Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Funeral Speech

Havana Domestic Radio and Television Services in Spanish 0138 GMT 21 Apr 70

[Speech by Cuban Premier Maj Fidel Castro Ruz at the 19 April funeral for
five men killed in action during the Baracoa landing operation--recorded]

[Text] Relatives of the fighting men killed in action, peasants and workers
of Gran Tiel Today, 19 April, marks the ninth anniversary of the crushing
defeat of the mercenary invaders of Giron who were armed by imperialism.
This year we had not planned a ceremony because our people are currently
completely dedicated to the task of the 10-million--ton sugar harvest. We
have avoided anything which in any way could take away a single minute from
that important task. Thus, we decided not to hold solemn commemorative
observances of the victory of Giron, just as we decided not to mark many
other events.

However, we must hold this ceremony because it is precisely on a 19 April,
9 years later, that we have the painful duty to bury five valiant fighters
also killed struggling against a new aggression by mercenaries. Four of
them were killed almost instantly, and one of them died hours afterward
from his wounds.

This is something that has been occurring throughout the history of our
country. The men killed in action, the heroic dead--it has become something
of a tradition in the struggles of our country, a tradition that began many
years ago during our struggles for independence. This has been a frequent
and sad experience.

We remember the men killed in the attack at Moncada, those killed at the
Granma, in the Sierra Maestra, in the presidential palace, in the
clandestine struggles. We remember the thousands of compatriots slain by
the puppets, the torture, the crimes.

In these 10 years, we remember those killed in the La Coubrea explosion.
Dozens of workers and soldiers were killed because of that imperialist
sabotage. We remember those who fell in the Escambray fighting against the
bandits, in the Escambray and in other regions of the nation. We remember
those killed at Giron. We remember those who gave their lives for the
revolution, serving the fatherland in countless efforts. We remember
workers who lost their lives because of sabotage by counter-revolutionary
criminals. We remember many comrades killed in the line of duty. We
remember Cubans killed fighting in other lands, helping other peoples.
Among them, we remember our beloved and unforgettable Maj Ernesto Guevara
and numerous other officers who died with him for the cause of the

And today, once again we must endure this harsh and bitter experience, and
those who caused this pain, this grief, those who were responsible for
spilling this generous blood, are the same ones. And those who died
yesterday gave their lives for the sake of the same cause fighting against
the same enemies, against the same ones who caused the deaths of many of
the victims mentioned here, against the same ones who murdered dozens of
prisoners at the Moncada Barracks, against the same ones who murdered
thousands of citizens in the cites and fields of our country, the same ones
who were responsible for the victims of La Coubre, or of those who died in
the Escambray or at Giron, those who were moved by the same perverse
purpose, moved by the same criminal idea of enslaving and exploiting, armed
by the same master who armed the Giron ones in pursuit of the same

This time, the intentions of the mercenaries wee to obstruct the
10-million-ton harvest. They know that the vast majority of our soldiers,
that a great part of our people are dedicated to that task. They thought
they could land without problems, freely. They were planning to interrupt
the historic efforts of our people. They thought we could be forced to
mobilize many of those who are cutting cane.

We learned about these plans sometime ago. We knew what they had in mind
and what their objectives were. They wanted to carry out these types of
landings and sabotage the harvest. These are part of imperialism's plans
against our country. We must state that in the United States the press,
magazines, television, and radio shamelessly and impudently publish items
about organizing mercenary armies, about organizing aggressions, about
organizing invasions. During the past revolutionary years the United States
has organized several such actions. Sometimes the responsible parties bear
the name of Eisenhower, other times the name of Kennedy, or Johnson, or

This is the same Nixon--the present president of the United States--who in
collusion with the then President Eisenhower, supported with utmost
enthusiasm the criminal mercenary invasion at Giron Beach.

This same Nixon declared in his political campaigns that he would give free
reign to the mercenaries. And this same Nixon has now given to the
Pentagon--a dreadful institution universally known for its criminal
activities in all parts of the world--the assignment of organizing and
recruiting mercenaries for new aggressive plans against our country. In
order to do this, they are using an unknown henchman who is even a citizen
of the United States. They are using him as a front to create the political
facade for Nixon and the Pentagon's plans of aggression. The news media
talk about this and the promotes talk about it publicly.

