Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Praise for Sagua la Grande

Havana Domestic Television and Radio Services in Spanish 0257 GMT 10 Apr 68

[Speech by Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro at event marking 10th
anniversary of 9 April strike and dedication of new hospital in Sagua la

[Text] Comrade combatants of 9 April, relatives of the comrades who fell on
that heroic day, workers of the Sagua la Grande region: What are the
circumstances in which we commemorate this 10th anniversary of 9 April? In
the first place, we think that this 10th anniversary had to be commemorated
in Sagua la Grande--even though, really, the struggle took place throughout
the nation--because on that day here dozens of brave youths, scarcely
armed, fell fighting the tyranny, and dozens were murdered in acts of
vandalic and fierce repression. There is no doubt whatsoever that in the
history of our revolution Sagua la Grande wrote an indelible page of

We recall that during those days, there was still quite a small number of
rebel soldiers; we scarcely numbered 200 men then. But we made a maximum
effort with our limited forces to support the revolutionary movement and we
listened or received the news reports about the events throughout the
island. We received reports on actions all over the country, and especially
from the city of Sagua. It was really an extraordinary thing to see how
such a small group of men, supported by the people, could hold a city of
the size and importance of Sagua la Grande under its control.

Unfortunately, on that occasion the revolutionary movement suffered a
setback and the revolutionary ranks lost many men. In those days, a certain
pessimistic outlook took over the masses. In those days, also, a certain
degree of optimism took hold of the repressive forces. We recall how after
9 April they thought that a phase had begun in which they would crush the
revolutionary movement. Those deeds not only constituted an example of
extraordinary heroism but were an example of the way a revolutionary people
is capable of recovering from any setback. It was in those days that the
final and biggest offensives against the revolutionary movement were
organized. They concentrated most of their troops against the Sierra
Maestra. An army of nearly 10,000 soldiers tried to encircle the rebel army
which, comprising the various forces of the Sierra Maestra, scarcely
numbered 300 men. After the offensive, which lasted some 35 days, and the
counteroffensive, which lasted some 35 days more, instead of 300 men, we
were more than 800, armed men.

On that occasion we seized 505 weapons from the enemy and something over
100,000 rounds of ammunition. Our army of 300 increased to more than 800
men, and with 800 men the columns practically invaded the rest of the
nation. Various forces had been fighting in Las Villas for more than a
year. The forces of the revolutionary directorate and the detachments under
Comrade Victor Gordon, who is from this region, struggled in Las Villas.

They say that other forces also struggled here, with this reservation --in
our revolutionary process it happened that even in some organizations which
were poorly led there were always some people who were really
revolutionary. I say this because I know of cases of revolutionary
comrades, including 26 July comrades, who joined the guerrillas in the
Escambray second front. We must say that there were many, persons, or at
least the principal leaders--or some of the leaders, because at first it
was only one front, but a nucleus of leaders divided the movement and later
constituted itself into a group which later turned into a
counterrevolutionary group.

We remember that once we used harsh words to describe that group. I used
the word, "bullet-eaters." Later, however, I faced the reality that in the
ranks of that group, that is, among the troop people, rank-and-file people,
there were good people, there were even comrades of other organizations who
had gone to fight there, common people, who saw a guerrilla front there, a
front here, a front somewhere else. They saw that everybody was struggling,
they saw the closest front and joined it. There were even cases of comrades
who were in that front and who remained loyal to the revolution. Some of
them even gave their lives. Such was the case of a helicopter pilot who was
murdered and his helicopter stolen by counterrevolutionary elements.

I make this exception because I believe tat there is nothing more just than
to make a clarification when it is necessary to do so or to make a
correction when it is necessary to do so. On that occasion an adjective
applied to everybody caused some good people among those who had been there
to feel hurt. I take advantage of this occasion to make this very just
clarification and to acknowledge that certainly there were some good people
in that group. [applause] People from various organizations struggled in
the northern area, in the Escambray, and we remember that for all of us it
was a very important factor that the war began to develop here and it
contributed to the success of the invading columns that arrived in this
province under Che and Camilo. [applause]

We must say that at the moment when the tyranny believed it had the
greatest chance of success, when it was the most optimistic, when it
believed it was going to destroy the revolution--that was precisely the
moment it was closest to its defeat. Optimism caused it to hurl all its
forces against us, and what happened was that the moment of its defeat came
nearer. The battle of 9 April helped to precipitate events, and the crimes
they committed on that 9 April they paid for a few months later in the
Sierra Maestra, particularly shortly after the victory of the revolution.

Revolutionary Character Defined

It is also, fair that we say something else here tonight. [Castro appears
annoyed at some disturbance in the crowd) Well, what is happening that you
cannot maintain order here? If you lower those flags perhaps order will be
restored and everybody will be able to see. (Some people holding large
posters and banners then bring them down] The comrades have shown their
flags. Now they can furl them and everybody can see. [Castro resumes his

There is something which we believe to be elementary justice, and that is
that the character of our struggle and the fact that the struggle began in
the Sierra Maestra and that, after all, the decisive battles were waged by
guerrilla forces, meant that for a long time almost all attention,
acknowledgement, admiration, almost all of the history of the revolution
was centered on the guerrilla movement in the mountains.

We must also say, because there is nothing more reasonable or salutary than
to be fair, that this fact tended in a certain sense to diminish the role
of the people who struggled in the city, in the history of the revolution,
and the role of the people who struggled in the underground movement, the
role and extraordinary heroism of the thousands of youths who died fighting
under very difficult conditions.

