Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana Domestic Radio and Television Services in Spanish 0412 GMT 3
December 1965--F

(Live speech by Premier Minister Fidel Castro at ceremonies making the
graduation of the first group of Makarenko primary schoolteachers, held in
Mariano's Pedro Marreor Stadium)

(Text) Comrade teachers, or better yet, comrade professors, graduates, and
pupils of the Makarenko Pedagogic Institute. Comrade teachers of the Frank
Pais Vanguard Brigade, (applause) comrade students, peasant: (applause)
Today a complete family of educators meets here--graduates, students, all
forming part of the same effort. And as the ninth anniversary is observed
on this day of the landing of the Granma, no other event could have more
significance than the fact that the first students who, having taken part
in the literacy campaign and taken courses at Topes de Collantes, and at
the Pedagogic Institute, should graduate today. They are the first fruit of
a new system, of a great plan, of an extraordinary ambitious effort in the
field of education.

It is not always a good custom to attribute the best to ourselves, the best
successes. But we sincerely believe that our country is in the very
forefront in the method, selection, in the system it uses for the training
of teachers who will educate future generations of our country. In this
respect, it will be very difficult for someone to beat us. And it is
something that among all the social tasks of a country, this is, in our
judgment, the most important of all. In the years to come we will be able
to count on an every-increasing number of teachers who are splendidly
trained in a human, revolutionary, ideological, and technical way.

As we move ahead, these aspects of the training of future teachers will be
increasingly accentuated and improved. And without false pride, we can feel
deep satisfaction in the way we are preparing the future of our people and
our society, marching toward a new world, infinitely different from the
past, the characteristics of which, without further words, and much more
eloquent than words, are decided by events such as we have had the
privilege of seeing tonight. In the quality, the beauty, the perfection of
the entire program, above all its deep significance, expressed by girls who
were born, and who did so, in our mountains. And year after year, through
this program, or through these schools, especially organized for them,
through which some 44,000 have passed, and where each year a selection has
been made of those who have shown the greatest interest and greatest
vocation which, in turn, has created a large contingent of students whose
improvement can be appreciated year after year.

This is why, although at first these schools were organized with a
provisional sense in mind, thanking that they would fill a momentary need,
and that in the future, as educational centers were developed in the
interior of the nation and in the mountains, particularly, with the
prospects offered by the mountain boarding schools, and even though someday
we will have basic secondary schools in the mountains, even under such
circumstances we think that these schools should be continued as selection
centers for students who are most outstanding in the schools of our

If in these years many were in the first, second, or third year--the
biggest majority were in these levels--in the future years we can select
from these mountain schools whose help you know about and whose promotion,
as the comrade vanguard teacher here has said. (Castro fails to complete
though--ed.) She explained that it had been the highest ranking school in
the nation and the highest ranking in the history of Cuba--in other words,
a large number of country boys and girls, especially in the mountains,
attend the schools and are promoted. Thus, we will have a large amount of
talent from which to choose so that this scholastic institution will
continue to develop and continue to be fed from that talent, choosing from
those students who have the most interest and vocation for study. In this
way the future requirement of the grades will be met, not less than the
third grade and later, the fourth grade, later fifth, and then sixth so
that in the future this will be practically a basic secondary school--this
school with a capacity for 10,000 students.

Some will choose one profession while others will chose another, and in
this way this center they will be going to another center of preuniversity
study. They will have the opportunity to study those fields which interest
them most. I believe that the country will profit much by taking advantage
of this talent and I believe that this school, so magnificently and
brilliantly organized, will serve to channel that intelligence toward the
different fields of science which will contribute to the future welfare and
happiness of our nation.

From among you, a considerable number has chosen to study as teachers and
are already participating in the teaching of students at lower levels.
Those of you choose to study as teachers even though our system of teacher
training begins in the mountains, is continued for an additional 2 years,
and ends in the pedagogic institute. In the case of you who are going to
enter the Pedagogic Institute when you reach the level where you study and
teach without having to go through the intermediate stage of Tope de
Collantes, in other words, through the mountain sage, this can be readily
done since you really come from the mountains anyway. (applause)
Furthermore, you will have to return to the mountains, because when you
graduate as teachers, no matter how many teachers we graduate, we will have
a rotation, if not in the mountains then in the countryside. We know that
you understand this.

