Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 1830 GMT 23 April 1961--E

(Speech by Premier Fidel Castro on the Popular University program)

(Summary) The people know a great deal about the events which have taken
place as a result of our special reports, the newspaper accounts and the
interrogation of prisoners. The people know about the invasion, the details
of its organization, and the way in which it was crushed.

We can give you some general ideas about how their plans developed and how
ours were developed in the zone of operation. In the first place, we had
known for some time that a force was being formed to attack our country.
Since the revolution, we have been living amid a series of threats--all of
them from abroad. But there were differences in our enemies--that is,
imperialism was the only one strong enough to attack.

The aggression was indirect only in regard to the personnel. It was direct
aggression in that it came from camps of the North Americans, that North
American equipment was used, and that it included a convoy by the U.S. Navy
and the participation of the U.S. Air Force. It was a combined thing: they
used mercenaries amply supported by the navy and air force.

We were awaiting an indirect attack. But one type of indirect attack is the
type of attack made against the Arbenz government in Guatemala; it is known
that U.S. aircraft were used against him. We also thought of an indirect
attack utilizing the OAS to launch some type of collective action. And we
also were expecting a direct attack. The United States has always advocated
all three types of action.

It began to prepare immediately for direct action. But it was not able to
gather enough support in Latin America for collective action. The Mexican
Government has been very firm against intervention in Cuba. So have Quadros
and Colombia. So the United States has encountered powerful resistance
among the governments and people of Latin America in seeking to further its
desire for collective action in the OAS.

On whom could it count? Only on the most corrupt Latin American
governments. First the United States tried to work with Trujillo, and most
of the Cuban aggression came from the Dominican Republic.

Then it tried to enlist the so-called democratic governments, under the
guise of democracy, when they broke with Trujillo because, they said, he
was a dictator.

While the United States was taking action against Trujillo, it was
strengthening its ties with Somoza and Ydigoras, who are typically corrupt,
despotic, and reactionary. Those are the instruments on which the United
States can count. It cannot count on Brazil, Mexico, or any other decent
Latin American country. Its partners in this venture have been the most
reactionary and corrupt governments in Latin America, the governments of
Nicaragua and Guatemala.

We have always been in danger of direct aggression. We have been warning
about this in the United Nations: that they would find a pretext, that they
would organize some act of aggression so that they could intervene. That is
why we have followed a cautious policy in regard to Guantanamo Base.

We wish to avoid giving them a pretext for intervention. We made this known
in the United Nations. We said that we would never want to obtain the base
by force, only through international law, so that we would not provide a
pretext for direct aggression.

Danger of World War

Our position is that we will fight to the last man, but we do not want
direct aggression. We do not wish to suffer the destruction that aggression
would bring. If the aggression comes, it will meet the total resistance of
our people.

The danger of direct aggression could again gain momentum following this
failure. We have said that imperialism will disappear. We do not wish it to
commit suicide; we want it to die a natural death. If it dies the world
will live in peace. But it will die violently if it begins a world war.

If imperialism acts with a maximum of responsibility it will bring about a
war war which it could survive only a relatively short time. As an economic
way of life, it will have to disappear through historical laws. (Applause)
We do not wish it to commit suicide by attacking us. If they attack us, we
would resist in an unbelievable manner. (Applause)

They are the ones who are bringing the world to the brink of war through
their warlike spirit, their own contradictions, and their economic problems
which cause them to provoke a series of crises in order to maintain their
war economy. Their factories run only when they are building war material.
Their regime is marching toward a crisis. It is not like our economy, which
is perfectly planned.

The economy of our country is based on an increase of 10 percent a year,
while in the United States the figure is only two percent. The U.S. economy
is managed in the interest of only a few groups; it is divorced from the
interests of the people. In war they have a cure for their crises.

They have the capacity to do all sorts of things for the benefit of their
people. But their system demands production for war, not peace. As a
result, there is extensive wasting of nature resources. Look at their
military budget. What they could do with this money for schools, industry,
homes. What good it could mean for the world.

And that is only part of the story. Some of their factories are working on
a part-time basis. How different from the Soviet Union, where everyone
works! If someone wants to build a factory in the United States, he does so
whether it is needed or not. This is the result of an unplanned economy. In
the United States, war militarizes the economy. They plan for that.

The government does not permit any monopoly to produce what they want--
they have to produce war materials. Then the government plans and controls
production--they produce fantastically. In time of war they plan. then all
the people work. They are not capable of solving the problem of
unemployment in producing for peace. Only in time of war can they resolve
their economic crisis. That is why there are groups who wish to go on a war
footing, if possible, with local wars. This has been the American policy
after World War Two. With respect to our country, they have been holding
these ideas of aggression. We have been and are now facing that threat.

