Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

[Speech by Fidel Castro; Havana; Revolucion, Spanish, 3, 4, & 5 January,


Compatriots of All Cuba,

We have finally reached Santiago de Cuba.  The road was long and
difficult, but we finally arrived.  It was rumored that they expected us in
the capital of the Republic at 2 p.m. today.  No one was more amazed by
this than I, because I was the first one to be surprised by this
treacherous blow, which would place me in the capital of the Republic this
morning.  Moreover, I intended to be in the capital of the Republic -- that
is, in the new capital of the Republic -- because Santiago de Cuba, in
accordance with the wishes of the Provisional President, in accordance with
the wishes of the Rebel Army, and in accordance with the wishes of the
people of Santiago de Cuba, who really deserved it, Santiago will be the
new capital of Cuba.

Santiago de Cuba will be the provisional capital of the Republic.

This measure may surprise some people.  Admittedly, it is new, but
the revolution is characterized precisely by its newness, by the fact that
it will do things that have never been done before.

The Revolution Begins Now

In making Santiago de Cuba the provisional capital of the
Republic, we are fully aware of our reason for doing so.  This is no
attempt to cajole a specific area by demogogic means.  It is simply that
Santiago de Cuba has been the strongest bulwark of the revolution, a
revolution that is beginning now.  Our Revolution will be no easy task, but
a harsh and dangerous undertaking, particularly in the initial phases.  And
in what better place could we establish the Government of the Republic than
in this fortress of the Revolution.

So that you may know that this will be a government solidly
supported by the people of this heroic city, located in the foothills of
the Sierra Maestra -- because Santiago de Cuba is a part of the Sierra
Maestra -- Santiago de Cuba and the Sierra Maestra will provide the two
strongest fortresses for the Revolution.  However, there are other reasons
that motivate us, and one is the military revolutionary movement, the truly
military revolutionary movement which did not take place in Colombia.

The Puny Little Uprising of Colombia

In Colombia they prepared a puny little uprising against the
revolution, principally with Batista's assistance.  Since it is necessary
to tell the truth and since we came here with a view to orienting people, I
can tell you and I can assure you that the military uprising in Colombia
was an attempt to deprive the people in power, to rob the revolution of its
triumph and to allow Batista to escape, to allow the Tabernilla to escape,
to allow the Tabernillas to escape together with the Pilar Garcias, to
allow the Salas Canizares and the Venturas.  The Colombian uprising was an
ambitious and treacherous blow that deserves the lowest epithets.

We must call a spade a spade and put the blame where it belongs.
I am not going to be diplomatic.  I will say outright that General Cantillo
betrayed us and not only am I going to say it, but I am going to prove it
to you.

However, we had always said so.  We had always said that there
would be no point in resolving this matter at the last moment with a puny
little military uprising, because if there is a military uprising,
concealed from the people, our Revolution will go forward nonetheless and
this time cannot be over the power.  It will not be like 1895 when the
Americans came and took over, intervening at the last moment, and
afterwards did not even allow Calixto Garcia to assume leadership, although
he had fought at Santiago de Cuba for 30 years.

Nor will it be like 1933, when the people began to believe that
the revolution was going to triumph, and Mr. Batista came in to betray the
revolution, take over power, and establish an 11-year-long dictatorship.

Neither Treason nor Intervention

Nor will it be like 1944, when the people took courage, believing
that they had finally reached a position where they could take over the
power, while those who did assume power proved to be thieves.  We will have
no thievery, no treason, no intervention.  This time it is truly the
revolution, even though some might not desire it.  At the very moment that
the dictatorship fell, as a consequence of the military victories of our
Revolution, when they could not hold out even another 15 days, Mr. Cantillo
appears on the scene as a paladin of freedom.  Naturally, we have never
been remiss in refusing any offer of collaboration that might prevent
bloodshed, providing the aims of our Revolution were not imperiled thereby.
Naturally, we have always appealed to the military in our search for peace,
but it must be peace for freedom and peace with the triumph of our
Revolution.  This is the only way to obtain peace.

Hence, on December 24, when we were told of General Cantillo's
desire to meet us, we agreed to the interview.  And I must confess to you
that, given the course of events, the extraordinary development of our
military operations, I had very little interest in speaking of military
movements.  Nevertheless, I felt that it was the duty of those of us with
responsibility not to allow ourselves to be carried away by our feelings.
I also thought that if triumph could be achieved with the minimum
bloodshed, it was my duty to listen to the proposals made by the military.

