[sixties-l] dedication speech at Lennon staute in Cuba

From: Ron Jacobs (rjacobs@zoo.uvm.edu)
Date: 12/13/00

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    If you want to see photos of the statue's dedication ceremony, go to:
    The speech of Ricardo Alarcon follows my signature
    Dear John: You Were Always Among Us
    Speech of Ricardo Alarcon at the December 8, 2000 dedication of the statue of 
    John Lennon in the park at 15 and 6 streets, Vedado, Havana, Cuba
    Translated by Cindy O'Hara
    Compaeras y compaeros:
    Here, in front of the excellent work of art of  Jos Villa, we return to 
    listen to what some said twenty years ago today: "About this man you can 
    believe anything except that he is dead. " 
    Nostalgia does not bring us together.  We are not inaugurating a monument to 
    the past, nor a site to commemorate something that disappeared. 
    This place will always be a testimonial to struggle, a summoning to humanism. 
    It will also be a permanent homage to a generation that wanted to transform 
    the world, and to the rebellious spirit, innovative, of the artist who helped 
    forge that generation and at the same time is one of its most authentic 
    The sixties were much more than a period in a century that is ending.  Before 
    anything else, they were a attitude toward life, that profoundly affected the 
    culture, the society and politics, and crossed all borders.  Their renewing 
    impulse rose up, victorious, overwhelming the decade, but it had been born 
    before that time and has not stopped even up to today.
    To these years we turn our sights with the tenderness of first love, with the 
    loyalty that guards all combatants for their earliest and most distant 
    battle.  Some still denigrate them, with obstinate antagonism, those who know 
    that to kill history they must first tear out its most luminous and hopeful 
    This is how it is, and has always been in favor of or against "the sixties." 
    In that time old imperial colonies fell, people previously ignored arose and 
    their art, their literature, their ideas started to penetrate the opulent 
    nations.  The Third World was born and tricontinental solidarity, and some 
    discovered that there, in the rich north, existed another Third World that 
    also awakened. 
    In the United States, a century after the Civil War, black people fought for 
    the right to be treated as persons and with them marched many white students. 
     In Europe the young people repudiated imperial violence and identified 
    themselves with the condemned of the earth.  Nobody spoke yet of 
    globalization but, for everyone, the Earth got smaller, the whole world 
    became closer. 
    Then, finally liberated, appeared Cuba, truly discovered in 1959 as an 
    inseparable part, fully pledged to liberty, life and truth.  
    Victory seemed immediate.  To obtain it, people strived without rest.  In 
    mountains and cities, with stones and fists, with weapons snatched from the 
    oppressors and also with speeches, poems and songs.  They tried to assault 
    the sky, to conquer, in a single act, all justice, for the black and the 
    woman, for the worker and the poor, for the sick, the ignorant, and the 
    marginalized.  They believed they could arrive at a horizon of peace between 
    nations and equality among men. 
    It was more than anything the rebellion of the youth.  Before their impetus 
    fell dogmas and fetishes, they broke the molds of pharisee and banality, they 
    turned back the dull mediocrity of an unjust and false society that reduces 
    man to merchandise and converts everything into false gold.
    Years afterward, and affirming the continuity of the movement, Lennon 
    described it with these words:   "The Sixties saw a revolution among the 
    youth . . . a complete revolution in the mode of thinking.  The young people 
    took it up first, and the following generation afterwards.  The Beatles were 
    a part of the revolution.  We were all in that boat in the sixties.  Our 
    generation -- a boat that went to discover the New World.  And the Beatles 
    were the lookouts on that boat.  We were a part of it."
    Tumultuous was the passage from that memorable concert in 1963 when Lennon 
    asked the people who occupied the most expensive theater seats to, instead of 
    applauding,  just rattle their jewels, to six Novembers later when he 
    returned the Order of the British Empire in protest of the aggression in 
    Vietnam and the colonialist intervention in Africa.  The refusal to perform 
    before an exclusively white public in Florida, in 1966; the refusal to 
    perform in the South Africa of apartheid; the denunciation of racism in the 
    United States when he arrived there to participate in concerts that had been 
    boycotted by the Ku Klux Klan; the calls for peace in the Middle East; the 
    support for young people who deserted the Yankee aggressor army and the 
    constant support to the Vietnamese resistance and the struggle of the Irish 