They stated that the mercenaries should have been given air cover during
the attack at Giron. This same Nixon criticized Kennedy for not having
given air cover to the mercenaries from the Yankee aircraft carriers that
had anchored off our shores. At the time they had already given armament
support and had released some aircraft to the mercenaries. Even though our
air force was small, their planes and ships lasted only a short time.
Besides, even if they had provided air cover from the aircraft carriers, by
the time it would have arrived the events were taking place at such
speed--our battalions, our tanks, and our artillery had attacked at such
speed--that those planes would have had no one to support. This means the
imperialists are now carefully considering how they would eliminate
mistakes made in their earlier attempt in any other such adventure. Perhaps
in another attempt they might decide to give the air cover and naval
support to mercenary armies.

Everybody remembers when the cowardly and corrupt mercenaries appeared on
television, stating that they had been misled and cheated. They said that
on landing--that gang of criminals, henchmen, exploiters, and hundreds of
sons of latifundists--the people would greet them as liberators with open
arms, that the militia and the combatants were going to surrender their
weapons and immediately follow their orders. From the beginning, what they
received from the first militiaman they met was the drastic, worthy,
determined, and courageous reply of bullets and cannon fire from all sides.
Then they said that they had been duped and had been left to die.

Every time there has been a landing you must have heard the same thing: "We
did not know, we thought that the farmers were going to help us; what
really happened is that they came out of nowhere and chased us incessantly;
we were unable to find anyone who would help us." This is not the first
time that they have used this territory for such misdeeds. Now the
promoters of new aggressions are repeating the same silliness, the same
stories, the same strange theories, the ridiculous, stupid,and unbelievable
story that when they arrive in this country they will be met with flowers,
that they will be received as liberators.

They are all united over there--Batista followers, latifundists,
counterfeiters, embezzlers, henchmen, traitors of all kinds, and are
sitting around the same table. Those are the ones who murdered compatriots
by the thousands. Those are the ones who with great quantities of arms were
unable to oppose the few of us who started the struggle with only a few
guns. They surrendered by the thousands and by the tends of thousands.

One of those who recently talked about the creation of an army in this new
adventure promoted by imperialism was none other than the man who commanded
5,000 men in Santiago de Cuba, approximately as many more in Bayamo, and
more than 15,000 soldiers in Oriente Province, an army that had to
surrender to a few hundred rebel soldiers who were relatively poorly armed.

He talks from the United States about sending armies now when we have not
just a few dozen or a few hundred weapons, but when we have more than half
a million weapons which are infinitely superior in quality to anything we
ever had when we began the revolutionary struggle in the mountains. More
than half a million weapons and people who are determined never to be
salves again, people who are determined never to allow themselves to be
exploited again, people who re resolved never again to be governed by
robbers, embezzlers, criminals, henchmen, scoundrels, and bandits of every
kind, people who shall never permit anybody to again come and take away our
lands, our mines, our natural resources, the fruit of our seat, people who
are unwilling to permit anybody to come here to deprive us of the right to
work hard for our destiny, to emerge from poverty, to emerge from misery;
to emerge from backwardness.

A people who shall never permit anyone to impose on them those shameful
conditions of ignorance of millions of persons who did not know how to read
or write, hundreds of thousands of children without schools, without even a
hospital in any of the regions of our countryside where half of our
population lived.

The last time I came here--to this very place they chose for their
crime--it was for a different matter, it was a meeting to inaugurate
children's day centers, to inaugurate those splendid schools which are
among the best in the country, schools which as I said on that occasion,
the sons of millionaires did not even have in the past. On that occasion,
when that road was repaired, when the waterworks were installed, when
dozens of dwellings were built, here in this area which together with
Guanahacabibes Peninsula are the most isolated areas of our country, the
revolution came as it has to all corners of the nation.

If what has been done is little, if what remains to be done is much
greater, infinitely more than what has been done, there is not, however, a
single corner of this nation where a road, a school, a hospital, or a
project of the revolution has not come.

Resources have been scarce. All the means by which we are swiftly
developing our countryside and our nation today are resources which we have
been getting during the past few years because there were no resources of
any kind here. There were no roads in our mountains except the trails made
by our lumberjacks--lumberjacks who felled the trees without worrying about
planting a single tree to replace them.

