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Havana, COCQ, in Spanish to Cuba, Mar. 5, 1960, 2202 GMT--E

(Speech by Fidel Castro at funeral of victims of Mar. 4 ship explosion in

(Summary)  There are moments of great importance in the life of a nation.
There are minutes that are extraordinary.  One of these is this moment,
this tragic, bitter moment we are going through today.  First, so that we
are not thought of as carried away by emotion, so that it can be clearly
seen that there is a nation capable of meeting squarely and bravely and
analyzing calmly, a nation that does not use lies or pretexts, we must
analyze what happened.

It was yesterday afternoon, when everybody was busy with his work--workers,
employees, officials, members of the armed forces students--that is,
everybody was busy with the most decent thing a nation can be occupied
with, with the work of overcoming the great problems facing us.  Then a
tremendous explosion rocked our capital.  We had a premonition that the
explosion must have had disastrous consequences, with many casualties.
This was indeed the case.  The people were not panicked by the explosion.
They went to the spot.  They were not filled with fear, but with valor.
Workers, militiamen, soldiers and other members of public forces went there
to help.

Why this explosion?  Was it an accident?  Those who have not had experience
with explosives might think it could have been accidental.  Explosives do
explode.  One can imagine they explode easily.  Nevertheless that is not
the case.  In reality it is not easy for explosives to explode.  For them
to explode, they must be set off.  Then what happened?

The other answer was, it might have been sabotage.  But how, where?  Can
sabotage be carried out in the midst of many persons, in the midst of rebel
soldiers and port workers, at high noon?  If it was sabotage, how could it
have been carried out?

The bullets were already on the dock, none were left in the ship.  There
was one upper compartment in the hold that held the rifle grenades.  The
explosion did not occur while the bullets were being unloaded.  It came
while the 30 tons of cases of rifle grenades were being unloaded.

For years explosives have been handled in the port of Havana, and we do not
remember any explosion.  The workers had had years of experience with this
type of cargo, and knew how to handle it and took precautions.  They were
especially careful because they knew it was ammunition to defend the
revolution.  It was unlikely a case would be dropped.  But even if one had
been dropped, does a case of grenades explode when dropped?  It is
practically impossible for a grenade to explode when dropped.  When fired
from a rifle, a grenade receives a sharp impact from the propelling charge,
ad yet it does not explode.  The worst that happens is that, because it is
defective, a grenade does not explode when it hits the target.  We never
have known a grenade to explode at end of a rifle barrel.  So what chance
is there of grenades exploding when a case of them is dropped?  Are
grenades loose inside their case?  Are they packed so there is no safety
when they are moved?

So it could not have been accident, it had to be intentional.  It was
necessary to accept the idea of an international explosion.  But how was
this worked?  Could there have been sabotage in the presence of veteran
rebel soldiers, who were watching the unloading?  Could there have been
sabotage in the presence of the busy workers there?  How could anybody
commit sabotage?  It would have had to be a worker but it is illogical for
us to expect sabotage from a worker.  Workers are supporters of our
revolution.  But so as not to go only on theory, let us analyze this
possibility.  Workers are searched to prevent their carrying matches or
cigarettes.  Workers are searched and are watched over by soldiers and by
their own delegate and comrades.

So sabotage in these conditions is practically impossible.  Furthermore,
these workers are very well known by their comrades, for there are not many
of them.  And another important thing--the workers there did not know they
were going to be used on this ship; the ship came in morning; the first
shift was from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  They did not work where grenades were,
but in the lower compartment in which the bullets were.  When they went to
work they went to the port and were given their assignment; they did not
know in advance what ship they would work on.  The second shift gets its
assignment at 12:30, to begin working at 1.  That group did not know it
would unload the explosives.  So premeditation, plan, or preparation in
those conditions is not reasonable to believe.

From a careful analysis, investigation and detailed talk with all workers
taking part there, wed reach the conclusion that the sabotage could not
possibly have been carried out in Cuba.  The explosives went off in Cuba,
but the mechanism responsible was not installed in Cuba, could not have
been installed in Cuba.

