FIDEL CASTRO ADDRESS ON 1 MAY 1960
Source: Public Relations Department of the
Ministry of Foreign Relations, Havana, pp 5-54
Distinguished visitors from Latin America and all the world who are here with us today; workers, peasants, students, militiamen of the fatherland, professional workers, juvenile patrol members, Cubans all:
On other occasions we have met in grandiose gatherings, sometimes to defend our fatherland against slander, and on other occasions to commemorate some patriotic anniversary. On still others, we have protested certain attacks, but at no prior time have the people gathered in greater numbers nor in a ceremony as significant as that today, when we are commemorating International Workers’ Day, and therefore, the day of the Cuban workers. But it is also the day of the Cuban peasants, the day of all those who produce, the day of the humble among our people, the day not only of those who work with their hands or their minds, producing goods and services for the country, but also the day of those on whose shoulders rests the defense of the country and of the revolution in this decisive hour for our fatherland.
It is also the day of the rebel soldier, of the heroic combatants in the revolutionary army, and it is also the day of all the members of the revolutionary armed forces, the day of the revolutionary militiamen, because the soldiers of the rebel army are peasants and workers, too. For this reason, today is the day of all the revolutionaries, all of the united revolutionaries, because upon them depends and will always depend the success and the strength of our revolution.
Today it has been demonstrated not only that the great majority of the people stands with the revolution, in case there were any doubts in the minds of some naive individuals who see fit to deceive themselves or to let themselves be deceived, but also something more important still: the great majority of the people are organized, because it is an organized people which have gathered today. For this reason, we are stronger this year than last, because the revolution not only has the support of the majority, but it has organized that majority. And this fact to which all of us have been witnesses today, this truly impressive and unforgettable event, is a proof of what the people of Cuba are capable of.
Only a few months ago there was not a single organized worker or peasant militia. The appeal for the organization of the militia was issued in the month of October, on 26 October, to be precise, in connection with that protest gathering against the air attack which cost our citizenry more than 40 victims. Six months ago we did not have a single workers’ militia. Six months ago the workers did not know how to handle weapons. Six months ago the workers did not know how to march. Six months ago we did not have a single company of militiamen to defend the revolution in the event of attack. And in only six months we have organized the militia, we have trained and instructed them.
Our people were not nor are they militaristic. Our people have never been and never will be a militaristic people. In our fatherland there was no military tradition. Cuba was not Prussia. Cuba is an eminently peaceful and civilian country. In Cuba we detested marching, uniforms and weapons, because for us we were always the symbols of oppression and abuse, symbols of privilege, symbols of outrate. The weapons and the uniforms had been hateful to us, and nonetheless, in six months we have organized and trained more than a thousand worker, student and peasant militia companies. In only six months we have established this formidable structure which is parading today! And this shows what the people of Cuba are capable of.
Those who underestimated our people believed that we were a people incapable of organizing ourselves. They believed that we were incapable of uniting. Those who underestimated us believed, and they now believe the same of the other brotherly peoples in Latin America, that we were impotent and easy to deceive. They believed that we would be victims of lack of unity, lack of preparation, inability to organize ourselves. They believed we would be incapable of defending ourselves, and we do not doubt that they even regarded us as a cowardly people, and therefore, incapable of defending ourselves.
What has been done, however, proves exactly the contrary. What has been done in so short a time shows the extraordinary virtues of our people and shows what our people are capable of.
What is it, then, that today each citizen who has within him feeling for his fatherland, each citizen who has had enough human sensitivity, enough moral sensitivity, and enough dignity to feel and to know what a sense of justice and a sense of love of his land and his people is wants to belong to the militia today, wants to know how to handle weapons today, and has learned to do those things which he had never done, and to be organized in a way in which we were never organized before? What is it which has led our people to establish a militia? What is it that has led the workers, the students, the peasants, the doctors, the women as well as the men, to organize a militia and learn to handle weapons? What is it that has made us into a spartan people? What is the worker doing when he finishes march at night, to march in the rain, or when he sacrifices his weekly day of rest to learn to handle weapons? How does it happen that this sacrifice is not made just once, but on many days, and constantly over a period of many months? What is the reason for this feverish effort on the part of the Cubans? It is due simply to a reality: the real fact that the fatherland is in danger, that the fatherland is threatened, that, although this certainly should not discourage anyone, we must defend ourselves. And here we are not lying or exaggerating. We have never lied to the people, and what in particular we will never do is to keep the real facts from the people.
We have had to learn many things. We have all, without exception, had to learn many things, and today, for example, as the organized units of the people go and come in inexhaustible numbers, marching for seven consecutive hours, when we have had an opportunity to see the tremendous strength of the people, when we have had an opportunity to see the incomparable, invincible strength of the people, we ask: but is this people today the same as the people of yesterday? How is it possible that a people which had within it such tremendous and extraordinary strength had to tolerate what our people had to tolerate? How is it possible, with the tremendous strength of the hundreds of thousands of Cuban peasants, and the tremendous strength of more than a million workers, and the tremendous strength of hundreds of thousands of young people, like these we see parading in the patrol and student militia ranks today? How is it possible, if we were the same men and women yesterday?
If these same compatriots who are parading here are the same as those who made up our people only a few years ago, how is it possible, then, that they had to suffer such a number of abuses? How was it possible that so many hundreds of thousands of families in our rural sector were hungry, without land, exploited, victims of the most cruel exploitation by foreign companies, the masters of our lands, where they were in total command, who perhaps never saved a single seed in our soil, and who in the majority of cases had never ever seen our land?
