Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana FIEL Network in Spanish 0155 GMT 8 April 1961--E

(Speech by Premier Fidel Castro at meeting of Confederation and Cuban
Workers arranging for observance of May Day)

(Summary) Comrades: Why is their so much jubilation and enthusiasm among
the workers? (Crowd shouts) During the years of tyranny all will remember
how May First could not be commemorated on the streets. May First under the
reactionary governments was a headache for them. During the seven years
before the triumph of the revolution they did not even permit the workers
to come out into the streets. During those seven years May First had to be
observed under a roof.

Today, just 24 days before May First, we have gathered in this hall. For
what? To commemorate the First of May? No. To prepare for May First. At
this meeting alone, more workers are gathered than were gathered on those
days to mark the day itself--and this is only a simple meeting of

Even in the years when the workers were permitted to go into the streets,
their parades were endless caravans of placards proclaiming their annual

The workers had to struggle eternally against those who controlled all the
land, the banks, the economy of the country. Each gain they made was at the
cost of arduous battles against those interests which had on their side all
the power, resources, arms, and repressive devices of the state.

You know how strikes almost always ended; under the blows of that armed
force in the service of the interests which monopolized the economic
interests of the nation.

May First, the day of the workers, the day of the humble men and women, of
the people, was not, as it is now under the triumph of the revolution, a
real national festival because those interests which dominated the economy
of our country have disappeared from the scene. Today the state is not in
the service of those interests. Today the machinery of the state does not
defend those interests. Today the arms of the nation are not in the service
of those interests.

Today everything is reversed. The revolutionary soldiers and the militiamen
are not in the services of the magnates, the owners of the sugar mills and
the latifundists. Today these armed forces are not here to dislodge
peasants or break up demonstrations of workers and students. Today these
men and arms are in the service of the peasants, workers and students.
(shouting) This in essence is the great change that has taken place in our

The radical and profound change which has taken place in our country
explains this happens, this enthusiasm, and this jubilation over the First
of May.

Will this observance be indoors? No. Will it be before the presidential
palace? No. Why? Because there is not enough room there for us. (cheering)
Where will it be? In the civic plaza. Why? Because we will almost fit in
there. This Havana which the latifundists built does not have a large
enough place for the people to gather. This is one of the problems of the
revolution: It cannot gather the people together because the masses do not
fit in any single place. And this will get worse because every year there
will be more people at every May First observance.

Why does the revolution commemorate May First in the largest area of the
capital? Because the power has passed into the hands of the people.
(cheering, applause) Power and the people are one and the same.

Will this May First meeting be a massing of men and women without weapons?
(crowd shouts "no") Will it be a forced mass? (shouts of "no") Will they
merely have to listen? (shouts of "no") Will it be surrounded by soldiers?
(shouts of "no") No, it will be an armed mass, it will be a mass
participation decisively in the fate of its country. How different from the
past when such a mass was forced merely to listen, when it counted for
nothing, when the power of the nation was in the hands of a minority
against the interests of the nation.

Why must such a gathering be armed to the teeth? Why must men and women
gather with all their weapons? Because we have to defend the rights we have
conquered. (applause) Because we have defend the right to meet in the open,
because we must defend this right to participate in the destiny of our
country. We must defend the right not to beg any more, never to ask again
in vain, never to depend on a new selfish people who exploited us. We must
defend the right to enjoy the benefits of our work, which we had to beg for
in the past. The workers produced the nation's wealth but this wealth did
not go to the workers. Part of that wealth--a miserable part on many
occasions--served to maintain the workers so that they could go to the
fields and the factories to produce wealth for others. Most of the wealth
fell into the hands of a few, a few magnates, a few monopolies from abroad
and a large band of bandits who plundered the public treasury.

In the past most of this wealth was not invested in improving the living
conditions of the people. Most of the wealth ended up in foreign banks, in
the private accounts of a few, in luxury for a few who went to Europe.

