Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

-DATE-
19940301
-YEAR-
1994
-DOCUMENT TYPE-

-AUTHOR-

-HEADLINE-
Castro Comments on Radio Rebelde History
-PLACE-
CARIBBEAN / Cuba
-SOURCE-
Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks
-REPORT NO.-
FBIS-LAT-94-045
-REPORT DATE-
19940308
-HEADER-
=================================

Report Type:         Daily report             AFS Number:     FL0503012994
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-94-045          Report Date:    08 Mar 94
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     1
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       8
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       01 Mar 94
Report Volume:       Tuesday Vol VI No 045

Dissemination:  

City/Source of Document:   Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks 

Report Name:   Latin America 

Headline:   Castro Comments on Radio Rebelde History 

Source Line:   FL0503012994 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks in
Spanish 0130 GMT 1 Mar 94 

Subslug:   [Colloquy among Cuban President Fidel Castro and Politburo members,
Radio Rebelde officials, workers, and retirees at the ceremony commemorating
the 36th anniversary of Radio Rebelde at Radio Rebelde's Studio No. 2 in Havana
on 24            February-recorded] 

-TEXT-
FULL TEXT OF ARTICLE: 1.  [Colloquy among Cuban President Fidel Castro and
Politburo members, Radio Rebelde officials, workers, and retirees at the
ceremony commemorating the 36th anniversary of Radio Rebelde at Radio Rebelde's
Studio No. 2 in Havana on 24 February-recorded] 

2.  [Excerpts] [Castro] This report I had prepared to refresh my memory reads:
Radio Rebelde began its broadcasts from Altos de Collantes [words indistinct]
on 24 February 1958. On 18 April, following the visit by the commander in chief
[words indistinct] ddress regarding the events of the 9 April rebel strike, the
relocation of Radio Rebelde's equipment begins. 

3.  That is right. It says here: The relocation begins. What approximate date
could it have been? 

4.  [Radio Rebelde veteran worker] I believe it was on the 15th. 

5.  [Castro] I do not believe it could have been so soon afterwards, because
first there were the operations conducted in La Plata and the nearby region as
result of the 9 April strike. The troops were very active, were everywhere,
conducting assaults everywhere, even the Bayamo-Manzanillo road.  When the
failure of the April strike became evident, I started out for the station and
had to walk a very long distance because to reach La Plata-I do not think I
took the Sierra route, but the foothills to reach El Alto de Conrado-it took at
least three days. I know I stated that I had walked night and day. 

6.  I must have walked a long time. There were all those clashes after 9 April;
the long walk to Altos de Conrado must have taken six days and that seems on
the short side. I believe the 14th is less likely. The 15th is a better guess.
The 18 April date had not caught my attention because it was nine days later.
However, we began the relocation right away. [passage omitted] 

7.  Following the great blow of the failure of the strike, the enemy had to
conduct a forcible, all-out effort to eliminate us. It was their moment of
highest enthusiasm, highest morale. It was logical. To me, their offensive was
unavoidable. 

8.  So I reached the station and reported....[changes thought] They were saying
the failure had been total.  What really happened on 9 April is that they
managed to choke off the strike but we conducted a series of attacks
everywhere. We hit them hard in Sierra Maestra and Segundo Frente-where Raul's
column had recently arrived. [Words indistinct] we inflicted many casualties
and took weapons. In the military arena, we accomplished much although we were
only a few. However, they reported that the whole thing was a total disaster. 
This is what I explained to them. I have here what I said.  It is several pages
long. I explained everything: what had happened; the extent of the fight; that
the Rebel Army was intact and that we would continue resisting. It was a long
message. I was hopeful that many people would hear it. I do not know how many
might have heard it. I do not know whether the station had many listeners by
14, 15 or 18 April. You probably know. [passage omitted] 

9.  [Reading from text] And to the people of Cuba, the assurance that this
fortress will never be vanquished and our promise that the fatherland will be
free and the struggle will continue to the death of the last man. 

10.  This is how that address concluded. Its exact date is not known because no
date was recorded. This report cites the 18th as the day the relocation begins.
However, I must have spoken very close to the 18th. It is a matter of
estimating the time between all that happened on 9 April and the move to where
the station was located. [passage omitted] 

11.  Then I must really have walked hard. I stayed in that region probably
until the 13th. It was on the 13th that we realized that the strike had failed.
It must have been the 13th. I said: I have walked night and day without rest
from the area of operations of Column No. 1 to keep this appointment with Radio
Rebelde. The effort! I must have been in better shape [words indistinct]. Quite
a trek. [passage omitted] 

12.  In the battle of El Jigue, we adopted the strategy of giving out no news
until the fighting was over, because if we issued news the enemy could hear it.
Even after the battle was over, we stayed quiet for two or three days in order
to remove all the weapons and everything. We delayed the report on the El Jigue
battle for about two days. We played many tricks. We tricked them. 

