Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana in Spanish to the Americas 0439 GMT 11 September 1962--E

(Live speech by Fidel Castro at the Chaplin Theater in Havana closing the
Third National Congress of Municipal Education Councils)

(Text) Members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished visitors, comrades of
the municipal councils of education, ladies and gentlemen: The work of this
congress, its analyses, and its conclusion demonstate the impressive work
of the revolution in the field of education, and show thatour
revolution--in less than four years--can present an advance such as this,
which indicates that the revolution goes well. A revolution, which on a
frone as basic as education has already attained so many successes,
indicates that that revolution, our revolution, is building on solid
foundations, very solid foundations.

The revolution is not a matter of days or of months; the reolution is not a
matter of years. The revolution is a long process, and, because of that,
the fruits of a revolution will not be seen in one day, or in one month, or
in a few years. When the building of something is from the foundation up,
the complete work is long in coming. At the beginning, nothing is seen but
foundation, and in such fashion, the revolution during the first years also
builds its foundations and it advances constantly, working by steps in a
firm and tenacious manner. That is why the hardest years, the most
difficult years of all revolutions, the years in which the fortitude of the
revolutionaries and of the people is truly put to the test, are the first
years, when everything must be built from practically nothing. It is clear
that as years pass, more fruits of those efforts will be seen and, above
all, will be seen more clearly, because the question that must be asked is:
What is the revolution doing, what is the revolution doing in each work

If, for example, in the same sector of education we ask ourselves what it
is that the revolution does, what is it that the revolution is doing, we
can already demonstrate a great work, and extraordinary revolutionary work
which does not have a precedent in our country, which does not have a
recedent in any country of America. With respect to this, all that had been
done in ducational matters throughout the history of Cuba cannot compare,
and this is a reason for encouragement for the revolutionaries and a reason
for discouragement for the reactionaries--for those who are sunk in the
mire of their moral poverty, their selfishness, their lack of faith, and
their contempt for the masses, are incapable of seeing.

However, figures talk. When the revolution came to power on 1 January 1959,
(applause) in our country more that 500,000 lacked classrooms and teachers.
The number of illiterates reached almost a million persons. The total
number of classrooms which had been built during 57 years were about
15,000. The number of students entering the first grade was about 185,000.
The number of secondary education students was about 120,000. In Cuba, an
approximate total of 750,000 persons studied in all the educational
centers; in addition, as it is already known, the principal opportunities
for an education were not for the most humble children.

In any case, the peasant child could go to primary school if there was a
primary teacher available. No humble youth of any sugar central of small
town could go to secondary schools; only those youths who lived in a town
with a center of higher education could attend. It is known that a great
section of those youths lacked the means to go to these schools. They had
to go to work to help their families. All in all, the access to the centers
of higher learning and the university was very difficult for the most
humble youth--that is to say, the immense majority of our youth. The budget
for education came to barely 100 million pesos; some 10,000
teachers--10,000 teachers--were unemployed. That was the situation the
revolution found.

What advances, what achievements can the revolution present today? In the
first place, the number of students matriculated in primary schools rose
from 650,000 to 1.2 million; the number of classrooms, from 15,000 to
nearly 30,000; illiteracy was virtually erased, and hundreds of thousands
of adults learned to read and write; the number of secondary students rose
from 120,000 to 250,000; the number of first grade students rose from
185,000 to 450,000. And that is not all. One must count not only the
children who are studying; you must also count the adults who are studying
and who were not studying in the past. In the followup schools there are
450,000 adults matriculated; there are nearly 100,000 adults matriculated
in the worker improvement scholls; and in the night scholls there are more
than 50,000 adults studying.

This means that the number of persons studying in Cuba since the triumph of
the revolution has risen from 750,000 to 2 million. (Applause) Two million
persons, including children, youths, and adults, are presently studying in
our country. That does not include some other types of schools which are
not secondary, preuniversity, technological, university, followup,
improvement, or primary.

