Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


[Speech by Fidel Castro; Havana, Granma Weekly Review, English, 13 August 1972,
pp 2, 3]

Sendoff speech of Major Fidel Castro Ruz, prime minister
of the Revolutionary Government and first secretary of
the Communist Party of Cuba to the Julio Antonio Mella
International Brigade, which participated in the
construction of the Ceiba 7 Junior High Farming School,
30 July 1972, year of socialist emulation.

Comrade Leaders of the World Federation of
Democratic Youth and Members of the Julio Antonio
Mella Brigade;


We had to organize this meeting here for
midnight -- or, rather, after midnight --
that is, in the early hours of July 30. The
school was completed several days ahead of
schedule -- that is, before the 26th of July -- I still
remember all of you chanting, "Ceiba 7 by the 26th"
at the May Day rally -- but you have been on a tour
of the interior for the past few days. You also had a
farewell party on the night of the 29th, and I understand
that some of you brigade members will be leaving
at 3:00 this morning to start back to your respective
countries. Therefore, there was nothing for it but to
organize this meeting for this time. Moreover, the
meeting had to be held here, for this is where you did
your work, leaving us an eternal symbol of friendship
and solidarity.

I'm not even going to try to put into words the
extent of the value and moral, human and revolutionary
content of this event. I just want to express in as
simple a manner as possible, a number of things that
come to mind in relation to this work that you have
done in our country.

In the first place, Comrade Alin reminded us of the
fact that the idea of the brigade came up about a
year ago. I, at least, recall that the fist time it came up
was when the leaders of the Federation were in Cuba,
on the eve of a meeting in Chile. It was, precisely,
the day when a large part of the Centennial Youth
Column was being demobilized that the idea of the
brigade to build a school in our country came up. That
conversation took place in early July 1971. Now it's
July 1972, and the idea has become a beautiful reality.
The school has been built and everything that goes
with it is ready, too -- even the trees and lawns. Too
bad it's not during the day, so we could see all the
beautiful surroundings and the building that you built.
Even so, what little there is is enough to show the
beauty and the quality of the school.


Moreover, it has a feature that is much more profound
and extraordinary; its moral beauty. This school
symbolizes many things. To us, first of all, it symbolizes
the solidarity of world youth, of revolutionary
youth the world over, with our country and our
Revolution. It represents a gesture of true friendship
and fraternity which moves us all very deeply,
a gesture that will never be forgotten and that will
always call forth our gratitude and recognition of
your work.

But I'll go even farther. I believe that, relatively
speaking, what this school means to us is less important
than what the idea that became a reality here
means from an objective standpoint. We not only feel
grateful and express our recognition for your work but
are also filled with enthusiasm by the extraordinary
perspectives opened up for work of this nature in a
field much broader than our country -- in the field
of international solidarity, in the field of the international
revolutionary struggle.

It is an indisputable fact that revolutionary youth
the world over are faced with great tasks in every
field. And we are sure that, as the years go by, you
will be broadening your field of activities, your participation
in the struggle and your support to the spirit
of solidarity, to all the peoples of the world.

But even the construction of this school alone, as
part of a program that is already projected in other
directions, is of vast importance. And, as Alain said,
it is a way of making solidarity a reality, not only
through the awakening of awareness and the proclamation
of those feelings, but also in material form.

Alain pointed out that this work was an expression
of solidarity with Cuba. He recalled the events of
Playa Giron and all our peoples struggle against
imperialism, and he cited the revolutionary;
anti-imperialist content of this work -- which it does, indeed,

It also came to my mind, as he spoke, that in 1961
we wouldn't even have dreamed of being able to build
schools of this kind. In 1961 we were engaged, body
and soul, in the Literacy Campaign. When the invasion
of Giron came, on April 17, 1961, there were more
than 100,000 young people working in the Literacy
Campaign throughout our country. Ten years -- no,
eleven years -- have gone by, and the Literacy Campaign
is a thing of the past. We're now engaged in the
task of effecting another kind of revolution in education,
another kind of revolution in the training of our
young people, which calls for combining work and

This is a revolutionary solution to the great and
difficult problems of development, for ours is a country
with no industrial tradition, and our natural
resources aren't easily exploited. Therefore, we've had
to develop our economy on the basis of very low work
productivity -- the productivity of a canecutter who
cuts the cane that we then turn into sugar and sell.
Sugar has traditionally been an item of unequal trade
exchange, thanks to the conditions imposed by imperialism
and capitalism. Therefore, we must all work
and contribute to our country's development.


Since we want all our young people to study -- for
we consider study to be an inevitable need of the
human community as well as the sacred right of every
young person and every child -- we had to find the
solution for this problem in a system which combines
study and work.

