Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 1617 GMT 17 May 74 F

[Speech by Premier Fidel Castro at main event held in La Plata, Oriente
Province, to mark the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Agrarian
Reform Law, the 13th anniversary of the founding of the National
Association of Small Farmers [ANAP] and proclamation of Peasants Day--live]

[Text] Dear comrades of the leadership of the party, the ANAP, the 17 May
Youth Vanguard [applause], representatives of mass organizations, of our
youth, of our peasants, of the residents of the Sierra Maestra: An event is
being held here today to mark three important happenings. In chronological
order, they are: the death of the martyr of peasant struggles, Niceto
Perez; the 15th anniversary of the proclamation of the Agrarian Reform Law;
and the 13th anniversary of the founding of the ANAP.

On the occasion of these anniversaries and especially the 15th anniversary
of the Agrarian Reform Law, the comrade leaders of the ANAP decided it
would be proper to hold the event precisely at the location where the law
was signed 15 years ago. Of course, it would not be an easy task to come
out here. To a certain degree we wanted to preserve this place as it was in
those days and that is why, in order to reach it, one must walk all the
way. And we all know what these paths look like, how much it rains in the
mountains and how hard the wind blows. That is why we made it with mud up
to our eyes. [laughter]

Of course, in a place as small as this one it is impossible to hold a large
mass rally. That is why the comrades of the ANAP decided to hold an event
without a large crowd, with just a few guests and that it be attended by
you as representatives of the peasants, workers, students, youths, women
and the rest of the mass organizations including the pioneer organization.

In our judgment there is no doubt that it was a good decision. It is true
that the comrades who are recording the event for the television have
climbed those mountains with all that equipment and must endure the rainy
conditions of this place. The same has been the case with the comrades of
the national radio, including the comrade artists. They reached this place
with great efforts. [applause] All the musical instruments were left down
there. [laughter] Fortunately, one guitar, the solitary guitar, made it.
[laughter] I belongs to one of the comrades.

But, I repeat, it was a good decision in our judgment. There is no doubt
that when one climbs these mountains the spirit is always strengthened.
There is no doubt that this place is highly symbolic in the history of the
Cuban revolutionary process. This place has been known as the general staff
headquarters of the rebel army, the bastion of the rebel army. In reality,
during the first 18 months of the war our small rebel army did not have a
headquarters. The leadership of the rebel army was always moving with the
guerrilla column, the first column out of which the rest were later formed
in the Sierra Maestra.

That column was continously moving around throughout the Sierra from nearby
Pilon to the vicinity of Bayamo and that force had its camp high in the
mountains and was constantly moving along the mountain range through those
high places, through the woods which you can see from here. The general
staff headquarters of the rebel army was established here when, after the
April strike, the Batista dictatorship organized the last military
offensive against our forces and moved toward this area with some 10,000

In those days the forces that were defending this region scarcely amounted
to 200 men. But, nevertheless, we requested the support of the column that
was located near Santiago de Cuba under the command of Comrade Juan
Almeida, [applause] and the small column of Camilo Cienfuegos that was
moving around the plains. [applause] We assembled 300 men to resist the
offensive but by then Radio Rebelde had been installed a few hundred meters
from this house. That station had already established itself as a great
revolutionary asset. The hospital of the region was also near this house.
Our arms factory was right here in this house--our factory for landmines
and grenades. Right here in this open space where you are now standing we
had what could be called our explosives testing grounds. These is where we
tested the mines and grenades.

Right here is where we had the dump for our arms in need of repairs, most
of which had been taken from the enemy. We kept our scant reserves of
supplies in this region. Thus we were forced to firmly defend this
territory. Prior to this, when there was a column moving around and
carrying our operations throughout the Sierra, there was no need to defend
any specific place. But, following the development of the war and due to
the reasons that I have just explained, it became necessary to defend this
concrete point. In reality, the forces were very few. Those who hiked with
the 17 May vanguard from Ocujal to La Plata, passing through Palma Mocha,
Julialon and La Tarima Pasajera until they reached the place, will
understand how difficult it was with 300 men to defend all the paths
entering the Sierra from the north, from the Bueycitos mines to the
Habanita region, located several kilometers west of here, and also to
defend all the territory located between Ocujal and the (Natio) river.

It was then that the general staff of the forces that were going to defend
this territory established its headquarters here. This territory then
became a symbol, let us say, of the revolution. I do not mean that, even if
the enemy troops had reached this place, seized Radio Rebelde, occupied
this command post and taken this territory with its installations, that the
war would have been lost, because logically, the conditions to continue the
war could have been revised in case the enemy offensive could not be
halted. But it became something very useful for the war. It became
something of honor for the rebel army, and above all, something of great
military importance--that is--to defend this territory.

We must say that the different enemy vanguards and different forces were
coming from many directions to converge on this point and at a given time
they were very few kilometers away, a very short distance from the north
and from the south. At a certain point of the enemy offensive, the
situation became extremely difficult. But the combatants of the rebel army
fought with exceptional courage and the men worked hard and sacrificed
themselves with great stoicism. [applause]

There were times when the air force attacked this place. Mortar fire was
heavy around here and the enemy forces kept moving in. but it was near La
Plata precisely, in the town of Santo Domingo, where the first crushing
blow of that offensive was dealt to the enemy. An entire company of troops
was decimated. We fought against two enemy battalions with over 800 men.
The men had in the operation that day were not more than 50 rebel soldiers.

