Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC



Source:  Revolucion (Revolution), 11 October 1960

Speech by Major Fidel Castro Ruz, Prime Minister of the
Revolutionary Government, at the closing session of the first National
Congress of the Municipal Education Council in the auditorium of the Palace
of the Workers.

"Comrades of the Congress of Municipal Education Councils:

"Let us talk about education now.  It is highly significant that
the members of the congress themselves -- who gathered here to take up
these problems of education -- are also preoccupied with the problems of
the defense of the revolution and the fatherland. This means just one thing
and that is that we are very much aware that we must work and fight in all
areas; that we must acquire more and more awareness each day; that a
revolution is not just a creative effort but that a revolution must not
only create but must also defend what it creates and that it must fight
while creating.

Creative Effort

"We have gathered here today to engage in a creative effort, to
accomplish another task among the many which we have set for ourselves; we
have gathered here, perhaps, to accomplish one of the most beautiful tasks
which the revolution must accomplish and certainly one of the tasks which
is most strongly felt by our people; the mission of teaching the people, of
education our citizens, of giving each and every one of the children of our
fatherland an opportunity to learn, regardless of class.

"We must confess that, among all of the tasks of the revolution,
none is more stimulating and none is more beautiful than the educational
task of the revolution.  One might say that this is an indispensable pillar
in the achievement of the success of all of the other things which we have
proposed for ourselves here.  This explains the importance of this Congress
and the importance of this day as far as the revolution is concerned.

Difficult Task

"We have proposed something very ambitious for ourselves here, a
difficult task, a task which in reality will put to the test the capacity
of each and every one of us, a task which will test the capacity of our
people; this is so because we propose, within a year, to do something which
others either could not or did not want to do in 58 years.  In other words,
we propose that, in 1961, which we called the year of education, we will
wipe out illiteracy in Cuba.

"How many times have we heard people talk about that problem?
How many times have studies and papers been written on that topic and how
many times has this theme been discussed?  Almost from the very age of
reason on, each one of us has been hearing all this talk about the problem
of illiteracy, the problem of the lack of schools, the teacher shortage,
etc; we have always heard that the illiteracy rate was supposed to be 40,
38, or 37%.

An Old Evil

"This is therefore a kind of old evil which has hurt all of us
much and which has depressed us a lot; this is an evil which in the past no
one has tried to remedy, nor did we have any great success in advancing
this very important cause.  First of all, we had a shortage of 10,000
teachers in the rural areas.  We heard that the total number of teachers
in the rural areas was about 5,000, whereas we would have needed 15,000.
How could anyone reduce the illiteracy rate if we did not have teachers for
2/3 of our rural children?  And, furthermore, the existing schools, the
remaining 5,000 classrooms, very often did not have the necessary training
aids and on some occasions they even lacked the most essential tools of
education; there was no clothing, no shoes for the children who had to go
to school and even though the school might have been nearby, they did not
go there very simply because they had neither clothing nor shoes to go to
school with.

"This is a truth that we all are only too familiar with.  Not even
the enemies of the revolution could deny that.  It is certain however that
the revolution, over the period of 1 year, has already created about 10,000
classrooms needed in the rural areas -- and those which we still need will
be provided during this quarter; furthermore, as of the beginning of 1961,
we will provide the 10,000 classrooms which we need in order to provide our
entire school-age population in Cuba with a teaching staff.  (Applause)

A Formidable Job

"Let those who still dream about these things and those who have
managed to create the impression abroad that Cuba might keep losing ground
in this report, let them take a close look here at the formidable job we
have done in increasing the number of classrooms from 5,000 to 15,000 in
just one year, in our rural areas (Applause); let them look at our
achievement in providing teachers for the entire rural school-age
population in Cuba -- something that certainly looked difficult before it
was done. But that is not all; our teachers today are fulfilling a promise
which the government made only 5 months ago, in the most distant corners of
our mountains (applause), in other words, places where nobody ever dreamed
of having a school, in other words, small hamlets and family groups
situated in out of the way valleys, where there were no means of
communication; that is where they have teachers today.


"And this was by no means an easy task because the teacher
training institutes were concentrated in the cities.  Almost all of the
teachers came from a city environment and it was not easy for us to get the
graduates of our schools to adjust to a way of life in the mountains which
they were quite unfamiliar with and which they had never known anything
about before; these were people who had never before been separated from
their families; they included young girls; it was very difficult for them
to do their job in places where even the most basic conveniences, such as
we are accustomed to them, were lacking.

"In other words, the first thing we had to do was prepare our
personnel so that we could send them out into the mountains; here the
revolution demonstrated its capacity to mobilize the resources of the
people and to recruit the necessary personnel so as to meet the school
requirements in those places where the problem looked very difficult to
solve.  So much for anyone who thinks that our fatherland might ever turn
back to the past (shouts of "Never!").

Broad Transformation

"In reality we can say with great satisfaction that Cuba has
achieved a very broad and very profound transformation; in other words, we
have started up the machinery of history of our fatherland (applause), a
machinery which was very difficult to start up, a machinery which required
many new parts and which required many structural changes; however,
although it is difficult to make the machinery of history of a country go
forward, it is even more difficult to make that machinery of history of
that country go backward (strong applause), especially when we are dealing
with a history such as ours, which never moves backward (applause); on the
contrary; we have ways of speeding up this machine of history (applause)
and the Revolutionary Government is able and willing to speed up the march
of history of our country!  (applause)

"The enemies of the revolution, who have the complete backing of
foreign interests, and the foreign interests themselves, have launched
their offensive against the revolution (shouts: "firing squad! firing
squad!").  We know perfectly well what a revolutionary process is and, on
various occasions, we have explained some of the ideas on that subject.
This is a process which involves various stages.  First the revolutionary
struggle strings up against the tyranny.  That struggle had two stages or
phases; but each new stage meant that we have overcome the proceeding one
and each new stage culminated in the crushing victory over the military
apparatus of the big interests.

