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Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 0301 GMT 18 April 1963--F/E

(Recorded speech by Premier Fidel Castro at San Antonio de Los Banos air
base on Revolutionary Aviation Day)

(Text) Comrades, officers and chiefs of the revolutionary armed forces,
comrades of the air force and anti-aircraft defenses, invited comrades,
relatives: On a day like today the spirit of our air force was formed.
Exactly two years ago, a very small group of men wrote one of the most
heroic pages imaginable over the skies of our fatherland.

The cowardly and criminal attack launched in an unexpected manner two days
before did not catch us unaware in spite of the fact that the attacking
airplanes disguised their identity as enemies by using the common and
piratical ruse of painting on the insignia of our fatherland and our
forces. They thought perhaps they would take our forces unprepared. They
thought perhaps that at the explosions of the first bombs and the bursts
from their traitorous machineguns, our men would become demoralized and our
defenses would crumble. They thought perhaps that a Saturday at dawn would
be the best time to accomplish their cowardly attack.

However, what they expected did not happen. They could not destroy our
meager, old, and obsolete airplanes of that time, and very soon--very much
sooner than they imagined--our anti-aircraft batteries opened fire on them,
damaging several of their aircraft and forcing them to withdraw.

We can never forget, because it will always give us an idea of the
traitorous, cynical, and cowardly spirit of our enemies because,
simultaneously with that attack, the propaganda of the Yankee empire was
broadcasting to the world the story--the lying and cynical story--that the
attack had not come from abroad, from North American bases, or from bases
governed by their puppets. They announced through their press and their
radio and news agencies the report that they were Cuban airplanes that had
rebelled and that after launching the attack they had landed in Florida
airports, some of them. In the United Nations, before the representatives
of all the countries of the world they had not the slightest scruple in
making such an affirmation. The Yankee delegate even showed photographs of
the alleged pilot deserters, the alleged deserter airplanes, and statements
by those pilots.

However, they tried to make people believe that they had destroyed our air
force. From the time we perceived the danger, and the type of strategy they
were going to use against the country, we realized that one of their first
objectives would be to destroy our airplanes.

Even though we had few planes and fewer pilots it was obvious that the
enemy would try to attain absolute air superiority. Because of this,
appropriate measures were taken: planes were dispersed and anti-aircraft
emplacements were established. This prevented their destroying our planes.

However, on that day, on that same 15th, we lost one of our eight pilots,
Comrade Orestes (Azol?), who had taken off at dawn to fly over the zone two
times, apparently where a landing was being prepared. It is still not known
exactly under what conditions this comrade perished. Judging from a series
of proofs and from what we later learned, we suppose that his plane was
shot down by the armed forces of the United States. All that was seen was
his plane blowing up and crashing into the depths of the ocean like a ball
of fire. Apparently he was intercepted by an enemy plane or by some
antiaircraft fire. The plane was shot when it approached to make a landing.
These circumstances reduced our air force to seven combat pilots on the

As soon as it became evident that enemy forces were landing on national
soil at dawn of that day, orders were issued to alert all planes and put
them in the air loaded with weapons and missiles in the direction of the
attacking force.

Seven pilots and just seven or twelve planes, worn out planes without
replacement parts, took off to fight against a force whose numerical
strength and whose equipment was not known. Our seven-pilot air force
nevertheless performed a series of diverse missions. It attacked the enemy
landing fleet with incredible effectiveness, sinking several of its ships
and forcing the rest to withdraw. One of our comrades fell when he was
pursuing the fleeing enemy ships some 30 kilometers from our coast on noon
of the 17th. They waged many fights with the enemy air force. They
protected the advance of our infantry. They supported the attacks by our

during the first hours, our seven-pilot air force was reduced to five
pilots. Comrades Silva and Ulloa had already fallen, heroically. The five
remaining pilots continued with their missions, and with full success.

With their efforts and the efforts of our anti-aircraft gunners, the enemy
air force was practically swept away. That effort must always be
remembered. Their heroism and their bravery must always be remembered, for
the remaining pilots did not lose courage at the news of their fallen
comrades. Rather, this fired their spirit more, doubled their energy and
that of all the air force combatants, because, in addition to pilots, there
were the gunners who went with the pilots, like comrade Noa, Gonzalez, and
Torres, who together with Comrade Silva died when the bomber they manned
was shot down.

Nevertheless, here at this base the men spontaneously volunteered, fired
with enthusiasm, to take their places. The mechanics worked tirelessly day
and night for three days to maintain our scanty equipment in fighting
shape, and in this way our air force, small and almost without crews,
played a decisive role in that battle.