With the weapons seized in that operation we organized a mobile force that
operated in this territory, attacking the forces that were advancing from
different direction. The battles of (Leguima), Jigue--being waged in the
periphery of this zone along with other actions--Las Vegas de Jibacoa,
Santo Domingo, El Salto, Las Mercedes, Cuarto Caminos and (Estesera) took
place around here. The result was that at the end of 75 days, that is, 70
days of fighting, 70 days of constant fighting, the enemy offensive was
liquidated. The Batisis army refused more than 1,000 casualties and 504
weapons were taken from them.

Our forces grew until there were some 900 men. With those 900 men we
organized the different columns that subsequently ventured out to different
points of the province, among them, the one that moved into Camaguey
Province and the two commanded by Che and Camilo that marched to Las Villas

This place has an historical importance. We could say that all the chiefs
of the different fronts and the different columns that were organized in
the Sierra Maestra were here at one time or another. They came here and
departed from here. Here they camped--Che, Camilo, Raul, Almeida
[applause], Guillermo Garcia [applause], Ramiro Valdes [applause], and the
most outstanding chiefs of the rebel army were here. After the offensive,
right here, the revolutionary counteroffensive was organized through the
midst of the month of May, that is, the month of November when we
definitively abandoned the Sierra Maestra and embarked in that part of the
offensive which eventually liquidated the monster dictator Batista. Thus,
all these events led to the naming of this place [general staff
headquarters] when the Agrarian Reform Law was signed. And we can truly say
that the residents of these mountains in the western part of the Sierra
Maestra mountain range--from the vicinity of Bayamo to the vicinity of
Holguin--the peasants of this area suffered more in the war than those in
any other part of the country.

In his brilliant address Comrade Pepe Ramirez recalled their contribution
when he referred to Comrade Raul's speech on the help given by the
peasantry to the rebel army. And it must be truly said that the peasants of
this region paid a very high price in sacrifices, lives and blood in order
to support our army. These locations were constantly bombed, the enemy
columns that crossed this territory at different times sowed grief and
death in all places. They burned everything in their path, They murdered
hundreds of peasants. They committed all sorts of misdeeds and crimes
simply because they knew that this region's peasantry was the social
foundation supporting the revolutionary forces.

Yesterday, when we were on our way to this place and observed the new
generation of children of the Sierra Maestra just as we have had today the
opportunity of assembling here the representatives of the pioneers, we
indicated that they fortunately do not know what bombings are. They have
not seen burning houses, they have not seen their parents and brothers
murdered. They have not known those crimes and those injustices. They have
not known about the sacrifices demanded by the struggle that was necessary
to develop in order to put an end to that whole system. These children have
been born and have been raised after the war. They know another world. They
know the world of schools, hospitals, security, respect and future of the
revolution and of their lives.

But these places witnessed great efforts and great human sacrifices over a
period of many years because almost for 100 years our people shed tears
and, above all, sweat, and spilled blood for their independence and
freedom, for the right to establish a humane and just way of life. Because,
long before we arrived in these mountains, our Mambises [Cuban war of
independence army] had been here and had fought and suffered here during
the war of 1868 and during the war of 1895. [applause]

We must never forget that in the heart itself of this Sierra Maestra,
towards the east, we find San Lorenzo, the place where the Spanish army
killed the father of our country, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes. [applause] In
the books and stories of the Cuban history and in the history of our wars
of independence many of these places of the Sierra Maestra appear many
times as places where the camps of the revolutionary forces were located.
We must never forget what the Mambises did for our country because they
forged the Cuban nation. They forged the spirit of the fatherland and the
spirit of independence. [applause] Without the struggle of our Mambises
during the past century, it would have never been possible to gain the
Cuban independence. It would have never been possible to attain the
development and Strength of the Cuban revolution and the fatherland
awareness. Thus, it would have never been possible to carry out the
revolution and build socialism today and covet communism tomorrow.

Because, today we would have been as Florida--we would have been absorbed
by the United States--and, at best, we would have been part of a union, a
state of the United States of North America. And from precisely this we
were saved by those combatants who shed so much blood and made so many
great sacrifices for the Cuban fatherland. [applause] Thus, this
mountainous area is full of history because the Cubans have always fought
under unfavorable conditions, against modern well-armed and well-equipped
armies. Last century they fought against hundreds of thousands of Spanish
soldiers who had their garrisons and arms, amnunition, clothes, food
supplies, and everything and the Mambises had practically nothing.

And also under the modern conditions, our limited forces had to confront
tens of thousands of soldiers who had aircraft, cannons, tanks, modern
automatic weapons, large armies with many cadres and many officers with
hundreds of thousands of pesos to fight the war. That is why the Cuban
patriots were forced to fight under unfavorable conditions, under miserable
conditions, and had to develop a new concept of war, make an art of the
war, a way of fighting the war that to some extent would compensate for the
enormous advantages in amount and material that the enemy forces had. And
that is why in the last century as well as in this one, it was necessary to
develop to its ultimate consequences the irregular war. And in this
irregular war, the battlefields and the mountains played a very important

But we must also point out that throughout this 100 years of history, the
Cuban peasantry played a very important role in the struggle for
independence and the revolution, in the struggle to forge and preserve a
clear idea and a fatherland awareness. In the middle of last century and
just before the first war of independence, there was no working class in
Cuba. In 1878, on 10 October when the bells of the Demajagua [sugar mill]
tolled the struggle for freedom, the work was essentially being done by
slaves. There were hundreds of thousands of slaves in our country who were
the ones working the cane and coffee plantations and, in general, doing all
productive work. They were the slave labor force that was moving forward
the production of material wealth and, above all, this existed in the
western part of Cuba. There were over 100,000 slaves in Matanzas Province
alone; there were many in Havana and Pinar Del Rio provinces; there were
many of them in Las Villas Province, there were fewer in Camaguey and still
fewer in Oriente provinces. There were slaves throughout the whole island
but in Oriente, contrary to the rest of the country, a peasant class
already existed.