To Prevent Batista's Flight

I went to meet Mr. Cantillo, who spoke to me on behalf of the
Army.  He met me on the 28th [December] at the Oriente mill, where he
arrived in a helicopter at 8 p.m.  We talked for four hours and I will not
invent any stories about what took place, since there were several
exceptional witnesses to the interview.  There was Dr. Raul Chibas, there
was a Catholic priest, there were several military men, whose evidence
cannot be questioned on any grounds whatsoever.  After analyzing all of
Cuba's problems, and underlining all the minute details, General Cantillo
agreed to carry out a military revolutionary movement with us.  The first
thing I said to him was this:

After carefully studying the situation, the situation of the
Army, the situation in which it had been placed by the
dictatorship, after explaining to him that he did not have to
concern himself with Batista, nor with the Tabernillas, nor with
the rest of those people because none of them had shown any
concern for the Cuban military forces, we showed him that those
people had lead the military into a campaign against the masses, a
campaign that can never be victorious because no one can win a war
against the mass of the population.

After telling him that the military forces were the victims
of the regime's immorality, that the budgetary allocations for the
purchase of arms were embezzled, that the soldiers were being
constantly defrauded, that those people did not deserve the
consideration of honorable military men, that the Army had no
reason to bear the blame for crimes committed by Batista's gangs
of villains, I told him quite clearly that I did not authorize any
type of movement that would enable Batista to escape.  I warned
him that if Batista got away afterwards with the Tabernillas and
the rest of them it would be because we had been unable to prevent
it.  We had to prevent Batista's flight.

The People Obtain Their Freedom by Conquest

Everyone knows that our first requirement in the event of a
military uprising -- that is, a military uprising in conjunction with our
movement -- was the surrender of the war criminals.  This is an essential
condition.  We could have captured Batista and all his accomplices and I
said it loudly and clearly that I was not in agreement with Batista's
escape.  I explained to him quite clearly what course of action would have
to be taken and that I did not give any support [to Batista's escape] nor
would the 27th of July Movement, nor would the people support a coup d'etat
[on such terms], because the fact is that it was the people who obtained
their freedom by conquest and only the people who did it.

Our freedom was taken from us by a coup d'etat but in order to
finish once and for all with coups d'etat, it was necessary to achieve
freedom by dint of the people's sacrifice.  We could achieve nothing by one
uprising today and another tomorrow and another two years later and another
three years after, because here in Cuba it is the people, and the people
alone, who must decide who is to govern them.

The military forces must unconditionally obey the people's orders
and be at the disposal of the people, of the constitution and of the Laws
of the Republic.  If there is a poor government that embezzles and does
more than four wrong things, the only thing to do is to wait a little while
and when election time comes the bad government is turned out of office.
That is why in democratic, constitutional regimes governments have a fixed
mandate.  If they are bad, they can be ousted by the people, who can vote
for a better government.  The function of the military is not to elect
governments, but to guarantee laws and to guarantee the rights of the
citizens.  That is why I warned him that a coup d'etat was out of the
question, but a military revolutionary movement was in order and it should
take place in Santiago de Cuba and not in Colombia.

An Unkept Promise

I told him quite clearly that the only way of forming a link with
the people and joining them, of uniting the military and the
revolutionaries was not a coup d'etat in the early hours of the dawn in
Colombia -- at 2 or 3 a.m. -- about which no one would know anything, as is
the usual practice of the gentlemen.  I told him it would be necessary to
arouse the garrison at Santiago de Cuba, which was quite strong and
adequately armed, in order to start the military movement, which would then
be joined by the people and the revolutionaries.  Given the situation in
which the dictatorship found itself, such movement would prove irresistible
because all the other garrisons in the country would certainly join it at
once.  That was what was agreed upon and not only was it what was agreed
upon but I made him promise it.  He intended to go to Havana the next day
and we did not agree with this.  I said to him, "It is risky for you to go
to Havana."  And he replied, "No, no there is no risk in it."  I insisted,
"You are running a great risk of arrest because if there is a conspiracy,
everyone knows about it here."

"No, I am sure they will not arrest me," he replied.  And, of
course, why would they arrest him if this was a "coup d'etat of Batista?"

My thoughts were, "Well, all this seems so easy that it might well
be a suspicious movement," so I said to him, "Will you promise me that in
Havana you will not be persuaded by those interests which support you to
carry out a coup d'etat in the capital?  Will you promise me that you will
not do it?  His reply was, "I promise I won't."  I insisted, "Will you
swear to me that you won't?"  And his reply again, "I swear I won't!"