Could it have been the crew of the ship?  Very unlikely.  We have
questioned those who had anything to do with hold, with keys, and so forth.
In the first place, those who had keys that day and opened the holds for
the unloading to begin perished in the explosion.  The officers were on
board when the explosion occurred.  One cannot imagine that anybody would
think he could set off 30 tons of dynamite in a ship and escape unharmed.
Many of the crew were saved, but that does not mean anybody could be sure
that anyone could get out alive.

Only four of the crew were away:  Three mess boys, and a grease man not on
duty.  Their motives for being off ship are absolutely logical.  All the
rest were on board, including the two passengers.  So it was unlikely the
sabotage was perpetrated by any crew member.

As we went further in the investigation, we reached the conclusion that the
sabotage was prepared further away.  The unloading was watched very
carefully.  The ammunition was for us.  We know our enemies and we took
pains.  But thousands of miles away, in countries that are not threatened
by sabotage or counterrevolution, in a country like Belgium, the point of
departure, how could they be expected to be as vigilant as we are here to
avoid any act of sabotage?  From questioning the ship's officer responsible
for the cargo, we found out how the loading was done, in presence of this
officer, or when he was away, in presence of some other crew member.  The
conditions were much more likely to allow sabotage, the introduction of
some detonator to make the explosives go off.  Therefore, we conclude the
saboteurs must be sought abroad, where chances for sabotage are much

One thing was established:  More than 20 cases were taken out, then as
another case was being moved, the explosion occurred.  It could not have
been an accident; it had to be intentional.  Moving the particular case
touched off the mechanism of some detonator.  We know there are infinite
ways of arranging such an explosion.  it is extremely easy for the man who
knows how to set up a mechanism between two cases, so that moving one will
set it off.  The cases were in close rows, unable to shift.  Such sabotage
could be arranged without worry over an explosion before unloading.  That
is what happened.  As a particular case was moved the explosion came.  The
case was in the second or third row.

Our conclusion comes from an analysis, from the investigation we made.  It
is not based on emotion, or a whim.  Every year, millions tons explosives
are transported yet we do not hear of ships exploding.  In our own country,
for many years explosives have been transported and moved but we know of no
explosion of this nature.

The mystery of the Maine has not yet been fully explained.  It caused a
war, because the nation to which the ship belonged--although we presume it
did not have a chance to investigate as we have done reached the conclusion
that it had been blown up by a mine, and declared war on Spain.  Because of
a simple supposition, the United States went so far as to declare war on
Spain.  We have not had to abuse our imagination that much.  We have not
had to draw conclusions with such little foundation.  It is illegal to
think that Spain, in her difficult situation, would have blown up the U.S.

On the other hand, we have more than cause enough to believe that
yesterday's case was sabotage and to think we know what international
forces are encouraging the enemies of our people and our revolution.  We
have reasons for thinking there were interests trying to keep us from
receiving arms.  We have cause to suppose, or think, that those who
committed this sabotage are those who were interested in our not getting
these arms.

Those interested in our not getting explosives are the enemies of our
revolution, those do not want our country to have defensive strength.  We
know what efforts were made to keep us from being able to buy these
weapons.  They were made by officials of the U.S. Government.  This is no

We are not the only ones to say this.  The British Government said that the
U.S. Government did not want us to buy planes in Britain.  The United
States would not sell arms to Cuba.  We have been fighting against such
pressure.  We have been fighting these obstacles.  A small country which
must defend its territory against enemies, a nation which must defend
itself against the criminals who want to return or keep us enslaved and
starving, we must continue to fight the pressures of a powerful government
in order to buy arms.

We can say that up to now we succeeded in getting one government and a
European arms plant, acting independently and firmly, to oppose the
pressure and sell us weapons.  The arms plant in Belgium and that country's
government resisted pressure.  Not once, but several times, an American
consul and an American military attache in Belgium tried to prevent the
plant and the government from sending us weapons.  Officials of the U.S.
Government several times tried to prevent our country from selling these
weapons and U.S. officials cannot deny this.  This means they did not want
us to buy these weapons, and that among those interested one must see, the
guilty ones.  We have the right to think that if they tried by diplomatic
means to prevent us from getting weapons, then we can think they tried
other means also.  We are not affirming this, but we think that if they did
not get their way in one manner they would try another.