There were tens of thousands of peasants and there were many independent
agricultural workers. And it was precisely in Oriente Province, in those
regions where a peasant class existed, where the wars for independence
began. The men making up the troops of Carlos Maniel de Cespedes since the
beginning of the war and those who made up the troops of Gomez and other
leaders of the Mambises were mainly independent small farmers. Many of the
slaves who were set free by the patriots also joined the farmers.

The peasantry played a very important role in that war. That war was
developed in Camaguey, Oriente and Las Villas where there was a larger
proportion of peasants. The war did not attain great development in those
zones of large plantations maintained by slave hands where there was no
peasant population. In the same manner, in our revolutionary war the
peasantry played a very important role. By then, of course, there was also
a working class in Cuba. That was the great difference between the
situation that existed in 1868 and the situation that existed in 1956. By
that time, there was a developed working class which was destined to play a
fundamental role in the new political process that had just begun in our

However, it was in this zone where the military operations were to begin.
Here, where there were sharecroppers, country people, many former farmers
were forced to take refuge in these mountains to find some work, some means
of subsistence. and through thousands of difficulties they formed a coffee
colony. The first year they planted a few bananas, malanga, a little
cassava, raised a suckling pig, after clearing the area, and then planted
it with coffee.

Yet some had to set up farms for others; they got a little help, reaped one
or two year's coffee harvest, then had to turn the plantation back to the
owner and start all over again. Others came to areas that were not
occupied, like this La Plata, Palma Mocha, virgin areas. The land had to be
cleared and they established themselves here, surmounting thousands of
difficulties. However, no sooner had those peasants set themselves up than
the owners or would-be owners appeared. These set about getting documents
and carrying out all kinds of tricks and frauds. They showed up claiming
the land and demanding the eviction of the peasants.

For instance, around here in the La Plata basin, all the peasants were
squatters as were those in the Palma Mocha and Magdalena basins. But a
would-be owner appeared--the (?Vitti) company--which owned sugar mills and
vast land tracts in Niquero and big cattle ranches. And the company began
claiming ownership of these lands. Thus, all the peasants along the rivers
I mentioned were threatened with eviction by that company which expected
the courts to recognize their rights to the property and to evict the
peasants so they could turn these lands into cattle ranches.

Peasants faced a different situation elsewhere. These were either tenant
farmers or sharecroppers or in some cases, they legally owned their farms.
We had faith in the peasants, in the traditions of our people, in their
history. We trusted the laws of history, the laws of class struggle. We had
the conviction that the peasants would Join the revolution just as we knew
these peasants were no different than those of 1868 and 1895.

Once again there was the need to draw the people into the struggle and to
renew the battles of the revolution, knowing that the peasants would side
with the revolution and struggle fervently and heroically. [applause]

And it turned out that way. At the onset our forces did not have many
relations with the peasants but from the first moment some peasants joined
us immediately.

In the difficult days following the Alegria Del Pio Eskirmishl when only a
handful of fighters survived, some peasants began serving us as guides, to
collaborate and to help build up the handful of fighters and recover some
weapons. Right off they began giving us material aid and later began
joining as revolutionary soldiers. [applause] We must note, however, that
the peasants paid dearly for supporting the revolution. But, naturally, we
must add that peasants anywhere in the country are ready to pay the same

And everywhere in the country the peasants responded exactly alike. And
when the war reached the second Oriente front, the peasants of Oriente
reacted precisely like those in the Sierra Maestra. And when the rebel
columns reached the environs of Santiago de Cuba, the peasants there
reacted precisely like those of Bayamo and Giron. [applause] And when the
ware erupted in Camaguey, Las Villas, Pinar Del Rio, and anywhere else in
the country, the peasants reacted just as they had reacted in the Sierra
Maestra. [applause]

Nonetheless, if in the last century there was no working class, it did
exist, and the present revolution could never have been waged only with the
peasants. The present revolution would have been absolutely impossible to
effect without the working class. [applause] Logically, if where the war
was started was an area that had no industries, factories, nor heavy
concentrations of workers, the peasants were called on to play a
fundamental role in that part of the struggle. It was no long, however,
before the farmworkers of the cane plantations and the big latifundies
surrounding the Sierra Masestra began joining the rebel forces. [applause]
There appeared the can cutters, the rice tillers, and the farmhands.

Nonetheless, Cuba was not all mountains--there was the capital and the big
cities, areas where the working class was located. And even later, the
revolution had to face its enemies from abroad. Then, in this decisive
life-or-death struggle in which the revolution had to face its foreign
enemies, the working class had to play a decisive role. But prior to that,
when the revolution was winning out and imperialism was maneuvering to
remove Batista and replace him and a coup d'etat was staged in the capital
and they tried to sabotage the revolution, at that point the working class
began playing a decisive role. For at that moment the rebel troops, we men
under arms, amounted to only 3,000 men.

But these 3,000 men had split the island in two. They already were
assaulting the garrison at Santa Clara and had 17,000 Batista soldiers
encircled in Oriente. But we numbered only 3,000. How were we to quash
imperialism's maneuvers? How start the next war, that was to be even more
difficult? It was at that point that the working class came to the fore
with all its strength. Heeding the call to the revolutionary general
strike, the Cuban proletariat replied to a man [applause], providing the
backing that made it possible to smash imperialism's maneuvers.

