Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

[Speech by Fidel Castro; Havana, Revolucion, Spanish, 17 January 1959]

(Speaking to the legion of workers who gathered to show their
support of and gratitude to the revolutionary government in advance of the
Wednesday meeting, Doctor Fidel Castro spoke as follows:)

I was to attend a meeting with the electrical workers this
evening, but on arriving at the premises of the CTC [Central de
Trabajadores de Cuba -- Central Organization of Cuban Workers], I found
that they had been summoned to a gathering in front of the Palace to
demonstrate their support of revolutionary justice.  However, it is not a
ceremony which we are holding.  This is a simple gathering to prepare for
that which is scheduled, to make preparations in time, so that all the
people can come.  It is not good to have called together only a part of the
people.  No one knew about this meeting.  If everyone had known, the crowd
would extend to the breakwater.

The problem is that the people of Cuba want to meet out justice
and the enemies of the Cuban revolution do not want this.  Naturally, those
who did not live here in Havana, in Santiago or in Las Villas under the
terror of Ventura, of Pilar Garcia, of Irenaldo Garcia, or Chaviano are now
sympathizing with the poor ruffians, the poor little ruffians.

But here there is a problem more important than all of this.  Here
we are discussing the sovereignty of the country, the right of the people
of Cuba to govern their own fate.  Therefore, to show to the entire world
the will of the people of Cuba, their determination to continue advancing,
their irrevocable pledge to defend the revolution against any enemy, we
will organize the most gigantic mass gathering ever seen in our country. In
a survey made by a reputable firm, it was found that 90 percent of the
people favored shooting the ruffians, and that 3 percent opposed it.

Now then, I believe that after the attacks made upon our
fatherland, I believe that after the insolent intervention in the domestic
affairs of Cuba, the three percent is dwindling, too, and I am certain that
now they favor shooting the ruffians.

But this must be demonstrated, and we are going to demonstrate it
next Wednesday at 2 in the afternoon.  We are going to ask the attendance,
the cooperation, first of all, of all the workers' trade unions, all the
civic institutions, all the student groups, of industry and trade, so that
all of the people as a mass will gather in front of the Presidential Palace
demanding justice, in a ceremony urging justice and urging that the United
States return the war criminals and the millions of pesos carried off
(shout of "And the refugees").

I will explain to you what happened with the refugees.  We could
not, where the right of asylum was concerned, fall into the same practices
as Batista did.  As of the time they went there and the embassies agreed to
give them asylum, there was nothing else we could do.  We will indeed
demand that they be returned.  But the attack upon the sovereignty of the
country, upon our right to apply justice came from the Congress of the
United States, and that is precisely where the Venturas, the Masferrers and
the Pilar Garcias have taken refuge, and what we are going to do instead of
holding up the shooting of the ruffians is to demand that the United States
return to us the ruffians they have there.  But not only this, we will
demand that they return the millions of pesos which were stolen and which
belong to the people of Cuba.

We will not have atomic bombs, but we are in the right. We will
not have atomic bombs, but justice is on our side, we are in the right, and
we are going to demonstrate this and the support of the Cuban people in
graphic fashion here, not by paying anyone, as the false governments did,
to get them there, but by urging the people to come on foot, even if they
have to walk ten leagues to get here.  We will appeal to all the people of
Havana, of the nearby cities and provinces, to gather here on Wednesday at
2 in the afternoon, and we are going to invite the journalists of the whole
world to show them that this is the will of the people of Cuba and that
they cannot call the people of Cuba criminal because they want to just to
those who have murdered more than 20,000 of their compatriots.  When all is
said and done, when the total number of ruffians who will be shot is
calculated, they come to fewer than the number they murdered in a single
town, because there will not be 450 ruffians shot, but at minas de Bueycito
alone they murdered 450 unfortunate peasants.

And no one got up then in the Congress of the United States to say
that Batista was shooting the people of Cuba.  But they are getting up
there now, serving heaven knows what interests and paid by heaven knows
whom to say that we are shooting Cubans, we, the very ones who liberated
Cuba from genocide, the very ones who freed China from the gang of
assassins who violated women, murdered children and old people.  Freed it
from the gang of torturers, while no one in the Congress of the United
States got up to protest.  What they did is to send tanks, guns, planes and
bombs.  Now that the people of Cuba have triumphed, they want to castrate
our revolution, prevent justice from being done, and this is what the
people of Cuba will not permit, because they have now grown up considerably
and have reached their maturity and are governing themselves.  The people
of Cuba no longer follow any orders but those of their own government
leaders.  For the first time, there are a president and a council of
ministers and an army not taking orders from abroad.  A president, a
council of ministers and an army which cannot be bribed or intimidated.
For the first time we have a republic of Cuba, never before free in truth,
because it wants to be free and because it has a right to be free, and
because its freedom has cost it very dear.  For the first time there is a
government prepared to serve the people exclusively, and for the first time
there is a people entirely united under the banner of justice and liberty.
This people, full of fervor and enthusiasm, whose men and women are
prepared to fight, this people which has interfered with no one, which is
but claiming its rights, which is fighting for the happiness it deserves,
for those gains which have always been taken from it, the freedom which has
always been withheld, the suffering people which for the first time in four
centuries is fully master of its fate knows what it has achieved, knows
where it is going and will know how to make the sacrifices which are

