Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana, FIEL Network, in Spanish, Mar. 28, 1961, 0404 GMT--E

(Speech by Prime Minister Fidel Castro at closing of revolutionary youth
students congress in Havana)

(Summary)  It is impossible at a ceremony such as this one not to recall
the years gone by when we were students. We students often gathered, and we
always had the same problem: we were always fighting the government. It was
said then that students were irresponsible, agitators, systematic
oppositionists. All of us students felt the obligation to combat the
government. All our ceremonies were acts of opposition to the government.
No government in our country had support from any of the students, who had
no interest in the government itself. Efforts were made to buy the
students. When the student leaders could not be bought, they were
persecuted and even murdered.

So today's ceremony is significant; the students' support of the revolution
is significant. We always have many visitors from abroad, particularly from
Latin America. For those who visit our country, and for those in our own
country who still do not understand the phenomenon of the revolution, it
must be very significant to see how the young people, the students, support
the revolution. Today, more and more, "youth" and "students" are coming to
mean the same thing. Although in the past many young people did not have
the change to study, today the right of every child and youth to study is
becoming more of a reality. The fact that the young people support the
revolution tells a great deal.

The fact that the revolution has the support of the young people is the
greatest thing that can be said in favor of the revolution. The youth have
always been rebels and self-sacrificing. The young people of our country
are still rebels, but they are not rebellious against justice. They were
rebellious against injustice, and they are still rebellious against
injustice. They are with the revolution because the revolution itself is a
rebellion against all injustice, all abuse, all oppression, exploitation,
all the evils that can affect a human society. Therefore the young people
and the revolution are so identified. If those who are confused had any
doubts, suffice it to see that the young people support the revolution
wholeheartedly to convince them.

No political regime in America, unless it were revolutionary, would have
the students' support, and we are sure that no government of thieves, or
oligrachies, of imperialists, will ever have the students' support in Latin
America. The students in Latin America are against those antisocial,
exploiting, pro-imperialist governments; and no Latin American government
has such support from the youth as the Cuban Revolutionary Government. The
men in many Latin American governments can hardly meet with the students as
we are doing tonight. The students in our country fought the vices and
evils of our political system. They fought theft, crime, abuses, the
surrender to foreign interests. The Cuban students were always behind any
just cause at the side of oppressed and exploited peoples.

It is significant that the students support the revolution, because here it
is a thorough social revolution. How eagerly we studied the big social
revolutions, trying to understand. The book of the reality of our country
is open to your eyes to show you what is a social revolution. A social
revolution is above all a tremendous clash of social interests, a
tremendous struggle between social classes, and that struggle, in our
country, takes an ever more bitter characteristic as the revolution goes

The preceding administrations were opposed by the students because of their
crookedness, treason, corrupt politics, crime. It is logical that any young
person should be against that type of government, particularly young people
of the humble classes. In a social revolution, it is logical that some of
the students should be against the revolutionary regime. Which classes?
That part of the students that come from the moneyed classes. It is logical
that under the influence of those classes, some of the young people should
be drawn into the counterrevolutionary effort. The student body of our
country, to a large degree, came from the upper and middle classes; and yet
the majority of the students support the revolution. This means that the
students have become deeply aware of the revolution; that a great part of
the students have entered deeply into the revolutionary process, overcoming
the prejudices that combat the revolution. This means they have reacted
like young people, like patriots, like Cubans. That is why the revolution
has such a great support from the students.

In the eras of great political upheavals, the opposition to governments did
not come basically from the private schools; in them, conformity and other
rules; that is, the order of the reigning public immoralities. Of course,
public secondary schools are basically attended by children from the poorer
families, but the children of many poor families could not even attend
secondary schools. It was logical that there should be less protest in the
private schools, because the ruling circles did not affect the interests of
the families from which those students came. The attitude of the young
people in the public schools and the private schools can be perfectly

Take the case of the University of Havana, which was always the center of
student protests and signs of rebellion. The class struggle of the
revolution is observed especially in the attitude of the students in the
private schools. It is in those colleges which the sons of the rich
traditionally attended--where there has never been a movement in favor of
the people--that counterrevolutionary movements are being organized in the
vain pretense that they will spread to the other student centers.