If we were so strong within ourselves, if there was such strength within our people, how was such abuse of our workers, such exploitation, possible? How was such abuse of our people, such plundering, such robbery, such a sacking of our people possible? If we had so much strength, how was so much crime possible? How was it possible that a handful of men, a gang of mercenaries or a band of politicians could maintain and direct the destiny of the country as they wished for half a century, while our people had to pay such a high, such a very high price, to understand which fully we would have to see gathered in a single plaza, many times larger than this one, the millions of Cubans who were not able to learn to read or write in our fatherland, the hundreds of thousands of children who died without ever seeing a doctor, the sea of suffering and agony, of hunger and misery, of abuse and humiliation which the children of this land had to suffer because they were poor, or illiterate, or Negro, or women?
Yes, within our people there was extraordinary energy and strength, but we did not know this, or we would not have failed to rally them and organize them. And for this reason, the privileged and educated minorities could do more, with the aid of foreign interests, than our people could have done with the tremendous strength which lay within them.
And this has been the great lesson of today, because never have we Cubans had an opportunity to see our own strength as we have today. Never has the Cuban people been able to make an exact assessment of its own strength as it can today. And it took this interminable river of columns marching past for seven hours to give our people a concrete idea of their own strength. And this great lesson should be an unforgettable one for us. First, the children and the young people marched past, leading the parade. Then came the soldiers of the rebel army, and then the peasant militia units. Then, with the standards of their respective peoples, came the militias of Latin America, then the student militia and finally, the workers’ militia, led by the women and followed by the men. And behind or around the militia units were the people. What a formidable lesson! It is thus that the people have learned of their strength and it is thus that the people are learning of what their strength consists.
The soldiers parading alone here today represent a force, but a single one. The peasants alone represent a force, but only one. The students alone are a force, but only one force. The workers alone are a force, but only one. The peoples of Latin America represented here today represent a force, but each one of them alone is a single force. In the past, the tactic of those who ruled our destinies was to separate and oppose our forces. They set the soldier against the peasant, the interests of the peasants against those of the workers, and the people against themselves, the peoples of America against each other. This was the international strategy of the great reactionary interests of the world. They set the brotherly peoples one against the other and the sectors of the people one against the other, in order to serve the sector of the privileged. They even set the humble sectors against each other. They made a soldier of the peasant, they made a soldier of him and then they corrupted the soldier and made him an enemy of the worker and the peasant, and they weakened the people with the tactic of setting some humble sectors against other humble sectors. They divided the people into political parties which had no message for the nation. They divided the people, the ignorant and deceived people, they divided them into sympathizers of various unscrupulous and ambitious politicians. And thus they weakened the people, thus they confused the people, and thus the state apparatus, with its rigid and reactionary institutions, destroyed every hope and every possibility of progress for our society. The tools for diffusing ideas — the films, the majority of the press, the teaching centers and the entire state administrative apparatus — were in the service of this policy of subjection and weakening of the people.
This was what happened in the past. What was a [Unreadable text] parade in the old days? Today the workers have not presented a single demand, and yet in the past it was only on 1 May that the workers could carry a whole series of placards on their shoulders. And this is what 1 May was then, an opportunity for the workers to parade, carrying placards, with some hope of achieving satisfaction for some of their demands. And thus, when all was said and done, those 1 May holidays were a joke on the workers, who had to come back again another year, carrying the same placards with the same demands. And when they obtained satisfaction, it was not that it was graciously granted, but because they won it in hand to hand struggle, through strikes and organized movements in support of economic demands. The worker knew that he had to fight, the worker had to be engaged in perennial struggle to obtain the slightest advantage of an economic nature, to win respect for his most basic rights. And for this reason he had to march on 1 May to make his demands known. What else could he do? The worker knew that what he could not do for himself, no one would do for him. The worker knew that if he did not work for himself, no one would work for him. Because you, workers and peasants, you always worked for the others! You worked for yourselves and for the others! You workers and peasants, you doctors or intellectual workers of all kinds, you worked for yourselves ad for the others, but no one ever worked for you, workers, and no one ever worked for you, peasants. You gave everything, your sweat, your generous energy, your lives, often your hours of sleep, you gave for all, but no one gave you anything! You were the majority of the people, peasants and workers and young people, you were the majority of the people! You who produced, who sacrificed, who worked, were always, are now and will be tomorrow the majority of the people!
But you did not govern. You were the majority but others governed for you and against you!
They invented a democracy for you, a strange and curious democracy in which you, the majority, counted for nothing, in which you, the peasants and workers, the producers of the major part of the wealth, and along with the intellectual workers, the producers of all the wealth, you who produced everything did not even have a chance to learn, in many cases, even how to sign your name.
They invented a strange democracy for you, a curious democracy in which you, the majority, did not even exist politically within society. They spoke to you of the rights of the citizens, but this right allowed your child to die of hunger under the indolent glance of the government, prevented your child from even learning the alphabet, allowed you yourself to seal your labor at the price they chose to pay for it, if anyone was interested in buying it from you.
They spoke to you of rights which never existed for you. Your children did not even have the right to a school. Your children did not even have the right to a doctor. Your children did not even have the right to a piece of bread. And you, yourselves, did not even have the right to work.
They invented a democracy for you in which you, the majority, counted for nothing. And this despite your tremendous strength, your sacrifice, the fact that you worked for the others within this national life. You, although you were the majority, neither governed nor counted for anything.
