Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Delivers Speech

FL3011043088 Havana Radio Rebelde Network in Spanish 2131 GMT 29 Nov 88

[Speech by President Fidel Castro during the main ceremony marking the 30th
anniversary of the Guisa Battle at Guisa, Granma--live]

[Text] Comrades, combatants of the Jose Marti column one, Comrades of the
FAR, Comrades of the Territorial Troops Militia from Guisa and Granma,
Comrades from Guisa, people from Bayamo, fellow patriots.  The old rebels
do not favor ceremonies or medals, I should say decorations.  But there are
times in which there is no other choice but to hold a day such as this, for
example.  it is also a day of deep and endless emotions.  I was telling
some comrades that during days such as this, we cannot blink, because if we
do, we would cry.

We remember the year 1958 as a year in which important and decisive events
in our revolutionary struggle in the mountains occurred.  It can be said
that there was not a month, or a single day in 1958 in which important
events worthy of being remembered did not take place.  This is why, despite
the great work we are all involved in during this year, when some comrades
reminded us that it was the 30th anniversary of the Guisa battle, I
arrived at the conclusion that we could not do as we have done in other
years, but we had to meet at least once, to mark, not only the Guisa
battle, but all the battles that were waged during that year before and
after Guisa.

It was the year in which the columns that founded other war fronts were
initiated and created--the second and third fronts.  It was the year in
which practically all the rest of the fronts were created.  It was the year
of the April strike in which our small Army made such a determined effort
to support the strike.  It was the year of the great and last offensive of
the forces of tyranny against the Sierra Maestra.  It was the year of the
creation of numerous columns which marched, some of them once more and
others for the first time, toward other areas of operations, including
Camaguey Province.  It was the year of the invasion, and the invading
columns which, in the middle of very difficult natural and military
conditions, covered almost 300 km, covered around 300 km, and arrived at
Las Villas Province.

It was the year of the counterattack.  It was the year of final battles at
each of the fronts and of the final attack of column one's small Army--out
of which practically all the rest of the columns came, founded guerilla
fronts, and always had new people.

When I tried to image how many comrades were part of column one during the
25 months of the war, I was figuring it out and I realized it had to be a
large figure--not only because of all of those who participated beginning
with the "Granma" landing and the ones who participated during the first
weeks and months of the regrouping of the guerilla movement, but also those
who participated in combat up to the Uvero and afterwards, and those who
participated in the offensive.  Finally, several forces met again in what
can be called the first front and we again constituted one Army.  It
included Camilo who was in the plains and we asked him to return to the
Sierra during the days of the offensive.  When I remembered all of those
who participated in that offensive, the hundreds and hundreds of men who
took up arms, over 1,000 men participated in that area alone.  The fighting
began with almost 300 men--in reality the fighting began with only 180
men.  Later there were more as third front forces arrived--the forces that
were each of the Turquino, and Camilo's small Army composed of some tens of
men--and in the end over 500 weapons had been captured.  When the columns
were organized again, there were over 1,000 men.

I was also remembering that during the final stage, when we left the Sierra
Maestra, we had a squad of men there, at the place we could call La Plata
headquarters, where the various columns traveled from, where the political
battle was waged against the elections. It was a squad and the column was
created again with several squads that were in different places.  Some were
close to Manzanillo.  With that first squad and a few others who joined,
plus 1,000 unarmed recruits, column one began to operate again.  There were
approximately 1,000 unarmed recruits.  They were the ones who left the Frio
mine following the squad.  Absolutely all those men were armed in less than
40 days with the weapons taken in Palma Soriano.

Therefore, it is not strange that hundreds and hundreds of men from the
column one received medals.  Many of them, of cource, participated in other
columns and other fronts.  There is still a large number of comrades who
have yet to receive the medal.

On this day in which we remember the Guisa battle, which took place from 20
to 30 November--10 days--we commemorate them all. In a way, it was a
symbol of the experience acquired by the rebel combatants and chiefs. A lot
had been learned, of course, and in a short period of time.  From the time
we landed until the final stage, something was learned each day.  New
experiences were assimilated each day.  This made it possible for us, in
the final stage, to practically do what we wanted with the enemy.

In reality, when column one arrived in Guisa, we had first contemplated the
idea of capturing the company that was left as a garrison at the Bueycito
mines.  While we got close with some squads--and I believe we did  not need
more--we had asked one of the squads to intercept the company's withdrawal.
In reality, as we got closer, the squad that was assigned to that mission
was caught somewhat unprepared, and the soldiers fled before we arrived to
that point.  Our main objective was to take the 100 weapons of the company
that was lost.

We continued to move.  Days later, two more squads joined with a little
over 50 weapons and, of course, we immediately armed a little over 50
recruits.  When we arrived here, it was not an Army of veterans, it was
mainly an Army of recruits with some experienced cadres, some experienced
cadres [repeats himself] such as Curuno) and other comrades--(curuno) came
with his already famous 50 machine guns--new people, there was a comrade
(?who was called) engineer who was in charge of the mines, and the chiefs
of various squads, many of them new.  When we arrived here we had
approximately 180 men.  In Bayamo we had the operations command post of the
enemy Army.  In Bayamo we had the most experienced troops of the Batista
Army.  We estimated them to be composed of around 5,000 men between the
garrisons detached in Bayamo and the surrounding areas, besides the
possibility of receiving reinforcements form Holguin and from other areas.