Imperialist Offensive

"On 1 January the military machine of the tyranny and of
imperialism in Cuba was crushed and the victorious revolution came to
power; the enemy was confused and in disarray and required tome to
reorganize in order to try to undo that defeat.  The enemy of course
returned to the attack.  A revolution is a long, sometimes very long and
broad process which goes on for stage after stage.  The revolutionary now
is in the stage in which its enemies have regrouped and reorganized their
forces and have returned to mount another attack against the revolution.
In other words, the revolution today confronts the offensive of imperialism
and the reactionary forces which are on the offensive.

"We all must be familiar with this process so that we can
understand it perfectly well.  This offensive will be continued and it will
become more intensive each day; we will once again become involved in
stages of struggle but there will also come another victorious stage.  In
other words, the enemy is now gathering his forces, he is attacking from
various directions, he is marshaling his resources and mobilizing all means
at his command.  Of course, this is no longer just the beginning of the
revolutionary movement, and we are not in the very first months of the
struggle against the tyranny now; the enemy now does not just face a group
of men.

The Defeated

"It is not true that the counterrevolutionary enemy is now weaker
than when the tyranny was in power; the counterrevolutionary enemy is
stronger than the tyranny ever was.  Why?  Because he has rallied those who
were defeated by the revolution during the phase of the struggle against
the military machine; he has rallied the interests that were affected by
the revolution, both Cuban and foreign interests, that is to say; he has
rallied all those who are resentful about all this; he has rallied the
worst of the dregs of society; he has rallied all the vicious individuals,
all of the corrupt individuals, all of the immoral and egotistical
individuals, all of the shameless ones and all of those who would sell out
their fatherland (prolonged applause); he has rallied all of the assassins;
he has rallied all of the torturers; he has rallied all of the informers;
he has rallied all of the exploiters; he has rallied all of the traitors;
and, above all -- and I am saying this primarily because without this the
counterrevolution would be absolutely nothing -- he has rallied the
powerful interests of Yankee imperialism to serve as its leaders and
fundamental force (shouts:  "Throw them out!").  But that is not all:  he
has rallied the international reactionary forces throughout Latin America;
against the Cuban Revolution, as against all of the just revolutions, he
has rallied the colonialist and imperialist reactionary forces throughout
the world.

More Powerful Then Ever Before

"Because of this, because of this, the counterrevolution is
stronger than the tyranny was.  But, as we said before, the revolution is
no longer a small group of men, such as it was during the very first few
months when the movement was in its beginnings; it is not just a handful of
riflemen, with whose help we upheld the banner of the revolution for more
than 1 year, in those days when it did not occur to anyone to rise up; this
actually was quite odd:  it did not occur to anybody to rise up; nobody
thought of taking up arms; everybody thought that it was impossible to
fight against an army.  And those of us who launched the revolutionary
struggle, when practically everybody believed that this was absurd, when
these small guerrilla nuclei did not please certain people, those of us who
did that at that time were all alone, absolutely alone, just a little
handful of men; but we certainly are not today what we were then.  Today
the revolution is likewise much stronger than it was ever before!  Today
the revolution has many more weapons than it ever had before!  (Applause)
Today the revolution has much more experience than it had ever before and
it has a much better organization than it ever had before.  The revolution
today does not consist of just a handful of men; today the revolution
consists of the best and the most honest and the most patriotic members of
our nation (Applause); today the revolution has rallied the best in our
people, all of the generous citizens of our country, all of the honest men
in our nation, all of the selfless citizens of our people, all of the men
and women who are full of the spirit of sacrifice and full of a fighting
spirit, all of the men and women who worship the ideal of our people, all
of the men and women who are full of the revolutionary consciousness

Corrupt Counterrevolution

"And so we see that the counterrevolution has rallied all of the
lowest elements, the gangsters, the cowards, the assassins, the corrupt,
the torturers, the exploiters, the mercenaries, the traitors and the men
who would sell their own fatherland (shouts); on the other hand, the
revolution has rallied all the best in our fatherland. And through these
best elements, the fatherland is prepared to fight as many battles as may
be necessary in each and everyone of the stages of the revolution

"In other words, we have a counterrevolution, strengthened by
powerful foreign interests, confronting a revolution that has been
strengthened by the rally of the people and by the solid support from all
of the peoples of the world and all of the antiimperialist and
anticolonialist governments of the world.  (Applause)

"This analysis is indispensable in helping us understand the terms
in which the battle of the revolution will be fought, the terms under which
the forces have grown, and the array of forces on which we can count
everywhere.  And so, the scum has mobilized.  Now, what scum is that?  The
scum of 50 years of republic:  the former military men of tyranny, tens of
thousands of former members of the armed forces of the tyranny; tens of
thousands of politicians who lost office when the revolution triumphed;
vast crowds of plunderers greedy people, exploiters, merchants who traffic
in anything.

Know Your Enemy

(Some members of the audience shouted:  "the priests.)

"Dri Fidel Castro. -- "A good part of them (applause). In other
words, the whole world will know what elements the revolutionary forces are
made up of and what elements the counterrevolutionary forces are made up
of, in other words, here everybody will know his enemy and he will know him
perfectly well, on the basis of his general outline, on the basis of his
many characteristics, his past life, his past profession, and his present

"We said that this whole crowd of politicians and merchants and
egotists and exploiters and plunderers of the people are the human material
on which imperialism counts, because this battle against the Cuban
Revolution is not directed by Cubans.  The battle against the Cuban
Revolution is today directed by imperialism itself; the battle against the
Cuban Revolution is directed by the Yankee State Department (shouting), the
Yankee CIA, and the Yankee warmongers in the Pentagon.  They are also
mobilizing all of their economic resources, all of their tremendous,
fabulous economic resources.