We must certainly say that in the history of our revolutionary process,
just as in all processes, particularly in all new events in history, at the
beginning not all opinions were the same. It was not very clearly seen what
the role of the guerrilla movement was and what the role of the underground
struggle was. It is true that many revolutionary comrades even thought that
the guerrilla movement was a symbol which would keep the flame of the
revolution burning, would keep the hopes of the people alive, would weaken
the tyranny, but that in the long run the battle would be decided in a
great general insurrection which would overthrow the tyranny.

It is also true that there were comrades in the revolutionary ranks who
believed to the end that the discrediting of the government, the defeats it
suffered, the unpopularity of the government would lead to a type of
uprising among the military elements, and that the struggle would end in a
military uprising. All these opinions existed and we must say that they
existed as opinions of the greatest honesty in the world. There was the
opinion also that the guerrilla army would develop and in the long run
would overthrow the government. What was our position? We had a great trust
in the guerrilla movement. The guerrilla movement was a great catalyst for
our forces, but it was also capable of creating its own forces and of
developing constantly until it overthrew the government. Now then, we knew
that a military coup might or might not take place. Supposing that it did
take place, what was our position toward a military coup? We issued
repeated warnings that this time it was a real revolution. We issued
repeated warnings that the revolutionary movement would not accept the
execution, of a military coup as a classical solution to problems, as had
been happening in Latin America and in Cuba, and that the revolutionary
movement would demand carrying out the revolution to its final

We were not in a condition to stop a military coup. If one day a group of
officers, a numerous group amid that chaotic situation, rebelled and
carried out a coup, we could not have stopped it. But we did know that the
revolution could stop a coup in the long run. A coup in this case would
have been absolutely impossible. We were not going to lay down our arms.
Our plan was that in case of a coup we were going to disarm all the
(?cachitos) who were here in Oriente Province and then we would see. Of
course, the war continued developing and by the end of December we had
surrounded more than 15,000 soldiers in Oriente Province. The island was
split in two, and the columns, the rebel forces under Che Guevara, had also
surrounded the Santa Clara headquarters. In short, it was just a matter of
days before total collapse. In this situation, some officers began to
concede defeat and to contact the rebel forces. It was agreed that they
would join the revolutionary forces, but in the interim--we still do not
know exactly what happened--possibly or almost surely some Yankee influence
led to the idea of mounting a coup at that moment. In other words, it was
to be the classic method of blocking a revolution by a military coup.

In collusion with Batista, they readied a plane and at dawn on 31 December,
or 1 January, they quit the country. On the morning of 1 January, there was
that business of a magistrate. i do not know if he was the oldest or the
most brazen one in those courts, but it was announced that he was the
President of the Republic and that it was a coup d'etat. A coup d'etat at
that time? No! An in a matter of minutes-- in a matter of hours, to be more
precise--the Rebel Army practically and control of the revolution in the
combat areas and the people had control of the revolution in the urban
areas. The workers backed the movement with an absolute general strike.

At that moment they thought they were going to play with the people, but
they made a mistake. They did not know what kind of people they were
playing with. The people of that moment were not the people of 7 years
earlier. The people of that time were not the people of 20 years earlier;
they were a people who had acquired an awareness of the struggle, a people
whose spirit of rebellion had developed, a people who had rallied, not
around the traditional, discredited parties, but a people who rallied
around a small nucleus of revolutionary fighters and a small revolutionary
army. They were a people who continued developing as they coped with
crimes, abuses, outrages, and injustices of every kind and kept all this
well in mind. They were a people who continued informing themselves, who
continued to be vigilant, to prepare themselves for a revolution. That is
why the ones who tried to palm off their triumph on 1 January got the
surprise of seeing the people take to the streets. They got the great
surprise of seeing the rebel columns surround and disarm the troops, and
suddenly, on that historic day there was truly the triumph of a real
revolution. [applause]

When, in the wake of those events, they tried to circumvent the situation
again and to take advantage of the presence in jail of some officers who
had plotted against Batista, among them comrades who had always had a
revolutionary attitude, but who also included some who were motivated by
interests and ambition, they tried in those circumstances to invent
something new. They replaced the military commands and Mr Barquin was named
chief of the army. While we were in Oriente Province they notified us that
they wanted to talk to us from Camp Columbia, that the commanding officer
of that camp, Colonel Barquin, wanted to talk to us. However, we had
contacted majors Camilo and Che and we gave them the appropriate orders to
that Camilo would march on who the commander over there in that camp was.
When they told me it was Colonel Barquin, I said that I was not going to
talk to any camp commander other than Maj Camilo Cienfuegos. [applause]

A few hours later, just a few hours later, the camp was in rebel hands.
Certainly on that day, extraordinary things happened. But those who had
spurned this people, those who had underrated this people within the nation
and outside the nation, began to see that it was quite a different people
from the one they used to know and that we were living in historic times
much different from the times they used to know. Then it was another story.
No longer was it the story of blocking the victory of the revolution, that
is, blocking the victory of the rebel army, blocking the victory of the
revolutionary movement.

But I want to finish with my idea. There were different opinions,
different points of view, different theses within the revolutionary
movement, and that, in our judgement that was a natural thing, a logical
thing. Nobody could say that he had a monopoly on the whole truth. We were
confident of the triumph of the guerrilla warfare, but really, before the
guerrilla warfare developed, before it had enough strength to defeat the
army, a strong mass movement was developing along with the uprising of an
impatient people.

We were prepared, if such acts occurred, to support this movement
immediately and encourage it. In other words, in the revolutionary process,
different alternatives could occur and we simply had to be prepared to act
on the various options. In the long run it turned out that the Rebel Army
developed and decisive battles were waged. The revolutionary movement
developed extraordinarily and the Rebel Army, with the support of the
people, overcame that situation and achieved the triumph of the rebellion.
I will later explain why I say "the triumph of the rebellion."

