Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Speaks at Minint Soldier's Funeral
Havana Radio Havana Cuba
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     PA1902174192
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-92-034          Report Date:    20 Feb 92
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     3
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       6
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       18 Feb 92
Report Volume:       Thursday Vol VI No 034


City/Source of Document:   Havana Radio Havana Cuba

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Speaks at Minint Soldier's Funeral

Author(s):   President Fidel Castro at the funeral of Ministry of Interior,
Minint, soldier Rolando Perez Quintosa at the Colon Cemetery in
Havana on 17 February-recorded]

Source Line:   PA1902174192 Havana Radio Havana Cuba in Spanish 0209 GMT 18 Feb

Subslug:   [Speech by President Fidel Castro at the funeral of Ministry of
Interior, Minint, soldier Rolando Perez Quintosa at the Colon
Cemetery in Havana on 17 February-recorded]

1.  [Speech by President Fidel Castro at the funeral of Ministry of Interior,
Minint, soldier Rolando Perez Quintosa at the Colon Cemetery in Havana on 17

2.  [Text] Family Members, Combatants, Compatriots:

3.  I did not want to bring a written speech as I have done on other occasions.
I would rather reflect a few minutes on the importance of the event that has
brought us together here. We have often gathered in this or other cemeteries. 
One time, if we remember, it was because of the explosion at the Cubre factory,
where more than 100 workers and soldiers died as a result of criminal sabotage. 
Another time we came to bury a teacher murdered while carrying out his duties;
or a literacy worker such as Manuel Ascunce, murdered while teaching the
peasants to read and write. Another time, for example, it was because of the
treacherous air attack against our bases on 15 April 1961, and we had to come
and bury those who died at that time. On that occasion we certainly proclaimed
the socialist nature of our revolution. We have had to meet many times to bid
farewell to the bodies of compatriots who were vilely murdered in the attack on
or the sabotage of the Barbadian airplane.

4.  I am not going to mention here the times we have met to render tribute to
our glorious internationalist combatants or to bury some dear comrade, because
they belong to a different type of event. I am talking about the times when we
have had to gather as a result of criminal, treacherous, premeditated,
repulsive acts. The history of villainy and crimes of the reaction and the
counterrevolution is long. We remember how the comrades who were taken prisoner
during the Moncada assault on 26 July 1953 were savagely murdered, or how
dozens and dozens of comrades who came over on the Granma were also murdered.

5.  Counterrevolutionaries and reactionaries do not practice these deeds in our
country alone but everywhere. Today we remember the teachers murdered while
they fulfilled their noble mission to teach the people of Nicaragua. We
remember how Che [Guevara] was taken prisoner after being wounded, and after
giving him medical care, they killed him. We remember that while fulfilling
internationalist missions, for example in Angola, soldiers who were wounded and
taken prisoner, or soldiers who were taken prisoner-and there were not
many-were inevitably murdered.

6.  How different the behavior of the revolution has been in comparison,
throughout its history and without exception! During the Moncada assault, the
first act of war, the prisoners taken at the beginning were respected. In the
Sierra Maestra, thousands of enemy soldiers were our prisoners, and not one was
mistreated or murdered.  Hundreds of these enemy soldiers owed their lives,
hundreds of these wounded enemy soldiers owed their lives to the medical care
and medicine our troops gave them. At the Bay of Pigs, we took more than 1,000
prisoners, and despite the heat, emotions, and feelings of battle, not a single
one was mistreated or executed. The men showed in their self-control and
calmness all the moral greatness of our revolution. Dozens of were attended and
saved by our doctors in our hospitals.

7.  I remember that I personally helped to save the life of one of those
mercenaries, who was seriously ill and who we took prisoner. We immediately
sent him, as quickly as possible, to the hospital where he could be saved. This
is certainly not the only case we have personally seen or been part of. In
Bolivia Che respected all the prisoners.  He personally cared for them as their
doctor if there were any wounded. While fulfilling our internationalist
missions in Africa, there was not a single case of a prisoner being murdered or
mistreated, or even one wounded person being abandoned.

