Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Dedication Speech

FL272321 Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 2215 GMT 27 Dec 83

[Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro dedicating a new publishing house
in Palma Soriano -- live]

[Text] My fellow countrymen of Palma; my fellow countrymen of the province
of Santiago, Cuba; and my fellow countrymen of Cuba:

It seems that over there the people of Palma appear to be somewhat
agitated. [background noises of shouting and chants]

An historical date is being commemorated today in this city, in this
municipality, and although 25 years have gone by, we still recall those
events as if they occurred yesterday.

We were in the final phase of our definite struggle for liberation. Not
much time had gone by since the attack against the Moncada Barracks on 26
July 1953 and in which, it is true, some fighters from Palms participated
and even gave their lives. Approximately 5 years and 5 months had
transpired since that date, and this period of time was put to good use:
years of imprisonment, years of exile, and years of struggling in the
Sierra Maestra, but the advance was rapid.

Maybe many persons, when listening to the news related to Santiago, Cuba
and the attack against Moncada, could not believe that before 6 years had
transpired we would be fighting here in the city of Palma Soriano and
within only a few kilometers from the city of Santiago, Cuba. Our troops
were advancing in that direction.

During the previous weeks, during an offensive that lasted approximately 40
days, many towns and villages along the Central Highway had been liberated.
Guisa was the first, a few kilometers from the Central Highway; then Baire;
after that it was Jiguani; to be followed by Contramaestre and Mapos. The
fact is that the enemy soldiers enrenched themselves in those stores in
Mapos; they built tunnels under the cement foundations; they blockaded all
of that with sandbags, and they resisted with tenacity and for a very long

There was very intense fighting on the Second Front during those days,
throughout the province, and also in the central province of Santa Clara,
as it was called in those days. There was also fighting in Camaguey.
However, when we reached the area of Palma, troops from the First, Third,
and Second Fronts coined. We were impatient to reach Santiago, but we had
two armies, one to our rear and the other facing us.

There were thousands of soldiers in Bayamo. There were approximately 5,000
soldiers in Santiago, Cuba. We had fiercely fought those soldiers in
Bayamo, not only during the days of the latest enemy offensive in the
Sierra Maestra, but also in Guisa, Baire, and in Jiguani. They were fairly
select troops, well armed and supported by tanks, artillery, and air

We had made that army retreat to Bayamo, but it was still a strong army. At
that time, we understood that its offensive capability had disappeared. Its
last attempt to support its surrounded units was carried out with a
battalion that had left Jiguani for Mapos, but it did not reach that point
because it was defeated en route.

But we also had that army to our rear. We established our defensive line on
the Cautillo River. We had Mapos surrounded, but there was still Palma.
There were approximately 300 enemy soldiers. We had to take Palma. We were
also anxious to take the arms that were to be found in Palma, because when
we left La Plata, in the Sierra Maestra, because of the latest offensive,
we left with 25 armed soldiers and 1,000 unarmed recruits. We armed those
troops along the way. We armed them during the fighting, but we really
finished fully arming them in Palma. We did so by picking off squads along
the way, by taking weapons from the enemy during the fighting.

At that time we had about 600 or 700 armed men in Column 1 and Front No 3
-- Juan Almeida Guillermo, and other comrades had taken their troops to
Front No 1 -- and he received some reinforcements from the 2nd Eastern
Front consisting of two companies from Column 17. Nevertheless, we did not
use many men to take Palma. The bulk [of our forces] was defending the
Cautillo line, surrounding Mapos, and carrying out other missions, because
it was necessary to watch all the routes, all the possible points, via
which enemy reinforcements could arrive. In Palma, as in all the
fundamental battles of the Rebel Army, a lot of tricks were used. I'm
telling you about this because since you are from Palma, you may be
interested in learning about some of these historical data about which very
little or nothing has been published. [applause]

In fact, by that date, we did almost anything we wanted to with the enemy
army. When we wanted them to make a particular movement, we got them to
make that movement. We were really developing the art of provoking the
enemy, of forcing them to move, of attacking them when they moved. And when
there was no pretext to get them to move, it was enough for us to surround
one of their units; then they had two choices: They either supported the
unit by sending reinforcements -- in which case the reinforcements were
destroyed en route - or they did not send reinforcements to the garrison
and the garrison ended up surrendering. Some held out longer, some less. In
the early days of the war, they held out a very long time, because they
believed we would take vengeance on them or they would be executed.

However, because from the beginning our army followed the policy of
respecting the prisoners -- starting with our first victory, we took care
of their wounded, we even freed them because we did not care so much about
the number of enemy soldiers as we did about the number of arms that we
needed -- the enemy soldiers had paradoxically acquired great confidence in
the Rebel Army.

But the ones who did not want to surrender, who insisted on holding out,
were holding up our offensive. We decided to keep the troops in Mapos
surrounded and attacked the enemy forces in Palma. I was telling you that,
as always, we used a lot of tricks. We always deceived them. We always
started the fighting with a hard and unexpected blow in order to demoralize
the troops. We would begin the siege. Then we would destroy the
reinforcements. We would send them the messages that the reinforcements
were taking to them. We used a prisoner to send them to the besieged

The plan for Palma, adhering to these principles, consisted of dealing them
an initial blow. What was this blow to consist of? Every day a light plane
flew from Santiago to Palma. It landed at a small airfield located next to
the barracks and the sugar mill. It always brought in a commander, it
appears that he came to encourage the troops, because they could not send
any reinforcements. The enemy had been dislodged from dozens of miles of
the Central Highway, and reinforcements that had left Santiago de Cuba for
Palma some days earlier had been destroyed by forces commanded by Commander
Duque. They could no longer send reinforcements, thus they would send
messages to the troops in Palma.

We drew up a plan to begin operations. On the 23rd, at night, a force of
the Third Front, which I believe was commanded by Comrade Lino Carrera, was
authorized to harass a police station that I believe was located in the
western part of the city. A simple harassment to deceive them, to confuse
them, so that they would be confident. On the morning of the 24th, we began
to carry out the plan, which consisted first of capturing the light plane,
capturing the commander, and destroying the patrol that met him each time
the plane arrived, because every morning a patrol left the barracks and
went to the airfield to wait for the plane, and we wanted to deal them a
blow to hurt their morale.

