Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Speech by Dr Fidel Castro, Prime Minister of the Government,
Inaugurating the "Oscar Lucero" School City in Holguin, 24 February 1960

People of Holguin: Today is the 65th anniversary of the cry for
independence in the historic town of Daire, 24 February 1895.

You are of course perfectly familiar with that date because you
have read about it in books on the history of Cuba and this is precisely
why we wanted to meet with you here today to inaugurate this School city.

There is no better homage to the founders of our republic, no
greater homage to the apostle of our independence, Jose Marti; there is no
better homage to all of the men who have fallen in those struggle and to
all of the Cubans who sacrificed themselves in the subsequent struggle than
this act today, as we dedicate something that was a bulwark of the forces
of tyranny and that has now been converted into a formidable school. And
there is no more equitable homage tot he people of Holguin who gave so many
patriots in the struggle for independence and in the revolutionary
struggles, especially in the latest struggle, which meant the sacrifice of
many of its best sons for this town of Holguin.

This is why nothing now pleases us more than to be able to carry
out the promise which we made, that is to say, to hand over the fortress of
Holguin on 24 February, this fortress which has been converted into a
School city, where we hope 4,000 children will be able to study. This is
not only a tremendous moral achievement but also a tremendous revolutionary
achievement; we now have converted this fortress into a school and it is
the 4th School City which the revolution has established, by converting the
big fortresses; this has been done in less than a year. Moreover, the
children in the public schools of Holguin, who did not have athletic
fields, who did not have enough space where they could grow and develop,
are not going to have a school that cannot be compared to any other school
in the city of Holguin. In other words, the humble children in the public
schools will now have a first-class school that will be second to none.
With their athletic fields and with all of the space they need, not only to
study but also to play and to exercise, they are going to have what a
public school should really have and they are going to have this for the
first time: they are going to have a school bus to carry the children from
the city to this place here. In other words, in the old days, only the
private schools has buses and only the families who could afford to pay the
tuition and who could afford to pay for these buses could send their
children to class in a bus.

Now any poor child, from any humble family, can have the
satisfaction of being driven to school by bus, from a place near the home,
where the children will be picked up and taken to the school center. Here
they are also going to have a magnificent dining room where they can get
meals during the day. But, in addition, there is another advantage which
the children in the public schools never had before: on Saturdays and
Sundays, these 10 buses can be used to take the children to the beaches and
to the countryside.

Just a short while ago, one of the high school students, a young
girl, told me that she no longer felt disadvantaged. And it is true that
the children are now going to have many opportunities and they are going to
enjoy a whole series of advantages which those who are in college now did
not have and which those who are now in high school did not have. The
children who went to grade school here before did not have these

In this sense, you might think that they had the good fortune to
be able to study under conditions very much different from those under
which the children used to study in this city of Holguin. But what was the
situation there at that time? There were guards with rifles and there were
cops -- until the Rebels came and conquered the fortress and they did not
capture it to stay there, because the Rebels do not need this fortress; the
Rebels conquered this fortress to give it to the children.

And the Rebels do not need fortresses and the people of Cuba do
not need fortresses. Why? Who defends the revolution now? Where are the
fortresses of the revolution? They are among the people, on the roads and
highways and in the cooperatives and in the mountains. What do we need
these fortresses if we have the entire Sierra Maestra, the Sierra Christal,
the Sierra de Sibara, and all of the mountain ranges in Cuba? And we also
have a fortress in each town and we have a fortress in each house. But we
do not need a fortresses; they needed fortresses in the past because they
did not have a fortress in the people; they needed a fortress against the
people and this is why, even though Holguin was a completely defenseless
city, they kept a strong regiment here; and this is why they had to build
fortresses into these ridges and this is why they had to surround these
fortresses with embrasures.

And whom were these embrasures aimed at? They were aimed at the
people. Here they had to have big fortresses. Why? Because they had to
defend the big estates which we have in this entire northern part of the
island of Cuba; but now there are no more big estates to be defended and
this is why it is no longer necessary to keep pointing rifles at the
people, because, in the old days, the rifles were not pointed toward the
outside, they were pointed inward, against the people. And even though the
people did not have any rifles here, they till had to have an army here, in
Holguin, even though the town was completely disarmed. Is this at all
logical? Does this make sense?

Only now the people begin to understand all these things. In the
past, the people were accustomed to walking by here and they saw a
fortress. Nobody could get too close, because there were always guards with
rifles pointed at the people. And the people saw all of these things and
they did not understand why all of these rifles and all of these fortresses
were needed. What could more than a thousand soldiers possibly be doing in
this garrison? But now the people begin to understand these things,
particularly today, as they pass by here and as they see, instead of the
soldiers, thousands of children playing here in these parks, thousands of
children running around and studying and preparing for a useful career for
their fatherland, preparing themselves for an honest living, because the
number of intelligent children, the number of bright children in this town
is extraordinary. We keep running into people who, without ever having
studied painting, can paint pictures; we keep running into people who
without ever having gone through apprenticeship, can make things.

How many intelligent minds have been lost here because of the lack
of schools: Today the republic needs trained men, it needs men who know how
to run factories, it needs men who know how to build and how to process
products, it needs men who know how to build roads and who can construct
buildings; today the republic needs men who can do things. And, yet, how
many intelligent minds were lost, how many intelligent children lost the
opportunity to study -- how many of them could help us today make this

In other words, we must begin to build schools, first of all. We
must begin to fill the schools of the revolution, we must make sure that
all of these intelligent minds will have an opportunity to study and to
learn so that the revolution, tomorrow, will have what we do not have
today, so that the revolution, tomorrow, will have what we did not have in
the past: hundreds of thousands of engineers and men who can contribute to
improving the wealth of our country, so that the standard of living of all
of the families can be raised, so that they can live better, so that they
can have nice homes, so that they can have jobs, so that they can live a
way of life in which they will not be lacking of the most elementary
things. But to achieve this, we must make sure that the children will
study, we must make sure that the children will learn: we must make sure
that the republic, tomorrow, will be able to offer to all citizens what it
cannot offer today; because, after all, what heritage did we receive? We
received misery, we received slums that crumbled, we received old school
buildings, we received those big estates, we received towns without proper
water supply, without sewage, without hospitals: we received a people that
was not prepared for the great task of producing.