8.  Now, to the lengthy history of shameful deeds we must add this one that has
gathered us together at this time: the repugnant murder of four combatants,
four young men. The events as they occurred are fairly well known.  They tried
to go to the northern paradise. They tried to steal a boat, but they had the
premeditated intention to kill if necessary to get the boat. Rolando was not
there.  There was only one border guard and one CDP [expansion unknown].  They
deceived them. They began to talk with them, all with treacherous intentions.
They were known by some people there because of work they had done previously
in that region. They seized the moment to attack and disarm them. Rolando
[Perez Quintosa] was heading that way when his unit received word that
something abnormal was happening. He moved quickly and arrived with another
comrade, with Yuri [Gomez Reinoso]. They arrived at the post, at the guard hut,
and they found the CDP and the border guard lying down and tied up.

9.  They began to untie them, free them, but apparently they realized that some
people had arrived. The leader of the gang went over there with the AK he had
taken from the border guard. It was after midnight. No one can say what
visibility was like. Rolando approached them and told them to surrender. The
answer was a burst of bullets from very close range. So Rolando and Yuri were
wounded. Apparently they fell from the impact of the bullets. The leader of the
gang went inside the guard shack and shot and killed Orosman [Duenas Valero]
and Rafael [Guevara Borges] at point-blank range. He finished off the others
instantly, but when he came out he realized that there was a wounded person
moaning.  Another member of the counterrevolutionary group went in with a
pistol and shot the one who was moaning in the heart.

10.  But Rolando saw everything. He was seriously wounded but conscious. As
soon as other comrades arrived he immediately told them what had happened. He
gave them information; he gave them clues that facilitated the capture of the
murderers. He told them quickly that one of them was a rapist. He was a rapist.
He even gave them the name of the rapist. Thanks to this clue he gave in a
final effort before going into shock, a rapid clarification of events was
achieved. That is, already seriously wounded, we could say mortally wounded,
his last service was to help to discover who had perpetrated these atrocious

11.  They were also common criminals, individuals who had participated in three
rapes, according to what was revealed at the trial, three rapes. Of course,
when they realized they were known, they murdered and finished off the
comrades; not so they could leave, but so no one would identify them. Murder is
repulsive. Murdering unarmed men who are tied up is simply monstrous. This
gives us an idea of what our people could expect, what our young people, our
students, our mothers, and our combatants could expect of the
counterrevolution, the reaction, and imperialism if they succeed in imposing
their designs on this land, if they succeed in crushing the heroic resistance
of our people.

12.  There is no need to say, because all of you already know it, that if these
men had succeeded in escaping, in spite of their four murders and three rapes,
they would have been welcomed in the United States as heroes, as they have
welcomed so many others, as they welcomed the murderers who killed thousands
and thousands of Cubans during the Batista tyranny. They welcomed them with all
their money, all their fortunes, and with absolute impunity, as they have
welcomed throughout these years so many criminals who sought refuge in the
United States.  There have been cases, and we know of them, in which they have
hijacked boats and then thrown the crew or some of the crew overboard far from
land. We know of cases in which the crew was rescued only by a miracle.  We
have denounced these actions, and these individuals have not received even the
least reprimand for these monstrous acts.

13.  So any criminal, any of these bandits, knows that they have a safe refuge
there. If they are Haitians, they are returned to their country. If they are
criminals, counterrevolutionaries [gusanos], lumpen, murderers who provide the
raw material for their propaganda, then they are welcomed with open arms. Why?
We do not forbid anyone to leave the country permanently except as is
reasonable, if they have a serious court case pending, or if they might have
sensitive national information. That is a minimum number of cases.

14.  Why do they not grant visas for people to immigrate to the northern
paradise? In recent years we have been following an even looser policy in this
field. We authorize the departure and return of those who want to travel abroad
or visit some country. They can leave and return, all those over age 20, as is
set forth, with those very few exceptions I have mentioned. Why do they
encourage illegal departures from the country? This policy clearly has been a
tool to destabilize, create problems, shelter those kind of people, harass and
insult the revolution, and harm our people's interests.

15.  I dare say that never has such an intense battle been waged to save one
life. I am a witness to this. A U.S.  president would never have received the
care Rolando received. For a U.S. president, with all the enormous wealth of
that country, they would not have done what our doctors and scientists did here
to save Rolando's life.  Because a medical system inspired by mercantilist
principles would not be capable of doing what our doctors, technicians, nurses,
and scientists did to save this young man's life.