13.  I think that because of some small flaws a very good movie about the El
Jigue battle was never released. It should still be in the archives somewhere.
It was going to be corrected and never was. It is more important that it be
released, regardless of istakes that can always be corrected. We also fooled
the enemy there: We fired an initial barrage, then pretended that we had
withdrawn.  They believed it. [chuckles] They began to organize a caravan to
remove the injured or the like and move to the seaside. [Words indistinct] the
news, collect the weapons and conduct other operations and, before they could
tell, fall on the troops on [words indistinct] Santo Domingo. 

14.  [Words indistinct] comrades have collected the historic data. I have a
question: Have all the Radio Rebelde archives been preserved? Yes. All the
reports, all the news? [passage omitted] 

15.  [Noel Perez, former CMKC Radio Oriente/Rebelde manager] [passage omitted]
When you arrived in Santiago de Cuba I asked you to address the people, and
you, with a tremendous vision, described the situation in the entire island. I
was there paying tremendous attention.  You added: Colonel [Ramon] Barquin is
in Columbia, and has promoted himself and is conferring appointments on his
confidants, too. And in Cabana there are other people. And Camilo [Cienfuegos]
has be the only chief in Columbia and in Cabana El Che [Guevara]. As soon as
you said that Barquin was in Columbia, we heard: Attention Radio Rebelde CMKC,
this is Columbia calling. I answered: This is CMKC Radio Rebelde. The other
side said: This is Colonel Barquin; put Fidel Castro on the line immediately. I
said: Commander, excuse me. [saluting] I was a soldier from that moment on
[laughter]. Fidel said: What is it? I said: Colonel Barquin wants to talk to
you. And you said: Tell Barquin I am not here. Tell Barquin I am not here.
[repeats] 

16.  [Castro] I really do not remember that. I told him: Tell him that in
Columbia I will speak only with Camilo. 

17.  [Perez] Yes, you added that too. 

18.  [Castro] That is what I said. Why would I say: I am not here. I do not
want to speak with you. Why in hell would I want to speak with an individual
who wanted to shirk the Revolution? I said: Tell him that in Columbia, I will
speak only with Camilo. 

19.  [Perez] Exactly. And Barquin never called again. 

20.  [Castro] Of course not. I remember that Barquin also tried to talk to me
in Santiago. I remember that very well. And I said to tell him that in Columbia
I will speak only with Camilo. It was logical. 

21.  Barquin was taken from Isle of Youth where he was in jail in an effort to
save the Army. And because he had some prestige-since he had conspired against
Batista- they thought he was the man to be placed there. [passage omitted] 

22.  [Castro] [Words indistinct] while we were organizing the offensives by
Camilo, Che, by the different columns in different places, because in the
meantime we also had to fight a battle against the elections the government was
organizing. 

23.  In one place there was a period of a certain stability. It was after
defeating Batista's last offensive. We were no longer living like nomads,
moving from one place to another. And to stay in a given place we had to take
precautions because of the bombings that came unexpectedly. We had to establish
facilities in the woods.  Because we had to be there several weeks, we had to
take some initiatives. A hospital was also there in the woods, and other
installations. We had to prepare a building for Radio Rebelde, a house for
visitors. Some of the installations were made of wood and thatch, but with some
protection. It was a good place, there in the woods. 

24.  As I said, there were reporters there quite often. An American reporter
came and stayed for several days. But we never tell who was a reporter and who
was not. We were used to answer every question asked by reporters.  But I
realized that that man was not interested in anything at all. He was not asking
questions. He was not a good journalist, he was just fooling around, playing a
role; but he was not a reporter. I said: This is a spy. They sent us a spy. But
what are we going to do? We could not hold a trial and execute him just on
suspicion. So I said: We have to do something. He was there a week, and I was
convinced that Batista had only one alternative, or that he could use only the
alternative of trying to kill us all by intensive bombing. 

25.  Batista was desperate after his last defeat, and since our columns were
moving in all directions... [changes thought] I say columns but in fact the
number of rebels were few. When the offensive began in El Jigue we lost
approximately 180 men. I sent for Almeida who was near Santiago, and I ordered
Raul who was in [name indistinct], and Guillermo, and Camilo who was the last
one in El Llano. He was there with only some 30 men. Thus with very few men,
some 300 altogether [passage indistinct] Radio Rebelde one of the important
things. We decided to occupy the land and not let them pass. 

26.  In the beginning we used to ambush them [words indistinct] It was the
first time we decided not to let them penetrate. And we prepared a strategy of
letting them advance while we were organizing and concentrating ourselves
slowly before counterattacking. But apparently those 300 men we had when the
offensive began by mid-May [passage indistinct] they had occupied with 900 men.
[passage indistinct] while Raul was already in the front hitting some
objectives, [passage indistinct] other forces in different directions, one
column to Holguin, another to Las Tunas, others to Bayamo, and both Camilo and
Che to Villa Clara. All that required some time. 