A Dive into Space

I believe that the prime requisite for a military man is honor,
that the prime requisite of a military man is his word.  This gentleman not
only proved that he is dishonorable and that his word is worth nothing, but
that he also lacks intelligence.  I say this because a movement which could
have been organized from the start with the support of the whole
population, with its victory assured from the outset, did nothing more than
dive into space.  He believed that it would be only too easy to fool the
people and to mislead the Revolution.  He knew some things.  He knew, for
instance, that when we told the people that Batista had got hold of a plane
the people would flock into the streets, madly happy.  They thought that
the people were not sufficiently mature to distinguish between Batista's
flight and the Revolution.  Because if Batista goes and over there
Cantillo's friends assume command, it is quite likely that Dr. Urrutia
would also have to go within three months.  Because just as they were
betraying us now, so would they betray us later and the truth of the matter
is that Mr. Cantillo betrayed us before the Revolution.  He gave signs of
this and I can prove it.  We agreed with General Cantillo that the uprising
would take place on the 31st at 3 p.m. and it was agreed that the armed
forces would give unconditional support to the revolutionary movement.  The
President was to appoint the revolutionary leaders and establish the
positions to which the revolutionary leaders would assign the military.
They were offering unconditional support and every detail of the plan was
agreed upon.  At 3 p.m. on the 31st the garrison at Santiago de Cuba was to
rise in revolt.  Immediately after several rebel columns would enter the
city and the people would fraternize with the military and the rebels,
immediately submitting a revolutionary proclamation to the country as a
whole and calling on all honorable military men to join the movement.  It
was agreed that the talks in the city would be placed at our disposal and I
personally offered to advance toward the capital with an armed column
preceded by the tanks.  The tanks in the city would be placed at our
disposal and I personally offered to advance toward the capital with an
armed column preceded by the tanks.  The tanks were to be handed to me at 3
p.m., not because it was felt that any fighting would be necessary but only
against the possibility that in Havana the Movement might fail, making it
necessary to place our vanguard as close as possible to the capital and to
prevent any such occurrences in Havana.

Cantillo's Responsibility

It was evident that with the hatred for the public forces created
by the horrendous crimes committed by Ventura and Pilar Garcia, Batista's
fall would create considerable upheaval among the people.  Moreover, the
police force would inevitably feel that it lacked the moral strength to
contain the populace, as in fact happened.  A series of excesses were
recorded in the capital.  There was looting, shooting, fires, and all the
responsibility for it falls on the shoulders of General Cantillo, who
betrayed his word of honor, who failed to carry out the plan which had been
agreed upon.  He believed that by appointing police captains and
commanders, many of whom had already deserted when they were appointed --
proof that they had a guilty conscience -- would be enough to solve the
problem.  How different things were in Santiago de Cuba!  How orderly and
civic-minded!  How disciplined the behavior of the masses!  There was not a
single attempt to loot, not a single example of personal vengeance, not a
single man dragged through the streets, not a single fire!  The behavior of
the population of Santiago de Cuba was admirable and exemplary despite two
factors.  One of these was that Santiago de Cuba was the city which had
suffered the most, where there had been the greatest terrorism and where,
consequently, one would expect the people to be indignant.  Moreover,
despite our statements of this morning that we were not in agreement with
the coup d'etat, the population in Santiago de Cuba behaved in an exemplary
fashion....  [A typing error makes the translation of the next two lines
impossible]....  One can no longer say that revolution is anarchy and
disorder; it occurred in Havana because of treason, but that was not the
case in Santiago de Cuba, which we can hold out as a model every time the
Revolution is accused of anarchy and disorganization.

It is well that people should know of the negotiations between
General Cantillo and me.  If the people are not too tired, I can tell you
that after the agreements were made, when we had already suspended
operations in Santiago de Cuba, since on the 28th our troops were quite
near to the city and had completed all the preparatory work necessary for
the attack on it, according to the interview we were to make a series of
changes, abandoning the operation at Santiago de Cuba.  Instead, we were to
direct our troops elsewhere, in fact, to a place where it was believed that
the Movement might not be victorious from the outset.

Message From Cantillo

When we had completed all our movements, the column which was to
march on the capital received the following note from General Cantillo,
just a few hours before it was due to leave.  The text of the note read as
follows:  "Circumstances have changed considerably and now are favorable to
a national solution, in accordance with all desires for Cuba."  Yet, the
major factors could not be more favorable and every circumstance pointed to
triumph.  It was therefore strange that he should come and say that
circumstances had changed greatly and favorably.  The circumstances were
that Batista and Tabernilla had agreed and the success of the coup was
assured.  I recommended that nothing should be done at the moment and that
we should await the course of events over the next weeks, up to [January]
6th.  Obviously, given the indefinitely prolonged truce while they were
taking care of everything in Havana, my immediate reply was as follows:
"The tenor of the note is entirely in contradiction with our agreements.
Moreover, it is ambiguous and incomprehensible and has made me lose
confidence in the seriousness of the agreements.  Hostilities will break
out tomorrow at 3 p.m., the date and time agreed upon for the launching of
the movement."