We have repeatedly said that this not only meets
a demand of our economy, but also a demand of our
education, of the training of our young people.

We are absolutely convinced that this system and
these schools will make for a considerable advance in
the field of the education and training of young people.
By this, we mean that the system that the Cuban
Revolution is now applying in the field of education
may very well be useful to other peoples.

We are now in a position, 11 years after the invasion
of Playa Giron, to carry on with this task. And,
needless to say, we believe that, in the main, we will
have completed our plan ten years from now and will
have some 2000 schools of this kind or an equivalent
number of agricultural and industrial schools.

We intend to build a technological school next t
every important factory and every sugar mill. Teacher-training
schools and technological institutes are also
being built. We will apply this idea in every branch
of production, and we believe that we can carry the
program through in ten years.

I'm telling you these things so that you'll understand
what this school means as a part of a program
as a part of an entire system.

We expect to inaugurate 40 schools of this kind, with
a total capacity for 20,000 students -- in September.
And the forces have been organized and the conditions
created for the inauguration of 150 schools like this
one in September 1973 -- with a total capacity for
80,000 students.

Considering our present limitations in terms of
materials, our construction pace won't be upped until
1976. And even so, the way it is now, it's quite a
tight program.

Therefore, this isn't an isolated school, for it is
part of a system, of a program, of a revolution in the
training of young people, of a revolution in education.
And one of the things that makes us happiest is
knowing that we are working with the new generation,
that we are working for the future and that our people
today have an opportunity to set themselves goals
of this kind.


Of course, all this was made possible, fundamentally,
by the tremendous solidarity that our country was
given in the international field. This is why we say
say -- and we say this with complete certainty, and we
said it on the 26th of July -- that, in today's world,
considering the conditions in today's world, there can
be neither true independence nor revolution without
socialism, and there can be neither national independence
nor revolution without international solidarity.

No small country such as ours -- or even bigger
than ours -- that had to start with the situation Cuba
started with would be able to face imperialist hostility,
blockade and aggression or carry out a program of
economic and social development on its own.

We are convinced of the fact that there can be
neither independence nor revolution without socialism
and international solidarity, without the practice of
international solidarity. It is necessary to find support
in and to support international solidarity, to receive
and to give international solidarity! (APPLAUSE)

To us, the example of our country is very clear and
eloquent. And we know that we are making a revolution;
we are completely aware of the fact, convinced
of the fact, that we are making a profound revolution.

This doesn't mean that we claim to have found all
the formulas for the solutions to all our problems, that
we aren't aware of the gaps that remain to be filled and
how much effort must still be put forth in everything.
We know perfectly well how much we have to improve
our work, our revolutionary undertaking. But
we also know that we are making a profound revolution,
a true revolution, without any vacillations,
weaknesses, deviations, chauvinism, narrow-minded
nationalism or national egoism. And we are making
this revolution on the very doorstep of the United

And ours is a small country, a country -- I repeat
-- without any easy-to-exploit natural resources.
Therefore, this revolution has been made possible
only through international solidarity, the great solidarity
of the socialist camp and the tremendous solidarity
given us by the Soviet Union.

Everyone knows, too, that we were obliged to employ
much of our energy and natural resources in the
struggle for survival in the face of the constant threat
of imperialism.

Our people have been educated in this experience
of solidarity, in these feelings of solidarity.

The members of one of the delegations that visited
our country on the 26th of July were amazed by the
fact that the huge crowd at the rally had acted with
discipline and had maintained its enthusiastic attitude
in the event where international matters took up most
of the time. They said that, in their country now,
such a thing would be impossible, that the masses
mobilized themselves only for matters of internal

Our people are deeply interested in their own
problems and all things that concern them. But our
people are also tremendously interested in other peoples
and international problems. In other words, our
people have developed a profound internationalist
awareness. And it is from that point of view that we
appreciate the effort you have made.

We Cubans rejoice over tokens of friendship for
our country, but we rejoice even more over the feeling
of solidarity you have revealed here, something that
isn't limited to one country alone but extends to many
countries, something that has a universal character.
We rejoice even more over your spirit of solidarity,
which has passed a test here in Cuba and which,
though aimed in a specific direction now, has extraordinary
perspectives for when it is aimed toward other
countries, as well.

Ours is neither a rich nor an industrialized country.
That's for sure. Ours is, beyond the shadow of a doubt,
a poor country. But we are aware of the fact that
many countries are poorer than ours; and there are
many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America that
are much poorer than ours; and that they need more
support and more aid than we do.


Therefore, we aren't thinking just of ourselves.
When we see this experience, we think of other countries.
the case of Vietnam is something all of us feel
deeply; we feel it from the bottom of our hearts.