In the first place what right does any government have to interfere with
the efforts of another government in defense of its sovereignty?  What
right has any government to try to assume the guardianship of any country
in the world?  What right has any government to try to prevent Cuba from
getting weapons, weapons which all governments get for the defense of their
sovereignty and dignity?  What nation would we try to prevent from buying
weapons?  What obstacles would we place in the way of any nation seeking to
arm itself?

What nation has the right to interfere in the affairs of another to prevent
it from buying weapons, all the more if one considers that this country is
buying on our territory strategic materials it needs for its defense
without our interference in this acquisition of equipment without our
interference in its affairs?  Why this interest in our not getting means
with which to defend ourselves?  Do they expect us to again fall under the
boot of the band of criminals which whipped us for seven years?  Are they
(promoting?) the return of those criminals?  Are they perhaps planning to
interfere in our country?  Our country is not a danger to any country, it
can never be a military danger to any nation.  Our revolutionary strength
lies not in our military power, but in our moral strength.  We are not a
threat to any nation, and we do not intend to subjugate anyone.  We are
strong in order to defend ourselves.  To defend one's nation is one of the
rights which the people know how to defend against any power.

We shall never have forces for aggression against anyone but we feel strong
enough to defend ourselves.  We would be defending a right and we would
know how to do it.  Why shouldn't we have the necessary means?  Simply
because they do not want us to defend ourselves?  Because they want us to
be defenseless?  Because they want to subjugate us, so we won't be able to
resist oppression?  Do they have the right to prevent us from buying
equipment, the authorities of a nation who have not prevented their
territory from being used as springboard for attacks on us?

Perhaps tomorrow the papers will say this is an insult to the American
people.  We are not insulting the people of the United States.  We never
have.  The truth they call insults, but we are not insulting the American

Planes, the enemies of our people, are leaving the United States and that
government, so worried lest we get weapons, has not been able to prevent
our being attacked.  In the seven years of cruel fighting and sacrifices,
during which time any citizen could be tortured and assassinated in field,
town, or city, the most atrocious tyranny prevailed in our country, but
ships with bombs from the United States didn't explode in the port of

We have established respect for the human being.  Our revolutionary
government is characterized by an atmosphere of security and respect for
the Cuban citizen.  We do not torture and we do not assassinate, but the
arms which come to defend us explode.

Scarcely a month ago a plane came from U.S. territory, piloted by an
American, and tried to drop a bomb on a plant in which more than 200
persons were at work.  Our people could have been sorrowing.  Today we have
come here to bury dozens of workers and rebel soldiers.

A month ago they were about to drop a bomb on 200 workers.  With proof in
hand we spoke to the people, explaining what was happening.  Yet no one was
arrested in the United States.  No war criminal has been expelled from that
country.  On the contrary, hardly a month ago the town in which the Premier
lives was bombed.  So what is so strange about an area being bombed where
there are children?

Everyone knows the law by which the sovereignty of our country is being
subjected to the threat of not buying sugar, that shortly the Congress is
to be presented with a law under which the President of the Republic
reserves the right at any time to reduce the sugar quote.  Our economy has
been a one-crop economy, one of latifundios, an economy of an
underdeveloped nation for 50 years.  Now advantage is being taken of this
situation which we are trying to get rid of, this economic dependency.
Taking advantage of this dependence, they are trying to subjugate our
rights and our sovereignty.  They are trying to restrict the right of our
people to be independent and sovereign with the threat of starvation.  What
does this mean if not to warn that if we take measures against monopolies
and for our people, reprisals will be taken against us?  This is nothing
but an effort to restrict the independence of a nation through reprisals.
These are not measures in the interests of Americans.  No, these measures,
contrary to ours which are to defend the peoples' interests, are measures
against our country.

We are not restricting the Americans' means of subsistence or opportunities
for work.  Our measures are not against the American people, and their
measures are not to help Americans; they are measures of reprisal against

It is necessary to have a government without fear of threats or reprisals,
without fear of military maneuvers, and we ask:  Why have maneuvers been
held in the Caribbean?  Why have troops been carried in planes on
maneuvers?  World problems are not to be found in the Caribbean.  The big
nations do not think in terms of guerrilla activity.  We had to engage in
it in fighting the professional army of tyranny, we had to use such tactics
against a larger army than ours.  When we see maneuvers against guerrilla
activity, we wonder why?  Do they plan to land or just intimidate?