Then the struggle began, this long struggle against the (blackmail),
threats and aggressions that has lasted longer than 15 years. Then came the
mercenary and counter-revolutionary bands; imperialism's attack threats.
But by then we no longer were just the 3,000 of the revel army made up of
workers and peasants. It was then the entire people. There were hundreds of
thousands of workers in the country--the mobilized working class closely
linked with the peasant class. Then it was no longer an easy thing to
reoccupy this country, reestablish capitalism and injustice in this
country, [applause] restore here again the capitalist ownership of the
sugar mills, mines, railroads, banking, and industry in general.

It was no longer so easy to return here to restore the property of the
landowners, for then no longer to face the peasants alone, but to the
hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of our country's workers. They would
have to face the Cuban working class. [applause] During the days
imperialism threatened to invade Cuba--and the war was not to be waged just
in the mountains but in the cities--tens of thousands of workers armed with
weapons were ready to defend the capital of the Republic and the cause of
the workers and peasants to their last drop of blood. [prolonged applause]

That then is precisely where the strength of the revolution lies. But more
must be added: When the Cuban workers and peasants had to confront such a
powerful enemy as imperialism--an enemy 1,000 times more powerful than
Batista since it has more planes, soldiers, tanks, money, and thungs than
Batista had--then the Cuban Revolution needed the backing of the
international workers movement. It needed the support of the international
labor movement of the international revolutionary movement, fundamentally
by means of the Soviet Union. [prolonged applause] And the support of the
socialist camp and the support of the international working class reached
the Cuban workers and peasants. For this is an alliance between the Cuban
peasants and the working class and an alliance of our peasants and working
class with the international working class. [applause]

That [alliance] is what explains the possibility of the revolution and
without that, how could we have carried out the revolution? Without that
how could we be gathered here? Without that how many millions of lives
would the revolution have cost the Cubans? How many wars, how many
invasions would imperialism not have waged against us and disembark in Cuba
as they have done in a number of other places. As you will remember, they
did so in Santo Domingo several years ago, sending there 40,000 and, of
course, in Vietnam and Laos and in so many other places thousands and
thousands of miles away.

If our people had not received the support of the international working
class, if we had not received the tanks, cannons, antiaircraft guns,
automatic rifles, and all the weapons we were given, with what weapons
could we have resisted imperialism? That does not mean we were not going to
resist. We were indeed going to resist until we killed every one of them.
To defeat the revolution they had to defeat the man with whatever he had in
his hand. For here the man started fighting without anything. A man with
nothing started the revolution. What weapons did the Moneada fighters have?
What weapons did these mountain peasants have when the fighting started?
The weapons they had had been snatched from the enemy--Batista's weapons.

This means that there is a disposition and will to fight. Fighting is done
under any conditions but how sad it would have been to have had to resist
the imperialist invasion unarmed. But the fact is we received arms from the
international revolutionary movement. We obtained the means to defend
ourselves. And when the imperialists launched their infamous mercenary
invasion at Giron, the closely united workers and peasants wiped out the
mercenary invasion in a matter of hours. [applause]

And when the imperialists organized counterrevolutionary bands and
perpetrated their crimes against peasants, workers, revolutionary
officials, teachers, and even the literacy teachers, the workers and
peasants fighting closely together against those counterrevolutionary
bands, liquidated them, sweeping them forever from the soil of the
fatherland. [applause]

What counterrevolutionary, what imperialist dares, or can, organize today a
counter-revolutionary band anywhere in Cuba? Where or how could they,
without thousands of men--the peasants and workers--surging forth armed and
ready to fight and wipe them out?

They no longer dare, nor even think of it. For, as a comrade of the [youth]
vanguard said, they'll "eat him alive." [applause] But there is one thing
that the workers have contributed to this peasant-worker alliance,
something decisive, essential, and irreplaceable in this present-day era of
the world for we do not live in the world of the past; we live amid a
society that has extraordinarily evolved, which has its laws and goals. The
working class has given this struggle an ideology, the ideology of the
working class--Marxism-socialism, Marxism-Leninism, the struggle for
socialism and communism.

For that is the society we were going to create with our revolution. A
society of small farmers could not be, could not exist. For who then would
produce industries, transport, resources so essential to modem life? What
would we do with the cities, with the people? The revolution could not be
exclusively of peasants, nor for establishing a society of peasants of
small farmers or minifudios. Could anyone perhaps even think of that
possibility? No.

If in the last century, when the population barely reached one million and
there was slavery, when the land was virgin and there were not enough hands
to work the soil, when there were no big cities and in the urban centers
only the big landowners and plantation owners lived, thought could be given
and was given for the revolution to create a different type of society than
the present one. There were other aims, other programs, and other goals,
for slavery had to be abolished. It was a struggle to abolish slavery from
our social regime. There had to be a struggle against colonialism and

Therefore, in this era and in this century, a revolution could only be a
revolution inspired in the ideology of the working class, a revolution
solely to build socialism. [applause] For if we liquidated all the big
magnates and the private property of the magnates, if we liquidated private
ownership over the means of production--all the sugar mills, factories,
mines, transport, banking, and trade, all the great ownership that
exploited the workers and peasants; for the workers and peasants were
exploited by the same persons, the same capitalists and landowners because
landowners came here to evict the peasant from La Plata, Palma Mocha, and
Magdalena, the same landowner who possessed big cane plantations in Niquero
and had thousands of farm workers and peasants starving and living
wretchedly to enrich the capitalist himself--and if we nationalized all of
that, we would be doing away with the exploiter.