Several machine guns and some mortars were emplaced in a few high areas; we
had to wait for the plane to arrive. There were a lot of raw recruits among
our forces, a lot of new combatants, because the most experienced officers
and men had joined the different columns -- the one that set off for the
Second Front with Raul, Almeida's column, Camilo's, and Che's. And all the
columns that constituted the different fronts always had the best troops
and the most experienced. The recruits were left behind in the mountains,
and they learned to fight by fighting. But they were new, they were not
very experienced, although it can be said that they were very brave. Here
is Comrade Lino. Lino, wasn't it you who attacked the police station that
night? The 23rd? Okay. Thank you. [applause]

The first phase of the operation was to allow the aircraft to land and the
patrol to reach the landing area. Once the patrol, the commander, and
aircraft were there all together, then we would attack them with machine
gun and mortar fire and destroy them. But at the same time, there was a
group of men between the garrison and the airfield, whose mission was to
destroy the reinforcements that would try to give support to those at the
airfield. [laughter in the crowd]

Of course, everything was ready. The aircraft was circling the field; he
was doomed to fall in the trap; he had to fall, but did not. Why? Because
the men located between the garrison and the airfield, who were supposed to
allow the patrol that was meeting the aircraft to go through and wait to
attack the reinforcements coming out of the garrison for the airfield
instead opened fire on the patrol going to the airfield as soon as they saw
it and killed them all.

Consequently, the aircraft realized there was a battle going on below and
did not land. The reinforcements did not come out of the garrison. We would
have had better results if we would have captured the commander, destroyed
the aircraft, the patrol meeting the commander, and the reinforcements. We
felt that if the commander and the patrol meeting him were under attack,
the garrison would immediately send reinforcements.

The garrison did not send reinforcements; instead it sent some men to
explore the situation and withdrew to the sugar mill. That occurred on the
24th. They withdrew to the garrison and the sugar mill. They dug in at the
sugar mill and gave us a fight which inflicted several casualties on us.
Then they abandoned the sugar mill and withdrew to the garrison. That
happened on the 24th.

The enemy forces were divided between the garrison and the city. They had
seized several buildings here in Palma. There was a commander in the city
in charge of the 104th Company; he was Commander Sierra. He was very
stubborn, an enemy commander who had already fought against us in the
Sierra Maestra Mountains.

That night we isolated the garrison, and a troop of the 17th Column, under
the command of Filiberto... [leaves thought unfinished] I do not know if
Filiberto is around here. Is Filiberto around here? [Castro addresses
someone on the podium] We gave orders to Filiberto to cross the Cauto River
during the night, and on the dawn of the 25th to size the buildings located
between the enemy troops in the city of Palma and the garrison. That way
from the 24th to the 25th the enemy was divided into two sections. Those in
the garrison could not go to the city, and those in the city could not go
to the garrison.

On the 25th, we began the attack against the garrison. They had a 50-cal
machine gun on the top. Guillermo was on that mission. We had a problem
with the mortars. The way I talk, you would think we had lots of mortars
and ammunition.

The truth of the matter was that our situation was very critical. The
mortars had been taken from the enemy; the ammunition had been taken from
the enemy. Sometimes we would run into a situation where the fuse of the
projectile was missing or the cartridge was missing. There were very few
projectiles, and we only used them in a psychological manner.

I can remember that in those days we had 60-mm cartridges whose fuses would
not explode. Then some of our improvised technicians -- people of great
imagination and courage -- invented a formula by which we would use
phosphorus instead of powder to ignite the propelling cartridge. However,
out of 10 projectiles, four or five would not work. Only four or five would

In those days we had an 81-mm mortar in the Palma area with just a few
projectiles, not many. On the 25th we attacked the garrison. We surrounded
it, and used the 60-mm mortars. We saved the 81-mm mortar for the following
day. First, a psychological pounding and then the 81-mm mortar. On the 26th
they were still fighting, but when we used the 81-mm mortar, the shells
fell right in the center of the garrison. One of the shells fell close to
the 50-cal machine gun.

Very soon after that, I got word from Guillermo that the soldiers were
surrenderine. After the 10th 81-mm mortar shell, they raised the white
flag. The garrison surrendered. [applause] They surrendered, and we seized
more than 200 rifles, nearly 150 prisoners, and you can imagine what that
booty meant to the rebel combatants in the early morning hours of the 26th.

But the city garrison continued to fight. At about 1300, we were able to
seize one of the buildings which was being defended by 35 soldiers.
However, the 104th Company continued to fight, and we were desperate to
wind up operations.

We sent for a tank because we even had one that we had captured from the
enemy on the Sierra Maestra. We transported it to Mapos, and it was in
Mapos. We sent for the tank to see if we could make the 104th Company
surrender that same night or the next morning. In Mapos, they continued to
resist, We wanted to use the tank in Mapos Then we received news that the
company had begun to parley and that it was possible that it would

Then we ordered that the tank again turn toward Mapos, believing that
conditions were right for the fighting to end in Palma. On the 27th, before
dawn, when the company surrendered, we returned the tank to Mapos to attack
the barracks, those warehouses that were converted into barracks or a fort
in Mapos. I recall that on that dawn of the night of the 26th-27th, the
crewmen of the tank did not strictly adhere to the instructions.

They rapidly advanced without scouting the barracks, and suddenly they
encountered a crater made by a bomb from an airplane near the barracks. An
enemy airplane had dropped the bomb days earlier. At that moment the tank
was in danger of being lost.

That dawn in Mapos, at the gasoline station, they brought Commander
(Sierra) to talk with me in the midst of a tremendous amount of shooting
that was going on there. I did not want the man to know that at that moment
we were experiencing difficulties in Mapos, and I tried to talk with him
as calmly as possible, Then he began to talk about the conditions for

This commander had not been repressive with the peasants. He was one of the
exceptions. He had not perpetrated any murders. He commanded his troops
quite well, but it was necessary to convince him to surrender, and there at
dawn we talked. We established the terms and I told him: No, if you have
not perpetrated any war crimes, if you have not been repressive, why don't
you come over to our side? Instead of surrendering so there will not be a
defeat, you come over to the Rebel Army and you will retain your rank of
commander. It was quite a generous offer, but we did not want to waste
time. The man accepted and the problem of the tank was also resolved at
dawn that day.

With the surrender of that company, the fighting in the city of Palma
ended. For our part, we were impatient to advance on Santiago with all the
strength of the three fronts. We had now carried out all of our plans, and
about 1,200 men were going to be used in Santiago de Cuba With the weapons
that had been captured in Palma, we had not only finished arming ourselves,
because we had captured 357 weapons, but we had also sent 50 of the
automatic weapons that had been captured in Palma across the bay to the
clandestine fighters in Santiago de Cuba. The clandestine movement had to
participate in the liberation of Santiago de Cuba, and we had 1,200 men
available to use in taking the city.