I believe the most significant aspect of this combat is that a small troop
of new people who did not have experience in war, together with a few
cadres with some experience, initiated operations against the main force of
the enemy Army.  The people were organized 12 km from the main highway.
They were just a few kilometers away from the command post that no only had
artillery, but a number of the most powerful tanks available.  We were
using Sherman tanks.  I think they're called M-4's.  I don't know their
technical name.  They also had some other medium-sized tanks but they not
only had this type of equipment; they also had aviation which was one of
the most important elements the enemy had.

As I said, we did not have a road.  It was the first time we would confront
them and we did not have a road.  The battles were no longer taking place
in the most complicated areas of the Sierra.  The battles were the ones
where the offensives occurred, in Santo Domingo, La Plata, all those
places, La Magdalena, El Jigue.  These were the battles in the territory
where the plains begin, from the end of the roads to the [words

Anyone now who hears about the battle of Guisa says, well, two large Armies
must have confronted each other.  There was only one great Army, Batista's
Army, and several squads bound together in a small rebel force.

Nevertheless, I had no doubt that we could do this because of all our
experience in the Sierra, because of all the tactics utilized during and
after the offensive.  It was a matter of adapting to fighting in the
plains.  However, as long as the enemy had tanks, canons, motorized units,
aviation, and communications of all types, we had no other method of
transportation but our legs.  We all were on foot.

We had not other communications except messengers and the only weapons we
had were rifles, the majority of which were bolt-action rifles while the
rest were semi-automatics or carbines.  We could say that we had nothing
more than rifles and mines.  We had three [as heard] very powerful enemies
with many academy-trained officials and with supplies brought to them on
transports.  They also had other advantages.  No one could have imagined
that with such scarce resources actions of that nature could be undertaken
against so many heavily armed troops.  I'm not going to give the history
of those events, I'm trying to point out a few lessons.

It's well known that in recent days, comrades conducting historic research
published a summary that many people may have had an opportunity to read.
The interesting thing about the report is that they used historic documents
that were saved.  Who thought about saving papers at that time?  Only a few
people gave it any thought, the Celia [Sanchez Manduley] company took the
responsibility for making copies of many of those messages.  How many
messages were they able to save and how many were actually lost?
Everything was written down because all our communications were based on
written messages except during certain times when, during the offensive,
the last enemy offensive, telephones were used in the Sierra Maestra
campaign but in a limited fashion and for short periods of time.

Historians used those messages to write the part on the war.  I'm still
trying to figure out how an error could have been made on the war section.
They asked me to speak to them on this material.  Of course these are
things that one forgets, the things someone has lived through.  Each
person lived his own experiences, some as soldiers in a squad or in a
certain location. Others were chiefs of cadres or squads.  I lived through
all those actions with the responsibility I carried at that time.  Of
course I remember it as if it happened yesterday.  I remember each of the

The battles of the 26th were written in the historical analysis as taking
place on the 25th.  The battle in which we surrounded one of the
reinforcement battalions that included two tanks took place in the area
near the highway that leads to Guisa.  The historical account says it took
place on the 25th.  The researchers were going crazy trying to explain what
happened on the 26th and the 27th.  It looked like the battle took place
for over 60 hours.  I told them that this was not the case.  If a few more
hours, a few more hours [repeats himself] were taken to rescue those
injured, battered, and demoralized soldiers, you wouldn't have been able to
rescue them at all.

I asked the researchers about the section on the war.  They reported the
war from papers that were saved from that time.  It was written on a
typewriter.  Evidently I had written the war part by hand, as I always do.
We had advanced so much, progressed so much, that we almost had become
bureaucratic.  Someone with a typewriter went to the trouble of typing the
handwritten account to send it to Radio Rebelde.  I saw the handwritten
part.  The one written on the typewriter was the one that was saved, not
the handwritten part.  I saw that it said the 25th.  I revised the war
part because it had a lot of typos.  I corrected certain things.  The war
report has notations in my handwriting indicating corrections but it's the
version that was typewritten, not handwritten.  It seemed very strange to
me that it is said the 25th because the same handwritten [corrects himself]
typewritten version mentions the 25th and later mentions the 27th as if
nothing happened on the 26th.  The confrontation with the enemy Army was on
the 26th.  I said, it wasn't on the 25th; it was on the 26th.  Everything
that says the 26th, which now has been changed to the 25th, agrees with the
enemy's account in their official reports, in their official communiques.
It was very obvious that there was an error in the transcription.  The
error could also have been made in the handwritten part but it was more
likely that the error occurred in the transcription because there were many
other errors.  However, I didn't see the mistake when I reviewed the report
and the date remained the 25th.  A 36-hour combat almost became a 60-hour
combat.  That's why much care should be taken in all historical research
and in the description of the events.

The historic account also indicated that I had met with the captain, chief
of the Guisa garrison, that I had written to him.  Yes, I wrote to him but
we did not meet at any time. However, someone else thought I did.  Someone
must have confused it with other meetings.  The meetings at the Guisa
barracks with the chief of the battalion in Mas, whom I met with more than
once, was never mentioned.

