Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

ON 23 JANUARY 1961

Source: Revolucion, Havana, 24 January 1961

"This teacher is the martyr whose blood will serve to dedicate us
to winning the battle we have undertaken against illiteracy. He is the
Martyr of the Year of Education. Eternal glory to the martyred teacher!"

With these words, choked with emotion, the Prime Minister of the
revolutionary government, Comandants Fidel Castro, concluded the address he
delivered last night to an audience of thousands of citizens, for the most
part volunteer teachers, in the theater of the CTC-R [Central de
Trabajadores de Cuba Revolucionaria -- Revolutionary Cuban Workers'
Organization] Palace. During the meeting, diplomas were presented to 1100
volunteer teachers who have completed their training course in the easter

The main part of Doctor Castro's speech was a dramatic
denunciation of the murder of an 18-year-old volunteer teacher, Conrado
Benitez Garcia, who was cruelly hanged by a band of deceitful mercenaries,
agents of the imperialists, in a distant part of the Escambray where he was
teaching peasant children. A worker and a peasant militiaman were murdered
with him.

Frequently the Prime Minister's address was interrupted by the
shouts of the enraged crowd, demanding the execution of the bloody

The Rebel Army Chorus inaugurated the gathering by singing the
National Anthem, followed by the Song of Liberty and the Militia Hymn. Then
composer Carlos Puebla and his group presented several revolutionary
numbers, and the poet Nicolas Guillen recited two of his best poems:
"Little Girl Just Grown Up" and "American Couplets."

The CTC-R theater walls were decorated with a number of panels
carrying slogan referring to the Year of Education and the campaign against
illiteracy, including: "We will win the cultural battle in the Year of
Education," "We hail the Year of Education with 1100 new teachers," "More
teachers against the imperialist aggression," "The-organized teachers hail
the volunteer teachers," "I became a teacher, which is to become creative,"
"We hail the volunteer teachers," and "Let us carry out the slogan: 1961 --
Year of Education."

In a heartwarming gesture which was warmly applauded, Doctors
Fidel Castro and Hart signed the marriage certificates of five couples
among our volunteer teachers who were united in matrimony by the judge in
Fuentes Grandes, Doctor Susana Gomez Perez, with Doctor Luis Cesar
Figueredo Cervantes acting as secretary.

The couples were Jose Alvarez Suarez and Mirta Figuerado, Pablo
Ignacio Vega Garcia and Nancy Irene Rodriquez, Francisco Soberon Reyes and
Aleida Hernandez Rodriguez, Severino Ventura Hidalgo and Ana Guzman
Gonzalez, and Alexis Guerra Dominguez and Adela Pernas Salomon.

The 1100 volunteer teachers who have just graduated in the Sierra
Maestra received their diplomas symbolically. The Prime Minister, Doctor
Fidel Castro, presented them two teachers Florencio Hernandez, of the Ruben
Bravo Camp; Caridad Marcel, of the Alfredo Gomez Camp; Wildo Hernandez, of
the Pepito Tey Camp; and Manuel Cay, of the Renato Guitart Camp.

The Minister of Education, Doctor Armando Hart, then spoke as

This second graduation of volunteer teachers has special
significance. First of all, this graduation has taken place when the fruits
of the first work done by the volunteer teachers in the first contingent
are being harvested.

This graduation of the second contingent has occurred while the
experience of the comrades in the first contingent is being felt throughout
the countryside in the fatherland.

Thus, if at the time of the first graduation we did not yet have
experience in the work of volunteer teachers you are now graduating with
greater responsibility than those other comrades bore.

It is no longer a matter of the graduation of volunteer teachers
without experience in the work, which has been provided by the comrades who
preceded you. Rather this graduation has occurred when everywhere the work
being done by the comrades in the first contingent is being felt.

You are graduating while your other comrades are already working
everywhere, and the transformation resulting from the presence of the
volunteer teachers in the rural sector is beginning in our fatherland.

Our first words must be of heartfelt recognition of the teachers
in the first contingent who have fulfilled the hopes of the people and the
revolution, set forth in that appeal made by Fidel months ago in which he
asked volunteer teachers to fill the vacant classrooms in the rural sector.
They and you are the vanguard of our national teachers' sector in all parts
of Cuba, and you are the vanguard of educational and school reform in the
rural sector throughout our fatherland.

But this graduation also has significance in another way. It has
occurred only a few days after thousands of Cubans had gone back to the
production trenches.

