|SPEECH GIVEN BY FIDEL CASTRO RUZ AT
THE MAIN CEREMONY FOR THE 45TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ATTACKS ON THE MONCADA AND CARLOS MANUEL
DE CÉSPEDES GARRISONS
Santiago de Cuba
july 26, 1998
Comrades who fought at Moncada and
Relatives of the martyrs of that action and so
many other actions throughout our revolutionary struggle;
Guests in general;
Residents of Santiago de Cuba;
This is the way I like these ceremonies to be
held, with everyone in a seat of their own. (APPLAUSE) Given the heat of recent years,
growing heat, it's better like this, at this time of day, so I can converse calmly with
all of you; reflect on the subjects about which I would like to talk today: historical
themes, patriotic themes and ideological themes.
I' ve brought some papers, but don' t get
frightened; I' m not going to read them. (LAUGHTER) I need them for reasons of precision
and so that each thing can be better understood.
Santiago de Cuba has received more than the
flag, which is the honor of having been chosen as the site to commemorate this 45th
anniversary of the July 26 attack on the Moncada Garrison, and although it is true that
Santiago de Cuba has been outstanding throughout the Revolution, before it was chosen
every five years to host this ceremony, in its own right, out of tradition. But that
tradition changed when the principle was established that a city had to earn the right to
host the July 26 celebration.
They were working constantly for that
recognition and got very close to it in the last few years; but this year, which was the
45th anniversary, they won it through their own efforts, courage and merits. (APPLAUSE)
On this 45th anniversary, history rewarded
Santiago de Cuba with other anniversaries, so that here we are commemorating three
important anniversaries with distinctive characteristics, one of them very negative and
the others very positive. But even regarding the one we consider negative, our people have
demonstrated their capacity to confront those circumstances, a setback turned into a
I' m referring, first of all, to the fact that
this year, almost precisely this month, we are commemorating the centennial of the U.S.
intervention in Cuba; at the same time, the 45th anniversary of the attack on the Moncada
Garrison, a setback turned into a great victory; and the 40th anniversary of the battles
which were decisive for the triumph of the Revolution, a great victory without any
setbacks at all.
(THE CLOCK IN THE PLAZA STRIKES, FOLLOWED BY
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) Does it strike every half hour or every 15 minutes? (LAUGHTER. HE
IS TOLD THAT IT HAS A LONG RING ON THE HOUR AND A SHORT RING ON THE HALF HOUR) Well,
that's good because it helps me, it reminds me of the time. (LAUGHTER)
On January 25, 1898, the battleship Maine
entered Havana harbor. On February 15, it was blown up.
On April 19, the U.S. Congress adopted the
joint resolution declaring that the people of Cuba were and by right should be free and
independent. That was a deceptive resolution which apparently responded to the great
sympathy for our people within the heart of U.S. society. It coincided with long years of
fighting and with the impact of Weyler's concentration policy, which was a holocaust for
our people and which resulted in the loss of the lives of hundreds of thousands of our
compatriots from the countryside, mostly women, old people and children, who were unable
to get to the territory held by the Liberation Army and were obliged to move into the
Undoubtedly there was some sympathy on the
part of the people of the United States, but there were also powerful expansionist and
imperialist interests. It turned into the first imperialist war in contemporary history,
which is how Lenin described it, and Martí had foreseen it earlier when he wrote, a few
hours before his death, that everything he had done and would do was to prevent, through
Cuba's independence, the United States from extending over the peoples of the Americas,
and that it had to be done in silence. He saw the future with such clarity!
Martí didn't want intervention; Maceo didn't
want intervention, and one time he said categorically to a group of young people that if
there were a U.S. intervention in Cuba, that would be the only time he would be willing to
fight alongside the Spaniards.
But that resolution was received by Cuban
patriots as recognition of our people's struggle and merits, and the people of the United
States received it in the same way. The idea that the Cuban people were and by right
should be free and independent was a just idea, an unquestionable principle. Up until that
moment, the United States efforts throughout the 30 years of struggle had been
concentrated on preventing the arrival of arms, munitions and reinforcements to our
In the war which began in 1895, all the
armaments accumulated by the Cuban Revolutionary Party through many years of hard work and
sacrifice were lost in a few days. The revolutionary leaders had to arrive under very
difficult conditions: Antonio and José Maceo, Flor Crombet and others, dispersed over
there in the Baracoa area, survived by a miracle. Not very far from there, Martí had to
arrive in Playitas in a small boat with Máximo Gómez and a small group of men, because
although their arms had been confiscated in the United States, the subjective conditions
among the people were ready. A number of years had passed since 1878, since the Zanjón
Pact, and the Cuban people were prepared to start the independence struggle again, but
Martí wanted a quick war so that it would be as bloodless as possible and so as not to
allow any opportunity for foreign intervention.
I said that the U.S. Congress joint resolution
was issued on April 19. When I read that date, I thought, what occurred on April 19? Just
look at the coincidences: the sentiment of that joint resolution was fulfilled twice, the
second time being January 1, 1959, which was 61 years later! That occurred here in
Santiago de Cuba, when for the first time our people were really and truly free and
independent. (APPLAUSE) But even more curious is the fact that on April 19, 1961, exactly
63 years later, our people, already fighting under the banners of socialism, defeated the
imperialist mercenary forces in less than 72 hours, (APPLAUSE) despite the fact that three
miles away there were aircraft carriers and warships that were much more powerful, modern
and sophisticated than those which blockaded the port of Santiago de Cuba on May 27, 1989.
That day, with their blood, sweat and heroism, our people reaffirmed, once again and
forever, that they were a free and sovereign people. (APPLAUSE)
Following the historical chronology, on April
25, war was declared. On May 19, Spanish Admiral Cervera's squadron, composed of six
warships, penetrated Santiago de Cuba Bay, which you all know so well. Eight days later
the U.S. squadron appeared and blockaded the port. This powerful squadron had double the
number of ships, the firepower and the armor of the Spanish squadron.
On June 22, the first landing of U.S. soldiers
took place on the outskirts of this city, to the east, in a place known as Daiquirí,
which had previously been liberated by the province's patriotic forces. Days later there
was another landing at Siboney, a second landing at Daiquirí, and the start of land
On July 1 - you see, July - the most violent
land battles broke out northeast of this city, over there in Viso, in which a Spanish
military chief, General Vara del Rey, died valiantly. On that same day there was a fierce
battle on San Juan Hill - so close to the place where we are gathered today - and the
Cuban troops made a decisive contribution to both battles, since they did not limit
themselves to participating in the battles, but also prevented the arrival of
reinforcements from other parts of Oriente, from Bayamo, Holguín, Guantánamo. Only one
group of reinforcements arrived, marching very quickly and with great determination from
The Cuban troops prevented the arrival of the
main Spanish reinforcements and harassed the garrison in Santiago from various directions.
U.S. history doesn't talk about that. There were thousands of Cuban patriots who
participated in those actions, and they suffered numerous losses, but they never received
recognition in U.S. history books. At the most, there may have been some disparaging
mention in the memoirs of some U.S. military leaders who participated.
Nor is it mentioned that, still during the
colonial period, thousands of Cubans had gone from the western part of the island, along
with Spaniards and French, to participate in the U.S. war of independence a century
before. There were Cubans, born here, who participated in that conflict. That is never
mentioned in U.S. history books either, that Cubans, at one time or another, at one time
fighting for independence and at another fighting in what many of our compatriots
considered an action of solidarity and friendship, fought alongside the U.S. soldiers
against the Spaniards. The great deceptions had not yet emerged.
On July 3, Cervera's squadron received the
order to move out, and in a truly heroic action which must be recognized, they followed
the order and moved out of the harbor, one ship at a time, because only one ship could
navigate through that exit at a time, faced by a squadron in formation which attacked and
destroyed each ship, one by one, as it emerged from the harbor. On that occasion, the
Spanish sailors really displayed extraordinary bravery and heroism.
I'm also reminded of the final episode in our
struggle in regard to Santiago de Cuba. We didn't have any squadron, but two of the three
frigates that the Batista government possessed were in the harbor, quite modern frigates
with good firepower, but we blockaded them and, curiously, we didn't do it from the sea;
we did it from the heights of La Socapa to the west of the mouth of the bay. We installed
eight .30-caliber machine guns, and we calculated that the frigates couldn't pass through
there without their decks being bombarded.
When the war ended, out of curiosity we
inspected one of the frigates and we saw that our calculations were correct. Their decks
and cabins had very little protection; they weren't designed to withstand machine gunfire
at close-range. The frigates would not have been able to get out of Santiago de Cuba
Through that narrow mouth the Spanish ships
left one by one in 1898 and were easily destroyed. Hundreds of Spanish sailors died, one
U.S. sailor died and several more were wounded. The Spanish ships' firepower was not equal
to that of the U.S. ships, and they couldn't perforate the armor of those warships, those
battleships. That was the history of that battle, July 3.
On July 10, the city of Santiago de Cuba was
bombarded by the U.S. squadron.
On July 17 - look how close we are to the date
- negotiations took place between the U.S. and Spanish troops, without the participation
of any representative of the Cuban forces; an armistice was called and the city
surrendered that day. U.S. troops penetrated the city and did not allow Cuban patriots to
enter. This is one of the saddest episodes in our history, since those soldiers who had
fought for 30 years, beginning on October 10, 1868, were not permitted to enter the city.
The U.S. flag was raised over the Government Palace and the Morro Fortress. Totally
indignant and faced with that insufferable humiliation, General Calixto García, who had
cooperated so loyally with the troops who were supposedly his allies, wrote to Máximo
Gómez and renounced his post as head of the Cuban troops in Oriente. What day? July 17.
What occurred on the other anniversary I was
talking about, that of the decisive battles in our liberation war? Over there in El
Jigüe, on July 17, 1958, faced with the offensive carried out by thousands and thousands
of Batista's soldiers, another decisive battle took place against a surrounded battalion
at a spot known as El Jigüe. Those battles lasted 10 days and July 17 was its most
In other words, exactly 60 years after the
Cuban soldiers were prohibited from entering Santiago de Cuba, a battle went on which
would change the course of the offensive and, once that offensive was defeated, it would
signify a turn in our war against Batista's army. It was really a vindication, on the
exact date, 60 years later, in this same month of July. The battle ended on July 21 and
from that time on, our troops engaged in a counteroffensive which put Batista's army on
the run, with its numerous battalions, supported by tanks, planes, artillery, when the
rebels had only rifles and mines. The course of history began to change and made possible,
a few months later, that January 1, 1959, in Santiago de Cuba.
On December 10, 1898, the Paris Peace Treaty
was signed, and the Cuban government-in-arms was not allowed to participate. The agreement
was between the United States and Spain, and the Republic-in-Arms was absent, it was not
allowed to participate in those negotiations and that agreement. Then we were occupied for
four years by the U.S. army. It's good to remind those with short memories about these
things; it's good to remind the neo-annexationists about history. During that period they
disarmed the Liberation Army, dissolved Martí's party and installed a pseudo-republic
through the Platt Amendment, which gave the United States the constitutional right to
interfere in Cuba's internal affairs. So there was no more Cuban Revolutionary Party,
there was no more Liberation Army, and as long as that Constitutional Assembly was going
on, a U.S. senator got the idea of proposing that amendment in the U.S. Congress and it
was approved, by virtue of which the pseudo-republic was born (THE CLOCK STRIKES) - and I
have spent over a half hour on this history. (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) They took control of
the country's basic wealth, an army like the one in Texas was established, and our country
was at the mercy of the U.S. government=s interests.
But our people never stopped struggling
throughout those years. Very harsh, draconian economic treaties were imposed; they were
subjected to several direct and indirect interventions; they maintained the occupation of
a piece of our national territory, which is still utilized as a naval base; it's been for
100 years too, and they maintain it by force. That's how this century began for our
country and that was the conclusion of the struggles in which entire generations of Cubans
sacrificed their lives.
Our people continued their struggle valiantly
and in a revolutionary manner for decades, going through hard times, difficult processes,
until the March 10, 1952, coup d'état. That event was what generated the need to defeat
that government by means of arms, the event that engendered the action which we are
commemorating here 45 years later.
It was a long road. Perhaps with the
experience we have today, we revolutionaries would have taken a path that was a little
more sure, and have achieved victory in less time; I've thought about that. I've thought
that maybe, instead of the ambitious plan of taking over that fort, if we could have
started in the Sierra Maestra we might have accelerated the process of toppling Batista.
That, of course, is based on experience, and certainly the mountains were not excluded as
a possibility at that time.
Our initial plan was to take that garrison,
occupy the arms and mobilize the people of Santiago de Cuba. What we counted on most were
the people of Santiago de Cuba, (APPLAUSE) given their history and traditions. But before
making the decision to carry out the attack on that fortress, we had been willing to
cooperate with all forces that proclaimed themselves as being anti-Batista. We felt that
uniting everyone was indispensable, and as long as unity existed, we devoted ourselves to
recruiting, organizing and preparing men and women for that united action. But that unity
we hoped for never really emerged, and would never emerge.
So by that time we had about 1200 men, pretty
well organized and pretty well trained, as much as was possible under those circumstances,
and without enough arms for those men. At best, we had one and a half weapons for every 10
men, and they weren't exactly war weapons, but rather weapons that could be purchased in
gun shops. At the gun shop in Santiago de Cuba, which was near the boulevard, and through
Renato Guitart, we bought several .22 rifles and some shotguns; they weren't weapons of
war, but neither were they inoffensive weapons. A semi-automatic shotgun is a weapon that
could be considered as good as a hand-held Thompson machine gun, because it can shoot nine
heavy shots with a single cartridge. They are not inoffensive weapons, and neither are .22
rifles in the hands of good shooters, and we had taught our fighters how to shoot well.
