses or maintain the underworld and prostitution, are never taken in. Is this law justifiable?
Our youth is wasted. We have no proper employment or an income. We just live and die. It is such a country that has been left to us. How do they spend their lives? A son of a minister had given an interview to a newspaper. He had said he had not had a good education. However, he uses a Porsche car that costs Rs.40 million. His hobby is going to night clubs. The country he likes most is Australia. He had his education in the USA. He has said that kind of life is the opportunity a son of a minister gets. This is their lives. I ask you – is this system justifiable?
What did Comrade Che say? He says “In our case we have maintained that our children must have, or lack, those things that the children of the ordinary citizen have or lack; our families should understand this and struggle for it to be that way.” He also says, “The revolution is made through human beings, but individuals must forge their revolutionary spirit day by day.” What is appropriate? A generation of youths of nearly 400,000 have been denied the opportunity to have a good employment, lead a good life and create a better society. We ask whether this society should be changed or not? Today an environment exists that could change the present system and create a socialist society. Do we need a country where the farmer does not get a fair price for his produce and the worker does not get a reasonable wage?
Che not only fought against imperialism but also struggled against Batista to emancipate masses from the rage of dictatorship that had entwined the masses. Hence, we too have a struggle before us. This society is not one that should be tolerated; not a society that should be respected or defended. For, we have a struggle as equal citizens to make a living. Che dedicated himself and struggled until his last breath. He was able to build a socialist Cuba. As such, Che lives among us eternally. The greatest writer of Soviet Union and the heroic member of Bolshevik party Ostrovsky says ‘The opportunist dies before anyone else. He lives only for himself. When his egoism is destroyed he has nothing to live for. However, when a man lives for the needs of the society he cannot be destroyed.” Despite the USA destroying Che’s life, as Ostrovsky says, he cannot be destroyed. He merged his life with society. Ostrovsky further says, “Man's dearest possession is life. It is given to him but once, and he must live it so as to feel no torturing regrets for wasted years, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, dying he might say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world- the fight for the Liberation of Mankind.” This is well affirmed in Che’s death. Che could be happy. He could be magnanimous. Che was killed by imperialists for being a comrade who sacrificed his life for the whole mankind.
Hence, a struggle should be launched against the vicious imperialism. All left and democratic movements are amassing into one strong force. The unity on this stage here indicates where the world is moving to. You, the members of the Socialist Youth Union should resolve to end this struggle with your generation. It should not be left for more generations. Masses need not be distressed for more generations. We should commence the struggle for a new life. We too have a right to live and die as human beings. We could end our journey in triumph. This country has no future without socialism. The born and to be born children of this land could have a future only through socialism. Hence, the youth have a task to be fulfilled. Take Che as an example. Don’t make him only a fashion. Let’s build a Sri Lanka where Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim and all people live in harmony. Long live the name of Che! Long life to Socialist Cuba!