Imperialism Is Clever

"We must know that this is exactly what we face now; we must know
that imperialism here counts on all of the scum from the past, that this
is its manpower, that this is its instrument which it uses along with all
of its voluminous resources; we must realize that it is utilizing all of
the contacts which it established over 50 years here, that it is utilizing
the men who were trained very often at imperialism's own universities;
these are the men who imperialism trained through its own propaganda and
molded to its own taste.  We must know that imperialism is very skillful in
counterrevolutionary matters, utilizing all of its available resources,
because it has done this in other countries, because it has applied its
tactics in other countries, we must realize therefore that our revolution
is confronting this kind of enemy today and that we must in turn mobilize
all of the resources and means which we have.  This is the explanation
behind the terrorists, the uprisings, and the landings.  In the beginning,
nobody could figure this out exactly, nobody knew what it meant to us that
the enemy, over there, received the 'tigers of Masferrer' (shouts) nobody
knew why the worst assassins were received over there.  But now there are
very few people left who still do not understand this.

Assassin Reserve

"They received them there in order to recruit their mercenaries,
their reserves of criminals, whom they could use at the right moment.  But
even though imperialism quite skillful in counterrevolutionary matters,
even though imperialism has staged many counterrevolutions, even though
imperialism has pulled off many international maneuvers, we can say that
imperialism here confronts a very tough task (applause); imperialism here
confronts a tough people; imperialism here confronts a tough revolution.

"And we will keep on learning.  The revolution is a great teacher,
a formidable teacher, because it teaches us much and that word, that word
revolution, which to many people, in the beginning, had a rather vague and
general meaning, will continue to take hold of all of our mines and will
continue to develop a whole series of ideas and a series of concepts which
will enable us to continue discovering the truths that make up a
revolution; this is a word which we have heard often; this is an event
which we have read about in the history of other peoples; but we have
always seen it from a distance, we always thought that we could not
possibly understand how any people could realize that it is an actor in the
revolution, just as our people is an actor in the revolution today.

Difficult Battle

"And we will keep on learning, we will learn better each time, and
this is why we can say all this, this is why we have learned so quickly;
and this is also why we can say that imperialism confronts a very difficult
problem here; imperialism faces one of the most difficult battles which it
has ever been involved in.  We must now begin to understand all of this and
we must figure out the exact terms of the problem so that we will not be
fooling ourselves and so that we will not be making any mistakes; we must
see things clearly.  That is our task.  Our task -- or, better still, our
policy -- never will be a policy of sticking our heads in the sand like an
ostrich.  No!  Let imperialism adopt the policy of the ostrich!  (Applause)
We will never stick our heads in the sand so that we do not have to see
what goes on.  We are going to lift our heads so that we may see and so
that we may see with great clarity, so that we may perfectly understand
what we must understand now and so that we can explain it to the people, so
that we can help the people understand, together with us, the very essence
of the revolutionary problem.  In short, a new struggle is coming up.


"About 2 weeks ago, at a rather improvised television conference,
at the revolutionary CMQ (applause), I said this:  other expeditions or
invasions will come; they are bound to come, there is nothing left for
them to do but to come.  When this game of arms begins, when the conspiracy
begins, these men are nothing but instruments; from the moment they are
taken to those training camps, they cannot get away and they will keep
coming over, even though they know in advance what the result will be; or
they will come because they think the situation in Cuba is different,
because they have been fooled by others or because they have deceived
themselves.  I said that it is necessary for them to come.  Before the week
was over, the first little groups reached the coast of Cuba and I said on
that day:  remember how many things I predicted and how many have come
true!  On that day I assumed the responsibility of making sure that they
would come.  But they are only the first; many more will come; that is the
only thing left for them to do because they are already a part of the
machinery of counterrevolution and this machinery is not run by them, it is
run in Washington, by others, and they are the simple instruments who are
caught up by events.

On the Defensive

"We must know this because imperialism and the reactionary forces
are on the offense, while the revolution is defending itself.  Does this
mean that the revolution is on the defensive?  Yes, the revolution is on
the defensive.  Is it a mistake to say that the revolution is on the
defensive?  No, it is not a mistake because, very simply and plainly, this
is the accomplishment of an inevitable law in the history of revolutions:
phases of advance, phases of struggle, counterrevolutionary offensives,
revolutionary counteroffensives.  This is the same that happened many times
during the war.  The army organized his forces, he attacked, he was
defeated, he withdrew, and regrouped, and after a few months, he returned
to the attack, he was defeated again, and he withdrew and regrouped again.
And this went on until after the April strike, right after the April
strike, a revolutionary defeat, which was followed by a counteroffensive by
the tyranny, on all levels; we entrenched, we waited for the enemy to come,
we defeated him, and then began to the revolutionary advance, the push all
the way to Las Villas, the capture of the cities and the victory of 1
January. (Applause)

Situation Estimate

"We must know how to prepare a situation estimate, we must know
how to find out when the enemy will attack; we must know how to figure out
when the enemy will launch his offensive because we must know at any moment
what the enemy strength is and what he is about to do; this is what the
revolutionary government has been doing with respect to the imperialist
offensive.  First of all, the revolutionary government has been preparing
itself and the people for many months now.  In response to the first
attacks, the revolutionary government took all of the necessary initial
measures; but, within this framework of offensive and counteroffensive,
there are attacks and counterattacks, and at this moment the revolution is
counterattacking and this week the revolution will counterattack
energetically.  (Applause)

"Does this mean that the counterattack will liquidate the
imperialist offensive, the present imperialist offensive?  No.  It will
wipe out the first manifestations of the imperialist offensive but the
imperialist offensive will continue, more protracted struggle is coming our
way, and there will be more big defeats for the enemies of the revolution.
(Shouting from the audience)  No, for the revolution, there will be no
defeat!  The revolution will know where it stands and where it must be
prepared and it will know what to do.  The defeats which the
counterrevolutionaries suffer today are small defeats; the small groups of
insurgents whom we have wiped out, the small landings that have been wiped
out -- these are the small defeats of the imperialists now.  Of course,
they entertain many illusions about that.