Something very curious happened immediately thereafter in addition
to the receipt of the very short note.  I advised the commanding officer at
Santiago de Cuba, through the bearer of the message, that if hostilities
were to break out because the agreements were not fulfilled and we had to
attack the first at Santiago de Cuba, they could do nothing other than

We Demand the Surrender of Santiago de Cuba

My phrase was that we demanded the surrender of the town if
hostilities were to break out and if we were to initiate the attack.
However, the bearer of the note did not interpret me correctly.  He told
Colonel Rego Rubido that I demanded the surrender of the town as a
precondition to any agreement.  He did not add that I had said, "in the
event of our launching an attack."  However, I had not said that I demanded
the surrender of the town as a condition from General Cantillo.  As a
result of this message, the commanding officer at Santiago de Cuba sent me
a very enigmatic and punctilious reply which I will read to you,
indicating, naturally, that he felt very offended with what had been said
to him in error.  It read as follows:  "The solution found is neither a
coup d'etat nor a military revolt and yet we believe that it is the most
advisable solution for Dr. Fidel Castro, in accordance with his ideas and
one which would place the destinies of the country in his hands within 48
hours.  It is not a local but a national solution and any indiscretion
might compromise or destroy it, leading to chaos.  Therefore, we hope you
will have confidence in our decisions and you will receive the solution
before the 6th.  As for Santiago, owing to the note and to the words of the
messenger, it will be necessary to change the plan and not enter the city."

Arms Cannot Be Surrendered Without Honor

His words caused a certain amount of bad feeling among the key
personnel.  It was argued that no arms would be surrendered without
fighting, that arms are not surrendered, that arms are not surrendered to
an ally, that arms cannot be surrendered without honor.  All of which are
very beautiful phrases when spoken by the commander of the garrison of
Santiago de Cuba, if he has no confidence in us; or if Santiago de Cuba is
attacked, they will regard it as equivalent to breaking the agreements,
which will interrupt the negotiations for the solution offered, thereby
formally absolving us from any compromise.  It was our hope that, given the
time required to act in one way or another, the reply would arrive in time
to be sent to Havana by the Viscount flying out in the afternoon.  My
answer to Colonel Jose Rego Rubido's note was as follows:

"In liberated Cuban Territory, 31 December 1958.  Dear Colonel, a
regrettable error has occurred in the transmission of my message to you,
due perhaps to the haste with which I replied to your note.  This is what I
surmise from the conversation I have since held with its bearer.  I did not
tell him that the conditions we established in the agreement entered into
encompassed the surrender of the garrison of Santiago de Cuba to our
forces.  This showed a lack of courtesy to our visitor and would have
constituted an unworthy and offensive proposal to the military forces who
so cordially sought us out.  The question was entirely different.  An
agreement was reached and a plan adopted between the leader of the military
movement and ourselves which was to go into effect as from 3 p.m. on 31
December.  The plan included details established after careful analysis of
the problems to be faced, and was to begin with the revolt of the garrison
at Santiago de Cuba.  I persuaded General Cantillo of the advantages to be
derived from beginning at Oriente rather than in Colombia because the mass
of the people greatly feared any coup starting in the barracks in the
Capital of the Republic, stressing how difficult it would be, in that case,
to insure that the people joined up with the movement.  He stated that he
was in full agreement with my viewpoint on the matter and was only
concerned with maintaining order in the Capital, so we jointly agreed on
measures necessary to avoid that danger.  These measures involved the
advance of our column toward Santiago de Cuba, to be exact.  It was to be a
combined effort of the military, the people and ourselves, a sort of
revolutionary movement which, from the outset, would be backed by the
confidence of the whole nation.  According to what was established, we
suspended the operations that were underway and undertook new displacements
of our forces in other directions -- such as Holguin, where the presence of
well-known figureheads practically insured resistance to the revolutionary
military movement.  When all our preparatory tasks were completed, I
received yesterday's message, indicating that the plan of action agreed
upon was not to be fulfilled."