Tendency To Underestimate History

Obviously, the fact that there were see different points of view [Castro
does not finish the thought], Later, a trend developed and there existed a
tendency to undermine or underestimate the effort or heroism of those who
went through some very bitter, very hard times and made enormous sacrifices
in that struggle. We believe that as the years go by everything will be
cleared up, everything will be put in its place. Many times, unfortunately,
certain tendencies appear which underestimate something or ignore something
else in revolutionary or historic processes. There is the fact also that we
now find ourselves at the centennial, the first centennial of the
initiation of the struggle for independence. The Revolutionary Government,
all revolutionaries, as a matter of elementary justice, as a question of
elementary acknowledgement of the extraordinary merits of those who
contributed extraordinarily toward the making of this country, want to give
to the centennial of the beginning of the struggle for independence a
maximum of remembrance, a maximum of homage and remembrance by all the

Other types of tendencies to underestimate also appear. The new generations
tend a little to underestimate the efforts of the previous generations, and
whatever the merits of this generation may be, there is no doubt that the
history of this country is a single history, that it has been a long, hard,
heroic history, and that it has cost much blood and sacrifice. But we must
say that while, it is true that this revolution, this historic event of
great importance for our country and this continent, because it marks the
beginning and victory of a vanguard, frontline revolution, the victory of
first socialist revolution in this continent [applause]--we must say that
this revolution would not have been possible without the 30 years that the
Mambises fought for the independence of this country. [applause]

We must never forget that we are 90 miles from the United States. We must
never forget that the American leaders of the past century hoped to annex
the Island of Cuba. We must never forget that within our country there were
those who favored annexation, who favored annexation by the United States.
The most progressive Cubans, headed by Jose Antonio Saco, fought hard and
ideologically attacked those tendencies. There was even a Yankee government
which said that Cuba, like a rotten fruit or a ripe apple--I do not recall
exactly--would one day fall into the arms of the United States. However, we
must ask ourselves why, in spite of the fact that this was the last colony,
together with Puerto Rico, under Spanish control in America--why, though we
were only 90 miles from the United States, did this country not fall into
the hands of the United States? Why? Why did even the Philippines,
thousands of miles away, fall into the hands of the United States and
become a Yankee colony? It became a legal Yankee colony with the status quo
of a colony, and Hawaii and other possession fell into their hands.
Unfortunately, even our sister Puerto Rican island fell into their hands.

Why did not Cuba fall into their hands? Why, though it was only 90 miles
away? Why did the Yankees--although they did establish their control and
legally established the Platt Amendment, which gave them the right to
intervene--not convert the island into a colony officially? They turned the
country into a de facto colony but they had to admit certain forms of
rejection. The people retained a feeling of nationality. The people
retained the feeling of independence. The people maintained the ideal of
rebellion or feelings of rebellion. Imperialism tried to corrupt these
people to the marrow of their bones. It established the Platt Amendment. It
initiated the economic takeover of this country, of its main industries,
all public services: electricity, railways, telephones. It took over the
best lands. It began to develop an industry which belonged to them--trade,
the banks. Parallel with this, they began an incredible process of

They installed the most incredible corruption. The first thing that they
did was, of course, to liquidate the Liberation Army. After liquidating the
Liberation Army, there came the story of pensions and pay for the
Liberation Army. The Liberation Army was not a mercenary army, it did not
fight for money. Nevertheless, in connivance with corrupt politicians who
began to appear, they invented that mercantile notion of pay for the
services of the Soldiers of the Liberation Army. They tried to pay the
fighters for their service as if this had been an army of mercenaries. That
is the way they began. They wound up by resorting to the most incredible
acts of corruption, politicking, embezzlement--things which were encouraged
by the imperialists. Every time that rebellion appeared among the people,
the Yankee Marines landed in this country. On more than one occasion after
the first intervention, they landed their troops. On other occasions they
did not even have to land the troops.

The revolutionary spirit could not develop because against the
revolutionary spirit there came voices to say that to be revolutionary was
to fight against the independence of the country, because revolution would
lead to intervention. This fatalistic feeling, this self-seeking sentiment
predominated in the history of our country for many years. In spite of
corruption, however, in spite of interventions, it is true that among our
people the best revolutionary traditions of the past century remained
burning, remained latent. This meant that the imperialists did not purely
and simply take over this country and convert it into a Key West or an
extension of Miami and Key West because there were people in this country
who had fought heroically for their independence for 30 years in such
fashion that the imperialists did not dare to openly challenge these
sentiments, they did not dare openly to challenge a people of this mettle.
They simply invented another form--the puppet republic, the Platt
Amendment, corruption, and all that embarrassing, nauseating, repugnant
period of the history of this country in which the generations of leaders
who followed one another looted it--a veritable competition to see who
could steal more, who could loot more.

The effort of this country was not invested in developing the country.
Instead, for more than 50 years, the sweat of our people went to make
millionaires, the millionaire president this, the multimillionaire
president that, and the multi-multimillionaire president the other.
Finally, even the multi-multi-multimillionaire something or other. It kept
going up. The first stole a few millions, the next ones stole tens of
millions, and the last one stole hundreds of millions. It would be well to
ask what they did for the development of the economy of this country during
those 50 years.

What happened to the fruits of our people's work? When they built some
little highway-- in most cases they were asphalted furrows--it was a
highway which made 20,000 turns, in some cases so that it would pass by
this man's farm and in other cases so that it would not divide the farm of
some other man in two. So the highway would make a little turn. When it was
not this type of highway it was something like the Via Blanca, highways to
Varadero Beach, highways to,the districts of the rich, highways to their
farms, and of course the only thing they did here, in spite of the millions
that they stole, was the Central Highway. At that time it was important
project, but it remained as the only means of communication of any
importance completed in all that time.