And they call this democracy! In a democracy, the majority governs. In a democracy, the majority counts. In a democracy, the interests of the majority are safeguarded. In a democracy, man is guaranteed not only the right to think freely, but also the right to know how to think, the right to know how to write what he thinks, the right to know how to read what is being thought or what others think. He has the right to bread, to work, to culture and to count for something in society. Democracy, therefore, is what we have, this democracy of the Cuban revolution!
In a democracy you, the peasant, receive the land we have recovered from the hands of the foreign usurers who exploited it! In a democracy, you, the sugar grower, receive 80,000 caballarias of land so that you will not have to live in a compound! In a democracy, you, the worker, are assured the right to work without being thrown into the street to suffer hunger! In a democracy, you, the poor students, have the opportunity to obtain a university degree if you are intelligent, even if you are not rich! In a democracy, you, the son of the worker, or the peasant or of any humble family have a teacher and a school in which to obtain an education! In a democracy you, the old person, have your support guaranteed when you can no longer earn your living by your own effort! In a democracy, you, the Cuban Negro, have a right to work, and no one can push you out because of a stupid prejudice! In a democracy, you, woman, have full equality with all other citizens and the right even to take up arms to defend your fatherland along with the men! A democracy exists when a government converts fortresses into schools, when it wants to build a house for each family so that each family will have a roof! Democracy exists when a doctor is sought to attend each sick person! A democracy exists when peasants are not recruited to make them soldiers, to corrupt them and to make them into enemies of the worker or their own peasant brothers, but soldiers, not to defend the privileged, but to defend the rights of their brothers, the peasants and the workers! A democracy exists when the people are not divided into humble sectors to be set one against the others! A democracy exists when the government seeks out the strength of the people and unites them! A democracy exists when the people are made strong by uniting them! A democracy exists when guns are given to the peasants, and to the workers, and to the students, and to the women, and to the Negroes, and to the poor — to each citizen who is prepared to defend a just cause! A democracy exists when not only do the rights of the majority count, but when they are given weapons as well! And this can only be done by a truly democratic government, wherein the majority governs!
And this could never be done by a pseudo-democracy. We would like to know what would happen if the Negroes in the southern part of the United States, who have so many times been lynched, were each given a gun! What could never be done by an exploiting oligarchy, what never could be done by a military camp representing those who oppress and plunder the peoples, what could never be done by a minority government is to give each worker, each student, each young person, each humble citizen, each of those who make up the majority of the people a gun.
And this does not mean that the rights of the others do not count. The rights of the others count to the same extent as those of the majority, they have the same importance as the rights of the majority, but the rights of the majority must prevail over the privileges of the minorities.
And this real democracy, this unchallengeable democracy, this sincere and honest democracy is the democracy which has existed in our country since 1 January 1959. This democracy has been expressed in this way, has been expressed directly, in the close union and identification of the government with the people, in this direct relation, in these deeds and battles for the good of the vast majority in the country and in the interests of the great majority in the country. We have exercised this direct democracy with greater purity, a thousand times greater purity, than that false democracy which makes use of every means of corruption and fraud to falsify the true will of the people.
And this democracy has prevailed today in this direct form because we are in the midst of a revolutionary process. And tomorrow it will be as the people wish, tomorrow it will be as the needs of our people and the aspirations of our people and the interests of our people demand. Today there is direct relation between the people and the government. When the revolutionary process has advanced sufficiently, and the people understand, and the revolutionary government and the people will always understand each other, that we must advance to new methods, once the main tasks and goals of the revolution, among which the defense of the revolution and the defense of the people have priority today, then the people and the government will adopt the procedures which the circumstances of a consolidated and triumphant revolution demand of you and of us.
Here no one is in public office out of ambition or for pleasure. Here we are all exclusively fulfilling our duty. Here we are all in the same position and equally ready for sacrifice. Here all of us are equally prepared for work. Here all of us have a single goal, which is to serve a cause.
Our enemies, our detractors, are calling for elections. Even a Latin American government leader stated recently that only those governments which are the product of an electoral process should be accepted into the OAS, as if a true revolution, like that in Cuba, could come to power without the people, as if a true revolution, like that in Cuba, could come to power against the will of the people, as if the only democratic way of gaining power were through the electoral process, which has so often been prostituted in order to falsify the will and the interests of the people, and to bring to power those who were often the most inapt and the most cunning, not the most competent and the most honest.
As if, after so many fraudulent elections, as if after so much false and treasonable politics, as if, after so much corruption, it were possible to make the peoples believe that the only democratic procedure for a people is the electoral method, and that on the other hand, this procedure by means of which a people, not with pencils, but with their blood and the lives of 20,000 compatriots fighting without weapons against a professional and well armed army, trained and equipped by a powerful foreign country, destroyed the chains which enslaved them, simultaneously doing away with privilege, injustice, abuse and crime in our country forever, and initiating a true democratic era of progress, freedom and justice, was undemocratic. Because if there was ever any process in which the inept revolutionary process, which has opened a pathway for virtue and merit, never cunning, ambition or bravery, because in a process of revolutionary struggle as in no other activity, no other struggle, only stronger men, truly convinced men, truly loyal men can advance.
And the revolutionary process does not mean only the stage of war. Here we have the stage of rebellion, and then came the stage of the revolution. First there was a war which was the consequence of the rebellion of our people, and now we have the revolution, the consequence of the creative spirit of our people.