Trained Army

"Sometime ago, I said here that we would find these little groups,
even if they tried to hide in the Escambray Mountains (applause) and I
indicated that they would force us to mobilize the militia, perhaps several
thousand militiamen.  (Applause)

"But why not the Rebel Army?  Because the Rebel Army is now
training for bigger and more important battles which we will have to fight.
(Applause)  The units of the Rebel Army are in training.  These are
formidable fighting units which are now in their training camps, artillery
units of the Rebel Army, mortars of all kinds, and the best military
equipment; (applause) these are men who have gone through rigorous
training.  We have not interrupted the training of the Rebel Army units in
order to fight these small counterrevolutionary groups.  We have mobilized
the rural militia units and we have also employed the worker militia units
which are in training.

The Militia Forces

"In other words, in order to fight the small counterrevolutionary
groups in Escambray, we are mobilizing the militia forces in Escambray,
about a thousand farmer militiamen. But in order to prevent every last one
of these counterrevolutionaries from moving around, we are mobilizing 700
peasant militiamen in the Sierra Maestra and in the Second Front of
Oriente.  (Applause)  In addition to the officers, that is to say, the
militia commanders from the capital, who are training in the province of
Matanzas, we also mobilized a company which will be assigned there on a
rotating basis.

"In summary, to prevent these people from playing at war, to
prevent them from playing with guerrilla war, that is, the people to whom
Kennedy is offering aid, we want to present some evidence here; here are
the serial numbers and the makes of American weapons dropped by an American
plane to its heroic servants in Escambray; these weapons fall into the
hands of our militia forces in the mountains who were just waiting there
for the parachute to come down.  (Applause)

"Of course, we did not say anything about that.  Why?  Because we
were waiting for more parachutes to come down, with more weapons.  This is
true even though our weapons are better than the Yankee weapons.


"Our rifles are better than the Yankee rifles (shouts from the
audience); they thought that their weapons were better and they came to
believe that they were stronger than they are, that they had a tremendous
counterrevolutionary front going here, and that the revolution was
powerless in the face of this front!  And so they packaged their weapons
for air-drops to the peasant militia forces in Escambray.  (Strong
applause)  Just so as not to give them the wrong idea, we mobilized 3,000
peasant and worker militiamen to go into those mountains and they combed
the area, bush by bush, cave by cave, and rock by rock.  (Applause)  Of
course, we soon had them on the run (laughter) and only three
counterrevolutionaries died, trying to escape (shouting from the audience);
another 102 plus another 12 were taken prisoner, making a total of 114
prisoners.  (Applause and shouts; "To the firing squad!")  In other words,
the glorious soldiers of imperialism (shouting:  "Throw them out!") only
died, trying to escape or when they ran out of steam and could run no more;
the others simply hoisted the white flag! (Shouting from the audience)

"In other words, this dashed the hopes of Kennedy, Nixon, and the
other imperialists (shouts:  "Throw them out!").  These data are highly
revealing.  Of course, they could not possibly say that a single prisoner
was ever murdered; they could not possibly say that a single prisoner was
ever beaten; they could not say that a single prisoner was ever tortured;
they could not say that even one of the wounded was not given immediate
medical care; they could not say that a single peasant hut was burned; they
could not say that a single peasant was arrested; they could not say that a
single aircraft ever strafed any of the areas in those mountains.

They Will Fail

"We do not need aircraft to force the 'glorious soldiers of
imperialism' to hoist the white flag.  (Applause)  This should be
emphasized because not a single statement was obtained from these men
through torture or through any kind of physical mistreatment; we do not
need their information; they were where they were; sooner or later, they
will have to come down and they will learn that it is very difficult to
escape the tight dragnet of the peasant militia forces which occupy that
zone.  (Great applause)

"They had to capitulate even though we only used ground forces,
even though we did not employ any aircraft, even though we did not use any
cruel methods; but we will keep those aircraft and the weapons they dropped
for the time when the 'big groups' come over.  (Shouting and applause)  We
will keep these weapons for the time when those groups which are now being
trained in Guatemala and on Swan, decide to come over; we are going to save
those weapons for that moment to give them a real big reception when they
arrive.  (Applause)  But these little groups of infiltrators we can handle
with our peasant militia patrols.

"We will see whether they have learned anything.  If they do not
learn anything, well, then they will be in for it.  They will learn that
you cannot play war with a revolution and that the history of the 'egg of
Columbus' cannot be repeated here.  (Shouting and laughter) Because, to
fight these little guerrilla actions, you have to fight against the
peasants; in other words, this is a guerrilla struggle by the exploiters
and the foreign monopolies against the peasants; and although the
imperialism is becoming more brutal each day, it will meet defeat at the
hands of the peasants.  (Applause and shouting)