Those weapons served the objective we sought, but there were very few of them. There were
a total of 150 or 160 weapons for those 1200 men, and what we did was to make a selection
of the most steadfast, best disciplined, best prepared cells, to whom we could give the
Notice what our tactics were: we didn't
recruit anyone in Santiago de Cuba, except for one; we recruited people from Havana, from
the city and the surrounding countryside, and people from Pinar del Río.
In the capital there were many people who
considered themselves revolutionaries; they were looking for people, trying to organize
themselves. Really, there was a moment when we had more than all the other organizations
put together. There were some people who belonged to four or five different organizations,
they were counted five times, and the members of our group numbered 1200, in the flesh.
We didn't want to do recruitment work in
Santiago de Cuba, once we decided to carry out the plans on our own initiative and once we
had selected the ideal site, which was the former province of Oriente and the city of
Santiago de Cuba. We didn't want to give ourselves away.
We had someone from Santiago, and later a
second one, who was Abel [Santamaría], a very capable comrade whom we trusted completely,
since he had come to Santiago de Cuba as the movement's second-in-command, to carry out
tasks that were indispensable in the preparations to receive the arms and the men. All the
work of mobilization and transporting weapons and men was done in Havana. Actually the
little flags on our cars, given that our comrades weren't very well known, belonged to the
famous 4th of September Movement. When a policeman saw a little 4th of September flag,
he'd say, AAh, very good, there go the General's people! It was easier. I was a little
better known and I took the precaution of not using one of those little flags, because if
I did that it would have brought me under great suspicion.
But I must say that in the last few days, in a
matter of days, we transported the weapons by various means. Melba [Hernández] could tell
that story, as could Yeyé [Haydée Santamaría], the female comrades who carried an
enormous suitcase. (APPLAUSE) At one point, a chivalrous Batista soldier even helped the
women carry those suitcases, which were pretty heavy. The men were transported in 24
We were going to recruit the Santiago
residents afterwards en masse, the entire population, knowing not only their history but
also the fact that at the time of the March 10 coup d'état, they were the only residents
in the country that rose up and were ready to come to this garrison, (APPLAUSE) who
hesitated to support the coup, until the moment when they backed the March 10 traitors. I
said that we didn't have to convince the people of Santiago de Cuba because they were
already convinced, (APPLAUSE) and that when we took the fortress and had 1500 to 2000
weapons, they would join en masse.
When we first entered the Moncada there was
initial confusion, because we were rather astute: instead of wearing civilian clothes, we
found real uniforms from that army, and ones with the rank of sergeant to distinguish
ourselves and confuse the enemy. We could recognize each other best from our shoes, which
weren't boots; the caps and everything else were military, and we had done some tailoring
to complete the uniforms. We were going to sow great confusion before they realized what
was happening, and before the other units realized we were going to simulate an uprising
of sergeants. It was very similar to what Mr. Batista had done in 1933. That was in the
first moment, while we occupied everything here - they were sleeping, as we were able to
confirm when those in the first car occupied a barracks. They were all placed face down.
I DON'T HAVE THE SLIGHTEST DOUBT THAT
ALL THE PEOPLE OF SANTIAGO DE CUBA WOULD HAVE JOINED THAT STRUGGLE
I tell you sincerely that if it would have
been possible to consider other variants that were safer, if we were to do it all over
again, 45 years later I think that that was the plan that should have been used,
(APPLAUSE) that was the plan: to take over the main post and with the other cars take the
general staff, the other barracks and everyone face down; take the Palace of Justice, the
dominant building; take the roofs of the building at the rear, which was the civilian
hospital; and the regiment would have been taken prisoner.
It was perfectly possible, I don't have the
slightest doubt, just as I don't have the slightest doubt that all the people of Santiago
de Cuba would have joined that struggle. We were going to take the arms out of that
garrison quickly, in case of an air attack, and we were going to locate them in various
buildings in the city, and organize defenses for the counterattack. By telephone we were
going to fool a lot of people by getting some of those sergeants who would be our
prisoners to talk with the squadron chiefs and the other sergeants in the province, in
order to subordinate them or at least gain some time.
Our defense against the counterattack and the
reason we tried to occupy Bayamo and the Bayamo garrison came out of the need to establish
an advance defense force on the bridge over the Cauto River on the Central Highway. Those
men attacked the Bayamo Garrison to accomplish that mission.
So we don't have any doubt about the selection
of that area, that population, that objective, to occupy weapons. We said to the comrades:
Well, our arms are well protected and well greased in the garrisons. We don't have money
to buy them, but why should we buy them if they're there waiting for us? With a few arms,
we can occupy the ones that regiment has.
And another idea: once we had identified
ourselves as the ones who were going to take the garrison, we would proclaim on the radio
the revolutionary program that we proposed, and we would call for a general strike all
over the country.
But if we couldn't stop the counterattack, if
we weren't able to paralyze the country - and that wouldn't have been possible, because
the level of hatred against the dictatorship was very high - then we would have fallen
back to the mountains with thousands of weapons. That would not have failed. We had to
start the struggle all over again with less than 10 weapons after the setback at Alegría
de Pío in 1956. And with those few arms and some that we accumulated later on, in 25
months the war was won over armed forces with 80,000 men and weapons supplied by the
United States; with U.S. advisers; with airplanes which were quite effective for attacking
guerrillas; with tanks, artillery, communications and many other things that we did not
So the war was won, fundamentally, with the
people and thanks to our trust in the people, the certainty that we felt about the people.
It won't be easy to repeat a history like the
one we have lived through in these 45 years.
We really did it all quite quickly. We had to
go through imprisonment and exile; we had to go through the dispersion of our expedition
members, those who landed on the Granma.
There was another curious figure: five years,
five months and five days. A gambler would have gone with the number A5, wouldn't they?
(LAUGHTER) I recall that in those times people bet on the lottery and things like that:
five, five and five. [Juan] Almeida says Anun, nun and nun. (LAUGHTER) I guess five is
Anun. Is that right, Almeida? ANun mean five [in the numbers game]? Five years, five
months and five days after that attack, the Revolution triumphed and we were in Santiago
de Cuba, and this garrison was in our hands, with all its weapons and all the weapons of
There were 17,000 besieged soldiers in the
former province of Oriente. The island was divided into two parts with Che's forces
attacking Santa Clara and Camilo supporting with his column. (APPLAUSE) The island was
divided into two parts and there were 17,000 besieged soldiers, approximately - according
to my calculations, it would have to be confirmed more carefully, but that's an
approximate calculation - I'm not going to use the calculations made in those days - while
there were not much more than 3000 of us. There were shotguns, revolvers, everything;
although, I repeat, these are figures that only the historians can confirm. But I tell you
that at the time of the great offensive, the last one against Batista, we had less than
300 men, maybe only 200.
Since they concentrated the attack against
Front No. 1 - Radio Rebelde was already a fundamental institution, and there were
hospitals, mine factories and everything there - it was necessary to find reinforcements:
Almeida, who was close to Santiago de Cuba; Guillermo [García]; Che; the school of
recruits where we had hundreds of young people who - without weapons, because we didn't
have any for them - were training under almost daily bombardment; and we even sent for
Camilo, who was fighting in the lowlands, to take part in that offensive. Given the great
distance and the important role they were playing in the revolutionary strategy, the only
troops that weren't mobilized to the Sierra Maestra were the troops of the 2nd Front, led
by Comrade Raúl. (APPLAUSE)
We were barely 300 men in all. The battle
lasted 70 days; for 35 days they advanced and for 35 days we advanced.
When the offensive ended, there were 900 of
us. We took hundreds of prisoners and captured over 500 weapons, and with 900 men with
weapons of war we took the country, we marched to the center of the island. We had the
powerful 2nd Front - we marched across the rest of Oriente province - and we sent two
powerful columns with excellent soldiers and extraordinary leaders to march to western
Cuba: Che, with 140 men, as I recall; and Camilo with 90 men, who wrote one of our
country's most glorious pages of military history. (APPLAUSE) They had to cross those 400
kilometers of lowlands without guides in many cases, after a hurricane, because when they
left there was a hurricane and they had to cross the Cauto River when it was overflowing,
march through those swamps and rice paddies, against an enemy with planes, tanks,
artillery, constant reconnaissance.... And under those conditions those two columns
arrived in the center of the country.
While they were arriving, the columns we had
sent to the current eastern provinces had become consolidated. One was sent to Camagüey,
but we had acquired so many weapons in such a short time that we did not have sufficient
cadres. Several very promising ones had died during the offensive, and a leader from
Camagüey without much experience and with a small column disobeyed an order, used trucks
and was caught in an ambush which caused considerable damage to that column. When Che and
Camilo arrived in Las Villas, the counteroffensive began.
I recall that we left La Plata with a platoon
of 30 men and 1000 unarmed recruits. We had learned the art of capturing weapons from
Batista's army, something we had not known how to do at the beginning, and in 40 days
those 1000 recruits were armed and we had extra weapons. In Palma Soriano alone, we
occupied 350 weapons.
With Almeida¿s front, various columns and the
2nd Front combined, we prepared the attack on the city. We knew exactly what we had to do,
how many days it would last. We were going to apply in El Caney, in Boniato, at the
airport and on Quintero Hill practically the same formula as in El Jigüe, but within the
city: surround the battalions, and fight the reinforcements. The difference was that in El
Jigüe we began the battle with 120 men and in Santiago de Cuba we were going to start
with 1200 men: 300 for each battalion. Never before had we had so many people to confront
those battalions, whose morale was pretty low by then.
Pardon my incursion into history, with the
details I have given, to explain, in general terms, the concepts and the events that made
possible the staggering, or we could say thundering victory of the Rebel Army. (APPLAUSE)
The head of the enemy's troops in Oriente met
with me on December 28. A helicopter arrived to the place we had agreed upon and he told
us, AWell, we've lost the war. How do we end it?And I proposed to him that the Santiago de
Cuba troops rise up. AJoin the Revolution, maybe in that way some men can be saved.
Because we had met some members of that army who weren't killers, who weren't henchmen,
even some academy officers, the best example of whom was Comrade Quevedo, who is now a
general of our Revolutionary Armed Forces (APPLAUSE) and who was the head of that
battalion which fought hard against us in El Jigüe. We could have saved a number of
officers with certain qualities. The head of the enemy troops agreed, but insisted on
going to Havana. I said, AOh, you insist? You shouldn't go, but if you insist....He said
he had a brother in Matanzas, the head of a regiment, and that there was no problem.
I set up three conditions: AFirst, we don't
want a coup d'état in the capital. Second, we don't want any contact with the American
embassy. Third, we don't want anyone to help Batista escape. Those were the three
conditions we imposed. He said, ANo problem. I said, AIf he escapes because we don't
capture him, then he escapes. But I don't want anyone helping him escape. We explained
this at the beginning of the Revolution, but I see a lot of new people here and that's why
I'm repeating it. The man went to Havana, we waited for him. The city's troops were
supposed to rise up on December 31; the second-in-command was also in agreement. The 29th
came, then the 30th, and there was no news. Strange messages began to arrive, asking for
patience, saying that everything was going well. I warned them that we were going to
attack the city. I'm not going to go on and on. The fact is that the man contacted the
embassy, carried out a coup d'état in the capital and saw Batista off at the runway.
Three things absolutely contrary to what we had planned: a leap into the void.
From Palma Soriano the order went out to all
the columns to keep advancing. We told Che and Camilo, AKeep going on to Havana, Che to La
Cabaña, Camilo to Columbia. I knew that at that moment the demoralized troops were not
going to offer much resistance. We ordered all the columns to keep advancing, with no
cease-fire anywhere, we warned Santiago de Cuba and pointed out that the troops were
moving toward the city. Starting that day, before 72 hours were up we had disarmed the
whole army. Our comrades in the Movement and other revolutionary organizations took over
the police stations and controlled the capital.
When we arrived in Havana, on the first day
the police stations were taken, the city had taken them over. In Santiago de Cuba, we
already had 100 weapons inside for the attack we had planned; we had brought them in
through the bay. The enemy soldiers controlled some buildings, and aside from the four
battalions which day after day we were surrounding and carrying out battles against
reinforcements, on the fifth day we had an uprising in the city, for which we had sent
The frigates could not escape. In the end they
cooperated with us, and that's how we got to that happy day, January 1, 1959, with a
revolutionary victory. (APPLAUSE)
So, as we said to the residents of Santiago de
Cuba from Palma Soriano, This time the Liberation Army did enter Santiago de Cuba!
(APPLAUSE) Barely 61 years had passed since that affront, that humiliation when our
military leaders and fighters in the war of independence were not allowed to enter the
There was total order in the city. What
pretexts would our neighbors to the North use? That the Cubans were surely going to take
revenge and create disorder. Total and absolute order in the city of Santiago de Cuba, not
a single case of revenge, not a single case of looting, because we told the people, ANo
one should take revenge, because there will be justice, those guilty of committing crimes
will be punished. And our city gave extraordinary proof that it was an educated people, a
people with a consciousness, and they were just getting started; we could say that they
were on the first page of revolutionary learning. Those people, who still included a lot
of illiterates and semi-illiterates, who lacked political savvy, who had been deceived
from the time they were in school, who had heard thousands of false stories about the
history of Cuba - among other things that we owed our independence to the United States -
those people were capable of writing glorious pages.
Once the Revolution triumphed, what came next?
The fulfillment of the Moncada Program. What came next? The true Revolution.