Concerning the type of aggression against us: How could they organize a
mercenary force against the united people, against our army and militia?
They did not think about that type of war. They thought of a frontal attack
with mercenaries and of taking over our country.

First Step:  Economic Aggression

The first step was economic aggression--to weaken the revolution--that is
to say, they attacked on the economic front: they took away our sugar
quota. Our economy was based on one product--the export of sugar-- with one
market: the United States.

When Guatemala tried to take over the United Fruit land, intervention took
place immediately. Since the days of Roosevelt, direct aggression has no
longer been used. Instead a puppet is sent. In Guatemala there is hunger
and oppression and a gentleman who dedicates himself to harboring
mercenaries to attack our country.

In our country, when reforms were initiated, a clash resulted with the
imperialists of the United States. Here they had no army directed by their
diplomats to turn against the people. Here the old army had been destroyed
and their weapons left in the hands of the people. The U.S. military
mission which had been here until the fall of Batista--when our troops
arrived in Camp Libertad were still there to see if perhaps they could
teach us, too. We told them to go home. (Laughter) I well recall I told one
of them "You taught Batista and we beat him. We don't wish to be taught by
you." (Laughter and applause).

Here they had no military organization to direct, and they found that the
interests of the government were directly opposed to the military
proposals. The Revolutionary Government has an army of the people. They
then began their economic aggression and their harrassment.

They said: Cuba depends on us economically. It is underdeveloped. Any
government from which we take the sugar quota will surely fall.

We were truly underdeveloped and our imports all came from the United
States. Our imports exceeded our exports. We then began a program of
economy but not for the poorer classes. They were not the ones who took
trips abroad and consumed luxuries--I understand that the import of cars
alone was 30 million dollars--agricultural machinery was only 5 million.
Much land was not being used. Many lived only during the few months of the
harvest the rest of the time they piled up debts.

We began a program of lowering rents, giving land to cooperatives,
investing in programs which would give work to people. The country was
saving money, contrary to what the imperialists believed. They have a
policy of exploitation of the people. We established a policy of austerity
which affected only the social strata which lived in luxury. For their
trips abroad we only allowed them a few dollars. This austerity campaign
did not afflict the people but only the privileged ones. The revolution
imposed a program of austerity for the luxury- using class and not the
people. When they heard of the appointment of Che to the national banks
they waited for the country to fail. This did not come about.

Then, they took another step of aggression, and tried to leave us without
oil. Thanks to our agreement with the USSR, we agreed to sell the USSR
sugar in return for oil. Before that, we had had to pay for oil with
dollars. So then they decided not to refine Soviet oil. That was because
they had control of refining and exploitation of oil in other countries; it
was a real monopoly. When they learned that some oil for Cuba would come
from other sources, they refused to refine it. They thought if we had
anything against them we would be left without oil. But the refineries were
taken over, and the USSR made great efforts to give us all the oil we
needed. We got thought that aggression thanks to the USSR. We get the oil
much more cheaply than from the U.S. monopolies, and we pay for it in
sugar, not dollars.

Faced with the revolution's success in regard to oil, they took another
step--cutting us off entirely from the U.S. market. Aggression like that
can be resisted only by a Revolutionary Government supported by the people.
When Cuba sold sugar to the U.S. market, most of the sugarmills and cane-
growing land belonged to North Americans. The Cuban workers received
miserable pay and had employment only part of the year. There was no profit
for our country; the profit was for the monopolies. When the agarian reform
went through and cooperatives were formed and year-around employment was
provided, then our people began to get profits from our economy. So then
the U.S. market was cut off in an effort to make our people yield.

The people responded with determination. The Soviet Union again, and other
socialist countries--even though they had plenty of sugar production of
own-made a great effort and agreed to buy four million tons of sugar from
us so the revolution could withstand the blow. The OAS, the American
system, this hemispheric system the United States talks about so much, had
a clause forbidding economic aggression. That clause said no country could
use economic pressure or aggression to gain its objectives or influence
affairs inside another country.

Economic aggression was banned expressly, and yet our country was brutally
attacked economically. Representatives of Latin American countries met at
Costa Rica, and did not condemn the aggressor; but there was a declaration
against the victim. The powerful country had violated the law against
economic aggression; but when the time came to condemn the shark, the
sardines met and condemned the other sardine. But this sardine was no
longer a sardine.