It is for this reason that we have said that in Cuba a truly democratic aspiration indeed is being implemented, despite what the enemies of our revolution choose to write and assert.
And what is the main task we Cubans have before us now? What is the answer to this question? What is it that every Cuban citizen should know today? And why is this our basic task now? What are the reasons our country is threatened by aggression? What has the revolution done except for the good of its people? What has the revolution implemented except justice? What has the revolution done but defend the interests of the great majority in our country, those who make up the vast majority, those who not only have the right to count in the destiny of our fatherland because they constitute the majority, but because they are the largest part, the most suffering part of the country, as the majority has been the most exploited sector of our country? What is the crime in struggling for the people? Where does the crime lie in wanting the peasants to have land and giving land to the peasants? How else can we struggle for the people, do what the revolution has done for the people, as the presence of this multitude here today bears witness — this multitude which is flesh and bone, true men and women, men and women of the people, who came here spontaneously, who came here at their own expense, who came here from distant places, traveling all night and walking all day, standing all day under the sun, without water and without food? The presence of this gigantic multitude is the best proof that the revolution has fought for the people.
But what is wrong with the revolutionary government which has put an end to so many injustices, a revolutionary government which has established 10,000 schools, a revolutionary government which is converting the great fortresses in the country into great educational centers, a revolutionary government which has put the soldiers who made so many sacrifices in the war, which has put these same soldiers, who have turned over their barracks, to work building schools, building roads, and building school cities for the people, a revolutionary government which, far from representing a parasitic and privileged military casts, has organized an army of workers, an army of model citizens, into which go not the worst, as in the past, but the best, those who pass the true tests which a true soldier must pass, a revolutionary government which is building two university cities, and which proposes to help, aided by the efforts of the students themselves, with the building of a third university city, a revolutionary government which is building a school city for 20,000 children, which will be the first in the series of school cities in which 200,000 children of peasants, the most intelligent and best trained boys and girls, will study, a revolutionary government which has built 10,000 houses for humble families in the first year, a revolutionary government which has opened all the beaches, to which in the past only an insignificant minority could go, to the people, a government which has recovered for the country the wealth which was in foreign hands, a government which has recovered for its peasants the land which the foreign masters of our economy exploited, a government which has given jobs to more than 100,000 new citizens in a single year, a government which has created a thousand cooperatives in a single year, a government which has made all the small renters, sharecroppers and tenants who had to pay rent before into landowners, a revolutionary government which has done away with luxuries to meet the most basic needs of the humble families, a revolutionary government which does not sacrifice the interests of the poor to supply luxuries to the rich, but sacrifices these latter to serve the interests of the poor, a revolutionary government which, without economic resources, with a country ravaged by plunder, without asking anyone for a single centavo, without begging a scent from the powerful master who controlled our economy, is carrying forward a creative and productive policy and has achieved extraordinary results in only 16 months, has achieved great things in only 16 months, and has today succeeded in establishing the monetary reserves of the country at about 150 million pesos, in order to have the resources necessary for the industrialization of the country, a government of a small people which has had to carry out this gigantic task in an environment of constant harassment, constant threat, and an incessant campaign of slander throughout the entire world, as a preparation of the conditions for armed aggression against our territory, a government which has had to work in the midst of threats, in the midst of international maneuverings, a government which has had to meet so many needs in such a short time, and which in the midst of this overwhelming task has suffered the burning of its sugar can by pirate planes coming from Florida, which has been harassed and persecuted by diplomatic notes from a powerful country, a government which has always had its economic plans threatened with the suspensions of quotas and reprisals of an economic nature, a government which has to work under constant pressures from foreign officers and despite the incessant plotting of intrigues against our country, a government which in the midst of this overwhelming task has had to tolerate the most adamant and cruel campaign of slander to which any government on this continent has ever been subjected, a revolutionary government dedicated to the superhuman task of resolving so many problems, such as those we inherited as the legacy of a policy of foreign economic domination for 50 years, while in the midst of this task, one day the city of Havana is bombed, the next small planes burn millions of arrobas of sugar cane and the homes of our peasants, and on yet another day a vessel loaded with arms for our defense is blown up, taking the lives of 60 Cuban workers.
And why should a government which, apart from all the revolutionary measures adopted in the social sector, has put an end to age-old vices in our country, such as gambling, misappropriation of funds, smuggling, and all the vices from which our people had suffered for centuries, a government which is doing such just and such positive work for the benefit of the people — why should it be cursed and isolated and threatened with destruction and death? Why should a government which has done only good for its people be the object of hatred and the intrigues of the foreign office of a powerful country determined to destroy it. Why should thousands of plots be directed against it by the reactionary press and the reactionary news agencies throughout the world? Why were they not concerned with our people in the past? Why were they not concerned with our people when there were hundreds and thousands of families living in miserable huts here? Why were they not concerned with our people when everything was misery, when the rural people lived in compounds, planting yucca, malanga, and yams?
Why were they not concerned with Cuba, Cuban affairs, Cuban problems when young people began to be murdered in the streets in our country, when the police stations and the prisons were centers of torture, when the peasants were assassinated en masse, when so much injustice and abuse was committed here? Why did this merit not even a single line of print in these newspapers which attack our revolution so violently today? Why?
