Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana Domestic Radio/Television Service in Spanish 1546 GMT 13 Mar 74 F

[Eulogy for Lazaro Pena, secretary general of the Central Organization of
Cuban Workers, read by Premier Fidel Castro at the Colon Cemetery--live]

[Text] Relatives of the unforgettable Comrade Lazaro Pena and dear workers:

Grief brings us together in this great, silent and painful event, We come
here to fulfill an unpleasant duty, which is to inter the remains of the
one who was a father to all Cuban workers and, to all revolutionaries, a
very dear brother. We will not attempt to give his biography at this time,
because his fruitful life at the service of the people's cause is not easy
to summarize in just a few words; others with more peace of mind and time
will surely write about him.

Let us think for a moment about what his death represents: For the party,
it means the loss of a leader who was respected and loved by the masses;
for the Cuban labor movement--its bravest champion; for the world trade
union organization--one of the most learned, mature, well-known and
respected cadres; for the Cuban workers--a father; for the revolution--a
bulwark; and for the fatherland a prominent son.

That is why pain in this case goes beyond the frontiers of our country and
to every corner of the world. Wherever there are honest leaders of the
international labor movement who knew him, respected him and gave him their
affection without reserve, they will feel this irreparable loss deep in
their hearts, This man, whom we are burying this morning, devoted his
entire life to the cause of the humble and exploited. The Cuban workers
inter part of themselves with him.

He was not born in a socialist regime. He was born and raised in the cruel
and ravenous capitalist society. He was not born in a golden cradle. He was
born in poverty, where being poor was synonymous to humiliation and pain.
He was born where the human being was discriminated against due to the
color of his skin. He was born in a system where schools and knowledge were
not available to the humble, where life itself, without adequate nutrition
and attention, was almost a miracle of nature. He was born in the face of a
class that was unmercifully exploiting the people and in the face of an
empire that was ignominiously subjugating the fatherland. He was born in a
country with truncated independence, controlled politics, frustrated
aspirations and a deformed economy where the worst vices could be found
hand in hand with treason and submissiveness.

That was the kind of world in which, he was born, lived and struggled. He
was blood of the blood and flesh of the flesh of the people, a very symbol
of what the people should endure and suffer. Who made him? Who forced him
to be an untiring revolutionary fighter? The people made him. His
long-suffering and exploited class forged him. It gave him its
consciousness. It immersed him with its rebelliousness. It lifted him and
chose him as its champion and banner of its aspirations and revolutionary

His school was the factory, the shop, work, exploitation, the struggle
itself. As a man of exceptional human quality, brilliant intelligence,
strong will, he was emotionally sensitive to the sufferings of his class
and imbued with the heroic and rebellious traditions of his people. And,
what is more fundamental and decisive, he knew how to find
Marxism-Leninism, the revolutionary ideology of the proletariat, When
others surrendered or allowed themselves to be flustered or carried along
by the petit bourgeois and liberal trends, or just simply corrupted
themselves, Lazaro became a communist and since that moment worked hard,
without rest, uncorruptedly until his death in the party of the workers.

Comrade Blas Roca, who was an inseparable comrade in the struggle, a close
friend and Lazaro Pena's political leader, wrote about him in 1938 the
following beautiful lines: I met Lazaro Pena when he was already a union
leader, when he was already a leader of the labor movement beloved by all
for his inexcitable attitude, for his extraordinary courage in collective
decisions, for his loyalty to the principles that he advocates and for his
honesty in the defense of the interests of his class. From 1931 he was
well-known in the Luyano suburb, a proletarian center of great struggling
tradition. There he found his first comrades. There he forged the first
weapons for the struggle by studying books, living experiences, and
adopting the best examples of the fighters of his class. The desire for
organization that spread over the working masses in 1932 led to his trips
to Camaguey to attend the second sugar conference and to several parts of
the country. The strike movement of 1933 found him ready and endowed with
the experience and sagacity of an experienced leader. During the August
strike, which led to Machado's overthrow, he emerged as a mature leader at
the head of his comrades of Luyano by organizing--in a way that no one else
could have done--mass actions to destroy the repressive plans of the dying
tyranny. That movement forged him, made him, pulled him out of the small
sphere of activities of his own life and in the social order, placed him
definitively at the head of the class collective destiny.

Since Blas [Roca] wrote these lines 36 years have gone by; and at that time
Lazaro was already a mature leader of the Cuban workers. How much sweat,
how much sacrifice, how much energy and how much risk did he give
throughout his entire life for the cause of the revolution?