Actually, the enemy had 5,000 men, but this was nothing for our army at
that time Castro laughs, audience applauds]. Our army had always fought.
[Castro changes thought] According to our calculations, the city would be
liberated in 5 days, and we were going to apply the same formula that we
used on the Sierra, along the highway, in Palma, everywhere, to Santiago de

The chief of army operations had met with us. They had acknowledged that
the war was lost, and we began to discuss the formula of how the war was
going to end, which is a long story that I do not want to tell here.

We set forth our conditions. They had traveled in a helicopter. At the
former Oriente Sugar Mill, the chief of the operations troops met with me.
I suggested to him that he not go to Havana. I suggested to him that he
encourage the Santiago de Cuba garrison to rebel, and that he not conclude
the war with a humiliating defeat, because there were still cadres,
officers, who could be saved. I told him that we could call it an uprising
of the Santiago garrison, which would join the revolutionary forces and
eliminate the tyranny.

He insisted on traveling to Havana. I advised him not to do so because he
could have problems, and that when the uprising in Santiago occurred it
would be certain that the regime would be liquidated, because the island
was already divided in two.

In Oriente, thousands of soldiers were surrounded. He said he had a
brother, who was chief of a regiment, and that he had to go and that there
were no problems.

Then we put forth three conditions: first, that he should not speak with
the U.S. Embassy. [Castro changes his mind] Or first, that there should not
be a coup in the capital. That was the first condition. Second, that he
should not speak with the U.S. Embassy. Third, that they should not help
Batista to escape. If we could not prevent him from escaping, that was one
thing, but under no circumstances was he to be helped to escape.

That general went to Havana. We had planned an operation against Santiago
for about 1 January. After taking Palma, we were waiting for the chief of
the field troops to carry out the agreements he had made, but he left for
Havana and did the opposite of the three things that we had demanded as
conditions. He met with [personnel of] the Yankee Embassy they took leave
of Batista at the airport the night of the 31st, and they carried out a
coup d'etat in the capital. He did the three things that were the exact
opposite of the conditions we had established.

Then rapidly from this very city, on 1 January, instructions for a
revolutionary general strike were broadcast on Radio Rebelde, and orders
were given to all the troops of all the columns throughout Cuba to continue
advancing. Instructions were rapidly given to our forces to advance on
Santiago. We did not want the operations to cease or a truce to be
established. We sent a patrol along the Central Highway towards Santiago. I
was explaining to you earlier that in Santiago we were going to use the
same strategy. They had the Moncada Barracks, and battalions stationed in
El Caney, in Boniato, in Loma de Quintero, at the airport, and several
buildings in the city.

We were going to begin by picking off one battalion after another. The
first was to be the Boniato; we were going to surround it and deploy our
main force on the route between the Moncada Barracks and Boniato. The
second day we were going to surround the battalion in El Caney and deploy
most of the rebel forces -- 300 men -- on the route between the Moncada
Barracks and El Caney. The second day we would have two battalions
surrounded, and we would have possibly destroyed two groups of
reinforcements, because wherever we deployed our troops, no reinforcements
could pass. That was guaranteed.

The third day we were going to surround the airport and deploy another
force between the airport and the Moncada Barracks. The fourth day we
planned on surrounding the battalion in Loma de Quintero and deploying most
of the troops in the buildings located between the Moncada Barracks and
Loma de Quintero. On the fifth day, with about 100 weapons, the uprising
was to take place in the city. That is, on the fifth day we would have
surrounded four battalions, and some would have possibly surrendered by
then; various groups of reinforcements would have been destroyed, and the
city would be up in arms.

We planned the uprising in the city to be done this way: We had eight
machineguns in La Zocata, and there were two frigates that could not leave
Santiago de Cuba Bay because the entrance to the bay is too narrow at La
Zocata. Those frigates could fire at targets several kilometers away, but
could not fight within a distance of 300 meters [sentence as heard]. Thus
we had completely blockaded two of the three frigates that the National
Army had in Santiago de Cuba.

On 1 January, we had to speed up everything. When the coup d'etat took
place in the capital, we sent a patrol with Rene de los Santos along the
Central Highway with orders to approach the battalion at [Loma de]
Quintero, give them five minutes to surrender, and if they did not, to open
fire. We did not want a truce so there would not be the slightest
possibility that the coup d'etat could be consolidated. We went along paths
towards El Caney; in those days there were no highways in that area.
However, when we got close, messengers from the army began to show up
everywhere. We called a meeting of all the officers of the garrison at
Moncada Barracks -- who could have imagined it! -- and we explained to them
the agreements this general had made with us, how he had not carried them
out, and then, meeting with about 300 officers, we persuaded them not to
put up any resistance, not to obey orders from the Havana General Staff,
and to place themselves under the orders of the Rebel Army. They accepted.

What I did not know at that time when I was talking with the officers was
that the patrol we had sent along the Central Highway had reached Loma de
Quintero, the battalion had offered no resistance, the patrol had reached
the Moncada Barracks, and there were rebel officers and men inside the
Moncada Barracks at that moment. [applause]

It was precisely in the city of Palma, on 1 January, that the final orders
of the war were given to the Rebel Army and the people.

It will never be possible to forget the amazing unanimous way that all the
workers in the country respected the order for a general strike, all of
them, unanimously. [applause] Even the communications workers. The
television and radio workers made the decision to allow Radio Rebelde to
transmit through a network of all the domestic radio stations. From that
moment on, Radio Rebelde transmitted through all the radio and television
networks. [applause] The enemy was totally paralyzed; our troops were

Cheilo and Che were ordered to rapidly continue towards the capital, one
was to take La Cabana and the other Columbia. By that time, the enemy
forces were totally demoralized, and from that moment on they offered no

Thus, for Palma we have two very important historical dates: 27 December
and 1 January [applause], as dates related to the city, apart from the fact
these victories and 1 January constituted a historic date for the entire

And then, you will ask me what happened in the meantime with Mapos. Well,
they finally surrendered. Palma gave us a small bit of help when we took
Mapos; there was a large fire engine with a capacity of 5,000 or 6,000
liters -- I don't know how much -- water. Well, we converted that fire
engine into a fearful weapon. We filled it with gasoline. Really, I am
sorry that I do not know exactly how many gallons of gasoline fit into that
fire engine. It was large, and we filled it. I wonder if some mayor of
Palma had bought the fire engine, [Castro laughs] but, in fact, Palma had
its own fire engine. We filled it with gasoline from the gasoline station
here and we sent it to Mapos.

