Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana, FIEL Network, in Spanish to Cuba, Oct. 10, 1960, 1745 GMT--E

(Fidel Castro speech at Education Council Meeting)

(Summary) Comrades of the Education Council! We are going to speak of
education. It is significant that members of the congress who have gathered
here should also be concerned over problems of defense of the revolution
and the homeland. This means that we are very much aware that we must work
and triumph in all fields. A revolution must fight at the same time it

We have gathered here today for a creative purpose:  To fulfill one more of
our many proposals, perhaps one of the best works of the revolution.  We
must teach the people.  It might be said that education is indispensable to
the achievement of success in all things.  Hence the importance of this

We are undertaking a difficult task which will test our ability.  We
propose to do in one year what others could not do in 58 years.  We are
planning in 1961, which we have described as the year of education, to
eradicate illiteracy in our country.

How many times have we heard of this problem?  Almost since we attained the
age of reason we have heard of the problem of illiteracy, of the lack of
schools and teachers, and of an illiteracy index of 38 or 40 or 47 percent.
It is an old ill for which no remedy was sought or found.

Little was done.  The number of teachers in rural areas totaled abut 5,000.
Fifteen thousand more were needed.  Two-thirds of our peasant children
lacked teachers, schools, or school materials.  We all know this.  I don't
know whether even the enemies of the revolution would deny it.

In one year the revolution was created nearly all the 10,000 schoolrooms
needed.  Soon those who are still dreaming, who have foreign-inculcated
illusions that our country is going backward, will realize what it means to
have increased the number of schoolrooms from 5,000 to 15,000 in a single
year, to have produced teachers for all Cuba's rural children.

It was not an easy task, because the teachers' schools were concentrated in
the cities and almost all the teachers came from the cities. It was not
easy for city girls who had never left home to go to work where the
elementary comforts were lacking. The revolution mobilized the resources of
the people and obtained the necessary materials for the schools.

We can say with satisfaction that our country has undergone a deep
transformation.  (Applause)  It required many changes in organization.  But
if it is difficult to advance the history of a country, it would be much
more difficult to turn it back--especially when it is a history such as
ours, which cannot be turned back.  (Applause)  On the contrary, it can be
accelerated.  The revolutionary government is in a position to accelerated
the march of history of our country. (Applause)

The enemies of the revolution, with the full support of foreign interests,
have launched an offensive against the revolution.  (Shouting)  It is
necessary (Shouting and stomping) for all of us to know what a
revolutionary process is.  We have occasionally expressed some ideas on
this subject.  It is a gradual thing.

A revolution rises against tyranny and reaches a climax.  Our revolution
was climaxed with a victory over the military machine of the big interests.
On Jan. 1, 1959, the machine of imperialism was crushed in our country.
The victorious revolution seized power and the disconcerted enemy needed
time to reorganize, to recover from that defeat.  Naturally, the enemy was
going to return to the attack.

A revolution progresses by stages.  Ours is now in the stage in which its
enemies, regrouped and reorganized, are returning to the attack against the
revolution.  The revolution today is facing the offensive of imperialism
and reaction.  We must understand that the offensive will continue and will
become more intensive daily.  We shall again fall into the fighting stage,
but a new victorious stage will come.  They are now testing their forces.
They are attacking from various angles, testing their resources, and
mobilizing all possible means.

The counterrevolutionary enemy is more powerful than the tyranny because
it includes those defeated by the revolution in the fight against the
military machine.  It also includes national and foreign interests affected
by the revolution--the corrupt, the immoral, the resentful, and those who
sell their country.  (Applause)  It includes all the murderers,
torturers, informers, exploiters, and traitors--and, above all, as the
director and the basic strength, the powerful interests of Yankee
imperialism.  Without this, they would all be nothing.  (Applause)  It
includes the internal reaction of Latin America and the colonialist and
imperialist reaction of the whole world.  Therefore, the counterrevolution
is more powerful than the tyranny was.