And some people ask why we distrust the OAS. How could we not distrust the
OAS? The other sardines were afraid. We got no protection from the
inter-American system. But, thanks to the USSR, China, and the other
socialist countries, we had the sale of millions of tons of sugar assured.
Our revolution could keep going.

Then they forbade the export of raw materials and parts to us. Almost all
equipment for transportation, construction, and our industries came from
the United States. So we were to be left without raw materials or parts to
keep our machinery in operation.

Not content with that, they blocked export of our molasses. Some U.S.
companies had already agreed to buy our molasses, but by using pressure,
they deprived us of millions of dollars we would have received from that.
It was not easy to sell molasses elsewhere.

It was one step after another designed to blockade us, to drive us in a
situation in which we would face shortages. The purpose was to defeat the
Revolutionary Government, which was working for the people, and return to
the old system of corruption, a system under which the monopolies got all
types of concessions and controlled the Cuban economy.

U.S. imperialism also used pressure in other countries to get them to
blockade us. In the midst of all this, the revolution was carrying out
educational, reforestation, and public beach programs, and so forth.

Second Step:  Terrorism

Then they turned to backing terrorists and saboteurs. A campaign to destroy
our stores and factories began. Now that the people own the installations,
sabotage comes. When the wealthy owned them, there was no sabotage. But now
that people own the establishments, the CIA goes into action. There is a
sabotage campaign.

They organize sabotage against our wealth, they burn cane. They began to
send planes over to burn it, but there was so much scandal that they
changed tactics. They began to stir up counterrevolutionary groups, using
formed soldiers, the worst elements. The worst were those who directed the
second Escambray front. they sent them all kinds of arms. You have seen the
display of weapons in the Civil Plaza. These worms, in a few weeks, got a
thousand weapons, while we, in our battles, had to acquire arms one by one.
They sent arms by air, by sea. And we are [Unreadable text] seizing these

Aggression began economically, with maneuvers in sugar and an economic
blockade; then came sabotage and counterrevolutionary guerrillas.

The United States has no right to meddle in our domestic affairs. We do not
speak English and we do not chew gum. We have a different tradition, a
different culture, our own way of thinking. Our national characteristics
are different. We have no borders with anybody. Our frontiers is the sea,
very clearly defined.

Only because it is a big country did the United States take the right to
commit that series of brutalities against Cuba. How can the crooked
politicians and the exploiters have more rights than the people? What right
does a rich country have to impose its yoke on our people? Only because
they have might and no scruples; they do not respect international rules.
They should have been ashamed to be engaged in this battle of Goliath
against David--and to lose it besides.

What did we have against their might? First, we had a sense of dignity and
courage. We were not afraid. That is a big thing. Then, we were determined
to resist. No matter what they throw against us, we will fight. Our men
know how to die, and they have shown it during the past few days.

Next Step: Direct Aggression

So far they have gone from aggression to aggression without stopping to
think. Only direct aggression is left. Are we going to be afraid. No.
(Applause) Imperialism's soldiers are blood and flesh too and bullets go
through them. Let them know they will meet with serious resistance. That
may be enough to make them reflect a little. Our people--men, women, and
children--must maintain that spirit. If they have no weapons they can take
the place of somebody who falls. Have no fear; be calm! After all, the
result of aggression against Cuba will be the start of a conflagration of
incalculable consequences, and they will be affected too. It will no longer
be a matter of them having a feast with us. They will get as good as they

To resist is to meet the enemy and fight him with whatever is at hand. To
resist is to prepare our spirit, our minds for what comes, for the bombs
they drop, because in such a case they would have superiority in the air.
We would have to dig many trenches to defend ourselves. They would not have
a bomb for each man in a hole.

We would most strongly defend our capital from house to house, as we have
said before, from position to position--above all, without retreat. We
would mine the fields. We would kill whatever parachutists fell in our zone
of control.

If they think they can take our territory by surprise, they are mistaken.
They would encounter firm resistance here and would awaken an unprecedented
feeling of solidarity with us throughout the world. The attack by the
mercenaries had demonstrated this. I am certain that such aggression would
be suicide for them. Of that I am completely sure.