When the Year of Education began, we were confronted with an
obstacle. In the first weeks of the year, the energies of the people were
fully occupied in the task of defending the fatherland. And even the few
volunteer teachers had to be mobilized to defend it. This was because the
first education is the defense of the fatherland.

But now that the danger is not as great as early in January, we
can say that with this graduation the great battle against illiteracy, the
great work of publicly mobilizing all the citizenry for the task of
eliminating illiteracy, is beginning.

The first reward you have received tonight is not the diploma
symbolically presented to you, but the realization that in this ceremony
the fatherland is dedicated its best efforts to the task of eliminating

With this graduation, the work of the Year of Education, which
although it was not postponed, did not have the impetus early in January
that it does now, is beginning.

You are entitled to the best diploma which can be presented: the
knowledge that you have graduated at the time of the public launching of
the campaign against illiteracy.

After an ovation lasting several minutes, during which the
audience chanted revolutionary slogans, the Prime Minister, Doctor Fidel
Castro, spoke as follows:

Volunteer teachers:

As the result of the appeal I made for the solution of a problem
which seemed difficult -- getting teachers into the mountain sector -- a
legion of teachers -- the second -- is graduating.

This solution was imposed by necessity. There were no teachers for
the mountain sectors. And it was not easy to resolve the problem. Life in
the mountains is hard. It is not easy to adapt to life in the mountains for
those who have never lived there.

The key to the problem is this. There were no teachers for the
mountains, or there were only teachers who were not adapted to that life.
It often happened that a teacher was sent to the mountains, but he arrived
each Wednesday and departed again each Friday. This was a fact which should
not be hidden. The republic did not train teachers to teach in the rural
sector. The teachers came mainly from the cities.

However, a true program of teacher training must take teachers
from the rural sector, too. Our normal schools were in the cities. Only
young people from the cities could study there. But yet a large part,
almost 50%, of our population is rural. The result was inevitable. In the
city it was possible to learn to read and write. In general, neither
schools nor teachers were lacking. In the city of Havana, for example,
there were more than enough teachers.

After the reorganization carried out in the Ministry of Education,
it was found that there were 1,000 teachers more than we needed in the
capital, while on the other hand, there was a shortage of 10,000 teachers
in the rural sector. The republic, that is to say, the revolution, could
not ignore this serious irregularity. the revolution could not abandon
these children, more than half a million, who had no teachers, to oblivion.

But the rural sector does not mean the plans alone. It is easier
to reach the plains than the mountains. While a road in a flat sector can
serve all the families who live up to 10 or 12 kilometers from the road,
things are different in the mountains. The republic did not have teachers
for the mountains. Cuban teachers did not received training which equipped
them for teaching in the mountains. There are very good teachers, but there
are mediocre teachers as well. There are even counterrevolutionary

And this is truly sad. Why are there some counterrevolutionary
teachers? First, because there were comfortably off individuals who chose
teaching as a profession for their daughters. Second, because there were
10,000 unemployed teachers in our country, and finding a job had become a
very difficult thing. Getting an appointment was something which could
often be achieved through political influence, through friends in a
ministry or in the government. Thus, often the teacher had to debase
himself before he could begin to teach. Third, because in the stifling and
morally corrupt atmosphere which prevailed in the country, it was difficult
for teachers' virtues to flourish. Fourth, because the teachers did not
have to pass real tests of ability in and love for their work.

But this does not mean that we can classify the mass of teachers
in the country as bad. We believe that as intellectual workers which they
are, as a sector which when all is said and done is a modest one in our
country, although there are by way of exception also some teachers coming
from well off families, because the revolution has aided teachers, has
employed ten thousand teachers, although it has reduced the number of
inspectors, and has done away with sinecures. The revolution has resolved
the terrible dilemma of the teacher one and for all and freed him from the
need to prostrate or prostitute himself to win a position, to be a teacher.

The revolution has raised the moral standards of education and the
material standards of the teachers. And the revolution has promised all
these teachers that it will more than repay them for the sacrifice they are
making today when they accept modest salaries in the new schools being
established by the revolution, salaries which will gradually be increased
every year until within seven years they reach 200 pesos a month.

The revolution had done for teachers what had not been done in the
previous 58 years. Because here, in this same CTC Auditorium, the mass of
teachers, this mass with which the revolution must work because it is a
good mass, enthusiastically accepted this sacrifice for the good of
education. At that time we had resources for the establishment of five
thousand classrooms, and we needed to establish 10,000. The teachers agreed
to establish the 10,000 classrooms with the budget required for 5,000.

