Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-95-145 Daily Report 26 Jul 1995 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Fidel Castro Speaks at Moncada Ceremony

PA2707035295 Havana Radio and Television Networks in Spanish, 2326 GMT 26 Jul 95 PA2707035295 Havana Radio and Television Networks Spanish BFN [Speech by President Fidel Castro at the ceremony marking the 42d anniversary of the assault on the Moncada Barracks at the Mariana Grajales Plaza of the Revolution, in Guantanamo, Guantanamo Province -- live relay]

[FBIS Translated Text] Relatives of Moncada Barracks combatants, distinguished guests, people of Guantanamo, fellow countrymen:

I have come with pleasure to fulfill my duty to be with you for the commemoration of the 42d anniversary of the attack on the Moncada Barracks.

Guantanamo was honored with hosting this anniversay not only because of its outstanding work performance in many fronts but especially because of the dignity and efficiency with which it faced the various natural disasters that have battered this province.

Fate determined that we should also commemorate this year in Guantanamo the landing of Marti and Gomez at Playitas and the landing of Maceo and Crombet and other patriotic commanders at Boada.

This year we commemorated in Dos Rios the 100th anniversary of Jose Marti's death in combat. Many emotions and memories are going through our minds at this moment. However, the essence of this is that our struggles for independence began 127 years ago. These were struggles for sovereignty, liberty, justice, and dignity for our small but patriotic and heroic nation.

We are at the very doorstep of a powerful and expansionist nation that has never ceased expanding its borders, first at the expense of the Indians who lived in much of what is now the United States, who were practically exterminated, and later at the expense of the Latin American and Caribbean nations. Very few countries have had to face a challenge and a threat as huge as the one faced by Cuba -- the ripe apple that was supposed to fall of its own weight in the claws of the incipient empire.

At that time, there were already people who thought resistance was an impossible task, but there were also people who never resigned themselves to the idea of surrendering their independence, their culture, and their national identity.

Thanks to those eminent forefathers, today we speak Spanish and not English. The efforts and sacrifices made by entire generations of Cubans did not realize revolutionary dreams of justice and full independence but planted the good seed and paved the road.

We could not continue being a foreign colony, we could not remain obedient servants of the empire, or a country of landless peasants, of children without schools, of sick people without doctors, of exploited workers, of blacks without rights, of discriminated women, of young people without a future, of jobless people, of humiliated citizens, of mocked laws, of unstoppable corruption, of senseless flags and anthems.

Evictions, police brutality, abominal crimes: This is the kind of makeshift republic the imperialist intervention left for us in our fatherland.

Looters of the public treasury, corrupt politicians, people responsible of atrocious repressive crimes, had sure refuge in the United States, especially if the crimes were committed on behalf of U.S. economic interests and the anti- communist ideology of that country.

The same has happened in recent years in many other countries of our hemisphere.

Who has trained repressive forces of Latin America in crime, torture, the massive elimination of citizens, death squads, clandestine cemeteries, and other abominable practices?

The 26 July military uprising was carried out in 1953 against everything that occurred in Cuba under Batista, the most obdurate servant of the empire's interests and reactionary ideology. The revolution that emerged in the Moncada Barracks and continued in the prisons, the Granma, the Sierra Maestra, and the clandestine struggle in cities, prairies, and mountains led us to the 1 January 1959 victory. We became masters of our own destiny for the first time in history.

The Moncada program was rigorously carried out in a relatively brief time. Secular privileges and injustices were swept aside. It was not a socialist program but it included the basic ideas for subsequent progress in that direction. We, the main leaders, had socialist ideas and convictions -- Marxist-Leninist, to be more precise -- as we have said many times, but the Cuban revolution did not at the time. Nevertheless, the process was quickly stepped up as a result of the aggressive policy adopted by the U.S. Government. As soon as the first agrarian reform law was approved in May 1959, that country's administration decided to liquidate the revolution by using mercenary forces -- like it was done in Guatemala in 1954 with Jacobo Arbenz' government, which also tried to conduct an agrarian reform.

Prior to this, strong actions of economic aggression were carried out against our country. Because of a process of measures adopted by the U.S. Government and Cuban reaction to these measures, most U.S. enterprises in Cuba were nationalized in a short time. The measures were followed by others to nationalize the most important Cuban private companies, whose owners, as a rule, supported the North American policy. Thus, the socialist character of the revolution was declared on 16 April 1961, the day after the treacherous bombing of our air bases and on the eve of the Playa Giron invasion, before tens of thousands of armed militia members. If we fought for the Moncada program at the Sierra Maestra in Playa Giron, our heroical people shed their blood for socialism, right in front of a powerful U.S. squadron located a few miles off the coast, ready to intervene.