I am sure that we would resist in the same spirit as the men who have
fallen up to today. In the fight in the Sierra Maestra and in the fight
with the mercenaries, many of our friends have fallen. They paid their
final tribute. They did their part. We all have the same obligation to act
with that spirit of duty, with that feeling of loyalty. None of us has the
right to save his life. That is to say, that our decision is firm. To
resist regardless of cost, in all ways. That is what we have to do under
the circumstances imposed on us through no fault of ours. We feel proud of
our position. We used to be the last card in the deck, now we are among the

Throughout the whole world there are demonstrations in support of us and
against the United States. They are surprised because in less than 72 hours
we have destroyed the invasion which was prepared by the brains of the
Pentagon with all the tactics and preparations of a war. The leaders of the
invasion had great faith in the plans on which the United States placed its
prestige, and out of which they came without prestige. Their plans were
defeated. This they cannot accept. They fell into this ridiculous situation
through their own fault. They cannot stand that consequence, so now they
threaten with direct intervention, because they could not win. Well, who
doubts that if they were capable of making such a mistake, they may not
make a greater mistake? Who doubts that if they were capable of making this
mistake, they will not make another great mistake? We think that they are
capable of making even a greater mistaken which will cost them not only
their prestige, but will cost them their very existence as well; and no one
knows what it may cost the world. The fact is that it is they who are
threatening the entire world. They are the gangsters who are threatening
the world peace, threatening the world with a war, threatening Cuba with
intervention, and threatening Latin America. What can Latin America say to
these threats? What they want is to bring back the right of intervention.

Our duty as a soldier in the trenches is to defend our country. All our
spirit, all our thoughts, all our energy should be concentrated on this
history-making period. We must defend our country. We defend the peace of
the entire world, because our defense of our country may perhaps make these
gentlemen stop and reflect. If they believe that we will run, they are
wrong--nobody ran. Our firm decision is that before they subdue us, they
will have to erase us from the map. Resistance will be strong in all
sectors, in the fields if they take the cities. Let's see how they take
Havana for example. We must look at all these things objectively because of
our experience--we cannot go to sleep and rest on our laurels, because
imperialism has received a rude blow and it is like an infuriated beast.
Let us see if they reconsider, this gentleman we have there now, let us see
how he acts.

Kennedy Intensifies U.S. Aggression

We awaited his inauguration to see if he would do something different. We
did not believe that he would continue with the errors of the previous
administration. He himself said: "Let us begin anew." He did not begin
anew; he began as of old. He not only followed the policy of Eisenhower,
but he was even more aggressive against us. This gentleman has brought this
problem on himself, through his lack of commonsense. He has earned this
discredit all by himself. While we waited for him to show what policy he
was going to follow, he increased the attacks against us. He increased in
intensity the aggression against our country.

"Now he must do what he has to do: to recognize his mistake. What he has to
do is to fire Mr. Allen Dulles. Because after a government has been placed
before the world in such a ridiculous position, as the Yankee intelligence
service has placed the U.S. Government, it is the least he can do now. What
he has to do is to fire the chief of the intelligence service. You know why
he should fire him? Well, because he `shipped' him too." (porque tambien lo
embarco--Sp.) (Laughter)

What was one of the most ridiculous things that ever happened in the
history of the United States, and they brought it on themselves. All we did
was defend ourselves. It is clear that to please Mr. Kennedy and Allen
Dulles we could not let ourselves be beaten by mercenaries. What did we do?
We threw them into the ocean. (Laughter) This invasion organized by the
United States was a species of Normandy which did not end in a Dunkirk
because they did not get off the beaches.

Return to Trenches

That is what happened and that is why they are now furious and threatening.
What are we going to do before the threats of Mr. Kennedy? Be frightened?
No, we smile, because there are many thousands of men in the trenches with
weapons in their hands. Once again we must take to the trenches. We have no
other alternative--once more we must wait to see what happens in this

The defense of our country is what I wish to speak of first today. The
expedition should strive to warn us that these people make many mistakes
and that they are capable of committing the greatest imbecilities. As far
as we are concerned, we cannot stop them from meddling. We do all we can to
prevent it by arming ourselves and preparing for defense so that they may
reconsider. But if they make a mistake, we cannot stop them from making it.
Our duty is to maintain our firm position and be ready to defend ourselves
without alarm, without panic, just as our many comrades went to fight and
die. Nobody has the right to preserve his life. We all have the same
obligations. We must keep this thought ever-present, especially right now
when we have just finished a bloody battle where a great number of friends
and brothers of the people have fallen. Of that we want to speak first.

The lackeys that took part in this Yankee-planned invasion evidently had
confidence that the plan would not fail. They were so confident that they
even sent their sons. Now they are seeking for clemency for the prisoners.
Let them have clemency of the victims of their bombing. Let them cease
sending arms to Cuba; arms to murder and kill, and the send of explosives
and incendiaries. Let all this cease if they wish clemency.