27.  Well, Batista's situation was desperate. He had to try a blow, a massive
attack using the Air Force. He could even try an attack with chemical weapons.
One day we saw some planes flying and we were happy thinking [words indistinct]
that some weapons were sent to us. It was late in the afternoon and some boxes
began to fall.  They were chemical products dropped in big bottles; they killed
some chickens and other animals. It was because the Army had help from a
chemist, [words indistinct] and said that he weapon would be effective, but it
did not have any effect. That would have been a blow on us. But it would not
stop the war. [words indistinct] 

28.  When the reporter left, I made some quick mental calculations. Two days
had passed since he left and he had probably arrived and tomorrow he would be
in a plane showing Batista where we were. Then I told the people: There is a
clearing before the forest. And there is a little house there. If you are
coming in a plane to hit the command post, you must fix on that little house.
So I told the people: We have to get this house out of here tonight. Take it
away and plant some trees there. And tomorrow morning no one must be seen
anywhere, neither at Rebelde nor anywhere else. We must be at least one
kilometer away. That is the place to be. And everyone was going here and there
and asking: But what is this? 

29.  [Unidentified speaker] You asked for two volunteers to take care of the
documents. And I remained too. 

30.  [Castro] That is true. Early in the morning a large number of planes was
flying in circles looking for the command post, but they did not find it. They
dropped a bomb here and there. So, I played their game. On the second day, the
same thing. No one was there. Because in addition to getting rid of the house
[words indistinct] because on the third day no one was to move. And on the
third day the planes did not come. It was just intuition.  [applause] The case
of [word indistinct] was even more complicated. There were moments when we had
such convictions. [Name indistinct] was pressuring us the day before in his own
style, and at that moment a column was leaving. We were lucky. Well, I am not
going to tell the whole story, it is a little long. Let us save that story for
another time. 

31.  Commander, I always wanted to know [words indistinct] undoubtedly it was
something very sensitive to set up an antenna in the middle of the war. It was
easy for the enemy army to find. [passage indistinct] What I have never been
able to find out is how and when did Che sell you the idea of setting up a
plant or a station to accompany the army. I know that when you were young you
visited many stations and that you liked radio, but when and how did Che
convince you of this idea of the radio? 

32.  [Castro] We were in the area west of the Turquino. Che's was one of the
first columns we formed following the battle on the Ubero [River], and Che
moved to that area.  We had two positions, two columns: Column I and Che's
column. Camilo is over there, with Che. But Che was a bit more stationary. 

33.  It was our custom in war to move a lot, incessantly.  Sometimes enemy
columns were chasing us, and at other times we were chasing them-setting a
trap. We set fatal traps against the troops of Batista's army. 

34.  But it was a very difficult thing because some of our collaborators,
messengers, when taken prisoner-and such was also the case with (Elpiru)-would
be promised their lives. They would then collaborate instead of returning, as
some did, and explaining; others would remain with (?both). 

35.  Thus we set some terrible traps for them, and when against all logic those
who were supposed to come in this direction would go in another-it was a
strange thing.  And it was simply that there was a guide, someone who knew the
area, a messenger, one of those people who went back and forth to town, who
would give information about our positions. 

36.  We would always take such measures that even if the enemy knew more or
less where we were, the most that could happen as a consequence was that we
would not conduct the strike we had prepared. Neither could they strike us. Our
positions were always impregnable, but we were not there long; we would move.
That was always our style until we established this camp in November 1958. Che
had more stationary habits. There in [word indistinct] we would move a lot. We
would come here and cross, and then we would make a long excursion.  That was
on the one hand. 

37.  On the other, he had great initiative to create industries and other
things. To establish industries you must be stationary. Sometimes he was
attacked on the mesa, including the (Boicito) area. Every so often he had to
fight the army there. Of course, he did not have sufficient forces to destroy a
column but he was able to defend himself. Then, to do some of the things he
wanted to do, he had to remain in one place [words indistinct]. 

38.  That element was characteristic of him. He had many concerns regarding
information. He planed to set up a newsletter similar to the one Maceo had
during the war of independence. That is where the idea comes up-it was his
idea-to set up the radio station. We were not working at that, because
generally the vast majority of our forces were in constant movement. From this
side of the Turquino we would sometimes reach near Niquero.  From the other
side of the Turquino we would sometimes go as far as Guisa. The main column was
in constant movement-of course, always setting traps for the enemy, an ambush.
We would appear in the place where [words indistinct] we know they were going
to try to close our exit routes [words indistinct] prepared. They were going to
attack us from behind, but our style of fighting did not include staying in a
permanent place. To have a radio station you must have a set location. 

39.  When Che created the station, as we said here, I visited it on 9 April.
After 9 April we planned the offensive. We already had several things in La
Plata. We had a hospital, which needed to be protected. We had a land mine
factory that also needed to e guarded. We had reserve ammunition that we would
seize from the enemy and we would keep a reserve of bullets. Soldiers use lots
of bullets and you must always have a reserve. 