And as if no one here knew how to reason, there still are some fools-- I
say fools but that does not exclude thieves and shameless ones--but I say
fools because they think they can convince our people that the past was
better than the present, that it was better for U.S. companies to take away
the profits from our factories, that it was better for the country for the
wealth of the nation to be spent on vacations in Europe, to enrich a
handful of thieves while the people had less and less all the time.

They still fool themselves and dream about the foreign monopolies. They
fool themselves with the encouragement they get from the Yankee Pentagon
and they think that the people do not understand these things.

What sense is there in our people having to live constantly with arms? How
many May Firsts must we spend with weapons in our hands? Our enemies must
know that we will mark May First with weapons in hand as long as it may be
necessary, that every day will be marked with greater discipline,
organization, and more weapons as long as imperialism threatens us with
[Unreadable text] aggressions, as long as the counterrevolutionaries are
not convinced that they will fail a thousand times against the force of the

Completely Armed and Disciplined Militia

When we observed May Day last year our militia forces paraded but they
still did not have weapons; they were not organized. But imperialism and
its servants now will know the difference in our strength, organization,
and discipline. This year those who once paraded unarmed will parade
completely armed, perfectly disciplined, and perfectly trained.

That means that the imperialists and their servants have lost time, that
the imperialists will have less and less hope of overthrowing the
revolution, that the revolution has not lost time in organizing and
preparing. Now that the counterrevolutionaries are making haste in their
plans for invasion, we imagine that the growth of the revolutionary force
of the people will be a real headache for them. We have always warned that
each day that passes, the revolution becomes stronger. The
counterrevolutionaries, regardless of how much support and aid they receive
from their Yankee bosses, have never and will never march as fast as the

On May First they will see the Cuban working class parade, perfectly
prepared to resist imperialist aggression. We have had to live with the
expectation of that aggression but this has not impeded the progress of the
revolution. We have always believed that our most important task is defense
of the revolution. Many times the people have given it their support; they
have even become impatient waiting for the enemy. At times we too have
become impatient. We believe that those who play with war, who prepare
expeditions, those who are full of illusions and hopes, sooner or later
must come. Even though not too enthusiastic about it, they are going to be
put aboard ships and sent here.

Failure of CIA Intrigues

"We do not believe that the Central Intelligence Agency, which has
absolutely no intelligence at all, because if it were intelligent it would
not have sent us as many weapons as it has lately. (Sentence as begun was
not completed--Ed.) If it were intelligent, it would have realized that
most of the times those who were waiting for the arms to be dropped were
our militiamen. If it were so intelligent, it would not have had so many
illusions. Really, rather than Central Intelligence Agency, it should be
called the 'Central Agency of Yankee Cretins' (Agencia Central de Cretinos
Yanquis-Ed.) (Applause and shouts)

"For months the 'Central Agency of Cretins' has been preparing--on the soil
of Guatemala and the soil of other countries ruled by puppets of
imperialism--military bases and armies of mercenaries to attack our
country. Jointly with this, it has tried to smuggle explosives and
inflammable material into our country in order to equip the terrorists in
their service and, on many occasions, has taken the terrorists to the
United States and then brought them back here to attempt to destroy our
wealth, as well as human lives; to destroy the electric power company
because now naturally it is not a Yankee monopoly but belongs to Cuba;
destroy the oil refineries, which naturally are not a Yankee monopoly but
belong to Cuba; to destroy business enterprises, which no longer belong to
Yankee companies but to the Cubans.

"The 'Central Agency of Yankee Cretins' of course did not prepare
terrorists and murderers to destroy these industries when they were Yankee
monopolies. However, it is making every effort to destroy them now that
they no longer belong to the Yankee monopolies but to the people.
(Applause, shouts)

"To prepare conditions for the alleged invasion they tried to organize
counterrevolutionary bands inside the country. Everybody knows what
happened to these counterrevolutionary bands; they were virtually swept
away wherever they tried to establish a beachhead. (Applause) They deluded
themselves on the Escambray and we warned them here on one occasion that we
could find even a needle dropped in those mountains (applause). We warned
that when the circumstances required, that is, when it was worth while, we
could mobilize as many battalions of militia as necessary (applause) and
this we did.