The rest were little pieces of roads, pieces of roads, not even
communication links. They did not leave a developed industry, a developed
economy. They did absolutely nothing. What was happening in this country?
It grew and grew. In 1925 there were 3 million people; in 1950 there were 6
million; and in 1957 there were more than 7 million. The population had
doubled but the economy had not grown. There were no additional sugar
centrals, all the people continued to live from the same amount of sugar
that they had lived from 30 years before. Some businesses prospered, some
store: El Encanto, Fin de Siglo, [word indistinct], banks, automobile
sales. For whom? Who could pay for all this luxury? Who enriched all this
business? Those who were hungry, who cultivated the cane, who cut the cane,
who produced the sugar. Naturally, the rich gathered in the capital and the
stores for the rich, the luxuries of the rich, the automobiles of the rich,
the theaters of the rich, and all the rest were paid for by the people who
worked for a minority and the foreign monopolies.

Such was the situation in this country upon the victory of the revolution.
What did the imperialists think? They still underestimated our people in
1959. They said this: We will sweep these people out. We will blockade
these people. We will starve these people to death. We will force them to
bite the dust. This was not all. They also resorted to the incredible
stupidity of thinking that with a little invasion of mercenaries they were
going to sweep out the revolution. They thought that even with bandit
uprisings they were going to sweep out this revolution. They did not know
what kind of people they were dealing with. They could not recognize in
these people the people of other years, It was a people who had certainly
changed very much. And what happened? Well, against the bandits who
appeared in the mountains were mobilized thousands of peasants and workers
of Las Villas Province, primarily from the Escambray area. When they
dropped a rain of weapons by parachutes in the Escambray to encourage
counterrevolution by every means, workers battalions were mobilized and the
Escambray was taken. In support of the worker and peasant soldiers of the
Escambray, 50,000 worker-peasant militia were mobilized. The bandits were
reduced to barely 100 and that 100 who remained were crushed to the last
man, after a long struggle, by the worker-peasant militias of the

The imperialists still had recourse to the invasion by mercenaries and they
really thought that they were going to crush this nation with the mercenary
invasion, with surprise air raids at dawn, treacherously, by taking a piece
of our national territory, calling the OAS from there and beginning the
systematic bombing of this nation.

But what the imperialists did not conceive was that as they came, the
revolutionaries were coming to them; as the peasants would say, when they
came, the revolutionaries were already going to them [applause] when they
dropped their first little bombs on that 15 April, the troops were already

When they sent in their battalions of mercenaries, when they landed their
troops on the 17th, we had very few planes, yes, and we had fewer pilots
than planes, but those few planes were in the air and at dawn they sank
their ships and downed a good part of their planes and the rest was done by
the antiaircraft, artillery. [applause] When they told the mercenaries that
they were going to find a people welcoming them as liberators here, what
they did find was a wave of soldiers, a wave of armed workers, a mass of
guns, machineguns, and tanks. Before they could encipher messages to tell
their imperialist master that they were defeated, there was not a mercenary
left anywhere. [applause]

They had indulged in an obvious underestimation of our people. They thought
that they were going to make our people knuckle under. They thought that
they would starve them to death. They thought that with their criminal
blockades they would encourage the counterrevolution. They thought that
with the privations they would impose on our people, the difficulties that
they would impose on our economic development, that discontent,
counterrevolution, would find a base and that once and for all they would
defeat the aspirations of this little nation whose possession they desired,
a nation which, 90 miles from their coast, has been able to maintain its
views, had been able to maintain its independent posture, and had been able
to carry out its revolution. This is why these years which have passed have
been decisive years in the history and life of our country. On the one side
we had imperialism and all its resources, all its experience, all its
criminal methods, tiring to destroy the revolution. On the other side, a
people of workers, of peasants, of students, a people beginning to build
its future, a people from whose ranks the brainy ones, the intelligent
ones, had left, a people who had to begin to do everything from practically
nothing, without any experience to cope with the incredible problem of
developing the nation's economy in modern times and under an imperialist

'Triumph of Rebellion'

We must truly say that this battle is a battle we are winning, that this
battle is practically a battle that has been won. We must say and clear up
why we said that 1 January 1959 was the "triumph of the rebellion."
Certainly, in all justice, we cannot say that the 1 January was the victory
of the revolution. Traditionally it has been called the victory of the
revolution, identifying the revolution with the war, identifying the
revolution solely with the process of the armed struggle. But really, 1
January marked the triumph of the rebellion. On 1 January when the
rebellion triumphed, we still had the past, the whole heritage of the past,
all the deformations of the past, and all the ideas of the past. There were
still countless revolutionary organizations, or rather, countless numbers
of political organizations, a few of which were revolutionary. Many of them
were linked with the past, connected with the past, ready to cooperate with
the imperialist and block the revolution's triumph, ready to cooperate with
the imperialists and sidetrack the revolution.

What did the imperialists want? They wanted revolutionaries to cease being
revolutionaries. They wanted revolutionaries to lend willing ears to their
points of view, to their aims. It turned out to be something quite
different. All their efforts crashed headlong against the immovable will of
revolutionaries, that is, of the real revolutionaries and the people. But
the revolution inherited that past, the mentality of the past. There was
not even a political organization that represented the will and the effort
of all the people.

It was necessary through the years to create the tools of the revolution.
At the very outset could we say that we really knew what a revolution was?
In those times, we knew, we had a feeling for the struggle, for the
rebellion; but the idea of what a revolution was could not exist in the
masses. What happened? The workers, oppressed for many years, exploited by
the monopolies, exploited by the bosses, thought that the triumph of the
rebellion was to enter the kingdom of plenty and wealth. They could not
understand that this was a poor country, an underdeveloped country from
which those capitalist monopolies and landowners extracted the sweat and
juice. They could not understand that it was a poor country whose wealth
was still to be developed. Of course, property does not and could not
change hands on the first day. On the first day of the triumph of the
rebellion, the monopolies still existed. The landowners and private owners
still existed, and the workers, oppressed for many years, hurled
themselves, naturally and logically, in search of new conquests: reduction
of the number of working hours, increases in wages, and so forth.