We must add the schools of minimum technical training which are presently
in operation; we must add the people's schools, that is, those schools
which are being organized and in which workers are studying, receiving
training, learning new things because of the mechanization and the
technological advance of some industries that were very backward in our
country. These industries employed a large number of persons, but when they
are modernized, they will need fewer workers.

What is happening in our country? The workers will not lose their jobs as
happens, for example, in the United States. In our country, those workers
continue to get paid; they continue to receive from society remuneration
and are sent to study. That is to say, while they are getting paid, they
are studying and obtaining technical training to be employed again in
industry. In other places those workers are thrown into the streets and
lose their employment. In our country those workers are paid by society and
are training in another job that is even more efficient and more useful to
the country. (Applause)

We must add the revolutionary instruction schools, which tens of thousands
of workers attend, and which allows the statement that more than 2 million
persons are studying one thing or another. Add to this the fact that 65,000
youths from poor families are getting the opportunity to study ins schools
of higher learning with all expenses paid--food, housing, clothing, shoes,
medicine (applause)--without any restrictions. All this has resulted in an
extraordinary interest in study. It is difficult today to find in our
country a citizen who does not want to study, who does nt feel the need to
study. An extraordinary spirit of collective improvement has been created,
a real interest in study. Conditions are being created in which the
indifferent person, the person who is completely unaffected by this
extraordinary unrest of our people is left behind. Moreover, year after
year, the number of students will increase. Additional hundreds of
thousands of children and youths, and hundreds of thousands of others will
be entering studies. Our country, without any kind of doubt, has assumed
the lead in America in this sense. (Appaluse)

We Cubans can say with price that in the field of education we are leading
America, with no exceptions. (Applause) Naturally that promises
extraordinary fruits for our country in the future because the country that
received the revolution was not like that; the conditions the revolution
found were not those; they were quite different. A progressing educational
movement like this was not found; the revolution created that movement. Of
course, under the previous conditions the number of university technicians
and technicians in general was insufficient.

It was sufficient for that rickety and ruinous economic regime, because
that miserable regime has very few technicians and enjoyed the luxury of
not using all of them. Naturally there will never again be too-many
technicians in our country because no matter how many we train, we will
always need more. That regime of the past was one of infinite and permanent
poverty. On the other hand, the present regime is one in which the road to
infinite progress is being paved.

What are the limits to the aspirations of the people? There are no limits.
The more trained our people are, the further they will go. And it will
never be said that they are satisfied. Never again will there be a shortage
of teachers, doctors, engineers, or technicians because we will always need

Even if our country in coming years produces hundreds of thousands of
technicians it will have to train more, because the aspirations of our
country for progress will never be stopped again and we will never be able
to say: "We will have too many technicians." When we have 10 or 20 times
more than now, we will continue to need more because as the technical
ability of our country is developed, the material progress will also
develop; as culture developers in our countru, the general welfare of all
our people will progress.

Those are the circumstances that distinguish the present and the past; that
is what the revolution signifies. If you refer to the field of public
health, on which an international congress has just been held, it is sad,
truly sad to see the state of health in all the countries of Latin America.
And the achievements of our revolution in that field are really
incomparable. They cannot be compared--that is to say, what exists in other
countries cannot compare with that of our country, everything that the
revolution has done in that field, the victories it has obtained, and so

Of course, this movement does not stop. This very congress signifies the
establishment of a series of new goals, of new tasks. It is clear what this
great educational movement has had to do surrounded by difficulties--the
lack of teachers and professors. But that problem will not exist in the
future because of the effort being made to train educational
groups--professors and teachers. And the revolution has given extraordinary
and special importance to the training of teachers and professors. It pays
more attention to the training of those educational groups than to any
other thing because the revolution believes that education is basic to
everything, to every revolutionary effort, and that the most important
function of the revolution is to educate, that the most honorable and
useful work of any citizen in our country is to teach. That is why the
revolution elevates the role of the teacher, the function of the teacher.
Naturally, it also tries to elevate the subjective conditions of the
teaching profession, the revolutionary spirit of the teachers, because we
know how many vices plagued our education and how many weaknesses were
suffered by our educational personnel as the result of the atmosphere in
which they had to carry out their functions--the petty politics reigning in
our country, the corruption, the privileges. That is why the revolution
makes efforts, through the labor organizations and the mass organizations,
to elevate the revolutionary spirit of the educational personnel while it
trains new groups.

