Remarks by Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada at the Award Ceremony of the Orden de la Amistad de la República de Cuba [Medal of Friendship].
Havana, August 7, 2013
Saul Landau deserves this recognition and much more. He has given our people a sincere, unlimited, authentic friendship all his life. In his early youth he embraced revolutionary ideas and never abandoned them. He always upheld these ideas far from dogmatism, bureaucratic or sectarian distortions. He has been a loyal friend since the long gone times of Ramparts Magazine and Studies on the Left to Progreso Weekly, and his intense participation in the struggle for the liberation of our five compañeros unjustly punished for fighting against terrorism.
In 2008, Saul received the important Bernardo O’Higgins decoration granted by Chile for his defense of human rights. He also holds the gratitude of the indigenous peoples of Chiapas and Central America, of the Palestinians and the Arabs, of the enslaved in sweat shops, and of the immigrants, the poor, the discriminated and persecuted among the peoples of North America.
His intellectual creation is vast and varied. He has written fourteen books, including one of poems, and his novel Stark in the Bronx will soon see the light. He has published thousands of articles and essays. Of his making are forty documentaries on different conflicts and social, historical and political problems that include his report on Fidel in the 1960’s and his most recent one, dedicated to the Five, about anti-Cuban terrorism. His voice has been heard in countless conferences, acts and interviews; always fighting for truth and justice; the speaker for the oppressed, the neglected and the humble.
An admirable work, enlightened by the style of a true artist, a sharp researcher of lucid thinking; independent, but deeply committed to the betterment of human beings. Thanks to him, the world could listen to Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo exclaiming for justice from his solitary confinement in the desert prison where Saul has visited him so many times. Each visit has been transformed into brilliant journalistic works that push forward the battle to liberate the man to whom he is now bound by a close friendship.
Professor Emeritus of California State University in Ponoma and Vice-Chair of the Institute for Policy Studies, his works have received awards and distinctions. Among these the Letelier-Moffit for Human Rights, the George Polk for Investigative Reporting, and the Edgar Allan Poe for his Murder at Embassy Row, where he clearly reveals the murder of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffit. He also received an Emmy for his documentary “Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang”; a Golden Apple for “The Sixth Sun: Mayan Uprising in Chiapas”; the Roxy for “We Don’t Play Golf Here”, and received first prizes in many film festivals for his works on Fidel Castro, Salvador Allende and Subcomandante Marcos.
His links with Cuba go back to his student days. He collaborated with C. Wright Mills in 1960 in the preparation of Listen Yankee, a memorable text that made millions of people aware of the truth about the Cuban Revolution. He stood by his teacher until the end of his days in the midst of the hatred and threats that the Empire and the Batista mafia unleashed against Mills and his work. From those years until “Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up” and his frequent trips to Victorville prison to interview Gerardo and rescue him from oblivion, Saul has been a superlative example of solidarity and altruism.
Gore Vidal said of him: “Saul is a man I like to steal ideas from.” Great has been his contribution in the struggle to defeat the media tyranny that spreads ignorance and misinformation everywhere.
But his work was not only from an office, and his risks were not just those of a journalist who reports conflicts. Saul goes far beyond that. He is a real combatant with no other weapons than his talent and his intellectual integrity.
With these weapons he challenged Batista’s terrorists and, half a century later, used them against the butchers of Operation Condor. With these weapons he unmasked the murderers of Orlando Letelier and did not hesitate at the announcement that he would be the next victim.
He’s never lost his joy, his joviality, his youthful spirit. For Saul, the Sixties never ended. The idealism and rebelliousness of that decade live on with him. This, above all, deserves our eternal gratitude. There will be no farewell. We will stay with him and he will live in our hearts hasta la victoria siempre.
Note from Saul Landau
Yesterday I was informed that ICAP, by Agreement of the Council of State, has granted me the Medalla de la Amistad [Medal of Friendship]. I have no way to express properly my appreciation for the decision to give me such a prestigious medal.
The Medal of Friendship and ICAP represent the virtues of the Cuban Revolution as in 1959, when I began supporting the solidarity movement as President of the Students Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Then, Cuba represented, as it does now, justice and equality as a force for global progress toward peace and the end of oppression. These values deserved universal support in the beginnings of the Revolution, in the same way they deserve it in 2013.
I feel deeply honored and touched by this recognition.