One must take create care in conducting historic research.  The comrades
who conducted the research are greatly experienced.  They know about things
that we can't remember because they have reviewed everything point by
point, house by house.  They have an itinerary.  They've spoken with
hundreds of people and, of course its natural that we can't remember about
the houses we were in during a 10-day period but we can remember all the
events of that combat that we named the Guisa battle.

There was another error that I had an opportunity to clarify to the
comrades. Pupo [no further identification provided] was said to have been
taken prisoner on the 27th.  I saw Pupo here and he looks almost the same
as he did in those days.  He was taken prisoner on the afternoon of the
30th when we sent a squad after the army as they retreated on the highway.
Then I thought the squad had left, I told Pupo:  Catch up with the squad
and warn them.  Tell them to be very careful not to fall into the ambush
that's probably waiting for them.

An order had been given to set up an ambush.  However, the messenger
actually left before the squad did.  Then our problem was how to warn Pupo,
who left ahead of everyone else.  We sent people out to catch up with Pupo
but they didn't get to him in time and he was taken prisoner that night.
He thought he was speaking to our people, but he was actually speaking to a
company of Batista Army which was retreating.  All this occurred on the

I think we should collaborate with and help the historians.  We can all be
broached.  After being revolutionaries for so many years, we have devoted
so little time to what can be considered its historic reconstruction.  This
may not seem important to us, like the messages and the papers.  No one
thinks about history.  No one thinks about what will be written down.
Things are done normally and no one thinks about it.  However, later
generations have an enormous interest in learning about what happened.
There is no doubt in each one of us, and I have criticized myself on this,
has the responsibility to at least try and reconstruct the historic events
in which we have participated so that history is not altered, so that the
essence of everything that occurred is preserved just the way the events

With our cooperation, the researchers can do even better work because they
have collected lots of data and have interviewed hundreds, if not
thousands, of people and, in reality, have done magnificent work.

Many things occurred during those days.  We can now speak about what could
have happened.  When one reads the Batista Army's internal communications,
one can see that they were truly desperate and I think that it could have
been worse for them.  I think that those who got away from the trapped
battalion may not have been able to do so.  They left a tank.  They had
dozens of deaths, dozens of injuries.  Looking back at this point, we can
wonder if one thing or another would have been better on that night of the
26th, when we had only 15 mortars left and a few reserves remained with
Calixto [Garcia], who had 100 bullets per man.  Calixto met up with us the
night we arrived here.

I think I have to give more details for some comrades.  I have to be more
specific with what occurred with the tank, especially with the tank that
attacked the barracks on the 28th, from the 28th to the 29th.  Some of
these statistics have to be more specific.  We can do this with the help of
a few comrades I know.

That battalion, however, was completely trapped.  They were in the middle
of crossfire from three directions.  A comrade was over there, from a
position he had already chosen.  I had asked him to fortify that position.
We asked the comrades to let the battalion enter and then it was a battle
in which the reinforcements wanted to save the reinforcements.

The 26th passed.  The comrades that defended the most advanced positions
almost used up their bullets.  There were two other alternatives:  send the
small reserves to the advanced positions to try the next day, the 27th, the
night our reinforcements would arrive, or try and capture the battalion
that night.  This is what we quickly tried to do.  We said:  Let's
eliminate this battalion, take their weapons, and arm ourselves here.
There were about 400 men.  We tripled the forces.  No one knew what would
happen.  This is what we ended up doing.

The reserve unit used up all their bullets.  We fought the entire next
day,the 27th, almost without bullets, with very few bullets.  With their
large, heavy tanks, they were able to reach at night the area in which the
battalion was surrounded.  They made a small opening and escaped with the
help of the tanks.  They dragged one of the tanks with them.  They
couldn't take the other one; we captured it.  That same night, we also took
35,000 bullets.  We had bullets once again.

Reading this material now--I had never before read those communications
that were gathered by the historians--it's obvious that the situation was
truly desperate.  The communications include the statistics on the bombs
they dropped, the bullets they spent, the rockets they used, etc.  If I had
know this, their fear would have been greater.

We placed a lot of importance on this battle.  We knew it was decisive but
we couldn't imagine how desperate the situation was on the other side.  The
situation could have been much worse, especially, if on that day we had
captured the battalion that was close by.  On the last day, they came at us
from all directions.  We were in a noticeable location.  The enemy could
try and surround us.  We had to maintain vigilance. The enemy had enough
forces to completely surround us.  We decided that the 30th would pass.

We knew that the hill the colonel [no further identification provided] had
defended is the one that had prevented the tanks from passing.  The roads
in front of the hill were mined. The tanks couldn't pass through there
because they'd blow up.  The infantry couldn't remove the mines because
they'd come under our fire.  The tanks couldn't pass because of the rifles
and the mines.

I thought:  They're going to try and surround the hill.  They're going to
surround it.  This was the order they had but they couldn't fulfill it.  We
had prepared some mortal traps for them to the west of the hill that
(porono) had defended. Enemy troops arrived here in the east.  There was a
single squad in that direction and they go through.  That was not really a
problem because the more that got through, the more we captured.

However, on the night of the 29th, we moved troops out to strengthen our
positions and that quadrant remained without troops.  It was on the
30th--the reinforcements could not pass on the 30th--that those who were
there and those who got through escaped.  I think the decision we made was
correct.  It was prudent.  It was wise.  As risky as the actions were, as
reckless as they were, as bold as they seemed, we always studied the
variables, what we would do to prevent being surrounded, to avoid being
surprised, to guarantee the security of the troops.  At that moment, what
we did by moving the forces, moving the squad from the northwest of Guisa
to the west, was the correct thing to do.  If the same thing happened
today, the exact same thing would have to be done because it was the type
of operation that corresponded to the situation and we had predicted the
enemy's plan.