But the most important thing of all is that if they see that we
are weak they attack us, if they see that we are strong and united, they
are afraid of us.  If they see that we are strong and united, they respect
us and now indeed they will not be able to go to Columbia to bribe some
generals, because the guns are in the hands of the rebels.  Therefore, this
is no longer 1901 or 1933, when they interfered here and imposed upon us an
amendment which was a shame and a humiliation for the country.  In 1933
they bought Batista and he miserably betrayed the people.  Now that there
is no Platt Amendment nor is there anyone to buy or to bribe, they are
beginning to seek to weaken the Cuban revolution with a defamatory campaign
slandering a revolution on which the eyes of all America are fixed,
slandering it because they do not want it to continue to serve as an
example for this America which has suffered so much.  They have tried to
make an impression on minds in other countries with their international
cable dispatches, but in such a way that they have taken the naive in some
countries by surprise and they have started to send cable asking that the
executions be stopped, as a result of the campaign of slander waged through
the international cable agencies.  But this is not a problem.  They must
listen to the people of Cuba, and the answer will be a half a million
persons gathered together.  I say half a million in order to avoid
exaggeration, and the press will come from all over the world and the
diplomats, too, to hear the demands of the people of Cuba, and I repeat,
what we are going to ask of the government of the United States, because it
is from there that the attack came, is the return of the war criminals and
the millions of pesos which have been stolen from our country.

As we are going to show those who showed their fangs so early that
the people of Cuba know how to defend themselves.  We are a small but
dignified people.  We are a small people but one with a very high
conscience.  We are a small people, but one of great value. And the facts
have just proved this: an unarmed and untrained people, subjected to the
worst terror ever known in the history of America, has disarmed an army of
about 40,000 men. And this can never be achieved without a people truly
capable of accomplishing such a feat.  And since those gathered here are
mainly workers, I must tell you that it was thanks to the workers that the
triumph could be complete on 1 January, because when they tried to do the
people out of their triumph with a military junta and a puppet government,
the revolutionary general strike was the weapon which succeeded in
defeating this whole maneuver and putting the weapons in the hands of the
revolutionary army.

And now this is enough for today, because we must work.  All of
you will carry the slogan to all of the work sites.  You will all devote
yourselves to feverish work with a view to the huge gathering next
Wednesday, at 2 P.M.  Every last worker, every last student, every last
citizen should be present there because this will be a decisive test for
the people of Cuba, because thus the people of Cuba will speak to the
world.  We will show that all of the people support justice and defend our
national sovereignty. Because the problem here is not that they do not want
the murders punished, the problem lies in the fact that -- who are they, to
interfere in the domestic problems of Cuba?  The problem involves
demonstrating that no one has a right to import standards for the people of
Cuba from abroad.  We must bear witness not only to defend justice and the
future of the fatherland and to prevent vengeance in the future, because if
the war criminals go unpunished, the members of the families of the victims
will believe they have a right to take vengeance into their own hands.

But mainly it is a question of defending our right to sovereignty.
No one here engages in talk about how we will interfere in Florida, in
Virginia or in New York.  The very fact that they undertake to make
statements to the effect that they certainly are not going to interfere is
already an insult, because we do not have freedom because they wanted it,
nor because they state that they are not interfering.  We have freedom
because we won it, because it is a right of all nations in the world, and
because, moreover, we know how to defend it.  A certain Rudolf, I am not
sure what his name is, stated that they were not going to intervene, but
rather to exert diplomatic pressure.  What do they call this -- shotgun
diplomacy?  If they want friendly relations let them begin by not
threatening, because one cannot have diplomacy behind threats.  This is a
humiliation, an insult and an imposition.

And if they want good relations with the people of Cuba, the first
thing they have to do is respect its sovereignty and never speak again of
whether there will be intervention or not, because we have never talked of
whether or not we would interfere in the United States, and we are equals,
we have the same rights.

This, fellow countrymen -- the right, respect for the people of
Cuba, the right to our sovereignty -- this is what we are going to defend
with our mass attendance.  Thus there is no need for weapons.  We are going
to defend our sovereignty by means of public opinion and reason, because
when the entire world sees half a million Cubans gathered here, we will
have won the sympathy of the whole world.  The people of Cuba are wholly
united together today as never before in defense of their rights, above
partisan considerations, because here the parties are finished, here only
the fatherland counts.

The entire world will see half a million Cubans gathered here, and
if all who wanted could come, there would be six million.

We are going to tell the world that the criminals are not Cubans,
that the people of Cuba who want to punish the ruffians are not criminals,
that the criminals in any case are those who said not a word while the
Cuban people were being massacred.  Those who while our people fought for
their liberty and while scores of bodies were being found in the streets
sent tanks, guns and bombs to the dictatorship.  And the truth from the
months of half a million Cubans will be a truth which will reach the entire
world, a message which the whole world will understand.  This truth will be
much stronger than the lies with their evil intent spread by the mercenary
cable agencies paid by Batista and by the interests inimicable to the

For this reason, fellow countrymen, to summarize, this is but a
preliminary gathering.  The slogan is:  half a million Cubans in front of
the Presidential Palace of the Provisional Revolutionary Government
manifesting their support of justice and demanding the return of the war
criminals and millions of pesos of which the republic has been robbed.