Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Source:  Boletin [the Prensa] No. 88, Ministerio de Estado, Republica de
Cuba, 30 November 1959, Havana, pp 1-6

We have come to this province today to deliver to the teachers of
Camaguey what was a military fortress, where in another time the soldiers
if the tyranny lived.  And we have also come to inaugurate two hospitals,
that is to say, the revolutionary government has come to visit the city of
Camaguey today to inaugurate a school city and two hospitals.

We began by telling you the reason for our visit to Camaguey.  We
have come basically to keep a promise to the people of Camaguey and to all
the people of Cuba, the promise to convert fortresses into schools.

The question we must ask ourselves following the ceremony this
morning, following this spectacle of thousands and thousands of children
with Cuban flags in the military parade ground of the former Ignacio
Agramonte Regiment, following this moving and unforgettable ceremony --
this is the question we must ask: what need did the revolution have for
this military fortress?  For what does the revolution need military
fortresses?  What governments needed military fortresses?  Only governments
which do not work for the people, only governments which defend interests
opposed to those of the people, need military fortresses.  But we, the
revolutionary government, the actions of which we all absolutely to the
benefit of the people, why do we need military fortresses?  For what did a
military fortress serve?  The fortresses were the refuge, the lodging of an
army which was not in the service of the people.  What was the army in our
fatherland?  What role did the army play in Cuba in the past?  It was an
organization in the service of the great interests, an organization trained
and equipped to defend the great interests and the great interests needed
an army to defend them.

Did that army exist to defend the people?

Whom did it defend?  The great interests.  That army did not
defend the republic.  That army did not defend the people.  That army
existed to keep the people in the clutches of the established interests and
the privileged.  For a trifle they raised those guns which so often struck
and fired upon our compatriots.  For a trifle they raised those swords
which so often fell on the shoulders of our citizens.

And today, whom can those machetes, which are all in the hands of
the peasants themselves, strike?  In the past it was the peasants who
received the blows.  The fact that problems were resolved with machete
blows is a truth which our people, particularly our peasants, know only too
well.  But today, who has the machetes in hand?  The rural people have
ceased to be those who receive the blows, they have ceased to be the
victims, to become defenders of their revolution, machetes in hand.  And
who could ever reestablish that hateful system in our fatherland?  Who
could ever deal a single blow again to a single one of the peasants in our
fatherland?  How could it be possible for our peasants to let themselves
become victims of such injustice again?  Then... why fortresses?  What need
has the revolution to maintain a fortress full of soldiers, if these
fortresses were built precisely to subject the people, if these fortresses
were built to abuse the people?  Thus the revolution needs no fortresses.

This is why the revolutionary government promised the people that
it would convert the fortresses into school cities, and this in Camaguey is
the second fortress we have converted into a school city.

Next will come one in Holguin, then the Moncada Barracks in
Santiago de Cuba, and then the military fortress in Santa Clara.  And thus,
the revolutionary government of Cuba will be the first government in the
world to convert military fortresses into schools.

But there is something else.  What better proof could be given of
trust in the revolution?  What better proof could be given of faith in the
people?  Because the revolution is converting fortresses into schools just
when more enemies are emerging everywhere against our revolution, just when
more threats to our revolution are coming from all sides, just when the
campaign of the reactionaries and the great interests against our
revolution is boldest and most aggressive.  Nonetheless, far from building
fortresses, what the revolution is doing is to destroy fortresses to make
them into schools.  Why?  Is is perhaps that the revolution will remain
defenseless?  No.  Is it perhaps that we are going to disarm?  No.  What is
happening is that we have understood the problem perfectly; before there
were armies to oppress the people, and now the people constitute the best
army of the republic.  Now the defenders of the republic are the citizens
themselves.  Why can the revolution convert fortresses into schools?
Because since 1 January, since the triumph of the revolution, each school
has become a fortress of the revolution, and the 10,000 schools which will
be established by the revolutionary government in the course of this year
will be 10,000 fortresses of the revolution.  Because each city, each
village, each home has become a fortress of the revolution.

