Speaking before an increasingly sympathetic audience at Soldiers Field Saturday night, Fidel Castro evoked mingled cheers, hissing, and laughter, and finally brought an eager crowd of about 10,000 to a standing ovation.
Dr. Castro disappointed many who had anticipated an inflammatory address, but his conviction, humor, and obvious anxiety to persuade his listeners soon won their support. The Cuban leader's frequently disarming unfamiliarity with English made him turn occasionally to an interpreter, and once he even drew help from a member of the audience. Dean Bundy, who introduced the speaker on behalf of the Law School forum and the University, seemed rather out of place as he shared the elevated platform with the Latin revolutionary and his bearded attendants.
"So Far From the People"
Immediately winning the crowd's sympathy by remarking that he was "sorry to be so far from the people," Dr. Castro began by recalling his early ambitions to study at Harvard and called the speech "possibly for me the most emotional and significant" of all his addresses in the United States. He remarked that he might have played football at Harvard, and that "possibly we'd have made some victory."
Dr. Castro, who appeared hoarse but energetic, stressed the importance of a country's youth being interested in national affairs and urged his listeners to have faith, ideals and self-confidence. Asking for patience and understanding in judging the events in Cuba, he said his government was working for real, not theoretical freedoms.
To great applause, he concluded that the revolutionary government, which could never have gained power without the support of the people, was for "neither bread without freedom nor freedom without bread."
The People May Appeal
In the question period which followed the speech, his sincerity was frequently more persuasive than his arguments, and once or twice he drew scattered hissing. Speaking about recent Cuban trials, he said that not only the criminals but the people, too, could appeal for justice, and he called attention to the relative moderation of the Cuban revolutionaries.
After remarking that real dictators would not come to such a meeting and answer questions, he invited everyone to go to Cuba and see conditions for themselves.