In the past the problem was to find someone to go to teach in the
mountains. But in the future we will not only have all the teachers who are
trained for the largest part in the mountains, but we have many teachers
who were born in the mountains and so are not intimidated by the
countryside and the mountains, much less when they have the opportunity to
return as teachers to teach peasant children. This problem was resolved in
the early part of the revolution because of the enthusiasm of our youth,
because of the revolutionary spirit of the large contingent of student
youths who answered the call to teach in the mountains. Those are the
teachers who later formed the Frank Pais Vanguard Teacher Brigade and who
have now spent five years teaching in our mountains.

Because of the need for teachers at the beginning, we considered promoting
the intermediate stage students, in other words, after the first year of
study, to study--no, to teach (Castro corrects himself--ed.) and later to
continue their studies. We came to the conclusion that this would lead to
inconveniencies and would probably discourage many from returning later to

That is why we decided to exercise a little patience. But this was not
simply a matter of our having patience; it was rather that the teachers of
the Frank Pais brigades have patience, because to wait for five years meant
for them two additional years in the mountains. Nevertheless, we were able
to get their cooperation and, thanks to them, the teachers who are
graduating today are being graduated after having completed all their
studies and after having participated in the educational practice during
two years.

The teachers who are graduating today are not teachers who are going to
come face to face with a classroom for the first time, or to teach for the
first time--a task which among the social tasks is one of the most
beautiful, and from time to time requires more vocation and more
dedication. For two years they have taken part in teaching and have
participate din more than 1,000 classes which are presently being attended
by students who will teach. They have gained great successes in that task,
high promotions of students, and are going forward not only with all the
value of theory, but with the value of practice and experience with which
they will become further enriched while they teach in the future years.

In graduating close to 800 students, 764 teachers will permit us to attend
to not only new needs, such as the technological worker institutes, where
presently there are close to 10,000 students even though most of them
naturally are in leveling courses, but also to substitute already 510
teachers of the Frank Pais Brigade who, having taught for five years in the
mountains, are not marching toward other tasks, which will permit them to
continue their studies, thereby improving themselves, continuing in the
educational tasks. This is to say, of the 1,250 students of that brigade,
510 students will be replaced this year, a similar number will be replaced
the following year, and in two years new teachers will be occupying their
positions, that is, the positions of all the teachers of the Frank Pais

As the new graduations take place in the mountains, replacing those who are
now going into the mountains, I know that his is not going to be met with
much happiness when the Frank Pais Brigade teachers receive their
replacements. They are naturally proud of the fruits of their labors for
five years, of the successes which they have achieved, but I am sure that
they will not leave the mountains without sadness and without a profound
love for the people there with whom they have become integrated and for the
atmosphere of our mountains which awakens everyone who has in one way or
another lived, fought, or worked there. But it will also be necessary that
our new teachers pass through that school.

What are the future prospects? How many new teachers will graduate in the
coming years? This year, as I have said, there are 764. Next year there
will not be more than this one because it is one of the first courses. But
in the third course, in Mina del Frio the enrollment is considerably
higher. The number which is going through Tope de Collante is several
thousands. The number which will pass from Tope de Collante to the teaching
institute is approximately three times higher than this year. The following
year the institute will have more than 5,000 students--5,000 students who
will be able to join those who study in the classrooms of our capital.
They will be able to satisfy the increasing need of teachers as the number
of secondary and preuniversity schools increases. Many of the present
teachers will teach in some of those schools and the students of the
teaching institute will be replacing those teachers, and hence the new
schools which come forth because of the plans of the increasing population.

This year how many asked to enroll in Minas del Frio? Well, no less than
9,100. (applause) From that number, many had to pass the necessary tests so
that there are now 6,888 students enrolled. Then let 4,500 students pass
from Minas del Frio to Topes de Collantes (applause), so that the number of
students from Topes de Collante will increase to about 8,000, according to
the data I have before me. With graduates totalling 1,300 in Topes de
Collantes and an increase of 4,500 the total number of students will be

A total of 764 are graduating from Tarara, that is, from the Pedagogic
Institute. A total of 1,300 are admitted, for a grand total of 3,200. But
by the next term, some 4,000 will be admitted. And in two more years--we
have two more graduations yet--something less or close to 1,000, but we
hope that by the third graduation after this one, it will be at least
3,000. At this rate, in addition to the peasant girls who have also chosen
to take these courses, by 1968 there will be at least 3,000. And at the
rate of enrollments at Minas del Frio, we should figure that between 1970
and 1980, 50,000 teachers will graduate from the Pedagogic Institute.