This open book of the revolutionary process teaches us clearly which is the
attitude, and the reason for that attitude, of each one in the midst of
this process. It is possible that many of those youths from wealthy
families may save themselves for the revolution and the fatherland in spite
of the resentment of the class from which they spring. In those same
colleges, there is a plague of cassocked thugs and mercenary professors.
They devote themselves to inculcating those youths with hate for the
revolution and for the country, and adherence to foreign interests. They
devote themselves not to preparing them to be useful to society, which
should be the basic aim of the education of all youths.

All youths should be taught not to be parasites, but to be useful among
their peers. It is criminal to accustom a human being to the idea that
others must work for him and that his shoes and bread are earned with the
sweat and labor of others. Those who teach that, according to the Bible,
man is condemned to live in a vale of tears, teach the youths to mock that
which they claim God ordained; that is, they teach the youths not to earn
their own bread.

They prepare the youths' minds with the idea of exploitation of others.
They accustom them to the idea that they are the gentlemen and the others
are the servants. They teach them to think that there is one social class
that owns all rights, and that the other social classes exist in order to
work for them. They teach them that the ownership of the great national
industries is a just thing; that the nation should depend on the foreign
capital from the North; that if this nation does not put its resources in
the hands of the foreigners it will starve. Never in the history of
humanity was there a lack of the sanctifiers of the worst crimes. They
perpetrated great massacres on the peoples of our islands in the name of
civilization and progress.

There were many who sanctified the enslavement of man. They brought men
from one continent to another where they condemned them to live in slavery.
If that is difficult to understand today, do not forget that they crime had
its sanctifiers. They are the ones who sanctified the foreign intervention,
the poverty and hunger of our people. They are the ones who sanctified the
crimes that were committed against our youth. There were not only murders,
but also the starvation of thousands of children. If we knew the mortality
rate of those days, we would note the difference between the mortality rate
of the rich and the poor. With that data we could tell those exploiters:
You killed them; you are to blame that we are not richer and that we do not
have 10 or 12 million inhabitants.

Counterrevolutionaries in Private Schools

They try to justify their crimes today as they did the enslavement of the
Indians and Africans yesterday. They are the ones who have led children
even to committing the crime of placing a bomb in a classroom. The problem
is much more complex, for how are we going to execute a 15-year old? What
is his guilt? The more guilty are the ones who poisoned the mind of that
youth. (Chanting for seven minutes)

The problem is much more complex, and we are also partly responsible. The
open book of the revolution had to teach us much, and above all it had to
reach the people. The revolution had not taken any measure against that
type of pseudo-educational institution. The revolution had no reason to
interfere with the beliefs of anyone. Freedom to teach? Yes, freedom to
teach the youth to be useful to their country. Freedom to poison the youth
with treason? No. The revolution did not take any type of restrictive
measure, and what has been the reply?

They used that attitude of the revolution as a right to practice
counterrevolution in the private educational centers and in the churches.
Everyone knows that much counterrevolutionary activity has been carried out
in the churches. But it cannot be said that the Revolutionary Government
has closed a single church or has taken any of the measures that it has a
right to take. Revolution does not recognize privileges for anyone. The
revolution recognizes only the interests of the people.

For us there is a great temple: the sacred temple of the country. We have
one great cult: the cult of justice. For us there is one great duty: the
duty of leading the people toward victory; the duty to save the people from
the return of exploitation and crime; the duty to save the people from
having to live again in the clutches of imperialism--where the mothers did
not even have the certainty that their children would return at night or
that their sons would not be murdered. That is the most sacred duty of the
revolution. The revolution cannot subordinate that supreme interest of the
fatherland to any other interest.