We Hope That They Will Learn Their Lessons

"This is why we hope that they will learn something from all this
and this is why we say that these were just skirmishes, yes, skirmishes!
Does this mean that acts of terrorism and sabotage will end?  No!  As a
matter of fact, they might even be increased; imperialism will employ more
resources, it will increase its aid and support to these groups, it will
mobilize thousands of gangsters and criminals, it will mobilize its
millions upon millions of dollars, it will give them explosives and it will
enable them to come over to engage in acts of sabotage; we must be prepared
for this but we must also realize that we can lick them.  Sooner or later,
within a period of months or perhaps less than that, the imperialist
offensive will suffer a rude blow, a decisive blow and this will force them
to wait for another phase; in other words, we are going to have to absorb
not just one imperialist offensive.  We are going to have to absorb many
imperialist offensives in Cuba and each time the methods and tactics will
be different; now they are sending their little counterrevolutionary groups
over, their groups of mercenaries; we have made direct aggression difficult
for them; we have warned the world against this provocation and we have
made it difficult for them to engage in direct intervention; this is why
they entertain all kinds of illusions and it is good for them to do this;
they are now in a phase in which they employe mercenary and
counterrevolutionary elements, instead of directly using their own regular
forces; the Pentagon is doing this now because it knows that, if it ever
attacks us with its own forces, these will not exactly be hit with mud
pies.  (Applause)

Aggression Is Difficult

"And so we made it more difficult for them to launch direct
aggression; this is why they make massive use of mercenaries; this is why
they resort to terrorism and this is why they try to rely on puppet
governments, such as those in Guatemala; this is why they train
expeditionary forces, such as those that are now in training in Guatemala
and that are supposed to crush the revolutionary movement.

"In view of this situation, they will continue to provide more and
more support and resources for the terrorists and the terrorists, in turn,
will become bolder; yesterday, they planted two bombs in two motion picture
theaters in the capital. (Shouts from the audience)  Today, in the morning,
they put a bomb in the sewer system of the capital.  In other words, they
will step up these activities, accompanied by a general upsurge in the
imperialist offensive; but this will only be the beginning of their
downfall, when their central forces are launched in the attack and when
they will have to take a tremendous blow and when the people and the civil
organization of the people improves and advances; this will happen because
we are pushing the military organization of the people in the militia
forces, in combat battalions; but we must also organize the people in terms
of civil defense, in the form of collective vigilance committees, or in the
committees for the defense of the revolution.  (Applause)  In other words,
the civil defense of the revolution, the civil defense of revolution!  We
must do this to watch out for the counterrevolutionaries, to repress their
activities and in order to be prepared in case the struggle breaks out, so
that everyone can accomplish the mission assigned to these committees,
which must be organized, block by block, section by section, city by city.
This of course also applies to the rural areas and it concerns not only the
militia forces; in other words, we must continue to work on the
regulations for the formation and organization of committees for the
defense of the revolution so that the whole nation may participate in this
effort, in its battle for its liberation and its triumph.  (Applause)

The People, All Present and Accounted For

"But does the upsurge in terrorism mean that the people are going
to pull back, with their tails between their legs?  No!  At the two movie
theaters, which I mentioned earlier, the audience simply stayed there and
shouted:  'To the firing squad!  To the firing squad!  To the firing
squad!'  (Applause)

"Does this mean that the people are simply not going to go out
into the streets anymore?  No!  The people are going to continue taking
their walks; the people will continue to go to the beaches and to the
movies and everywhere else!  (Applause)  And we will go everywhere with the
people; we will go wherever they go and we will continue to meet with the
people anywhere and everywhere simply (applause) because we are not afraid
of the counterrevolutionaries, we are not afraid of imperialism, and we are
not afraid of the assassins of imperialism who try to stir up trouble and

"We leave the terror to them, in other words, their terror of the
Cuban Revolution, their fear of the Cuban Revolution.  That is what we
leave to them and we will go on making the revolution, satisfied by the
fact that we are making the revolution, and determined to continue to make
the revolution, so long as it may be necessary to make the revolution,
(Applause) without losing our calm dispositions.  Let them get all excited!

"What do they want?  Do they want us to appear cruel?  Well, they
are wrong; they are not going to succeed in picturing us as being brutal;
nobody has ever slapped them and nobody is ever going to hit them, no
prisoner is ever going to be hit, no!  We are not going to discard our
civilized methods; we will always be able to say -- anywhere on earth,
wherever we happen to be -- we will always be able to say that our police
and our army and our authorities can teach them a great lesson in civil
behavior and in respect for the human individual; we will always be able to
teach these lessons to the police and to the repressive forces of
imperialism.  In other words, our ethics will always be high.

We Will Punish Them

"What do they want?  That we punish them?  All right, then we will
punish them.  But, to what extent?  Well, to the extent that ... all right
to what extent, to what extent do they want to be punished?  No, to the
extent that it may be necessary and to the extent that they try to get
punished!  And after that, let them not try to blame the revolutionary
government because the revolutionary government has been extremely
generous and the revolutionary government can point to a record of
generosity, excessive generosity, as a matter of fact, because we preferred
to be guilt of an excess of generosity rather than an excess of severity.

"But, what do they want?  Do they want to have a run-in with
revolutionary justice?  Do they want to challenge the laws of the
revolution?  Well, then they will have to go on the basis of the acts which
they perpetrate.   But they will not incriminate us; we want to say this
here quite clearly, we want to emphasize that we never want to apply
excessive punishment; we never want to be excessively severe; we know what
the circumstances force us to do, we know that the circumstances force us
to punish them, we know that the counterrevolutionaries force us to apply
severe measures against them.

Defend the People

"But we must also clarify here what the spirit of the
revolutionary government is, what the spirit of the revolution has always
been, and we must explain the efforts which the revolutionary government
has made in order to advance the revolution, without severity; we must also
point out that the revolutionary government is conscious of its duty, above
all its duty to defend the people, to defend the laws of the revolution, to
save the fatherland, above all, to safeguard the interests of the humble
people in our country; this is whom we are defending, the humble peasant,
the little child who does not have a school to go to, the worker, the
person who has been discriminated against, the poor person, in other words,
the exploited and sorely-tried portion of Cuban society; these are the
interests which will be defended by a revolutionary government that is
fully aware of its duty to defend the interests of the humble people of the
fatherland against the great Cuban and foreign exploiters; the
revolutionary government is aware that it must defend the best in the
fatherland against those who have sold out, against the powerful foreign
enemy and against the criminal and exploiting foreigner; the revolutionary
government will apply the measures that are necessary in order to punish
these people in keeping with the circumstances.