Instead of defending the mercenaries, and there are some who do, they
should be defending the victims of aggression. That is the situation.

Invasion Analyzed

Let us now analyze the plan of attack by imperialism against Cuba, and why
they landed where they did, and why they did not land on the other side. In
the first place they exaggerated the number of mercenaries. Instead of four
or five thousand they did not have anywhere near that number. What they
landed here was the group they had in Guatemala.

They have another in Caimanera, but it is smaller and not armed as well.
The group that had the most arms, were better trained, and had air cover,
was the Guatemala group. At first it appeared that the intentions were to
take the Isle of Pines, to take it and free the war criminals imprisoned
there and add them to their ranks and to take a piece of national territory
and then give us the problem of dislodging them.

They were to direct their efforts toward gaining a piece of territory to
establish there a provisional government from which to operate. The
establishment of a base on our territory would have given them a base to
bomb our country and would have created a difficult situation for us. We
had to stop this at all costs. The Isle of Pines was ideal for the
establishment of a base on our territory which would open the road for aid
on territory of Cuba and make unnecessary to use of other countries to
launch aggressions. But here is what we did. We filled the Isle of Pines
with tens of batallions of cannon and tanks, we posted a force in the Isle
of Pines that make the Isle of Pines invulnerable. A huge army would have
been needed to attack it. They could not count on Escambray after it had
been cleaned out. Would imperialism land mercenaries with just one combat
force, or would it split its force into several groups, that was the
problem if faced. Would it try to introduce groups and send them arms from
the air, to establish many counterrevolutionary networks. We took measures
to counter multiple landings, concentrating on logical points, in case they
divided force into many groups. We concentrated especially on places giving
access to the mountains.

A few days before the aggression, many U.S. papers carried the report that
imperialism had decided on splitting up the force and opening different
fronts in Cuba. That could be true. It could also be true that the rumors
were intended to throw us off the track. Events later showed that they had
decided to send the whole force together and seize a point of our
territory. Among the rumors in the U.S. press, it was said that it was
risky to send all forces against one point and expose them to a crushing
defeat and strengthening the revolution.

If they had split up their forces in many landings, they could have used it
for much propaganda. A defeat in that case would have been diluted. I
believe they could have chosen either tactic. We trusted that we would
defeat them wherever, they came. For us it would be best if they all came
against the same point but we did not think they would do this. They chose
something that offered more but also was much more risky for morale and
prestige. They should have been worried about the blow to the morale of
imperialism and counterrevolution. For us it was better for them to come in
one force, but we thought they would avoid that mistake. But we were still
ready with adequate force if they all came together.

Preparations for Invasion

A series of facts showed that the time was near: statements; formation of
council of worms in exile; the famous White Book from Kennedy. A whole
series of political facts and statements plus the indications in the U.S.
press, including discrepancies about possible tactics. We heard that the
last shipments of arms and men had gone to Guatemala. We increased our
vigilance. On 15 April, because of a report from Oriente, we had not gone
to bed. Everything indicated the attack might come at any minute; we got
news from Oriente that many groups of ships were off Baracoa. Our forces
were put on the alert.

It was necessary to be very careful because American ships often came close
to the coast trying to cause trouble. One American ship without any flag
was very close to the coast. It was detained by our craft. Then U.S. planes
came, apparently to provoke an incident, so our vessel was ordered to let
the ship proceed to avoid an incident. In connection with the mercenary
landing, Americans carried out some ship movements to throw us off the
track. The Baracoa battalion was waiting for a landing so there could be no
doubt as to what kind of a ship it was. But in the end there was no landing
at Baracoa. We still did not know what group of ships that was. It may have
been mercenaries who never landed, it may have been U.S. ships; anyway,
nothing happened.

We heard bombs and ack-ack. We saw it was a bombing raid in Ciudad
Libertad. We decided it was definite that the aggression was beginning. We
tried to get in touch with San Antonio to get our planes up and found that
a simultaneous attack was going on there; and Santiago was attacked too.

We had taken measures at the air base. We have few planes and even fewer
pilots. We were taking care of those planes. We wanted to be sure they
would not be destroyed. So our planes were kept scattered. At San Antonio
they managed to destroy one transport plane and one fighter; that was not
much. At (Santiago?) they destroyed one fighter and several civilian

They had hoped to destroy our air force. Imperialist aggressions are
characterized by an attack on aviation to immobilize it. Our force is
small, but we expect to make good use of those few planes and pilots.