We were going to do away with all kinds of exploiters--the loan sharks, the
landowners, landlords, the big bankers and merchants. We sought a social
system that socialism alone could establish for the former owners were not
going to be removed to create new owners and exploiters of the people.
There was only one path--the path of socialism. Lenin had been this clearly
when he formulated the idea of the worker-peasant alliance during the cold
csarist empire.

The worker-peasant alliance with the landowners, the bankers, the big
capitalists could not be proposed for there could be no alliance between
exploiters and exploited. The alliance had to be between the exploited, and
the most exploited classes were precisely these, the workers and the
peasant. And they united to wage the revolution, to establish a way of
life, a new society, and to abolish the exploitation of man by man and to
build socialism and communism. [applause]

When the agrarian reform was signed on this very spot, it constituted a
step that definitively consolidated that alliance of workers and peasants.
That law equally freed the sharecropper, tenant farmer and (?land sharer).
That ended the peasant's compulsory turning over part of the fruit of his
labor without remuneration to a master who never appeared there, the
payment of rent, and liberated the peasant from the direct exploitation of
landowner, and it also freed the farmworker from direct exploitation by the

The fact should not be overlooked that the agrarian law was not just a law
for the peasants. It was also a law for the farmworkers. [applause] For the
farmworker had been wretchedly exploited--in the cane and rice plantations,
where they lived in the worst conditions of poverty, oppression and
neglect. They were without schools, housing, medical attention, retirement,
or security of any kind. And when the agrarian law turned over the land
worked by the tenant farmer and the sharecropper to them and others, these
were given full land rights. That same law took from the big landowners the
big latifundios and plantations, where they exploited the farmworkers, and
placed those lands in the hands of all the people. Those big plantations
ended up as the property of the nation, and the life of the farmworkers
changed since then.

The scourge of unemployment, lack of social security, lack of medical
attention, schools and of all assistance vanished. Then there was
employment everywhere for everyone who wanted to work. Off-season
unemployment for our farmworkers vanished. Merciless exploitation of the
sweat of those farmers ended.

Thus that law benefited both the peasants and farmworkers. And the law set
the most solid basis for their alliance. Now then, it was the law that
defined the Cuban Revolution, when it was seen that an agrarian law had
been promulgated in fact, that it was not mere words, promises, deceptions,
nor any kind of false tales, but that there was indeed a revolution in
Cuba. [applause]

And why? Because some Yankee enterprises held 20,000 caballerias of land.
Others had 15,000 or 10,000 or 5,000, but the one that had the least still
had thousands of caballerias. By the same token, the Yankees had been
masters of this country, the ones who intervened at the end of the war for
independence, and who would dare enact any law here that would affect the
Yankees' interests?

Yet the revolution came and promulgated an agrarian law which declared: the
maximum, 30 caballerias of land. That might not (?seem) like much was being
established, but one has to go back to that time when some companies held
20,000 [caballerias] Then those companies said, "Look, pal, all they are
leaving me is 30 caballerias of land."!

They immediately began conspiring and mounting the counterrevolution. It
was precisely the agrarian reform law that motivated the imperialists'
organizing the Giron invasion. That is what motivated it. It was the
Agrarian Reform Law that made the imperialists decide to carry out the plan
of aggression against Cuba. It was the Agrarian Reform Law that motivated
the imperialists' depriving us of our sugar quota, our petroleum. And that
was what motivated the imperialists' establishing the economic blockade of

That law, whose 15th anniversary we are celebrating today, was the law that
pitted imperialism against Cuba. And then that moment of confrontation
cane, what was the force that was ready to shed the last drop of blood to
defend that law, together with the peasants? It was the Cuban proletariat,
the working class. [applause] This is an indissoluble union that has been
written through the course of our history, welded together with the
sacrifice and blood of our peasants and workers.

The peasant-worker alliance means the duty of marching together toward the
end of the road--to build socialism and communism. [applause] The end of
the road is communism, and we feel certain that the Cuban peasants and
workers will march side by side during the course of this process, this
road, to the end, [applause] until the day when there are not two
classes--until the day when neither the working class nor the peasant class
exists. [They will be] very allied and very united, until the day there
will not be two classes, but just one class, one single tightly knit
people. And we realize that the road is long, but that it will come--the
road is long, but it will come.

Furthermore, it will not come, it will never be able to come like the
change from night to day. It will be a long process requiring a long time.
We already pointed this out, on 31 December, 1971, during the last congress
of the ANAP. I stated that the historic goal of this alliance of classes
was the struggle for a classless society.

Nonetheless, the children of the peasants and the workers are beginning to
merge into a single entity. And when they attend school, who is there,
except another Cuban child, a Cuban student, a brother who cannot be
distinguished as being one or the other [peasant or worker's child]. For
they are being given the same education and culture, and are being trained
for the same objectives. And when those children go to a hospital, before
anything else they are Cuban children whose health must be protected and
maintained. And when they attend an secondary basic school, a technological
institute, or a polythechnic school, how does one student differ from
another? For they are receiving the same education and being trained and
acquiring habits for a new life. And we ask ourselves how can we
differentiate between the some of a peasant and the son of a worker?

And if they attend the same school, the same secondary school, the same
technological institute, the same university; if they enter the same
organizations, the same youth union, the same party and serve in the same
army, how will the youth of peasant and worker origin be different in the
future? The same life and the same revolutionary process unites us.

