Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana, FIEL Network, in Spanish, Jan. 24, 1961, 0413 GMT--E

(Speech by Fidel Castro at graduation of volunteer teachers in CTC

(Summary) Volunteer teachers:  This is the second group of teachers to
graduate since the call went out one day to resolve a problem which seemed
difficult--that of bringing teachers to the mountains.  There were no
teachers in the mountains, where life is difficult, especially for those
who have never lived in such areas.

There are all kinds of teachers: many good, some mediocre.  There are also
counterrevolutionary teachers.  This is really saddening.  Why are some
teachers counterrevolutionaries?  First, because there were persons of
comfortable means who chose the teaching profession for their daughters;
second because there were 10,000 unemployed teachers in our country and
[Unreadable text] class rooms was very difficult.  Sometimes getting a
teaching job could only be done through political influence, sometimes
through friends in the Ministry of Education or in the government.  In this
way, many times, one had to prostitute himself before becoming a teacher.
Teachers were not given real tests to determine their love of teaching.

The revolution has elevated the moral conditions of education and the
material position of teachers.  The revolution has promised teachers that
it will repay the sacrifice they make today when they have accepted a
modest wage that will increase every year until they receive 200 pesos
monthly at the end of seven years.  The revolution has done for the
teachers what has not been done in 58 years of the republic.  Now a teacher
does not need sponsors.  There is no discrimination.  The revolution not
only has given employment to 10,000 teachers but, while resolving the
problem of teacher unemployment which was getting worse year by year, now
has 2,500 more teachers to teach in the mountains.

Revolutionary work must be done among the teachers.  The revolutionary
level of the teachers must be raised.  Teachers must be trained.  We are
going to begin an inspector training course, lasting six months, to train a
legion of inspectors capable of properly overseeing work of teachers in
both cities and rural areas.  We are going to begin training courses for
teachers, but more than that we are going to introduce new, revolutionary
methods in teacher training.

The revolution has a duty to fulfill.  It has the duty of seeking real
solutions for problems.  It has the duty of liquidating everything left us
from the past that was warped or inadequate even though fulfilling this
duty often hurts certain interests and even though it often brings us
enemies and animosity.  If we do not take advantage of this hour to place
things on really new foundations, future generations will reproach us for
every little opportunity we have lost.

Some of our revolutionary measures are not liked; some of the revolution's
plans are not liked; they are not liked by certain quarters or interests.
Difficult things achieved by the revolution seemed impossible to skeptics.
But facts have shown that everything is possible.

When we spoke of organizing labor youth brigades, and set as a requirement
the climbing of Turquino Peak five times and spending three months in
Sierra Maestra, some said this was impossible, too hard.  But only a few
months have passed, and already there are boys who are studying in
technological, aviation or other schools.  Formerly they had done nothing.

The organization of an army of workers and peasants also seemed very
difficult to a people who had been called anarchic and without sense of
order by their detractors.  But recent weeks have shown that this army,
formed in a matter of months, has civic virtues to form a force with
inspired fear in those who planned an attack.

It seemed difficult to train teachers; the appeal was made, and about 5,000
young people volunteered.  At the end of six months, the nation has 2,500
new teachers, trained in the spirit of the mountains, ready to teach in
most remote areas.  The revolution trained these 2,500 who have won the
respect and praise of all sectors for their work as teachers.

In the midst of a revolution things that seem hard become easy.  And so the
opportunity of a revolution must not be lost.  The revolution must erect
everything necessary on new foundations.  It must transform everything that
can be transformed, and so the revolution will transform the method of
training teachers.

Beginning now, new students will not enter normal schools in the cities.
The revolution intends to try out those who want to be teachers.  The
nation will pay teachers generously, but being a teacher will require real
proof of love for teaching.  Teachers will not be trained in cities.  All
normal schools will be in the mountains.  Three big normal schools will be
established:  in Sierra Maestra, in northwestern Oriente mountains, and in
mountains in Central Cuba.

The buildings will be in the highest mountains, amid the country people.
All students who want to be teachers will receive scholarships.  Access to
a teaching career will, therefore, be within the reach of anybody who has
the necessary desire and aptitude with or without resources.  It was a
miserable system when intelligence could not serve the nation unless it had
money.  It is the duty of the nation to provide opportunity for

We know this not an easy task.  But we also know some teachers will be
eager to be the founders of this new system of education, which our country
has the privilege of installing as a real innovation.  One day the public
schools will be incomparably better than private schools.  That means
schools for workers and peasants will be incomparably better than the
schools of the richest.  In the future, people will not have to send their
children to private schools because of lack of standards or facilities in
public schools.  The people will agree with this government project.  No
honorable citizen will fail to support it; a few hundred persons will
disagree.  The revolution is the work of the best.  It is a real battle
between the best and the worst.  The best are always with the revolution;
the worst will always be with the counterrevolution.

(The Premier spoke at length about courses to be offered for physical
instructors, agricultural teachers, and instructors in music, dancing, the
arts and languages as part of a program looking to the creation of a great
national academy of arts which will be a veritable city--Ed.)