At San Antonio the ack-ack reaction was formidable. Planes were driven off
and our planes took off in pursuit of the enemy till he was on way to
Miami. The first step of aggression--to destroy our planes on the
ground--had failed. We reinforced our ack-ack but they did not come back.
They had attacked with six planes. Some did not get back, others were
riddled. Our air force was intact and ready. And our pilots wanted revenge.
That was Saturday. All forces were alerted. Sunday the funeral services
were held, our own planes kept guard.

An ammo truck has been set afire by the attack but the people kept calm.
They drove the other trucks away while the ammo on the first one was
exploding. (Applause) Of course no trucks with ammo should have been there
but those things do happen. We were alert all day Sunday. We slept in the
afternoon and not at night. We figured that the air raid was not just
harrassment but had a military objective, to destroy our air force.
Therefore we figured the aggression would come soon. We reinforced our
measures after the air attack.

Invasion Comes

Why was this attack made two days early? Tactically speaking it was an
error because we had a chance to take some measures. We mobilized all
combat units. On Sunday nothing happened. On Monday morning at 3:15 I was
informed that fighting was going on at Playa Giron and Playa Larga. We
confirmed this. Then came the report that an invading force was bombing
heavily with bazookas and cannons at the two beaches. There was no doubt of
a landing attempt at that point--one supported by heavy equipment.
Resistance began. Results of the attacks came. The microwave system was cut
off. Communications were then cut off. This was the situation.

Here is Cochino Bay and here is Cienfugeos. There was a Cienfugeos
battalion at the Central Australia. These were the first to meet the
aggression. Here is Playa Larga and here Playa Giron. Here is Zapata
Peninsula. This piece of impassible swamp land was the sole communication
available to peasants. This area bothered the revolution most.

(Editor's Note: At this point Castro discusses for approximately six
minutes the Zapata swamp area and tells what the revolution has done for it
and its people, the building of schools, roads, and medical facilities. He
then spends about five minutes giving in some detail a list of the weapons
captured in this area, apparently reading from a report. Then during a
period of bad reception of approximately 10 minutes, he discusses the
invader miscalculations of the Castro air force and, in some detail, the
battle plans and the tactical situation during the early stages of the
invasion. During much of the time Castro seems to be referring to maps.)

That was the plan. They put two battalions here, and five further back;
here were four and six, that was very early in the morning. Then planes
were to drop paratroops. They began landing very well. But at Playa Larga
and Playa Giron they met resistance. They began losing time. They got two
battalions ashore. Paratroops began operating. As they dropped paratroops
at these spots, our troops were caught between the main force and the
paratroops. Our first measures were to alert all commands and the air
force. Orders were given to disperse planes and have ack-ack ready if an
attack was made on the airstrip.

We had planes ready for defense against air attack. The battalion at the
Australia central was ordered to Playa Larga to fight. It was an infantry
battalion recently formed. At the same time an order given to mobilize
Matanzas militia battalion and advance to here. Orders were given to other
forces. We had two battalions in Las Villas. The problem first of all was
to keep a beachhead here. The main thing was to keep a bit of Playa Larga
here, on this side. The Cienfuegos battalion got there before dawn and
began fighting. But then came time another group of our forces was fighting
at Cayo Ramona. The air force was ordered to take before dawn and attack
all ships off Giron and Playa Larga. Our battalion prevented battalion five
from getting ashore. Our planes began attacking the ships and doing much
damage. Meanwhile our battalion was facing strong fire, and was taken from
the rear. It fell back fighting the paratroops. A battalion was sent from
Matanzas to reinforce it.

Enemy planes were painted with revolutionary armed forces insignia. They
attacked our advancing troops. We were most interested in keeping this bit
of territory. When we saw paratroops dropped we realized that the attack
would come against a single point and any other move would be for
diversion. Mobilization of two combat columns of the army was ordered; also
of a company of tanks and anti-tank batteries and mortars. Since they
controlled the air, the first day our forces had to wait till night to
advance. Our planes could not shift from attacking the ships.

Our planes continued to attack the ships. They did wonderful work. Besides
attacking the ships, they fought with enemy planes. But they kept hammering
the ships until not much was left of their fleet. We lost two planes the
first morning. Five enemy planes were downed. Four ships were sunk. That
was the first day.

They had an unexpected surprise. They had thought our air force was knocked
out, and so the first day ended. They lost more than half of their ships.
Our pilots acted with special courage. What they did was incredible.