For the first time in Cuba's history, the
promises made to the people were going to be put to the test, because for 60 years they
made promises and more promises and they were never kept. The moment came to apply that
program we had fought so hard for.
I hope you will forgive me and I will try,
really, not to go on too long. I've made this sort of introduction, and the clock is about
to strike again. I think someone must have stopped the clock; they've done me a bad favor
by doing that. (LAUGHTER)
I want to express some ideas here, so that
this 45th anniversary serves as a source of reflection and meditation. I have to read some
things; I don't have any choice, and I'll be as brief as possible, while adding some
arguments that are indispensable.
WHEN THE REVOLUTION TRIUMPHED, THE TIME HAD
COME TO CARRY OUT OUR PROGRAM
When the Revolution triumphed, the time had
come to carry out our program. At the trial stemming from the attack on the Moncada
Garrison, I said - and I'm going to read you some essential parts:
In terms of struggle, when we talk about the
people were talking about the 600,000 Cubans without work, who want to earn their daily
bread honestly...the 500,000 farm laborers who live in miserable shacks, who work four
months of the year and starve the rest, sharing their misery with their children...the
400,000 industrial workers and laborers whose retirement funds have been embezzled, whose
benefits are taken away, whose homes are wretched quarters...the 100,000 small farmers who
live and die working land that is not theirs...the 30,000 teachers and instructors who are
so devoted, dedicated and so necessary to the better destiny of future generations...the
20,000 small businessmen weighed down by debts, ruined by the crisis and harangued by the
plague of grafting and venal officials; the 10,000 young professional people: doctors,
engineers, lawyers, veterinarians, school teachers, dentists, pharmacists, journalists,
painters, sculptors, etc., who finish school with their degrees anxious to work and full
of hope, only to find themselves at a dead end, all doors closed to them, and where no ear
hears their clamor or supplication....
As you can see, here there is absolutely no
mention of bankers, owners of latifundia, landlords, powerful merchants, industrialists,
oligarchs, bourgeoisie or exploiters of any kind.
I challenge those who say false things about
the Revolution's initial program to find in the Moncada Program, or in History Will
Absolve Me, a single promise to those gentlemen who were plundering and exploiting
We were talking about the people then, which
is the same today, 45 years later, with incredible precision and definition.
History Will Absolve Me continues: AThe
problem of the land, the problem of industrialization, the problem of housing, the problem
of unemployment, the problem of education and the problem of the people's health: these
are the six problems we would take immediate steps to solve....
Further on: AA revolutionary government backed
by the people and with the respect of the nation, after cleansing the different
institutions of all venal and corrupt officials, would proceed immediately to the
country's industrialization, mobilizing all inactive capital, currently estimated at about
1.5 billion pesos, through the National Bank and the Agricultural and Industrial
Development Bank, and submitting the mammoth task to experts and men of absolute
competence totally removed from all political machinations, for study, direction, planning
This was 45 years ago and we were talking
about estimates of money held in the banks. It was a way of saying, ANo, that money's not
leaving the country; that money has to be invested here.
After settling the 100,000 small farmers as
owners on the land which they previously rented, a revolutionary government would
immediately proceed to settle the land problem. First, as set forth in the Constitution,
it would establish the maximum amount of land to be held by each type of agricultural
enterprise and would acquire the excess acreage by expropriation, recovery of lands stolen
from the state, improvement of swampland, planting of large nurseries and reserving of
zones for reforestation. Secondly, it would distribute the remaining land among peasant
families with priority given to the larger ones, and would promote agricultural
cooperatives - look how early there was talk of agricultural cooperatives - for communal
use of expensive equipment, cold storage plants and unified technical, professional
guidelines in farming and cattle raising. Finally, it would provide resources, equipment,
protection and useful knowledge to the peasants.
A revolutionary government would solve the
housing problem by cutting all rents by half, by providing tax exemptions on homes
inhabited by the owners; by tripling taxes on rented homes; by tearing down hovels and
replacing them with modern apartment buildings; and by financing housing all over the
island on a scale heretofore unheard of, with the criterion that, just as each rural
family should possess its own tract of land, each city family should own its own home or
apartment. There is plenty of building material and more than enough manpower to make a
decent home for every Cuban. But if we continue to wait for the golden calf, a thousand
years will have gone by and the problem will remain the same.
Do you know what the golden calf means? It's a
biblical phrase, because I too learned some of those phrases. The golden calf is
capitalism, and 'hat=s what I wanted to say, and I said it. In a word, it is the famous
market economy. If we keep waiting for miracles from the golden calf, a thousand years
will pass and the problem will be the same.
On the other hand, today possibilities of
taking electricity to the most isolated areas on the island are greater than ever. The use
of nuclear energy in this field is now a reality and will greatly reduce the cost of
producing electricity. That was long before oil prices hit the roof, and yet we were
already talking about nuclear energy.
Actually, at the time the special period
started we were about to finish the first nuclear reactor of the four projected in
Cienfuegos, and plans were being made for a second nuclear power plant in northeastern
Cuba, work was going on in that direction. But despite the fact that we weren't able to
finish that plant - what everyone knows happened happened - and we had to stick with just
the thermoelectric plants we had already built, that electricity program was still
fulfilled, we could say, since today approximately 95% of the population has access to
electrical services. With or without power cuts, for the well-known reasons, but 95% has
access to electrical services, (APPLAUSE) even without a nuclear reactor. And we are
struggling to use new sources of energy, such as natural gas - as we explained during the
National Assembly sessions - and we are attempting to modernize, looking for other
formulas, some economic associations, to assure our electricity capacities in the coming
years, not just for the population's needs, but also for the country's industrial
development, its social, tourism and other development.
We said then:
With these three projects and reforms, the
problem of unemployment would automatically disappear and the task of improving public
health and fighting disease would become much less difficult.
Finally, a revolutionary government would
undertake the integral reform of the educational system, bringing it into line with the
projects just mentioned with the idea of educating those generations which will have the
privilege of living in a happier land. Do not forget the words of the Apostle [José
Martí]: A grave mistake is being made in Latin America: in countries that live almost
completely from the produce of the land, men are being educated exclusively for urban life
and are not trained for farm life. The happiest country is the one which has best educated
its sons, both in the instruction of thought and the direction of their feelings. An
educated people will always be strong and free.
One can talk to an educated people the way I
am talking to you here today. (APPLAUSE)
Today we can't speak of 10,000 professionals
who have graduated from universities; today there are over 500,000, (APPLAUSE) 50 times
the figure mentioned there. Today we can't speak of 30,000 teachers and instructors; there
are over 250,000. (APPLAUSE) We can't talk of 5000 doctors, which was the estimate at that
time, and many of them didn't have work; today there are over 60,000. (APPLAUSE) We can't
speak of millions of citizens who pay rent, because 85% of the population - this is the
highest figure in the world - own their homes. (APPLAUSE) As for electricity, I already
mentioned the percentage that have access to it, whether it be through a small
hydroelectric dam or a generator or power lines. There are rural areas in our mountains
where there are no power cuts, because they have small hydroelectric dams there, and we're
building more and well continue to build all we need, taking advantage of any resource.
At that time, what mountain in our country had
a hydroelectric dam? Which one?
Despite the enormous difficulties of the
special period, with a teacher for every 42 inhabitants, Cuba - which in those times had
30% illiteracy and 50-60% semi-illiteracy, because being in second or third grade doesn't
mean you're literate - has the highest index of teachers and instructors in the whole
world. (APPLAUSE) It gives me satisfaction to be able to say this on this 45th
anniversary. And we achieved that quite a while ago; now we have to improve it, so that we
can be even better educated, as Martí would say, more cultured and more prepared in the
direction of our feelings.
I repeat: AThe happiest country is the one
which has best educated its sons, both in the instruction of thought and the direction of
their feelings. AAn educated people will always be strong and free. Thank you, Martí,
mastermind of the attack on the Moncada Garrison, who inculcated us with these ideas!
(APPLAUSE) An illiterate people cannot be strong or free, and we see that everywhere. We
can say today, 45 years after that noble effort, AWe did what you asked, our teacher!
Seventy-four percent of the elementary school
teachers are certified or are studying to get their university certificates, and 94.6% of
the secondary teachers are university graduates.
Ninety-eight percent of the population up to
age five is part of the Educate Your Child program: 17% in day-care centers, a total of
151,145; 70% through informal channels and the rest in kindergarten, 117,754. A total of
96% of the boys and girls who are five years old are in kindergarten. School enrollment
among the population between the ages of six and 16 was 94.2% at the close of 1997, and it
is increasing constantly since the 1994-95 school year, when it was 91.5%. Furthermore,
88.8% of preschool and elementary school students attend all-day classes.
Enrollment in boarding schools run by the
Ministry of Education was 277,900 students in the 1997-98 school year. Semi-boarding
students totaled 657,800 in activities administered by the provinces, amid shortages,
limitations and needs of which we are well aware.
Educational services are provided in the
mountains to 152,700 students - in the mountains! - where there are 2400 schools with
12,600 teachers and instructors, one for every 11 students, of whom 2600 belong to
contingents, detachments and mountain brigades. In the territory covered by the Turquino
Plan, over 95% of the population through age five is enrolled in some educational
Special education - something that did not
exist before the Revolution in our country and wasn't even mentioned at the time of the
Moncada attack - now consists of 425 institutions and over 13,500 educators.
The dropout rate had gradually gone down since
the 1991-92 school year, and is now down to 1%.
Continuation of studies in junior high schools
for those who graduate from sixth grade has recovered gradually since the 1993-94 school
year, to a current 99.8%.
As for the continuation of studies for junior
high graduates, the deterioration experienced in the first years of the special period has
been reversed, and in the 1997-98 school year it was 98.2%.
There is no illiteracy, of course. The
Revolution did away with it in less than one year, which is also a unique case in the
history of education in any country in the world. Naturally, then came the follow-up
courses to eradicate semi-illiteracy.
The network of institutions in higher
education is composed of 15 universities affiliated with the Ministry of Higher Education;
15 higher pedagogical schools, five higher institutes of medical sciences and nine
independent medical schools, eight military training centers, the Communist Party of
Cuba's higher school and another five institutes affiliated with an equal number of
agencies, for a total of 57 institutions of higher learning. Fifty-seven! Total
enrollment, 126,000, broken down into 73,148 day students and 15,698 correspondence
students. That's higher education, which I couldn't fail to mention. (APPLAUSE)
Essential health statistics: infant mortality
has been reduced to 7.2 per 1000 live births in 1997. You know that, but it's good to
recall it today and to think about how high infant mortality was at the time we were
trying to take over this fortress.
Maternal mortality is 2.2 per 10,000 live
births. Low birth weight, 6%; in 1997 it was 7.3%. A total of 98.8% of the children under
two years of age are protected against 10 diseases. No other country has a program
protecting children which is quite the same, despite our difficulties. Over 80% of the
general mortality is due to non-transmissible chronic illnesses and this index continues
to go down.
All the indicators for transmissible diseases,
except AIDS, have really been brought down to a minimum. In that battle, our country could
be considered some kind of Olympic champion. In addition to those already eliminated, the
indicator for tetanus in adults has been reduced to the lowest in history - before, many
adults and children died of tetanus. The same low indicators exist for congenital
syphilis, meningococcal disease, viral and bacterial meningitis, and typhoid fever. There
are no reported cases of German measles or mumps.
The total number of institutions devoted to
health care, on both the national and local levels, is as follows: 280 hospitals; 442
polyclinics; 168 dental clinics; 33 medical schools and institutes; 26 blood banks, where
every blood donation is tested and no one has to pay to receive blood, which is the result
of the population's solidarity; 219 maternity homes; 196 homes for the aged, and it's a
shame that there aren't enough of these.
Of the total number of hospitals, 83 are
general hospitals, 31 are clinical-surgical hospitals, 26 are children's hospitals, 18 are
gynecological-obstetrical hospitals, 16 are mother and child hospitals, 64 are rural
hospitals, 42 are specialized.
Total number of beds: 80,528, for an index of
7.3 per 1000 inhabitants; of them the immense majority, 66,263, are for medical care.
There are 89 intensive care units: 53 for
adults and 36 for children.
Human resources devoted to health care:
338,983 persons working in this country in this sector.
Total number of doctors: 63,384. We are also
in first place in this respect among all the countries of the world, developed and not
We had talked about our industrialization
Electricity generation capacities have
increased tenfold; when the Revolution triumphed there were a little over 300,000
kilowatts and now there are about three million. The problems we have with fuel today,
that's a different thing, along with backlogs in maintenance, but the capacities are
there, they're recovering, they're getting bigger, and they are 10 times greater than what
the Revolution encountered in 1959.
Production of steel, machinery, construction
materials, foodstuffs, textiles and other things have grown several times over, and today
they are facing obstacles of an external nature which we understand all too well, which
I'm not going to repeat here. Suffice it to say that we have had to deal with an ever more
merciless blockade and the disappearance of the socialist bloc and the USSR.
Roads, highways, dams, canals, irrigation
systems, agricultural machinery and construction equipment have reached unprecedented
Remember that I mentioned that in those days
retirement funds had been embezzled, but now not a single citizen lacks social security,
and the number of people receiving pensions is around one and a half million. In 1977,
there was a pensioner for every 2.4 workers. In 1998 over 1.7 billion pesos will be
invested in this sector. In the middle of the special period, this spending has increased
by over 500 million pesos.
This is how the Revolution acts! This is how
the promises of the Moncada Program have been kept! (APPLAUSE)
I want to add that I have limited myself to a
few statistics and indices, aware as I am and as we all are of the great limitations under
which we are working, the need to utilize all our resources much better and the need to
improve our human labor, the subjective factors, because we may lack pain pills at some
point, but nothing is as soothing as a bit of affection and consideration for the sick.