The open book of the revolution has taught us to differentiate between our
tolerance and the conduct of these who believe themselves powerful. They
have replied with an insolent challenge to the nation's interests, thinking
of the damage they can do to the revolution elsewhere, not here. Here they
are not deceiving anybody; but unfortunately they deceive some of the
people in other countries. The revolution has respected others, and our
people know that. Some day when the truth is available to the other peoples
of America, they will know it too. They will know that the revolution has
not persecuted anybody for his religious beliefs; the revolution has not
declared war on any religion.

Restrictive Measures Threatened

The people know that those who hypocritically invoke religious principles
have been waging war on the revolution for some time. The problem is a
complex one. We bear some of the blame for every young people in this
country who can be drawn away from the path of loyalty to his country.
Leading a country is not easy, and it is less so in the midst of a
revolutionary process. Our responsibilities are great. We believe we have
done our duty in the line we have followed up to now. The people have had
more than two years to learn and understand. Now, at the crossroads, of
either taking measures or letting the minds of our young people go on being
poisoned, the revolution will not hesitate to take whatever measures it
deems proper. (Chanting, cheering for five minutes)

We must always do our duty in a way that can be understood; we must try to
be understood. But if doing our duty incurs the risk that some people still
in ignorance will not understand us, it does not matter. We must do our
duty. The revolution has fought great battles; it is still fighting great
battles. The revolution must not hesitate to wage whatever battles are

It is odd the way reaction, lacking an idealogy with which to combat the
revolution and knowing that it is an absolute minority class, tries to
increase its forces. Of course it tries to unite. Besides that it tries to
raise other banners. It seeks alliances with other forces which might
enlist the support of some of the people. Religion is one example. Religion
is a sentiment or a belief usually held by part of the people. In the
matter of religion, peoples usually have a multitude of beliefs, within or
without the doctrine of some churches. Experience shows us what the
religious reactions of peoples will be. Many people of the lower classes
have their beliefs. Reaction tries to present the revolution as an enemy of
the religious beliefs of the revolution; it seeks an alliance with a

Church, Reaction Alliance

This has been true in all revolutions. Rome was an ally of the pagan
church, against the Christian religion, which was the religion of the poor
and the slaves. As it developed, it became somewhat pagan, until the day
came when the leaders of that church had as much material power, and
sometimes more political and material power, than kings and emperors. When
the French revolution came, the church was on the side of feudalism and the
monarchy and against the bougeoisie and capitalism that wanted to break
with feudalism. So capitalism arose, fighting against feudalism and against
the church.

Today, capitalism and the high Catholic hierarchy are the same thing in our
country. Today capitalism, which once fought feudalism and the church,
seeks an alliance with the church to combat the new revolutionary ideas.
There is the case of Spain today: an alliance of capitalism, imperialism,
and clericalism. Spain is full of Yankee bases, full of reactionary priests
and bishops, full of generals, counts, and marquis, full of big landholders
and capitalists. The same is true in many other countries where the people
are kept in poverty and ignorance by the oligarchy allied with the church
and the military caste. In Guatemala and Nicaragua, that is the alliance.
Masferrer and Ventura are the godsons of Cardinal Spellman. How absurd, a
Yankee Cardinal being godfather of criminals.

When there were all sorts of crimes against the peasants here, Cardinal
Spellman did not lift one prayer to heaven. When the worker and peasant
leaders had to flee the country, Spellman did not think of collecting alms
for them. Today, when the war criminals and murderers flee to that country,
what need was there for Spellman to ask for alms for them? They had
plundered our treasury; they carried away our money. He was just giving
support to his men. The high Catholic hierarchy in the United States is
allied with the big monopolists so they asked for alms for the big
industrialists and big landholders who fled from here.