If every family cannot have a higher living standard, if every
Cuban cannot have work the year around, if every family does not have
anything necessary to live decently, what is this all due to? It is due to
the fact that we have inherited a colonized country, a poor country. Why do
so many children not have decent clothing, why do they not have shoes, why
do so many children not have anything with which to buy candy, why do so
many children not have an opportunity to go to the movies, why do so many
children not have an opportunity to get sufficient recreation, why do so
many children lack all of these necessary things? Because we have inherited
a colonized country, a poor country, with 300,000 unemployed, and we had to
begin from scratch, we had to start building up everything from scratch. We
had to begin with what little we have but we had to make a beginning; and
we had to do this with a nation where we still have hundreds of thousands
of men who do not know how to read or write, a nation which did not have
enough schools, a nation which was deficient in terms of public health, a
nation which did not have hospitals, a nation which did not have technical
education centers, a people that did not have land, a people that did not
have factories; in other words, we had to start this with a people that was
colonized and exploited. This is why the revolution now confronts the
tremendous task which it must promote.

It is of course natural that you should harvest the fruits of our
effort here, the fruits of these school cities which we are constructing;
this very generation of children, which will tomorrow live a vastly
different life, different from the life of this generation, this current
generation of children will harvest those fruits. This generation of
children and generations to come will harvest the fruits because in 10 or
15 years, many of the children who are now studying in these schools will
have graduated from universities and will be skilled in their fields and
other governing officials in the future will have what we did not have
today. We will then have as many capable men as weened, we will then have a
trained nation because this will be a civic-minded nation, a nation with a
revolutionary consciousness, a valiant people; but this nation is not yet
fully prepared, it is not yet prepared the way it should be in order to do
the job which we are beginning here today.

However, this people has one great merit, it has the merit of
having defeated the tyranny, it has the merit of having won national
liberation, and it has the merit of having begun a task which -- although
it will not receive the best fruits of that task -- nevertheless will give
it the satisfaction of knowing that the generations to come tomorrow will
recognize this nation of today for what it accomplished and will appreciate
everything that we are doing today for the future happiness of the country.

All of these children's hands who today wave the flags of the
fatherland must be the hands that tomorrow will run our factories, the
hands that tomorrow will manage our hospitals and our employment centers,
the hands that tomorrow, with the help of machinery and technology, will
produce the wealth the country needs. The hands that wave the flag today
will wield the tools of fertile endeavor tomorrow; the hands that wield the
pen today, the hands that hold the book today, the hands that will handle
all of the instruments that are needed to make a people happy. The hands
that today proudly wave the flags of the fatherland, on a moving occasion
such as this one, the hands that will hold the pencils and books in these
classrooms, will also be the strong arms, the revolutionary arms that will
defend our work today, that will defend the fatherland; the revolutionary
arms that defend this work and that will continue this work, those are the
arms that must not be uppermost in our minds.

This ceremony here today is a ceremony for the children, even
though many adults are present. And we, the adults, must think of the
future, we must think of this generation of children because this is the
most honest, the noblest, and the most correct thing to do. We did not have
the good fortune that they have today and above all the fortune that they
will have tomorrow. But it is our duty to see to it that these children
will have the kind of good fortune that we did not have. We must above all
make sure that these children who are here today will tomorrow constitute
the fundamental nucleus of the nation. It will be they who will be working
for their parents; it will be they who will be working for those who can no
longer work. And it will be they who will produce for those who can no
longer produce.

We, too, will receive a portion of the fruits because when many of
our people here today will have to retire and will no longer be able to
work, they will have their old-age assured to the same extent as these
children progress, to the same extent as these children will be capable of
producing great wealth for the fatherland, to the same extent that the
country is industrialized and progresses economically; this will bring
improvement to all and it will provide security and well-being for those
who are today working so that these children may have all the benefits; and
those who work today will tomorrow receive the fruit of the work of these

And this is what we must think of uppermost today; the children of
today who will be the people of tomorrow. We must take good care of them
and we must watch over them as the pillars on whom our truly beautiful and
useful effort is based. We must think of them, I repeat, more than of
ourselves. The task of this generation is, above all, to create for the
future and we will continue to convert fortresses into schools; and this
famous Holguin will be converted into a great school development because
here we have the buildings that we are going to fill with children and
students; and so we will have more than 6,000 children in this area alone.
And we will go on converting the big fortresses into schools and we will
not stop until we have converted all of the fortresses into schools such as
this one, schools that will be really moving to contemplate, schools that
will be really impressive; and this will apply particularly to this school
here because this is the best one we have had so far. This is why I want to
congratulate the workers, the engineers of our public works administration;
this is why I want to congratulate the Ministry of Education for this great
monument which we are raising here to the martyrs of the revolution, a work
that symbolizes those martyrs, the heroic comrade of Holguin, Oscar Lucero,
whose names we have selected for the formidable school center.

And now, after the effort which we have made here today, there is
only one thing we would like [Unreadable text]: we would like to ask them
to play, we would like to ask them to have fun, we would like to ask them
to enjoy games, we would like to ask them to go on picnics and trips, but
above all, you must say to them what I want to say to them and to you here
now: study."