But the revolution is no longer the small group of the first months, the
small handful of rifles which, for more than a year, upheld the banner of
the revolution.  Those of us who began the revolution when the world
thought it was absurd had to maintain ourselves alone.  Today we are not
what we were then.  The revolution today is more powerful than it ever was;
it has more arms than it ever had.  (Applause)  The revolution does not
include simply a handful of men.  Today it includes the best and most
patriotic, the most honest of our people.  (Applause)

The revolution includes all the honest, the disinterested people, the men
and women who have a fighting spirit and a spirit of sacrifice.  The
counterrevolution includes the corrupt, the torturers, the exploiters, the
cowardly, and the mercenary.  The revolution includes the best of the
country.  It will fight whatever battles are necessary in each stage of the
revolution.  (Applause) This means that a counterrevolution of powerful
foreign interests faces a revolution strengthened by the people, by the
complete support of all the peoples and of all the anti-imperialist and
anticolonialist governments of the world.  (Applause)

The whole world knows what forces form the revolution and the
counterrevolution. This means that each will know his enemy well. This
counterrevolution is not directed by national elements. Today the battle is
directed by imperialism. The fight against the revolution is directed by
the Yankee State Department and the Pentagon (roar of applause); the CIA
and the Pentagon. (Shouting) They are mobilizing fabulous economic
resources. We must know that we must face this. We must know that
imperialism has here all the scoria of the past. This is their instrument.
They use the men they trained in their universities, those whom they molded
to their taste.

Imperialism is aware of counterrevolutionary activities.  It has applied
its tactics in other countries too.  It mobilizes all its means against us.
Thus, we have the terrorists.  Thus, we have the insurgents.  At first no
one knew what it meant to receive Masferrer's tigers here.  It may be that
some still do not understand why.  They are mercenaries.  They are criminal
reserves of the imperialists, to be used at the appropriate times by the

Nevertheless, despite all of this past experience of imperialism, it is now
facing a hard nut to crack.  Imperialism is facing a difficult people, a
difficult revolution.  The word "revolution," which for many at first had
only a vague general meaning, is now beginning to mean a series of concepts
which permits us to know what a revolution really is.  We understand them
better.  We are learning quickly.

We must see things clearly.  This is our task.  Our policy will never be
that of the ostrich.  Let this be the policy of imperialism.  (Applause)
We shall not hide our heads in the sand.  We will raise our heads to be
better able to see clearly, to explain to the people, to help them to
understand the essentials of the problems of the revolution.

Less than two weeks ago, at an impromptu television appearance on CMQ, we
said that expeditions will come.  When the game of arms begins, when the
conspiracy begins, these men are simply tools from the moment they are
taken to the camps.  They come because they deceive themselves.  I said
they would come and before a week had passed the first small group arrived
on the coast of Cuba.  These are only the first.  More will come.  They
have no other recourse.  They have begun to play their part in the
counterrevolutionary machine which is manipulated by Washington and by
others.  They are only the instruments borne forward by the events.
Imperialism and reaction are on the offensive.  It is a mistake to say it
is on the defensive.  We must realize when the enemy takes the offensive.
We must be ready.

The revolutionary government has been preparing.  It took the necessary
measures against the first attacks.  This week the revolution will
counterattack strongly.  (Applause, shouting).  Does this mean the
counterattack will liquidate the imperialists offensive?  No, it will
liquidate the first manifestations of the imperialists offensive but the
offensive will continue.  There will be more extensive fighting and greater
defeats for the enemies of the revolution.  The revolution will suffer no
defeats.  It knows what it must do.