Knowing that it has no arguments, reaction seeks support from sectors that
will get some of the people to support its interests and become enemies of
the revolution. They try to make a poor Negro who was victim of
discrimination and turn him against the revolution because he has religious
faith. They grasp at every straw that might serve to draw some of the
people to their bad cause. That is the maneuver. The interests they discuss
are absolutely materialistic: mines, factories, and so on.

A reactionary will say he agrees with agrarian reform, with converting
barracks to schools, with jobs for everybody, with houses for peasants. He
will say, "Yes, I agree with all that; but that is communism." Well, if
that is communism, we agree with communism. (Chanting for three minutes)

They have no arguments so they try to frighten us with words. At least they
cannot deny that we have complied with the mandate of the Bible: Each must
earn his bread by the sweat of his brow; similar to the Russian revolution
which said: He who does not work, does not eat. (Chanting for nine minutes)

In the past, we read only Yankee American magazines, Yankee books, Yankee
news agency reports, Yankee papers, Yankee comics. The children of rich
families went to study in Yankeeland. What did the Yankee films show us?
The North American white man was a hero killing Indians. The Yankee was a
hero in Africa by killing Negroes. They portrayed the Africans as savages.
The more Negroes killed, the bigger the hero. What did those films show us?
Gambling, gangsterism. That was the expression of the empire. We had that
for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

What good did 60 years of lies do for them? What has told the truth to the
people? The deeds of the revolution. And what have we learned in such a
little time? (Someone shouts; phrase indistinct) But we are going with
speed. WE are on our own feet. We have found out how good the Yankees were.
The saints were the Yankees, and we did not even burn a candle to them.
What good people; they sent outdated vaccine.

Let them tell us that they respect sovereignty. We know; and the good thing
is that we are going to tell the other peoples about it. We will let the
other peoples particularly the Latin American peoples learn at our expense.
They say we want to promote revolutions. They are the one who forge the
revolutions. Who made the Cuban revolution? The monopolies had a large part
in it. If there had not been poverty and underdevelopment, could there have
been a revolution? (Crowd shouts "No.") Was there hunger here? (Crowd
shouts "Yes.") Well, there is more hunger in the rest of Latin America.

I can assure you that there were more lies told here than in the rest of
Latin America. We were flooded with lies. They considered this the most
unlikely place for revolution. Well, you see how the revolution is going
now. If there is revolution here, where it seemed least likely, it is
logical to believe that the revolution is possible in other places where
there are less lies and more hunger. In much of Latin America there is a
greater revolutionary conscience than when we started the struggle. We who
today march in the vanguard of the revolution were further from the
revolution then than the Latin Americans are today. The independence of
Latin America began in one country and spread to other countries. Today it
is the Yankee empire that tries to crush the revolution and independence.
They will fight any revolution. The 500 million pesos will go to the hands
of a few Latin American politicians.

They bought the parrot with the small change on the table of the
imperialists. It is certain that he was brought with money. We expect
Javier Lecano to tell us the story of what his investigation has brought
out. All the people should read the story. What cynicism! I cannot tell the
story now because I can not recall all the details. Let him who was a
witness tell it. Can you believe the revolution would buy a pen to defend
the revolution?

This is the way of imperialism. That is their banner. They have their
country in their gold. Morals? What morals? There are no more cynical,
corrupt, murderous people in the world. The murdered Sandino and Lumumba,
all revolutionaries. They cannot kill ideas but they murder the men who
represent those ideas. They cannot buy a revolutionary, but they do buy
traitors. Can that empire survive? (crowd shouts, "No.")

Must Make Sacrifices

Can they buy the conscience of peoples with their gold? They are inevitably
lost. While they buy traitors and pay for terrorist acts, they attack our
people economically hoping to make us yield through hunger. How charitable
they are! They eliminated the sugar quota, they cut off exports. Why? Those
good people thought they had found a way to end revolutions, by taking away
markets and inflicting hunger. We are not going to go hungry. We will have
to make sacrifices, of course. But we have plenty of land to grow the food
we need. While they buy consciences and feed beasts, they want our families
to go hungry. They want the honest, working people to go hungry.