Even though some troops did get through, the reinforcements couldn't.
They tried to escape.  If a squad had been there, they wouldn't have been
able to escape.  I believe, according to the historians, that they had
family members and other people with them.  Those who broke through and the
others already there would have been defeated with just a few shots.

These are the lessons learned from those events.  Are these lessons useful?
yes, they are or enormous use because they show what a man, a
revolutionary, can do.  It shows what can be done in view of immense
obstacles, in view of difficulties that seem insurmountable.

It was a very decisive battle.  We then continued toward Baire, Jiguani,
Contramaestre, Mas, [words indistinct] Palma, the Bayamo Army was
neutralized.  They did not participate in those actions.  At the end, they
joined us on 3 January because they felt admiration for us. They felt
respect for the rebel troops, for the nobleness of our troops, because we
didn't mistreat prisoners, because we didn't kill prisoners, because we
took hundreds of prisoners and they were already treated with respect.

At the end, they received me there as I'd never been received any where
else.  We truly united.  On 3 January, 2,000 soldiers of the troops that
remained there joined us. They were willing to fight alongside us because
those battles had truly impressed them.  The battles earned the admiration
of the enemy forces.

This part of our history teaches us what a people can do when they want to
fight.  Actions could be planned and the revels undertook actions of this
type in many areas.  What our two small columns did for the Sierra Maestra
to the Villas was incredible.  They were distant territories, swampy areas.
They had hurricanes.  Airplanes flew over them.  This was the same case
everywhere, in all the fronts.

Our troops, with a minimum number of weapons and people, resolved problems
that were truly very difficult.  They confronted an Army with 80,000 armed
men, sailors, police, and soldiers.  The two frigates belonging to the Navy
were being blocked in Santiago de Cuba.  A group of men with machineguns
from the (Lazo Capa) would not let them out.  All the rules were broken.
All estimates were changed.

Imagine what a people like ours today can do with millions of armed men and
women who had hundreds of thousands of automatic weapons, a considerable
amount of artillery, tanks, and other weaponry.  They are trained; they
have experience.  What shooting training did our recruits have?  They had
none.  They were trained with empty guns.  There were not enough bullets to
teach them to shoot, not even .22-calliber bullets.  Empty guns were aimed
at the target.  For many of the recruits, the first shot they took was in
combat.  Our recruits were not skilled in aiming but they would shoot at a
truck or a soldier from here to there.  With 15 to 20 rifles, it was
impossible not to hit a truck or cause many casualties.  They fought from
close up.  They truly [words indistinct] their weapons.

We learned some things from the inexperience of the recruits.  They did not
have good ambush training. A recruit would become careless and allow
himself to be seen and the enemy would become aware of the ambush upon
entering the area.  That's how the enemy escaped a few ambushes.  However,
our recruits had no training.  Nevertheless, what they did not undoubtedly
incredible.  They were not inspired by the actions of those who preceded
them.  Our recruits would do anything in combat and they acted very bravely
and without any preparation.

What could a people with millions of men and women who are trained,
organized, and armed do today?  We would not like to have to use all this
experience again.  We would not like such things to be repeated.  On the
contrary, we hope they remain as things and experiences of the past.  We
cannot give up these experiences because we still have a powerful enemy.
It is no longer Batista; it is the Yankee empire with its cynicism, its
treacher, its might, its opportunism, always dreaming of the day they can
crush or eliminate the revolution.  This is why we cannot forget these
lessons.  This is why we can't forget what happened with a group of men
with rifles.  This is why we can't forget that a few dozen people
confronted a few hundred and a few hundred people can confront a few
thousand.  These are very valuable lessons that should not be forgotten as
long as the fatherland is exposed to any danger, as long as there is a
threat to the fatherland. This is the value of this experience.

These lessons later multiplied in all aspects of the revolution and in all
its accomplishments over the next 30 years.  It was truly very moving for
me.  The decision of the Council of State to award these medals was more
moving than the remembrance of the events that were described.  This time I
got a medal.  Everyone know how allergic I am [interrupted by applause] to
decorations.  The thing that moved me the most about this medal was that
they had the wonderful idea of choosing no one less than a young combatant
from Cuito Cuanavale to present it to me. [applause]

Great feats, great feats [repeats himself] also occurred there.  We could
say that it was the spirit of the Sierra Maestra, the accumulated
experience of our people over all these years.  This experience was
demonstrated there in the internationalist mission of Angola.

The situation in Cuito Cuanavale was truly unbearable and we weren't there.
We had to make the decision to send forces to resolve a situation, to help
resolve an unbearable situation created by the intervention of powerful
South African units trying to eliminate Angolan troops.  A brilliant page
in military history was truly written there and not by a lot of men, not by
a lot of men [repeats himself].  There were only a few hundred men there,
maybe a thousand or more with modern weapons and with the support of our
aviation.  We have to say that there in Cuito Cuanavale, the pilots
matched, and not only matched, but surpassed the feats of Playa Giron.  In
Playa Giron [interrupted by applause] In Playa Giron, the fighting lasted a
few hours, about 60 hours.  In Cuito Cuanavale, our aviators fought for
entire weeks, day and night, to neutralize the enemy forces.  They managed
to neutralize enemy antiaircraft equipment and they carries out hundreds
and hundreds of missions with impressive success.