We could talk about so many things. How our
society has eliminated forms of corruption and injustice: inequality, discrimination on
the basis of race and gender. Before, millions of our compatriots were hurt so badly every
day by those who considered themselves racially superior, and you know that those
prejudices were not born in our country; they were brought in from abroad.
We are a racially mixed people, a hybrid
people, a mestizo people. Those pretensions of clubs for whites, schools for whites, and
things like that....(MEMBERS OF THE AUDIENCE SAY, AHEAVEN FORBID!) That's it, heaven
forbid! And may it always be forbidden, because that was imported with the interventions
and with the neocolonization of our country.
Women today constitute over 60% of the
country's technical work force. (APPLAUSE) I'd like for someone to tell me about other
countries where it's like that, even though we are a poor, blockaded, doubly blockaded
country against which economic war has been waged for decades.
What wouldn't we have been able to do if we
were left in peace to work, and if we were left to exercise our right to have the
political, social and economic system which we choose to have?
We've already lived through that garbage we
talked about at the time of that July 26th, 45 years ago, so why do we have to go back to
that, and who can make us go back to that? (MEMBERS OF THE AUDIENCE SAY, ANO ONE! AND
ADOWN WITH IMPERIALISM!) (APPLAUSE)
WHAT COULD OUR COUNTRY HAVE EXPECTED IF THE
COUNTERREVOLUTIONARIES HAD WON?
What price have we had to pay? A high price,
the price of a blockade and an economic war which has lasted over 35 years, the price of
aggression, dirty wars, sabotage, counterrevolutionary bands, mercenary invasions worth
appearing in any of the texts at the Party's Ñico López School, recalling the number of
latifundia owners who took part in that invasion, the number of henchmen from the
dictatorship, the number of oligarchs and bourgeoisie. Can you imagine for one second what
those counterrevolutionaries would have been like if they had won?
What happened in Guatemala, dear compatriots
of Santiago de Cuba and the whole country? What happened when that mercenary invasion
triumphed? What happened? That was in 1954, after the attack on the Moncada Garrison, and
we were imprisoned. What happened just because they carried out an agrarian reform to help
the millions of native people in that country who were evicted from their lands and were
living in the most abject misery? One hundred and fifty thousand victims, 150,000 dead, of
them over 100,000 disappeared persons.
Who made that counterrevolution? Who supported
all those governments that caused the disappearance of so many people? Ah, the greatest
defenders of democracy and human rights.
No one knows where the disappeared are and we
know the dead are buried underground, the dead who did not disappear. But the world is
flooded with words, clichés, lies, demagoguery.
Who made 30,000 people disappear in Argentina?
Who supported those who made them disappear? Who was responsible for the 3000
disappearances and murders in Chile? Who was responsible for the tens of thousands of
deaths in El Salvador and Nicaragua as a result of the dirty wars and repressive
What would have happened here if that
imperialist formula triumphed, with those gentlemen full of hatred who came to retake
their lands, their businesses, their houses, their privileges?
A few months ago, a Guatemalan bishop who had
published a report with all the facts about the crimes in Guatemala, after the peace
negotiations, was brutally killed within 72 hours of having released the report. They're
still looking for the culprits; he was killed for publishing a report that was 72 hours
old, and that was after the peace agreements were signed and the arrangements for peace
had been made.
What could our country have expected if the
counterrevolutionaries had won?
How many sons and daughters of our people lost
their lives fighting against the bandits in the Escambray mountains and in many other
places? They organized groups in all the former provinces of the country, even in Havana
Later we came to the brink of a world nuclear
war in October 1962. As a consequence of what? Of plans which today are recognized in
declassified documents published in the United States, in search of a pretext to invade
the island after the Bay of Pigs defeat. Pirate attacks, terrorist acts which have lasted
decades, assassination attempts which have not let up a single instant.
I think I have the dubious distinction of
having been the target of more assassination attempts than any other statesman in any
country and any period in history. And since they haven't had any luck or success, every
once in a while they report that I'm sik or dead.
The other day I was saying to some reporters,
AListen to me, you're going to create a problem for me. The day I die no one's going to
believe it. (LAUGHTER) It's been a high price - not for me, you can be sure that I almost
have fun with all those news reports and those plans, really - but I tell you, because of
the struggle that we have had to wage, and especially against the blockade, the economic
war, the attempt to asphyxiate our people, of testing its will, its steadfastness, its
heroism every day.
What I'm telling you now can be documented.
A few days ago, in the United States, a
well-known newspaper - with whose political line we are not always in agreement, whose
articles and focus we do not always share, but which undoubtedly is a newspaper which
enjoys great authority within the United States and the world - published information
which proved to be sensational.
Our newspapers, which have not participated in
this debate, limited themselves to giving an objective summary of the content of that
information, and I believe that it is important to reflect a little on this point and for
us to become familiar with this information. We're not unaware of this; it's another
matter. It's important for public opinion in the United States to be informed about some
things, let's make it clear, about some things that have been done against our country,
about some crimes which have been committed against our people.
What does The New York Times say about
one of the most infamous counterrevolutionary terrorists engendered by the United States?
Here again I'm going to limit myself to the essential parts - I'm looking at the clock and
I know it's hot, but maybe this material will be of interest to you.
It says - I repeat, these will be the
essential points; I underlined it because it's long and I want to quote the text exactly:
APosada was schooled in demolition and guerrilla warfare by the Central Intelligence
Agency in the 1960s....
APosada said the hotel bombings and other
operations had been supported by leaders of the Cuban-American National Foundation. Its
founder and head, Jorge Mas Canosa, who died last year, was embraced at the White House by
presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton.
AA powerful force in both Florida and national
elections, and a prodigious campaign donor, Mas played a decisive role in persuading
Clinton to change his mind and follow a course of sanctions and isolation against Castro's
Cuba. It seems that this Cuba is Castro's; it's not the Cuba with 11 million compatriots.
AJorge controlled everything, Posada said -
Jorge is the first name of this man, Mas Canosa. If they know him a little better they
call him Jorgito. (LAUGHTER)
Over the years, Posada estimated, Mas sent him
more than $200,000...the money arrived with the message, This is for the church. That's a
password; don't think that it was to help any church; it was purely for acts of terrorism.
It was Cuban exiles like Posada who were
recruited by the CIA for the subsequent attempts on Castro's life.
Jailed for one of the most infamous anti-Cuban
attacks, the 1976 bombing of a civilian Cubana airliner, he eventually escaped from a
Venezuelan prison to join the centerpiece of the Reagan White House's anti-Communist
crusade in the Western Hemisphere: Lt. Col. Oliver North's clandestine effort to supply
arms to Nicaraguan contras....
Some of what he said about his past can be
verified through recently declassified government documents, as well as interviews with
former foundation members and U.S. officials. The guy had the urge to talk, a real
chatterbox. I want you to know that we know about many, many things he talked about and
even more that he didn't talk about.
This is very important: he stated Athat U.S.
law enforcement authorities maintained an attitude of benign neglect toward him for most
of his career, allowing him to remain free and active....
The exiles' foundation, created in 1981, has
sought to portray itself as the responsible voice of the Cuban exile community, dedicated
to weakening the Castro regime through politics rather than force. Thanks to that approach
and millions in campaign donations, the foundation became one of Washington's most
effective lobbying organizations and a principal architect of American policy toward Cuba.
Any evidence that the foundation or its
leaders were dispensing money to Republicans and Democrats while underwriting bombings
could weaken the group's claim to legitimacy. That kind of activity could also violate the
Logan Act, which makes illegal any conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure persons or
damage property in a foreign country. It's the law.
Posada's remarks hinted that the foundation's
public advocacy of purely nonviolent opposition to Castro was a carefully crafted fiction.
Asked if he functioned as the military wing to the foundation's political wing, much as
the Irish Republican Army does to Sinn Fein, he replied, It looks like that, and laughed.
I imagine that the Irish Republican Army and Sinn Fein must be deeply offended by this
This guy cynically responded in that way when
they asked him if he is the military wing of that mafia called the Cuban-American National
In the interviews and in his autobiography,
The Roads of the Warrior Posada said he had received financial support from Mas and
Feliciano Foyo, treasurer of the group, as well as Alberto Hernández, who succeeded Mas
When the bombs began exploding last year at
Cuban hotels, the Government there, says the newspaper, Aasserted that the attacks had
been organized and paid for by exiles operating out of Miami, a claim bolstered with the
videotape of an operative confessing to carrying out some of the bombings....
However, he [Posada] told The New York
Times that American authorities ad made no effort to question him about the case. He
attributed that lack of action in part to his longstanding relationship with American law
enforcement and intelligence agencies.
As you can see,he said, the FBI and the CIA
don't bother me, and I am neutral with them. Whenever I can help them, I do.
...Initially he spoke of enduring ties with
United States intelligence agencies and of close friendship with at least two current FBI
officials, including, he said, an important official in the Washington office....
G. Robert Blakey, chief counsel to the 1978
House Select Committee on Assassinations, said he had reviewed many of the FBI's
classified files about anti-Castro Cubans from 1978 and had noted many instances in which
the bureau turned a blind eye to possible violations of the law. As he put it, When I read
some of those things, and I'm an old Federal prosecutor, I thought, Why isn't someone
being indicted for this? That's what a counsel to the committee says, because there have
been committees that have investigated, that have had access to certain documents.
Posada proudly admitted authorship of the
hotel bomb attacks last year.... The bombs were also intended, Posada said, to sow doubts
abroad about the stability of the regime, to make Cuba think he had operatives in the
military and to encourage internal opposition....
With a rueful chuckle, Posada described the
Italian tourist's death as a freak accident, but he declared that he had a clear
conscience, saying I sleep like a baby. It's sad that someone is dead, but we can't stop,
he added. That Italian was sitting in the wrong place at the wrong time. Look how cynical
The hotel bombings were organized from El
Salvador and Guatemala, osada said....
Posada said that Mas was also very much aware
that he was behind the hotel bombing campaign last year. But the two men had a
longstanding agreement, he said, never to discuss the details of many operations that
Posada was involved in. It was like that: AThis is for the church.
Asked about the last time he had visited the
United States, he answered with a laugh and a question of his own: Officially or
unofficially? A State Department official said Posada was reported to have visited Miami
in the summer of 1996.
The News York Times article continued:
GUATEMALA CITY - During the summer of 1997,
bomb explosions ripped through some of Havana's most fashionable hotels, restaurants and
discotheques, killing a foreign tourist and sowing confusion and nervousness throughout
Cuba. It was something shocking and inexplicable...and from one end of the island to the
other, people speculated about who might be responsible.
In his office here in the mountains of Central
America, a Cuban-American businessman named Antonio Jorge Tony Álvarez was certain he
knew the answer. For nearly a year, he had watched with growing concern as two of his
partners -- working with a mysterious gray-haired man who had a Cuban accent and multiple
passports -- acquired explosives and detonators, congratulating each other on a job well
done every time a bomb went off in Cuba.
What is more, Álvarez overheard the men talk
of assassinating Fidel Castro at a conference of Latin American heads of state to be held
in Margarita Island, Venezuela. Alarmed, he went to Guatemalan security officials. When
they did not respond, he wrote a letter that eventually found its way into the hands of
Venezuelan intelligence agents and FBI officials in the United States.
Venezuelan authorities reacted energetically
to the information, searching for explosives on the island where the meeting was to be
held. But in the United States the letter elicited what Álvarez described as a
surprisingly indifferent response.... Had the FBI met with Álvarez, agents would have
heard a remarkable tale about the anti-Castro underworld.... They would also have heard
about the possible links between the plotters in Guatemala and Cuban exiles living in
Union City, New Jersey, who Álvarez said were wiring money to the plotters. That
allegation raises questions about whether American laws were broken in the Cuban hotel
bombings, in which an Italian tourist died and three people were wounded....
But Álvarez says that the FBI showed a
studious lack of curiosity about the bombings. And Posada, who acknowledged in an
interview that he had directed the operation, said he had no indication that the FBI was
Posada expressed confidence that the FBI was
not examining his operations in Guatemala, because the first person they would want to
talk to is me, and nobody called. In addition, he said, no one from the bureau has tried
to interview his collaborators. I would know, he said.
Álvarez, in contrast, has been embittered by
his experiences as a whistle-blower and believes that Posada has long provided information
to American authorities. think they are all in cahoots, Posada and the FBI, he said. I
risked my life and my business, and they did nothing.
This is an engineer who had a business. He was
seriously concerned and decided to tell what he knew to the authorities, undoubtedly
risking his life.
At the office one day early last year,
Álvarez recalled, Posada came by and handed out a thick wad of hundred-dollar bills to
his partners. They, in turn, were going to an electronics store and buying detonators and
small calculators with timers of the type that could be used with bombs, he said.
That was suspicious enough, Álvarez said. But
his biggest surprise came when he found explosives in an office closet. In a plastic bag,
he recalled, they had 23 tubes of stuff made by the Mexican military industry, supposed to
be the latest in explosive materials in the world. I saw it....
Then in August, at the height of the bombing
campaign in Cuba, Tony Álvarez said, he intercepted a fax that Posada had sent from El
Salvador and signed Solo....
If there is no publicity, the job is not
useful, the message read. The American newspapers publish nothing that has not been
confirmed. I need all the data from the discotheque in order to try to confirm it. He was
referring to the terrorist act that had been carried out at the Cohiba Hotel's
discotheque. A If there is no publicity, there is no payment...