16.  On one occasion I asked how many people were working directly on him
there, and they told me there were 70 people. There were about 50 doctors and
scientists fighting for Rolando's life, many of them around the clock. All the
resources of science were applied, all of them, many highly technical pieces of
medical equipment made and developed in our country, new medicines developed in
our country. Not only the best of our science and medicine, but the best
science and medicine in the world. One of our pieces of equipment could specify
in four hours what the most effective antibiotic would be to fight the bacteria
present, to fight the infection. With traditional procedures, that would take
50, 60, or 70 hours. The equipment was constantly there.  There were other
kinds of equipment of all types to help the doctors care for the patient. There
was also equipment from other countries that our hospitals have, the most
modern equipment and medicines.

17.  I am going to reveal a detail to you. At a given time, the antibiotics
were controlling the bacteria, controlling the infection, but the level of
toxins was very high. A U.S.  transnational company has developed a monoclonal
antibody, a product we are not very far from making ourselves, a similar
product. Our doctors asked a branch or subsidiary or whatever they call it in
Europe for it, which did not violate U.S. law as we understand it, and the
subsidiary answered that they could not sell that product to Cuba for a Cuban
patient because it would violate the standards or principles or whatever of the

18.  In any case, we obtained the medicine from friends who had purchased it.
We supplied them with the funds to buy it; more than $20,000 were invested in
that product to try to fight the toxins when the infection had already been
fought. Of course, this was not a case of a single complication, but rather
there were many complications, but one of the most serious was the infection.
He was hit by four bullets, one of which practically made his colon burst,
creating the most favorable conditions for peritonitis. He was also wounded in
the lungs and in the leg, and all this produced complications for different
organs-the heart, kidneys, lungs-as a result of the shock he experienced. There
were also circulatory problems, healing problems, necrosis in part of the small
intestine that called for surgery and more surgery, bleeding in the stomach. He
was on a ventilator and tube from the start. His life was maintained with the

19.  There was hope that he could be saved in spite of such adverse factors,
because his spirit, we could say, contributed a lot, his capacity to resist,
his strength, not only moral but physical, his youth, his 23 years. Otherwise
his body would not have been able to endure that deterioration for such a long
time as a result of so many complications. I remember that during one of the
visits I made to that hospital, I asked if he was awake, if he was conscious,
and that day he was conscious, he was awake.  I was able to see him, greet him.
Other times he was sleeping. At the end he was conscious but under heavy

20.  He recognized me right away. He wanted to speak. At that time he did not
have a tube in his mouth. He was not receiving artificial ventilation through
the trachea. He wanted to tell me something, he wanted to communicate.  He
looked at me, but it was difficult for him to articulate the words, it was
difficult to understand what he wanted to say. I can tell you that I saw him
suffer terribly, because at one point sedatives and analgesics were
contraindicated because of the other medicines that were being used to save his
life. Therefore, his pain could not be alleviated. How he suffered!

21.  It is easy to say 37 days, but we must see under what conditions he lived
those 37 days. How much he must have remembered his son, his wife, his sister,
his parents, his relatives, his comrades! What must he have been thinking? I
sometimes wonder if he was able to realize the enormous interest our people
showed in his health and life. What must he have been thinking? What suffering
must a person in that condition have undergone, with so many transfusions,
blood replacements, plasmapheresis, serum replacements, etc., etc.? Think of
this, even with the hope we all had that he would be saved, a hope that was not
lost for a single moment. But when according to the doctors the chances of
saving him were 0.5 percent-that is, less than 1 percent-they continued to
fight to save him.

22.  They shed as many tears as his family did, as all the people did, when in
the end it was not possible to obtain that goal. But truly, they as well as
Rolando and his family, who did not leave there for a single minute, deserved
to win. These doctors and scientists deserve our most profound gratitude on
this occasion. A battle has been lost, but the war has not been lost. Our
science and our medicine have not lost this struggle, nor have our people lost
this war, nor has our revolution lost this war.