And today, the war criminals are being summoned to the US Senate to make statements on Cuban problems. Today, when no one is tortured in this country, when everyone knows how rebel soldiers, the rebel police and the rebel military forces comport themselves, when everyone knows that here no one is being murdered, no one is being tortured, because these men who are in command today are the same men who during the war respected the lives of their most adamant enemies and treated their wounds in battle, today when our prisons, our barracks, the few barracks the rebel army has today, and the police stations, set an example of respect for the citizenry, when it can happen that a representative of authority is attacked, but never does such a representative attack anyone or allow anyone who has been arrested to be attacked, now when this is a truth known to everyone in our fatherland, we read cables from Washington stating that a group of mothers of war criminals is going to speak before an “Inter-American Peach Commission” on “The Torture of Members of Their Families by the Revolutionary Government in Cuba.”
This people has had to bear seven years of crime and torture. This people knows the unspeakable stories of innumerable acts of terrorism, the numberless acts of cruelty committed in this Fifth Station and the other police stations, in the barracks, and with the troops in the fields by the likes of Ventura, Chaviano, Ugalde Carrillo and all those criminals. This people knows better than anyone what it suffered, what it bore and had to tolerate in impotence for seven years. It remembers the screams of pain of those being tortured and the wails of the mothers whose children were assassinated and whose families were decimated ad whose homes were burned and leveled and whose neighbors were murdered by the hordes of the tyrant. Yet never during these seven years did they have the consolation of a “inter-American commission” interested in their sad fate or in knowing of the acts of terrorism under which our fatherland was suffering!
And today, when all the world knows of our very different methods, when everyone knows that we are men of another sort, very different from those cowardly, vile men who perpetrated so many barbarous acts, today when the tortures and the criminals of yesterday are paying the penalties they merited for their innumerable crimes — now, today, an “inter-American commission” will hear the charges against the “acts of torture” committed by the revolutionary government against the war criminals!
And why? Why have they recourse to these slanderous procedures, to these cynical methods, to these shameless processes? Simply to discredit the Cuban revolution in the eyes of the world. Simply to paint us to the world as a band of criminals and torturers. Simply to discredit us, to implant doubt in the other brotherly peoples on this continent. Simply to prepare the conditions for aggression.
And now the murderers of yesterday are being welcomed by the Senate of the United States to “report” on matters in Cuba!
But still stranger things are happening, and they are things which show us the real nature of the period which lies ahead of us. When not the slightest problem, the slightest difficulty, existed, the President of Guatemala sent for his Ambassador one day, and although not the slightest incident had occurred, he broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba and stated that in the Sierra Maestra — in the Sierra Maestra, from which the soldiers parading here today came — troops were being trained to invade Guatemala. This was a charge so baseless, so absurd, that neither we nor anyone could find any logical explanation for it, were it not for the fact that we were informed that the US foreign office was preparing for an attack on Cuba through the Guatemalan government. And there have probably been fewer occasions on which a maneuver of this type has been promoted so cold bloodedly as in this instance, because neither had there been the slightest incident nor was there the slightest pretext. In fact, when the Ambassador of that country was summoned, he was working on some statements expressing thanks for the consideration which had always been shown by the revolutionary government, and suddenly, that gentleman who presides over the suffering Republic of Guatemala stated that he was breaking off relations with our country, accusing our country of training troops in the Sierra Maestra to attack his nation. This was something which, naturally, absolutely no one believes. This was a plot to make Cuba seem an aggressor nation in the eyes of the OAS, with a view to justifying an armed attack upon our country, or at least preparing the conditions for such an attack.
The enemies of our revolution know that they have not made progress in their attempt to organize a fifth column here. The enemies of the revolution know that the revolution is stronger with every passing day. They know that the revolution is daily better organized. They know that they cannot defeat the tremendous revolutionary and social forces supporting the revolution. They know these things perfectly well. They know that they cannot organize a counterrevolution here, because they know that there is nowhere, no way, no one, with whom they can even begin. So they hope to destroy the revolution through a maneuver of an international nature. What a coincidence it is that the withdrawal of the Guatemalan Ambassador from Cuba and the statements by the President of Guatemala came about in precisely the week when 10,000 Caballerias of United Fruit Company land were transferred to the National Institute for Agrarian Reform for distribution to the peasants! What a coincidence! What a coincidence that the maneuver came through that country, where no one can govern without the support of the United Fruit Company! And what a coincidence that with each just step we take to the benefit of our people, we have to be on guard against such maneuvers! And what a coincidence that, simultaneously, a series of reports were preparing to attach any vessel carrying arms to Cuba!
Thus a few weeks after the vessel carrying arms exploded, certain newspapers, which claimed to be well informed about government affairs in the United States, announced that pirate vessels opposed to the Cuban revolution were pledged to attack vessels carrying arms to our country. If we also take into account the fact that in recent months we have received cables reporting maneuvers by parachute troops and counterguerrilla landings in this Caribbean zone, when in fact we did not know that this country had any type of problem involving guerrillas anywhere in the world, if even here, despite the existence of our revolution and in the midst of this climate of threats, we have seen these reports and learned of the maneuvers of these troops and this kind of intrigue, the use of which in Cuba seems to us the only logical thing, what are we to think, if in the midst of all these threats and maneuvers they are blowing up vessels and talking of intercepting ships carrying weapons!
This means that they want to reduce us to a state of complete impotence, while the dangers and the threats grow.
This is the reality of our revolution. And why? What is it about our revolution that they wish to punish? They wish to punish the example, to destroy the example. Why do they want to hinder the Cuban revolution at all costs? Is it perhaps because we have taken something or made some threat against another country, because we want to exploit another country, because we want to decide matters which are not our concern? No. They want to destroy the Cuban revolution so that the example of the Cuban revolution will not be imitated by the brotherly peoples of Latin America.