Álvarez said that the fax so alarmed him that
he wrote a letter about this horrendous matter and gave it to Guatemalan intelligence.
Álvarez also recalls overhearing plans for an
attack on Castro when he was scheduled to visit Guatemala in December 1996 and again at
the meeting in Margarita Island in November 1997.
They had invited me to Guatemala and, indeed,
I visited Margarita a few months ago, for the Ibero-American Summit.
Castro attended the meeting without incident
in early November, flying in with a protective convoy of three airplanes. You have to use
some disinformation once in a while, don't you? To confuse them, since generally we know
about all this information, details and plans. But before his arrival, more than 250
Venezuelan and Cuban agents combed the luxury Isla Bonita Hotel, where the gathering was
to be held, and the government expelled the Cuban exiles who had flocked to the island
ahead of Castro.
There was, however, a curious arrest shortly
before the summit meeting: Four men in a boat were stopped by the U.S. Coast Guard off
Puerto Rico. Almost immediately, the leader of the group, Ángel Alfonso Alemán, of Union
City, blurted out that he was on a mission to kill Castro, according to court testimony by
This information was public. While we were
accusing and denouncing the foundation, and they were denying it, in Puerto Rico they
captured a motorboat which belonged to nothing less than one of the top leaders - if not
the top leader - of that famous foundation, with two highly sophisticated .50-caliber
semi-automatic rifles with telescopic lenses, infrared lights, a range of 1500 to 1600
meters, which can perforate an armored car at 400 meters, which can shoot at a plane on
the ground, or during takeoff or landing. They were captured by the Coast Guard, which may
have been expecting drug smuggling or something like that. They captured the boat and the
crew and took them to the relevant Puerto Rican authorities, and immediately those guys
said what their plans were. And they had left Miami easily, with those rifles and
everything needed to use those weapons in Margarita.
U.S. law enforcement officials - and this was
public knowledge, it hasn't only been reported by The New York Times but also came
out in all the dispatches - Aquickly determined that the boat was registered to a member
of the executive board of the Cuban-American National Foundation. In addition, one of the
guns aboard was traced back to the group's president, according to court documents.
The trail also led to Union City. See how
things come together.
The articles continue with background about
Two years after the Bay of Pigs invasion ended
in ignominious failure on the beaches of Cuba, two young exiles [Jorge Mas Canosa and Luis
Posada Carriles] - I've put this in parentheses so that the readers understand, because it
refers to them, and not everyone is familiar with these characters - Astood next to each
other in the spring sun at Fort Benning, Georgia, training for the next march on Havana.
It was 1963, a time of feverish American
plotting against Fidel Castro's rule. The two men were among the exiles who had survived
the bungled operation to overthrow the Cuban leader and had enlisted in the U.S. Army,
confident that President Kennedy would soon mount another attack that would banish
communism from the hemisphere.
Actually this individual, Posada, never got to
the Bay of Pigs. He stayed back on the second wave, and I don't think the other one got
there either; that would have to be confirmed. For one reason or another, he never got to
the Bay of Pigs.
The CIA taught us everything - everything,
Posada said. They taught us explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in acts of sabotage.
I'm taking the essential parts, as I said.
Both men left the Army after it became clear
that the United States had no intention of invading Cuba again. They settled in Miami, the
epicenter of anti-Castro activity....
While Mas was making his mark in business,
Posada was building close ties to the CIA, which was using Miami as a base for operations
ORGANIZED CRIME WAS EAGER TO BANKROLL THE
It was a dizzying time of conspiracies and
plots, some harebrained, some deadly serious. The agency's station in Miami was among its
largest, and its officers industriously enticed anti-Castro Cubans to sign on with the
company. Miami's organized-crime figures, who had taken in bountiful profits under the
Batista government, were eager to bankroll the Cuban opposition, or use the Cubans for
their own ends.
In the interviews, Posada spoke only obliquely
about this period and provided even fewer details in his 1994 autobiography, The Roads
of the Warrior.
Now something else comes into play. It appears
that the reporters got into certain archives and examined documents. The newspaper says:
Now, newly declassified documents furnished
for The New York Times by the National Security Archive, a nonprofit research group
in Washington, make clear why: For much of that time, the CIA was directing Posada's
activities, involving itself even in such minutiae as whether he should buy a boat....
The documents are part of voluminous files
amassed by the 1978 House Select Committee on Assassinations as part of its investigation
into the killing of President Kennedy. Investigators examining whether anti-Castro Cubans
had any links to the 1963 assassination were permitted to read and summarize a trove of
government cablegrams and documents, all of which remain classified.
Here the article says Anewly declassified
documents, and says later that they allowed the investigators from the House Committee to
read and summarize an innumerable amount of government cablegrams and documents which are
still classified. In other words, it seems that this committee had access to documents
which have been declassified and other documents which are still classified. But this
committee made summaries of those documents, took notes.
And the article says:
According to those summaries, Posada provided
the agency and the FBI with a steady stream of valuable information about Cuban exile
activity in Miami. It was the CIA that directed Posada to establish a training camp for
guerrilla ops against Castro...
Interviewed in the late 1970s by investigators
from the House assassinations panel, Posada said he had been trained as a CIA operative in
the Florida Keys and had quickly become a principal agent. He said his anti-Castro group
had worked with the company direct and had had arms, boats and a network of safe
At the same time - this information is
interesting to reach conclusions - Posada was deepening his relationship with Mas, who is
described in one of the CIA documents as a close friend of his. In other words, the neat
and tidy director of the foundation is described as one of the famous terrorist's close
friends. The two were active in the exile group RECE, or Cuban Representation in Exile,
and later in a larger umbrella alliance called CORU, or Coordinator of United
Revolutionary Organizations, both of which undertook violent actions aimed at toppling the
A series of July 1965 cablegrams - this is
taken from the documents - Aasserts that the two men were plotting to attack Soviet and
Cuban installations abroad. One document quotes Posada as saying that Jorge Mas Canosa of
RECE had paid an assassin $5000 to cover expenses of a demolition operation in Mexico and
that Posada himself was planning to place limpet mines on a Cuban or Soviet vessel in the
harbor of Veracruz, and had 100 lbs. of C-4 explosives and detonators.
Mas, other documents report - and they know
this over there, these are documents in the possession of the U.S. government - had in his
possession 125 lbs. of Pentol to be placed as charges on the vessels and had proposed to
demolitions expert he travel to Spain, Mexico at expense of RECE and place bombs in
communist installations in those countries. Here the whole terrorist background, not of
Posada but of Mas Canosa, is clearly defined.
Posada's life took a new turn in 1967, when he
abruptly left Miami and joined Venezuelan intelligence. This marked the beginning of his
years as an operative for a succession of Latin American governments....
He got his job as chief of operations for
Venezuelan intelligence with the help of CIA recommendations and was immediately sent to
wipe out the leftist guerrilla movements that Castro was supporting in Venezuela.
I persecuted them very, very hard, he said of
the guerrillas, some of whom later abandoned armed struggle and now are important
political figures in Venezuela. Many, many people got killed, the guy says.
Posada also arranged for an old friend from
his CIA days, Orlando Bosch, to come to Venezuela to make sabotage against the Castro
government. Bosch had earlier been convicted in the United States of a bomb attack on a
Polish freighter bound for Cuba and advocated the violent overthrow of Castro....
Around that time, Posadas relationship with
the American authorities was suddenly thrown into crisis by an intelligence report that
Posada may be involved in smuggling cocaine from Colombia through Venezuela to Miami, also
in counterfeit U.S. money in Venezuela. They saw that in those papers, a CIA document.
According to the report, a copy of which is
summarized in the House investigators files, the CIA decided not to directly confront
Posada with allegation so as not to compromise ongoing investigation. It's not clear what
investigation this refers to, possibly the investigation which the committee was carrying
Posada was questioned, and found guilty only
of having the wrong kind of friends, the synopsis of another report read. Interrogators
were convinced by his denial of drug trafficking, the report concluded.
Even so, by February 1976, the agency's
officers decided to break their ties with Posada in what the documents cryptically
described as concerns about outstanding tax matters.
Over the next few months, Posada volunteered
information to the agency.... He warned that Bosch and another Cuban exile were plotting
against the nephew of Chile's deposed leftist president. In June, Posada was calling the
CIA again, concerning possible exile plans to blow up a Cubana airliner leaving Panama....
Four months later, on Oct. 6, 1976, a Cubana
jetliner with 73 people aboard was blown out of the sky shortly after it took off from the
Caribbean island of Barbados. The dead included teen-agers from Cuba's national fencing
He following day, the CIA made what its
records call unsuccessful attempts to reach Posada.
The bombing dramatically changed Posada's
fortunes. Investigators in Venezuela traced the bomb to the plane's luggage compartment
and identified the Venezuelans who checked bags through to Havana but got off the plane in
Barbados. The men had worked for Posada, who was arrested and charged with the bombing.
Also arrested was Bosch, who had long collaborate with Posada.
It was really the attitude of the people from
the Caribbean, those from Barbados and Trinidad, that made the capture of those people
possible. Alarcón knows this story very well, because he debated this subject over there
in the United Nations at that time.
A retired CIA official familiar with the case
said in a recent interview that Bosch and Posada were the primary suspects, adding, There
were no other suspects....
Posada acknowledged that he might still be in
jail in Venezuela had not his friends, led by Mas, come to his rescue. See what strange
things exist between these two characters who studied together at Fort Benning. AIn a
sworn deposition taken in a civil lawsuit, Ricardo Mas, the estranged brother of Jorge
Mas, recounted how he had traveled to Panama to obtain the cash used to pay for the
Ricardo Mas was comptroller of his brother's
company, Church & Tower, from 1972 to 1985. He said that at his brother Jorge's
instruction he deposited a check in one of the company's Panamanian accounts and returned
He said that he needed me to go down and bring
back $50,000, that it would be used to get Luis Posada Carriles out of jail, that Carriles
wanted out, that he might start talking, RicardoMas testified. The guy, I guess, was
breaking down, they has to get him out of jail....
During a changing of the guard at midnight on
Aug. 18, 1985, Posada, dressed in a black jacket with a collar turned up like a priest's,
crossed the courtyard of the prison. He carried a Bible, to strengthen the impression that
he was a priest, and a satchel containing a small survival kit of food and a lamp....
After 15 days in Caracas, Venezuela, Posada
said, he was taken to Aruba aboard a shrimp boat. From there, a private plane flew him to
Costa Rica and then on to El Salvador. You see, you can start putting the facts together.
I'm taking a long time, but not to bother all
of you, but so that all of you can have the elements necessary to make a judgment.
Posada was working for the American government
again, this time for a covert operation that had ties to the CIA and the local military
attaché, but which was run by the White House.
Have you been able to follow the train of
thought so far, or do you have any questions to ask? (LAUGHTER) If you have any questions,
later on you can get a copy of the newspaper and read it calmly; well try to get it to
you, so that you can really know our neighbors to the North, their politics, their
tactics, their procedures.
So we have talked about the airplane that
exploded over Barbados, one of the harshest blows that our country has suffered,
demonstrated in that gathering of a million people in Revolution Square; in the recordings
of the last moment when the burning plane was falling and the pilots were describing what
was happening to the control tower. Afterwards, a few of the remains were recovered among
It was so scandalous that the Venezuelan
government had no alternative but to open an investigation. As a result of bribes and
money, they almost absolved the culprits, two Venezuelans who placed the bombs and the two
masterminds who organized the whole thing. Since everything was absolutely proven, the
trial was held again and during that time Posada was rescued in the way that is explained
in the article. But Bosch stayed in that jail, and in the end the two Venezuelans were
convicted and Bosch was acquitted. Bosch had a case pending in the United States for that
sabotage of a Polish ship. They received him, they went through the charade of some
measures against him, saying that he had to be monitored, and there he is in Miami also
participating, in one way or another, in terrorist activities.
It occurred to me, in light of all this
information, to dig out the speech I gave in Revolution Square at the funeral of those
victims, among whom - the immense majority were Cubans, over 50, I think there were about
57 - was the complete Cuban fencing team, which had won all the gold medals, practically
children, with a brilliant future in sports ahead of them. There were also 11 students
from Guyana, some visiting Koreans and the rest were Cubans.
There is someone here, if you want I'll point
him out, who would have died on that plane, Comrade Carlos Lage. He was in Panama and had
to come back quickly and the decision was made to look into the possibility of his taking
that plane in Barbados. He had already asked for a seat on the flight when he was told
there were two options: via Barbados or via Mexico, saying that he would return faster via
Mexico, and so it was decided that he would take that route. You see how the Revolution
almost lost such an excellent leader as a result of that criminal adventure we have been
talking about. I didn't know anything about that. I didn't know, and the other day while I
was looking at all of this information, he says to me, AI was supposed to take that plane.
I say, Tell me about it! and now I'm telling you.
I'm not going to read the eulogy for the
victims or anything like that, but just essential passages, in order to continue the story
and come to the pertinent conclusions. What did we say? We said quite a lot. Just like
when I talked about History Will Absolve Me, in which I said many things which were
the basis of the measures we would take; what was the status of the campesinos; the
workers; the poor; the sick - whom I didn't mention today. I simply cited the essential
measures which we promised to carry out, and in Revolution Square I analyzed a series of
things which today, reading them again, I find interesting. It's been 22 years, and I only
want to deal with the things associated with the story that appeared in The New York
I said: At first, we had doubts as to whether
the CIA had directly organized the act of sabotage or had carefully worked it out through
its cover organizations made up of Cuban counterrevolutionaries. I stated then: ANow we
definitely favor the first idea....