"We mobilized militia battalions in different provinces so that every
province could participate in some way in sweeping the Escambray clean. For
example, the Havana workers' militia sent 15 battalions to those mountains
(applause) and these, added to the battalions sent by the militia of other
provinces, swept Las Villas Mountains from one end to the other and put
(the enemy--Ed.) out of action without its putting up any serious
resistance, without even firing its arms, except on very few occasions.

"The glorious armies of the 'Central Service of Yankee Cretins' were swept
off the map, along with the Myrmidon priest and everything else they had
there. (Shouts) Only a very few Myrmidons were able to flee, completely
abandoning those areas, where it is unlikely they will again try to
organize a counterrevolutionary force, because a sufficient number of
militia battalions have remained (applause) to prevent the lair of worms
from breeding again. (Shouts, applause) We have dealt with them everywhere
in exactly the same manner."

They deluded themselves into believing they could raise groups of
counterrevolutionaries in several parts of the island. You have seen in the
civic plaza the arms we seized when they dropped them. If we had had those
weapons when we were fighting things would have been different. After more
than a year of fighting we had no more weapons than when we [Unreadable
text] in Cuba. In the Sierra Maestra we only had 300 weapons--none of them
automatic--after 5 or 6 months. When the forces of tyranny mobilized, we
increased our weapons supply by capturing them. With these weapons we
organized our operations. We launched an offensive when we had sufficient
weapons. The arms we had were those taken from the enemy in fighting. We
never lost a weapon. Our doctrine was: Seize them, never lose them. No
group of millionaires, no foreign organization helped us. There was always
a scarcity of weapons.

Ours was a revolution of the farmers, the humble. Naturally there is no
millionaire aid for a revolution of the humble. People always have to fight
their revolutions with their own resources and by their own efforts. How
different is the counterrevolution of the millionaires, the latifundists,
the Falangist priests, the Yankee monopolies, the imperialists.

We had to come to Cuba on the 60-foot Granma. We had to get arms abroad
through many sacrifices and under constant persecution of foreign police.
We had to get arms one at a time. We had no cannon, bazookas, automatic
weapons, ships, planes, or millions of dollars. We were faced by a large
army trained and armed by the imperialists. For two years we waged the
revolution fighting with virtually nothing, but we achieved victory on 1
January. (Applause)

The counterrevolution of the monopolies, the reactionary priests, the
latinfundists, and Myrmidons have military bases everywhere. Arms arsenals
of the Yankees are at their disposal.

"The counterrevolutionary 'cabecillas' (leaders--Ed.) have access to the
Pentagon. They are received by the State Department. They have millions of
dollars and thus we can see any of those paunchy gentlemen, (applause,
shouts) who compose the council organized by the 'central of myrmidons and
cretins,' (central de los esbirros y de los cretinos--Ed.) entering and
leaving the Pentagon, the State Department, police offices, the imperialist
arsenals, and the palaces of the cardinals. How different the revolution of
the people is from the counterrevolution of the millionaires!"

When we made our plans, we had only one factor to count on: We placed our
faith in the people and that was all. (applause) The soldiers of the forces
of tyranny had the weapons, guns, tanks, planes. But the people knew how to
take the weapons away from the enemy. There were no arms but there was
morale, valor, justice, reasoning. Convinced of this, we navigated
thousands of miles in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico to land on the
shores of our country. How different is the attitude of the
counterrevolutionaries! They have faith only in the imperialist government,
foreign monopolies, the Pentagon, priests, latinfundists (shouts).

Aims of Counterrevolution

The goals, of course, are different. We came with plans in the interest of
the people. We were thinking of exploited peasants, the workers, national
interests, with the dream of seeing the country one day free of foreign
monopolies. We were thinking of one day raising a banner with dignity.