The tank had already been repaired. The problem was that when it hit a
large hole it did not have a reverse gear [to get out]. [Castro laughs] The
reverse gear had been damaged, but because of this, the tank was almost
lost. The truth of the matter is that the drivers, who were not really tank
drivers but tractor drivers, heroes, brave men who were there managed to
save the tank from going into the barracks by turning it around. [applause]
They saved the tank.

Now, with the tank going ahead, and the fire engine filled with gasoline,
we were equipped so that we would not surrender to anything, because we
were firing with cannons. We had some tank cannons that we had dismounted.
We had taken the cannons from damaged tanks, and we were using them against
the Mapos warehouses. We used bazookas, mortars, everything. Those
individuals, who had gone into underground shelters they had built below
the concrete, did not surrender. From time to time, someone would come out;
a soldier would desert.

We sent them a message exhorting them to surrender; they refused. We knew
that they had little food left, very little now. Because we had surrounded
the garrison, we had an idea of how much water and food they had.

When the tank and the fire engine were ready, I believe this was the 28th,
about the 28th, we either requested or they sent us an emissary. At that
time we were not very interested in talking with them. Our plan was to
flood the warehouses -- whose roofs were full of holes -- with gasoline,
move the fire engine forward, led and protected by the tank, fill the
warehouse with gasoline and ignite it.

I am sure that would have caused chaos. I do not have the slightest doubt
about it. However, they did not want to surrender. Then they sent an
emissary, not an emissary but the one who was in charge of the garrison, a
lieutenant. There had been a commander there, but he had practically given
up command to the lieutenant, and it was the lieutenant who wanted to
continue resisting.

Well, I said to the lieutenant: Look, you know that we have occupied all
the cities within so many kilometers of here. You know that our line has
reached El Cautillo. Are you aware of that? Yes. Do you know that all
reinforcements have been destroyed. Yes. Do you know that you do not have
any possibility for success nor the possibility to save yourselves, that
you are lost? Yes.

I told him: Well, you know it, don't you? Do you know that you only have a
little water? He said: No. Nonsense. We have dug a well. [laughter] You
have dug a well, no. But you know that you only have a little food left
now, right? We had found that out from some who [had surrendered]. He said:
No. Nonsense. I have enough food left for a month. I told him: You say you
have enough food for a month. Now, after your your food runs out, supposing
you have enough for 5 months, after you run out of food, what are you going
to do? He said: I would surrender. I told him: No, then you would commit
suicide, you and all the officers of the battalion [applause], because if
you choose to fight, knowing that you have lost, that all reinforcements
have been destroyed, that you do not have any possibility to continue
fighting here, sacrificing the lives of revolutionary fighters, sacrificing
the lives of soldiers, then you will have to commit suicide, and I sent him

A few minutes later, Dante's inferno would have begun there in those
warehouses, but those inside did not give the rebels time, because they
reflected, immediately sent a message, and laid down their weapons. Thus
ended the fighting at Mapos, and it was not necessary to use Palma's fire
engine -- which had been converted into a terrible weapon that would have
truly marked the end of that battalion.

Really, as I was telling you, despite the time that has gone by, I can
assure you all that the comrades who participated in those actions, all the
comrades who have been invited to this ceremony, who participated in the
liberation of Palma, can precisely recall those details, because these are
events that can never be forgotten. I can imagine that these young men from
the publishing house and printing plant cannot. The director told me that
their average age is 24 years. It is very satisfying, isn't it, to contrast
now, to remember, and to note that the vast majority of the workers at this
publishing house and printing plant were not born on 27 December 1959 [date
as heard]

However, I feel that there are many here among the citizens of Palma,
whether they live here or not -- I know that the city and population of
Palma have grown a lot since the triumph of the revolution, I know there
are many Palma citizens in Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and other places and
they are here today as guests -- who will remember very well that emotional
day which we commemorate today. [applause]

Many 25th anniversaries of historic events have been commemorated, very
important historic events, including the Jigue battle, Guisa -- I am
mentioning those in which we participated on the Sierra Maestra in addition
to all the battles and victories in various places of the national
territory. However, those in which we participated -- many have been
commemorated this year -- were the Jigue battle, the major offensive, the
Guisa battle, the liberation of Mapos, the liberation of Baire, Jiguani,
and Contramestre. We would have liked to visit all those places and attend
the ceremonies, but there were so many and the work that many of us have
today is very complex and very demanding, making it impossible to attend
all those commemorations.

But even though we celebrate the 25th anniversary on 1 January, I did not
want to miss this anniversary here in the city of Palma. [applause]

This printing house could have been inaugurated before. Without having been
completed, it began to produce in 1982. However, we asked the comrades to
wait, because we wanted to dedicate it, and that is why it was delayed.

I have another debt around here in the former Oriente Province -- an
excellent hospital which was completed in Guantanamo and which is waiting
for its dedication. Even though the hospital has been operating for quite a
while, it is waiting to be dedicated.

The dedication here coincided with the anniversary of the liberation,
[applause] and it is always better to dedicate a center already in
operation. We can observe it producing books with its young workers, as we
have done today. It is a great satisfaction to know that this publishing
house is not only the largest in Cuba, but I also understand that it is
possibly perhaps the largest and most modern in Latin America. [applause]

The comrade director explained to me some of the characteristics of this
printing house, It occupies an area of 118,000 square meters. It has a
roofed area of 32,000 square meters, As he said, it can produce 30 million
books, The equipment is the most modern in the world today. It was built
with the cooperation of Sweden.

The Swedish Government [applause] at the beginning of last decade, decided
to undertake economic cooperation with Cuba and to contribute to our
country's development in some way. Over a period of several years, it made
yearly contributions -- which reached the amount of $10 million per year --
as donations to our country, This is a part of the policy traditionally
observed by Sweden of contributing to the development of Third World

Sweden is a well-developed country, not too large in territory, and with a
population smaller than Cuba's, It has internationally characterized itself
by its support and contributions to many countries in Africa, Asia, and
Latin America.

At a time when our country was intensely enduring the U.S. blockade and
U.S. efforts directed at impeding our development, we have to be very
thankful -- not because of the amount, which is not small if compared to
the resources our country has invested in development, the amounts are
small, but if separately examined they are not that small -- we have to be
thankful for the gesture, not the amount, but the just friendly gesture
[applause], that is what we are thankful for. Despite U.S. pressures and
the U.S. blockade, Sweden has been one of the few Western nations that has
cooperated with our development, one of the few to make this type of
contribution to our country.

From the very beginning, we decided we were going to assign these Swedish
donations to public health and education.

Little by little, education has become more costly and has developed more
needs, because after the triumph of the revolution, there was an enormous
baby boom -- as you people of Palma should know, because you are among
those whose population grew the most in that period. You should know what a
population explosion is.