Fifty thousand teachers is quite a respectable figure. And above all, there
is the caliber of teachers who will graduate. Not only will it allow us to
(satisfy our needs, which are great, because our programs are very
extensive, but it also will enable us to offer our cooperation in this
field to other nations (applause), to other nations which need (applause),
which need our technical assistance. Naturally the need for teachers in the
world is immense. Just think about sister nations in this continent which
in some cases have a percentage of illiteracy higher than 70 percent--tens
of millions of people who cannot read or write. Millions and millions of
children lack schools and teachers. Naturally, these peoples, these
revolutionary peoples with their own revolutions, must of necessity fill
this need.

Our cooperation will be essentially in regard to the methods we have used
to cope with these problems by highly qualified technical cadres. Because
we have acquired a splendid experience in this field of education that was
proved in the literacy campaign four years ago; that was proved in the
colossal triumphs we have achieved. An experience as to how to cope with
this problem amid a revolutionary process, and how to resolve it not only
as regard quantity but also as regards quality. I believe that these
methods, this experience and all the wealth of experience we have been
obtaining in various fields has only been possible because of the
revolution itself, which was the first great experience, the mother of all
experiences. The very fact of the revolution was the first experience.

Anything can be done with the revolution; anything can be resolved. Without
revolution, peoples who are still in the same situation, or even worse than
we were in, can accomplish nothing; can resolve nothing. And we are
winning. Not only are we glad about our successes today, but above all, we
are, thinking about the triumphs of tomorrow. And this was not achieved
without the efforts of many, without the intelligence and contributions of
many, without the persistent, competent, and capable work of many
revolutionary cadres of our education. It has been the result of the
efforts of many, of having our youth as raw material and their enthusiasm,
the comrades of the Education Ministry, the comrades from the mass
organizations amid the teachers, in the first place the union educations

We have always stressed the real special and meritorious effort that our
worthy comrade Elena Gil has undertaken, (applause, unison clapping; a
smiling Elena Gil, sitting near Castro, rises to acknowledge the
ovation--ed.) The collaboration of several professors and teachers. Because
we must say that the largest majority of the teachers that the revolution
found when it was victorious joined the revolutionary process; they marched
together with the revolution and they have improved themselves

Today's graduation means that the family of teachers is growing. This means
that the family is improving from year to year. This has not only been the
result of work, of effort, it has also been the fruit of heroic sacrifices,
of good revolutionary blood spilled, of the fighters who in the midst of
the literacy campaign in 1961 met the mercenary invaders, of the youths who
came from the ranks of the teachers--and the literacy teachers were
examples of sacrifice and heroism, some of whom gave their lives for this
cause while being cowardly and criminally murdered, like Conrado Benitez,
of Manuel Ascunce, of (Delfin Sen--phonetic) or the other teacher mentioned
here, Gomez, who in fulfilling their duties gave their lives and became
examples, seeds, and banners.

Those who committed those cowardly and inhuman deeds though they were going
to strike home at the spirit of your youths. They thought that they were
going to make the revolutionary plans fail. Yes, they did wound the
revolution emotionally because the whole nation felt it and cried for them.
But they were way off in gaining their objectives. They were way off in
halting that most outstanding education campaign, the most outstanding
effort being carried out, because this event, today, is proof that no one
or nothing will be able to impede the victorious progress of our country,
that no one or nothing will be able to prohibit us from building our
future, that no one or nothing will keep us from working--the nation--to
create a better world, happier, without injustices, without humiliations,
without exploitations, without ignorance, without poverty--a world from
which we work in the middle of all these difficulties, in the midst of need
and poverty which we inherited from the past. We have freed ourselves from
many of those shackles. We were a poor nation, economically underdeveloped.
We were also an uncluttered nation, a nation very backward educationally
with more than one million illiterates and with 600,000 children who needed