40.  Then, once we had the idea of occupying the territory and resisting, the
forces that we had were [words indistinct] was that of moving Che to the Mina
del Frio so that he could take charge of the new recruits at Mina del Frio. It
was an important [words indistinct] that we had in that area. I decided that
Guillermo and Ramiro would stay in that area. They did not have the forces
necessary to defend that vast territory against a large offensive.  Then it
seemed better to establish the radio station n the most strategic place and
where we had superior forces to defend the hospital, the land mine factory, the
reserves and the radio station. 

41.  We had already made up our minds that no one would be able to occupy that
territory. That is when we decided to move, prior to Batista's offensive, the
radio station. But it was Che's idea to start a radio station. 

42.  It was he who conducted all negotiations and who carried them out, since
he had a stable base. He used different types of squabbles with the Army before
an attack. But the station could be set because we were planning to remain in
an area with necessary forces so that the enemy would not take it over. This
was when the decision had been made to move the radio station there, our most
solid base. 

43.  We must add that the radio station played a role much importance than what
we initially imagined. But as I was saying it was necessary to note that the
station became not only an information medium, a source of information of what
was happening then, ut an instrument of war. It became the main means of
communications between us and the rest of the country and with the other
columns that were operating, such as Raul's column. It becomes the center of
international communications with the movement; it became a psychological
weapon.  The small station in operation showed the enemy's inability to destroy
it. It became the center for slogans and revolutionary guidance for the troops
and for the people in general. As was just demonstrated by what the comrade
from the Santiago de Cuba CMKC station said. 

44.  Radio Rebelde became everything. And I would say that at that time it was
almost the revolutions's main weapon.  Radio Rebelde from the very beginning
has been characterized by a principle which was unfailingly implemented.  It
was similar to the policy we had with the prisoners and with the enemy. We had
a policy concerning information.  Over Radio Rebelde one was not allowed to
tell, nor did anyone ever tell, a single lie. This was a key thing. Never did
Radio Rebelde add a single bullet to the numbers reported. Never did Radio
Rebelde report a single casualty less than the true number-of our own
casualties, I mean-nor ever report a single enemy dead or wounded, more than
the actual number. Nor a single rifle more. I can sum it up like this: Not ven
a single bullet was ever added to the true figure. If 581 rounds were captured,
we did not say either 582 or 700 rounds or 1,000 rounds. We would say 581
rounds. Not a single bullet more than what was calculated. We were strictly
exact in our information without any exception whatsoever. We also had a
rigorous policy without exception concerning prisoners, and about tending to
the wounded. 

45.  Just to have an idea of the last offensive, and the quality of our medics
in the war, there is a report that says that of 117 wounded soldiers, only two
died. I am referring to enemy soldiers. We saved the lives of 115 enemy
soldiers with our medicines. So we had a policy with our enemies that was the
same throughout the war. It was very effective because they had more confidence
in us than in their leaders. They believed in what we said. And I think Radio
Rebelde's credibility was something extraordinary, because all our comrades who
were elsewhere, and who had their own radio stations-or if they did not have
one, they did have a radio to monitor Radio Rebelde-they knew what was
happening. If they wanted to send a message somewhere, it was sufficient to
listen to Radio Rebelde and they knew it was a message for all, what happened
and how it happened, how many casualties were inflicted on the enemy, how many
weapons were seized, how many casualties we had, everything was reported.
[Words indistinct] once the comrades reached other sites the set up other
stations.  The Second Front only set up about 10 or 12, or more stations. You
must know how many. Everywhere they could they set up a station. By the end,
when they were added up we came up with almost 40 stations. [Words indistinct]
every column, we have to keep in mind that every column [words indistinct]. 

46.  [Words indistinct] because of the same war doctrine was the same from the
same war school, the same ideas. It was a very important factor in our
revolutionary war.  There were not 20 different schools of war, but a single
school of war, and from there, everyone added his own piece of an idea,
creativity, initiatives, etc. And of course the idea of a radio station was
generalized among all forces of the Revolution. We understood the importance of
the role played by a radio station in due time. Evidence of this is the lengthy
walk to the station to talk after the strike. It was necessary to have a mass
communications system with the people and we were in a position to do so
because we had to have a sound territory. And that is why we supported Che's
idea. It was exclusively Che's idea. This is one of the many initiatives he
had, such as the newspaper, the radio station, the shoe industry, local
industries, and others. 

47.  [Unidentified speaker] I understand that there was an idea [words
indistinct] that you also proposed a musical program within the radio station
programming. I know you are a good politician but [words indistinct]. 

48.  [Castro] We used to have the Rebel Quintet, which was created there. It
was famous. But we used music in some battles too. Our battles were
psychological. If you examine [words indistinct] to give our war of liberation
as an example, the use of psychological warfare during that war. 

49.  At 0300 we did not allow the enemy soldiers to sleep. We figured out ways
to keep them awake. We had a (?.50-) caliber machine gun. We did not have many
bullets, but at 0200, pum, pum, pum, three shots. We did not have many
30.06-caliber bullets, but e did have many 9 mm bullets that were used in a
Beretta machine gun. 