I want to say that the experience of our people in the military area has
been especially enriched and wherever actions have been conducted with this
spirit, success has followed.  What are our small units, squads in motion,
troops that defend roads in comparison to the strategic operation led by
our FAR in Angola?  Sometimes this history will have to be written.  The
historians will some day have to rummage through all the papers, and there
are papers, many papers, because practically not a single piece of paper
has been lost.

Our people continued writing glorious pages with the same spirit during the
past 30 years in Giron, in the Escambray, during the October Crisis, in
internationalist missions.  The experience accumulated by our people and
our FAR is far greater today.  We have not ceased learning since the moment
the "Granma" landed.  This is a wealth of experience that we should
appreciate.  We can't forget because, I repeat, the empire is still
powerful.  It threatens us.  It wants to eliminate the revolution some day
either with weapons or by eroding the military or ideological struggle or
by using all these factors plus it blockade and constant economic measures,
its constant measure against the revolution.  They will not be successful.
They will not be able to do this in any way. [chuckles] They will not be
able to do it militarily, economically, or ideologically. [applause] If
there is, if there is [repeats himself] any fool that makes this mistake,
he will have ignored the history of this country.  He will have ignored the
history of this country.  He will have ignored the history of this
revolution as it has emerged and developed in order to think that the
heart, intelligence, and powerful fist of our people can be confused.

We have continued to create the impression of an invincible and
indestructable force.  Hopefully, we won't have to use it; that's what we
hope for the most.  Hopefully, we won't have to use it against new and
larger tests.  Hopefully, our new generations will not have to go through
these tests and, hopefully, our troops will return from Angola soon.

We have worked hard on the negotiations, although without any anxieties or
impatience.  Our negotiations have been based on principles.   More than a
year ago, it was decided, based on principle and firmness, to reinforce
those troops based on that crisis we spoke of in Cuita Cuanavale.  We
combined all units, all troops, in order to be victorious, to squash the
enemy if necessary and the enemy understood this.

We've always said, however, that we aren't seeking military victories;
we're seeking fair political solutions.  That is why we are fighting.  We
don't want military victories at the price of sacrificing the blood of a
single compatriot.  This revolution has never fought for glory but it has
always been firm in confronting danger, in running the necessary risks.  In
situations such as this, we have always been guided by the philosophy of
being sufficiently strong to win, to be sufficiently strong and without
hesitations so that the alternative of defeat does not exist.  That's also
the way this last glorious episode occurred.  It is possible that peace and
the political solutions that we demanded may finally be attained and we may
bring back our troops.  This had to be done without anxiety, with patience,
because what has made this possible is our firmness, our absence of
anxiety, and our absence of impatience.  The enemy is very familiar with
our troops and knows what they are cable of doing.  They know what our
troops can do.  They know about their ability to resist, their ability to
withstand difficulties, and to remain where they must remain for as long as
necessary. [applause]

However, I repeat; I hope that an era of peace, detente, and a reduction
in tensions comes to the world.  This doesn't mean we're going to rest on
our laurels.  This doesn't mean that we will become overconfident.  All it
means is that this is our preference.  This is what we would like to see.
Hopefully, we would like to dedicate ourselves even more to the development
of our country, to the progress of our country.

As Marti said--I think it was Marti--to those who want to be free, liberty
has its price and it is necessary to resign oneself to live without it or
to be willing to pay the price for it. [applause] We can say that
independence has its price.  The right to start a revolution, to create a
new world, to bring justice to our fatherland has a price.  We have to pay
the price or resign ourselves to live without that independence, without
those rights.

Those who always pay the highest price are those who vacillate, the
cowards.  Those who pay the lowest price are the brave ones, the decisive
ones because it is very difficult to put any price on this.  This is the
way our people have conducted themselves during the past 30 years.

I've seen some interesting things these past few days.  They're more than
interesting; they're impressive.  These have to be pleasant for everyone
because this is our work.  It is the fruit of our sweat and our efforts.
It is the fruit of the blood shed by the comrades who fell along the road,
for those who gave their sweat and blood for our revolution.  They gave of
their own not just from 1953, but they've given since 1968. Our history is
full of bravery, heroism, and beautiful examples that are insurmountable.

I was saying that I had seen interesting things these past days.  I had a
number of commitments.  In addition, other came up.  I had already planned
to visit Camaguey and Las Tunas.  I had planned to spend 2 days here in
Granma.  I had the ceremony on the 30th [ceremony marking 30th anniversary
of Guisa Battle originally scheduled for 30 November[ and the ceremony on
the 2nd [marking the anniversary of the Revolutionary Armed Forces] in the
capital of the Republic.  I had the organization and preparation of
Gorbachev's visit after that.  I then received an invitation form the Fidel
Government of Mexico, a country with which we have had extensive and
exemplary relations over the past 30 years.  This is a new thing.  They
invited me to the ceremony inaugurating the new president.  This did not
happen before.  I have recently received two invitations.