The historical circumstances in which our struggle was waged showed it could not even be termed revolutionary unless it was also anti-imperialist and socialist. Only socialism could unite the great masses of the people so closely to wage the huge moral, political, economic, and social battle that lay ahead of us and to be prepared to wage it in the military field if the country was invaded. It was necessary to conquer with justice -- as Marti told Juan Gualberto Gomez. Only socialism as a political, economic, and social regime could provide all the justice. [applause]

We did not design the world in which this long 36-year struggle has taken place; its extraordinary story cannot be expounded at this moment. It was already designed on 1 January 1959. However, no one should harbor any doubts that, whether or not the USSR and the socialist bloc existed, we would have attacked the Moncada Barracks, we would have landed with the Granma, we would have made it to 1 January, and we would have struggled in Giron. When Mateo protested in Baragua, when Marti landed in Playitas, when the Mambi Army carried out the glorious invasion, and when Cuba fought alone against 300,000 Spanish soldiers, neither the USSR nor the socialist bloc existed.

At the time, we did not have any contact or relations with those countries; those relations only emerged after our victory. The emergence of the Cuban revolution and the existence of the USSR and the socialist bloc was a historical coincidence, although extraordinarily useful when our small country was mercilessly blockaded in the economic field, harassed and threatened militarily by the United States.

For those harboring doubts about what I have just said, one need only witness the irrefutable fact that when the socialist bloc and the USSR disappeared, our people, in spite of having abruptly lost 70 percent of their imports and all military assistance, did not hesitate for one second to move on and defend at any price their independence, their extraordinary social accomplishments, their glorious history, their ideas, their revolution, and the fruit of the blood spilled by their children inside and outside of Cuba. [applause]

Many who underestimated the courage of these people believed that the revolution would collapse in a matter of days or weeks. And here we are, not only resisting but gradually beginning to gain ground. [applause]

Compatriots, we do not forget for one second the efforts and sacrifices that the special period has meant for our people. It has also been very difficult and tough for the revolution to wage the struggle, when it is necessary to attend each day to the problems and needs of 11 million people. What must we do to prevent one child from being deprived of his milk, one sick person from being deprived of the essential attention he may require? What must we do so that there is a minimum amount of food, electricity, water, domestic fuel, transportation, and many other products and services that the population requires?

It is not the same to attend to the problems of a guerrilla army in the mountains as it is to attend to the requirements of an entire nation, when our enemies are making tremendous efforts to block and hamper everything. But nothing of what we do today has been or will ever be in vain. It represents an unprecedented feat in history that even under these circumstances, not one school, not one hospital, not one elderly home, not one children's nursery has been closed.

The infant mortality rate is today lower than when the special period began, and there are many more doctors now. The defense and security of the country have been strengthened. Scientific research, culture, and sports activities continue to be developed. Our agriculture and our industry are functioning. Orderly work is being performed everywhere. Some results can already be observed. The petroleum production is increasing, together with that of nickel, electricity, steel, cement, edible roots, vegetables, and other products.

The gross domestic product increased by 2 percent in the first semester of 1995. This is a modest yet noteworthy figure. It would have been higher without the reduction in production registered in the sugar sector, where today special efforts are being made to produce positive results in the near future.

In less than a year, excess liquidity in the hands of the population declined by practically 2.7 billion pesos. The peso strengthened from a street value of 130 pesos per U.S. dollar to nearly 35 pesos per U.S. dollar, which is being paid today. Thus, we are making significant progress in reorganizing the country's finances, but this objective also requires strict compliance with the outlined policy that still has measures pending. In this respect, we should not fall prey to the temptation to issue new pesos for circulation. As liquidity continues to decline, efforts to reduce the amount of pesos in circulation are becoming more difficult, even if the need is becoming indispensable. The positive effects of this measure can be seen in the increased interest in the work being done and better wages.

Tax collection must be more rigorous. However, the scarcity of convertible currency to carry out necessary imports still constitutes a major problem for our economy. This currently represents a major setback. We are receiving some funding but with very high interest rates. There have been occasions when an increase in the price of just one of the items we import such as fuel, food, or powdered milk, tends to generate critical deficits. This is a reality we should always keep in mind.