Poverty is not easily overcome. Many years of work are needed to keep
creating the economic base which permits the people to acquire a higher
standard of living. But we are progressing, we are overcoming ignorance if
we compare out situation today with the situation as it was seven years
ago. It is unbelievable what we have achieved. We are leaving ignorance far
behind and every year the problem will not be simply to read or write, but
to acquire the sixth-grade level of education. Already, for practically all
our youth teaching (presumably "learning"--ed.) is at the secondary level.
It is an obligation for each youth year after year, the cultural and
educational level for all the people will continue to increase. The value
that this has will have to be seen in the coming years in order to prove it
with experience. The grade of education for the people and the technical
capacity of the people is important to a nation.

So let us be a capable nation taking advantage of the natural resources of
our fatherland, a capable nation producing all the goods we need, all the
riches we need to reach the abundance of material goods and the abundance
of cultural goods. Without study and learning, nations cannot progress.
Only on this path, can a nation achieve the highest goals, the highest
aspirations, because ignorance will not ever make any nation rich.

The lack of knowledge and technical capability will not permit a nation to
resolve its problems. That is why we are so sure that we will resolve our
problems and that we will solve these problems well. That is why we are so
sure of the future without ignoring the difficulties or the dangers. We are
working for the future with a people who are increasingly united, with a
people who are increasingly more aware, and with a people who are
increasingly stronger.

It would not occur to our enemies any more to start expeditions such as the
one at Giron, because if they were mistaken on that occasion, and very much
mistaken, today they are not so mistaken. They know how much the people
have increased their unity, their awareness, and their strength. The force
of the people can teach them other lessons, such as the extraordinary
lesson which the imperialists are receiving in Vietnam (applause) as well
as the impossibility of crushing revolutions and revolutionary people. Our
strength has increased considerably, not only in awareness, but also in
technical ability and in the weapons we have to defend our revolution

We are incomparably stronger thanks to international solidarity, and
particularly to the extraordinary assistance we have received in weapons
from the Soviet union, (applause) which enables us to work with greater
security, which gives us something with which to defend our revolutionary
work, to defend our schools, to defend the work of our teachers, to defend
the work of all our workers and peasants, of all the intellectual workers
in our country and of those who are working with their hands; it gives us
something to defend the results of the revolution and the future of the

There is an extraordinary difference between these people of seven years
ago and the people of today. We saw this in the mountain recently, when our
teachers graduated at the Turquino Peak. We saw it among our peasants and
our mountain militia (word indistinct), which gave us an impression of
their discipline and of their strength. We saw it in the organization of
our party, in the degree of experience they achieved in their work, in the
efficiency of their effort, in the prestige and in the experience of their

We have seen the day by day consolidation of the revolution and its
progress, without this meaning that all problems have been solved and
without this meaning at all that we have no difficulties, for we do have
difficulties. However, everything we have done until today, amid the
dangers, threats, blockades, and difficulties, teaches us that nothing
prevents us from progressing, that nothing prevents us from advancing and
that we shall advance constantly and with greater rapidity.

Today on the ninth anniversary of the Granma landing, of which this
evening's program reminds us so much, and after almost seven years of
revolution, we can subscribe to the statement which Comrade Alemida made a
few moments ago to Comrade Elna Hill, when he said that on a day like today
he was happier than ever. But he was not referring to the happy
circumstance of today's commemoration of the Granma landing. Comrade
Almeida, comrade of the Moncada Barracks, the Granma, and the Sierra,
received the happy news that his family had increased with the arrival of a
boy. (applause) Not only was he born on the same day, but almost at the
same hour of the landing (applause), thereby giving proof of almost strict
military punctuality. (laughter)

However, he did not say it for that reason, as he perhaps thought some of
us believed. He did not say it for that reason. He said it after he had
attended this evening's ceremony. He said it after he had seen the
performance of our peasant girls, the same peasant girls (applause) whom we
met in the mountains, unshod and poorly dressed, these same daughters of
those exploited peasants who opened their arms to us during the difficult
days which followed the landing of the Granma; those same peasants of those
rugged mountains where there were no hospitals or schools, doctors or
teachers, but rather large landholders, foremen, rural guards,
exploitation, abuses, mass assassinations, burned homes, and bombed