With the passing of time - I add this - based
on the information we were compiling, because we had everything: books, biographies,
interviews, people who became friends with those people there in prison; they were
revolutionaries, they gained their confidence, and they were told them things, this
gentleman stated: AYes, I blew up the airplane, so what? So we were compiling lots of
information like this and other data as well. A significant part of the information
collected was published in book form; for that reason I am saying: the information we were
compiling and documents declassified by the United States and other means, reaffirms our
conviction that Posada Carriles never broke his links with the CIA. Even allowing his
affirmation in The New York Times that those links were temporarily broken in
February 1976, Posada himself confessed, according to that newspaper, that he had advised
the CIA in June of the plan to blow up the Cubana plane; which is what actually occurred
four months later, as I already read out to you from The New York Times report.
We said that even if it was confirmed - not
that we accept it! - that the CIA had broken its links with this gentleman, what Posada
Carriles confessed by stating that he had advised the CIA in June of the plan to blow up
the Cuban aircraft, and what actually occurred four months later, is very important. Were
the links maintained or not? Did they break their links with him or not by chance in
February of 1976, precisely in that year in which the sabotage of the Cuban aircraft
He confesses that he kept the CIA informed.
What is certain is that whichever of the two theories is taken, and even accepting that
the CIA had broken links with Posada Carriles in February, without him ceasing to supply
the agency with systematic information, including the plan to blow up the plane, the CIA
did absolutely nothing to prevent it, warn about it, or avoid it. Who is lying, the CIA or
Posada Carriles? Either the CIA was responsible because, in our opinion, the links were
never broken - afterwards I will explain why - or the CIA had broken the links, but Posada
Carriles, as is quite logical, kept it informed.
The lives of those 73 persons could have seen
What did we go on to say? AThe most disgusting
thing, in this case, is the use of mercenaries who, for the sake of money, are capable of
putting an end, within a matter of seconds, to 73 precious lives of defenseless people
with whom they had traveled in the same plane only a few minutes before.
And we added: AThose responsible for these
crimes travel everywhere with impunity; they have unlimited financial resources; they use
U.S. passports as naturalized citizens of that country or real or false papers from many
other countries; and they use the most sophisticated methods of terror and crime.
Who, if not the CIA, we said then, Aunder the
protection of the conditions of domination and impunity which the imperialists have
established in this hemisphere, could do such things?
And I continued later: AIn June, a group of
terrorist counterrevolutionary organizations all based in the United States... - made up
by and large by people who have been working for the CIA for several years and who were
trained by it - held a meeting in Costa Rica to set up, I stress this, a so-called
Commando of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU). And I stress it because, from
there, from Costa Rica, pirate attacks were made against our country; they had their bases
there, it was the site of the foundation of this famous CORU, mentioned in The New York
Times article, and for other reasons which can be told in their time.
But look how the famous CORU appears. We had
already denounced these maneuvers and these plans.
In the United States, we said then, Athese
groups publicly proclaim their crimes and announce that there will be new criminal acts.
In that speech I recounted a list of terrorist
acts carried out against Cuba since the U.S. government made its insolent threats:
-The year, 1976, April 6. Pirate boats from
Florida attacked two fishing boats, the Ferro 119 and Ferro 123, causing the death of
fisherman Bienvenido Mauriz and heavy damage to the boats.
-April 22. A bomb was placed in the Cuban
embassy in Portugal, causing the death of two comrades and serious injuries to several
others; the offices were completely destroyed.
-July 5. The Cuban mission at the UN was the
object of an attack with explosives, resulting in considerable material damage.
-July 9. A bomb exploded in Jamaica in the
cart carrying baggage for a Cubana Airlines minutes before the baggage was to be loaded.
-July 10. A bomb exploded in the offices of
British West Indies Airways in Barbados. That airline represents the interests of Cubana
Airlines in Barbados.
-July 23. Artagnán Díaz Díaz, a National
Institute of Fishing technician, was murdered when an attempt was made to kidnap the Cuban
consul in Mérida.
-August 9. Two officials of the Canadian
embassy in Argentina were kidnapped; nothing has been heard of them since.
-August 18. A bomb exploded in the offices of
Cubana Airlines in Panama, causing considerable damage.
-October 6. A Cubana Airlines plane was
destroyed in mid-flight with 73 people on board.
And I continued: As everyone can see, in a
period of two months, two extremely serious acts of sabotage against Cuban planes on
international flights that were carrying many passengers were organized, and one proved
The CIA is behind all these deeds. In nearly
every case, the terrorist organizations that are based in the United States, where they
act with impunity - especially the five that make up CORU - attributed with responsibility
for those deeds. That organization, set up in Costa Rica, took credit for all these
I said: In nearly every case, the terrorist
organizations..., especially the five that make up the CORU combination, have taken
THE U.S. GOVERNMENT HAS OFFERED NO
EXPLANATION OF SUCH DEEDS
And I also stated: Even when the U.S. Senate
investigated and recognized publicly the innumerable plans of the CIA to assassinate
leaders of the Cuban Revolution and its utter dedication to that task over a number of
years, the U.S. government has offered the Government of Cuba no explanation of such
deeds, nor has it offered the slightest apology.
We suspect that the U.S. government has not
given up such practices, we stated 22 years ago. AOn October 9, three days after the
criminal sabotage of Barbados, a message sent by the CIA to an agent in Havana was
intercepted. That message, transmitted from CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, states
verbatim, among other things: Please report as quickly as possible any information
regarding Fidel's attending first anniversary ceremony of independence of Angola on
November 11. In event of his going, try to find out complete itinerary of Fidel's visit to
other countries on same trip.
Another instruction dated earlier reads:
What is the official and individual reaction
to bomb attacks on Cuban offices abroad? They're asking their spy or supposed spy here.
What are they going to do to avoid and prevent them? Whom do they suspect as being
responsible? Will there be reprisals?
So we said:
We trust that the government of the United
States will not dare to deny the truth of these instructions from CIA headquarters and
many that have been sent repeatedly to the same person in flagrant acts of espionage. We
have the code, the figures and all the proof of the authenticity of these communications.
In this specific case, right from the start and over a period of 10 years, the supposed
agent recruited by the CIA has kept the Cuban government informed in detail of all contact
with the same, of the equipment being used and of the instructions received. The CIA
supposed that the agent had managed to place one of the latest electronic
microtransmitters, handed him for the purpose, in none other than the office of Comrade
Osmany Cienfuegos, secretary of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers.
On that occasion we were forced to burn, to
incinerate really, an important agent, given the gravity of the case and given the need to
justify our suspicions of CIA participation in those terrorist activities and in the
planning of personal attempts on my life. We burned an agent, and this can't be done every
day or all the time, but we had to say something about that. And now, it's once again
useful to recall those events.
I continued in that same speech:
Hence the certainty with which the CIA
presumed it would receive, with due anticipation, the relevant information on any overseas
trip by the prime minister of Cuba.
Those who imagine that the CIA has mended its
ways one iota as a result of the denunciations of its hair-raising deeds that have come
from the very heart of U.S. society are profoundly mistaken. At the most, its methods will
become more subtle and more perfidious.
Why did the CIA wish to know the exact
itinerary of the prime minister's possible trip to Angola and other countries on the
occasion of November 11? Why did it wish to know what measures would be taken to avoid and
prevent acts of terrorism?
Imagine, 22 years ago we were saying these
same things. In fact, what has The New York Times published now that we didn't
denounce? What's new? Yes, 22 years have gone by, and documents have been declassified,
investigations were undertaken by U.S. Congressional committees after I made that speech,
that's a fact. They contributed data, information that was in their reach; but from a long
time ago, 22 years, we had spoken of these subtle methods, or a more careful way of going
about things; we denounced it at the time. All that, really, is reflected in the
It's possible that that newspaper has more
information; but for us, they have one part of the film and we have the other.
Now then, a question:
How can it be explained that, at the
recommendation of the United States, Posada Carriles, recruited and trained by the CIA,
and who carried out numerous acts of terrorism against Cuba, could go on to become chief
of operations of the DISIP (Security Department) in Venezuela, to persecute and
assassinate Venezuelan revolutionaries?
How can it be explained that after organizing
the monstrous crime of Barbados, he could escape from prison with money sent by the
Cuban-American National Foundation, reaching El Salvador a few weeks later to join Oliver
North, that famous colonel and Reagan's aid and, from Ilopango, work on a White House
operation to supply the Nicaraguan counterrevolution with arms coming from what later
constituted the sensational worldwide scandal known as Iran-contras?
After this, how can it be explained that the
CIA broke off its links with Posada Carriles in February 1976, a few months before he blew
up the Cubana aircraft in mid-air over Barbados?
How can it be explained that he subsequently
reappears organizing attempts on Castro's life for years, and up until very recently, as
well as bomb attacks on hotels in Havana? Who is going to believe that of the man who, at
the CIA's recommendation, became operations chief of the Venezuelan DISIP, at war with the
guerrilla movement; their best man, their most reliable man, whom they captured almost by
chance, when those two Venezuelan mercenaries who were working with him were unable to
escape due to measures taken by the authorities of Barbados and Trinidad? And then he
escapes from prison and, in a matter of days, is once again working on a much more
important, secret, sensitive and compromising operation directed from the White House,
under the orders of an adjutant colonel or adviser to the president of the United States.
In other words, having escaped from that
prison by means of bribes and known methods, Posada Carriles is virtually upgraded to the
category of a collaborator of the president of the United States. Were we right or were we
not right when we gave the eulogy for the victims of the sabotage in Barbados? And how
many more things have yet to be revealed, when they really declassify the documents.
How many years have gone by since Kennedy's
death? Thirty-five years approximately, and they haven't declassified those documents. Why
haven't they published all of them?
Our points of view: the planned assassinations
and terrorist acts were not suspended by the United States after the Senate Committee
findings. The Senate set up a committee, discovered, confirmed and denounced a number of
attempts against my person, which were made widely public; no more than a part of the
planned attacks, those they were able to investigate and prove. Of course, when Cuba
denounced them, that had no importance; when a Senate committee denounces them that is
considered as an evident truth, admitted, etc.; but time has always proved us right.
How could they carry out those operations
without the complicity, tolerance and backing of the U.S. authorities? Everything Posada
Carriles did, organizing attempts on my life until very recently, and he's still at it;
I'll limit myself to only saying that. How could he organize all those assassination
attempts and terrorist acts without the complicity, tolerance and the backing of the U.S.
authorities? If you like, I could even limit the affirmation a little more and, instead of
the Athe, say AU.S. authorities.
Of course, based on all these facts which I
have set out for you, in our view the United States was guilty of the sabotage of the
Cuban airline over Barbados, which cost the lives of 73 persons. The United States is
guilty of the bombs that exploded in the capital's hotels in order to sabotage tourism, to
damage our economy. It would seem they weren't satisfied with the cruel and despicable
blockade which it is applying against our country. The United States is guilty of the
numerous attempts on my life, in this case, or against any other leader of the Revolution,
carried out by these gentlemen, this mafia, these mercenary gangsters, actively or by
omission in the pay of the Cuban-American National Foundation. And, evidently, in terms of
all the facts that we have, it is actively guilty of many of those crimes and terrorist
acts committed against our country.
But I want to be frank, I want to be clear, I
don't want to make unjust imputations. We do not blame these deeds on the current U.S.
administration; we sincerely do not believe Mr. Clinton capable of ordering attempts on
the lives of political leaders and terrorist acts against another country. This can't be
reconciled, really, with the idea, with the concept, with the reports, with what can be
perceived about him and, over the years, we have learned to understand the leaders of that
country. Really, if I believed it, I would say it here, without any problem. I don't
What do I think? I know Mr. Clinton's virtues
and I know his defects; I have followed him closely, as is our duty, via the news,
dispatches, actions etc. I must say that Clinton has been miserably deceived, they
presented him with a supposedly peaceful and beatific foundation; a terrorist foundation,
a terrorist institution, headed by an individual who for years directly practiced
terrorism and continued to doing it over the years through that foundation.
That terrorist organization met - as the same
article we were referring to here states - with Reagan, with Bush and with Clinton; that
foundation supported the political campaigns of a number of representatives and of some
senators, with whom it came to constitute the lobby via which it influences U.S. policy. A
foundation that has exercised fascist terror among the Miami Cubans; yes, because those
living in Miami are far from being 100% counterrevolutionaries, nor do they support that
foundation, but it has kept them under a rule of terror. That foundation owns all the
radio and television stations and all the positions in the city hall, where they have
embezzled funds - another publicly known scandal - and they have a lot of influence: if
they don't want somebody to find a job, he or she doesn't get a job.
Visitors from the Cuban community in Miami
have visited here, they have met in Havana, and look what measures have been taken against
some of them, against professionals, against persons in favor of normalizing relations,
who have opposed the blockade: arriving in groups to harass them in their homes, forcing
them to give up their jobs, forcing them to give up the clubs, even where they exercise,
in a recreational club; they come in a gang and take a car with the family inside and
harass them; slandering people, using psychological methods, physical terror and
psychological terror in the heart of the community of Cuban origin in the United States.
Yes, in the beginning, it was mainly thieves,
henchmen who were the first to arrive there, Batista's gang and, afterwards, came the
landowners, landlords, many of whom were affected by the revolutionary legislation; but
later an evidently economic emigration occurred, a phenomenon repeated throughout the
hemisphere. There are who knows how many millions of Mexicans, I believe there are more
than 20 million descendants of Mexicans and over 10 million, or 15 million Mexicans born
in Mexico; nowadays, those people aren't called exiles, they are called emigrants. There
are over one million Dominicans, some of whom have crossed through the Mona Passage toward
Puerto Rico and have gone to the United States; these aren't Dominican exiles, they're
Dominican emigrants. And that's the case with everybody. If they come from Cuba and have
moved for family or economic reasons, they're not emigrants, they're exiles.