Several measures have been implemented in the past few months that constitute a major shift and focus on the economic sector. Some of these measures are wide-ranging, as well as quite radical, and seek to improve work in that particular sector and to enable our economy to adapt to the realities of today's world. Other countries such as China and Vietnam are currently taking the same measures. However, does this mean that we should abandon our socialist principles or our Marxist-Leninist convictions? On the contrary, we should continue to conduct ourselves as genuine Marxist-Leninists with all the courage and realism circumstances may demand. At any rate, this does not imply -- as some would seem to believe -- that this is a return to capitalism, or much worse, an insane and hysterical race in that direction. The incredible misfortunes that have been taking place in the countries of the former USSR, despite their tremendous reserves of energy resources, raw material, and foreign financing, compared to the impressive success accomplished by China and Vietnam, is clearly indicative of what can and cannot be done if we expect to preserve the revolution and socialism. [applause]

All of this without taking into account the fact that the previously mentioned nations are not suffering a blockade by the United States. Cuba is blockaded to the hilt, cruelly and viciously. All of the empire's financial weapons are turned against us. It is for this reason that only our socialism, serenity, and sangfroid have made it possible for us to brave our problems and to pave the way to the miracle of our resistance. The unquestionable elements of capitalism introduced into our country, have also brought along that system's harmful and alienating problems. Examples of corruption and blackmail, which we never witnessed during our 30 years of trade with the USSR, are gradually taking place and growing in our economic relations with capitalism. Let us fairly say that there are some very responsible capitalists who have relations with us and who conduct themselves correctly. However, there are others who prefer to turn to such universal capitalist practices as corruption and blackmail in either a subtle or open manner. There are also those who have allowed themselves to be driven insane by their lust for convertible currency and are even prepared to sell their souls. Wide-scale tourism, the depenalization of convertible currency holdings, institutions that sell these currencies, are all measures that became unavoidable but that also carry an inevitable cost. It appears as if some, by looking at their demeanors and lifestyles, seem to relish their roles as entrepreneurs. Others seem committed to create firms or small establishments at whatever cost simply to handle foreign currencies and on many occasions simply to lavish these resources and violate specific guidelines regulating these holdings. The struggle that the party and government will have to undertake against these trends before they turn into a cancer that devours our ethics and revolutionary spirit will have to be a colossal one. We will have to be implacable toward those who violate our most sacred principles. The blood of so many was not spilled for nothing to allow such a pathetic conduct in this most difficult hour of the fatherland. [applause] Our struggle is a formidable one; therefore our souls must be hardened by steel.

The enemy does not falter in its determination to destroy us. There are two concepts: that of the extreme rightists in U.S. politics who dream of strangling us with an even stronger economic blockade, if this were possible, and to erase us from the face of the earth by any means.

These are the people who promote bills such as the Helms-Burton bill -- which is well-known and has been analyzed by our people -- and other Draconian measures. These are the people who want to destroy us from abroad.

The other concept is that of those who want to infiltrate us, weaken us, to create all types of counterrevolutionary organizations, and to destabilize the country regardless of the consequences. An entire theory has been devised, with a program designed for this purpose. These people want to exert their influence through broad exchanges with diverse sectors that they consider vulnerable, to grant doubtful scholarships, and to dazzle us with their billion-dollar institutions, their technology, and their social research centers.

They do not authorize North Americans to travel to, tour, or rest in Cuba, but they are willing to send to our universities sociologists, philosophers, historians, Cuban experts, professors of English, and other academicians to impart knowledge among us. However, by no stretch of the imagination do they want to send a professor of cybernetics, computer technology, or any other technological area that has nothing to do with ideology and who could be of some use to the country.

In other words, the so-called track two of the Torricelli Law. These are the ones who want to destroy us from within. There are many valuable and noble North Americans of all spheres, including businessmen, who do not share any of those concepts. Meanwhile, from U.S. territory -- and this is very serious -- active work and organization very brazenly is under way to prepare and carry out terrorist acts against the people and vital areas of the economy, and once again, attack plans against revolution leaders, in which frantic work is carried out.

The basic center of such actions is the so-called Cuban-American National Foundation. It is absolutely impossible that the CIA and the FBI do not know about these plans, when supposedly they have penetrated these organizationss and many foundation members had connections to them.

Today, with the opening of our country to tourism and the possibility of traveling in both directions, between Cuba and the United States, these plans become easier. Different ways to introduce the means to carry them out makes it more feasible.

Our security corps are alert over these activities and work to prevent such acts. We do not speak without proof, we warn about this in time, and we hope that no one regrets afterward the rigor of the revolutionary laws that sanction these crimes. No use appealing to the generosity of the revolution. [applause] [crowd shouts "Fidel!"]

To this we must add the fact that from U.S. territory, more than 1,000 weekly hours of radio broadcasts incite the population to stage sabotage actions, to hamper the economy, and to murder political leaders.

It is absolutely shameful, following the brutal Oklahoma crime, that from the United States acts of terrorism are organized and planned against Cuba. What I have said up to now gives you an idea of how hard our struggle is and will be.