But they are mistaken in their calculations. We are ready even to go hungry
and to undergo whatever privations may be necessary. They will not force
our people to knuckle under. We will not bow down, above all when we have
had the pride of living free. We have taken the measure of their might in
our right and the dignity of our people. We will see who has the last word.
The imperialist government is losing prestige in opposition to us.

This little country has stood up to the giant, and this cannot be hidden
from Latin America. This little country has not been intimidated by the
giant. This little country has earned the faith that the peoples of Latin
America have in it today. We will not let this banner fall. This flag that
today is a thing of pride, a guide for all America, a symbol of the
struggle against the enslavers and exploiters of the poor, we will not let
fall from our hands. They do not know our heroic people who fought the
Spanish empire for years.

Ignorant as they are, they do not know history. And so they think their
economic aggressions will defeat us. How much effort and energy they are
spending uselessly. And what a shame for such a powerful country to stoop
so low, to combat our people in this historic battle, where it will not be
we who will be conquered, but they.

Such is the hour you are living in. We had one lot, and you have another.
The young people living in this hour can consider themselves fortunate.
They can consider themselves truly happy to be not merely spectators, but
forgers of history. Above all you must be aware of this. You have
everything ahead of you. You have ahead of you struggle and the future.

These young people have guaranteed to them a right above all vicissitudes:
the right to study. No young person in Cuba will have to go without
schooling or university education because there are not enough teachers or
because he is poor. The revolution is able to pay for the education of
every poor boy whose parents cannot pay. Next term, in western Cuba, 10,000
scholarships will be awarded to secondary students, beginning on November
15, as soon as the literacy drive ends. To specialize, formerly, one had to
be from a rich family. Today any young person, no matter how poor, has the
opportunity to specialize in any career. That includes the opportunity to
study abroad. The only requirement is to be diligent and competent. The
opportunity for basic education, university education, and specialization
for every young person is a great thing. It is not really right? And is a
society that cannot guarantee such a right not really shameful?

What was guaranteed here formerly was special privileges, humiliation,
injustice. But as human beings we had a right to fight for a just society,
for a better world. We had the right to use all the resources of this
nation to guarantee these rights to all the children of this country. We
had the right to do what we are doing. And we have the right and the duty
to fight and die for what we are doing. What does it matter if we cannot
guarantee anybody the right to become a millionaire, the right to exploit
others, or the right to live as a parasite, if we can guarantee each Cuban
the right to earn a living honorably? Here the only ones who will have a
right to live without working are the old people and the disabled.

What does it matter if the parasites and lazybones are annoyed? What do the
people care about that? What do the people care about the sadness of those
who used to exploit the people? They never cared about the people's
troubles, so what do the people care about their lot now? We would have
wished a better lot for them. It would have been better for them to realize
that the people were right. It is their own fault that they did not

Standard Bearers of Revolution

You students, who have an open book before you, who do not have to go to
libraries to study revolutions because you have a revolution in front of
you, you have a very important role. You must be the standard bearers, the
most vigorous champions of the revolution. You are the soundest sector of
the people, the most energetic and dynamic. You must be the best soldiers
of the revolution. You must set the example. When we spoke of sacrifices,
we were thinking that you must set the example. You must be the most ardent
champions of the revolution in every center of education, in the city and
its quarters, you must be the first defenders of the revolution. When any
person whose interests have been affected turns up with
counterrevolutionary propaganda, you must give him his answer. (Chanting)

It is preferable to stand in line at the house of a politician to beg favor
or not to be able to stand in line before a social center because of color
or to stand in line with those who sell their souls to the imperialists? We
will stand in all the lines required by our dignity, and in those lines we
should also defend the revolution. We should face the sowers of rumors and
discontent. We found ourselves in the line to the prisons, in the lines to
exile, and many of us stood in the line of death. (Chanting)