Despite the fact that it is destroying fortresses, Cuba is better
defended than ever, and the revolution is better defended than ever,
because the people are defending it.  This means that the revolution has in
the people its most legitimate defender.  The revolution has in the people
its best army, and when the time comes to defend the revolution and the
fatherland, each citizen, each compatriot, will be a soldier of the
revolution and the fatherland.

Could any other government train the peasants and arm the
peasants, the workers and the students?  No.  Why?  Because if the workers
and the peasants and the students and the people had been armed, Cuba would
not have suffered under dictatorship, under evil governments.  Evil
governments were possible only because those were armies in the service of
the great interests.

The best proof of the fact that the revolution means the complete
identification of the government in the people is that the government is
placing the defense of the revolution in the hands of an army.

There are many things we would like to say to the people of
Camaguey, but since the circumstances do not allow me to go on at length
what I would like to say is thank you!  Than you for this unprecedented
support!  Thank you for this turnout, such as we have never before seen in
our lives!  Thank you, because this is the most significant manifestation
given in favor of the revolution.  Because if we take into account the
number of inhabitants in this province, we can say that a larger proportion
than those who have turned out in any other place in Cuba have come to
support the revolutionary government.

The attendance of a crowd which stretches for more than a
kilometer along this avenue is a spectacle so impressive that note of us
will ever be able to forget it.  It is a spectacle which will remain
engraved in our minds as a concept of what Camaguey is, as an idea of the
revolutionary nature of the people of Camaguey, as an idea of how loyal the
people of Camaguey are, how valiant they are. And for this we say thank

The enemies of the revolution are gathering, the enemies of the
revolution are organizing, the enemies of the revolution are increasingly
daring and more insolent in their campaigns against the revolution.

There is a still more terrible firing law for the reactionaries.
The firing law which frightens the counterrevolutionaries most is not that
at which the firing squads aim.  The firing law which terrifies the
counterrevolutionaries most is the people, the firing law of the people.
What frightens the reactionaries most is the machetes which are brandished
by our peasants.  What frightens the reactionaries most is the vast
multitude which has gathered here today and which is saying to the
counterrevolutionaries, which is saying to the ruffians, which is saying to
the estate owners, which is saying to the profiteers and the privileged
that they must abandon hope, because oppression, injustice, exploitation,
estate owning, plunder, vice, crime and the sadness of our people, the
humiliation, will not return.  The blows to the peasants and the citizens
will not come again, nor will those who plunder the wealth of our people,
now will the domination of the monopolies, of foreign interests, nor will
foreign intervention in our politics or treasonable governments return.
Nor will the nefarious policy the counterrevolutionaries want, nor will the
abolished privileges return, because in order for the past to return, it
would first be necessary to exterminate our people.

A better future will come.  What our fatherland has never had will
come.  Full national sovereignty, schools, culture, work, wealth for our
people, land for our peasants will come to stay and, whatever it may cost,
a better future and a more honorable and more worthy life for all Cubans
will come.

Those who will never return are the hired ruffians.  Those who
will never again govern our fatherland are the counterrevolutionaries,
because they know that the people like this can not be defeated.  For this
reason, in the name of the people themselves, because the only thing which
concerns us, the only thing which interests us, is the future of this
people, we express to the people today our recognition and our gratitude,
because once again we reaffirm the convictions that the people of Cuba are
an extraordinary people, that they have a right to a glorious destiny, that
with a people like this, we can go as far as we want.

And for this reason we thank you, because you today, citizens of
Camaguey, after 11 months of revolutionary government, have given the
government greater support than it has ever had, you have given the
revolutionary government an inspiration, a greater stimulus than it has
ever had.

And completing the first year of revolutionary government, after
seeing the fruits of our laws, after seeing the results of our efforts, we
can tell the people that we propose to undertake the second year of the
revolutionary government, the second year of just laws and creative effort,
the second year of work for the good of the people and the fatherland.
And in continuing the work we have the same faith and the same decision as
we have always had, because we need not render accounts for our work to
anyone but the citizens of our fatherland.