The education sector then wound up with the major portion of the Swedish
donations. In this way, several programs were carried out to develop means
for education, to acquire laboratory equipment, and the large quantity of
materials that were needed, and to build a center to produce audiovisual
material for education, But most important of all, it was decided to use
part of this donation to build this publishing center in Palma, [applause]

This is the most important work we have done with Swedish cooperation, and
it will undoubtedly be a permanent achievement and a reason for gratitude
to the Swedish people for their generous cooperation.

We had an enormous need for books, and this is not the only investment that
has been made in the publishing sector, Not long ago we inaugurated the
center in Guantanamo which can produce 20 million books. Others have been
built in Havana, and several publishing plants have been modernized and
expanded. Therefore, our current capacity for printing books should be more
than 80 million, The combined capacity of this plant and the Guantanamo
plant is 50 [million], so total capacity should be between 80 and 90
million, Armando [Minister of Culture Armando Hart] should know. Counting
all of them, including those at the universities, capacity is between 80
and 90 million.

So, you figure it out: Our educational sector needs several million books
for primary, secondary, and higher education, As a matter of fact, although
more than 20 million books are being printed every year for the Education
Ministry, it is still not enough. This is still insufficient. We have to
add the needs of our population, because of the extraordinary upsurge in
the educational and cultural levels of our people.

There is an enormous demand for literary works that cannot be completely
satisfied. There is a large demand for technical books because of the
development of our country, our advances in science and technology, and the
growing number of professionals with university training that Cuba has
today. All of this generates a demand for tens, hundreds of thousands, even
millions of books, That is to say, we have been creating large capacities
to satisfy those very important and very sacred needs, because we could say
that this need for books is for the revolution, and for our people it is a
sacred need that gives an indication of the advances of education, science,
technology, and culture in our country.

However, we do not need printing plants only. We also need paper, and our
paper producing capacity has also been expanded, We are about to begin
operations at a large pulp and paper factory at the Uruguay central. We
have been building it [words indistinct]. It should produce many thousands
of tons of paper pulp. This paper will be made basically with sugarcane
husks as raw material, and will resolve many problems. We have a scarcity
of paper, and we import it, of course, from the socialist countries. But we
also have to import from capitalist counties, and some plants, such as this
one, need high-quality paper in order to print in the best possible

However, I know that the technicians and the workers have been trying to
work with other types of paper. This plant, operating at full capacity,
will need more than 12,000 tons of paper, and paper of a certain level of
quality. I have already noticed that they are using newsprint from the
Soviet Union, and they are making tests, We believe that with the Uruguay
plant we will be able to satisfy a large portion of this plant's paper
requirements. If I am not mistaken, what percentage of the demand can this
plant satisfy? [Muffled response from unidentified person] From 60 to 70

Therefore, this plant is part of the efforts being made in the paper
industry. We are all desperate for this plant to begin functioning and
reach its maximum capacity. There is an enormous need for it in our
country. Despite the number of books produced in 1982 and 1983, the goal
set for 1984 is 9 million books, Here we produce books not only to fill our
needs, but also to export, We have seen some of the samples of the books
that this plant produces for export purposes.

Of course as our needs expand, we won't have too many to export, but as
long as we can export some, we will do so, because this allows us to
acquire the foreign exchange needed to maintain the plant and for the raw
materials required on a daily basis, which have to be purchased. It is good
to see that in this industry there is interest, enthusiasm, and an
export-oriented awareness. We have to spend money so that this plant can
achieve its maximum capacity.

However, raw materials and machinery are not enough. We need trained
personnel. A large number of the personnel at this plant were trained in
our country, others were trained in the USSR, and 1 of the 26 technicians
was trained in the GDR. The plant's director told me that for a plant such
as this to reach its maximum capacity, a period of approximately 6 years is
required. This would include the 2 years that have already passed -- 1982
and 1983. This means we still have 4 more years to go.

Everything related to the training of personnel is very important. We all
saw one machine operating. I believe it was a book cover machine. I felt
the machine was operating much too slowly, and I told the director this. I
told him the machine was operating too slow. He said yes, it is, but it is
going slow because we still can't operate it properly. He said that the
machine can produce 8,000 covers per shift, but right now it is only
producing 4,000. The very young personnel have not fully mastered the
machines. It looks easy, but when you are involved in a sophisticated
industry such as this -- even a surgarmill, with all the experience we have
in that field -- you cannot reach maximum capacity in the first year. You
begin by achieving 30 percent, then up to 50 percent, and this is done with
the help of experienced workers. Yesterday a group of workers at the 30
November sugarmill in Pinar del Rio were happy to tell us that they had
already ground more than 600,000 arrobas -- 630,000 arrobas to be exact --
and that the sugar mill only has a capacity to grind 600,000 arrobas.
[applause] It takes time. It may seem easy, but it is not. With a new
sugarmill, despite the fact that this is an industry in which we have
greater experience, we still need time for it to produce on a continuous
basis. It not only needs qualified personnel, but the equipment and the
machinery must also be maintained.

I'll give you another example: the Holguin sugarcane combine factory.
During the first year they only produced about 60 combines, but this year,
1983, with a formidable collective of workers, at a factory with a capacity
for 600 combines, they will have -- according to the recent figures I have
received -- produced 648 sugarcane combines through 31 December 1983.
[applause] They have surpassed the factory's capacity. The day will come
when we will be able to say that the Palma publishing center is producing
more than 30 million books, or at least 30 million books. The day will
come. [applause] We have no doubts. Experience has taught us that our
workers can solve any problem and fulfill any task. A person becomes aware
of this when he sees the technicians [words indistinct] the young people,
the enthusiasm, and the seriousness of these workers.

This publishing center also represents a source of jobs for this
municipality. A single shift can provide work for more than 500 workers,
and the 3 shifts provide work for more than 1,000 workers. It is the most
important industrial center built in Palma in the past years. The
revolution decided that the plant would be established here; it is a policy
of our party to share the industrial development and distribute industry
throughout the country. Years ago, only sugarmills were built in this area.
During the past 25 years the revolution has shown more concern for the
integral development of the rural areas than for the development of the
capital city. Many industries have been built throughout the various
provinces during the past few years. Not only industries have been built,
however. Schools, hospitals, houses, and agricultural development programs
have been developed during the past 25 years.