The comrade from the Bureau of the World
Federation of Democratic Youth spoke of the
plan to build a hospital in Vietnam. During these days
we have seen pictures of hospitals that were destroyed
in Vietnam and read reports on the number of people
who have been killed in the criminal bombings by
Yankee planes.

Even before it was bombed, Vietnam surely needed
a lot of hospitals -- in the North because, in the
midst of the struggle, they haven't been able to develop
their social programs, haven't been able to build all
the hospitals they needed; and in the South because
the imperialists build nothing but centers of vice and
prostitution, places for gambling and things like that,
not hospitals and schools. Millions of people live in
the South.

All Vietnam -- predicating, of course, the victory
of the people of Vietnam and the liberation of all
Vietnam -- (APPLAUSE) We are convinced that the
people of Vietnam will be victorious, and victory is
drawing nearer with every passing day, for their struggle
is ever firmer and is awakening ever more solidarity,
aid and international support. We can see the
situation clearly, for the news that comes from the
battlefronts shows the impotence of the imperialists,
in spite of their barbarous and criminal bombings. In
the military field, the imperialists are unable to make
the patriots retreat and can't even hold on to their

Just look at the most recent events, the news reports
that come from Quang Tri regarding the collapse of
the "elite" troops of the mercenaries. When mercenaries
fall apart, it's hard to get them back together

The dignity, passion, morality and heroism of the
revolutionary are battling the mercenary there, and
the revolutionaries will defeat the mercenaries, in
spite of the participation of the Yankees. We are
convinced that Vietnam will be victories.

Young people will surely have a lot to do in Vietnam.
There is no doubt but that Vietnam is the country
most in need of international solidarity -- not only
now, but when the day of victory comes -- when the
time to rebuild that country which the imperialists
have devastated and filled with craters comes. It's
almost impossible to imagine the amount of explosives,
chemical substances and other destructive resources
that have been used against that country.

In the coming years, Vietnam will be a place where
our peoples and youth can put their solidarity into
practice. There is a historic task in the construction
of schools and hospitals, alone, for those who wish
to take it up in the coming years.

It goes without saying that we think the youth
movement will gather the necessary work force. We
think it is a good idea for the masses to be mobilized
so they can contribute, because that creates internationalists
awareness -- which, in turn, increases the
moral value of cooperation and solidarity -- independent
of the support that the revolutionary peoples
are going to give out of a sense of elementary duty.
Nobody doubts that the revolutionary people will give
large-scale support, and the aid and support of our
people will be a part of this, both in the form of comrades
who are willing to work there, contributing their
physical efforts and in the form of construction equipment,
cement, other materials and anything else that
may be necessary. We will gladly build one, two
or three fewer schools and hospitals here -- or whatever
number we may have to do without -- in order
to aid in construction in Vietnam. (APPLAUSE)

On behalf of our people and party, we can assure
you and the leaders of the World Federation of Democratic
Youth that you can count on our full support
in the work you plan to do in Vietnam.


We mentioned Vietnam because it is the classic case,
the most eloquent case now. But it isn't the only one.
Here with us are the comrades of the delegation from
the Democratic Republic of Guinea, (APPLAUSE) a
country we have visited, that we have become acquainted
with, where we had the opportunity to admire
the extraordinary political work done with the masses,
an extraordinary educational and cultural job in the
midst of the incredible poverty which colonialism left

We are poor, and we can't compare ourselves with
an industrialized country, but, when we look at the
conditions of the Democratic Republic of Guinea, we
are rich, we are very rich alongside the Democratic
Republic of Guinea. They can't.... They don't produce
even a ton of cement, as yet -- they're just now building
their first 200,000 ton factory. They don't have
the technological base for putting up prefabricated
buildings, to say nothing of important housing
construction projects. it is a country where the colonialists
left great poverty -- a country with great natural
resources, but resources that aren't easy to exploit.
They have bauxite and a great potential for water-power,
but they require large investments.

I am sure that, if you visited that country, you
would want very much to collaborate with the Guinean
people, to support them and to make an effort
on their behalf.

I have mentioned two countries. A large part of
mankind is living in conditions of abysmal poverty, and
overcoming the enormous technological, industrial and
social backwardness which confronts a large part of
humanity will be one of the most urgent problems of
the future. It is reported that the world population
will be some 6000 to 7000 million people in 25 or 30
years. A large percentage of those alive today are
plagued by terrible poverty, and there is no sign of
any progress or development in those poverty areas
that will enable them to meet the coming problem.
It is almost certain that, given the present situation,
poverty will increase in that part of the world, while
the developed capitalist countries are using up
incredible amounts of natural resources and riches in
their mad militaristic adventures -- that cost untold
millions every year and on which they squander who
knows how many economic and material resources -- and
in the waste that results from their anarchy and
lack of concepts and criteria about production -- profits
for the monopolies, propaganda and the use of
the mass media to confuse the people and distort their

That is the situation: on the one hand, a poor world,
on the other, the most incredible waste.