Now there is neither privilege nor discrimination in the work of
the teacher and the revolution not only hired those 10,000 teachers, but it
also, while it resolved this problem, which was growing worse year by year
because every year the number of teachers was increasing, found 2500 more
teachers to work in the mountains, that is to say, trained 2500 more

But we must not stop with this. We must do revolutionary work with
the teachers, we must increase the revolutionary level of the teachers, we
must train the teachers and we are going to begin with the inspectors,
instituting a six months inspectors' training course in order to turn out a
legion of inspectors who will be capable of wisely supervising the work of
the teachers in the cities and the rural sectors.

We are going to institute teachers' training courses, but also, we
are going to introduce truly new and revolutionary methods in the training
of teachers. And in this connection, the courses organized in the Sierra
Maestra have helped us greatly. We are going to give an opportunity to all
the young people who are currently studying in the normal training schools,
that is to say, all of those who have enrolled so far in the teachers'
training schools will have their opportunities, because these are rights
they have won. But the revolution has a duty which is sometimes difficult,
or rather hard, to fulfill; the revolutionary has the duty to find proper
solutions to the problems. The revolution has the duty of doing away with
all that is twisted or inadequate in the remnants of the past, although the
fulfillment of this duty may often threaten certain interests, although the
fulfillment of this duty will often win those of us who fulfill it
honorably enemies and hostilities. But if we do not take advantage of this
moment in our history to build on truly new bases, if we do not take
advantage of this opportunity to create an entirely new country, the coming
generations will reproach us for even the smallest opportunity wasted
today. The coming generations will reproach us tomorrow for what we fail
to do today.

Some of our revolutionary measures are not welcomed. Some of the
revolutionary projects are not pleasing to certain sectors or certain
interests. Further, the skeptics sometimes have viewed it as impossible to
carry out many of the undertakings of the revolution which are today
palpable truths. The undertakings of the revolution seemed impossible to
the skeptics, but nonetheless, the facts have shown that everything is
possible. Thus, for example, when we talked of organizing the revolutionary
labor brigades and we established the climbing of Turquino five times and
a stay of three months in the mountains as a test, there were those who
thought this impossible. It seemed to hard for young people of 13 and 15
years of age, but six months have passed and the young people who were
roaming the streets or shining shoes or selling newspapers are now studying
in aviation, naval or other schools which are training them to serve as
diplomats and in many other sectors tomorrow.

The organization of an army of workers and peasants seemed very
difficult too, it seemed an incredible task for a people whose detractors
called it an anarchic people without any sense of order. However, recent
weeks have shown that the formation of this formidable army was achieved in
the course of just a few months, and it was proven in an irrefutable
fashion that our people not only have an aptitude for civilian life, for
easy tasks, but also for struggle in defense of their fatherland, as well
as the virtues necessary for establishing a force which inspires fear and
respect in those who thought of attacking us. It seemed difficult, but an
appeal was made and some 5,000 young people came forward. An appeal was
made and at the end of only six months, the republic has 2500 new teachers
who were indeed trained in the spirit of the mountains, who were indeed
familiar with the mountains and who undertook from the very first to go to
teach in the most distance corners of the country. Not only did the
revolution train 2500 teachers, but these teachers have developed in
formidable fashion, they have won the sympathy and the respect of all the
sectors of the country, and we have heard the finest elegies of these
teachers and their tasks in the mountains.

And they are not only good teachers of the peasants, but of the
rebel soldiers and the revolutionary labor youth brigades as well. We chose
50 volunteer teachers with university level education to study at the
Foreign Policy and International Trade Institute, but one day it became
necessary to find administrators for the nationalized industries, and we
called upon these 50 teachers and 100 others, and these teachers departed
for their various assignments. They knew that they would not become
enterprise administrators, but that they would be doing this work
temporarily, and that they would not earn high salaries, but the same as
they earned as teachers in the mountains. Thus, more than 100 teachers
became enterprise administrators, and they have been carrying out these
tasks for many months at salaries of 100 pesos.

And some of them, not only some but many of them, showed
extraordinary talent as administrators, and the comrades in charge of the
organization of industries wanted these teachers to continue as
administrators, but it was not possible to oblige them, at least where the
50 university level comrades were concerned. If indeed they were capable of
heading enterprises, we must continue working with them so as to train them
to carry out more useful tasks for our revolution and our country.