Well-known is the trouble encountered is resolving the problem of education
in the mountains, inasmuch as that problem had not been solved in the
previous conditions, and the efforts being made today to maintain education
in the mountains, organizing for this purpose the brigade of vanguard
teachers which we will need in the mountains until the legions of new
teachers now in school are graduated. The teachers must take two series of
studies, each of two years' duration, in addition to the year they must
spend in the Sierra Maestra vocational school. In order not to bring the
teachers out to teach with only the first series of studies, people's
teachers are being prepared. It is perferable that we be patient and wait
for the teachers to complete both series of studies so that they will be
competent to teach up to the sixth grade. In that way we will have sixth
grade teachers in the mountains.

Our goal in the mountains must be to bring students to the sixth grade and
then choose the best students and send them to centers of higher learning.
It is clear that the conditions in the rural areas, above all, the
mountains, are much more difficult--the dispersion of the population makes
it practically impossible to establish centers of higher learning. But the
children must be brought to the sixth grade. Something that I have not said
before it that not only was the number of children in school barely 50
percent of the total, but there was also a large number of children who
were backward, who were in the first grades. From this arose the need to
prepare speed-up courses for all those children, to bring them to the sixth
grade. It was almost rare to find a sixth-grader in the rural areas.

The revolution is training large groups of teachers under new
organizational conditions that are in contact with reality. This led to the
organizational of the Sierra Maestra vocational school, the Tope de
Collante first-cycle school, the second first-cycle school, which will be
organized in Havana; the second-cycle school, which will also be organized
in our capital and which will be attended by students who have completed
the first-cycle. From this school the graduated students will go into the
mountains to begin their work. That is why it is important that, while
those groups of teachers complete their studies, we keep the vanguard
teachers in the mountains, and if there are not enough to go around, get
more teachers.

Of the 3,000 youths of the former schools of primary teachers who just
graduated this year, we hope that a large number will join the brigades of
vanguard teachers and go to the mountains to teach. If that is not enough,
we will mobilize people's teachers. Within three years, the 1,800 who
completed the first cycle in Tope de Collante will have graduated. Then
will come the 1,900 who completed the course in Las Minas del Frio, and the
4,500 students who will enter the Sierra Maestra vocational school.
(Applause) Some 4,500 scholarships were offered and 8,000 applications were
received for study to be teachers, to enter the Mines del Frio vocational
school in the Sierra Maestra mountains. Naturally, from now on, some 3,000
will graduate annually. But that is not all. We will have 8,000 studying
here in the second- cycle school and in one first-cycle school. That
constitutes an educational force that we can mobilize for followup courses,
for night schools. That is to say, while they are still student teachers,
we can mobilize them for any educational plan and combine their studies
with work. Meanwhile, the human resources will be accumulating and will
give the formidable educational movement more impetus.

This work of the revolution, as all revolutionary work which we can
proclaim with real satisfaction, has been carried out under difficult
conditions amid a revolutionary process and amid aggression, hostilities,
the action of reactionary elements, and the action of imperialism. What do
they want to offer us? What can they offer us? To exchange the work of
today for all that garbage of the past? (Laughter) With what justification?
How can the enemies of our country, the enemies of our revolution, in view
of deeds, real deeds which are engraved in the minds and hearts of every
worthy man and woman of our country, in view of those deeds, what can they
offer the peoples of America? In view of the facts, not in view of the
lies, the propaganda tricks, the wornout arguments of the reactionaries,
who today, as in all revolutionary moments of history, have tried to defend
their rotten, antisocial, antihistoric, antipopular interests against the
revolutions, how can they conceal these realities? The realities of the
revolutionmay may be ignored; eyesm ay be shut to them; but their real
existence cannot be suppressed by anyone. They are facts.