Today, yes, there are two different mentalities, due to different class
origins, a worker and a peasant. The basic thing is that the worker is
accustomed to the concept of ownership. He never owned anything: that
machine, that factory did not belong to him. He was better prepared for
socialism. He perfectly understood that those things should be owned by all
the people--that all the means of production should belong to all the
people and be at their service.

The peasant is more accustomed to private property being a means of
production. That is the difference now, though not between the child of a
peasant and the child of the worker, but in the mentality of the peasant
and the worker. Nonetheless, this is precisely the essence of the
peasant-worker alliance--respecting these rights, respecting this thinking
and respecting the will of the peasant. This explains why stricter respect
for the interests, way of life and thinking of the peasant has been
established. And that is one of the axioms of this revolution.

This is one of the points that was discussed at the congress. But does this
mean that we will have to remain as independent peasants in a minifundium?
We believe that our peasants understand that. And that that phase has to be
progressively and gradually surmounted. And that the day will come when
there is no isolated peasant, no independent peasant, because we will not
remain behind civilization. That is clear. [applause] When the assault on
the Moncada barracks took place, the population of Cuba barely reached 5
million inhabitants. Today the population of Cuba exceeds 9 million
inhabitants. And we said that there was one specific situation in Cuba when
there were barely 1 million inhabitants in Cuba, and that it was another
when there were 5, now we are 9 and much more and we are on our way to 10.

Foodstuffs must be produced for this population. We must manufacture
clothing, shoes and medicines for this population. We must produce meat,
milk and all the elements needed for the life of that population. We must
produce for the schools, for everything. We cannot produce all that with
antiquated techniques. We cannot do it with a hoe, with one ox or with our
hands. You can well understand that. If this country does not mechanize
cane planting, it does not move forward. If we had remained the rest of our
lives cutting cane with machetes as we were doing in the past, we would
have remained slaves at the machete, of the hoe and of the ox.

Please imagine what the conditions were of that slavery that if the
agricultural workers would have been told about a rice combine, they would
have been capable of destroying the rice combine. If an agricultural worker
who worked 3 or 4 months per year would have been told about the cane
combine, he would have been capable of destroying the cane combine. Never
would the rice worker have allowed the rice combine to exist. How much
could one man cutting rice by hand produce? How many hours and sweat did
that man put into it in one day? However, that man lived in such social
conditions that he had to oppose the rice combine and the cane combine. Now
everybody understands that those circumstances have changed and that now a
rice combine is what the whole nation needs, what all the workers need. A
cane combine is what all the workers need, because then we do not have to
assign a half-million of them to out cane. We can have that half-million
building schools, housing and producing food. [applause]

Today we know that when a machine replaces 50 men who are doing something;
then we have 50 men more who will be able to do something else. We know
this now, just as we know that it is not the same thing to build a road
with a spade and a pickax than to build it with a bulldozer. In the old
days no one wanted an automobile; now everybody wants automobiles.

Only in socialism can the alliance of man with technology become a reality,
because his future rests on technology. In technology is where progress can
be found. Imagine what it will be like when all the cane production of Cuba
is fully mechanized. How many tons of sweat will we save by the minute; by
the hour, in each harvest, when 20 or 30 thousand mechanical workers do the
work that 350,000 canecutters did in the harvest of 1970? Then those
350,000 canecutters will be assigned to mines, industries, construction
work. They will be producing other things for the nation. Technology has to
come to the aid of man. It is technology that will some day make
agricultural production a production in great measure and not a production
of minifundium. It is the aircraft, the large machines, the great combines.

And the need to feed our population forces us to introduce technology to
the greatest degree in agriculture. It forces us to cultivate and take
advantage of every inch of land. And what do we do if a peasant grows old?
What do we do if his son becomes a physician, engineer or teacher? Here we
have a group of young students of the teacher training school. [applause]
Here they are wearing their beautiful uniform. Which one of them comes from
a peasant home? Which one of them comes from a worker's home? They will
work as teachers the rest of their lives. That will be their life in the
future. If all the youths study, if the present peasant generation grows
old, then we must begin finding formulas that will permit us to safeguard
the principle of optimum exploitation of the land, to take the most out of
the land in order to satisfy the needs of the population.

Now, which roads can we follow to reach our goals? There are two roads.
There is the road that leads to integration into plans and the one that
leads to cooperation. After 15 years of agragian reform? It would be
convenient for our peasants to start thinking of higher methods of
cooperation, of higher methods of work so that 15 years hence when we meet
here again we will not be in the same situation that we find ourselves in

In the future it is necessary to go into higher methods of cooperation,
above all [applause] in the basic crops of the country. I am not going to
say that this is the case here in the mountains. You know how it goes in
these mountains. In these mountains where one lives isolated, it is very
difficult to find ways of cooperation. But in the cane areas, in the cattle
areas, in the tobacco areas, in the areas where vegetables are produced,
machines, chemistry, irrigation have to be introduced. High methods of
cooperation have to be introduced.

We said that our population has over 9 million inhabitants and every day,
or better said, every year, our population increases by more than 200,000
persons. And we have to find food for them. That is why we have to
increasingly go toward a better utilization of the land by applying
technology. And that is why we said that we had two roads to follow: the
integration into plans or cooperation. We feel that we must follow both
roads in accordance with the crops, in accordance to what the circumstances
demand. In some cases it will be integration into plans and in others

For example, we have thought about the tobacco areas, which are composed of
very small minifundia. Logically I believe that there it will be difficult
to find any other method better than cooperation, that is, cooperatives of
tobacco producers. We must start thinking about that method because the
growth of the population demands it and the implementation of technology
requires it. As you all know, cane production has been developing, just as
sugar production in general, and rice production. Now production of citrus
fruits is developing. But we must continue to develop sugar production,
cane production, rice production, the production of tobacco, vegetable
production for the population and for the economy of the country. This now
demands that our peasants ponder on formulas that we will follow in future
years in order to continue the uninterrupted progress of the economic
development, of the agricultural development of the country and be able to
satisfy the growing needs of the population.