Thus, what seemed difficult proved easy because in the midst of a
revolution the things which seem most difficult are easy. For this reason,
the opportunity provided by a revolution must not be lost. For this reason,
the revolution must build as much as is necessary on new bases. The
revolution must transform all it can transform, and thus the revolution is
going to change the method of training teachers and in the future, no new
students will enroll in the normal training schools in the cities. The
students who are there will complete their studies, but the new courses,
the students enrolling now, will not go to study in the cities. The
revolution proposes to test those who want to be teachers. The country will
generously compensate the teachers, but being a teacher requires a true
calling. Being a teacher requires true tests of love of education and the
teachers will not be trained in the cities. They can be teachers in the
rural sector and may come from the cities, but all of the teachers' schools
will be in the mountains.

Three great teachers' schools will be established, one in the
Sierra Maestra, another in the mountains in the northwest of Oriente, and
another in the mountains in the center of the island. Two centers in the
real mountain heights will be built, in the midst of the rural sector, and
all the students who want to be teachers will receive scholarships to
enable them to study. Thus, access to a teaching career will be within the
reach of all who have a calling for it, whether or not they have economic
resources. It was a miserable system whereby in order to acquire
professional training one had to have money. It was a miserable system
which prevented intelligence from serving the fatherland where the
necessary resources were lacking. It is the duty of the people, of the
revolution, of the fatherland, to create an opportunity for intelligence,
to open this way for a true vocation, for virtue and merit.

We know that this is not an easy task. Moreover, we know that we
will win the enmity of some professors in normal schools. We know this and
we say it without contempt or dismay, but quite honestly. It will not be
easy to find professors for the mountain teachers' schools. In any case, we
will seek some work for these professors. We will not force them to go to
the mountains, but we hope that part of the faculties, of the ranks of the
pedagogues, will  yield the teachers we need to go to the mountains, will
yield the forgers of these schools. We know that there will be professors
desirous of being the founders of this new method of teaching, which our
country has the privilege of presenting as a new innovation, and thus the
student who goes to study in the mountains, who faces difficulties at the
first, and who also dedicates a part of his apprenticeship to the practice
of teaching, this teacher who begins with the most difficult will be a
teacher made to the measure of the needs of our country, a teacher who will
happily go to teach in the most distinct corners and the teacher who as he
advances in his profession will have ahead of him all the necessary
opportunities. When he comes to teach on the plains, he will be a veteran
of the mountains, and when he comes to teach in the cities with all its
conveniences, he will be a teacher who is a veteran of rural education.

We want to take this opportunity today to set forth this intention
of the revolutionary government, and we are certain that the people will
support us. We are certain that the mothers and fathers will support us. We
are certain that this 50% of the families who live in the rural sector and
the other 50% of the families who live in the cities and who want the
greatest effort for their children, and the best schools, because we can
tell you now that one day the smallest public school, the most distant
public school, the least important public school will be better than the
private schools.

What I want to say is that the schools of the children of the
peasants and the workers, the children of the humble families, will in time
be vastly better than the schools for the families in high and comfortable

There have been cases of workers and employees who have had to
send their children to private schools because the public schools were so
poor. In the future, the teaching body will be fully trained for the tasks
to be carried out as the circumstances require. They will be better, the
conditions for the future teachers and those of the present. The
revolutionary government will provide them with every facility.

And the people will support this undertaking of the revolutionary
government. No honest and honorable citizen can fail to support it,
although there are some hundreds of persons who disagree, although the
number of those who oppose the revolution is increasing. These are
inevitable phenomena of any revolution. Just and corrective measures
conflict with the established interests, conflict with what is mediocre,
conflict with the rotten things from which the republic suffered. Thus each
undertaking of the revolution involves a conflict, but it also deepens the
love for the revolution, the fervor of the honest men in our country. The
revolution is not a task for the worst elements, but for the best. It is a
true struggle between the best and the worst. The best stand with the
revolution against the worst.