Given the abysmal difference and the unjust
difference established by the world economic order, from colonialism to date, and which is
becoming steadily more established between the rich countries and the countries of the
Third World, the pressure on those citizens of the Third World to enter the industrialized
countries is tremendous.
Imagine that the United States had done with
Mexico or with the rest of Latin America what it did with Cuba; that everyone who arrived
there automatically received the right of residence, whether they were lumpen elements,
delinquents, prison escapees who had committed crimes, whatever. None of those individuals
were ever expelled from there, they had a right. The only country in the world whose
citizens could arrive in the United States and do that! Automatic right of residence. Of
course, they also had to make some statements against socialism which taught them how to
read and write, and which even gave job training and taught them many things. That was the
letter of credit to obtain a position, a job or something like that.
If the United States had done that with Latin
America, now, almost 40 years after the triumph of the Revolution, over half the citizens
of that country would be Latin American and they wouldn't be exiles, they'd be immigrants.
Of course, while they are proclaiming the free
movement of merchandise and capital, they are constantly tightening the knot to restrict
the free movement of workers and persons.
They want the Free Trade Area of the Americas,
the suspension of customs barriers, the free movement of merchandise and capital; what
they don't want in any way is to apply the same principle to workers and human beings.
To avoid that they are building a
3000-kilometer-long wall, one hundred times larger than the Berlin wall, with the most
sophisticated electronic mechanisms and exceptional measures. They are forcing immigrants
to take to the rivers, where they drown; cross deserts where they die; suffer accidents on
highways and thruways, where cars travel at extremely high speeds, trying to escape among
the lines of traffic; and every month brings news of the number of Latin American
immigrants who die trying to cross the borders. In one year, probably more perish - one
would have to make exact calculations - than all those who died during the Berlin Wall's
existence; every year!, and every year more perish, losing their lives in one way or
another, due to economic pressure.
And why do some people try to leave, in spite
of the existence of a migratory agreement between Cuba and the United States? Ah! because
the agreement states that those intercepted at sea are returned; but those who slip in and
step on U.S. soil - ah!, that's a different law, and they are at war there with the coast
guards given that that principle still exists. If an individual leaves, he can try to
cross as many times as he likes, because they established those privileges against the
Revolution, even though now they're getting scared, full of xenophobia, both in the United
States and in Europe, for fear of the migratory pressure of Third World peoples.
Imagine if Chinese citizens had been afforded
the same prerogatives as Cuban citizens.
Taking into account the differences in income
levels, living standards historically created as a result of colonialism, neocolonialism
and imperialist exploitation, millions and tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions
of people wish to move toward the industrialized countries. Europe's the same.
That has given rise to a growing xenophobia,
to a growing fascist, racist spirit. It is the fear of immigrants from the South. The more
the population multiplies in the less developed countries, the more that tendency grows.
That's the reason why they are building that
famous wall which will go down in history, because the Mexicans and Latin Americans will
continue to invent ways of crossing over; but they're not political migrations, they're
There are many Cubans who really left for
economic reasons; some of them captivated by the consumer societies. As we have explained,
that type of society, that squandering is simply untenable, and the Third World countries
are encountering greater resistance to entering those developed countries.
But there in Miami, these groups, the
terrorist and fascist mafia has imposed itself by force; and that mafia led Clinton to
approve the Torricelli Act, the first one. He hadn't elected him president and he was
already being involved in supporting the Torricelli Act; he signed it, the foundation
defended it. The article says that it played a decisive role in persuading the president
to follow that line.
The provocations that gave rise to the
incident of the light aircraft were organized from there, from Miami, despite the fact
that we had repeatedly complained and had warned to no avail about those provocations,
noting that they were going to give rise to an incident.
The foundation, which by the way has very
close relations with the opposition in the current administration - it maintains very good
relations and many links with the Republican ultra-right wing - but also has relations
with the Democrats, because it has given campaign funds in Congress to members of one
party or the other, playing with the idea of controlling the majority of the votes of the
Cuban-origin community there in Miami and, since Florida is an important state in the
presidential elections, all those factors have been playing their role there, in favor of
the politics of the mafia; but the real fact is that it has deceived Clinton.
The foundation financed and continued to
finance over many years terrorist acts against Cuba, the assassination attempts and bombs
against our country.
It's a fact that Mr. Mas Canosa was a
terrorist long before that foundation was established. It's a fact that Reagan promoted
its creation. Le's see how they're going to prove that the imputations are false.
The laws of the United States - as was stated
here - punish those activities, and the heads of a terrorist organization which finances
personal attacks, finances terrorist acts and pays mercenaries to place bombs in our
country have slipped into the White House, there with Clinton.
Let's see how they can deny it. Let's see how
they can deny that the boat which was going to be used for the attack during the summit in
the island of Margarita - captured by pure chance, having sailed from Miami to Puerto Rico
- belongs to the foundation, and that the weapons belong to the foundation. Let's see how
they handle that problem.
The foundation people have threatened to sue The
New York Times; they won't do so, it's almost certain they won't do so, because the
more they go about suing the newspaper, the more they'll get involved. What they have done
is to question the newspapers credibility. A self respecting newspaper is not going to
allow itself to be discredited; an experienced newspaper doesn't make imputations of that
gravity if it can't prove them. So let's see if the foundation really files charges
against the information in The New York Times and what happens, because it might
have more or less precise data but, in essence, the foundation cannot deny any of the
imputations made against it. Some concepts still have to be clarified, some minor
The attitude adopted by Cuba was not to get
involved, nor even to express opinions while the debate was taking place in the United
States; simply to report the news and inform the people.
We have a lot of information, we possess a
large quantity of facts, and The New York Times account could turn out to be just
the tip of the iceberg; but it signifies an embarrassing position for the U.S. government
itself, because these people were the promoters of and the driving force behind the
Torricelli Act and the Helms-Burton Act, with which this administration has intensified
the blockade against Cuba.
We have known the personalities of some of the
leaders in that country. Historically, we knew a Roosevelt, who doubtless was a great
statesman who defended the interests of his capitalist society and defended the empire's
interests. In that epoch there was another very powerful empire, which was the British
empire, which dominated India, dominated a major part of the world and obstructed U.S.
trade. Roosevelt was distressed about that, there's no doubt he was a brilliant statesman.
One can't imagine Franklin Delano Roosevelt preparing terrorist acts, assassinations
attempts and things of that sort.
Another president, Jimmy Carter, precisely the
man who established the Interests Section in Cuba and of whom it could be seen that he had
ethics. He was a defender of the capitalist system, imperialism and all that, but one
could perceive in him a man incapable of ordering an assassination, an attack, acts of
terrorism and similar things.
In the same way - I take the responsibility
and I don't think history will prove me wrong - I think I know from afar the psychology of
the current president, his concerns, his virtues and his defects, and I don't consider him
as being in the unscrupulous category of a statesman who orders things of this type; but
yes, he has unquestionably been deceived, and what I can say is that his prime
responsibility was not having paid attention to the numerous warnings and claims made by
Cuba in relation to these activities; because those things have their history, they are
things we have been following for a while back, while defending the country against such
plans; improving, really, vigilance, security and measures so that they couldn't be
I WILL FULFILL MY DUTY AS LONG AS I LIVE
AND I WILL GLADLY FACE WHATEVER RISKS THERE ARE
All these gangster groups believe they have
the right to organize a hunt against me every time I go on a trip. I am more hunted
whenever I travel to fulfill some international engagement than any animal in Africa's
large prairi's. And I=m not going to stop traveling for this reason! Not for this will I
stop fulfilling the engagements which I have to attend to. And let it be known! (APPLAUSE)
I remember when I visited Allende in Chile
that I was followed by supposed journalists with Venezuelan passports throughout the
country. They had Venezuelan TV cameras with automatic guns inside the camera screen and
they were only a few feet in front of me in some press interview. But what happened to
them? They weren't fanatics. They didn't dare shoot because they knew they would die as
well and mercenaries want to live to have their money. The Revolution's enemies have
always been mercenaries who want to live to enjoy their reward which they receive in
exchange for killing.
They have tried to destroy the economy and
wherever one goes, they are always prepared with their plan, immediately organizing it
whether it be in Cartagena or Margarita, or at the summit in Portugal; plans for all
circumstances. However, it won't stop me. I will fulfill my duty as long as I live and I
will gladly face whatever risks there are.
I have spent all my life taking risks - I know
it is very important to be morally strong (APPLAUSE) - and started doing so long before
the March 10 coup d'état, struggling against and denouncing gangs. Like the tamer in the
circus, I have used the whip. That's how you have to treat those enemies, denouncing them
again and again.
I can't forget the time when the prison warden
threatened to kill me. He was enraged - he looked like a basilisk - by an article which I
wrote from prison for Bohemia magazine renouncing conditional amnesty; they
wanted to make it conditional. This was during one of those periods when for
electoral policy reasons there was no censorship. The article even caused problems for him
with Batista. He became irate and it wasn't often that I saw someone so angry. He said
frenziedly that he would kill me if I wrote another article like that. And when I returned
to my cell, the first thing I did was to write an article denouncing him, his anger and
his threats. I send it off to Bohemia, it arrived at the magazine's office but they
didn't dare publish it.
I haven't been able to find it. I have tried
to locate my article, written there at dawn using one of our special methods, a kind of
invisible ink which we used to make with lemon juice. Sometimes I would write on very fine
paper and put it inside a match box. I don't remember exactly now but I would send the
complete article, quickly and punctually for Bohemia. I denounced that Agentleman
who threatened me with death at dawn. I wanted to see if it was true that he was going to
kill me or if it was just another of his outbursts. I was curious. And it's not a matter
of courage or considering oneself braver than the others. I believe that the most
important thing about people is their dignity, the courage which accompanies dignity.
Because there's no courage without dignity, there is no courage without honor and there's
no honor without principles. Those of us who defend honor, dignity, principles and a just
cause will always have sufficient moral strength to go wherever it is necessary and we'll
never lack the necessary spirit to do that. All the rest is really nonsense and absurd.
In a few days time I will travel to Jamaica to
visit my Jamaican brothers and sisters who have invited us (APPLAUSE) and insisted that we
go to Jamaica. I will arrive on July 29 so that all of you terrorists out there can be
The August 1 I'll be in Barbados where the
brave government of this noble country will unveil a monument to the victims of that
hideous crime of October 6, 1976 (APPLAUSE) and I will have the pleasure to participate in
Two days later I will travel to Grenada. Its
brave government, whose prime minister visited us not long ago, has decided to unveil a
plaque in honor of the Cuban builders who constructed that airport and showed great work
spirit and solidarity. (APPLAUSE)
The modern history of this world is being
written in this way.
These countries were the last to achieve their
independence after the Cuban Revolution and they conduct themselves with great dignity,
with a great sense of honor and are truly Cuba's close friends. They supported us on the
issue of our membership of the Lomé Convention and even suggested our participation and
that together with them, we fight for our common interests. And the 71 Third World
countries which make up the Lomé Convention gave Cuba their unanimous support because
Cuba defends their causes and interests. In all the forums, everywhere, in the World
Health Organization, in the World Trade Organization, in the United Nations, Cuba pursues
a principled policy and on account of this it is supported, admired and respected by these
In a few days time we'll have to travel, we
have no other choice. Don't think my daily tasks here displease me. No, travel is a duty
for me and when I carry out a duty, I do it with pleasure; when I defend ideas and
principles, I feel satisfied. (SHOUTS OF ALONG LIVE THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF)
I will have to go to the summit in Portugal
and to the Non-Aligned Movement's summit in South Africa, which I already had the pleasure
of visiting when Mandela was inaugurated as president. (APPLAUSE) And I have been invited
to the Dominican Republic August 19 and 20. So here's all the news you want. But I have
some more news, because we know some things. But I will keep them to myself.
Let's see what the tactics are, how we will
disarm those people and make their lives difficult as well as their obsessive,
money-oriented mercenary plans. Some of those people are very vainglorious because they ve
come out in the papers, they re vain, self-sufficient and primitive. They are portrayed as
heroes by some U.S. press media - even The New York Times, to a certain extent, is
guilty of this - exalting individuals prepared to commit crimes, using phrases and words
to swell them up, such as Atheir war against Castro. It's not the U.S. agents war
against a revolution neither is it a war against a just cause nor against a people. It's a
terrorist's personal war against Castro, as they themselves sometimes define it. And to a
certain extent this type of language encourages them. The media don't know the psychology
of those individuals and this is damaging because it makes them conceited and posing as
heroes they decide to talk their heads off.
I wonder why this individual decided to tell
his story to The New York Times, say all the things he said. A few hours afterwards
they were denying it, everybody started to mobilize. A plane from the foundation took off
immediately because, well, the FBI and the CIA can't find him, but the journalists can
find him. They know his whereabouts. The article says that he's in Guatemala. And well,
the others know because when the article appeared, the earth shook in Miami.
What is everyone in Miami saying? That this is
true from beginning to end, that's what they're saying. The foundation ran out in a rush,
looked for a hack and TV cameras and sent them at top speed - they knew where to find him
- so that he could deny the story he had told the two New York Times journalists.
As a matter of fact he said no, that he had never said anything of the kind. But the
journalists had all his conversations taped and they have all the necessary material and
documents to prove it.