In the face of the situation existing all over the continent-- which can
never be compared with the imposing victories of our revolution--it has
been possible to score many successes in the midst of tenacious
persecution, incessant hostility, economic aggression, military attacks,
and the threats which have hung over our heads from the very first day.
With what justification can the imperialists attempt to destroy this work
of progress and advances, and not simply of progress and advances, but
rather heroic progress under the imperialists' word of Damocles, heroic
advances in the face of all their strength, in the face of all their

It must be said and emphasized that all this has been done, and that it was
done despite the fact that a large reactionary power--Yankee
imperialism--has been trying to prevent it and has wanted to prevent it.

It cannot be said that the imperialists wanted to only partially stop the
work of the revolution and our people. They wanted to stop it completely.
They wanted to stop it with all their strength. They wanted to stop it will
all their resources. And they were not able to stop it.

Amid those difficulties, our country had advanced, and it presents itself
to the world with today's work, with its present achievements, and, above
all, with the hopes of what it intends to do. What does the revolution
need? What do our people need? Peace! What do our people want? Peace, work,
progress. Our people need this peace. They have much to do. They have much
work to do in order to overcome the poverty left us. They must struggle
much to achieve the living standard they want, to exploit their
extraordinary natural resources. Peace and security which we have not had,
security that we have not had. If we have invested great energy and large
resources in education and health and economy, the imperialists have forced
us also to spend great resources on our security, on our defense--
extraordinary resources of men and material to guarantee our defense, our

Never have we ceased living under these threats of sabotage, of
infiltration, of indirect attacks, of threats of direct attacks. When the
imperialist throught that the revolution could be destroyed by a simple
press campaign and that with their reactionary press campaign they could
subvert our people, or demoralize our people, they began these campaigns.
And they failed. When they believed that economic aggression, the
suppression of our sugar quota, and the embargo on the exportation of spare
parts and raw materials would be sufficient to make the revolution
collapse, they began their economic attacks. And they failed. When they
believed that sabotage and subversion could destroy the revolution, they
began sabotage and subversion. And they failed. When they believed that by
organizing an invasion by mercenaries who would oocupy a piece of Cuban
territory and begin a war of destruction and attrition which would cost us
hundreds of thousands of lives, they could destroy the revolution, they
attacked and failed. They came for wool and west away shorn. (Applause)

With such weapons and by such means they had overthrown many governments--
through coups d'etat, subversion, and mercenary invasions whose immediate
predecessor was the invasion of Guatemala.

It has been a similar action, but to their surprise, inexplicable to them,
the coups d'etat failed one after the other. Their philosophy
disintegrated. Their distorting, slandering, and insidious campaigns, the
systematic lies fed to the people of the United States shattered in the
face of one fact: that the all-powerful Yankess, the Pentagon, the CIA,
Congress, the State Department, and the executive power of the United
States cannot destroy this revolution, that the all-powerful imperialists
cannot get rid of this revolution of a small country. How is it possible
that this nation can resist? How is it possible that this revolution can
stand firm--and not only resist and stand firm, but also receive strength,
support, and sympathy from outsdie this small country, from all over the
continent, and even from beyond the American continent. The mentality of
the powerful and reactionary Yankee monopolies could not accept these
things. How was all this possible--so many reverses, so many blows, so many

And these blows taught them nothing. They did not teach them that they were
pursuing a stupid policy toward our country. The useless results of their
aggressions, of their hostility taught them nothing. They could not learn
that the dignity of the Cuban people cannot be forced to surrender.
Evidently they did not learn. It was difficult for them to learn. It was
difficult for them to learn because never before in their history of piracy
and freebooting as gendarmes and thugs in the hemisphere had they
encountered a case like that of Cuba.

The current President of the United States had an opportunity to rectify
matters. And when he took office, we expressed our people's hope that he
would rectify the mistakes, that he would rectify policy. Could one expect,
was it logical to expect rectification from the representative of the
monopolies' regime?