The militia attacked the Playa Larga position. The battalion had only a
narrow road to attack from. On the first day they deployed forces. They
were attacking with planes here, and here. We tried to approach the enemy
as close as possible under B-26 fire. The battle was accompanied by tanks.
So we attacked them all day without respite, fighting constantly. An early
morning tank attack came from the same beach with antiair fire support. One
of our tanks was damaged. An antitank battery hit us and also another
entrenched tank. The goal was to take Playa Larga beach.

U.S. Sabre Jets Involved

They then began to flee. Here a tank surrendered. At dawn on 19 April the
planes bombed the Australia central. On the 19th we had antiaircraft in
position. This column, when in movement, was attached by American Sabre
planes. They (the invaders--Ed.) had B-26's, not jets. Then, this column of
ours, when it advanced between Playa Larga and Playa Giron during the
afternoon, suffered many casualties under attack of American Sabres. Those
planes were at high altitudes, and on that day when it was already dusk on
the 18th, they attacked our column, with Sabres, with jet planes, and they
caused many casualties in the column. That was one of the cases in which
American planes participated directly. They attacked the column coming from
Playa Larga to Giron. At dawn on 19 April a plane attacked the Australia
central and was downed and then two more planes. Our planes downed more
B-26's. We downed 10 planes during the entire fighting. On the 19th none of
their planes returned and we did not see the enemy anymore.

List of Casualties

On 19 April there were losses, as they were well entrenched. Our people had
to fight facing heavy mortar fire and anti-tank guns. There were 87 dead on
our side and 250 wounded. That means that our combat units paid a high
price in lives while they were on the offensive and that was due to the
fact that we were on the offensive constantly until the last position was
taken. It is possible that the dead on our side will amount to 100. That
indicates the heroism of our troops. They fought constantly without relief
against an enemy with relief and more planes than we had. (Castro confers
with one of his aides on figures--Ed.) An exact figure cannot yet be given
on losses because many of those who came in ships were drowned. According
to date here 88. One cannot count those lost in bombing and sunken ships.
This will be possible only after identification and a check of personnel
lost from each unit. There are some 450 prisoners. We cannot study all data
of units and determine how many men were in ships which were sunk. One
cannot give an exact figure on that. As I said, one of the basic principles
of battle was the courage with which our men fought. It is one thing to
defend a position and another to attack without protection under heavy
fire. Of course, under such circumstances the losses increase. In the
future, we shall be able to have more officers, Battalion chiefs are
learning more. The training of units and officers will be better. All kinds
of personnel--mortar, shell, cannon--will be specialized. The fact have
shown us the necessity of using our knowledge to defend the revolution. The
units have acquired considerable experience.

Decorations and Pensions

The government plans to create a decoration--to decorate as "Hero of the
Revolution" those who were outstanding for valor; and another type of
decoration to reward acts of valor in battle. Meanwhile the government will
pass a pension law to give a pension to kin of militia and soldiers who
fell in this fighting. The least the revolution can do for those who fell
is to protect their families who depended on them. This will be done as
soon as the cabinet meets.

If our troops had had more experience, we could have had fewer casualties.
When imperialism found what had happened, it had no army left here. The
enemy is still dumbfounded.

Counterrevolutionary Suspects Rounded Up

The committees for defense of the revolution acted too. There was a needed
to arrest anybody who for one reason or another might help the
counterrevolution. That kind of measure always entails some injustice, but
that is inevitable. The country faced aggression and had to take any
measure for defense. Those persons will be released unless there are
charges against them other than that they were considered suspect. Those
who have counterrevolutionary activity proven against them or are well
known will continue to be held. Since yesterday, those arrested as a
precaution have started being released. This does not mean that the danger
is past. We think the danger is great, especially of direct aggression from
the United States.

At Mesa, Arizona, Senator Goldwater said he had recommended direct
intervention if all else failed. That is the idea of right that this ultra
has. What respect for sovereignty of other countries and international law!
How calmly they speak of direct military intervention. They respect
nothing. And they talk as if it were so easy. They do not learn. They
should think of the sorrow military aggression causes--and all to restore
privileges here. What need was there to bring this bloodshed to our
country? What need to threaten us with intervention? They are so
irresponsible that after causing bloodshed here, they threaten with more
intervention. The reply is our determination to resist; and if they attack,
it will be the end of imperialism. Better to die than live under the yoke
of those gentlemen.

First Imperialist Defeat in America

Glorious death fighting to defeat imperialism deserves a monument. There
should be a big monument in Zapata swamps with the names of the fallen on
it, to tell the world that on that day Zapata imperialism sustained its
first great defeat in America. Precious lives were given in this battle.
The militia performed countless feats of prowess. The people defended their
land, honor, rights. They have earned the admiration of the world and
prestige. They waged a battle for peace.