Since we are speaking of Palma, I hope you will not mind if I say a few
things about Santiago de Cuba Province. No, don't be frightened by all
these papers. I will use them only to quote some figures. However, I do
wish to speak a little about the province, because during my 26 July
speech, I mentioned it only briefly. Some people asked themselves why
Companero Fidel did not mention the work being done here. They wanted to
learn about developments in the province over the past few years. They
could not understand why I did not speak about Santiago de Cuba Province,
and the explanation is quite simple.

Even though 26 July is a national holiday, during the events to commemorate
that day, which are always held in a different province, we expand on the
work being done and the achievements of the province. However, the 30th
anniversary of 26 July was not an event for the province alone. It was a
national event. We had to speak about the day, the revolution, and what it
had achieved during the 30 years since the attack on the Moncada Barracks.
The day was not appropriate to speak of the province. The 26 July event was
not one to quote figures; it was a day to speak of ideas and concepts.

I faced the same dilemma the day after during the inauguration of the
textile factory. Should I speak of what the province had achieved in the
past few years, or should I speak of what the country had achieved? There
was only one thing I could do: speak of what the country had achieved,
because otherwise the event would never have ended. We would have had to
mention all that has been achieved within the country and how Santiago de
Cuba Province had advanced. [applause]

However, on this 27 December, I wish to say a few things regarding the
exploits of Santiago de Cuba Province in the construction of socialism. You
should know how many people live in this province -- almost a million.
Growing like you grow, [laughter] you may soon reach a million. I am not
suggesting that you hurry up. [laughter]

Here's an interesting piece of information: The population growth rate in
1953 was 3 percent -- you should see the figures for the 1960's [laughter]
-- currently it is 1.3 percent. This is more rational growth. You can
appreciate the influence of books, literature, night classes, television,
education, and so forth. Women are involved in production, services, and
political and revolutionary activities. They can't work for the federations
and attend to 14 children as they did during the past century. That would
be impossible. An index of higher culture is demonstrated when the growth
of the family is on a rational basis. This is important for the country.
When we were faced with the baby boom in the 1960's we had to build a great
number of schools, day care centers, secondary schools, technical schools,
and so forth. We now have some breathing room but it is said that the curve
is heading upward again. [laughter] Experts have associated this with the
1960's baby boom. They say that a young population multiplies too quickly.
That is their scientific explanation. [Castro chuckles] There are some
people out there who are quite frightened. Companero Fernandez [Education
Minister Jose Ramon Fernandez] is terrified and keeps up to date on the
figures, checking on how the problem is growing, and he threatens to ask
for more funds in his budget for schools. We need the schools right now,
for the primary schools' double shifts. This is one of the future
objectives of our education program.

On the old Santiago de Cuba Province we had eight sugarmills, six rum
factories, and come coffee processing plants. There was only one electrical
plant, which could not produce more than 20,000 kilowatts. Some say 30,000,
others 20,000 kilowatts. But the old plant.... [changes thought] What was
the name? Hector Pavon. Does it still function? It must consume a lot of
fuel -- at least 400 grams per kilowatt.

The oil byproduct industry began in 1956 with a U.S. refinery. Today it is
a Cuban refinery. The construction industry had four areas where stones
could be gathered for construction, a factory where clay pipes and bricks
were made, and a few quarries. The cement factory began operations in 1956.
The food industry, aside from the rum and beer factories, consisted of some
refreshment factories and two canned food factories. Light industry was
represented by a socks factory and a sandal factory that was later closed.
Some handicrafts also represented this industry.

Now then, just to cite one period and not the full 25 years of the
revolution, more or less from the date that Santiago de Cuba province was
created by the political-administrative division, more than 30 important
industrial plants, which either replace imports or produce for export, have
been built between 1976 and 1983. From 1978 to 1982, our gross industrial
production increased by more than 200 million pesos.

To give an example, in electricity, we increased our capacity to generate
20,000 kw in 1959 to our current capacity of 460,000 kw. In other words,
the capacity to generate electric power has increased 23-fold. This is very
important index that gives us an idea of the economic and social
development of this province, when its electricity capacity has had to
increase to a level 23 times greater than existed at the time of the
revolution's triumph. [applause]

The petroleum refinery was nationalized. Its capacity was expanded in 1965,
and a new refinery is being installed with the current expansion. In 1982
it reached a production level 2,343,000 tons. A plant for the production of
grease and another for lubricants have been built. There are also
industrial gas plants. The steel tool industry has developed and continues
to be developed with the opening of the truck repair plant; the screws,
nails, and tools factory; and other plants.

In the construction material industry, an important production base has
been created. In addition to the expansion of the cement plant in 1965, a
plain door factory, an asbestos cement plant, two sand washers, a polyfoam
plant, Soviet prefabricated house panels [plantas de vivienda gran panel
Sovietica] plants, the IMS [Serbian Materials Institute], stonecrushers,
tile factories, asbestos cement pipe factories, a terrazo tile factory,
prefabricated elements factories, and others were built.

The food industry has also strongly developed with the opening of several
plants, among which are notably the expansion of the wheat mill, the pasta
factory, the poultry slaughterhouse, the candy factory, the soft drink
factory, two pasteurization plants, ice cream factories, bakeries, the
expansion of the drinks factory, the butter factory, the cream cheese
factory, three ice plants, and an oatmeal plant.

Light industry has also undergone significant growth; it will grow even
more with th help of the textile plant, which will produce 80 million
square meters of fabric. [applause] Soon the Orientales will no longer have
to import fabric from Ariguanabo or Havana, because they will be able to
produce all they need here in Santiago de Cuba Province. Neither will they
have to import books. In the past, all books and other things also came
from the capital.

Other important industrial projects have been undertaken, including the one
that we are inaugurating today, the honey and wax plant, the citrus
processing plant, and the introduction of new equipment for the coffee
processing mill.

The province has expanded its list of export products. In addition to the
traditional sugar, rum, and coffee, the number of export products has been
expanded to 22. Citrus fruits are outstanding. In 1982, 36,842 tons were
produced for export. Honey, handicrafts, and other products also stand out.

From 1977 to 1982, when the new political-administrative division was
carried out, the revolution invested more than a billion pesos in this
province, of which 576 million were used for construction and installation
and 332 million pesos for equipment. It must be noted that we have not had
to work. [sentence as heard] Before it was a single province. Now, when I
mention all of these projects in Santiago de Cuba, we must also bear in
mind that these projects have been implemented in Holguin, Bayamo, Granma
Province, Manzanillo, Las Tunas, and Guantanamo; those being implemented in
Moa; those being implemented and will continue to be implemented -- the new
iron and steel plant that is being built in the northern part of the former
Oriental Province, which is the area of Holguin. In order to have an idea
of the dimension and the effort of these projects, we cannot look only at
what has been done in Santiago de Cuba, in the current province of Santiago
de Cuba, but at what has been done throughout the former Oriental Province.

