Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Havana in Spanish to the Americas 1230 GMT 31 Dec 73 C
[Speech by Cuban Premier Fidel Castro in Camaguey, marking the end of
military maneuvers commemorating the 15th anniversary of the victory of the
Cuban Revolution, on 30 December--Recorded]

[Text] Distinguished guest delegations, fellow leaders of the party and of
the government, fellow combatants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces:

Within a few hours it will be exactly 15 years since the victory of our
revolution. This anniversary is commemorated within the framework of the
20th anniversary of the start of the revolutionary armed struggled at
Moncada. And this anniversary, this 15th anniversary, has received the
homage of these maneuvers which you have just completed.

On a day like today, on 30 December 1958, our small army-- not more than
3,000 armed men, but supported by all the people--waged the final battles
against the bloody and proimperialist tyranny that oppressed our
fatherland. In those days we had no thought of our impressive gathering of
forces or of the combat means we have before us here. All we knew about
planes was that they were being used against us; all we knew about tanks
and artillery was that they were being used against us. Our combatants
could count on additional arms only if they were taken from the enemy in
combat, on mines we made by hand ourselves, on handgrenades and other types
of similar weapons acquired with great sacrifice.

We learned to fight under adverse and difficult conditions. It was a long
and difficult struggle that cost our nation the lives of thousands and
thousands of its best sons. However, why did the soldiers have to continue
being soldiers? Why did our people have to begin lengthly training in the
use of arms? Why were our people unable to enjoy peace? Because most of our
men had to work hard during those 15 years. They had to study and learn
modern techniques. They had to create our present powerful armed forces. To
put it simply, because 1 January 1959 merely marked the completion of one
phase of that struggle. The Revolution's victory meant the destruction of
any army that lacked principles and partriotism. It was a false army which
Yankee imperialism had used to replace the glorious Mambi army at the end
of our struggle for independence.

A new era was dawning. The victory of the Cuban Revolution marked an
historic continental milestone. It meant a daring challenge to the Yankee
empire, to its political, economic and military forces. They were not
willing to allow the Revolution to evolve peacefully. It was the beginning
of a longer struggle in all areas, because defeating the mercenary army was
not enough. It was not enough for our people to capture all of this army's
weapons. The exploiting classes and Yankee imperialism were supported not
only by arms but also by a political culture and ideology developed and
entrenched by the oppressors. Once the people had the arms, they still had
to wage a great ideological and political struggle. They also had to wipe
out that bourgeoise culture and proimperialist ideology, because at the end
of the armed struggle the enemy still had powerful weapons: It had our
ideology and politics as its weapons; it had powerful economic weapons and,
moreover, the powerful might of its armed forces.

Our people waged that political and ideological struggle. They struggled
with cultural underdevelopment. They struggled against illiteracy, against
ignorance, until they developed our present solid revolutionary political
and socialist conscience. The enemy, however, used not only its political
weapons, it used economic weapons and tried to strangle our people with a
blockage and all types of economic aggression. Our young revolution and our
people--who had no economic experience, and who are deprived of the few
technicians we had at the end of our revolution--had to wage that difficult
economic struggle.

However, in addition to the economic and political struggle imperialism was
preparing armed aggression. From the first months of the Revolution there
was sabotage, counterrevolutionary actions, infiltration of agents and
arms, and the creation of armed counterrevolutionary groups throughout the
country. The training began of the mercenary troops which were later to
invade us at Playa Giron.

There was an even greater danger. More dangerous than the
counterrevolutionary groups and the mercenary aggression was the danger of
a direct attack by U.S. armed forces. Our country was faced with a mortal
danger, with a life and death struggle for the country's survival. We all
remember those first days, those unending mobilizations of the people
preparing for defense, or the states of alert manning our battle stations
with out scant and obsolete weapons. We have faced this danger for many
years. We will be faced with this danger as long as there is a Cuban
Revolution and as long as there is imperialism.

There will always be a Cuban Revolution. Imperialism, however, will not
survive forever. These truths were the force that made many of our comrades
give their untiring energy and their youth, talents and lives in the
development of a powerful revolutionary armed forces. This might explain to
our distinguished visitors why Cuba, being a small, underdeveloped country,
has had to use such great amounts of energy and resources in the creation
of its Revolutionary Armed Forces.

We do not want weapons just for the sake of having weapons: We have had a
vital need for weapons. And this task has been conducted magnificently. We
must remember that the day after the Revolution's victory, none of our men
knew how to handle a tank, a cannon, an airplane--except, of course, that
handful of men who were military careerists and had chosen the
revolutionary path. None of our men knew how to handle warships, modern
techniques, or how to mobilize large bodies of troops. None of our men knew
modern combat operations. But in these few years these tasks have been
mastered completely.

Always on guard and ready to face aggression, our combatants have devoted
themselves completely to work in the military field. They have devoted
themselves completely to studying, excelling and passing on from elementary
training to the techniques of modern military art. With stoicism and
self-denial they have dedicated themselves to that task, and these are the
beautiful results. Today we have armed forces technically equipped with the
most modern equipment, with a firm discipline and, even more important,
with a deep political awareness [applause] a veritable revolutionary
culture, a political ideology, the political ideology of the exploited and
oppressed classes, the political ideology of the
proletariat-Marxism-Leninism and internationalism!