All that can be explained fully: It was logical. But certainly the
revolution could not be accomplished on the first day. The revolution was a
process. Property had to change hands; it had to pass from private hands
into the hands of the nation, into the hands of the people. It had to cease
to be private property to become collective property. However, how many
understood that a revolution meant precisely opportunity for the
people--not an opportunity to enter the kingdom of wealth, but a chance to
begin to create that wealth, to begin to build the kingdom of wealth? Among
these people who had doubled in number, whose economy did not grow, filled
with needs of all types, who at the same time had to begin to develop their
economy, invest in their development, invest in industries, acquire
factories, develop agriculture, what was happening? Very few of them
understood these truths. There were enormous inequities in income among the
workers. The bank workers, for example, who were well organized, won
demands and more demands from their bosses, who made great profits and
could increase their pay.

We found, for example, that a bank worker earned four times, five times,
six times, as much as a worker who out cane. In addition he had vacations
and a number of other advantages. The organized workers in some industries,
even in some monopolies, could in a relatively easy fashion, with the power
of their organization, obtain a number of advantages. However, hundreds of
thousands of workers scattered in the fields, without power and without the
conditions for winning economic battles, had wages which were one-fourth,
one-fifth, one-sixth as much as the wages of other workers. How could the
revolution even up that situation? How could the revolution raise the
living standards of the caneworkers to the living standards of a bank
worker? In no way. What could the revolution distribute from an
underdeveloped economy to the mass of millions of hungry or half-hungry

However, these things, this great truth that the triumph of the rebellion
did not mean access to wealth but rather access to an opportunity to create
that wealth, were not sufficiently understood.

Even many workers accustomed to working under the lash of the boss,
accustomed to working or else starving to death, accustomed to working
because they could only work a few months, besieged by unemployment,
surrounded by hundreds of thousands of unemployed waiting for a vacancy,
when the revolution triumphed achieved a permanent job--job security--and
were no longer compelled by all those circumstances which exerted pressure
on him--such as if one of their children became ill it could die, that
everything had to be paid for, that they could lose their jobs, and so
forth. All those factors disappeared and many who could not understand what
the revolution was began to work less, to work 7, 6, 5, or 4 hours if
necessary. The tendency during the early times of the revolution was not to
increase efforts but rather to diminish efforts.

There is something that anybody can understand, today with greater clarity
than ever. Today, when our people are every day more truly workers; today,
when more and more of them know what it costs to produce bread, what it
costs to produce a plant, to fight against plagues, to fight against
drought, to fight against weeds, to fight against difficult terrain, to
fight against storms or hurricanes; today the workers who know how to cut
cane by hand, to weed cane or other crops with a hoe can understand
perfectly well that only productivity in work, only the application of
technology, the accomplishment of projects needed to combat drought,
hunger, plagues; only mechanization of work, all the things that mean
productivity in work, will permit a people to enjoy and have an abundance
of all those things that they need.

How can an underdeveloped country, a country whose productivity in work is
one-tenth or one-fifteenth that of a highly developed country, hope to
enjoy the material goods that a developed country can enjoy? When the
economy of our nation is developed, the distribution will not be as in the
capitalist societies, where many have a lot, some 10 times as much, 20
times as much, sometimes 1,000 times as much, 10,000 times as much. No, the
distribution of wealth will be egalitarian. Men will receive, once these
phases are concluded, not according to privilege, not according to their
fortune, but according to their needs. Distribution will be just; but to
distribute any wealth, no matter how just the distribution, wealth must
first exist. Wealth is not created by justice, it is created by work.
Justice can merely distribute that wealth in a humane way, in a just
manner. Justice can distribute what work creates, but justice cannot
replace work in the creation of wealth.

It is such matters that our people have learned to understand. It is such
matters that our masses have learned to see with extraordinary clarity.
Otherwise, what could explain the present situation of our country? What
explains this extraordinary mass movement? What does this vast strength of
the revolutionary offensive imply? What does this flood of working people
from one end of the country to the other imply? And what explains the fact
that the same thing is happening in Pinar del Rio, in Matanzas, in Havana,
in Oriente, in Camaguey, and in Las Villas Province? When, if ever, not
just speaking about prerevolutionary periods, have people been ready to
work for this man or that man or the other man or for this or the other
monopoly? It is very clear that people are only capable of doing this when
they are working for their economy, for their industry, for their
agriculture, for their wealth.

This is the contradiction that can never be surmounted by the
underdeveloped nations that want to develop their economies along
capitalist paths. Bourgeois governments and bourgeois politicians ask
sacrifices of workers, ask workers to work more, ask workers to consume
less, to develop the economy. But the workers say: Sacrifice for whom? Save
for whom? Reduce consumption for whom? So that one of your group will be
wealthier? So that you can make more millions? So that you can have more
factories? No! If there is little, I do not care, but of that little amount
you must give me a little more.

No Success Through Capitalism

That is logical; that is natural. In modern times--and hear this well--no
underdeveloped country will develop its economy by the capitalist path.
Perhaps one of the most unbelievable outgrowths of revolutionary thinking
is that even if Marxism as a doctrine was written amid the conditions of
capitalist societies that were being developed or fully developed, the fact
is that although there are still capitalist countries that can afford the
luxury of capitalism--the luxury of spending whatever they feel like--an
underdeveloped country cannot follow suit.