    people; the incessant search for new forms of expression, without ever 
    abandoning the roots and authentic language of the people; the repudiation of 
    the bourgeois system, its codes and merchandizing mechanisms; the creation of 
    a corporation to combat them and defend artistic liberty, an entity to which 
    was attributed, even, a certain communist inspiration. 
    The personal contribution of John Lennon stood out singularly and endured 
    beyond the dissolution of the group.  His songs form the most complete 
    inventory of the collective struggle of the young people for peace, 
    revolution, popular power, the emancipation of the working class and of 
    women, the rights of indigenous peoples and racial equality as well as the 
    liberation of Angela Davis and John Sinclair and other political prisoners, 
    the denunciation of the massacre at Attica and the situation in North 
    American prisons, in an interminable list.  Beyond the music, in interviews 
    and public statements, he openly expressed his identification with the 
    socialist ideal.
    Lennon was the object of intense and obstinate persecution by the Yankee 
    authorities.  The FBI, the CIA and the Immigration Service, instigated 
    directly by Richard Nixon, the trickiest tenant the White House has ever had, 
    spied on him and harassed him and strived to expel him from the United 
    States. In spite of what their laws say and the countless measures carried 
    out during a quarter of a century, these agencies still maintain in secret 
    the documents proving the tenacious harassment they unleashed against him.  
    The little that they have revealed shows that in just one year, between 1971 
    and 1972, the secret informants of their spies accumulated 300 pages and a 
    file that weighs 26 pounds.  With no other weapons than his talent and the 
    solidarity of lots of North Americans, he was forced to confront for several 
    years the powerful Empire led by the most sordid and arrogant political 
    machine.   This chapter will remain in history as an example of moral force 
    and the force of ideas, and from it Lennon emerged as a paradigm of the 
    entirely free and creative intellectual, precisely engaged with his time.
    Dear John.
    It was more that a few who said, twenty years ago, that that 8th of December 
    was the end of an era.   Many feared it among the millions who offered you 
    ten minutes of silence and the multitude that on the 14th congregated in 
    Central Park in New York to express a pain that time does not placate.
    It was Yoko who then advised: "the message should not end."  And little Sean, 
    knew how to express the greater truth: He imagined you bigger, after death, 
    "because now you are everywhere." 
    You were always among us.  Now, in addition, we offer you this bench where 
    you can rest and this park to receive your compaeros and friends. 
    Your message could not disappear because love had, and still has, many 
    battles to fight.  Because you had the privilege to hear it in millions of 
    voices that became yours and continued raising it up like a hymn. 
    Wasn't it a yellow submarine that surfaced that afternoon in 1966 in the port 
    of New York and marched at the front of thousands of young people who 
    condemned the war? How many hundreds of thousands demanded that peace be 
    given a chance, and were in solidarity with the people of Vietnam, there in 
    Washington, in front of the monument, that unforgettable November 15th in 
    1969?  On that day, didn't your art reach its highest realization?  How many 
    times did it not multiply from Berkeley to New England and from one continent 
    to another, that generation that believed that love could prevail over war?  
    John, I am sure that you remember the martyrs of Kent State University who 
    wanted to follow you, to also be working class heroes.  It is known that it 
    was your verses that were their only shield in front of the bullets of Nixon. 
    There were more, many more, that met to celebrate the twentieth anniversary 
    of Imagine, in 1991, when others said that the story had already ended.  Some 
    believe that you appeared in a window of the Dakota.  All of us, you too, 
    were happy.  We saw, astonished, the faces of old comrades, confounded to be 
    among countless young people who had not even been born when you, over there 
    in Liverpool, intoned ballads of love with proletarian words and we here 
    defied the monster.  
    Our boat will continue sailing.  Nothing will stop it.  It is driven  by "a 
    wind that never dies."   They will call us dreamers but our ranks will grow.  
    We will defend the vanquished dream and struggle to make real all dreams.   
    Neither storms nor pirates will hold us back.  We will sail on until we reach 
    the new world that we will know how to build. 
    We will meet again, tonight, at the concert.  We will go on together, always.

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