But the developed capitalist countries accumulated
the world's gold -- and they still control almost all
of it. They control a large part of the trade and natural
resources of almost the entire world. They piled
up a huge capital. As a result of their exploitation of
the colonialized peoples and the peoples dominated by
imperialism and by exploiting their own working
classes, they have amassed large industrial resources.

The world faces this situation.

It is in the light of those realities that we view the
efforts you have made in our country.


Comrade Alain also spoke of the upcoming World
Youth Festival, to be held in the GDR. I was really
happy to hear that, because the GDR is another country
with extraordinary merits. Analyzing its situation,
the fact that it started from the ruins of Nazism and
the destruction left by the war, we admire the efforts
that country has made, the efforts the Party of that
country has made over the years and the terrible
struggle to which that country has been subjected by
the imperialists in that area -- that, undoubtedly,
constitutes a front line, where two systems clash and
where imperialism has done everything it could to
create confusion and weaken and block the efforts
of the people of that country.

While we were there we are also happy to see
that the GDR is developing a strong revolutionary
spirit, a strong internationalist spirit, one deserving
of the greatest support. We feel that, in this regard,
the coming Festival will be very important politically,
and it is the duty of all of us to work to make it a

With regard to this task of yours, we can say that
our youth and our people will do everything they can
to send a large delegation and to work for the success
of the Festival.

When Alain said, "We'll be seeing you there," I
asked myself if I too, would be participating in
the Festival (LAUGHTER) I really am rather envious.
I'm almost certain that I won't be able to be part
of that "you" he was talking abut, which is why I
feel some envy in the best sense of the word: in
admiration for your work and your future, your inspiring
struggle and your feelings.

Many of the comrades who worked with you here
in the International Brigade will be there, along with
many other Cuban young people, outstanding workers
and students. There will be a large Cuban delegation
in Berlin. (APPLAUSE)


We are sure that, for the rest of your lives, you will
be looking back with satisfaction on the hours of effort
and work that you devoted to the construction of this
school. We are sure that you will a kind of
parental responsibility for this school wherever you
may be and that you will always want to know how
it is doing. We feel that it is the duty of our young
people to do everything possible to see to it that this
is an outstanding school one of the best, and that the
best possible job should be done here in all fields,
whether educational or productive.

We trust that they will send you reports. We trust
that the names of the brigade members from 28 countries
who came to work on the construction of the
school will appear in its archives; that the generations
of young students who pass through here will bear
in mind -- not as tribute to individuals, but a a
tribute to an idea that is put into practice here -- the
work of those whop participated in the material construction
of the school; and that they will send you
news of their activities. We also trust that you will
take back pictures and other mementos of the school
with you as a part of the history of the brigade.

Now that it has been established, the brigade
shouldn't be disbanded.

Rather, it should be multiplied. A brigade of Cubans
who participated in the work here with you remains
in Cuba. The Julio Antonio Mella Brigade must continue
to exist internationally.

Something has been done, a victory has been won,
and there's no justification for forgetting that name
or disbanding the brigade.


Although there may be other members of the brigade,
and replacements may be brought in, let the
Julio Antonio Mella International Brigade continue to
exist. (APPLAUSE) and let it continue to write pages
of glory and go on winning victories. Let other brigades
with other names be established. Let this aspect of the
work of young people, that began with the construction
of this school -- let this history be written; let
us set up annals that will contain the names and deeds
of all those who have participated in it, both here
and wherever else young people go to work. The
Bureau of the Federation will surely have to name a
historian for the brigade, who will be in charge of
gathering all the data and information and setting up
the archives.

Finally, I understand that you suggested that this
school be given a name, so, in view of the fact that
this year marks the 90th anniversary of the birth of
Georgi Dimitrov, one of the greatest exponents of
internationalist spirit, this school will be named after
him. (APPLAUSE) It is a distinguished name, and it
will be a constant reminder to the students to strive
to be the best.

Times has passed. I think that not much remains
for those of you who must pack your bags and go to
the airport.

I won't say that we will be sad to see you go, because
we see you full of life and youth. We have the
impression and optimism that, filled with enthusiasm,
you will plant and cultivate in other parts of the
world the same idea which you practiced here.

With assurances of our deepest gratitude, we wish
you a good trip and many successes.

Thank you very much. (APPLAUSE)