That is why the name of Lazaro Pena is indissolubly united to the Cuban
labor movement. We saw him work tirelessly in the preparation of the 13th
congress. He attended countless rallies. He participated thousands of
times, He held talks with the workers hundreds of hours. Where did that
man, whose health was already undermined by the illness, get that
inexhaustible energy, that extraordinary brilliance, that infinite
patience, selflessness and kindness with which he worked for the success of
the congress?

It was useless to plead with him to slow down and take care of his health.
It was the only thing in which this modest, obedient and disciplined
militant paid no heed to the pleas of his comrades and the urgings of his
party. Such was his deep love for the workers and the labor movement. Such
was the style in which he devoted himself to revolutionary work. Up to the
last moment in which he was exhausting his strength, very close to death,
he remained alert to all details of the work of the Central Organization of
Cuban Workers [CTC] and to the fulfillment of the resolutions of the

The delegates of the Cuban workers with convincing unanimity and
overflowing enthusiasm elected him secretary-general of the CTC.

We know how good the people's demonstration of confidence, their
overwhelming gratitude and profound acknowledgement of his merit,
intelligence and life which was entirely devoted to the workers, was for

In the midst of the mourning, there are facts that revive the spirits. The
land where Pena died is not the same enslaved land where he was born. The
atmosphere that surrounds him in this final moment is not the asphixiating
and putrid atmosphere that he breathed when he came into the world. No
longer is there prostitution and gambling. No longer do our workers work to
enrich the bourgeois and imperialists. No longer are there children without
schools or sick people without physicians. No longer are there men without
work or women forced to sell themselves in order to survive.

No longer are there rich people who humiliate the poor, No longer are there
men who humiliate men because of the color of their skin, No longer are
there old people without shelter or beggars or outcasts. No longer are
there soldiers who murder workers or policemen who repress the people.

In many instances the workers had to come to this cemetery to bury their
leaders who had been murdered by the exploiters. Today's grandiose
demonstration, surely brings to the minds of many the time when tens of
thousands of workers came here to inter Jesus Flenendez, Aracelio Iglesias
and many other labor combatants who were brutally murdered by the
oppressors' henchmen.

The martial troops of the revolution neither guarded their graves nor
rendered them the honors that they deserved. The people did not own their
destiny. There was no government of the workers and peasants. Now the
fatherland is sovereign. Now we come here to inter our dead in the soil
that is finally free. Now we look forward to a tomorrow that is ours and a
future that will be as splendid as our hard-working hands will be able to
make it. As the law of life has it, the men die and will have to die, but
after giving the best of themselves to society and the fatherland. Death is
now the dark end of a life without hope. In the face of death itself, the
energy of those who will continue to struggle is renewed. In the face of
the death of hard-working and exemplary comrades, the commitment to become
better, to be like them is renewed.

That is why we do not come here to bury a dead man in the strict sense of
the word. We come here to plant a seed. We are communists, in other words,
forgers of the history that is written with the sweat, the blood, the life
and also the hope of men. Once we said: There are many paths in the people,
today we say: Among the workers, there are marry Lazaros. They have the
duty to carry on his work. In his example of discipline, work, selflessness
and kindness, you will find an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Raise
your heads, you workers, raise very high the flags because Lazaro has
fallen but not because of that will our spirits fall, not because of that
is our responsibility smaller, not because of that will he cease to live
among us. To the proven and honorable cadres that were formed under his
example, the fatherland places in their hands the new tasks, to maintain in
your ranks the tight unity forged by Lazaro is the basic duty of the labor
movement. To be guided by the principles of collective direction and to
practice with total honesty and revolutionary rigor criticism and
self-criticism is the ideal method in order to move forward now more than
ever before because now we lack the physical presence of Comrade Lazaro. To
implement the resolutions of the labor congress is the immediate task. Do
it bearing in mind as a fundamental objective the improvement of the
efficiency of our economy. Avoid above all anything that could make us swim
again in excess money in circulation. And the most essential thing,
preserve and develop the political, revolutionary and communist awareness
of our workers.

You must never neglect volunteer work because it is the foundation of our
communist education. These are your most sacred duties with the revolution,
with the working class and with Lazaro. Let us strengthen increasingly the
labor movement and let us support it with all our energies giving it the
reward that will compensate the loss of its courageous master. Rest in
peace, Lazaro Pena, in the land that you helped to make free, revolutionary
and socialist. Men like you will live eternally in the heart and memory of
the victorious and heroic people who today bow their heads respectfully and
are emotionally moved before your grave. Fatherland or death, we shall win!