50.  Was it a Beretta, that machine gun? No. It was a smaller, 9 mm machine
gun. I do not remember the caliber of that Beretta. 

51.  Well, it was not a Beretta, but it was a 9 mm machine gun. That machine
gun was used all around the front. It fired more rounds. 

52.  Some three shots were fired here, another three over there, another three
there, etc. However, the rest of the soldiers were absolutely forbidden to fire
a single shot.  Only if the enemy came out of their trenches would they fire.
The rebels did not ave permission to fire, because they might run out of
bullets and the war would be over [laughter]. That was the principle. 

53.  Automatic weapons were feared. I have certain papers- certain papers,
because the papers do not include certain tough messages. We used highly
expressive words.  [laughter] There is a dear friend-we do not want to mention
his name-who said that he fired an entire ammunition belt of a .30-caliber
machine gun in an attack against [Colonel Sanchez] Mosquera. I am going to say
his name: Guillermo. That (?was bad), but Guillermo fought hard against
Mosquera with a weapon of such caliber [words indistinct] during the first
battles of the offensive-because in the beginning, rather ambitiously, they
attacked with a brigade from this side of the Turquino and another brigade from
the other side, where we were. We were in the western part, and they attacked
from the east and west. At a given moment they gathered all forces toward the
west, where Radio Rebelde was located, and all of us. They kept attacking
Guillermo and Ramirez. Guillermo had a .30-caliber machine gun holding back
such an attack. Then he said he had used up an entire belt of .30-caliber
machine gun ammunition.  And I sent an order to them: People who use an entire
ammunition belt and boast about it deserve to be executed.  [laughter]. 

54.  That was Guillermo. He used an entire ammunition belt because Mosquera had
extremely aggressive troops, because every so often they smoked their marijuana
cigarettes. Marijuana was easily available. But I never heard a case of a rebel
smoking marijuana. However, the soldiers once discovered that people were
planting marijuana among the coffee trees. We did not even know what it looked
like. Toward the end we did, when someone would say: Here is a marijuana plant.
It was a beautiful, growing tree among the coffee plants. 

55.  We economized on bullets in an strict manner; we wanted to keep the enemy
awake and we had to count the bullets. Firing was forbidden, except under
certain circumstances.  Nevertheless, we had to keep the shooting going so that
they could not sleep. By the time we had the troops surrounded they were
sleep-deprived. [Words indistinct] because at 2300, when you start sleeping,
three .50-caliber [as heard] bullets whistle by and you lose sleep. And we used
to do this every night. 

56.  Every so often we used to bring in the Rebel Quintet, a concert for the
soldiers. We used to tell them that the support troops had been killed, that we
had seized the mail sent to them, [words indistinct]. The soldiers received
letters from their relatives through us, because we would capture a company and
read them the news.  Besides, we used not only the machine gun bursts but music
as well. We did this to relax and demoralize them [laughter], although we also
played music as part of Radio Rebelde's broadcasts, to make its programing
livelier and more attractive. [passage indistinct] I think the members of the
Rebel Quintet are still alive. 

57.  [Unidentified speaker] Yes, they are still around. The old man died, but
the boys are still alive. His sons are also musicians. 

58.  [Castro] [Words indistinct] the music was part of the programing but they
were used in the battles as well. The loudspeakers did not stop operating,
because [words indistinct]. You should have seen how those loud speakers could
be heard in those valleys [words indistinct]. 

59.  [Eugenio Barrido] Commander, I have heard it said often that radio was
persuasive, that it reached the people. But there was a moment in the hills
when you considered Radio Rebelde a strategic element, especially for the
command. You even compared it ith the hospital or other installations. What was
the main factor that caused you, or the Revolution's leadership, to consider
Radio Rebelde positively, as a strategic point in the struggle? Did you place
greater emphasis on the military aspect or on the political aspect? 

60.  [Castro] On the political aspect. As far as we were concerned, the
political and military aspects were closely linked. If you did not win the
political war you could not win the military war. With the few men we had we
could not win a war, not unless ou had the support of all the people. 

61.  It is true that our soldiers were very effective, although they did not
have the opportunity to take intensive courses, and although their weapons were
not modern.  Few times have I seen a war fought with such tremendous
effectiveness, as by those men. Let me just tell you that we did not have a
single weapon lost on the front line. All weapons were counted-heavy weapons I
mean, because there were some who had shotguns while others had pistols, which
are of relative value. We are talking about heavy weapons. And according to my
calculations, I can give you these figures: We had 300, and then 900.  I
believe we had some 3,000 men and no more, according to rough estimates. This
was the total number of armed men by the end of the war, men armed with heavy
weapons. There were a few collaborators, but not many. But as regards heavy
weapons, by the end of the war we had some 3,000 weapons, more than 90 percent
of them seized from the enemy. 