The counterrevolutionists had illusions.  They obliged us to mobilize a few
hundred or a few thousand militia.  Why not the rebel army?  It is training
for more important battles which we will have to wage.  (Applause)  The
rebel army units are training.  Formidable units are in their training
camps.  There is artillery, mortars of all caliber, and war equipment of
the best quality.  The men who are in training are not needed to fight
small groups.  We did not interrupt their training for this.  We mobilized
the peasant militia.  To fight the Escambray rebel groups we mobilized the
the Escambray militia.  We mobilized 700 peasant militiamen for the
Escambray second front.

And, besides the leaders, that is to say, the heads of the militias, who
are training in the province of Matanzas, we also mobilized a company which
was about to take its turn so that they--those to whom Kennedy offered
aid--would not begin playing at war or at guerrilla warfare.  Along with
his (Kennedy's--Ed.) confession, here is proof:  The numbers and the trade
marks of the North American arms which were dropped by the North American
plane to his heroic servants in the Escambray but which fell tamely into
the hands of the peasant militias what were awaiting the parachutes.

It is clear that this was not reported because we were expecting more
parachutes with more weapons.  Even though we have better arms than the
Yankee arms (Applause) and guns superior to the Yankee guns, an abundance
does no harm.  They had the illusion that they had a tremendous
counterrevolutionary front.  So that they would have no further illusions
we mobilized 3,000 militiamen in the mountains and searched them inch by
inch, stone by stone.  Only three counterrevolutionaries were killed trying
to escape.  One hundred two plus 11 more were taken prisoner.  The glorious
soldiers of imperialism died only by mistakes when they were trying to
escape.  The others raised a white flag.  This is what Kennedy, Nixon, and
other imperialists can base their hopes on.  Not a single prisoner was
beaten or tortured. Not a single plane fired, a single shot.  We do not need
planes to force them to raise the white flag, these glorious soldiers of
imperialism.  No statement was extroed by torture or maltreatment.

Those who may be scattered already know that it is very difficult to escape
from the steel traps of the peasant militias that occupy the area. Against
men alone, without planes or cruel procedures, they had to capitulate. We
save the planes and the heavy weapons for when the big ones come. We save
them for when they send the (new?) group they are training in Guatemala and
in Swan. We will save them for that moment, to give them a great reception
when they arrive here. But the little groups of rebels are only patrols for
the peasant militias. Let us see if they are finally convinced--because if
they are not that is too bad for them--that you cannot play at war and that
the story of the egg of Columbus will not be repeated here. Because, in
short, to undertake guerrilla warfare, one must have the support of the
peasants against the exploiters. Undertaking guerrilla warfare with the
support of the exploiters and the foreign monopolies against the peasants
only occurs to imperialism.

These are simply skirmishes.  The imperialists offensive, sooner or later,
will be dealt a decisive blow.  They are now in the testing stage with
their mercenaries and counterrevolutionaires rather than their own forces,
the use of which would put them in a difficult position.

They will continue giving increasingly greater support and more equipment
to the terrorists, and because of this, the terrorists, encouraged,
yesterday placed two small bombs in two cinemas in the capital. And today,
in the early mourning hours, they placed a bomb in one of the master
pipelines of the capital. That is to say that those activities will be
intensified, accompanied with a general outbreak of the imperialist
offensive, which will only begin its decline when its main forces are
launched into the attack and receive a tremendous blow and when, also, the
civil organization of the people is improved and advanced. We are
organizing the people militarily in the militias and in the combat

That is good.  The people must be organized civically in the committees of
collective vigilance, in the committees of defense of the revolution--that
is to say, the civil defense of the revolution--to watch the
counterrevolutionaries, to repress their activities, and to be prepared in
case of struggle to fulfill the mission that corresponds to those
committees, which must be organized block by block, district by district,
city by city, and rural zone by rural zone.  Not only should the militias
be organized, we must go on working on the elaboration of the regulations
for the formation and organization of the committees of defense of the
revolution, so that all the people will participate in this, their battle
for their liberation and their triumph.