What everyone knows is this, that they want to destroy our revolution at all costs, that they have condemned our revolution to death, simply so that the peasants of Latin America, the workers of Latin America, the students of Latin America, the intellectuals of Latin America, in a work, the peoples of Latin America will not follow the example of Cuba and undertake agrarian reform in all these countries one day, or undertake revolution in all these countries. They want to destroy our revolution simply in order to continue exploiting the other peoples of Latin America.
And thus they want all Cuban people to “pay for the damage,” to pay for the crimes they are committing against other peoples, they want the Cuban people to pay for the exploitation of other peoples. They want to destroy us, because we wanted to free ourselves economically. They want to destroy us, because we wanted to implement justice. They wanted to destroy us, because we concerned ourselves with the humble people in our land, because we cast our lot with the poor in our fatherland, because we gave land to the rural people who have none, because we gave schools to the children who had none, because we gave work to the workers who had none, because we gave homes to the families who had only huts, because we gave doctors to the sick people who had none, because we gave books and resources to the students who had none, because we gave justice. They want this, as if the people were obliged to live in misery, in backwardness and exploitation, as if the peoples were obliged to have a yoke upon their shoulders and around their necks, as if the people were eternally obliged to resign themselves to misery and backwardness, as if the people were obliged to be slaves. Because our people wanted to break the chains, our people did not want to continue living in backwardness, our people want to progress, because our men, our women, our young people, our children, our old people want justice and well-being, they have the noble aim of living from their work, living happy and in peace in this land, which is our little piece of land, because unfortunately for us, foreign hands seized our land one day, foreign hands took over our mines, foreign hands took over our natural resources and our public services, because we suffered this misfortune, because foreign hands took over our economy, our politics and our destiny, because we suffered this misfortune, and because this generation of Cubans has set itself the honorable and great task of liberating the country from these bonds, from this exploitation, for this reason alone, which is just and which is the right which cannot be denied to Cubans or any people, which is a right of our people which no one can challenge, for this reason, because we want to trace our own path, because we want to live our own lives, because we want to plot our own future, and because we want to achieve our own happiness, without doing harm to any other people, because what we want is to live in peace and friendship with all the other peoples of the world.
Why should we not wish for friendship and peace with all peoples who are struggling for progress, all peoples struggling for their liberation, all peoples struggling for their welfare! Those with whom we can never agree are those peoples who are exploiting other peoples, or what is worse, an oligarchy exploiting another people. That with which we can never agree is the exploitation of peoples by the oligarchies of other peoples.
And our desire is for progress, to plot our own future, to create our democratic institutions, to create a new fatherland, to develop the happiness of our people, without taking anything from any other people. For this reason, logically, we wish to live in peace with all peoples and in friendship with all peoples, because we have absolutely no quarrel with any other people. Those who want to take something from another people have problems with them, but a people which wants to take nothing from another people can never have these problems.
And there is something even more important. All of us are engaged in a great task. The revolutionary government and the people are engaged in great works. What we want is to see these works become a reality one day. What we want is to see this new generation grow in a different life, toward a very different future, and with an education very different from that which our generation received. We want to see these school cities full of children one day. We want to see these 200,000 peasant children sitting and studying in these school cities one day. We want to see the thousand cooperative villages we are going to build in five years. We want to see this beautiful reality, when each family has its own roof, one day. We want to see the day on which each Cuban will have work, we want to see the day when there will be a doctor for each sick person, a pension for each old person, we want to see the day when each man and woman knows how to read and write. We want to see the fatherland great one day, and it is for this that we are struggling!
And what man does not want to see his dreams, his ideals, transformed into a reality one day? And if the desire that all we want of well-being and happiness for our people should become a reality one day burns within us, we cannot be the trouble makers. Those who want to see a great task accomplished, those struggling to achieve a great goal cannot be the trouble makers. The provocation will not come from us. The provocation can only come from those who do not want us to accomplish this task.
Provocation cannot come from us, and it is absurd for them to try to push the blame on us, when we are living with our thoughts constantly fixed on the work we are doing, on the morrow, on the creative work of this revolution, just as yesterday our thoughts were fixed on today, just as yesterday we lived with our thoughts fixed on the triumph of the people.
The triumph of the people over the tyranny has been achieved. The struggle against hunger, against misery, against poverty, against pain has been begun. And we want to win this battle, too, and we are leaving today with our thoughts fixed on the creative work of the revolution. Thus it cannot be we who will raise these problems. Provocation will come from those who are not resigned to losing their privileges, to seeking to exploit other peoples, those who wish to impose their will entirely and the bastard interests of the powerful owners of the great international capital. It is they who are not resigned to living in peace with the peoples, that is, they are not resigned to leaving the peoples in peace. And this is what is happening in our country and it is for this reason that we must become a spartan people, because we are faced with a dilemma: either we resign ourselves and yield, or we must prepare to fight against any aggression.
And we will never be a people who, faced with this choice, will agree to bow our heads so that they can put on the yoke again, because we, faced with this choice, must follow the path of dignity, of honor, the only path toward the future, the only one which, with all its risks, promises us a life very different from that which the yoke promises. And we prefer freedom with all its risks, we prefer struggle for a better future to the yoke. We want nothing to do with the yoke.
And these militias which have marched past here, these peasants who have marched, these workers’ brigades, these students, this people — they are not a subject people.