The struggle in recent years has been hard.  Dearly beloved
comrades have fallen.  For example, Comrade Camilo Cienfuegos is not with
us today, and it is with profound sorrow that we remember him at this
gathering, with infinite sadness because he cannot share with us this
experience of turning over to the children the military fortress, and this
moving sight of such an extraordinary and dense concentration of people.

This is a hard path along which we often have to note the absence
of comrades who, as he did, began this struggle with us.  It is still
harder to think that this comrade lost his life, as many of the posters
say, fighting treason, a betrayal which has cost us dear, which meant for
us the loss of Camilo Cienfuegos.  And for this reason I admire our people
still more, because the betrayal has not discouraged them.  Nor are they
discouraged by blows as harsh as the death of so glorious and useful a
comrade as Camilo was for us, and thus our people are admirable because of
the faith they have, which nothing discourages, because of their bravery,
which nothing can daunt, because of their dedication, which neither wavers
nor is diminished by anything.

For this reason, the citizens of Camaguey have our eternal
recognition and gratitude, this is the reason for the special sympathy I
feel for this province, although I was not born here, and although all
Cubans have equal value for me, whatever the province in which they were
born, and although I am an enemy of all regionalism.  However, I could not
fail to have a very profound feeling and a very special sympathy links me
with the people of Camaguey, because I have the same faith in and sympathy
with you that you have for us, the same confidence you have had in us, and
the first impression I have on traveling through his province is one which
has not changed and which has become increasingly firm.  This is because
that impression has never been altered by facts, and I believe that the
links between the people of Camaguey and the revolutionary government are
increasingly strong.  The province in which according to all the surveys
support has been greatest has been Camaguey, and I have seen that this
revolutionary spirit, rather than diminishing, is growing, and is more
ardent every day, more enthusiastic and firmer every day.  For this reason,
we love Camaguey, for this reason we have sympathy with Camaguey and for
this reason we have confidence in Camaguey.

And this has not been confidence in words, but confidence in
deeds.  I demonstrated this confidence in coming alone to deal, jointly
with the people of Camaguey, with the treasonable plot of an ambitious
individual who wanted to perpetrate a criminal act against the revolution
here.  This means that our confidence in the people of Camaguey is not
something about which we talk, but something we have demonstrated and will
continue to demonstrate.  Perhaps the reason for the extraordinary
revolutionary spirit of the citizens of Camaguey is due to the fact that
this was the province of the large estate owners, where there was the
greatest injustice and the most social exploitation.  But for this reason,
took Camaguey will be the province in which the work of the revolution will
go farthest, will be deepest, because revolutions are the greater and the
more necessary where the injustices are the greater.