The enemy is still wondering what happened. He is still elaborating
theories as to the causes of his defeat, because this can never be
understood by the specialists of the Pentagon--the merchants of death, the
aggressors and pirates, without morals and principles, deceived perhaps by
their own propaganda; they will never be able to understand that it was a
question of morality, a question of patriotism, a question of dignity and
knowing what shame means, a question of justice, and a question of reason
that decided the battle in our favor. They will never be able to understand
how it was that their new, well-supplied planes, manned by two dozen
traitor pilots, besides some 20 Yankee pilots, could sustain that shameful

And so, with this incomparable feat, the fighting spirit and tradition of
heroism and fight of our force was forged. It was sad for us all, and
particularly for their comrades, not to see some of those brave soldiers of
the country return. It was sad not to see Silva return, the pilot who on 7
December 1958 dropped from a small plane a bomb that brought about the
surrender of an enemy garrison on the second eastern front. Sad it was not
to see Ulloa return, a Nicaraguan who together with us, together with the
Cubans, fought this battle for the dignity of America. Sad it was not to
see Acosta return or ever hear anything of him, or Torres, or Noa, or

We did see other comrades come back: Comrade Carrera, Comrade Delfino,
Comrade Douglas, Comrade Bauts, and Comrade Fernan.

Nevertheless what they did that day provided an extraordinary legacy for
our air force. they created this spirit of today, this discipline of today,
this combativity of today, and there is a compensation when we consider
what our air force has come to do; and it is a satisfaction to see the
fruits of their sacrifices. This air force powerfully armed, perfectly
equipped, and technically qualified, took from their fallen comrades their
spirit, their tradition, and their valor, which together with the technical
assistance and the equipment made available to our country by our brother
socialist countries--by the Soviet Union, which sent the first instructor
technicians, equipped our air force, and prepared many of our pilots; by
the Chinese People's Republic, which trained another large contingent of
our pilots and technicians; by the brother socialist country of
Czechoslovakia--we have been able to build this air force with its present
characteristics, with its extraordinary fighting spirit demonstrated during
the days of the last crisis with the extraordinary discipline and combat
readiness of our bases where there was not one single man who was not
mobilized. There was not one that did not have a combat post. There was not
one that did not know his mission in case of an attack.

It is a force which in addition to discipline, faith, and fighting spirit
has an extraordinary spirit for studying and improving itself. Many factors
have become joined: tradition and heroism which began on 17 April,
equipment and technical instruction: but also another very important
factor: the social composition of the men of our air force, their origin,
the tests they underwent to join its ranks, the sacrifices they have
undergone--humble men of the most humble social extraction, from the
proletariat and peasants, and young men who saw ahead of them the
opportunity to develop their careers. That is why we have been able to
create this air force, not an air force of exhibitionists, not an air force
of little bourgeois, but an air force born of the people, the best of the
people, where men did not enter through recommendations or through
influence, but because of the qualities they demonstrated in the tests,
because of their conduct, for their merit, for their patriotic and
revolutionary spirit.

This is why we can say: In America there is not another force with such a
spirit, another air force with such characteristics. And the data regarding
the study speak for themselves. Some 2,000 comrades are taking secondary
school courses. Almost 200 are taking studies for (scholastic--Ed.) level
(attainment?) in order to enter the university. What does this mean? It
means that life is not paralyzed here--the life of any of you. It means
that everyone is studying. It means that no one wants to stay behind.

In what other country in America can we find such a situation? In what
other country of our exploited Latin America can we see anything like
this--youths who in two years have gone from illiteracy to the eighth
grade, thousands of youths who are in secondary schools, hundreds of youths
who are preparing themselves for universities.

Here we can observe the overall future of our air force, from the graduate
pilots to the youths of our aeronautical school. Instructions which will
mold men for combat and men for production, pilots for out military
formations, pilots for our civil aviation, pilots for our air units
directly connected with production. (School?) centers of every type where
our youths who have chosen this work, who have requested this occupation,
have before them the possibility to fully develop all their abilities.

There remains just one more detail to point out so that one can understand
the spirit of the institution which is our armed forces, and it is a fact
that even though a real and actual force had already been organized and had
been equipped and prepared--and when we speak about the air force we
include a very important part of equally heroic sectors, such as our
antiaircraft forces, our antiaircraft artillery, our (radar?) forces, and
in short, the entire combination which makes up the air combat force of our
country. It is a fact that there were practically no ranks. Let this be an
example: the comrade who spoke here who is the chief of engineering for all
our bases and who had the rank of private soldier.

And so are there many other cases, comrades, such as that of the rebel
youths who for two years have been apprentices and who have now been
qualified as privates. Perhaps some may ask: How have so many promotions
taken place today? It is because there had not been any promotions for two
years. It is because in this organization the least plentiful things were
ratings. This is another one of the characteristics which speak in favor of
this organization, because this is not the way it was during the first days
of the revolution.

You will remember that there were many adventuresome spirits, who are
against the fatherland and the revolution today to be sure, who did not
fire a shot, but who had extraordinary ability for obtaining a major's star
or a captain's insignia, and for promoting themselves during those first
days of the revolution. Today it is no longer that way. It will never be
that way again.