Do they want to frighten us?  Do they want to show us that we can be
invaded at any time?  Among things being discussed by some as possible is
the sending of marines, as if we did not count.  As if the Cubans would
just stand by!  As if we Cubans would not resist any landing here to
subjugate our people!

Before these dead here today, the victims of who knows what murderous
hands, we say that we are not afraid of any troop landings here.  We would
not delay for a single second in picking up our guns and taking up our
posts to face any foreign troops landing in this country.  The people of
Cuba, its workers, peasants, students, women, young and old, even its
children, will not hesitate to occupy their posts the day foreign troops
try to land either by plane or by ships, many though they may be.

If anyone doubted this, yesterday furnished proof to the most skeptical.
Yesterday one could see how soldiers, the militia, firemen, workers went to
that center of danger, how they unhesitatingly advanced to that place of
death.  We saw soldiers and the people striving to rescue the wounded and
the victims in that burning ship, in an area when on did not know how many
more explosions there might be.  Anyone observing the people's conduct,
their orderliness, can be certain that our people can advance against
anything, even nuclear bombs.

We have never attacked anyone, and no one need ever fear we will.
[Unreadable text] anyone attacking us must know that today is not 1898-99.
We are Cubans of this generation, of this era.  We are not better today, we
are just fortunate enough to have a better outlook.  Today we know we can
resist any attack, that we are able to overcome any attacker.

There are those who sometimes think we can resist death but not privations.
We have the courage to resist privations.  If those men who fought in the
mountains had not had the courage to surmount privations they would not
have won.  Men and women who are strong can resist privations.

It is better to suffer hunger in freedom than to live enslaved in opulence.
It is better to be poor but free.  While the path of our development be a
long one, some day we shall attain our goal.  Once we were poor and
enslaved; now we are poor, but free; someday we shall be both free and

We have not had economic advantages.  People here have suffered poverty and
exploitation.  Many children did not go to school; we did not even have
them.  Cuba always has fought these evils and tried to overcome them.  We
have never done anything but defend ourselves.  This is the wrong committed
by Cuba.  Defending its own against exploitation and colonization.  This
is why the planes come and the reason for the ever-growing audacity of the

Today the worker militia marches together with the university brigades, the
revels, members of the navy, and police.  Ministers and citizens stand
together with the people.  Who could have dreamed that one day soldiers,
workers, peasants, and students would not be enemies, that one day
intellectuals would walk arm in arm with soldiers, that one day the forces
of labor and the soldier would march together.  They used to be separated;
they used to be enemies, they used to be distinct institutions.  Today the
nation is a single force, the country a single group.

As we say farewell to the dead today, I have no other thought than the idea
which symbolizes this struggle:  Let them rest together, in peace;
together, workers and soldiers; together in their graves, as together they
fought and died, and as together we are prepared to die.  As we say goodbye
we make this promise:  Cuba will not be intimidated; Cuba will not turn
back; the revolution will not halt; the revolution will not turn back; the
revolution will continue forward, victoriously; the revolution will
continue going ahead without breaking step.  That is our promise, not to
those who have died, because dying for the country is to live, but to the
comrades whom we will always remember as something of ourselves.  They will
live on in the heart of the nation.

Government Decree

Havana, Union Radio, in Spanish to Cuba, Mar. 5, 1960, 0525 GMT--E

(Summary)  The Cuban Government has decided upon the following measures in
connection with the explosion of the French vessel La Coubre in the port of

1)  One million pesos will be released to help the families of the victims
of the explosion; 2) a special pension will be granted those who have been
partially or completely incapacitated by the explosion; 3) the state will
assume the complete education of the minor children of the victims and the
Welfare Department will take care of all the immediate needs of their
families; 4) the sum of 10,000 pesos is granted to the families of the crew
members who perished; 5) a day of mourning has been decreed as of midnight
Mar. 4, with public services, radio and television, and newspapers
exempted; 6) a three-day period of official mourning will begin at midnight
Mar. 6; 7) the national flag will be displayed at half mast on all public
buildings for the days of Mar. 6, 7, and 8.