62.  I can say the same as regards bullets. That is, there were no extra
rifles, besides those being used on the front. For this reason, we can say that
the performance of each weapon was high. One hundred percent of the weapons
were in the battlefield. It was a highly efficient war, especially for us,
because Batista had 80,000 men: policemen, soldiers, sailors. 

63.  The balance of forces at its best was 30 soldiers to one, in Batista's
favor. There was a moment when there were 10,000 Batista soldiers to each of
ours, when we were some six or seven people. Well, that was the figure in the
beginning [words indistinct] up to 100. The number of our soldiers increased
vigorously as of May, after the last offensive. After that offensive came the
Second Front offensive, when many weapons were also seized. But with such a
correlation of forces, we could not hope to defeat the Army without the support
of the population.  The people had to play their role in the general strike. 

64.  And it was too late for the idea of a general strike. Our idea was to take
over the Moncada Barracks, seize Santiago de Cuba, and then call the entire
population to a general strike. Moncada was our first thought. 

65.  The April strike was also an attempt to overthrow the regime by means of a
general strike. I knew that this was a delicate issue, because there were many
ideas among us. Within our own movement there were people who saw us as
elements of agitation in he mountains; elements who would, at a given moment,
create either a general strike or a social explosion, and who would eliminate
the regime. And there were also those who thought that the idea was to create a
false situation to effect a coup d'etat. 

66.  We had different lines of thought within our own movement, different
ideas. Our idea was to take over the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba,
where there were thousands of weapons. And if our strategy were to fail and we
could not defeat the government, we would retreat to the mountains with those
thousands of weapons. Imagine us retreating with thousands of weapons toward
the Sierra Maestra, how much it would have shortened the struggle, even if the
regime was not defeated then. 

67.  There was also the idea of a guerrilla movement if the regime was not
defeated. The idea included a small army growing strong to the point of being
capable of defeating the enemy Army-but with the help of the people, of course.

68.  But all through the struggle in Sierra Maestra, we had to avert as many
coups d'etat as were conceived. We used to say that if a coup d'etat occurred,
the war would continue. That was our idea. But at a given moment, we already
had sufficient forces to resort to the strike. The strike staged in April was
premature. And it was not from our initiative in the Sierra Maestra. It was an
initiative of the [26 July] Movement in the plains. We must say that the April
strike was imposed on us. Of course, we accepted it and were equally
responsible for the April strike. But we did not yet have sufficient military
forces with which to support a general strike. 

69.  There was a meeting of the movement, and the movement's board said: Well,
we were up in the mountains and could not very well see the situation on the
plains; there were subjective factors, and for this reason...  [changes
thought] We were there... [changes thought] They were talking about peace. Yes,
we accepted peace; we would not reject it. But we demanded a condition- that
the eastern provinces be handed over to us with all their weapons. We were
willing to hold elections [words indistinct], but and over the eastern
provinces and all their weapons. That is, our conditions were impossible that
could affect the enemy [as heard]. 

70.  We did not reject any peace proposal, although we did have a very clear
idea of the Revolution. And to make a revolution, we had to have the people. We
were very clear on this. The April strike failed, and the revolutionary forces,
the fighters were left alone. Thus, the revolutionary morale collapsed
throughout the country. That lasted four months until we destroyed Batista's
offensive. That is, the rebel army destroyed Batista's offensive and raised
morale, creating new conditions for victory. 

71.  By the end of December, Batista had already lost the war because when the
coup d'etat took place, there were approximately 17,000 soldiers, according to
my calculations then, and there might have been more, some 17,000 soldiers
besieged in the eastern region. The island was divided into two parts by the
columns of Che and Camilo. He could no longer be saved militarily. But the
danger of a coup prevailed. We had foreseen this because it did happen more
than once in Cuban history. A coup d'etat that deceived the people, making them
believe that all problems had vanished. That is history. America's history is
filled with such examples. When there is a tough struggle by the people, a coup
takes place and everyone is happy and celebrating. But what appens is that new
figures replace the others. There is no revolution. All through the war,
through Radio Rebelde in the final stages, we were trying to convince the
people to reject the coup. Because we were not going to accept any coup d'etat.
If there was a coup, the war would continue.  That was our policy. 

72.  Then finally, what we were going to do on 26 July in Moncada, we did on 1
January 1959. It was precisely the same idea. And the whole country was
paralyzed. The country's total paralysis helped demoralize the rest of the
country. They were no longer willing to fight. The story of that comrade at
1000 in the morning, that henchman- Despaine-still had steam left. He was ready
to kill. They were killing people even the day before. But the demoralization
had become generalized at that moment. Otherwise, they would have attacked the
station. He fired some shots there, but after all, he failed to seize the
station that could have been taken with a revolver. No one was defending the
station. He sent a burst of fire, and sent someone else over.  They were
demoralized. And the general strike defeated them completely. It demoralized
them completely in such a manner that not a single shot more was fired. The
rebel columns disarmed the Army during the first days of May.  There were few
who joined us, but you know this history and its impact. We ought to tell
things as they were, including the meeting I held with the Army in Bayamo,
where we took [words indistinct] you see around. 