We came with plans in the interest of a nation which was master of its own
fate. We came planning for the day when the country would throw out
corruption, with the idea of seeing justice in the country, with the dream
of seeking an end to hunger, crime, abuses, exploitation. (swelling
applause) We came with the dream of seeing peasants, workers, Negroes and
the poor transformed into human beings (applause), with the dream of the
sons of our peasants one day having the right to a teacher, a doctor and
bread. We came with the dream of being able one day to say that all the
sugar mills, all refineries, trains and public services, all large
industries, belong to the Cuban people. (deafening applause and chanting:

We have been speaking of the differences between the forces of the
revolution and the counterrevolutionaries. We have been speaking about what
we were thinking of when we came to Cuba.

What the counterrevolutionaries have in mind is something quite different.
They are not thinking of national sovereignty; they want our flag to be at
the level it was before, not at half staff, but all the way down. They are
not thinking of the country's sovereignty but of getting into power with
the aid of their masters, as puppets always have done. They are not coming
with the idea of educating the people but with the idea that the more
ignorant people are, the easier they are to exploit. They are not thinking
of building a school in every town or of children of workers studying in
universities. No. They feel that only the children of the rich should study
in universities, that a Negro should not have access to places considered
suitable only for the white aristocrat. They want the refineries returned
to Yankee monopolies and the plants to Yankee owners.

They do not want an armed nation. Exploiters never want an armed people. An
armed worker or peasant cannot be exploited. The counterrevolutionaries are
not thinking of freeing the people forever as did the revolution. They are
thinking of frightening the people so that abuses can be resumed. They will
not set up beaches and recreation centers. They are not thinking of ending
unemployment because when people are jobless they can be hired to cut cane
for a peso.

In the past the people often lacked basic things. Today, some things, it is
true, are lacking, but only luxury items used by the minority. This is a
result of the imperialist blockade. What do the people care if imported
preserves or other luxury products are not available? Of course, blockade
and aggression are causing a scarcity of things the people need, but the
people know that this is the result of Yankee aggression. The people know
our economy is underdeveloped. Even the smallest screw came from the United
States. Spare machine parts came from there. The people know that our
country was forced to deal with only one market. Suddenly they were
deprived of this market, as a result of the just laws of the revolution
which ended unemployment, put an end to villages without hospitals and
schools, enacted laws which ended discrimination, control by monopolies,
humiliation, and suffering of the people. In order to prevent our
revolution from becoming an example and in revenge they deprived us of a
market. Our country endured seven years of theft of our natural resources.
After the war there were hardly any money reserves. Daily we needed to use
reserves for industrialization of the country.

The people know the cause of present scarcities and that the imperialists
aimed to force us to our knees. They thought they were going to force us to
our knees, forgetting that we would kneel only to our heroic dead to tell
them that we have done our duty.

Imperialists cannot tolerate the spectacle of a people like ours on their
feet, or the idea of a people rising up in dignity and sovereignty.
Imperialists cannot accept the idea of a Latin American country that is
independent or get accustomed to the idea that monopolies have disappeared
from a country. It was thought that by threatening to take away our quota
the revolution would be ended. It was thought that by blockading exports of
raw materials and replacement parts we would be defeated. It was thought
that our people would be afraid of imperialist aggression and surrender.

It is true that aggression will mean sacrifices for our people but they
know that sacrifices are the price to be paid for holding one's heads high,
for looking eye to eye and saying: You will never be able to defeat me.

Rationing Being Studied

This is the price so that they never again shall place a yoke about our
necks or again humiliate us. If restrictions are needed we will take steps
to insure that those who work get first choice over those who do nothing.
We are studying the matter of supplies in order to make certain that
restrictions will be first imposed upon parasites, not the people.

There will be much more revolution that the imperialists imagine. They may
not want it, but they will have it and will be unable to prevent it. They
may want to destroy our wealth but they will not be able to. Those who
serve them as instruments for sabotage will not have an opportunity to make
a report. The wicked ones who sell our country will not recover anything.