It must also be taken into acount that that country is undergoing an electoral process; and the extreme right elements, who today hold the majority in the U.S. Congress, aspire not only to wipe out the social measures originated in the time of Roosevelt but also to occupy the U.S. Government, with all the consequences that may have for the world.

Compatriots, we must be prepared for all these alternatives. The conditions of the blockade, in which we are obliged to resist and advance, demand from all an extraordinary effort, an immovable firmness, absolute honesty. In normal times and with an abundance of resources, which were also times of great egalitarianism, many people got used to receiving everything and contributing very little.

A critical analysis would make us recall the inflated personnel rosters in production and services, absenteeism with any excuse, the 4- and 5-hour work schedules in many agricultural companies, excesses in fuel and raw materials spending, and the misuse of agricultural machinery and transportation. We cannot afford any of these luxuries today.

In recent times, we have been demanding increased efforts from party and state cadres.

The renewal has been broad. Everybody has a big commitment. However we can still see errors, weaknesses, irresponsible attitudes, lack of ability.

Today, as never before in our history, our workers and cadres must exhibit the highest levels of patriotism, morale, and dignity.

Side by side with cases that sow discouragement, there is a growing number of men and women whose behavior corresponds to the times we are living through. In many places there is a revival of the revolutionary spirit.

It is moving to see how in the countryside and in factories there are men and women who have to work wearing tennis shoes and often barefoot. This should serve as an example to the opulent ones and to those who did not believe hard enough in the virtues of our people.

The extraordinary human and political qualities of our fellow countrymen became evident in the most recent elections, which became a veritable message to the world about how Cuba is. The elections demonstrated how a nation that has an elevated culture and solid political awareness behaves.

The enemies of the revolution had the illusion that the revolution was worn out and weak because of the difficult special period situation. What happens here is very different from what happens almost everywhere and in the United States.

The people here are absolutely free to vote or not, yet 97.1 percent of the people voted.

Even if we were to believe that none of the void ballots were the products of errors, that none of the blank votes were the result of unconformity with all the candidates of the district, if we were to believe that all void and blank votes were expressions of discontent and opposition, we find that the total of void and blank votes was only 11.2 percent, only 0.6 percent higher than in 1992.

A certain wearing down, a relative demonstration of discouragement was expected as a result of the difficult situation our most heroic people have endured, but this did not occur. This election was a moral Playa Giron defeat inflicted on those who want to bring us to our knees. [applause]

People of Guantanamo, I have said little about you and I will say little to avoid being too lengthy. The list of figures that speaks of Guantanamo's performance is endless. I will mention only two to give the North Americans an example of what social development means. [applause] Guantanamo, Cuba's poorest province, with one doctor for every 271 citizens, has more doctors per capita than the United States. [applause] Its 9.2 child mortality rate is lower than that of the capital of that country. [applause] I warmly congratulate you for having been chosen to be the host of the 26 July event.

Cuban women to whom this commemoration has been dedicated: I would have to begin speaking again to be able to speak about you. I wonder if there is any other place in the world where 62 percent of the country's technical force is made up of women [applause] and if what we have achieved so far would have been possible to achieve without you. [applause]

I also congratulate you for the unselfishness and sacrifices that made you earn this just homage. [applause]

Soldiers of the heroic Border Brigade [Brigada de la Frontera], I congratulate you for having received the Major General Jose Maceo flag of combative glory. [applause]. You have written an indelible page of bravery in the revolution's history and you have given the supreme example of generosity through the dangers you confronted to save the lives of those who had renounced the fatherland. [shouts, applause]

I also congratulate the party and People's Government of Guantanamo [applause]; I congratulate the people of Guantanamo [applause]; I beg your forgiveness if, for the sake of time, I failed to say many other things that could have been said here. [applause]

In 1995, I too will observe 50 years since the start of a lengthy and intense political and revolutionary struggle, which, among other things, has allowed me [applause, crowd shouts: "Congratulations Fidel, congratulations!"] which, among other things, has given me the enormous privilege of being here with you.

It is no longer necessary to deliver the lengthy speeches of the revolution's early years. I wish to add only one thing: the revolution will never renounce its principles; it will never renounce [applause] it will never renounce the achievements it brought our people; it will never renounce its ideas and goals; it will never kneel before the empire. [applause].

Sovereignty is not surrendered or negotiated. [applause] The right to build the social, economic, and political system of our people's choice cannot be surrendered to anything or anyone. [applause].

The revolution cannot be destroyed from the inside or the outside. [applause] If we must struggle 100 years more, we will do so. Those of us who have had the privilege of knowing freedom, dignity, and justice will never resign ourselves to living without them. [applause].

Socialism [crowd shouts: "Or death!"]

Fatherland or death [crowd shouts: "We will win!"] [applause]