Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

[Speech by Fidel Castro; Havana, Revolucion, Spanish, 9 January 1959]

Fellow Countrymen,

As you know, the people of Havana are expecting us on 23rd Street,
because we promised them that our forces would parade along that route.
However, before going on, we wanted to come to the Presidential Palace to
salute our President, to pay him our respects and to tell him once again
that he can count on our unconditional support.

I never liked this building and I don't believe anyone ever liked
it. The nearest I had come was along there (he points to the colonial walls
of Misiones Avenue)... when I was a student.

Yet now we came here, thinking very little about the Palace, just
as the President, Dr. Urrutia, came and his ministers. We had to place the
Executive Power somewhere and since now is not the time for starting to
look for another Palace, nor to waste time on such an initiative, let us do
what we can to make the people take kindly to this building.

You wanted to know what are the feelings of the leader of Sierra
Maestra as he enters the Palace. I will confess what my feelings were:
exactly the same as if I were entering any other place in the Republic. It
does not induce any special feeling in me. It is a building that, for me,
and at the present time, has the quality of harboring the Revolutionary
Government of the Republic.

The People [Must Go] to Columbia

We must also go to another building which nobody likes. You may be
sure that I have no intention of living there, let me warn you right now.
There is no reason for it except that this name has been a source of sorrow
to us Cubans, If it were for reasons of affection, the place where I would
like to live, because I have very deep feeling about it, is Turquino Peak.
Because against the fort of the tyrants, we put up the barricade of our
invincible mountains, because they are as yet undefeated. However, I want
the people to go to Columbia, because Columbia now belongs to the people.
Let the tanks, which now belong to the people, go in the vanguard of the
people, opening up a path. No one will be there to stop their entry now.
And we will meet there. There will be a ceremony which the people of Havana
and of Marianao will attend, as will the military who joined our cause at
the decisive moment. And we shall hold a ceremony like that of today in
front of the offices of the General Staff of the Navy, and this was indeed
a very emotion-filled ceremony. Perhaps nothing has moved me so much of
late as the fact that I was there on the docks and saw "Gramma." Because we
have a deep feeling for "Gramma" and "Gramma" really moves me.

With the Press

And now we are off again because there are thousands of our
companions waiting in the trucks. They have been traveling for a good many
days and have had no rest at all. And I want to have a little energy left
to speak at Columbia, because there is much to tell the people there. What
is more, I have been invited to meet the press this evening. Let us see if
we have enough time and enough strength left because good will is not
lacking. And now I want the people of Havana to give me proof of something.
Someone said, "a thousand soldiers are necessary to get through where the
people are massed together." And I disagreed. I am going to pass through
the crowd alone. They said that because they saw so much emotion and so
much enthusiasm that they were afraid someone would hurt us. However, the
people must take good care of the revolutionaries. And I am going to prove
once again that I know the people well. Without one soldier preceding me to
open the way, I am going to call upon the people to open a wide aisle and I
will pass through it together with the President of the Republic. Thus, my
fellow countrymen, we will prove to the whole world, to the newspapermen
who are present here, that there is discipline and civic feeling among the
people of Cuba. Open up an aisle and we will walk through it so that they
will see that we do not need a single soldier to get through the crowd.

Speech made at the Presidential Palace,
published in Revolucion, 9 January 1959.