I bid you farewell with this expression of sympathy and faith in
the people of Camaguey.  Perhaps on another occasion we can speak to you
with less difficulty, perhaps on another occasion we will not have the
technical problems we have had, and I can speak to you more easily.  But in
saying farewell, I want to  tell you that thanks to you, we leave this
province with redoubled energy, with redoubled faith and with redoubled
enthusiasm with which to move forward.  And also we depart with this
thought -- that we can always count on the people of Camaguey, and the
revolution will be able to count on them in the most difficult and hard
days.  With the people of Camaguey, the revolution will be able to fight
the battles which may be necessary, and we can count on the people of
Camaguey to the last breath and the last drop of blood.  Camaguey will
always be the loyal province it has been to date.  The people will be loyal
as they always have, and the example of Camaguey will be imitated by all
Cubans in all the provinces of Cuba.  And the people will be able to say to
the little groups of reactionaries, of privileged persons who want to
promote their counterrevolutionary spirit in the provinces:  "Back, back,
because the interests of the privileged strata, the interests of the little
groups of powerful families are not the interests of the rural people, of
the workers, of the fishermen, of the charcoal producers, of the humble
men, nor of honorable citizens."  Back, because the more you fight the
revolution, the more people will support the revolution.  Back, hypocrites,
because you are not combating the revolution because it has been evil but
because it has done good.  You are not combating the revolution because it
has done harm to the people, but because it has done good for them.  Back,
hypocrites, who are battling the revolution because the revolution has been
firm and not vacillating, because the revolution has been brave with regard
to national and foreign interests and not cowardly.  The people will be
able to answer the gangs of hypocrites, the intriguers who, here as in
Oriente, and as in other provinces, are battling the revolution, because
the revolution has been courageous in destroying their privileges,
courages in advancing itself and challenging their omnipotent power, the
power they have exercised to date, because on 1 January the battle against
the mercenary soldiers, against the hired ruffians, ended, but the battle
against the privileged began, and we are engaged in this battle.  And this
triumph today is a part of this battle, a part of the triumph, because we
are engaged in the battle against the privileged, which is a long and hard
one, but one we will win, as we won the battle against the mercenaries and
the ruffians.  The people will block the advance of the plotters, the
hypocrites, the privileged, and thus as I have met today with the people of
Camaguey, I will meet on the 30th with the people of Oriente, and with the
people of Santiago.  And there, too, the people will gather, while the
privileged and the reactionaries contemplate their plots and their
impotence, those who believe that this was a revolution of little lies,
those who understood to toy with the revolution and now have found that it
is a revolution of truth, and not of lies.

And the people will gather, the rural people with their machetes,
in Santiago de Cuba, and there, too, there will be an imposing gathering
like this, to say to the plotters, to the hypocrites, "back!"

And the people will gather there in Santiago de Cuba, as they have
gathered here, to halt the maneuvers of the counterrevolutionaries, to
impose, by their presence, by their enthusiasm, the respect the revolution
merits, because if the gangs of the privileged had no idea of what a
revolution is, they will learn that this is a true revolution and not a

And the privileged must understand that their pain, when they see
their hateful privileges destroyed, is not the pain of the people.  The
indignation of the privileged is not the indignation of the people, because
the people, when privileges are destroyed, are inspired with hope, the
people are filled with hope and happiness.  The pain of the privileged is
the happiness of the people, and the destruction of privileges is the
future of the fatherland and the happiness of the people.

And thus, what I have said today, the words I have spoken here, I
will say in Santiago and I will say to the people of Oriente, where we also
have a loyal people who will be able to give the lie they deserve to the
plotters and maneuverers of the counterrevolution.

And we can also say to the people of Oriente what we have said to
the people of Camaguey:  that we can always count on the people of Oriente,
as on the people of Camaguey, and that in order to triumph over the
revolution it will be necessary first to annihilate the latest
revolutionary, and that in our fatherland, it will be from these provinces
that the forgers of its destiny will come, that its last defendants will
come.  In each of them, the first to takeup arms in our wars of
independence will be the last to cease to fight when it is necessary to
defend it.

And for this reason we can say that the revolution is invincible,
because we have this people.  For this reason, we can state that the
revolution will advance with the energy which is necessary, because we have
a people such as this.  It is for this reason that we are blending ever
increasingly with the people, because we believed in them when no one did,
because we believed in them when the people were unarmed and powerless, and
now events have borne us out.  We have won the war and we are winning the

It is for this reason that we feel increasingly identified with
the people, more closely linked with the people, because we believed in
them when no one did.  How could we not believe, seeing them free,
powerful, united, seeing them advance, full of enthusiasms and bravery, to
conquer the fatherland in which we believe?  For this reason, we have faith
in the ultimate victory, because if we had faith in those mountains, when
we were no more than a handful of men, how can we fail to have faith today,
when we are supported by an entire people, generous and brave, with whom we
will fight the battles which are necessary, with whom we will wage the
struggle against the great interests, however powerful they may be, which
stand in our path, against the obstacles, however great they may be, which
stand in our path.  And we will triumph because this time Cuba will indeed
achieve its destiny, and nothing and no one can prevent it from doing so.
This time what happened in 68, in 95, in 33 will not happen.  This time the
Cuban people will be able to win the laurels of the most complete victory.