Our armed forces possess certain essential characteristics: First, they are
a vital part of the people. Their origin is that of the humble men of our
country--its laborers, its peasants, its students, its workers, its
intellectuals. Also, as has been state repeatedly, our armed forces are the
people in uniform. Our armed forces are the people as officers, cadres,
specialized personnel, regular troops, and the rest. This is because
millions of persons in our country had to learn how to handle weapons. And
millions of persons in our country are determined--should there be
aggression--to become an army to struggle in defense of the fatherland and
of the Revolution until the very last drop of their blood. [applause]

It is important to stress that in this important maneuver which you have
just brilliantly carried out there were hundreds of workers from the
reserve, who completely fulfilled their mission. It is interesting to note
that the magnificent field hospital we saw yesterday is staffed primarily
by the reserves of our Revolutionary Armed Forces. They are our doctors,
our nurses, and our technicians who regularly serve in civilian life.

In addition to their popular composition, our armed forces possess that
other characteristic we mentioned: They are revolutionary armed forces with
a political culture, with a clearly defined ideology. And we can say
proudly that the vast majority of our officers are active members of our
glorious Communist Party. [applause] Our armed forces are rooted deep in
the people, in the revolutionary state, and in its vanguard party. Each of
these men and every citizen in this country who is capable of taking up
arms are not merely soldiers of any army, of a navy, or of an air force.
They are, above all, soldiers of the revolution! [applause]

And when the time comes to fight, they are determined, resolute, and
heroic: not because of formal discipline, not out of habit or the desire to
obey the orders of their superiors, but above all because they are
defenders of a great cause, of a great idea, defenders of the cause of
their fatherland and defenders of the revolutionary cause of
Marxism-Leninism, defenders of the great cause of the international
revolutionary movement, moreover, firmly convinced of the importance of
their extraordinary historic mission.

But our combatants possess not only a deep sense of patriotism, a deep and
unyielding love for the country of their birth, they also possess a
profound internationalist spirit and are ready to lend their revolutionary
services. They are willing to lend their support to other countries, to the
sister countries which are resisting imperialist aggression. And because of
this, one of the things that makes our party and our revolutionary state
proud is knowing that if a sister country of Latin America-- to cite a
region of the world--in the face of imperialist aggression needs Cubans to
fight alongside them, there will not be a single combatant of our
Revolutionary Armed Forces who would not be willing to fight side by side.

And we know this not only in theory, but in practice as well, and in
reality: When the revolution triumphed, imperialism made every effort to
isolate our fatherland.

The immense majority of governments on this continent, with the honorable
exception of Mexico, severed diplomatic relations with Cuba. Our nation
found itself isolated and alone in this struggle. Miserly oligarchic
interests, miserly economic interests attempted to profit from the remains
of Cuba's economy. As part of its policy of pressure and interference,
imperialism also suggested the diminished benefit--diminished in a moral
sense--of leaving Cuba without markets of any type. And as part of the
bribe it offered the nations of Latin America the U.S. markets which we had
disposed of. The governments--never the people--the governments of an
overwhelming majority were accomplices of imperialism, accomplices in the
aggression against our fatherland, accomplices in the blockade, accomplices
in the aggression against Giron, accomplices in the pirate attacks,
accomplices in blockades and threats against our fatherland.

But times are changing. Progressive ideas and tendencies are already
developing in our continent. There are now nationalist governments,
governments with true dignity, governments fully aware of their sovereignty
and their independence which have known how to say no to the criminal
blockade, which have known how to say no to the isolation of our
fatherland, which have known how to say no to imperialist interference.

That is why today, in commemorating this 15th anniversary, we have had the
honor and satisfaction of seeing a large group of representatives of the
governments, peoples and armed forces of other nations of this continent
accept our invitation and witness our maneuvers. We have the case of the
numerous military representatives of the sister nation of Peru, [applause]
of Mexico, [applause] of Panama, [applause] of Jamaica, [applause] of
Barbados, [applause] of Trinidad-Tobago, [applause] and of Guyana.
[applause] Seven military delegations from seven nations of this
hemisphere, which goes to show that in this day imperialism no longer can
give orders to all the governments of this continent. And for this reason
we share with them with pleasure our commemoration, we share with them our
maneuvers, we share with them our experiences, and we tell them that the
experiences of the Revolutionary Armed Forces are at the disposal of the
progressive governments and peoples of this continent. [applause]

In addition, to these delegations, we are extremely honored to include here
the presence of our firm, faithful and extraordinary friend, the Soviet
Union, [applause] through its military delegation. [applause] But the
African Continent is also represented by the military delegations of the
democratic and popular Republic of Algeria, [applause] of the Democratic
Republic of Guinea, [applause] and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea,
[applause] Asia is represented by the delegations of the heroic and
struggling people of Syria, [applause] of Yemen, [applause] and of Vietnam,
[applause] which wrote such extraordinary and glorious pages struggling
against Yankee imperialism. [applause]

They have witnessed the success of these 15th anniversary maneuvers and all
of them have expressed their recognition of and admiration for the progress
you have achieved in so few years.