Just think, during these past days the literacy campaign was not halted;
the lifestock fair is opening; the Conrado Benitez literacy brigade is
about to set forth. This work did not stop in the midst of tension. This
shows the stuff the revolution is made of.

The comrades who fell saved tens of thousands of lives. Their service to
the nation is incalculable. The pilots who fought so steadily and eagerly
have created the air force. I am sure no air force ever did before what
they have done. We believe 17 April should be made Cuban revolutionary air
force day.

Mansfield said the Cuban crisis is very grave. The Vermont senator said
Cuba is a permanent threat to the hemisphere. If that means they will
invade Cuba, nobody here is frightened at all. We will give them a great
reception. The might of an empire cannot go as far as the dignity of the
people. It will collapse when it runs into the will of the people.

Latin American War

It is regrettable that U.S. leaders make so many mistakes, such as this
one. Why did the U.S. Government need to make itself so ridiculous? It
calculated a lot but it calculated badly. In Latin America, there will be
war by all who support our revolution. Latin American forces would have a
hard time to protect U.S. ambassadors. They should reflect on that. It is
too bad they are playing with the idea of attacking us. Such a
mistake--nobody knows where it would end. It is too bad the world has to be
exposed to the mistakes of those men who know nothing about politics.

Kennedy's speeches and his threats are similar to Hitler's. Hitler
threatened the small neighboring countries, and Kennedy is threatening Cuba
and is saying that he will intervene. He says that his patience is coming
to an end. Well, what about our patience, with all the things we have had
to endure? In attacking Cuba, they shall unmask themselves more and arouse
more revolutionary spirit in Latin America and they will only increase
their own future worries. We want them to leave us alone. We want to live
in peace with our revolution without losing any more sons. They should stop
supplying the counterrevolutionaries with weapons. We will simply have to
use a heavy hand. (Applause)

The imperialist powers use the method of surprise attacks, the same method
of Hitler and Mussolini. We wish they would reconsider things, take a cold
or a hot shower, anything. Let humanity, let history, end a system which is
outdated now. Imperialism must pass just as feudalism did, just as slavery

The wars of 1914 and 1940's were bad. Nazism didn't save itself. The forces
in the world in favor of peace are great. They know history is with them.
They need not fight against history to preserve their system and
privileges. It will be a sorry day for the world if those gentlemen are not
able to reconsider. This is the question we must consider quietly. Cuba is
part of the world today and there can be no discussion with Cuba that do
not effect the world. (Applause)

We shall keep all the revolutionary forces mobilized and we shall plan for
the May Day celebrations and we shall work for the victory of the
revolution. We shall prepare ourselves to make the necessary sacrifices.
The people have tasted victory. Victory is based upon sacrifices, on the
basis of the 87 who died to guarantee the future of the country. They
sacrificed themselves for the rest, for the independence and sovereignty of
the nation and to obtain a better nation. This joy of today we owe it to
those who fell and we hope that the future generations will enjoy their
lives for today's sacrifices.

The first prisoner, (Anzon Bayon?) said he was in training for two months
in Guatemala under American instructors and then went to Nicaragua but was
there only one day. He said that the situation in Cuba was pictured as

The second prisoner, whose name was not heard, said he was trained at the
Helvetia Ranch in Guatemala, that he saw the Guatemalan minister of war at
the Retalhuleu base in November and that President Ydigoras visited the
camp in December. When asked if he had joined or enlisted in Miami, he
replied, "In Mexico."

Questioned about the nationality of two destroyers which the prisoner said
served as an escort, he replied;

"They came in the area of the straits between Caiman Grande and Jamaica. I
could see in the distance that two destroyers escorted us. I could see the
number on one of them that came more to the North. The number was 507."

Question: "Did you understand what I asked about the destroyer?"

Answer: "It was of North American nationality. The destroyer accompanied us
from Caiman strait and Jamaica up to very near the Playa Giron."

Question: "What idea did you and those who were with you have about the
Cuban situation?"

Answer: "Our ideas were principally from information media we had from
(here?). We had bulletin board notices at the brigade headquarters, a
series of notes headed News about Cuba: That the militia was discontented;
that there was friction between the army and the militia, very great
friction--I do not have to tell you that that was not true; that the people
were discontented with the government, with the economic measures--the
propaganda was constant. They emphasized that the investigation services of
the government were