You have been able to see how the cities have changed -- Bayamo,
Manzanillo, Santiago, Guantanamo, Holguin -- since I entered this way, I
haven't seen Palma today, but I imagine that it has also developed,
especially in the construction of housing.

In agriculture, the province produces 100,000 tons of sugar more than it
did in 1977. Food production, which amounted to 98,000 quintals, while in
1982 it amounted to 206,000 quintals. Citrus production in 1977 was 329,200
quintals, while it currently amounts to 1.3 million quintals in this
province. Coffee production in 1977 was 160,000 quintals, while it has
increased to 193,609 in 1982. All industrial and agricultural sectors have
considerably increased during this period.

Now we must take a look at education. What happened in this province before
the revolution? A total of 61 percent of the children of this province
between 6 and 9 years old were illiterate. In Palma Soriano, this figure
was 83.8 percent. In Alto Songo, it was 88.3 percent, and in San Luis it
was 85.6 percent. The illiteracy rate for children 10 years and older was
39.2 percent in Palma Soriano, 38.6 percent in San Luis, and 47.2 percent
in Alto Songo.

The following information can better illustrate the educational situation
in the former Ceinte Province: It is estimated that in 1953, from a total
population of 1,457,668 who were 6 years old or older, 645,706 had not
attended school. The school population of children and young people between
the ages of 6 and 16 years has increased to 93.9 percent from the 43.1
percent of 30 years ago, when the attack on the Moncada Barracks was
carried out.

At the present time, school registration at every level and for every kind
of education amounts to 335,954 of a total population of 914,000. This
means that in this province at least one -- or, according to these figures,
a little over one -- out of every three people is going to school.

Santiago de Cuba is now the province with the second largest number of
students and the leading province in the student-population ratio, with 37
students per 100 inhabitants. This province has 88 basic secondary schools,
20 pre-university institutes, 1 general vocational school, and 3
universities. It also has 25 polytechnic and technical centers, 1 teachers
college, 1 arts school, and 170 more educational centers.

Santiago de Cuba is one of the country's top provinces in terms of the
number of students who remain in school and graduate. This province now has
107,000 students attending secondary school. This is twice as many as the
number of students in all of the former Oriente Province in 1963, 20 years
ago. This province has twice as many secondary school students as the
entire former Oriente Province had 20 years ago.

There are 22,000 students attending 3 universities in this province. This
is eight times the number of university students in all of Oriente Province
20 years ago. In other words, we now have eight times as many university
students in Santiago de Cuba Province as we had in the entire former
Oriente Province 20 years ago. [applause] In Santiago de Cuba Province
alone, there are 7,000 more university students than there were in the
entire country before the revolution. [applause]

In the former Oriente Province there was only one special education school.
Now, in Santiago de Cuba Province alone, there are 34 centers of this kind
with a registration of 4,460 children and youths.

At present, 7,400 children are attending child care centers [circulos
infantiles] This figure is eight times greater than the number of children
who attended this kind of school in all of Oriente Province.

It has been reported that the enrollment in the 9th grade is moving forward
at an acceptable pace. From 1980 to date, we have graduated more than
18,000 workers. This represents 31 percent of the goal for 1985.

We have some data for the public health sector:

Hospitals: Before 1959, we had eight hospitals in this province, and you
know how they worked. Today we have 26. Of these, seven are rural

Before 1959, there were 1,334 hospital beds. There are now 5,022. There
were no polyclincis; there are now 26. There were no rural dispensaries;
there are now 16. There were no stomatological clinics; we now have two.

The number of doctors at state-run institutions: There were 180 before
1959; we now have 1,225.

Stomatologists at state-run institutions: There were 2; we now have 341.

Infant mortality: This data is inaccurate, but it is estimated that the
figure was 60 percent before the revolution. Many were not counted; no one
counted them. In 1983, the infant mortality rate was 18.4 percent.

The per capita budget for the public health sector before 1959 was 3.30
pesos, part of which was stolen. In 1983, the per capita budget for the
health sector was 69.27 pesos. In other words, it has risen between 15 and
20 times more than that which was spent before the revolution.

We have a higher institute of medical sciences, with two schools of
medicine and one of stomatology. The registration figure in early 1983 was
2,580 medical students, 712 (?stomatology students), and 60 nursing

In addition, the province has two polytechnical health institutes and a
polytechnical school with 1,930 students.

We have some information on housing; 55.3 percent of the total number of
houses built in the province were built after 1959. In other words, we've
built more than 100,000 homes in recent years. In 1953, 47 percent of the
houses had electricity. Now, 72.2 percent of the houses have this utility.
This increase is more noticeable in the rural sector.

There is other data that reveals the province's economic and social growth,
its colossal progress in education, health, and economic development. As I
was saying, we must not only look at the data for Santiago de Cuba, but at
the development of the rest of the old Oriental region. How have we
achieved these advances? What did we have in 1959, when the revolution was
victorious? How many doctors, engineers, and experienced cadres did we
have? We had 6,000 doctors, and 3,000 of them left the country. We began
our revolution in health with only 3,000. Now we have 20,000 who are
studying and 2,000 graduate each year. About 5,000 are entering medical
school. At the outset of the revolution, we did not even have 5,000
secondary school graduates.

Today, about 5,000 medical and stomatology students are entering medical
school. We are going to have all of the doctors that we need. We will not
have an excess of doctors, because there can never be too many doctors. We
now have 19,000 after 25 years of revolution. We have gone from 3,000 to
19,000 in 25 years. [applause] Do you know how many we are going to see
graduate in the next 16 years? About 50,000 doctors. [applause] Will our
people's health be guaranteed? What do you think?

In other words, it is easier now. In the early years it was more difficult,
because no one had experience, there were no trained cadres and personnel,
we didn't have the hundreds of thousands of technicians and qualified
workers that the revolution has trained, we didn't have enough teachers --
we had to look for a sixth grade student or a citizen with a sixth-or
seventh-grade education to give him a course and send him to school.