I understand that this does not please the imperialists very much.  I
understand that this doesn't please the Yankees very much.  Well, I didn't
use to get invited and now I am being invited.  I had to attend all these
ceremonies and I had all these commitments.  Trips always involve risks.
But what could we do?  Isolate ourselves, blockade ourselves?  To think
about work, to think about the risks, to even think about the political
difficulties of the visit?  Unfortunately, there have been internal
differences among people who are friends of Cuba.  We thought it was not
possible to reject the invitation.  The invitation must be accepted and we
must travel to Mexico. [applause]

In addition, we left Mexico 32 years ago on 2 [December].  A few days ago
we marked 32 years since we left Mexico--on 24 November [as heard].  For
all of us, Mexico is like a second fatherland. [applause] Despite the
internal differences I talked about, we reached the conclusion that it was
elementary to accept the invitation.  So, we had to include a trip on this
schedule.  We had to move up the ceremony for the 30th [to today].  I have
to explain this because you may ask, why is the ceremony not being held on
the 30th but on the 29th instead?  Well, we will have to postpone the one
in Havana also.  I already talked to Comrade Lezcano.  I told him: I didn't
tell you anything so that you would continue preparing for the ceremony.  I
told him this before I left for Camaguey.  I told him we have no other
choice but to postpone it, if you want me to attend, and I suggested that
it be postponed until the 5th.

All this after so much work, but the work of a revolutionary is voluntary.
not one of us was forced to be a revolutionary. [applause] We chose this
road, so we can never complain about any tasks that we have to carry out or
any effort that we have to exert.  Well, going back to the idea I
mentioned, we recently saw some encouraging things in Matanzas--no, not in
Matanzas, in Camaguey.  A modern weapons factory was inaugurated
there--this is not a secret because everyone knows about it--and it is a

That is not [changes thought] I said there that the factory's daily
production could have solved all our problems regarding the Batista's
Army.  Just think, 300 automatic rifles! [applause] But we had to solve the
problems without those rifles, which will come to handy if we have to solve
some problems with the Yankee Armed Forces.  Hence the importance of that
factory, not to mention its capacity to help other industries by
manufacturing tools, components, spare parts, and various other things for
the people.  The possibilities are fabulous.

The really impressive thing--more than the factory's machinery, automatic
lathes, and other automatic equipment--is the personnel.  Approximately
4,000 youths, 450 of whom have a higher education, work there with a unique
organization, discipline, spirit, and efficiency.  Their average age is 24
years. Young 21-year old and 22-year-old men have important production jobs
and responsibilities.  It is also a cadre factory.  It is really touching
to see these young men's attitude and to watch them in uniform working in
such as organized way. One cannot be more impressed.

The other way we visited the new mill being built for the people in
Camaguey by the Youth Labor Army [EJT].  The dining room looks as good as
any restaurant in the capital.   The idea was to build houses instead of
camps and, once the EJT leaves, the houses can be used by the complex's
agricultural workers.  We analyzed that sugarcanes yield, which is very
high, and the results attained in Camaguey by implementing certain
agricultural techniques in the sugarcane fields.  This includes parcel
drainage and the so-called siphon watering.  The yield is incredible and
the system is affordable.

Another day we traveled early in the morning to deliver the contingent
banner to a group of workers building a road toward a zone that has great
tourism potential.

These people are working with a new spirit for 13, 14 or 15 hours every
day.  In 7 months, they build a road, although it has not yet been paved.
The causeway is almost finished.  It is unbelievable that 82 men completed
this project in barely 7 months.  This is new--something that has never
been seen anywhere before.  They are applying new concepts.  They are
applying the revolutionary process, almost with the spirit--we can
say--with which the comrades fought in Cuito Canavale or with which the
revel fighters fought here in the Guisa battles.

A little later, I had the opportunity to visit a new factory built in
record time by another contingent.  It was a rolling mill that can produce
from 90,000 to 100,000 tons of steels sheets a year. It was designed by
Cuban engineering experts with machinery manufactured in Cuba, basically
by the Santa Clara Factory.  If we were to purchase this factory new, it
would cost us $20 million.  But since it was built with Cuban equipment, it
cost us $7 million to pay for some components and some engines.  The most
important thing is that that [words indistinct] factory was built in 14
months by that group of people, who worked with the spirit of a contingent.
They were presented with the banner of the contingent.

In that same area, a group of youths who have been trained at the Antillana
de Acero steel mill to handle the rolling mill, a group of retired
Antillana de Acero workers who are there training them, and a group of
50,000 to 60,000 Tunas residents, reflect a very different country, a very
different people with a discipline, level of culture, and level of
awareness that is truly impressive.  Then, today, we visited various
locations.  We presented three banners to three contingents.

Some contingents are building the Cauto Dam, a project that has already
began.  When this dam was planned, it was thought that it would take 3
years to build.  They will build it in 2 and 1/2 years, 2 and 1/2 years!
[repeats himself] [applause] They will not only build the dam but also the
channels.   This dam will hold 400 million cubic meters of water.  Many of
these contingent workers are internationalist fighters.  Later in Cauto,
Cautillo, we saw another dam being built by another contingent.  That
contingent received its banner with much discipline, organization, and
spirit.  Then, we went to the Bayamo River, in the Corojo zone.  We
presented another banner there.  We observed there youths who are very
organized, wearing their work uniforms and hats.  In fact, they looked
like an army.  They looked like a guerilla army.  I said that 30 years
ago, an on other occasions, heroism was proven in battles, sacrifices, and
deaths.  Today, heroism is fundamentally proven in work.  I say that these
young boys and girls are behaving like true heroes.  They are dedicated to
their work.  Half the men have doubled the work that used to be done.  They
multiply foreign exchange converted into equipment by three.  They produce
at low cost, with efficiency, and with quality.