73.  There I met with approximately 2,000 soldiers who had been fighting a
tough battle with us until a few days earlier. They were the elite forces. I
was alone there with them. This had already happened to me during the Jigue
battle. We had disarmed the rmy and I was anxious to see the weapons we were to
seize, so in the middle of the negotiations, I sneaked in at night, but they
recognized me. And there I was in the middle of all those soldiers who were
still armed, but remained calm as if nothing had happened. We kept talking with
[words indistinct] the agreements we have reached, but it was there in Bayamo,
because the troops were absolutely demoralized. A defeated troop is a
demoralized one. 

74.  I met with the Bayamo Army in a stadium. Well, they were still
enthusiastic because they did not know what was going on in Havana. There was
nothing definite about the operation that was to be carried out by that man we
just mentioned.... 

75.  [Unidentified speaker, interrupting] Barquin [as heard]. 

76.  [Castro] Yes, Barquin. Well, we added things up. I was bringing 1,000
rebel soldiers from the east and 2,000 enemy soldiers who had joined us
[Casquitos]; 2,000 soldiers with tanks. We did not know anything about those
Sherman tanks, nor did we know how to operate the artillery, but we already had
the auxiliary troops who [words indistinct] just in case. 

77.  It was a political battle. That is, politics. Such politics reached even
the enemy line. We were respected because they knew we did not mistreat
prisoners. We did not beat or humiliate prisoners. We did not murder any
prisoner.  Besides, there was a case when a soldier surrendered; there was a
war criminal among the troops, who had committed crimes; but we assured them
that they would not be sentenced to capital punishment. Of course this was
limited to only one or two of those well-known henchmen who had killed several
people but were also given guarantees. The soldiers were set free and the
officers were allowed to keep their service weapons. 

78.  This policy that our army adopted was extremely valuable because in the
beginning no soldier would surrender. They were told we would kill them because
they were told the great lie that in Moncada, soldiers were beheaded in the
hospital. That is what hey said about us when the Moncada was attacked. It is
true that there were some incidents at the hospital because some people mistook
the buildings and ended up entering the hospital. I went to the hospital and
released them. I think there one person was wounded, a janitor who climbed up
on a window. But they spread the story that we had cut the throats of the sick
in the hospital. And that propaganda had had an impact on the soldiers. No
soldiers were surrendering. But when the soldiers began to realize that when
they are made prisoners they were set free, that they were respected, they
began to surrender. There were soldiers who surrendered three times. They
surrendered to us here in Sierra Maestra, from which they were sent to Las
Villas; and there when surrounded, they surrendered again, but much more
quickly. They knew that we were only interested in their weapons and
ammunition. The soldier [words indistinct] that policy, that policy used with
the people, the credibility of the station, of never telling a lie. But more
important yet was the policy with the people, because with very few men we
could not win the war against that large army which did have some training, and
good weapons, and which above all, had an air force with which they strafed us
continuously. You know what a war is like when the enemy has aircraft, an air
force, artillery, and tanks, and you have only rifles and land mines. We won
the war with rifles and mines. But of course, we had the soul of the country,
the spirit of the country, the support of the people, which was decisive in
winning that war. 

79.  Radio Rebelde's political factor was also very important, but the
political factor was not and could not be isolated from the military factor. It
was symbiosis. Thus, Radio Rebelde played a decisive role. Not only that, but
all the other factors I mentioned here. [passage omitted] 

80.  Unfortunately I no longer have the collaborator's job I used to have
[words indistinct] [laughs] nor can I be up-to-date anymore and as close to the
work you do. I hear some general opinions on Radio Rebelde's work, and also
some opinions on the innovations you have been introducing, but not because I
am personally close to the station. Unfortunately, I am always busy with
something, and if I am not doing something, I am reading. I have had to rely
very much on books because one learns a great deal from them. I often want to
watch the television newscasts, for instance, but I can rarely watch it.
Sometimes I listen to a three-minute summary of news of what has happened over
the weekend. I often have meetings, commitments at all hours. For this reason,
I also read the press very quickly. You know that there are very few
newspapers. Since there is a paper shortage I can do so. I have very little
time, few minutes to dedicate to radio. But I do read many dispatches. I read
many reports to learn what is going on in the world, and it takes time. 

81.  I do not spend much time on radio. I would like to tell you that I spend
one hour a day listening to radio. I am even willing to pledge to listen in,
not for an hour, but for at least 10 minutes a day. But I do have some very
clear and precise ideas on the role played not only by Radio Rebelde, but by
radio in general. 

82.  I think we must see all radio, throughout the country, as a great Radio
Rebelde. We must see radio as in the final stage of the war when we had radio
stations everywhere, all cooperating among themselves, helping one another,
joining a network, which layed an essential role. 