23.  In general, when we bury a person we love, we tell a history of his life.
I will limit myself to saying that Rolando's history is the history of our
magnificent young people. It is the history of our revolution. He was a noble,
good, patriotic, revolutionary, self-sacrificing, hard-working, disciplined
boy. He might have been any of our young students, as has been said. He might
have been any of our young people. He might have been any of our combatants. It
is said that Christ was dying on the cross for 6 hours. Rolando was about 150
times those 6 hours on the cross set up by those heralds of crime and death.

24.  The West.... [rephrases] It is also said that the West has created a
civilization inspired by Christian values. Yes, that is said of the West, which
has been responsible for so many wars and tragedies for humanity, so much
misery and poverty in the world, so many conquests and colonies, so much
underdevelopment that the earth is filled with today. But the West-which has
criticized Cuba so much and carried out an enormous campaign against Cuba and
the revolution because the Council of State did not show clemency concerning
the sentences justly applied by the courts, and because the sentence was
applied to one of them, the head of the commandos, this gave rise to a terrible
campaign against our country. The Christian West did not send a single message
of sympathy for the combatants who were vilely murdered by immoral people,

25.  It did not have a single word of kindness concerning Rolando Perez
Quintosa, the young man who suffered on the cross for 150 times the hours
Christ suffered.  Instead, they expressed sympathy for those who landed here to
kill, burn, and set bombs. No one even stood up to say, as one more example of
the generosity of this revolution, that the counterrevolutionary ringleader
himself who sent the commando from Miami once carried out a pirate attack, was
taken prisoner, seriously wounded, almost totally blind from the explosion of a
grenade, and the revolution saved his life and saved his sight as much as it
was possible to save it. Not a single word was said about this, as if our
people had no right to defend themselves from such riffraff and such criminals.

26.  The West makes very energetic demands and becomes infinitely indignant
when citizens of its countries are victims of some terrorist act. It demands
punishment and exemplary punishment then. But when the saboteurs of the
Barbadian airplane committed that horrendous crime, the West did not protest.
Nor did it protest when the murderers were incredibly absolved by the
Venezuelan courts.  There was not a single word of protest. But this time it
was the people's courts, the socialist state's courts, that tried them and
applied the appropriate sentences in strict compliance with the law.

27.  All this shows how much hypocrisy there is in the world when clemency is
demanded for those who once more come here to kill. Of course, I must say in
fairness that some of those who opposed this or asked for clemency were also
our friends, for one reason. They asked for it for a special reason, because
out of personal, philosophical, or religious convictions, they are opposed to
the death penalty.

28.  Of course, those who protested most were in the United States, where the
death penalty has been established in almost all states. We respect the views
of those who asked for clemency for other reasons but at the same time were
capable of condemning the actions, condemning the crimes.  These are people who
are opposed to the aggression against Cuba and the embargo against Cuba. Since
I have spoken about the West and its strange and paradoxical behavior, I should
clarify that not all those who in some way asked for clemency fall into this

29.  There was a student who asked me what many people were saying: Listen, why
do people who commit crimes like this need someone to defend them? She did not
even agree that they should have defense lawyers. Of course, a lot of people
said that all had to be severely punished. I told the young woman: This is the
law, and we cannot put ourselves outside the law. We must respect the law.  The
law establishes procedures. It establishes lawyers, and if the defendant does
not have a lawyer, the government provides one for him. That is what the law
establishes. Of course, we know that the law is not equal, but we cannot go
outside the law. We have the duty to act in accordance with the laws.

30.  The law was often violated or used against progressive, democratic,
revolutionary people in this world. The world is full of laws that are not
obeyed. Of course, we must stick to the principles we have always applied
throughout the history of the revolution. We have laws, strict laws, which
punish some crimes in an exemplary manner, but we must stick to the laws. But I
know that that is the feeling and reaction aroused by acts like these.

31.  Perez Quintosa and the comrades who died, the dead comrades, do not
diminish us, as Hemingway said, each time a man dies, humankind is diminished.
In this case, we do not feel diminished. We feel increased, multiplied, and
inspired by their example. They knew how to die.  Rolando and the others knew
how to give up their lives courageously for the revolution and the nation. That
is, they were willing to give even their lives to defend the revolution and the

32.  What can we say at this sad time of goodbye? We should simply say that all
of us feel capable of doing the same thing. Eternal glory for the nation's
heroes! [Crowd shouts: ``Glory!''] Socialism or death, fatherland or death, we
will win. [applause]