Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Nov. 25, 1960


Havana, FIEL Network, in Spanish to Cuba, Nov. 24, 1960, 1805 GMT--E

(Live speech by Premier Fidel Castro to graduating class at militia school
in Matanzas)

(Summary)  Fellow graduates of the militia school, ladies and gentlemen:
(Crowd is so enthusiastic that Castro has trouble in making himself
heard--Ed.)  This simple function has great value for the revolution.
First of all, it is the first time in our country--as well as the first
time in Latin America--that a large group of workers in receiving
graduation certificates as militiamen, as officers in the militia.
(Applause)  It isn't a certificate that is granted easily.

The course began about five months ago.  It began in the Sierra Maestra.
It began at Turquino Peak.  The peak must be conquered by those who wish to
graduate.  There are some who stay in the Sierra Maestra as long as one
year and still cannot pass the test.  It wasn't this difficult in the past.
All you needed was a letter of recommendation, and the best did not always
appear.  Selection is necessary to choose the very best.  We tell those
who want to climb Turquino Peak 20 times all about this.  More than 800
approached the peak, but a considerable number could not pass the test.
Many did pass.  This is how we selected the candidates.  The ones who
survived are graduating today.  (Applause)

Those responsible for organization on many occasions expressed praise for
the work of the pupils of the school who were aiding in company
organization.  Discipline, order, and organization were immediately
observed.  Before the course was even over, it was necessary to use the
services of the pupils, (long pause) and so even before finishing their
course, pupils had been specializing in the use of different weapons and
will continue to specialize.  The presence of 533 graduates means much for
the advancement of forces which defend our country.  We know what this
means because we had the tasks of organizing fighters throughout the
island.  A combat regiment is not organized easily.  We need more than just
a company, a battalion, a combat front--time is needed, apprenticeship,
too.  A well-organized company with reason, morale, and valor can fight an
even larger group which isn't so well organized.  (Applause)

We all have to face the task of organizing the people, of training them, or
arming them.  At the same time, we have had to prepare instructors and
leaders.  We have been moving forward with success because of these
efforts.  If our enemies attacked us today, they would not find the same
resistance they might have found before.  They would find themselves facing
perfectly armed battalions.  We have x quantities of antiaircraft
equipment, x quantities of rifles, x quantities of mortars, x quantities of
machineguns.  We have x quantities of etc., etc., etc., etc."  (Applause)

But above all they would find well-trained people.  The arms aren't in the
hands of idiots or fools; they aren't in the hands of men accustomed to
abundance or luxury; they aren't in the hands of men who have never worked.
These arms are in the hands of men who know what sacrifice means, of those
who were the oppressed of yesterday, in the hands of the worker, of the
farm, of the humble man.  In the past, the people were not allowed to have
weapons.  The worker, farmer, student, and professional did not carry arms.
They were in the hands of the few.  The people were kept in slavery and
want.  The fruit of labor was not for the enjoyment of all, not even for
those who produced the wealth of the nation.  It was for those who never
did a day's work.  So arms were prohibited.  The revolution, on the other
hand, has given arms to the people and has guaranteed justice in our
country.  (Applause)

Our people will move forward victoriously.  Who can doubt this?  Who can
doubt that our country will overcome all obstacles?  Who can doubt that we
are overcoming all obstacles?  (Chanting "We shall win; we shall win; we
shall win.")  Who can doubt that the revolution and the people will become
stronger all the time?  Who can doubt that the revolution is more generous
today than it was a year ago and who can doubt that its steps are firmer?
We have learned by experience.  At no time do men learn as they do in
revolutionary times when they must face powerful enemies.  With this
experience and with even more faith, we shall more forward, not resting on
our laurels.  We are just beginning.  (Applause)

And you who are receiving this diploma, you are now militia officers
graduating from school. (Applause) This cherished diploma means you are
just beginning. There is much ahead. Before, you lived like students, now
you shall march at the head of the ranks. But you are leaving one school
and entering another, leaving one unit and entering another. You are second
lieutenants in the militia. Promotion to captains and commanders will not
be easy. You must begin in the schools to be officers, but in this school
all you can receive is a second lieutenant's rank.

Other ranks are more difficult.  You will be second lieutenants even when
you command battalions.  There are no other categories of militiamen.  You
will be promoted on merit only.

This is how it will be throughout the island, but always remember that you
were the first, the vanguard.  You have sown the first seeds.  Each of
you has responsibility.  When one acts poorly, it reflects upon all as an
officer of the militia.  You must carry this sense of duty and
responsibility with you at all times.  Be assured that the nation honors
you.  You represent faith in the country.  (Applause)