We were saying that the place they chose this time for their crime was in
fact the Gran Tierra region. And a curious thing--they avoid contact with
the local residents! Some liberators! They do not even dare pass by a
peasant's house because they know that there is a combatant and a
revolutionary in each peasant's house! Some liberators! Whom are they going
to liberate--these mercenaries who come from the nation that distributes
crime all over the world? The few rats who are still in the mountains, the
crickets, the insects? Why they do not even dare to pass by a peasant's
house and look for the most uninhabited places; the fewer people around the
better for them! Some liberators!

Of course, some years have transpired between the Giron and today. The
revolution is much stronger. Our arms have multiplied many times over. Our
people's expertise in the handling of these arms is much greater. In the
future we hope that none of these mercenaries will claim that they were
misled! [Castro shouting angrily] We hope that none of these mercenaries
will again say that they were cooks and kitchen police for the expeditions!
[shouting] We hope that none of these mercenaries after spilling the blood
of the best sons of our people, after they make orphans of children,
mothers without sons, and women without husbands, after making our populace
weep for their dead, after we have to go through this painful and bitter
trial, after our heroic dead are buried, let them not say that they were
deceived, that they were wrong, and let them not think that they are going
to wait and let them not expect that they going to get any leniency and
consideration from the revolutionary people, because from the moment they
arrive on our coasts, no matter how many they are, whether they come alone
or with the Yankees, with or without planes, with or without ships, with or
without support, let them not expect the least consideration from the
revolutionary people! [Castro very excited]

From the moment they tread on this nation that is free and ready to defend
its freedom, from the moment they set foot on this country which can only
be enslaved when there is not a single man or woman with self respect left
in this country, a country that cannot be tread upon unless it is over the
ashes of all of us; when they place their miserable and loathsome foot,
their mercenary and traitorous foot on this land, let them fight because if
they do not die fighting they are going to die at the hands of the firing
squads, sentenced by the revolutionary courts! [Castro shouting] [applause]

Let them heed this now and forever-revolutionary law shall be inflexible!
Every time they force us to take up arms let them know that we take them up
to fight, that we take them up to fight and die if need be, but not to show
generosity and clemency for the traitors, for the mercenaries, for the
criminals who come to enslave us, to spill good and generous blood of men
who bear many calluses of work on their hands, toiling on the land or
working with machines, or cutting cane with machetes, of men who know the
hard straits of life, of men who know that only with effort and work does
man have real right to earn his bread, bread that no one has a right to
take away from him!

Let those who want to come again to take away the bread produced by the
efforts of others, those who want to have slaves again in this country,
[realize] that every time they force us to take up arms, there will be no
pity! [Castro excited]

We are not going to kill anyone who raises his arms in cowardly surrender!
We have never done this and we shall never do this,but there are laws
applicable to them--inflexible and strict laws--there are revolutionary
courts for them and there is the people's will facing them to see to it
that they receive the most severe and implacable punishment.

We are working hard building our tomorrow, defending our right to the
present and what is much more, defending our destiny--a destiny that has
forced us to build with copious sweat--sweat is good, only with sweat can
we create our destiny. But we have also paid for it constantly with
blood--blood and sweat is the price of our destiny but no tears. We feel a
deep pain in our hearts each time we lose a brave comrade, a deep pain in
our hearts each time we see mourning in a home. But at the same time our
spirits are steeled, strengthened, and become able to cope with any risk,
any aggression.

Mr Nixon and the gang of criminals that make up the Pentagon and the CIA
and all the mercenaries can be sure of one thing even though they still
have not learned their lesson properly after the beating in Vietnam and
Laos and the beatings they still have yet to receive, yet persist in
plotting new plans against our fatherland, that no matter what means they
use, no matter the force they use, the support they have, they are going to
suffer a more shameful defeat, a more crushing defeat than they received at
Giron. And this criminal enemy is not going to get the slightest
consideration, generosity, or pity from our people!

In a few minutes we will bury our comrades. They fell in the line of duty.
Bullets may cut down lives, enemy and traitorous bullets may hit the chest,
may hit the head, may hit the flesh, may hit the bones, may hit the heart,
may kill a man, but these criminal bullets will never kill ideas, kill the
cause, would the flag and the justice these men defended with their bodies.
Men may fall but the ideas we defend go on!

Fatherland or death: We shall win!