These maneuvers have demonstrated the very high technical efficiency and
the combat training of our armed forces. The antiair and naval rocket
gunnery maneuvers were a complete success and yesterday we had the
opportunity of witnessing you in action, the perfect coordination among all
branches of service, the precision and exactness of all movements-- some of
them very complex.

We know that this was no accident. It was the result of your tenacious
efforts, of the long months you dedicated to combat training, of the
endless hours of fatigue, of your efforts and sweat dedicated to preparing
for these maneuvers. That is why you deserve acknowledgement and
admiration, and that is why we congratulate you, all combatants, officers
and chiefs. And that is why, in addition to all of you, goes our special
congratulations to Brigade Commander Pedro Garcia, chief of the Central
Army which carried out these maneuvers. [applause]

In speaking of our success, in speaking of the extremely difficult battles
waged by our Revolution throughout these years, a fundamental duty of
recognition and gratitude leads us to thank our Soviet brothers, [applause]
their advisers and technicians, our teachers in the art of modern
operations, an art they learned not only in books, in laboratories or in
maneuvers, but the hardest, most heroic and most glorious struggle waged by
a nation--the struggle against foreign intervention and the struggle
against fascism that cost the Soviet people 20 million deaths. [applause]
And these experiences acquired on the battlefield, on the hard and bloody
battlefield, are what they have transmitted to us. In addition, we have
received from the Soviet Union all that marvelous armament, and we have
received it free. [applause]

We also received the Soviet Union's cooperation and assistance in the
difficult and decisive moments of the economic blockade, which permitted us
to survive in the face of the imperialist economic aggression. Just as the
Soviet arms arrived at an opportune moment, just as it expressed its proven
and firm solidarity, the USSR has likewise been a fundamental deterrent
against direct aggression by Yankee imperialism. And because of this, in
this moment of our triumph and victories, we especially wish to express our
recognition and our deepest gratitude. [applause]

Combatants of our glorious Revolutionary Armed Forces, you are the heirs of
the best traditions of our Mambise liberators and you are the continuers of
the victorious rebel army. And of those men fought with what they had in
their hands and learned how to fight against much more powerful and better
equipped enemies, we, who recall those years, those experience, and who
have witnessed this operation and have seen the technical and moral
preparation of our Revolutionary Armed Forces, know what you are capable of
doing with those arms in the event of aggression against our country.

We have reached this anniversary at a magnificent moment of the revolution,
with more political and cultural advancement than ever, with more
organization, more efficiency. Our advancement each year is now equivalent
to those many years during which we had to be mobilized constantly in the
face of the threats of aggression. We proudly see how our fatherland is
building more schools, more hospitals, more houses and factories. We
proudly see our party, our cadres working earnestly, with self-sacrifice,
with increased efficiency, with deep conviction. We see state officials
working with a deeper sense of responsibility and with much more
efficiency. This does not mean that the paths are easy one. For a small and
underdeveloped country, with common natural resources and without energy
resources, for a country which has to work arduously and tirelessly to earn
its bread there are no easy paths. But right now we are witnessing the
spectacle of the capitalist world in crisis, with great and difficult
problems, obliged to halt its development while our small country, with the
solidarity of the socialist bloc, especially of the Soviet Union, marches
forward, works, advances, progresses, educates its children, cares for
their health, develops its sugarcane harvest, promotes its economy and
strengthens itself in all aspects, politically and militarily. We can
contemplate the future calmly. There is much hope in the brilliant future
of our country.

What did we have 15 years ago when we began and what do we have today? What
an appalling difference! If in the past we advanced, today we are in the
best position ever to go forward. And you, combatants, are the firm
guardians, the custodians, the defenders of this opportunity created by our
people, because never before in our history have we enjoyed such unity,
such strength, such peace; never before in our history have we enjoyed such
unity, such strength, such peace; never before have we had equal
opportunities for work; never was the fatherland so much the master of its
destiny! And for this sovereign fatherland, for this free fatherland, for
this fatherland that is master of its destiny, for this country where
justice prevails much blood has been shed on this land.

Over 100 years ago there was fighting on these fields where we are and in
this region where you carried out your maneuvers yesterday. The Mambise
forces operated here, as did the Ignacio Agramonte Cavalry and the fighting
forces of Maximo Gomez--all those men who began struggling over 100 years
ago, all those who gave their lives and dedicated their best dreams to this
country, all those who 15 years ago, like today, each at his battle
station, struggled for all this. And this is the historic, sacred,
fundamental mission which is yours--to be on guard alongside the people to
defend the revolution. the rights and opportunities which the revolution
has afforded the fatherland.

Heirs of the best traditions of abnegation, herosim, and fulfillment of
duty, simply and modestly, you are our combatants of our Revolutionary
Armed Forces and therefore, on this 15th anniversary, on behalf of our
party, our Revolutionary Government, and on behalf of the founders of the
rebel army, we express to you our recognition, our admiration, our
gratitude, and our love. Fatherland or death, we will triumph! [applause]