And not only have we been training teachers, for schools of all
kinds have proliferated. Not only have we been training artillerymen and
revolutionary officers, for also a series of courses has been instituted
throughout the country. These are courses for enterprise administrators, of
numerous technical types, courses for the revolutionary youth brigades, for
the directors of children's circles, and along with them, courses in the
new schools for technologists in agriculture, physical education,
accounting, insemination, for teachers of garment cutting and sowing in the
rural sector, not to mention the scholarships for the university schools,
the number of those studying in these courses. Those who will be studying
within a month will exceed 12,000, not including those studying in military

We are shortly going to establish a course for training teachers
of dramatic arts, or rather teachers of singing, dramatics, music in
general, dancing, languages, physical education, directors of children's
farms, in a word, the training we need to carry these school centers to the
people's farms, so that in the school centers with two or three hundred
children in the rural sector, there will be teachers of physical education,
agricultural teachers who can teach the children to cultivate and produce,
music instructors, dramatics instructors, dance instructors and language
instructors. In this way we can find in each school center children with a
true vocation for art. All of these children will be chosen and sent to the
great National Academy of Art which the Revolutionary government will
establish. This great academy will constitute a great city, which we will
not create, because it already exists. We will use for this center the two
golf courses located in the most aristocratic parts of this city of Havana,
where we will build classrooms, workshops and stages, using as dormitories
more than 200 of the most luxurious homes, 200 little palaces where wealthy
families lived. Their homes were not taken from them, but they were
incapable of living in a country where there is a revolution, where there
is no place for large estate owning or any kind of social injustice. They
left the country in the hope that the foreigners would return their
privileges to them. They left our country leaving to us the most beautiful
sites where transom architecture and gardens are combined. These are true
paradises built at the cost of the hell in which the poor lived. These are
homes in which a few lived, while in such quarters as Las Yaguas up to
three families lived in a single room. In this place which they chose to
live their lives of isolation and hatred, we have now a location for
painters and artists, for creative spirits, for the manual arts, because
we are not going to train only musicians and painters, but we will train
thousands of children in the manual arts, the best possible, in
the techniques of producing a vast number of useful objects which we admire
in other countries, and which one day will be a reason for admiring our
people. Thus our country will have a great National Art Academy which will
extend from the Country Club to Cubanacan.

Thus, all the young people who want to be teachers of music,
dramatics, dancing, will have an opportunity and should register with the
technicians training department of the National Institute for Agrarian
Reform, because they are going to be teachers in the people's farms, and
also those who want to study languages, and we need at least five other
young people who want these teaching posts.

Also, we want the leaders in the teaching sector and the comrades
in the Ministry of Education to find a way of establishing a campus or city
for no less than 5,000 children with artistic talent to make up the first
complex of students for the National Academy.

And some of these 200 homes -- we have already selected 10 of them
-- 300 of you will take a course for instructors of domestic service
employees which we will institute in the metropolitan zone and in other
cities in the country, where the students will receive aid. You also know
that recently the Cuban American Institute was nationalized, and the
Lincoln Language Institute established. This institution was dominated by
an anti-national center. There the students will receive higher training
and a substantial subsidy for studying languages.

The revolution achieved a miracle of helping those in the most
humble sector who want to study. The revolution aids domestic employees who
want to study languages, not only providing them with the means, but giving
them ten pesos, which a humble employee earning 15 or 20 pesos would, of
course, never have. The revolution has established resources so that
millions of Cubans can study. In these two night centers one of you will be
in charge of teaching this most humble sector of our country.

In another 10 houses the training of 300 children's circle
directors has already been begun. In other homes, 30 young people from
Cienaga de Zapata will take a course in pottery in order to create a center
there which will satisfy the demand from visitors to this national park,
which apart from its duty, is an emporium of wealth. Thus we will have 630
persons studying in 22 places. If we can have 630 students in 22 homes, you
can calculate how many we will have in all 200.

There is so much space that we now have more room than we do
scholarship students. There are 2,000 scholarship students and places for
5,000. They will be truly revolutionary technicians different from those
who were willing at the snap of a finger to serve the Yankees, doctors and
engineers who preferred to do the Yankees' dirty work rather than saving
lives and building for their fatherland. We suffer for those who did this
because we know they will be thinking of the cursed time when they
committed this treason against Cuba.

And while the beautiful pavilions of the Liberated School City,
formerly a military camp, fill with university scholarship students, a
thousand young domestic servants will go there to learn to work in the
children's circles, caring for children while their parents go to work. A
thousand humble young people from the rural sector and the city who were
forced by hunger into harsh labor and humiliating servitude. They will go
to take the six months' course and during that time, they will earn the
same wage as when they were working. The revolution will enable them to
study while it pays them the same sum they were receiving. Then they will
attend to the children of the humble sector. And also, a Ministry of
Education inspectors' course will be offered there, and at another site, a
thousand peasants from the cane growing cooperatives will be training as
teachers of garment cutting and sewing, and at another site, 1200 young
people will be learning methods of artificial insemination for application
in the cane growing cooperatives.