Thus we are doing the only worthy and just thing we can do. We are adopting the path of a people who want to be free and will be free. We are pursuing the only path which the men worthy of our fatherland could follow. We have chosen the only path consistent with the teachings of the founders of our nation. We are following the only path acceptable to those who have died.
We are fulfilling our duty. We have been faithful to the comrades who fell and we are implementing a revolutionary task. Each school center we build bears the name of the comrade who fell in battle. Each barracks we are converting into a fortress bears the name of a comrade who fell in the struggle. Each school city bears the name of a fallen comrade. Each new village bears the name of a comrade who fell in the struggle. Each cooperative bears the name of a comrade who has fallen.
We did not choose to commemorate our fallen brothers by means of cold marble statues. We did not choose to give the names of revolutionary heroes to parks which solved the problems of no one. In the past, while they plundered our country from one end to the other and betrayed the thinking and the hopes of the founders of the fatherland, they put a statue of one of our revolutionaries in every park and gave each street the name of one of our patriots.
This was the past. But we perpetuated the memory and the names of our fallen heroes in something which has a meaning to true revolutionaries. We are perpetuating the memory of our fallen heroes in a revolutionary project, in what they wanted done in our fatherland. And thus, a school in which hundreds or thousands of children are studying is a worthy monument to a fallen comrade. A cooperative in which hundreds of peasant families will earn their living is a worthy monument to a fallen comrade. A new village is worthy of the memory of a fallen comrade. A hospital which saves many lives is proper tribute to a fallen comrade.
And thus our works carry the names of our dead, and each cooperative, each hospital, each school, each revolutionary projects bears the name of one of our fallen heroes. And thus the names of those who fell will endure eternally in the memory of our people, in the mark which will be made by a new generation of men, in the children who will be educated there, in the families who will be happy there, in the lives which will be saved there, in the infinite benefits which this sacrifice will mean for our people.
For this they sacrificed their lives, and this is what our people have now. Our revolutionary work is profoundly identified with the love we have for the comrades who fell. And this is yet another reason why we want to see this work completed. This is yet another reason why we are prepared to defend it to the last drop of our blood. This is yet another reason which forces us to follow the worthy path, so that this work will not be destroyed, so that the schools cannot be transformed back into fortresses, so that never again can their land, their homes or their rights be taken from our peasants, our people, unless they wipe us from the face of the earth, because before they can wipe out these names and this work, they will have to wipe us out.
Our fallen heroes did not die in vain. For wherever we go in our land, our eyes and our minds encounter their names, and each one of them is a reminder of a comrade who fell, either in the first engagements or in the clandestine struggle, in the mountain battles, in the early days of the struggle, or later. And there were so many of them, that for each of the many projects of the revolution there is a name! And thus we have the feeling that these comrades are still among us, that they are living with us. Their names will endure forever, so that present and future generations will know that one does not die in vain in the defense of a just ideal!
It is worth dying when each life sacrificed means a school founded, a cooperative established, advantages provided to many of our comrades. It is worthy dying when death becomes a fruitful seed. What does it matter if one dies in fulfilling his duty, if the blood he sheds and the life he gives becomes a work to the advantage of his peers, his brothers! It is sad to die if one’s life contributes nothing! It is sad to die as traitors and mercenaries do, but it can never be sad to die when one’s death creates something!
And this is the path and the example we want for the future generations. These generations which will be better than this one, but which will never have its merit. The great task has fallen to this generation, and future generations, which will be better than we, but thanks to our effort, will know that this generation had a spirit of sacrifice as its slogan, that this generation thought it was worth any sacrifice to ensure a better world for those following after it.
If we are confronted with necessary sacrifices, we will make them gladly, because this will be the grandeur of this generation of Cubans, and this is what “fatherland or death” means. It means that to do away with our fatherland, they must first do away with our lives, as we are determined to have a fatherland and to leave a worthy fatherland for the coming generations. This is the expression of the determination of a people, and in this brief phrase we say it all, we say all we have to say. This is our position. We are a small people, and we will never attack anyone. No, we will never attack any one, and we say to those who believe that we are planning aggression, those who are saying here and abroad that we plan to attack and are going to attack the Caimenera Naval Base that they should not delude themselves. We warn them against any Mind of Maine incident, and it is our duty to warn them that they should be very careful with their self-provoked aggression. They will deceive no one with this, because we state here that the revolutionary government will never make an attack of this kind, and that the revolutionary government, aware that its detractors and those interested in destroying it may in their hysteria go so far as to plot a self-provoked aggression, assures them that no such attack will ever come from us. In other words, we want to clarify things thoroughly. They cannot use war criminals, those they are arming here, or mercenary elements to organize self-provoked aggression to justify an armed attack upon our fatherland. It is our duty, partly because of our historical experience and partly because we know certain of the treacherous methods of international politics, to step forward and warn those who are crazily seeking pretexts for attacking our fatherland with arms that we will not give them these pretexts, and also we warn the world against any pretext they may arrange to justify an attack upon Cuba.