Rising terrorism means people will be frightened.  In the motion picture
theaters the people called for execution.  Does it mean that the people
will be afraid to go out into the streets?  No.  The people will continue
going to theaters, beaches, parks, and everywhere.  We shall continue
meeting the people everywhere.  We are not afraid of the
counterrevolutionaries or imperialists.  We will not lose our calm.  We
will maintain our civilized demeanor.  We will not maltreat prisoners.  Our
police and our army can give lessons to those of imperialism.  But the
revolution must be aware of its duty to defend the people, to save the
country, to protect the interests of humble.

The revolutionary government will not lose its neck over having to apply
the measures of punishment required by circumstances.  We do not want to be
forced to execute, but, since he who lives by the sword must die by the
sword, (Applause, stamping, and chanting of "pardon.").

He who, with foreign steel, wants to kill his own countrymen does not
deserve a punishment other than the same steel of death.  Inasmuch as the
incorrigible enemies of Cuban society,--those incorrigible varmints,
assassins who for so many years bloodied our land and placed our country in
mourning--still unsatisfied, are again trying to bloody our country and
again want to be masters here in order to again commit the horrors they
committed in the past, horrors that would be indescribably greater than
those of the past, they will not--by virtue of any principle, by virtue of
any moral or human reason--be able to claim the right of having their
lives spared because this is a biological law of our Cuban society:  So
that they will not annihilate us, we will annihilate them.

Let history blame the exploiters, the criminal imperialists, those who
pillage the peoples, the colonies, those who exploit nations.  We are
simply freeing ourselves of the crime of exploitation and oppression.  Let
history judge the Yankee imperialists and the other imperialists of the

Let the responsibility fall on the Yankee imperialists, leaders of world
imperialists.  History will have to judge their responsibility, their
aggressions, their abuses, their cowardice toward little nations, all the
power of an empire and its millions bent on destroying the future of a
little nation.  This little nation will defend itself with all the
necessary discipline.  Let the responsibility fall on them.  Let
responsibility fall on the criminals who invade, for those who are
executed.  Let the people know that we are beginning; the time has not yet
come to apply the most drastic measures.  Let the people know that we will
have plenty of time later, for the offensive is beginning, and the
revolution has no cause to exhaust its most drastic measures; drastic
measures will be applied as the imperialistic offensive grows.  We are not
in a hurry, for we know where we stand, and these are the first skirmishes.
We are just beginning, and the rigors with which revolutionary courts
punish will be the first rigors; these will grow in the same degree as they
attack; these rigors will increase in the same measure as they launch their

We do not get impatient.  The people may be much more impatient than we.
In Baracoa the people wanted to lynch the first group of tiger and gringo
prisoners that arrived there.  The people were impatient, but Raul went
there and talked to the people.  He questioned those criminals publicly so
that their role as common mercenaries serving foreign interests would be
made evident to the people.  And he calmed the people.

It is better for responsible men of the government to be calmer than the
people.  It would be more dangerous for the government to get impatient,
and we prefer for the people to be more impatient than we, and for the
people to call for more severity than we demand, for that means, far from
being too extreme, we who are in great responsible posts will go along with
the people; we will never get ahead of the people; rather we will be less
severe than the people would like, but we will never be very far from the
severity the people want applied.

Something must be said, briefly, about the main goal of this congress.  It
is important not just to defeat counterrevolution--we are sure we will
defeat it in every battle.  Our mission in Cuba is to make a revolution.
That is our mission.  Our mission is to create.  We fought because we want
to create and defend what we have created, because we want to go ahead.  We
are not here to fight; we are here to create.

It would be victory for counterrevolution to push revolutionary plans back;
plans for agrarian reform, industrialization, housing, economy--that would
be victory for counterrevolution.  The battle must be won in the field of
revolutionary creation.  Are we behind?  No.  The contrary could be said.
They will not delay our progress.  Look at the ambitious goal for next
year--the end of all illiteracy in Cuba.