Simultaneously, 1200 young high school graduates will take a
course so that they can work as accountants in the farms throughout the
country. And we want to take this occasion to issue an appeal to all these
young high school graduates and trade school students from the second year
on, young men, who want to enroll in this intensive six months' course
with marches to the Sierra Maestra every month, extending the course to
perhaps seven or eight months, with teachers in accounting subjects, in
budget subjects. At the end of this course they will go to work in the
people's farms beginning with a salary of 90 pesos every month. Here is an
excellent opportunity for young high school graduates and trade school
students to begin to work. Also, all those who so desire can enroll with
the Technical and Cultural Department of the National Institute for
Agrarian Reform.

Simultaneously, it will be necessary to initiate another voluntary
teachers' course in the Sierra Maestra. We need more teachers in the
mountains, in the work brigades, in the rebel army, in the Zapata Swamp,
more teachers for revolutionary instructors and for a thousand activities
the revolution has developed, in which we need individuals with patriotic
and revolutionary spirit. Following the earlier examples, a new legion must
enroll to produce a third group, the last, because the future teachers will
be those who enroll in the mountain schools. those who so desire may also
enroll in the National Institute for Agrarian Reform. Has our youth ever
had such an opportunity? Have the doors ever been opened before to such
honorable, such honest work, work which can morally satisfy the most
concerned spirits? Were the universities ever opened before to the humble
families? Only the revolution could create the conditions which would
ensure the disappearance of privileges. Only the revolution could create a
situation in which very soon we will lack the manpower for the great tasks
we have ahead of us, such that our country has ceased to fear hunger and
unemployment, such that young people can find their way. The revolution has
made possible circumstances such as these in which we have seen young
people marry with the work necessary to care for their children. The
revolution alone has made possible this new life, this extraordinary
opportunity which only the mediocre, those of unworthy spirit, those abject
individuals accustomed to living in corruption, those who adapted
themselves to the fetid atmosphere of privilege and injustice of yesterday,
the atmosphere in which the citizen was obliged to crawl instead of
walking, to live on his knees instead of walking with his head up, those
who cannot learn to rise, and face existence with dignity, to give a
meaning to life, to fulfill their duty as being useful to others, whereby
they become useful to themselves. To live from work and not as a parasite,
to live creating and giving, instead of destroying and begging. The
revolution has made possible this opportunity for all the people and the
youth. Thus, we have heard many comrades express regret that they are not
young now in order to have these opportunities which they did not have, for
the opportunities of today did not exist in their time. We have heard this
more than once, because who knows what brilliant brains were wasted, what
shining talents failed to give the world all that fertile minds can
contribute to welfare of their fellow men. Who knows how many lights failed
to shine, what flames were never kindled, but which nonetheless will burn
tomorrow with all the force of which they are capable. Like you, who have
now become teachers, like the teachers who became administrators and will
become ambassadors. These opportunities did not exist yesterday, when they
were the prerogative of the privileged, but today they are for all the
people. This is the revolution which is occurring in our country, that
which you have joined, for which you will battle wherever you are, that
which you are going to promote and teach, the revolution for which the
people rose up, which the miserable ones want to destroy but which the
valiant are prepared to defend to the last drop of their blood.