"We do not want to be forced to execute anybody by firing squad --
but he who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword (Ovation and shouts
of 'To the firing squad! To the firing squad!'); he who raises the foreign
sword against his own compatriots, whom he wants to kill, that person
deserves no punishment other than the sword, in other words, he too
deserves death.  (Applause)  Nevertheless, the incorrigible enemies of
Cuban society, the bunch of incorrigible and corrupt individuals and
assassins who for so many years have soaked our soil with blood and
subjugated our fatherland, they still have plans to spill more blood on our
soil and they want to run the country once again, they want to return so
that they can perpetrate the horrors which they have been perpetrating in
the past, horrors which will be indescribably greater than those of
yesterday because then there will be no principles to hold them back, no
ethics and no reason and no human compassion to stop them; they might
demand the right to live because this is a biological law of Cuban society;
but let them not try to annihilate us.  If it is a question of us or them,
we will annihilate them first!  (Applause)  Our people has the right to
live and it has the right to punish, with extermination, all those who try
to exterminate it, all those who want to destroy it, all those who want to
spill the blood of our people; this is why we say this; this is why Cuban
society has a right to its own destiny and to its own life.

A Record for History

"But let history record our sentiments now; let history record our
pain in the face of the sad fact that our country, through 50 years of
exploitation, through 50 years of rising anger, must today suffer the
existence of a scum, a social scum created by the past, an instrument today
of the enemies of the liberation and progress of our fatherland; let the
record of history show that the historical responsibility falls upon the
exploiters and the criminal imperialists, that it falls upon those who
plunder the peoples and who sack the colonies and who exploit the nations,
because we are only liberating ourselves from these crimes, from the crime
of exploitation, from the crime of oppression, and from the crime of
plunder.  Let the historical responsibility fall upon the shoulders of the
great criminals of today, who are nothing but the Yankee imperialists, the
leaders of the imperialists of the entire world!

"Let the responsibility fall upon those because history will judge
their responsibility correctly, their aggressions, their abuses, their
cowardice against the little nations, especially their great cowardice of
today; full power of an entire empire and of the millions of people in that
empire, committed to the task of destroying the future of a little people.
And that little people will defend itself and it will defend itself with
the rigor that is necessary!  And let the responsibility fall upon those
who must die in front of the firing squad!  (Tremendous applause)

Drastic Measures

"And let the people henceforth know what we are tackling here and
what we are trying to do here; let the people know that the hour
nevertheless has not come for applying more drastic measures; let the
people know that we will have an opportunity to prevail later on.  Just
because the offensive has begun does not mean that the revolution must
immediately take the most drastic measures; the revolution however will
apply drastic measures as the imperialist offensive is stepped up, as the
imperialist offensive becomes more severe; and the revolution will apply
drastic measures gradually, as the imperialist attack is stepped up.  We
will not be afraid because we know perfectly well where we are and where we
stand and these are just the first skirmishes; we are just beginning and
the severity with which the revolutionary tribunals will punish them will
just be the very first acts of severity by the revolutionary tribunals; and
this severity will increase as the attacks are stepped up; this severity
will increase as they launch their offensive; we will not lose our clam
composure, not will we become impatient.  And it is possible that the
people might be much more impatient than we.

The People Are Impatient

"In Baracoa, the people wanted to lynch the first prisoners of the
'tiger' and 'gringos' group who arrived there. (Applause) The people were
impatient but Raul was there and talked to the people; he interrogated
these criminals in public so as to create evidence before the people as to
the lowdown mercenary role of these men who are in the service of a foreign
power and he calmed the people down. Still, the people are more patient
than we; but it is better that the men who have responsibility of
government, the men who hold the great responsibilities of government, keep
the people calm and that they be much less impatient than the people; it
would be much more dangerous if the government were to become more
impatient than the people and we would rather have the people be more
impatient than we. (Applause) Let the people demand more severity than we
demand; this means that, far from using excessive severity, we who have
tremendous responsibility for our country, we who march side by side with
the people, will never exceed our application of severity above and beyond
the degree exhibited by the people; it is always better for us to be less
severe than the people would want us to be but we will never be very far
from the degree of severity which the people want us to apply. (Applause)

We Will Defeat Them

"I said that we were going to talk about education, first, and
counterrevolutionary problems, second.  Well, we did it the other way
around:  we talked about counterrevolutionary problems first and now we
have to say something in brief -- in brief but in truth -- on the
fundamental objective of this congress; the important thing here is not
only for us to defeat the counterrevolution -- certainly we believe firmly
that we will crush the counterrevolution in all battles and in all
offensives.  (Applause)  The mission which we have in our country is not
just to defeat the counterrevolution or any other counterrevolutions but to
make the revolution; this is our mission in our country.  Our mission in
this country is to create; we fight because we want to create; we fight
because we must defend that which has been created.  We fight because we
want to keep on going forward; and, above all, we are not here to fight but
we are here to create.

"The thing that would be a victory for the counterrevolution would
be a delay in our plans for the revolution, a delay in the plans for the
agrarian reform, a delay in our educational plans, our industrialization
plans, or plans for housing construction, our plans for the general
development of our economy; that indeed  would be a victory for the
counterrevolution.  And this is why the counterrevolution must win the
battle not in the military sphere only; it must also win the battle in the
field of revolutionary creation.