Yes, it was logical; there was ome logic in it, because an intelligent
policy would have advised the president of a powerful country like the
United States to make rectifications in the inglorious battle, in the
policy of criminal, cowardly aggression that had been mapped against our
country; and besides, it is not the part of an intelligent man to fight
battles that will not be won; it was not the part of an intelligent man to
take responsibility for a policy that had been the previous
administration's policy and continue involved in a battle he was doomed to
lose. The intelligent thing would have been to understand reality, not to
underestimate our people, not to underestimate our revolution, and to
understand that they were entangled in a battle they were not going to win,
in a struggle they were going to lose.

If they became involved in it and are losing it, the blame is not ours, it
is theirs. If they continued with their eroneous policy--and that policy
meant a serious setback for the current President of the United States, has
meant a serious discredit--the blame does not lie with us; it is their
fault. They wanted to destroy us, and we have done nothing but defend
ourselves and not let ourselves be destroyed. (Applause) That policy is
their fault.

It is their fault for having become involved against us in an inglorious
battle that they have not won and never will win. (Applause) And when the
leaders of a mighty country like the United States become entangled in a
battle against a small country like ours, but one they never could have
defeated, it is logical that they should pay in discredit the price of
their stupid policy. They used every procedure, and they were mistaken;
they failed.

Now, as they understand that it becomes steadily more impossible to crush
our revolution, they become more desperate and more furious. Discuss, use
logic--do the imperialists perchange display logic in their arguments? Do
the imperialists perchange use any argument that does not arise from their
mentality as pirates and outlaws? Do the imperialists perchange know other
reasons than force, threat, aggression?

With what reason, with what logic, can they defend their attitude toward
Cuba to the world? How can they expect that, faced with a continuous policy
of aggression and hostility, Cuba would not try to defend itself, Cuba
would not defend itself, Cuba would not be prepared to defend itself to the
last drop of blood, Cuba would not be ready to take whatever steps might be
necessary to defend itself? (Applause) Or, faced with the enemies who
wanted to destroy us, was our duty perhaps to lay our head on the block
under the edge of the imperialist axe, and not defend ourselves, not take
every necessary measure to defend ourselves, measures guaranteeing what we
need--peace and security for work, peace and security to fight for a better

Where is the logic of the imperialists, those organizers of sabotage,
subversion, cowardly and criminal attacks, and mercenary invasions, that
they can then claim we did not have a right to defend ourselves? They speak
in the name of the security. Aha! And does our security then not count?
They have a right to security; and we have no right to our security? Their
senators and their newspaper directors are constantly invoking the security
of the United States, as if another nation, this nation located across the
sea, this nation situated across the Florida straits, did not have a right
to think of its security, did not have a right to see to its security.

And they talk about our being a danger to their security, as if we had no
right to talk about their being a danger to our security. (Applause) The
proclaim their right to take every measure tending to their security; do we
perhaps not have the same right to take every measure that tends to our
security? They say we are a danger 90 miles away; and why should we not say
that they are a danger 90 miles from us? (Applause)

But we cannot proclaim any right to invade that country because it is a
threat to us. We would be mad or stupid to propose invasion of that country
from the threat it constitutes. We say this, thinking of logic, or the law,
of the norms regulating relations between countries regardless of size and
power. Nevertheless, there they do not consider them mad, they do not
restrain or send to a mental institution any of those men who talk,
proclaim, and urge an invasion of our country in the name of U.S. security.
And they take it as the most natural thing in the world when it is due only
to the state of being a powerful country, to the philosophy of force, to
the spirit of killers, of bandits, pirates, and filibusteres who inspire
the public men of that country. (Applause)

They do not send any of these senators who proclaim the blockage--an act of
war--to prison; naval air blockage by force is an act of war. They should
but do not send to the mental institutions, which exist there or should
exist there, any of the men who are urging the military invasion of our
country. Even though they do not believe it, even if they do not see it,
even if they pretend not to see it, what they proclaim is an absurdity,
nonsense, madness. What is more, proclaiming an attack on Cuba has become a
demagogic slogan of the politicians on the eve of the elections. The
statements made in the U.S. Congress give an idea of the imbalance in that
country, the irresponsibility of the public men of that country, men who
play with war, play with fire, and expose our country, their own people,
and the entire world to the consequences of the most absurd proposals. That
is to say, their irresponsibility has reached such a point that they have
turned the question of Cuba into an instrument of internal politics in the
United States, to confuse their poor people even more. And they do not
hesitate to bring the hysteria to unprecedented heights in testing all
kinds of pressures for political purposes, in pressuring the present
administration to launch an attack against our country.