Today most of those gentlemen are on the other side, as mercenaries, as
traitors, as sellers of their country, playing at war but not on our soil,
because they know what awaits them; playing at war far from our shores, on
remote Caya, protected by foreign flags. What did stay here, which was the
good, the authentic, is dedicated to study, to self-improvement, and thus,
many of our comrades who did earn ranks in battle, in war, and yet barely
knew how to read and write, have considerably raised their cultural level,
and above all have increased their capabilities in technical skill and in
leadership of our forces.

The enemy talks of plans for infiltrating and penetrating the revolutionary
forces, but our enemies do not know what a revolutionary force is, although
they should have learned on 17 April. They do not know the spirit that
imbues a revolutionary force. They do not know what kind of men compose
these forces from the roots up, how they came into being, how they grew in
combat, how they developed, how they were shaped after victory. It may be
that for them a revolutionary soldier is something like any one of the
mercenaries they have over there, capable of selling themselves for four
pesetas, and who are bought for four pesetas.

The Pentagon and imperialism have no reason to know what a revolutionary
fighter is because they have never had revolutionary fighters, but they
have had mercenaries of all kinds. The only opportunity they had to learn
what a revolutionary fighter is, was when they faced us; first, when the
revolutionary soldier liquidated the tyranny's army, and later, when the
revolutionary soldiers liquidated their invading forces-- invading forces
which, according to reports, thought that when they arrived the soldiers
and militia would surrender. They thought they would be acclaimed as
liberators and would surrender their arms.

What illusions! What idiotic illusions! What imbecilic illusions! The first
thing that we had to ask those mercenaries was what did they think they
were coming to find. What did that owner of the entire Cienaga de Zapata,
exploiter of the coal pits he (left there?), those discriminators who
arrived there, those exploiters who landed there, think they were going to
find? They thought that a worker, Caimanero, a peasant, a youth in the
artillery, who had traveled more than 100 kilometers one day to be able to
become an artilleryman or had climbed Turquino peak many times, or a rebel
soldier who had scaled it 10 or 15 or 20 times--a veteran of the
revolutionary struggle who with inferior forces more than once had seen
victory over his enemies--did the mercenaries think these people would
surrender to that bunch of barefaced parasites? Did they think they would
turn themselves over to them and hand over the heroic and glorious flag of
the fatherland? (Applause)

Whom were they deceiving with those lies? Whom did they think they were
going to confound with those tricks? Have we not witnessed all the
injustices that were committed in this country, the crimes that were
perpetrated in this nation, the unmerciful exploitation, hunger in our
time--the slack season the lack of teachers, of doctors and of everything?
Are they not aware that our soldiers and our combatants come from those
ranks, from the ranks of those who suffered hunger, the ranks of those who
never had a teacher, the ranks of those who perhaps saw a small brother die
because of lack of a doctor-- of the ranks of the slack season of the ranks
of hunger, of the ranks of the exploited? To whom do they think they are
telling those stories, stores for the bourgeoisie, tales for "tepillos,"
tales for parasites, but not tales for the proletariat, not tales for
patriots, not tales for men.

Comrades of the air force, permit us today to express our pride and our
satisfaction for what you have attained in this branch of the armed forces,
which is an example of what is being done in all the other branches of our
revolutionary armed forces. We are advancing together, progressing
together, inspiring the respect with which we have already inspired our
enemies-whom, together with the people and with the masses, we have
defeated on all fronts.

We have defeated the internal counterrevolution and the
counterrevolutionary bands as well as the invading mercenaries. We have
been winning all the battles against them. We already inspire them with a
bit more respect. Now it will not occur to them to send another invasion
like the other one, when we had seven pilots, because today we have many
more pilots. Today the technicians of our air force cannot be counted on
the fingers of one hand; they are counted by the hundreds. And behind them
is a legion of young literacy teachers and pioneer brigades who have
entered our air force school, from which the best will enter our combat
forces. Those who will not, because of some physical defect, will serve in
the ranks of production with the same spirit and the same morale.

The enemy knows that today we are not a force which it can try to attack
with an expedition like the previous one, because if at the time we had the
means and the men to repel that attack and several more like it
simultaneously, today they cannot even dream of such a thing. It is
possible that they would not even be able to find out what hit them.

This respect we inspire in our enemy has been the result of persistent
work, effort, study, and sacrifice. What we are seeing today is the
product, the product of our people's efforts, of the solidarity of the
socialist countries, of the sister nations which have assisted us. What we
see here today is the product of those who have fallen, of those who did
not return from so many battles because they fell, because they died.

However, today, as we look upon these results, we can understand that the
phrase of our national anthem which says: to die for the county is to live,
is not just so many words. Those who fell still live, and will live
eternally in you, in your effort, in what you have created. Therefore, we
can say to the comrades like Silva, Ulloa, Acosta, Torres, Noah, and
Gonzalez, that they did return, that they are here in this spirit, in this
will to make an effort and to struggle, in this patriotism, in this work.
Fatherland or death, we will win!