He was expressing the feeling of all of us, the emotion of all of us upon
seeing, particularly with that clarity with which one sees on days such as
this, the result of the struggle, the result of the effort, upon seeing,
with that clarity with which one sees on days such as this, that the blood
of the good men was not shed in vain; that those who died in the Moncada
Barracks (applause) or on the Granma (applause), in the Sierra or in the
lowlands (applause), in the cities, and in the various revolutionary
actions, those who died following the victory defending the nation against
imperialism, those who died in Giron or fighting the bandit assassins in
the Escambray Mountains, the teachers who sacrificed themselves did not do
so in vain; and that thanks to those sacrifices on a day like today we can
remember them with profound respect, with profound veneration, and
gratitude, for in the work of the revolution, in the successes of the
revolution our heroes live and will live eternally. Those who fell will
live eternally, as well as those who are absent performing their duty, such
as our Comrade Ernesto Guevara. (applause)

And I say absent, I do not say dead, for our enemies rejoice at the idea
that Comrade Ernesto Guevara is dead. Naturally, no revolutionary is
eternal. Revolutionaries are always running great risks. However, in order
to undeceive our enemies and for the benefit of our fellow nationals who
wonder or have wondered if he is dead or alive, we can say with infinite
satisfaction that he is alive and in good health. (applause) However,
evidently the imperialists have not been able to ascertain this with their
U-2's. And we also remembered him very much today, because we are thinking
of and remembering all those who fought--the men who had faith in their
people, who had faith in their cause--and that was the main thing. The
number of men is not important. The idea is important, the conviction, the
will, and the firmness. That is the main thing. That is why we believe so
firmly that the other nations will free themselves. That is why we believe
in the future of this continent and of all continents, for while the
difficulties are great, our history proves that they are not great enough
to prevent the victory of the people.

If in the beginning there are not many of them, it is enough that a few
have this conviction, and this faith which will soon become the faith and
the conviction of many, will at a given moment be that of all the people.
The history of Vietnam teaches us this very thing. The hundreds of
thousands of Yankee soldiers, their armies, their swarms of planes, and
their criminal weapons have been dashed to pieces against its heroic
resistance. The greater their defeat, the more they threaten to send more
and more soldiers, obviously worried in the face of the fact that an
unexpected growing resistance to this criminal war has arisen among the
American people.

And so they threaten to send more and more soldiers. But we believe in the
victory of the people of Vietnam and the solidarity of the socialist camp.
And in the face of those threats, we reiterate our position and our promise
to help Vietnam, to help it with men and arms. (applause) There are many
persons in this country who would gladly enroll to go fight there against
the criminal soldiers of Yankee imperialism, and there are many men all
over the world who would be inclined to do the same. Therefore we believe
in the victory of the people of Vietnam against all the imperialists'
threats, because even though the Vietnamese have sufficed by themselves up
until now, they know that they are not alone and that the day they say
"volunteers for Vietnam" there will be, not hundreds of thousands of men
throughout the world, but millions of men, (applause) millions of men ready
to go there and fight and clip the criminal, aggressive claws of the

That is why victory will belong to the heroic people of Vietnam, thanks to
their own efforts, which have been more than enough to deal the
imperialists tremendous defeats, and furthermore thanks to what I was just
saying; because for every imperialist soldier there, for every soldier the
Yankees send, there are dozens of men all over the world ready to go fight
him. And so the imperialists have gotten into a blind alley there, from
which the only way out is defeat. (applause) They thought they could take
unfair advantage of their might and numbers with impunity. They thought the
Vietnamese belonged to a small nation and were few in number. And they are
face to face with the reality that the people of Vietnam number many more
than the imperialists, because with Vietnam all are revolutionaries in the
world, all the enemies of the imperialists, with all the honor and courage
of revolutionaries, the right of revolutionaries; for there is where the
importance of ideas is demonstrated, the importance of what each individual
represents, and that all the resources of oppressive and exploiters, no
matter how great, shatter on a people fighting for a just cause.