Literacy Campaign

You, students, revolutionary youth, should constitute in all scholastic
centers the most active nucleus of the revolution. In this way you can
write history with the idea that you know you are right. Above all we want
to request this one thing: one of the most beautiful efforts of the
revolution, one of the most glorious battles of this revolution, is the
battle with books and rifles--men and women forming an army of culture. The
enemies of the truth try to keep the people from learning so that they will
never become more than illiterate Indians. More illiterate masses is what
the imperialists need. Literate masses is what the revolutions that reveal
the great truths need. We must sweep away the lies

Ignorance is an ally of counterrevolution. We must bring to our compatriots
the light, the truth. It matters not if they live in remote spots, in the
mountains. If ignorance is there, we must go there to combat it. If we can
mobilize militiamen to combat the invaders, why are we not preparing an
army to destroy illiteracy? The counterrevolutionaries try to prevent this
work. They start rumors so that the fathers will not let their children go
to teach. They have tried to sow fear. There is no danger for the teachers.
The militant organization of the revolution is there to protect them. Can a
teacher be hurt? Yes it can happen. They are capable of anything, just as
they murdered the volunteer teacher. But your youths are not frightened by
that possibility. They are not frightened by any risk. We would really be
made of small stuff if a small group of criminals were capable of stopping
work as great as this.

The revolution needs the youth, the patriotism of their fathers. We must
promote enthusiasm for the literacy brigades we are forming. All youths
who desire to serve their country should enroll in the brigades. Let the
fathers who want their children to learn more send their children to teach.
Their children will be eternally grateful. They would be eternally
resentful if their fathers did not permit them to have the happiness of
teaching other fathers.

On Apr. 5 the first contingents will march. They are students of the
primary teachers school. In April and May, the literacy army will be on the
march. They will be organized in battalions and brigades. They have
uniforms for the march as well as equipment. The boys will go to the
mountains. The girls will go to the villages.

We must organize this campaign so that the strictest fathers can be assured
the safety of their children. Each unit will have responsible people as
leaders. The campaign will not be stopped for any reason. It would continue
even if an invasion were to come. It will be for us a test of the energy of
the revolution. There will be more than one million persons who can enroll
in the ranks of the truth. That will strengthen the revolution. It will be
a blow to the imperialists and a lesson to the Latin Americans. It will
show that without a single imperialist dollar, we can do what all the
imperialist dollars never did.

Pilot Training Campaign

In addition to literacy workers, we need another type of defenders of the
revolution. Simply, we need pilots. We we are going to give you a task:
that from each (two words indistinct) you send us two of the best
boys--listen carefully--two of the best boys who want to study aviation;
and at the same time, that the workers of each important work center send
us two of the best young workers who want to study aviation. They must come
with the report of the union, they must come with (few words indistinct)
the report of the Association of Revolutionary Youth.

They must go to the provincial headquarters and from there to Havana. They
must be between 17 and 22 years of age. They must be at least in the
seventh grade. (Word indistinct) to give them eye and physical
examinations, and others, because careful selection must be made from among
them, and once they have been selected (shouting heard)--the girls must
help select the best boys (words indistinct)--and have passed the
examinations, they will be subjected to very hard tests. After they pass
all these tests, they must pass other tests of will, perseverence, physical
energy. But it is necessary to appeal to your cooperation to select those
comrades under the responsibility of each association and under the
responsibility of each union. We will see if within 15 days all these
comrades have been selected and brought here to pass the tests.

And that is all. (Crowd shouts as Fidel apparently begins to leave. He
returns to the microphone--Ed.) Well, I see you are very enthusiastic. Let
us see if you will teach the peasants at 2 a.m. also. We will meet again on
Nov. 20 in Havana, when the campaign is over.