As I was saying, one of the most unbelievable outgrowths is to see
precisely how no underdeveloped country in modern times, in which any
industry is worth tens of thousands of pesos, in which production must be
along modern, technical lines --no underdeveloped country will succeed in
developing its economy by means of capitalist conditions. That is obvious,
unquestionable. The exploited masses will accept no kind of sacrifice. The
exploited masses will accept no kind of effort to make a minority richer,
to make a minority of proprietors more powerful. That contradiction will be

That is why we see countries about which much propaganda has been
spread--some Latin American countries, which have tremendous labor
problems, notwithstanding the fact that prices of their goods, some of the
more important goods, today are high, higher because of the war in Vietnam
and other circumstances. The case of Chile is an example. Copper has a very
high price, but the country has tremendous problems, tremendous social
problems: one strike after another. Why? Because the workers logically
refuse to make sacrifices. They refuse to make sacrifices because they ask
themselves: "Sacrifices for whom? Sacrifices to stabilize the economy? But
whose economy? The economy of the bourgeoisie?" And they rightly ask: "What
do you offer me? The paradise of a future in which the rich will be richer?
No. I renounce that future. Give me a little, more of what little there
is." No one can stand before the people with the moral authority to tell
them: "Sacrifices, yes, to build up your economy, not to make a minority
richer, not to make richer a handful of bourgeoisie but to make the people
richer. The fact is that the experience from what we can observe in the
world shows us that no underdeveloped country will be able to surmount
those contradictions.

The most admirable thing about our revolutionary process, which would imbue
us with more faith in our future--more conviction in the justness of the
path we are following not only in regard to patriotism, not only in regard
to the national dignity of men and women of a people who are cognizant of
what a fatherland is, not only from a moral viewpoint, but also of an
economic and practical viewpoint --is seeing this massive enthusiasm of the
people. And I could ask you if such enthusiasm had ever been seen for
working for the bourgeoisie? [chanting] No! To working for the rich?
[chanting] No! Never.

This kind of miracle; this overflow of the people toward the fields and
working; this unbelievable movement of thousands of youths reporting to
rough tasks; this unbelievable movement of thousands of youths offering to
let women do their regular jobs so they can do harder work; this
unbelievable movement of men and women, young and old--impressive--could
there be anything better that could teach us more, and show us better that
only when the contradiction between exploiters and exploited is removed is
it possible to move forward and win the battle of centuries of
backwardness? That phenomenon, that extraordinary, unbelievable thing is
precisely what is occurring here. Our people are facing the battle of
underdevelopment, the task of winning in a few years the battle of
centuries, a battle that is translated into an uncountable number of
persons, an increasingly higher collective awareness, an increasingly
higher revolutionary conscience, and into events occurring everywhere, like
the case of the comrades of the Battalion of Heroic Vietnam. [applause]

Cement, Sugarcane Industries

Another case is the comrades we visited today in the Nuevitas region, who
are building the Nuevitas cement plant. [applause] The plant was expected
to be completed in October, but on 26 April the first production unit of
the plant will be finished. [applause] in other words, the first unit will
begin to produce by the end of this month.

Some 2,000 workers, with technicians, revolutionary leaders, and the
ministry leaders, are accomplishing a feat there. Furthermore, hundreds of
workers who already had their tickets for taking well-deserved rest
canceled them and bent to their jobs to fulfill this goal. That was the
result of a spontaneous feeling, the spontaneous attitude of workers who
were anxious to finish their plant--a plant that will produce 600,000 tons
of cement. This very month, the first phase of that plant will begin
producing what will amount to 600,000 tons daily [as heard], before the end
of the year the other two phases of the plant will be finished. This is an
impressive plant built with the sweat and enthusiasm of our workers. Here,
in this province, another contingent of workers--also gaining 2
years--built a plant whose construction was begun after 26 July, which was
celebrated in Las Villas. This is the plant of Siguanea [pause] Siguanea,
and it too will be in production this year. So, by the end of this year our
cement production capacity will be double that of last year.

There is also the project of the workers and technicians of the mechanical
tool industry who are determined to resolve the difficult problem of
mechanizing sugarcane, which is one of the hardest, most arduous, and
difficult labors. In canecutting, man's productivity is meaningless, yet it
obliges hundreds of thousands of workers annually to cut over 30 million
arrobas--chop upon chop of a machete--over many months. The workers and
technicians a few years ago undertook the project of building a combine to
solve the cane problem. Only a few days ago, the new combines were
tested--on 60,000, 80,000, and 140,000 stalks of cane. Moreover, it was not
upright, easy cane, but thick with leaves and lying on the ground. The
combine, which will be fully perfected--it has a 75 horsepower engine,
which will be changed to over 100 horsepower later--in an incredible manner
gathered up the difficult stalks, sheared off the leaves, and loaded the
cane carts full of cane that was clean enough to run through the mill.

Perhaps nothing will have such an impact on this country's future as these
harvesters. Perhaps this people and future generations will thank no one as
much as they will the designers and builders of the machines. The machines
will mean the liberation of hundreds of thousands of workers from the
toughest work. It will mean multiplying workers' productivity many
times--in the not too far distant future-- year by year, as it is our
industry's purpose to provide the necessary machinery for cane farming.

Naturally, we will have to acquire some parts for those harvesters abroad,
while others will be made here. Nonetheless, we hope to have an important
number of the harvesters by 1970. These machines are not so demanding with
the (?ground). If the terrain is flat they can cut perfectly well. But in
farming we propose to begin replacing cane which is far from the centrals
and plant it close to them.

In 20 or so centrals--it may be 20 or 30, I believe--located in hilly
areas, cane cannot even be delivered to them mechanically. During 1970 to
1975, these centrals will be replaced. We will expand the capacity of
centrals on flatlands--the most important centrals. So during these years
we will achieve mechanization of cutting 100 percent of the country's cane.
[applause] Thus we will produce our 10 million [tons of cane] in 1970 with
a number of harvesters, though mainly by working hard and cutting hard. By
the end of 1975 it will be unnecessary to cut a single stalk of cane by
hand in this country.