And in that blind alley the imperialists find themselves, facing those
risks, and the risk, which worries the Yankee politicians, of the reaction
from the North American people themselves; because since their leaders are
low politicians, wretches who deceive the people, as long as they can go on
committing these evil deeds and these crimes and following the people they
feel good; but when the people begin to wake up to reality, when the people
begin to see the truth, when the demagogues and low politicians begin to
tremble, and they lose their coolness, as demonstrated by the U.S.
secretary of state at the ridiculous conference just held at Rio de
Janeiro, where he said that the Vietnam affair had him worried because it
might end in a nuclear holocaust.

He still dares put forward that scarecrow of a nuclear holocaust, but it is
mostly a sham, for it would no longer be a nuclear holocaust for their
enemies; it would be a nuclear holocaust for them. This is to say, when
they talk about a nuclear holocaust, they are trying to ignore the facts,
and seeing themselves defeated over there, they threaten with this, and
they talk of these dangers, which, by being mentioned there, reveal the
fear felt by the imperialist oligarchy in the United States of this blind
alley, this defeat they are facing and which they will be unable to prevent
with their allusions and references to dangers of a nuclear holocaust,
because the holocaust that will take place there is a holocaust of
imperialist soldiers, dying at the hands of the heroic guerrillas in the
jungles of Vietnam.

That is the holocaust that is taking place and will take place. And
therefore the imperialist leaders, after they had recourse to force,
escalating aggression and increasing air raids, are showing their feeling
of frustration and failure in ever field, in every corner of the world.

At the foreign ministers conference they were unable to impose the plan for
a hemispheric interventionist force. What must have been the position of
failure, weakness, and discredit of the imperialists, accustomed to such
easy handling of the governments of Latin America. Despite support from the
Brazilian gorillas and a few other gorillas, they were unable to get
approval for the plan, because the Latin American governments, no matter
how weak their positions may have been, no matter what great concessions
may have been made by the imperialists, no matter how great the complicity
of the majority of these governments--with some few exceptions--with Yankee
imperialism in its aggressions against Cuba--to the extent that the
imperialists have shown their claws, to the extent the imperialists show
their lack of scruples or respect for the sovereignty of peoples, it become
more and more difficult for these governments to accept imperialist plans,
because as soon as they sign an agreement setting up a repressive,
interventionist force, they will be renouncing what little independence is
left them, and they will be consecrating the right of the Yankee armies to
land in any country of America just as they did at Santo Domingo.

And so they could not get the plan adopted. Nevertheless, one cannot speak
of this as being a big moral victory, a moral feat. Even though it is true
that they did not yield entirely to Yankee demands, it is also true that no
condemnation was issued there of the Yankee intervention at Santo Domingo.
There was no honorable denunciation of the crime committed against the
Dominican people. Withdrawal of the Yankee soldiers from Santo Domingo was
not demanded there. Hence, in reality, one cannot say that those
governments upheld a correct moral position there. One cannot say that they
assumed a becoming attitude. The limit would have been for the intervention
to be capped by an agreement to consecrate the right to intervene.

Imperialism is becoming more and more discredited, and the peoples are
opening their eyes more and more. And many of those governments that were
accomplices in the aggressions against Cuba are quaking now for fear of
what may happen to them. They are trembling at the fact that they have been
gradually giving up what little independence they still have, and they are
trembling over the reaction of the peoples, over the people's awakening.

And Cuba, whom in a happy moment they expelled from that garbage which is
the OAS, as if thereby they would offend us, as if thereby they would
dishonor us, as if thereby they would insult us--and when we see this
spectacle, government representatives meeting there and keeping quiet about
the Dominican crime, and they are subjected to every kind of pressure and
obliged to fill such a shameful role, we feel all the more satisfied and
proud at not belonging to that chorus of dishonorable, accessorial voices.
We are all the prouder of not belonging to that organization, and we are
more than ever convinced that membership in an organization of Latin
American states would be for us the day it is an organization of
revolutionary Latin American states. (applause) And we fell all the more
the legitimacy of the little "Cuba, free territory of America." (applause)

Of course, not all those governments are exactly alike; some very few
exceptions hold to a more becoming position. We recognize this. But nobody
could deny the fact that we are the country that most legitimately can call
ourselves "free territory of America." (applause) And this territory will
continue to be free. And the revolution will continue advancing in this
territory, and this people will go on being an example to its brothers on
this continent. Fatherland or death; we will win. (applause)