We Will Continue to Advance

"Now, have they delayed us?  No.  Indeed, we can say the exact
opposite:  the revolution has advanced even though they have attacked the
revolution.  They have not delayed us.  And they are not going to delay us!
(Shouts:  "Never!")  And, to demonstrate this, we have this very ambitious
goal here for the next year:  we want to wipe out illiteracy completely in
Cuba.  (Applause)  Here we have an opportunity to prove what the people can

"We are not going to be delayed, not in the construction of a
single house, not in a single cooperative, not in a single school, nor in a
single factory; they are not going to delay us in any way at all; on the
contrary, the greater the counterrevolutionary offensive of imperialism,
the better must be the creative effort of the revolution.

"We are not going to talk about other fields here today because we
have gathered here today to take up the subject of education; but let us
see what we have already done.  There are no more big military posts or
barracks which have not been converted into a big school center; in Ciudad
Libertad we already have thousands of children attending classes and here,
in the building of the General Staff, we have the Minister of Education and
we have 2,000 slots for university scholarships for poor families and these
facilities are going to become operational soon; (applause)  Moncada
barracks has been converted into a school city; the barracks of the Holguin
regiment, in Holguin, were converted into a school center; the barracks of
the Camaguay regiment have been converted similarly into a school city; the
barracks of the Santa Clara regiment have been converted into a school
city; the Geicuria barracks have been converted into a school center and
the other new barracks which we were going to convert into a school city
has not yet been converted because we are still training militia leaders
there; the Havana barracks have not yet been converted because we are
training militia men there but the Pinar del Rio barracks is likewise now
being converted into a school city.

"This will leave us only with the big fortresses -- and Ciudad
Libertad and possibly La Cabana which will soon be converted into a big
education center.  And that will leave us with just two, the Matanzas
barracks and the Havana barracks, because we are using them for training
militia men.

Work Battalions

"During the summer, some people said that there were soldiers in
the Rancho Boyeros Technological School as well as in Matanzas and
Holguin.  Did this mean that we were going to convert some of these schools
into military barracks?  No; these were work battalions which were going
through a 3-month course at these technological training centers; and they
are now busy, building houses for the peasants.  This is why you, in
passing some of these places, thought this because you happened to see
Rebel guard, standing guard on the outside, simply because these men were
there, taking a 3-month course.

"In other words, we have converted all of the big fortresses... (a
voice from the audience shouts something to Dr Castro)... and you say that
I am not lying?  You say you are from Camaguey?  Ah, yes, there is another
one!  I must have forgotten... (laughter)...  This does not include the
very large number of company and squadro-sized barracks which we likewise
converted into school centers.  We have created 10,000 spaces for teachers;
we have sent teachers to the very last corners in the mountains; we are
building 150 school centers at this moment and each of them will have 7
classrooms; we have built facilities for 4,500 university scholarship
students (applause); we have set up the national printing office which can
turn out 150,000 books every 48 hours; and we have broken records in the
sales of books; these were certainly world records which we broke here,
such as in the case of Tiburon and Las Sardinas, where we sold 174,000 in
one week.  This is a fabulous figure which nobody ever dreamed of achieving
but all of this is now within the reach of the people; we are putting out
all kinds of books here.  Our people, over the next few years, will come to
be one of the best educated people of the world, a people who is studying,
a people who is learning because this is what we want; we do not want to
inculcate any idea into anybody; instead we want everybody to discover the
truth for himself, just as we have been discovering the truth for

To Everyone His Own Ideas

What we want to give to the people is the instrument which will
enable them to acquire their own idea about the trusts of society and the
truths of the world.  In other words, we want our people to learn how to
think and this is why we are going to print millions of books every year
and these will be sold in order to supplement our task of education; the
youngsters, whom you teach, will, each one of them, be able to have a
library of his own, at home, even though it may be rather modest at that.

And this is really something, at that:  in a little more than 1
year we have converted the fortresses and many military barracks into
schools; we have created a national printing office which can print
millions of books that will be sold for 20, 25, and 30 centavos; we are
building hundreds of school centers; we have established 10,000 classrooms;
we have pushed through a tremendous education reform; we are going to
establish basic secondary education facilities in each municipality; we are
going to create numerous technological schools -- that is something!
Especially when we compare this to all of the things that were never done
in 50 years, in 58 years, especially when we realize that the revolution
has accomplished all this in a little more than 1 year.  These, are the
facts. (Applause)

Difficult Task

"No matter how painful it may be to the enemies of the revolution,
it will be very difficult to burn the books which we are printing now; it
will be very difficult to destroy the national printing office, it will be
very difficult to go back to publishing La Marina [The Navy] and all of
those other yellow-press and mercenary periodicals.  It will be very
difficult to destroy the school centers which we are not putting up; it
will be very difficult to convert these schools back into fortresses; it
will be very difficult to make the men and children we are teaching now
into brutal individuals; it will be very difficult to eliminate the 10,000
classrooms which we have created; it will be very difficult to take all of
this away from our mountaineers, way out in the mountains, it will be very
difficult to deprive them of the teachers whom we have sent and, in return,
send them a tax collector or some other kind of exploiter; it will be very
difficult to deprive the farmers of their land and to force them to pay
rent once again, to force them to pay 20% or 30% of their harvest, in kind;
it will be very difficult to take a portion of their price away on the
market; it will be difficult to destroy their cooperatives and their
settlements; it will be very difficult to return the factories and the
refineries which we have nationalized to the electric power trust or to the
telephone company trust or to the petroleum trust.