Already, several thousand workers--over 10,000--are working with these
concepts.  I do not doubt that in the future there will be 20,000, 30,000,
50,000, perhaps even 100,000 one day.  I say 100,000 men are working that
way here.  They do not have [words indistinct] in this country.  The
country is made new.  We have to see over 200,000 men, over 200,000 men
[repeats himself] in this area.  When 1,000 men like these get together,
they build three major dams in record time.  The wealth of experience and
knowledge that has been accumulated by new cadres and experts is
unbelievable.  Such major changes.  In the days when were in those
mountains... [changes thought] And the mountains too have changed so much!
Before, there were no roads or paths.  Today, we come to [name indistinct],
Cautillo, Canteras, on an asphalt highway.  We come to Santa Barbara on an
paved road.

We go from Santa Barbara to Bayamo River, and from Bayamo River to the
Bayamo City on an asphalt road.  Everywhere in the mountains there are
asphalt roads.  The mountains are full of family doctors.  How everything
has changed here!  While Guisa had 2,300 residents 30 years ago, it now has
approximately 20,800 residents.

The curious thing about visiting these areas by car is that these areas do
not seem remote.  One has the idea that these places between the Santa
Barbara Trunk Highway and the highway to Guisa are not so far away.  We
blew up a bridge on the night of the 20th or 21st--or the night of the 19th
or 20th.  We would have to check the exact date.  I thought we had walked a
short while.  Now, by car, I realize the road is several kilometers long.

In reality what happened was that we were so used to walking, that distance
seemed shorter then, while today places seem to be farther away on the road
by car.

Our mountains are being radically transformed and will be transformed
even more.  There is electricity everywhere.  Thousands of kilometers of
power lines have been installed so that electricity--the convenience of
having electricity, communications, television, and all those things--could
reach the most distance places in the mountains.

I have noticed that many accomplishments of the revolution, its endless
possibilities in every field,and the profound changes that have occurred
everywhere.  We saw that yesterday in Tunas, I asked:  What is this?  A
department of the university, I was told.  Then I asked:  What are those?
Several university departments in Tunas, they said.  Then I inquired:  What
department is this?  This is the medical school, someone said.  There are
thousands of medical students in Tunas.  In 1977, several years after the
revolution's victory, there were less than 200 doctors in  Tunas, and today
there are more than 1,700 doctors, and 1,000 medical students at the

I then asked:  What building is this?  This is the technical school, I was
told.  And this?  [words indistinct] And that? the multipurpose ward [sala
polivalente].  And this?  A special school.  And what is that?  That is
where the teaching school will be built.  And what are those?  A
pasteurizing plant, a hotel, a recently built children's center.  Las Tunas
used to be a municipality, and today it is the capital of the province,
which even has many university centers.  There are several university
centers here.  Some have four, the medical school has five--six including
the teaching school.

I said to my comrades:  We must stress agricultural development.  We
talked about irrigation projects and about the dam-building projects.  We
had a lengthy discussion over projects for sugarcane, food, vegetable, and
milk production.  Currently, 20 million [not further specified] as produced
there.  Early next year, we will begin a project for the construction of
dairy farms that will produce over 100 million liters of milk.  [We
discussed] projects for pork production and agricultural projects.  [We
discussed] increasing sugarcane production per hectare for food production.
We can attain this goal thanks to research that has proven that sugarcane
is not only a source of sugar but also a source of protein rich food.

We said we should not disregard economic plans for a second, because behind
each one of those special schools lie the rations for 200 or 250 students.
I forgot to mention that they [not further identified] would say to me that
they would finish that school, that [words indistinct] next year.  Our food
quota lies behind each one of those schools with hundreds of students.  And
behind the vocational school, behind the circle [as heard]--the food
quotes lie behind all these.

I have been saying this to my comrades in every province.  The population
probably needs things.  People want all kinds of things.  And people want
housing, of course.  I told my comrades that we needed a correct balance
between our efforts in the economic realm and our efforts in the social
realm.  But we have the opportunities for making these efforts.

Only yesterday I was explaining to (?Antona) that we are involved in a
program for the construction of 50 pork-production centers.  The Ministry
of Construction will have to build 27 of these.  The Ministry of
Agriculture will have to build the other 23.  The Ministry of Agriculture
will have to add to the centers it already has through [words indistinct].
MICONs [Ministry of Construction] will build completely new centers.
Together they will build 50 centers, which will have the capacity to
produce over 100,000 tons of meat a year.  With the feed we have at
present and by collecting waste from all these social institutions, using
the protein-based honey produced in our yeast factories, of which there are
over 10, regardless of [words indistinct].  In addition, we have cereal

This project is part of a 5-year plan.  We have proposed to every province
that the project should be completed in 3 years.  We cannot spend more than
1 year in building a new center that has over 54 [words indistinct].  This
used to take 3 years.  There are many possibilities in all fields:  We can
increase the production of food, vegetable, rice, milk, and different kinds
of meats.  Many new possibilities are arising.  Today's population is
better educated, better organized, better prepared, and is capable of
performing these great feats.