Just imagine, beginning in 1970 cement production will be three times what
it has been--about 3 million tons of cement. Imagine the progressive
liberation of hundreds of thousands of men devoted to work there imagine
the mechanization of all cultivation, allowing tasks--gathering coffee,
fruits--tasks that are not hard, to be done by youths, women, or children.
How many men mechanization of our agriculture will free, what a labor force
it will liberate! We can state that the process of our development, at the
speed at which it is going today, will place our agriculture among the most
advanced of the world and possibly make it the most advanced in the world.

It might appear to be pretentious. It might appear to be excessive
optimism. No, [take] the effort that is already being made this year, for
example, in the construction of highways and roads. There are more than 50
brigades at this time. By the end of the year 101 brigades will be building
highways and roads throughout the entire country, and in 1969 we hope to
build no less than 5,000 kilometers of highway. At this rate, by 1975, we
shall have approximately one kilometer of asphalted highway for every two
square kilometers of farm land. That means that at this speed, our country
[applause] will be crossed by 40,000 kilometers of highways, and it is our
purpose not only to asphalt highways linking regions but even roads in the
farms, the plantations, so that it will be hard even to find dust in our
fields. This is not all. Work is already being done and plantings of cane
are already being made with windbreak curtains and the planting of bananas,
of citrus fruits, and, in general, the plantings of the country will
all--the whole agriculture of this country--be protected by solid windbreak
curtains; even citrus and fruit trees will be protected by curtains which
we hope will be sufficiently solid to protect them from the destructiveness
of hurricanes.

This is not all. This year the capacity for construction of irrigation
dams, which will be incorporated in hydraulic works, is equal to the
capacity for moving 60 million cubic meters of land per year. This means
that the biggest dam just used some 5 million cubic meters of earth.
Moreover, capacity for drilling wells has been intensified so that we hope
in the space of 5 years that this country will have some 300,000 thousand
caballerias of irrigated land. In addition, intensive work is being done on
drainage, and for the harvest of 1970 we hope to have not less than 25,000
caballerias of drained canefields and from 20,000 to 25,000 caballerias of
irrigated canefields, so that we shall continue the harvest of the 10
million. We shall have it with 25,000 caballerias of new canefields--that
is, between 25,000 and [number indistinct] caballerias of irrigated
canefields and with 25,000 or 30,000 caballerias of drained canefields, we
shall have much better cultivated cane, much more select seed, and greater
quantities of fertilizer. Therefore, on this question, whether we shall
have the 10 million or not, we have not the slightest doubt, and those who
are in the fields--and those who know what is being done in our
fields--(?do not) have the slightest doubt about this goal to which the
honor and prestige of our country is committed. It will be attained because
the fiber and the iron will of our people are put to the test.

We had, as you know, an enormous drought last year. This drought,
unfortunately, in the provinces of Las Villas, Camaguey, and Oriente, still
persists. Today in these three provinces, unfortunately, a serious drought
is being observed. This has not been the case in the provinces of Matanzas,
Havana, and Pinar del Rio. We believe that the weather conditions will be
different in every way.

The fact that it has rained more in those provinces, in our judgement,
implies that as soon as the heat begins, the rains will fall. This is based
on the fact that when the general weather conditions are dry, it does not
rain in those provinces, and it only begins to rain when summer comes.
Since this year, unlike last year, it has rained in those provinces, we can
hope that as soon as the heat comes, the rain will also begin.

However, some will say, perhaps a drought like that of the year 1967 will
prevent a harvest of 10 million. The reply is, no. Measures are being taken
to assure the 10 million even with a drought like that of 1967, and we
believe [applause] that it is (?not probable) that 1969 will have a drought
as bad as that of 1967. Despite all, we are taking pertinent measures,

Additional Agricultural Plans

Not only cane is being advanced. Plans for rice and cattle-raising are
being advanced and carried out, and intensive work is also being done to
increase rice production. Next year the greatest effort will pass to the
cattle-raising front. This year considerable extensions of canefields were
sown; next year all amplified resources will fall on new areas of [words
indistinct], and the gigantic brigade, will put its force and the increased
equipment that our agriculture has into rice plans and will also put the
principal accent on the sowing of fodder. Fodder is also being planted this
year. Efforts are being made, but logically all fronts cannot be dealt with
at the same time.

There is already a plan for breeding tens of thousands of heifers, a cross
of Holstein with zebu, whose result has been really surprising, so that the
number of milk cows in production will increase considerably next year, and
in 1970 hundreds of thousands of offspring of these cows will enter into
production. Thus, a notable effort, decidedly supported by the people, is
being made on all fronts, in such a way that in 1970 the food basis will be
solidly built, solidly created; and if the people in these hard years
(?show) the effort that they have made, when [words indistinct] the food
basis is solidly established, what will the people not be capable of doing?
What will they not be capable of carrying out with this growing
revolutionary consciousness?

For our part, we have lived these 2 years. We have lived each and every
year, each month, each week, each day, each hour, in experience and in
contact with the realities, from those times when we began to organize the
clandestine struggle. From that time when we were preparing the attack on
Moncada, from the embarking on Granma, [applause], when we were a handful
of men in the mountains [words indistinct], with a few weapons in our hands
and with infinite confidence in our hearts, with infinite faith in the
people and their extraordinary destiny.