Today, we have more than 30,000 in primary schools, if Fernandez [Education
Minister Jose Ramom Fernandez] doesn't correct me on this figure. We have
tens of thousands studying in higher education centers, learning to be
primary and secondary school teachers and higher education professors.
Everyone has a primary school diploma. We already have a reserve of
teachers that permits us to send other teachers to renew their knowledge
and study. When 10,000 fewer graduate, it means that 10,000 teachers are
going to be left without jobs. [sentence as heard] When the revolution
triumphed, there were 10,000 unemployed teachers, One of the first things
the revolution did was to create 10,000 classrooms. But it was difficult to
find a teacher who would come to the mountains and the countryside. How
many are we graduating every year, Fernandez? [Answer indistinct] No, how
many are we graduating by year? [Answer indistinct] No, no, I am talking of
primary schools; 5,000 a year. Do you have any unemployed, Fernandez?
[Answer indistinct] He says we have about 4,500 abroad and about 3,000
studying full time. The fact that we have more teachers does not mean that
unemployment exists, as was the case in our country and as, unfortunately,
happens in many countries. Instead, we put new teachers to work and we
encourage old teachers to study and improve themselves. There must be a
continuous advance and effort to improve our teaching personnel. The time
will come when classes in the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and
sixth grades will be taught not by teachers who have graduated as primary
school teachers, but by university graduates. Still, we had to begin
gradually. We first had to ask the committee, the unions, and the young
people to look for those with some training, so that we could make them
teachers. Just 12 or 13 years ago, 70 percent of our primary school
teachers did not have diplomas. The teaching students entered from the
sixth grade. Now all of them have diplomas. They enter from the ninth grade
and in the future, they will be university graduates.

Our country's prospects are truly promising in all fields. We have
accumulated mass experience and knowledge that we did not have in 1959.
Back then, there was a lot of good will, but also a lot of ignorance, a lot
of good ideas but no experience. I think it is satisfactory, when
approaching the commemoration of the 25th anniversary and on commemorating
the liberation of Palma, to be able to express, to point out, and to stress
these advances made in the Province of Santiago de Cuba.

The people of Santiago were asking not only why I hadn't spoken about the
work of Santiago de Cuba, but also why I hadn't spoken of Companero
Balaguer [Jose Ramon Balaguer, Cuban Communist Party Central Committee
member and Santiago de Cuba Province executive first secretary]. [applause]
Every 26 July, when there is an event in a province, there is recognition
of the work of the party and the companero secretary of the party and its
directorate, and I said nothing about that on this 26 July. What happened,
exactly? It was a national event with international topics, with a number
of general ideas, and I could not express specific recognition of the party
leadership and the party secretary. But I learned that some were commenting
and asking: Could it be that Companero Balaguer has not worked well? Is it
that Companero Balaguer does not have the confidence and support of the
party directorate? Far from it. When I learned that there were some rumors
about this, I spoke with Compamero Balaguer. I know that he is not worried
about it at all. It was just the opposite. We are truly pleased,
enthusiastic, and aware of the excellent work done by the party in Santiago
de Cuba Province and especially by Companero Balaguer. [applause]

Companero Balaguer is one of our 19,000 doctors. I don't know if he is
counted in the overall figure or not, because there are some doctors who
have come beyond the field of medicine. Sergio del Valle is also a doctor,
as is Machadito [not further identified], as we affectionately call him;
the mayor of Havana is also a doctor. Some doctors.... [Castro changes
thought] It seems that some doctors had political and revolutionary
inclinations. They even went to the Sierra Maestra. They didn't come forth
after the revolution's victory. Many doctors joined the Rebel Army, with
Che. [applause]

Che joined as a doctor. Later on, he continued as a fighter and developed
into a great military cadre member. There are many doctors who joined to
help us as doctors and who ended up as fighters and leaders.

I used to complain when we didn't have enough doctors, because doctors
would arrive to do a certain kind of work and [words indistinct]:

Now, with the news I have given about the doctors we will have, we cam be a
little bit more relaxed, but this isn't an open invitation to send doctors
to do other jobs. They must continue their work, because we will need them.

Companero Balaguer is one of these cases of revolutionary doctors who
joined our army. I am not going to say much about him. However, I want to
note that it is very difficult to find a more humble companero than
Balaguer. [applause] It is also difficult to find one who is more
enthusiastic and more devoted to his work -- personal work, as well as
teamwork. This results in the development of the party and in advances for
the province.

We have made efforts throughout the country to choose the best cadres for
each task within the state, within the party, the economic production
sector, and the services. In general, we are pleased with the party's
efforts throughout the country and the efforts made by the party's cadres.
We have many cadres with much experience. We didn't have them when the
revolution triumphed.

We have many cadres with much experience and who are also young. They are a
guarantee of constant development and the future of our revolution.
Therefore, I am taking advantage of this occasion to congratulate the
companeros of the party of Palma, the People s Government of Palma
[applause], and the companeros of the party of Santiago de Cuba Province
and the people's power in Santiago de Cuba. [applause]

As you can tell, I have been talking for quite some time here, and you must
want to continue your commemoration of 27 December, but I don't want to end
before I refer to the name of this magnificent industry. It is named after
companera Haydee Santamaria. [applause]

We are very pleased to see that the Palma people, the Palma party and the
Palma People's Government, the Santiago party and people's government,
proposed Haydee's name for this industry.

Haydee has a revolutionary history that is truly beautiful. It began with
the foundation of the 26 July Movement. When Abel [Santamaria] joined the
movement, he joined it at the very beginning. He played an extraordinary
role in all that preceded 26 July 1953.

Haydee -- a modest, hardworking, tireless, and very humble companera --
completely devoted herself to the revolutionary cause since that time. She
helped us very much.

She behaved brilliantly. She had extraordinary courage. She not only helped
in moving weapons -- and back in the days that preceded 26 July we had to
move a lot of weapons and bullets; we secretly carried them in suitcases --
she also helped during the Moncada days, the days following Moncada, in
jail, in the clandestine life, in the organization of the movement, on 30
November, again in the clandestine life, in the Sierra Maestra, and in the
revolution. Yeye's [referring to Haydee Santamaria] name is forever united
with the prestige of the revolution in Cuba and Latin America. [applause]

It must be said that she worked in many areas, but the work she did at the
head of the Casa de las Americas has had extraordinary repercussions in the
areas of culture and literature in Latin America. Today, Casa de las
Americas is the most prestigious institution of its kind on our continent.

It also has international prestige that goes far beyond this continent. The
most prominent literary figures in Latin America have participated, in one
way or another, in Casa de las Americas events. Many of them knew Yeye and
many of them, all who knew her, talk about her with great recognition and

This institution also made the general work of the revolution and its
literary and cultural work well known. Companera Haydee Santamaria devoted
her best efforts to this task. Therefore, there can be nothing more
logical, adequate, and just than for an institution like this -- where
something as valuable as books, which influence others and which are very
important for our people's educational and cultural development, are
produced -- to carry the honorable and glorious name of Haydee Santamaria.
[applause] Fatherland or death, we will win!