We are here to discuss education. Hardly a big barracks has not been
changed to a school city. Thousands of children are in school centers. Many
classrooms have been built for scholarship holders from poor families.
Moncada Barracks has been made into a school city, as well as Holguin
Barracks, Camaguey, Santa Clara, and Goicuria Barracks. The new barracks
has not converted because we are training militia there, here in Havana.
But Pinar del Rio Barracks too is being made into a school city. Only two
big barracks are left; at Havana and Mantanzas, for they are being used to
train militia. No schools are being converted to barracks.

We have converted all the big fortresses, not to mention very many smaller
barracks.  Ten thousand teachers posts have been established.  Teachers
have been sent to the remotest corners of the mountains.  One hundred fifty
school centers are being built right now.  A national printing office has
been established that can put out many books every hour, and has set a
record for book sales, as in the Case of "The Shark And The Sardines."  A
fabulous number of books at low prices is being put in reach of the people.
All kinds of books are being edited.  In a few years our people can be
among the most cultured in the world.

We don't want to inculcate ideas into anybody.  We want the people to
learn, to find out the truth for themselves.  We want to give people the
tools to allow them to form their own idea of the truths of society and the
world, so our people will learn to think.  We will print millions of books
every year, complementing the job of education.  The young people you teach
can thus have a library in their own homes for a small sum.

In 58 years these things had not been done. There you have the facts; the
revolution has done them. It will be hard to burn these books, to bring
back the old mercenary publications. It will be hard to destroy the school
cities we are forming, to reconvert schools to barracks. It will be very
hard to take away enlightenment from the people we are teaching. It will be
hard to take away the teachers we have sent to the mountains for the
mountain people. It will be hard to take land away from them and force them
to pay rent again. It will be hard to destroy their co-ops, their towns,
and turn back factories and refineries to the trusts. It will be so hard as
to be impossible. It is impossible to make a people retrocede when it has
advanced as ours has. It will be hard to take away the fishermen's boats.
It will be hard to take away houses from inhabitants, and take beaches away
from the people.

That is what we have achieved in education.  It is something.  But it is
not enough.  Next year we propose to end illiteracy.  We have more
teachers, a national printing office, better organization.  Last year we
could not expect to do this.  But now we have the facilities.  They say it is
very hard to end illiteracy next year, but we say we can do it.  Everybody
must do his part, teaching others to read and write.  And so, with each of
us becoming a teacher, people will learn to read and wrote.  This work must
be centralized in the municipal education centers.  Today the congress
ends.  You will go home happy.  But next year you will have to give an
account of what you have done in "education year".

You must gather together everybody who wants to help; labor unions,
cultural institutes, and so forth.  University and secondary students.
Everybody who can read and write must be mobilized.  The education board of
each municipality will be responsible if its municipality is left with an
illiterate in it.  If a man learns to read and write and writes a letter
to himself to the education ministry, a book will be sent him.  Education
must be made a virtue, ignorance a vice.  Anybody who cannot read and write
must be made ashamed.

A revolutionary spirit must be formed.  Every citizen must be taught that
it is shameful not to know how to read and write, that it is a defect.
That spirit must be created so nobody will remain illiterate.  Huge
treasures of accumulated culture are lost to illiterates.  A library in the
house is a treasure worth more than selfish gains.  Everybody has that
opportunity in reach.  Let us make ignorance a vice.  Let us make it a
shame for each citizen, so every one will want to learn to read and write.

So you have work enough for the rest of this year and all next year.
Organize, get together everybody who can help, and let us carry out this
great crusade.  Do you undertake to carry out this task?  (Audience says
"Yes").  All the Cuban people are witness to this promise.  (Chanting).

I want to say only, now, that you are the great army of education for our
country.  You have a great battle ahead.  Wage it successfully.  That is
what we wish you.  Count us among those ready to work in this campaign.
The people of Cuba will reward teachers for what they are doing for the