Today we have seen beautiful and happy scenes. We have experienced
moments of joy. We have heard songs, laughter, the sound of happiness and
we have seen smiles, but there are also sad memories which have come to our
minds, and when we watched the weddings of the teachers and sang the hymn
of the teachers, which says that the schools in the mountains will never be
closed, we also recall something very painful and very sad. These are
things we have thought about in recent days but have not mentioned to date
because we did not want to create bitterness among the teachers who, after
the mobilization, went to their homes. We are speaking of the teachers
murdered by bands of counterrevolutionaries. This harsh but heroic end came
to a volunteer teacher in the earlier group, a young teacher who was
instructing 44 peasant children near Sancti Spiritus, as well as a large
number of adults. A teacher like you who was trained in the mountain camps,
who heeded the appeal to teach the children in the rural sector, who spent
days in the rain and cold, and who like you experienced all the
deprivations of the mountains in his noble desire to teach. A humble
teacher, only 18 years old, first a shoe shiner and than a baker who
studied at night and continued the exhausting task of study daily. A young
man from Matanzas, a high school graduate, thanks to his own efforts, who
went to the Sierra, studied and graduated, and experienced moments of joy
and optimism with you. He was sent to the mountain zone of Las Villas to
teach. He opened his school and he taught the first letters to numerous
children and adults. This was in January, for his classes began before
Twelfth Night. He went to his school, unarmed, because volunteer teachers
do not bear weapons, so that no malicious individual will have any
justification for attacking them. We told them this, but they did not
respect it, and recently a groups  of evil men, while the people of
mountains and cities took up their weapons and the people prepared to
defend their fatherland, these men went into the mountains in the hope that
it would be a matter of days and that the mercenary invasion forces would
destroy the revolution so that they could prosper at the expense of our
fatherland, and many of these men representing the worst in society,
ruffians and traitors, pure dross, made use of these days, encouraged by
the imperialists and the constant shipments of weapons, some of which
reached them, to perpetrate crimes of this nature, in that hope which has
now been destroyed, when instead of the Yankee forces they expected it was
the revolutionary militia which came, the forces which went forth to
demonstrate once again the absurdity of an attempt to rise up against the
revolution with the support of the privileged and the foreigners. And these
forces went to teach them the lesson they merited, but they could not,
however, thereby undo the monstrous crime they committed against this
young. man. He was kidnapped from his school along with a peasant and a
militia man, and the militia did not arrive in time to prevent his life
from being cruelly taken. The volunteer teacher, the peasant and the
worker-militiaman were found hung in a forest.

The militia forces which went forth to intercept this band of
criminals soon found one of their camps, where they seized the young
teacher's papers and a document signed by the counterrevolutionaries, which
we will read, and which will provide proof of what the enemies of the
fatherland are seeking and of the feelings of the servants of the
imperialists who murder our people.

They were so shameless as to sign their names to the document
which was the preamble to this shocking crime. I have here the party card
and the volunteer teacher's card of this "communist teacher" who heeded the
appeal of the revolutionary government, who was never asked what he
thought, and upon whom no condition was imposed, except to pass a test and
go to teach in the mountains.

And this monstrous deed also exposes the aims of these ruffians in
cassocks (shouts and applause from the audience). Not only the imperialists
who sent arms, but also the reactionary philosophers and those who have
been waging a consistent campaign against the revolution and who gave them
this ideological weapon are responsible for this monstrous crime. They gave
them the ideological weapon which led them to believe themselves right in
murdering a young man because he was a communist. They are guilty of the
infamy of murdering a human being on no other charge than calmly calling
him a "communist" and calling the document issued to all the voluntary
teachers a "communist document" and the school where all the volunteer
teachers studied a "communist school."

First they came to the conclusion that they must murder all the
communists. This is the conclusion of the enemies of the revolution, of the
fascist and salangist clerics. They made crime their policy, they invented
the justification and they took this as their basis in perpetrating this
barbarous deed. This revolting act will serve as an undying example.

Who was this young man? He was simply a humble man of the people,
a shoe shine boy, a baker, a night school student because he worked during
the day. He was not the son of an estate owner, of an industrialist, of a
business man. This young man did not go to Miami or Paris. He was a young
man of 18 who had known nothing but poverty and sacrifice. He was a humble
young man, a black man, and for this reason he was the victim of cruel and
unjust discrimination. He was poor, he was black and he was a teacher. Here
are three reasons why the agents of the imperialists murdered him. He was a
poor black teacher -- poor and black. Here are two other reasons why they
murdered him.

They did not find him armed. He carried a card from the "communist
training center," and an arithmetic book, language exercises and a
physiology text, and for these reasons the agents of the imperialists
murdered him, because he was carrying books to teach the peasants, because
he was carrying books -- this is why they murdered him.

And this is the conclusion -- this is what imperialism is. And
thus you all would be condemned to be hanged. All of those carrying
teachers' cards and books under their arms will be condemned to be hanged.
Either because they were teachers, or because they were poor, or because
they were black, or because they were workers. This is what imperialism is.
This is what the reactionaries are. This is counterrevolution.