They have spoken in a language we do not understand. They have used a
tongue we will never understand, the language of threat, force, blackmail.
They say that we constitute a threat of aggression. They speak nonsense,
because we will not be a threat of aggression against anyone. It is simply
ridiculous, absurd. They speak as if they were the bosses of the world, as
if they were the lords and masters of this continent, as if they could lay
down rules for our conduct. That language, Mr. Leaders of the United
States, we do not understand. (Applause) The steps our country takes in
exercising its legitimate and unrestricted sovereignty do not require
instructions from Washington, or warnings, or orders. Our country has taken
and will take as many steps as necessary, within the rights guaranteed by
international law and by the use of its prerogative as a sovereign nation,
to guarantee its security against the threats of imperialist aggression.

We no longer have to bother ourselves proving the aggressive intentions of
Yankee imperialism because it is not necessary to prove it. It is enough to
read the Yankee press itself; it is enough to read the U.S. news agency
reports, and the speeches of its senators to prove to the entire world the
aggressive intention of the imperialists. They no longer deny their
aggressive intentions. No! They proclaim them to the world publicly!

What do they want? That we do not defend ourselves? What do they want? That
we do not do what is necessary to defend ourselves, to guarantee our
security? If that is what they pretend, they propose the absurd, the
impossible. We, our people, were not born with the soul of a slave or a
coward! (Applause) Our people are the legitimate descendents of the
mambizes who did not hesitate in opposing the powerful Spanish empire.

Our people have never in history hesitated to face up to the greatest
difficulties, the greatest dangers. The people and the men who did not
hesitate yesterday, when they were defenseless, to oppose the powerful
armies of the Batista tyranny; the people who did not measure the obstacles
of the dangers or the power of the enemy, resolutely opposed them and
victoriously carried out their just struggle. Our people did not hesitate
to face up to the difficulties presented by an aggressive and hostile
attitude of a government as powerful as the U.S. Government. They are
mistaken if they think that they will impress us with their threats. They
are mistaken if they think that we resign ourselves to the role of tame
cattle. They are mistaken and we sincerely do not want them to be mistaken.

They were mistaken--up to there--every time. Their mistakes led to
increasingly bad consequences for them. Every step they took against us
failed and we do not want them to take that disparate and stupid step of
invading us. The image of the shark and the sardines no longer holds true
here. (Applause) We no longer are sardines. (Applause) Let the shark not
make a mistake. Let the shark not make a mistake because, perhaps, that
mistake might be its last mistake. (Prolonged and rhythmic applause and
changing of "Cuba si, Yanquis no," and "Fidel, seguro, al Yanqui da le
duro" meaning: Hit them hard, Fidel--Ed.).

If they attack our country they will not be able to find the slightest
legal or moral justification for their action other than the law of brute
force. Their actions would in no way differ from those of Hitler when he
attacked Poland in 1939. The invasion of Cuba by U.S. military forces would
place the imperialists outside international law as common violators of the
rights of nations, as genocides, and as such they would deserve to be wiped
off the face of the earth.

As we have said on the other occasions, we do not want the imperialists to
commit suicide at our expense. In all sincerity, we proclaim our desire to
live in peace. We declare that we hope common sense, and the most
elementary common sense, will precede the actions of those who hold the
fate of that country in their hands. However, as their threatening words
against us deserve a reply, our reply to the threats of the U.S. Government
and to the hysterical exhortations by its senators for an attack upon our
country is this: We the leaders of this revolution are prepared to die with
our people. We shall not retreat. We shall not hesitate. We shall stand
firm. And we are in a position to proclaim calmly, that we are prepared to
die at our posts. However, what we do not know is whether the U.S.
Government, whether the generals of the Pentagon, whether those senators
who declare war upon our country are also prepared to die. Fatherland or
Death, We Shall Win.