We believe, then, that after 15 years of agrarian reform we must start
looking to these problems since we already are encountering land
limitations. In this area we are finding a limitation of land here and
there. When we plan for an agricultural project, for instance, a project
for cane to supply the sugar mills for six months, we encounter such
limitations here and there. And this will happen in all farming endeavors.
This will demand increased yields per hectare, better use of the land
through the best use of technology, and the progressive employment of our
land resources up to the last inch. [applause]

So the directive to our peasants on this, the 15th anniversary, is to begin
studying how we can attain higher means of farm production. Naturally, it
is a progressive, slow road based on the key principle we have established:
volition. And from the outset, that principle cannot be abandoned.
Moreover, when we say studying, we do not mean applying. It is simply
necessary to tell the peasants that after 15 years of the agrarian law's
having been enacted, they must begin thinking of higher production means.
The fact is that the course of the country's development cannot be deterred
since the needs of an expanding population demands a forthright
mechanization of our agriculture, an optimum, maximum use of the land.

Granted that all of this must go hand in hand with industrial development.
We must expand production of fertilizers, acquire and build more plants
than we have now, develop farm machinery and mechanization. We must provide
machinery for all fields, along with fertilizers, chemicals, irrigation,
and all the technological means that make for raising production. We must
not overlook one thing: the population burgeons, but the land does not
grow; the population expands but the land remains the same as always.

In the last century we were only one million--a population which virtually
could live off the fruits our trees produced. [laughter] If in 1953 we were
five million, we already faced subsistence problems. The social system had
to be changed or we could not live. And now we are upwards of nine million
and later we are 10 or 11 or 12 million. We cannot ignore that although one
million persons lived on the same area, 10, 12, or 20 million will have to
live in the same space later.

And that future population would have to live on the same space of land.
Actually not on the same expanse, but on less. For land must be used to
build housing, much land must be set aside for factories, hospitals,
schools, roads, power transmission lines, and dams. So, in point of fact, a
larger population must live on less land space. Our peasants must give a
lot of thought to that, ponder it deeply to find an answer to these
questions: How are we going to act to meet those needs? What will the
future means of production be? How are we going to organize and muster the
peasants to achieve that? This becomes all-important, for that already
likewise is pointing out the road to be followed during this great phase of
(?merging) the peasants and workers. Treading this road as allies
consistently, while resolving our most pressing needs, we shall be
resolving the transition to socialism--the transition toward the
disappearance of classes, transition toward the higher level of having just
one single type of Cuba, where there will not be two classes of Cubans, but
only one.

That will be when we all have the same mental outlook, the same concepts of
life, the same education, culture, the same political ideal. And we feel
sure we shall achieve that. We are certain because we have faith in our
peasants and workers. [applause] So, too, we know that these same peasants
who at a given time were up to taking up arms in '68, '95, '56, '57, and
'58, and who took up arms to wage the revolution and to defend that
revolution, will be capable of taking the pertinent steps to carry forward
this, their own and the workers' revolution, and carry it as far as
possible. [applause]

We see here before us a new generation of peasants, members of the 17 May
Youth Vanguard [Avanzada Juvenil]. It has peasant representatives from all
over the country. A magnificent column. What a splendid column this youth
vanguard would have made during the war in this area! [applause] What great
exploits they could have performed! I feel sure that you already have a
highly developed mental outlook toward the generations that preceded you.

And you are sure of that, too. We certainly are sure of that.

You now constitute a new generation of peasants and you must be vanguards
not only in work, but in the revolutionary ideas of the peasants, vanguards
in the new form of work and production. Thus, you must be blazing the way
for your younger brothers and also for your own children. As you can
observe, countryside conditions change unceasingly, the mental outlook of
the people changes unceasingly and our population is acquiring a new
political culture. You must evoke truly revolutionary principles, set
revolutionary examples.

You can see that example in the Cuban comrades who for instance are
building schools, hospitals, and other projects in Vietnam. [applause]
Would you want a more admirable example of internationalism? [applause] But
then in your march you are enjoying the honorable presence of a group of
the members of the Czechoslovak-Cuban friendship brigade that is working
with us in our country. [applause] And you also are accompanied by the 17
May Youth Vanguard, whose members have come here accompanied by the members
of the Soviet Konsomol who work in our country. [applause]

Our young people are being trained in the ideas of socialism, the
principles of Marxism-Leninism, in aspiring to build communism. Our people
move forward and if we are to keep going forward, our people must lay the
groundwork for it. The Cuban nation progresses and it must keep progressing
in all activities and fields.

Today we are celebrating something that delights us--the day when the
Agrarian Reform Law was enacted here. Fifteen years have passed. But how
many other things have not happened during that time? For the peasant was
not liberated just by the Agrarian Reform Law. In his speech [preceding
Castro] Comrade Ramirez listed a number of measures taken by the
revolution--measures which constituted the genuine liberation of our

Testimony of this is these hospitals, these schools, the given percentage
of mothers who give birth in the hospitals, the reduction of the infant
mortality rate--a reduction that enables Cuba to say today it has the
lowest infant mortality rate of all the peoples of Latin America.
[applause] and that in our country today the mortality rate of infants
before they reach one year of age is less than 28 per thousand while in
some Latin American countries that rate is over 100 per thousand. In other
words, for every child that dies in Cuba, four die--per thousand--in
several Latin American countries.