One can see from the article that they
researched it in archives, in all those places. And the foundation members are
defenseless. They started to panic. Some of them in Miami realized immediately that the
plane which had transported the journalist belonged to the foundation. It brought and
returned him instantly and they put the material on television and even accused the
newspaper of countless things, that the newspaper was pro-Castro and things of this
nature. They were really upset and furious. But they're powerless, they're really
powerless and we didn't even say a word. We have some interesting things but we said: This
is their conflict and their debate; we will not interfere. We have our own stockpile of
information and very interesting things.
This gentleman says, among other things, that
he has a group of mercenaries at hand who are walking free. He says that there are two or
three who came to carry out the plans and haven't returned. Yes. Why do certain phrases
and emphasis on certain things flatter and encourage them? Some articles which appeared in
the Miami New Herald newspaper, although critical of certain things, were
relatively apologetic. Three days later, the individual was sending another subject here
with the intentions of doing what others had done; but one learns quickly with experience
although it isn't so easy for them anymore. And furthermore, more than one has fallen into
the trap. But if there are two or three and nothing has been published about this, they
say Ahow strange! No, nothing is strange. We have them here as witnesses. Where they came
from, how they left, how they brought the means, do you understand? Who gave them the
means and how much were they paid to plant the bombs here. There's nothing strange about
it. The relevant legal procedures are being followed; but in this struggle we know the
tactics we should use.
I'll only say that we have proof and nothing
else, and that they shouldn't be surprised because they're not dealing with imbeciles.
This Revolution knows what it has to do and knows how to investigate what it has to
investigate without ever resorting to physical violence. It has never used violence
against anyone or any of these mercenaries who immediately confess to everything once they
are discovered. They are presented with two or three proofs, they quickly become
demoralized and start to tell all and cooperate. No one has laid a finger on them nor will
they. We even give them the guarantee that no one will harm them here. Afterwards comes
the problem of the trials and sanctions because the laws severely punish these acts.
But it=s truly regrettable that they go to
Central America, full of poverty and misery, to hire mercenaries to carry out terrorist
acts. They themselves don=t come here, they take sufficient care not to come themselves.
Mercenaries can be hired for 5000 dollars and even some for as low as 1500 dollars. See
for yourselves: tickets, expenses and 1500 dollars per bomb, to what extent they exploit
Now then, journalists know where the
terrorists are. Those who don=t have this information are the U.S. authorities. The
terrorists have gone, have returned, they=re free to do whatever they please and all this
can=t be done without someone knowing. Let=s hope that the U.S. authorities adopt the
necessary measures to put an end to these groups= activities which are potentially
There=s an example and it=s the question of
flights, the hijacking of planes. This was used by the enemy against the Cuban Revolution
to steal planes. Nevertheless, it sowed the seed, the virus which spread like wildfire and
which only Cuba could eradicate when, after previously warning them, it returned to the
United States some of those who were hijacking planes. We did it on our own, out of a
sense of responsibility. There were days when three hijacked planes used to arrive at the
airport. It was Cuba which put an end to this invention of theirs.
The United States has a lot of terrorist
groups; it has 800 extremist groups, fanatics, racists, of which 400 are armed. Only
recently I read that the FBI had captured three citizens who were part of the movement to
separate Texas from the United States. They had written a letter threatening to use
chemical and biological arms. It was reported that they were transporting anthrax, a
dangerous disease, in a van in addition to products containing the AIDS virus which they
were going to deploy using small contaminated darts. They even threatened the U.S.
attorney general and that President Clinton himself could be attacked with these
There are crazy people all over the world and
I believe that the United States has more than its fair share of fanatics, extremists and
racists similar to those who planted the bomb in Oklahoma killing 150 people in the
process or those who wanted to use nerve gas and explosives in New York=s subway.
The U.S. authorities have a big problem,
namely how to avoid the spread of these terrorist methods and activities to its own
extremist groups. The terrorist extremist elements, who in their time were trained by the
CIA and who are paid by the Cuban-American Foundation in their activities against Cuba,
have developed certain relatively sophisticated procedures to perpetrate their criminal
acts. Even we are opposed to the dissemination of these techniques because once some crazy
elements over there know about them, they could become a great problem for the United
States themselves and other countries.
The authorities in that country know very well
that nowadays the methods used are really dangerous, difficult to discover and that even
chemical and biological procedures could be used. They fear that in the future attacks or
sabotage of a nuclear nature could be perpetrated because with the problems in some
countries, nobody knows what control really exists and if it will exist in the future in
relation to the materials needed to construct a nuclear device.
I don't want to say much but I think that many
people in the world are certain that money can buy sufficient amounts of nuclear material
to make rudimentary devices which require no more than two or three kilograms of enriched
uranium or other similar material. Scientific literature has shown how it can be done. In
the United States, there are responsible people who are worried that one day extremist
groups will decide to carry out chemical, biological and even nuclear attacks. It's a
In that country, I repeat, there are 800
groups of this kind - they ve published it - about 400 of these groups have the right,
according to existing laws, to bear ar's. It's one of the agonizing problems of the
current U.S. president: how to limit and control the possession of arms. There are
powerful organizations who are opposed to such measures. On the other hand, films and TV
series are saturated with violence encourage even children to carry arms to school and
kill other children. These are serious problems.
I objectively feel that this type of activity
denounced by The New York Times neither interests nor suits the United States. The
same goes for the perpetrators justification which we are denouncing this night because
they constitute a considerable potential danger for any country and in particular for U.S.
I believe that they have a special interest in
combating terrorism. And I'll say right here, publicly, that we are prepared to cooperate.
They, out of arrogance, have on various
occasions rejected cooperating with Cuba in the fight against drugs, despite the fact that
no country in this hemisphere has fought so consistently against the traffic and use of
drugs than Cuba. And not because the drug traffickers are trying to set up a drug market
here but rather given our country's geographical position, planes or boats have landed or
docked on our territory for technical problems or navigation errors. Or because they were
launching the drug near our coasts or because as has unfortunately occurred, some crazy
people had the idea of getting involved in drugs, believing that it could be something
The worst thing is that some of those who got
involved in this crazy racket stupidly believed that they were going to help the country.
It goes without saying that when they came into contact with certain amounts of money,
corruption and the administration of easy money began. This outbreak was stopped in its
tracks. The disloyalty and indiscipline committed against the Revolution were punished in
an exemplary manner. What can't be denied is that no other country has combated this
problem with more energy and success. Now we are watching with the greatest vigilance what
the opening of our borders to tourism, to commercial trade and foreign investment will
U.S. governments have never wanted to
cooperate with Cuba in this field. Cuba, however, has been prepared to cooperate in the
fight against drug trafficking with every country. We have agreements with Mexico and
other countries in the Americas. We have agreements as well with European countries but
there exists no such agreement with the United States. They don't want one for reasons of
arrogance and pride.
We are also prepared to cooperate with the
United States in the fight against terrorism and we believe their risks are greater than
ours. They aren't as prepared as we are to confront this problem because they have
millions of obstacles, complications and chaotic situations in their own country.
(MUSIC IS HEARD AND HE LOOKS AT HIS WATCH)
It's midnight (APPLAUSE), I just have a bit more to go. Is it a sign that the carnival
celebrations have already started? (LAUGHTER)
Returning to the theme, I was saying that we
are better prepared to face up to these problems. That country is very large and, as I
said, as a general rule it is violent; a violence that is often promoted and inspired by
the mass media, the cinema, television, children's games and other means.
That country needs internal peace and it
really needs more than anyone to control and prevent the risks which lie ahead.
Our cooperation would be useful and we don't
have any objection. But if they don't want to, we will continue fighting alone for as long
as is necessary because we have the conviction that we're more capable than they are to
confront terrorism; we are less vulnerable and we have the overwhelming support of our
people, of our mass organizations and of all our compatriots. (APPLAUSE) We are also
educated, cultured and organized. Moreover, we have a greater experience and spirit of
cooperation and joint work. Nevertheless, I wish to make clear our willingness to
In fact, I have expressed here my idea, my
opinion with regard to these issues and the current U.S. president's attitude. I don't
have to warn him so that they don't say afterwards that ACastro warns U.S. President. I
simply say that I perceive a man who is concerned about many of his country's problems, a
man with a sense of responsibility and concerns about the future. He even speaks of a
personal historical legacy. It's not that I agree for I feel that no one has the right to
think of personal historical legacies. As Martí once said, all the world's glory fits
into a grain of corn. But taking into account his concerns, it is to be assumed that he
understands and perceives realities and truths, that he meditates on and analyses
information given to him about Cuba, that he's aware of the responsibility which his
country has for the injustices committed against our nation during the course of history.
And that he deigns to take into account the words we have pronounced today in the name of
a small, but yet courageous, heroic and unyielding people.
OUR WISH TODAY, 45 YEARS LATER, IS THAT OUR
PEOPLE STUDY AND GET AN EDUCATION
I'll only say one thing to the new
generations: 45 years have passed since the assault on the Moncada. Our country has been
struggling for its independence and its rights for more than a century. Maceo, Gómez and
other fighters struggled from 1868 until 1898. They suffered the humiliation of not being
able to hoist their flag in this heroic city, of not even being able to enter it after 30
years of a self-sacrificing, admirable and heroic struggle. But the day came when those
flags were hoisted and their ideas triumphed, ideas which were ever-changing and which
never stopped evolving into something better. Every new idea can be a step towards the
pinnacle of human progress.
We borrowed ideas from philosophers, thinkers
and revolutionaries. Our people has contributed new ideas and will continue to do so.
We're living in an interesting and exceptional
world, of which we have talked on other occasions. A world in the throes of globalization
which brings with it tremendous problems and enormous challenges. Our main interest is
that our people have the knowledge, the culture and, above all, the political and
scientific awareness to prepare itself for this world which is enveloping us at a very
Our wish today, 45 years afterwards, is that
our people study and get an education. We have to look further afield, work out new ideas,
set new targets, new principles stemming from the same feelings, eternal love for human
dignity and justice which brought us here amidst so many obstacles, struggling against the
most powerful empire in world history which has placed enormous obstacles in our path over
which we have triumphed.
We will continue fighting for we have reason
enough to feel confident.
In January of next year, we are going to have
in Cuba a very important meeting of economists with a public debate of all ideas ranging
from capitalism to neoliberalism. The central theme will be globalization and
neoliberalism. I believe that it's going to be a very serious debate. We're going to have
the opportunity to touch on the most important matters of the present and the future.
We have many contacts with many leaders and
personalities from abroad and I can assure you that we're witnessing a growing concern and
interest in all these problems whose detailed analysis will help us prepare for this new
world which is emerging.
We remind the new generation that our Cuban
patriots fought selflessly and heroically for 30 years and yet for 60 years afterwards,
our freedom was snatched away to be given to the transnationals, the privileged, the
oligarchs, the corrupt and the rich.
Although some people have become rich for
reasons which you already know, today we have a country which hasn't been handed over to
nor will it ever be handed over to the wealthy, the oligarchs, the bourgeoisie, plunderers
or the corrupt. We're aware of the vices which affect us, of the factors which influence
us, of the many things we have to fight against and the many things we still have to
perfect. But we won't be discouraged, we trust in our ideas and we have confidence in our
Our generation has fulfilled its duty after
having struggled without respite for 45 years, from that July 26, 1953 onwards,
maintaining a steadfast position of principles, with the same ideas that inspired us that
They say that with the passing of time, people
become conservative and it's partly true. As a rule, young people are disinterested,
altruistic and intrepid. But everything depends on ideas. We have had the strength of
ideas which we have defended and we think exactly the same today as we used to think then.
We have a little bit more experience and
knowledge. We have learned something during these 45 years and we will try to pass it on
to the next generation, the new generation who today have important responsibilities. Just
as we add 30 years from the past century and 45 from this one to arrive at a figure of 75,
we have been fighting for 130 years from 1868 until now. But before our compatriots were
fighting to win their independence and sovereignty which they never saw. We had the
privilege to see it in reality and we urge the upcoming generations to seize these ideas,
to forge their spirit in this struggle, to carry onwards that struggle.
Today there are higher ideals. Before we were
fighting for our country; today we're fighting for the world and we're doing so for two
reasons. (APPLAUSE) Firstly, we have acquired an awareness of humanity, so beautifully
expressed in Martí's phrase, AThe homeland is humanity. (APPLAUSE) Secondly, because we
have acquired these concepts through Martí's teachings and our political, revolutionary,
Marxist, Leninist, socialist education. We have pooled the essence of our thinkers' best
ideas with that of foreign thinkers, which has helped to strengthen and develop our
We're patriots but we're also
internationalists. No people has demonstrated this better than we have. No people was
capable of voluntarily sending more than half a million of its sons and daughters to carry
out difficult missions in other parts of the world. And what we have sown, nobody will be
able to destroy. A tree can fall because it has weak roots but no tree with deep roots can
ever be uprooted (APPLAUSE) and we have millions of citizens with deep roots and a people
with deep roots. Let our young educated and cultured people know how to acquire it, know
how to understand it; know how to take from history; know how to feed from the glory of
our nation, its traditions and its values just as children feed from their mothers'
Don't let yourselves be confused by anything,
don't ever let anyone deceive you. This is our hope, that our country never goes
backwards, that this Revolution never goes backwards and that all the dignity and glory
which we have acquired can never be destroyed. (APPLAUSE) This is our commitment and our
pledge to our glorious and heroic comrades who have given their lives for this cause.
Long live Santiago de Cuba! (SHOUTS OF ALONG
Long live the city which bears with dignity
the name of Hero City! (SHOUTS OF ALONG LIVE!)
Long live the cradle of the Revolution!
(SHOUTS OF ALONG LIVE!)
With pride we proclaim today and with pride we
Socialism or death!