Only the revolution has made this new life possible; has made possible this
opportunity which can be lost only the mediocre, the vile individuals whose
eyes cannot be opened to these beautiful realities, the worms used to
living in corruption, those used to the rotten atmosphere of yesterday's
privileges and special favors, where the people were expected to crawl
instead of walking upright.  Such people cannot get used to the idea of
living with dignity, of being useful to others, of living by giving.

Opportunities which formerly were just for a few privileged people are now
within the reach of all the people.  That is the revolution for which the
people stand erect, and which miserable men want to destroy.

Today we have seen some joyous scenes.  We have listened to songs and
laughter.  But we had sad thoughts, too.  We remembered the cases of
teachers murdered by counterrevolutionary bands.

In the mountain area of Las Villas the militia found an abandoned camp of
the counterrevolutionaries.  We will read something they found there,
showing the crimes of agents of imperialism, who with Yankee arms murder
teachers who go to teach in rural areas.  The report found in the camp of
the counterrevolutionary group stated that in Escambray, an individual
named Conrado Benitez Garcia, from Matanzas, was taken; that his profession
was that of a communist teacher; that effects taken from him included
communist propaganda and government literature.  The report was dated Jan.
5, 1961, and signed by Capt Ramirez of the Army of National Liberation, and
soldier Jesus Hernandez.

They were brazen enough to sign their names to this document.  (Castro
displays document--Ed.)  This communist teacher card is the same card
distributed to all of you.  Nobody asked these volunteers about their
political opinions.  The only condition was that they pass the tests and go
to teach in the mountains.  This monstrous deed shows the inner working
of the enemies of the revolution, of the cassocked myrmidons.  Not only
imperialism which sends weapons is guilty of this crime, but also guilty
are the reactionary philosophers, and those who have waged a ceaseless
campaign against the revolution.

These propagandists are guilty of calmly calling the card which has been
issued to every teacher "a communist teacher's card" and the school where
all these teachers studied a "communist school."  The idea of killing all
communists is the fruit of the campaign of Francoist, fascist clerics, and
imperialists, and those responsible for the counterevolutionary campaign.
They have made murder a virtue; they have made crime their conduct; they
have invented a jurisdiction to commit such a savage crime.

Let this young man be a perpetual example.  He was just a poor man of the
people, a shoeshine boy, a baker, and night school student.  He was not the
son of a rich man; he did not go to Miami, or Paris; he did not have a
cadillac; he knew only hard work, poverty and sacrifice.  He was a humble
Negro youth; he had known cruel discrimination.

Agents of imperialism murdered him because he was a young Negro teacher,
poor, and a worker.  There are two more reasons for his murder:  they did
not find weapons on him but he carried a "communist teacher" identity card.
He had a mathematics book, a language book, a physiology book.  And for
that the agents of imperialism murdered him, because he had books for
teaching rural people.  That is the counterrevolution; that is imperialism.

And so all of you will be condemned to be hanged, all who carry a teacher's
identify card and a book under your arm; for being teachers or being poor,
or workers, or Negroes--for any of these reasons.  There are no other
reasons for which they murdered the other day.  That is imperialism; that
is reaction; that is the counterrevolution--its hatred for culture, for the
poor, for the teacher, for the Negro, for the humble.  We can only feel
profound indignation over this barbarous act.  That is why the revolution
should and will be hard with its enemies.  (Applause) This is the fruit of
the counterevolutionary campaigns.  This is the fruit of anti-communism,
the philosophy of the counterrevolution, the fruit of the pastorals.

The revolutionary militias already have captured more than 20 of this band.
(Applause, chanting) All of them will be subjected to the most implacable
persecution they have ever imagined.  The units of revolutionary combatants
will fall on them to show them once again the unforgettable lesson which
traitors and their henchmen must learn.  Nothing will save them for they
have committed a crime which an indignant people will know how to punish.
(Shouting) We know that not one will escape and that for such fierce
criminals the people will demand only one punishment.

This was the year of education, the year to destroy illiteracy, the best
ally of imperialism.  While all the people were working on this, agents of
imperialism began the year of murdering teachers.  They began the year of
education by murdering a teacher.  Challenging the Cuban fatherland, they
said:  you propose to eradicate illiteracy; we propose to murder teachers.

Because the forces of the people are stronger than those of the criminals,
we will see that they will not kill another teacher.  We will see how we
will eliminate illiteracy and how we will eliminate the last of the war

It is hard to mention this crime today, but that murdered teacher will be a
light of patriotism.  That murdered youth will continue to be eternally
young.  That man of the people, humble and a Negro, who wanted to be a
teacher, will be an example to our people of a here who died doing his
duty.  He will be a symbol, a martyr whose blood will serve to make us
redouble our determination to win this battle against illiteracy.  Where he
taught there will be a school.  Where he died there will be a monument to
his memory and an accusatory monument against imperialism whose servants
killed a teacher.  Eternal glory to the teacher martyr.  Fatherland or
death; we will conquer.