83.  I think there is nothing comparable to radio, for very clear and objective
reasons. First, because we lack paper.  Dozens and dozens of publications had
to be suspended.  Almost all newspapers had to be turned into weeklies because
of the lack of paper necessary for daily publications. Many magazines have
vanished; others have reduced their editions. So, the printed press has lost
many resources, and they are costly resources. To maintain the level of a press
media, a large amount of printing paper would be necessary, and there are no
resources to import them. And I think for a long period of time yet, we will
not have the necessary resources [words indistinct] the press. 

84.  With television, we have lost a large number of broadcast hours.
Television is aired in the afternoon for a few hours, usually after 1900, and
only for a few hours, due to problems with electric power and resources.
Television also had to considerably reduce its resources to report on events. 

85.  All these media, both radio and television, have great potential. I think
television is a [word indistinct] power to influence events. We do still have
radio, which broadcasts many [words indistinct]. There are radio stations
everywhere-in all provinces, all municipalities, and its cost is much lower. It
is perfectly feasible for Cuba to maintain the radio network. It was, has been,
and will be an important means of communication because I see very clearly the
decisive role it plays. 

86.  I could compare this moment of the special period, this political moment
Cuba is facing, with those days of fighting in Sierra Maestra, with those days
of 1958 we have been mentioning. The difference is that this period is more
prolonged. I would say hat this period is more difficult than that one. It
requires more effort, more talent, more commitment. The work is done under
complex conditions today, particularly following the hard blows the national
economy has experienced. Only as a miracle of human will can the country's
resistance be explained. 

87.  Now I see radio in general-I am not referring to Radio Rebelde alone-as a
great rebel radio, in a period similar to that one, in a very difficult and
decisive moment, when the radio plays the role of a weapon, a decisive weapon
in this difficult battle, an even more difficult battle. I would say that this
battle is even more noble than that battle. 

88.  At that time we were confronting a local tyrant supported by imperialism,
while today we are confronting head-on an imperialism that employs every
resource in an effort to destroy us. Today when the socialist bloc no longer
exists, I think we are fighting a war much greater and more noble than the one
waged then: a political and ideological battle, a battle that is not entirely
separate from the military strength of the Revolution because to the extent
that the ideas grow stronger, and to the extent that morale is high, we will
also be militarily stronger.  Although my schedule does not allow me to be
closer to the radio, I promise to be more interested in the way you are
working. 

89.  I talk to many people and they inform me, they tell me the news they hear
in the morning. Most of the news that is told to me is news that people hear on
the radio. 

90.  So I give to radio the same importance given to Radio Rebelde in the most
difficult and decisive moments of our war of liberation. I hope the workers,
the reporters, all those who work in radio will be aware of this and will be at
the level of Radio Rebelde back then. 

91.  Someday, new generations will meet here again; the younger ones and some
of the older ones will meet here again. They will meet to recall the important
role played by radio during these difficult days of the special period. 
[applause] [passage omitted] 

92.  I have always liked radio. Even in my youth I used the radio in the
political struggle. I had a radio [words indistinct]. It forced me to work
hard. I worked hard with journalists. [Words indistinct] the newspaper with the
highest readership back then. [Words indistinct] four times a week and I had
extensive articles ready. [Words indistinct] wanted to evict the neighbors.
[Words indistinct] I researched all the businesses the government had created,
land it had purchased cheaply, projects in which it had invested, and how it
had made a million pesos. I researched the property records [words indistinct]
and I would report this in the newspaper and over radio. A radio station
creates an awareness among its listeners; it becomes a power. [Words
indistinct] The neighbors became [words indistinct]. I have never told this
before.  This was due to... [changes thought] I joined them, managed the mail
[words indistinct]. It was always a voice denouncing the corruption, theft,
when [words indistinct]. Then I used it [words indistinct]. [passage
indistinct] We do not have to go to Guatemala. All their businesses were there.
The notary and property records, the prices; I published all this. [Words
indistinct]. I had just graduated. I was not very experienced as a lawyer but I
had the energy to spend hours doing research. I used to go and find the data
for the newspaper and always was saying: We do not have to go to Guatemala.  Of
course, he charged that someone had given him the information, but could not
prove it. He was harshly attacked. After his death there was no one to follow
him.  A bit of that emptiness [words indistinct] to work, speak seriously.
[Words indistinct] near Maceo Street and President Avenue, no. 1600? [passage
omitted] 

93.  On the fifth floor of a tall building. I had to run to arrive on time.
[words indistinct] Everything since was mortgaged because they charged me a
[words indistinct].  They did not pay me for that. I gave great propaganda to
the station, increased its ratings, and had to pay. It was only 15 minutes of
very hard work. Radio work is hard.  It was a fixed schedule. You had to make
it on time and have all your information together. I had that experience in
radio, and also in journalism. I am not familiar with television work. 

94.  I have to take full advantage of the few hour I have available. [Words
indistinct]. Our greatest weapon is radio. [passage omitted] 

-END-


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