Those are great victories won by our people. These, too, are evinced in
school indexes, more than 99...[pauses] practically all our children are
attending schools. There is no corner without a school or teachers. And, if
we still face difficulties, we still have our teacher-training schools that
are turning out teachers on a big scale, Teacher-training schools are being
built in every province--in Oriente Province alone three schools are going
up at the same time; in Guantanamo, Tunas, and Santiago de Cuba. [applause]
We shall have classroom space for 36,000 students in our teacher-training

Evidence of this effort is the thousands and thousands of kilometers
[presumably roads] that have been built, the hospitals that have been
built, the dams and microdams that have been and are being built throughout
the country, the irrigation and drainage systems, the rural secondary basic
and preuniversity schools being built everywhere. And there also are the
technological institutes and the polytechnic schools being built alongside
the sugar mills. And there will not be a single sugar mill in Cuba without
its school or polytechnic school at its side.

Since we shall have qualified personnel and highly trained workers for our
country's industries, all the major factories will have their polytechnic
schools nearby. Further more, the intermediate-level schools are being
built by the hundreds. By the same token, what the revolution has meant for
the improvement of the peasant's way of life similarly is mirrored in the
figures of not only the schools, but in the school graduation indexes.

Formerly, only 30,000 or 20,000 children graduated from the sixth grade.
But this year and for several years now, that exceeded 100,000. And
actually, this year more than 150,000 students will graduate from the sixth
grade. [applause] Our gains can be observed everywhere and in all fields
and the peasants and the workers have benefited from that.

Our country has advanced but it must keep advancing. [applause] That is the
significance of this commemoration. Foregoing generations worked and
struggled; present generations work and struggle; and future generations,
represented here today, will have to work and struggle to carry the
fatherland forward. We shall never be content with what we may have

But what generation will have the culture, the preparation, the resources,
and means that the future generations will possess? Who will be able to
carry the country farther than they? You yourselves of this 17 Youth
Vanguard because we do not place you among the old generations. We place
you among the new generation. You, therefore, must be examples, models for
the peasants. You must raise the conscientiousnecs of the peasant class.
You must be the vanguards of the peasant class. [applause]

At present our country possesses many more possibilities than it had 15
years ago. It is much stronger; it has much more resources more experience;
and it has much more political culture and awareness than it had 15 years
ago. It has more prestige and awareness than it had 15 years ago. Fifteen
years ago many were laughing at this revolution and they were saying: How
long will it last? How long would the Yankees allow this to last?

And then the Yankees were believed to be invincible, superpowerful, that
they would smash the Cuban Revolution. Fifteen years have passed and the
Yankees have been unable to smash us. [applause] and the possibilities of
their being able to do so grows more and more remote. [applause] Fifteen
years have passed and the revolution is more solid than ever. [applause]
Fifteen years have passed and our people are stronger and revolutionary
than ever. [applause] Fifteen years have passed and our revolutionary
forces are better organized and better equipped than ever for defending the
people's revolutionary cause. Fifteen years have passed and we have our
workers, peasants, women's organizations, the committees for defense of our
revolution, student and pioneer organizations and, of course, our peasant
[as heard] organizations, stronger and more powerful than ever. [prolonzed
applause] And at present, our revolution counts on its Marxist-Leninist
party, that is better organized, better disciplined, more conscientious,
more warlike, and better prepared to carry forward the revolutionary
process. [applause]

All of that must give us increased confidence, increased optimism in the
future. This people never has bowed in defeat and it never will. Past
setbacks notwithstanding, it will keep struggling despite the setbacks of
'68, the people struggled again in '95. Despite the setbacks of '95--above
all, the Yankee intervention, which frustrated the country's final
independence--they kept struggling. Despite the setbacks in the 30's, they
kept struggling and they struggled again in '53 and '56.

And they achieved their freedom, their final independence. [applause] They
took their long road. [applause] and to commemorate that we are gathered
here today--the day of the peasant, a victorious day--in this victorious
spot, in this victorious land, in this victorious fatherland. [prolonged
applause] Victory had to be the reward of a sacrificing, valiant people.
That had to be the reward of all who gave their lives for the Cuban

Pepe [ANAP president Ramirez] spoke of the peasant martyrs. He recalled
that 28 years ago Niceto Perez was vilely murdered but how far from the
minds of murderers who on that day snatched away the life of Niceto
Perez--so as to smash the struggle of the peasants to prevent them from
ever making demands, and so there never would be an agrarian reform in
Cuba; how far from the minds of those who killed Niceto Perez--thinking
that latifundism would prevail eternally--was the thought that 20 years
later the victorious peasant-worker army and revolution would proclaim the
agrarian reform on this spot?

How far from their minds was the thought that on a day like today amid a
scene like this, amid a ceremony like this [we would ask]--where are the
latifundists, the upstarts, the thugs, and the assassins? What is left of
them and their interests?

And, on the other hand, where is Niceto Perez? Where is the agrarian reform
and the peasants' demands? Where is the just fatherland? Here, among us,
among you, among the youth vanguard, in the representatives of our youth
and our mass organizations. [applause] In this historic spot, the heights
of our mountains, in our flag, for just causes triumph and the noble
fighters who gave their all for the cause of their people live, and will
live eternally among us.

Long live the peasant-worker alliance!

Long live the Revolution!

Fatherland or death, we will win!