"Very difficult!  This will be so difficult as to be impossible
because this is one of the very few impossible things that exist in the
truth of the world:  this would mean forcing back a people who has advanced
as far as our people has.  (Applause)

"It will be very difficult to take the little boats once again
from the fishermen and to take their houses away from the tenants and to
take the land away from the peasants and to take the beaches away from the
people.  In other words, all of this will be very difficult and everybody
must realize that all of this will be difficult, very difficult, I tell

Great Gain

"This is what we have achieved in education.  It is something but
we must still achieve more.  The greatest success we have yet to achieve
will be the one we must achieve next year.  Why are we getting ready to
eradicate illiteracy next year?  Because we already have many thousands
more teachers at work, because we have the national printing office, and
because we have a better organization.  We could not have aspired to that
last year without the national printing office.  We had no place to print
our textbooks and we did not have enough teachers.  But now we do.  Now we
must resolve to win the battle against illiteracy in 1 year.  Some people
say that this is very difficult but we do not think so and we believe that
we can achieve this.  How?  By making everybody a teacher, everybody who
knows how to read and write.  (Applause)

"We will must each somebody!  Yes, all of us!  Are we all teachers
here?  No.  But somebody will explain to us how to handle a textbook and
how to teach others to read and write and we will then go out and teach
somebody.  I am learning how to teach somebody to read and write!

"Everybody is a teacher.

"And so we will turn each and everyone of us into a teacher, with
a textbook, and we will keep a record of the persons who teach somebody
else how to read and write.  Now, this effort will have to be centralized
in you, in the municipal education councils.  This is the closing session
of the congress; you will go home, very happy, but you will have to
remember that you will have to give an account of yourselves next year and
you will have to explain what you did during the year of education.
(Applause)  Now, what must we do?  We must go back to the people and we
must get together all of the persons who want to help us in this plan:  the
labor unions, the peasant associations, the cultural associations,
everybody, even a land owner whose land the revolution took away, provided
he wants to help; if he wants to come, yes, tell him to come, tell him that
we will accept him and that we let him do something useful for the people
-- if there is something that he can do let him do it.

Great Task

"All right, what I am trying to tell you is that you, all of the
professional organizations, will constitute the nucleus of teachers and
educators, together with the labor unions, the peasant associations, the
professional associations, the cultural institutions, the revolutionary
organizations and the municipal organizations, the women's federations, the
young rebels, and finally all of the institutions connected with the board
of education -- so that we may altogether accomplish this task in the city.
In some cities this will be more difficult than in others but we can help
those cities and we can back them up.  "We must also mobilize the students,
the basic secondary school student, the teacher trainees, and the college
students; we must mobilize everybody who can read and write and everybody
must fight this battle in the municipalities.  And if there is any city
that still has illiterates, it will be you who will be held responsible,
you off the board of education in each and every city.  (Applause)

"And we will soon see which municipality achieves the greatest
success.  You know that, as soon as a person has learned to read and write,
he is to write a letter, in his own handwriting, a letter to the office of
the Ministry of Education, which we are going to organize, and as reward,
he will be sent a book, as a present.  (Applause)  This will be a book on
the geography and history of Cuba and on some of the basic outlines on the
history and geography of the world; it will be well explained and it will
be presented in a simple manner so that any man or woman of the people will
be able to understand the subject matter.

Education:  a Virtue

"You must not be discouraged in any way:  we must convert
education into a virtue and we must turn ignorance into a vice; we must see
to it that anybody who cannot read or write will be ashamed of himself,
especially after we give everybody an opportunity to learn how to read and
write.  And we must make sure that it will be considered a vice and a
defect, one of the most highly condemnable and one of the saddest and most
painful vices and shortcomings; and we must see to it that nobody will be
happy to be ignorant.  We must create a revolutionary consciousness and we
must develop in each citizen the realization that inability to read or
write is a shame and a disgrace and that anybody who does not know how to
read or write will have to hang his head in shame because he will be the
victim of one of the most despicable shortcomings.  We must develop this
consciousness so that everybody will learn how to read an write. It is a
crime that the wealth accumulated by humanity through the most intelligence
minds of the human race is lost to millions of human beings, to more than a
million, almost 2 million Cubans; all of this tremendous cultural heritage
accumulated by man down through history is lost because of this illiteracy;
anybody who knows how to read and write and who has a library at home has a
tremendous treasury there and can consider himself much more fortunate than
those who cannot accumulate any treasures of truth and intelligence but
only pile up treasures of money and egotistical wealth.  And now, anybody
can avail himself of this opportunity.


"Let us convert ignorance into a vice.  Let us convert ignorance,
that is to say, the concept of ignorance, let us convert it into a defect
and into a disgrace for each and every citizen, so that everybody will try
to learn how to read and write, whether to be young or old, whether he be
12 or 80 years old.  If a person does not know how to read or write, we
have to teach him patiently how to read and write.  (Applause)

"Here is the main issue:  on 31 December of next year, there must
not be a single illiterate left in Cuba.  This is your responsibility.  And
you can start working on this for the remainder of this year and in
addition you have all of next year.  Mobilize yourselves and organize
everybody who could help you and let us all pull together to accomplish
this great crusade.

"At the Ministry, they are now drawing up the lesson plans and the
charts and training aids for use by anyone who is going to go out and teach
other people how to read and write.

Battle of Culture

"I only want to know whether you think that we can win the great
battle of culture in 1961.  (Shouts of yes!  (Applause)  And I want to know
if you will pledge yourselves to this task (shouts of Yes!).  Good, the
entire Cuban nation is a witness to the promise you have given here today.

"It now remains for me to tell you that you are the great army of
education in our country and that you face a great battle.  We fervently
hope that you will fight it successfully; we want you to know that we are
among those who are prepared to work with you in this campaign and we want
you to know that the people of Cuba will know how to reward the teachers
for what they are doing for the people today.

"And finally, let us be mindful of the father of the fatherland,
let us remember Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, to whom the teachers have today
rendered the greatest homage!  (Ovation)