When they place a foot here--something Miro Cardona will not do, for he
knows what he is doing--they will learn the fury with which the people will
fall upon them. On that day they may be convinced of some things they
cannot understand today. They think that with some mercenaries they can
face the armed workers and peasants. They think that the workers and
peasants cannot resist their bands of mercenaries. Until they see for
themselves, until they see their mercenaries as dust, they may not be

They will not be able to count on internal support, for the bands they have
formed have been annihilated. The weapons are in our hands. Tank and
artillery battalions have been increased and the revolution has grown in
strength. The spirit of the revolution has been strengthened. The men and
women who are willing to die in combat are not concerned over the
sacrifices they must make.

Let us suppose there are no movies. Well, we will not go to the movies. Let
us suppose there is a lack of some articles--five, eight or ten articles.
That does not matter. Are they going to frighten us in this way? Do they
think they are going to buy national sovereignty with a piece of soap, a
film of Cooper of Monroe? Regardless of how much they may blockade, the
revolution can guarantee medicine, food, clothes, education and recreation
centers for the people.

"We will limit our spending of foreign credits to those things most
strictly necessary. Of those important articles which may be in short
supply and of which we may not be able to obtain all we need, we will try
to prevent speculation and hoarding, and, before this hoarding take place,
where one person buys enough for six months and another gets nothing, we
are prepared to ration those articles to guarantee them to the people

All will recall the last war when we did much so that the Yankees would not
be short of sugar. Now the Yankees are seeing to it that our country lacks
certain articles. Why? To impose the thugs, the war criminals on us. In the
last war our country was the supplier, but now when we are trying to
progress we have the enemy there.

There is something which is abundant here: Bullets for all
counterrevolutionaries. Bullets will never be rationed; the
counterrevolutionaries will receive great quantities of them whenever they
come for them. We will submit to any sacrifices but we will not submit to
the Yankee yoke, or to the gangsters and thieves of imperialism. The
terrorists will be exterminated. The revolution is not known for weakness
but for its firmness and for taking the necessary measures when they are

Let them bring explosives here, let them try to destroy the factories;
there is only one word for the terrorists: Extermination. This is a duty of
the people; extermination of criminals. No one will have pity on
terrorists, traitors, mercenaries of betrayers. The people will be severe
with them, just as they and the imperialists are severe with the people.

Who are the ones who complain? The weak, the cowards, those who are not
used to sacrifices. They would be prepared to exchange their dignity and
their country for any material advantage. True revolutionaries are the men
and women who have worked daily to earn their living.

Cuba Besieged by Imperialism

Today Cuba is like a fortress surrounded by imperialism. Heroic defenders
of this fortress neither betray nor surrender. Heroic defenders of any
fortress endure starvation, hunger, thirst, but do not surrender their

Cuba today is a fortress of dignity of America, it is the fortress of hope
of America, the invincible bastion of justice and of revolution.

We do not want defeatists or cowards who would surrender the flag to the
enemy surrounding us in this fortress. This fortress will not surrender, it
will be able to resist as long as may be necessary. It will be defended by
its men and women to the last drop of blood. Therefore, we must temper the
heart and spirit of the people, and those who do not understand it must see
the fortress that the revolution and Cuban nation are today and our
people's faith in victory, assurance in its future, arising from the
awareness that we are right, that we are defending what is just, and that
it is our right.

Let us mobilize for May First. Let us mobilize in all centers of work, in
all towns, and all fields of our country. Let us prepare for the great
festival of May First so that the enemies of the country and the revolution
will know how much the revolution has grown. Let them not deceive
themselves: The revolution has grown in strength, discipline, organization,
conscience, and power.

Let the mobilization of May First be the largest we have ever had. The
imperialists have just published a white book. On May First let us give the
Yankee white book the reply it deserves; Fatherland or death; we will win.