The hate culture, they hate the humble, they hate the teachers,
they hate the Negro, in a word, they hate poverty. They hate books, they
hate merit and they hate virtue. It is difficult to erase the image of
this crime from our minds. And we remember the books which lay open, the
lessons never finished, the words and the letters which this teacher did
not finish teaching. And when I think of a teacher working with children
in a rural sector, teaching them to think, I will think of this picture of
a teacher hanging from a rope.

When we think of a school, the picture of this young man of 18, a
humble teacher, dragged away from his school and hanged from that tree,
cannot but arouse in us the most profound indignation. This is a deed
which is in itself the full justification of what these criminals merit,
because it must be and will be harsh the with its enemies.

We have here the fruit of the counterrevolutionary campaigns, of
the anti-communism, of the philosophy of the counterrevolution, of the
sermons which all but told these criminals to murder the teacher in the
name of God. Because their shamelessness and their crime went to such
extremes that they murdered a man without reason except that he was
carrying an arithmetic book, a physiology book and language exercises.
Here arithmetic book, a physiology book and language exercises. Here we
have the fruits, the justification for murdering all the teachers, all the
workers, all the humble, all the Negroes. And these merciless men had no
pity for a young man who was carrying four pesos and the picture of his

The national revolutionary militia has captured more than 20 of
this band of murderers (shouts of "to the firing squad" from the audience).
And those who were awaiting the foreign invaders will be subject to
tenacious and implacable persecution such as they have never imagined.
They will feel the force of the revolution and of the units of
revolutionary combatants who will teach them once again the unforgettable
lesson which has been taught and which will be taught to traitors, ruffians
and hangmen.

Neither the mercenaries they expected, not the imperialists, nor
their masters can save them. Absolutely no one can save them because they
have committed a crime which an indignant people will punish, and we know
that not a single one will escape, and we know that for such vicious
criminals the entire people will ask for a single punishment.

It was the Year of Education. Thousands of primers have been
printed, millions of pencils had been produced. There were tens of
thousands of illiterate persons, but it was the year for eliminating
illiteracy, the year of the destruction of the best ally of exploitation,
of colonialism, of imperialism, which is ignorance, lack of education, and
while a new legion of teachers was ready to advance to the task, while a
jubilant people celebrated the beginning of this glorious year in our
country, undertaking the brave deed, pledging the elimination of illiteracy
in a single year, in the Year of Education, as if to mark this glorious
year in our fatherland with the blood of the martyr, the agents of the
imperialists murdered a teacher, and with him a worker and a peasant, as if
to show in a single stroke the criminal desires within the hearts of the
enemies of our people, and they began the year of the murder of teachers,
they began the year of education by murdering a teacher, they issued a
challenge to the fatherland, as if saying you propose to teach every last
illiterate to read and write, and we propose to murder every last teacher.

But the outcome can only be the triumph of reason and the
destruction of those who want to murder the teachers. Since the forces of
the people supported by right and reason are a thousand times stranger than
the forces of the criminals and mercenaries, we can see now that they are
not murdering other teachers and we are teaching every last illiterate and
we are annihilating every last counterrevolutionary criminal.

It is hard to have to mention this crime today, but this teacher
who died by treacherous murder will not be like a light which has gone out.
He will be like a flame of patriotism which is lit. This teacher, after
death, will continue to be a teacher. This young man who was murdered will
continue to be a eternally young. This man of the humble black people, of
those who have suffered from hunger and discrimination, and whose reaction
was to want to be a teacher, to want to teach -- this worker who labors by
day and studied by night will stand as an unforgettable symbol and an
example for our people, a hero who died fulfilling his duty, a teacher who
had been there since before Twelfth Night teaching, a revolutionary who was
able to fulfill his duty, who went with his books to teach without regard
for the risk. This teacher will serve as a symbol, a hero whom the people
will not forget. This teacher is the martyr whose blood will serve to
double our determination to win the battle we have undertaken against
illiteracy. He is a martyr whose blood will serve to wipe out ignorance
and lack of education in our people forever.

He is the Martyr of the Year of Education, the Martyr of the
Teachers, the Anonymous Hero of the People, and there where he taught a
school will be built, and there where he died a monument will be erected.
It will be an eternal tribute to his memory and an accusation of
imperialism and its agents, a symbol of the eternal ignominy of their
murder of a young teacher of 18 who carried under his arm an arithmetic
book, a physiology text and a language workbook.

Eternal glory to the teacher martyr!

Fatherland or death!

We will triumph!