Each one of your contingents today is truly working excellently.  This is a
great organization.  I have said that capitalists boast that they do things
better and therefore they can build better than we can.  But we should
compare [this organization] to the stupid and foolish things that were done
and the concepts that were applied.  This is why I say that I would like to
see a capitalist enterprise capable of building a dam in the time that you
built it.  I would like to see a capitalist enterprise that is capable of
using the equipment that you are using as productively as you are.  I have
realized that I am before an organization two or three times better than
any capitalist organization, founded on principles and concepts, to which
discipline is a matter of pride, honor, and dignity for the collective.
The collective imposes the discipline.  It is the collective that tells
someone:  You do not deserve to be in this contingent.  It is the
collective that does not accept absences or laziness of any kind.  It is
incredible--no one is ever absent in this workers' collective.  It does not
know the concept of being absent.  The collective takes care of the
machinery as no one else would.

This is where we can see the revolution's possibilities.  This
revolution, after 30 years of struggling against ignorance and illiteracy
and educating hundreds of thousands of technicians at the university level,
is capable of doing more than the capitalists ever did once it makes that
decision, [applause] and to do things better than the capitalists ever did.

How many dams did the capitalists build in this country to hold water, to
produce rice, sugarcane, food for the people, milk and meat?  There were
practically none--there were a few tiny little water dams.  Any how many
has the revolution built?  How many is it building simultaneously here in
Granma alone?  It is building three great dams simultaneously, as well as
canal systems, dams and irrigation systems.  What is an irrigation
equipment factory [words indistinct], which are highly productive and save
water, doing here in Granma?  I still have to visit the factory.  They are,
in fact, waiting for me, but I was not able to go there before the

How many roads did the capitalists build in these mountains?  How much
electricity did they bring to these mountains?  How many hospitals and how
many family doctors did they send to these mountains?  The revolution has
over 700 family doctors in the mountains.  There are no mountains in this
province or in Santiago or Guantanamo without family doctors.  There are
many municipalities and regions with family doctors, where infant
mortality is under 10 [sentence as heard].  That is incredible. [applause]

The capitalists never took care of any social problem here or anywhere
else.  We are ahead of them by 1,000 km.  We can do things better than they
can.  Today we have a chance to increase our output.  Of course, we must
work because we must invest.

We must invest in land drainage; we must level off the land to plant rice;
and we must save water.  We must increase our productivity and build
thousands and thousands of kilometers of irrigation channels in this
country.  We have the possibilities to do all that.

I have seen [words indistinct] men of flesh and blood.  They are men of
flesh and blood, not imaginary men.  It is very encouraging.  I am glad to
see them here this afternoon.  I am glad to see you, the veterans, here
this afternoon.  You are not old people.  You are veterans which is not
the same thing. [applause]

I know you, comrades, have lived many hours of emotions.  You are happy to
meet here.  Before coming here, I wondered:  What would a meeting of
hundreds of veterans be like?  They must have a lot to say and a lot of
stories to remember.  I know you will especially think about the fruits of
the revolution and of your efforts.  I know you must talk about the
development of those things for which we struggled and about the kind of
people we have today.  You must wonder about the new generations and what
they are capable of doing.  You must wonder whether they are capable of
doing what that youth did therein Cuito Canavale [city in Angola] and
whether they can do what dozens of thousands of youths like him did.  You
must wonder whether the new generations can run a sophisticated industry
like the one in Camaguey Province and whether they can build 20 km of roads
in only a few months at the ridiculous cost of 62 centavos of expense per
productive peso [a un cost infimo de 62 centavos de gasto por peso
producido].  You must wonder whether a rolling mill can be built in 14
months.  They now say the next rolling mill will be completed in 2 months.

With the same naturalness with which our comrades fought 30 years ago, our
youths now march with their equipment and machinery to build dams,
irrigation channels, roads, etc.

I truly say, and I say it with great pleasure, that the fruit of the
efforts of the fighters of the past is that today our people are much more
prepared.  We now have a more educated and responsible people.  Our people
have more confidence in themselves now.  We have people capable of
growing...[changes thought].  We have a people of heroic combatants willing
to fight for the defense of the homeland and in any fair struggle.  We have
people capable of heroic actions that lead us to increase our work and
development.  We have people who, when they set their minds to it, can
achieve what they want  We have a people of international volunteers.
[applause]  We have people who were willing to send 50,000 men far from the

We have a country in which doctors, workers, teachers, and volunteers are
willing to travel to any part of the world and access any sacrifice.  Our
people can organize and arm themselves, and they feel they can stop the
empire if it tried to lash out with its claws against our island.

Our people are capable of heroic deeds at their work place.  We have people
like those we see here now.  Behind the group of comrades of column no 1, I
see thousands and thousands of men and women wearing the uniforms of the
territorial militia troops.  [applause]

The people of today are the fruit of our efforts and sacrifices.  Those
unforgettable comrades who died during our 30 years of struggle would feel
proud of that fruit.

Seeing so many flags here, seeing that beautiful flag of the solitary
start, I say:  Those flags could have not been better defended; those flags
could have never been better escorted.

Free fatherland or death, we will win. [crowd responds: "We will win"]