People, Heroic Battalion

We have lived, I repeat, every minute of these experiences, and we are in a
position to appreciate serenely and to see how these people have become
transformed--the people of today, whom our enemies would be unable to
recognize--we say that within a few years, if some of those expatriate
Cubans should return to this country, they would not recognize it nor would
they have the remotest idea where their estates were. A country with 40,000
kilometers of highways, crossed by roads, canals, full of dams or
subterranean water (?wells), drained, crossed also from one end to the
other with windbreak curtains--a country in which even the mountains will
be (?plowed) and sowed--these mountains which for centuries they looted,
(?distilled), and wasted--they would not be able to recognize this country.

If they knew the people of today, enslaved and oppressed yesterday,
brutalized, exploited, the people who in interminable caravans go to work
full of confidence full of optimism, with high morale, in the midst of an
atmosphere of work, in the midst of the heroism of work, in the midst of an
elevation, a lifting of consciousness, of a purity of customs, of an
absolute honor, to work for themselves, to work for their future, without
anyone's robbing them, without anyone's looting them, without the fruit of
their sweat being taken to foreign monopolist imperialist banks, without
shameless rulers becoming millionaires or multimillionaires, or without
being robbed of a centavo [as heard].

The people of today, this new people, animated by new ideas, are carrying
forward with more assurance than ever the heroic struggle that their
ancestors began 100 years ago. Their enemies would not be capable of
recognizing these people. The imperialists who hated us would not be able
to recognize these people, or rather, they did not even hate us; they hate
us now because they were unable to defeat us. Before, they despised us.
Before, they scorned us. We hope that now they are beginning to see what
kind of people we are. We hope [applause] that now they are beginning to
persuade themselves [applause] that if yesterday they could not, much less
now, and even less tomorrow--that is, never--they can never beat us.

On a day like today, it is just that we exalt the example of the 9 April
fighters. In that Heroic Vietnam Battalion--a symbol of the international
conscience of our people and a revelation of our affection for and our
support of that little and 1,000 times heroic country, that has made the
Yankee imperialists bite the dust of defeat, that has brought a crisis to
the imperialist and terrorist government of Johnson-- [word indistinct]
batallion which with honor carries the name of heroic Vietnam, has sixty 9
April fighters in its files. What a beautiful example! What a beautiful
lesson!--those comrades who fought, risking their lives, who were willing
to give all in their heroic behavior 10 years ago--in those times with
their weapons in their hands and risking everything they had to fight the
enemy--are incorporated today in this battalion, working for the people,
developing an immense farm to produce food for the people. What a
difference! What a difference from yesterday; the fighting men do not use
their historic merits to obtain privileges, positions. Nothing can impress
the revolutionaries more, nothing can cause deeper sentiments than seeing
yesterday's fighters modestly, heroically incorporated in today's work; not
claiming privileges, but claiming a place to work.

We sincerely believe that nothing can honor a revolution more. Nothing can
speak better of the virtues that this revolution has awakened in our
people. Nothing can better express as the best, the most noble, and the
most [word indistinct] that our people harbor today, that makes a virtue of
all of us, a conscience of all of us; nothing says more regarding what a
revolutionary should be in contemporary times; and nothing gives the
revolutionaries more today. Fighting yesterday for whom? For the people.
Shedding his blood yesterday for whom? For the people. Sweating today in
the heroic labor of everyday, for whom? For the people.

'Triumph of Revolution'

Who can feel more important than the people? What sacrifice have they made
for the people, those who yesterday gave nothing--neither blood nor effort,
who lived and had everything without giving anything, and who after the
victory of the revolution wanted to give nothing either, but wanted to
continue to live off the sweat of the people, the sacrifice of the people.
In view of those who gave all yesterday and are giving all today, what
right can a privileged person have? This is what gives authority to the
revolution, morale to the revolution, strength to the revolution to
undertake the most difficult tasks, the most difficult [word indistinct].
The enemies of the revolution have not one bit of right in view of the

The history of a country is written in this way. Giving blood yesterday,
giving sweat today; and if it becomes necessary to offer blood again to
defend the fruit of sweat, give blood and always give blood and always give
sweat. Because of this, with all elements of judgment that we possess, with
the experience gained from having lived these years at the side of the
people, we are able to say that 1959 was the triumph of the rebellion, but
1968, if we consider that revolution is a problem of conscience, a problem
of ideas, if the triumph of the revolution is that moment when a whole
country becomes deeply conscious of its historic duties, of its most sacred
obligations, of its mission in the world, then 1968 is the triumph of the

Victory in these days of Giron, in these days of heroic remembrance,
reaches its highest expression as the most honest, the most valuable
tribute--not of words but of deeds; not in form but in content, of feeling
respect for the fallen, for those who fell that glorious 10 October, 1968
when the struggle for our independence began, for the fallen during those
sad stages of our colonized republic, when brave revolutionaries,
struggling against corrupt, tyrannical governments, gave their lives. To
those who fell in guerrilla battles, to those who fell on 9 April, to those
who fell in the mountains of Escambray, in Giron, in solidarity with the
revolutionary movement in other parts of the world, while defending the
fatherland, while defending revolutionary ideas, while defending the
beautiful cause of the exploited, the beautiful cause of the workers, the
beautiful cause of socialism, the beautiful cause of communism, which is
the cause of justice and brotherhood among men: Fatherland or death, we
shall win!

[Havana Domestic Television Service in Spanish at 1750 GMT on 9 April
reports that the new Sagua la Grande hospital, whose general medicine,
pediatric, and outpatient consultation services, have been in operation
since last year, has been completely finished. It adds that this modern
center replaces the old hospital built more than a century ago. The report
continues that eight doctors serve in the pediatric services clinic of this
new hospital which has a capacity of 463 beds. It continues that there are
43 doctors among the 154 medical personnel of the hospital, 240 maintenance
and service personnel, and 25 administrative workers. The report concludes
that the hospital has three major surgery pavilions; one for minor surgery,
laboratories, X-rays, and other medical services, all free for the people
of Sagua la Grande.]