We have always said that we would never attack anyone, but that we are prepared to defend our rights and our fatherland at any cost. We have always said that no one should ever expect an attack from Cuba, but with the same firmness with which we proclaimed this policy, we also assert that any attack upon us will mean a war to the death with the Cuban people, that any attach upon our country will encounter the most adamant resistance any aggressor army has ever met. We know the Cubans well, we know how much dignity and bravery there is in the breast of each Cuban. We know the love and the passion the Cuban people feel for their cause, and it is better to call attention to this real fact to those committing the error of ignoring it. We warn them that we know the people well and anyone who carries out an attack upon our country will be defeated! He will be defeated not only because of the resistance he will encounter in Cuba, but because of the resistance he will encounter throughout the world! Because a revolution like this, which has such formidable popular support, which defends such a just cause, and which enjoys the solid support of all of the men of revolutionary thought on the American continent cannot be destroyed. The most sensible, most prudent, most intelligent thing for those who do not want to resign themselves to this revolution to do is to resign themselves, because it is a reality, and to leave us in peace. They should leave us in peace, because in a senseless effort to destroy this revolution, they will lose much more than they have lost to date!
And the realities of the world do not develop out of anyone’s whim. Revolutions, which are real facts, do not develop out of the will of anyone. Revolutions are real facts which result from other real facts. Revolutions are remedies — bitter ones, yes, but sometimes the only remedies applicable to still more bitter evils. And the Cuban revolution is a reality in the world. The Cuban revolution is real, as the people which support it are real, as the guns which will defend it are real, as the men who are ready to die for it in side Cuba and outside it are real! And, if our fatherland is attacked, attacked by any power, on any pretext, or by any group of nations which have fallen into the net of some intrigue, the attach upon our fatherland will mean a war not only against our people, but against every Cuban, wherever in the world he may be, and against the friends of Cuba and those ready to fight for Cuba, wherever they may be! And we set forth this determination to struggle with the same firmness with which we state that our desire is to see the work we are doing completed, to see our dreams transformed into reality, and that no battle will ever result through our fault or provocation, because we will never be the aggressors against anyone.
It is not possible to speak more clearly. And so that nothing will remain unsaid, we would solely add, for the benefit of Cubans, the fact that we must always be alert. We do not know how many years we will have to remain on guard. This is the price which we must pay for this work. Always alert, against any attack, by surprise or known in advance! Always alert and equally ready to struggle, wherever we may be! Always alert, each soldier of the rebel army and each military revolutionary! Always alert, each militiaman, each peasant, each worker, each student, each young person, each man and each woman, each old person and each child, always alert! Always alert, in any circumstance; always alert, under every condition! Always ready to resist any attack without flinching, always determined! They can never crush the spirit of the Cuban people, and no people can be subjected if its spirit cannot be crushed, if its determination cannot be destroyed! Always alert, and ready to fight, to fight with what we have in hand, to fight wherever we are, but always with the idea of resisting, of combating any attack! Always with the idea of winning, and if we do not triumph, dying! Always alert, and ready to fight, whatever may happen, whoever may fall! Always alert and ready to fight, whatever may be necessary, whoever may die! Thus, our revolution cannot be defeated because the enemy takes a life, or two lives, or three lives. If a leader falls, our duty is to promote another leader, immediately and without discussion of any kind. If a leader falls, another must immediately take his place, whoever that leader may be. We gave our opinion, when circumstances were other than they are today, and the people made a decision. If a Prime Minister is needed at any moment, the problem is not whether this is good or bad, but that everybody should know what must be done under such circumstances. And what concerns us is that the people should know what to do under any circumstances, and this is our duty to the people. If a prime minister is needed, that is to say, if the enemies of the revolution attack us, the only realistic and objective thing to do, what you must know that you must do immediately, is to replace the prime minister, and you must decide. At an earlier gathering we said that we proposed Raul for Prime Minister, if another is needed. If something happens to both of us, the President of the Republic will meet with the Council of Ministers and appoint another prime minister, because here it is necessary to be prepared for every contingency.
When a people undertake the task such as that which the people of Cuba have undertaken, when a small people like that of Cuba have powerful enemies as Cuba has today, all contingency should be provided for, and that people must know what has to be done, and what is necessary above all is to know that this people must never be divided by an enemy action, and that the reaction of the people must be to close ranks always.
When a small people such as ours takes upon itself a task such as that which our people has undertaken, it must always know what to do. And it does not matter that we are small. If we act properly, if we know what to do, we will emerge triumphant, because those who are right and those who know how to implement it, who know how to fight for the right triumph. And we can be certain that if we do what we must do, we will emerge triumphant, we will be victorious.
Thus, all that remains for me to do on this 1 May is to reaffirm this determination, this determination which all of us have to continue fulfilling our duty in our jobs, and to ask all of you to do the same. We assert to you our faith in the future of the fatherland, in the solidarity of the brotherly peoples of this continent, for whom we are struggling, because they will learn from our experience, they will learn from our successes and even from the errors we have made. And thus we will be useful to our brotherly peoples in our successes and in our failures. We have faith in the solidarity of these brotherly peoples and in that of all the peoples of the world.
We want to tell the brotherly peoples of America what Cuba is, to refute the lies written about this generous and noble land, to tell the that this people are not here on any one’s orders, they are here for very profound reasons, because the revolutionary government has fulfilled its obligations to them, and the people are loyal to those who are loyal to them, and the people have faith in those who have faith in them.
We want to tell the brotherly peoples that here there is a Spartan people, and that the inscription on the stone in Thermopylae Pass applies to us: “Let the world known that here lie 300 Spartans, who preferred death to surrender.”
Thus, this is what America expects of us. This is what the world expects of us, and we will respond to the sympathy and the solidarity with us which has been evidenced.
Let us all make a pledge, soldiers of the rebel army, militiamen, peasants, workers, students, young people. Let us raise our Cuban flags, let us raise our rifles, let us raise our machetes as we swear that we will be true to our slogan: Fatherland or death! -END-