Apparently There Were Other Plans

"Apparently there were other plans but I was not to be informed of
them because, in fact, the matter was no longer in our hands.  Therefore
all we could do was wait because one party was changing everything.  Our
own forces were being endangered, although according to our understanding
and what was being said they were being sent off on difficult operations.
And we remained subject to the outcome of the risks which General Cantillo
took on his frequent trips to Havana.  Militarily, these trips might well
prove to be a disaster for us.  You must realize that everything is very
confused at this moment and Batista is an artful, crafty individual who
knows only too well how to make the best use of a risk that can prove
dangerous to others.  All that can be asked is that we renounce all of the
advantages gained during the past few weeks, and stand by, waiting
patiently, for events to take their due course.  I made it quite clear that
it could not be an operation on the part of the military alone.  We didn't
have to undergo the horror of two years of war for this, and then stand
with our arms crossed, doing nothing, at the most critical moment.  They
cannot expect this of men who have known no rest in the struggle against
oppression.  This cannot be done even though it is your intention to hand
over the power to the revolutionaries.  It is not power that is important
to us, but that the Revolution should fulfill its destiny.  I am even
concerned by the fact that the military, through any unjustifiable excess
of scruples, should facilitate the flight of the principal criminals who
would be able to escape abroad with their vast fortunes, and then from some
foreign country do all the harm possible to our country.  [Translator's
Note:  This text involves some typographical errors.  A rendering
compatible with the argument has been given.]

I Am Not Interested in Power

"I should add that, personally, I am not interested in power nor
do I envisage assuming it at any time.  All that I will do is to make sure
that the sacrifices of so many compatriots should not be in vain, whatever
the future may hold in store for me.

"In all my dealings, I have always acted loyally and frankly.  One
should never consider what has been obtained underhandedly and with
duplicity as a triumph and the language of honor which you have heard from
my lips is the only language I know.  Never in the course of the meetings
with General Cantillo did we refer to the word 'surrender.'  what I said
yesterday and what I repeat today is that, as of 3 p.m. of the 31st
[December], the date and time agreed upon, we could not cut short the truce
with Santiago de Cuba because that would have been exceedingly detrimental
to the people.

"Last night, the rumor circulated here that General Cantillo had
been arrested in Havana and that various young men had been found murdered
in the cemetery of Santiago de Cuba.  I had the feeling that we had been
wasting our time most unhappily.  And yet today, luckily enough, it seems
certain that the General is at his post.  What is the need for such risks?
What I said to the messenger about surrender, and which was not
communicated literally -- as would appear to have been confirmed by the
terms of his note today -- was the following:  that if hostilities were to
break out because the terms of the agreement had not been fulfilled, we
would be compelled t attack the garrison at Santiago de Cuba.  This would
be inevitable, since that was the objective of our efforts over the past
few months.  In this case, once the operation was under way, we would have
to demand the surrender of those defending the garrison.  This does not
mean to imply that we think they will surrender without fighting because I
know that even when there is not reason to fight, Cuban military forces
will defend their positions adamantly and this has cost me many lives.

"All I meant was that once the blood of our forces had been shed
in the attempt to conquer a given objective, no other solution would be
acceptable.  Even though the cost be extremely heavy, in view of the
present conditions of the forces defending the regime, and since these
forces cannot support the garrison of Santiago de Cuba, the latter must
inevitably fall into our hands.

Basic Objective of the Campaign

"This was the basic objective of our whole campaign over the past
two months and a plan of such scale cannot be held up for a week without
giving rise to grave consequences, should the military movement fail.
Moreover, it would mean losing the most opportune time -- which is the
present -- when the dictatorship is suffering severe losses in the
provinces of Oriente and Las Villas.  We are faced with the dilemma of
either waiving the advantages gained by our victory or exchanging an
assured victory for one that is otherwise.  Do you believe that in the face
of yesterday's ambiguous and laconic note, containing a unilateral
decision, I could hold myself responsible for delaying the plans?

"As a military man, you must admit that too much is being asked of
us.  You have not stopped digging trenches for a single moment and you
could well make use of those trenches against us...  Some one like Pedraza,
or Pilar Garcia or Canizares... and if General Cantillo is relieved of his
command, and if his trusted lieutenants go with him, you cannot expect us
to remain idle.  You see, they have promised us the absurd and although
they defend themselves valiantly with their arms, we have no alternative
but to attack, because we also have very sacred commitments to fulfill.  We
desire that these honorable military men be much more than mere allies.  We
want them to be our companions in a single cause, the cause of Cuba.  Above
all, I wish you, yourself, my friend, not to misinterpret my attitude.  Do
not believe that I am being overly rigid as regards the tactics involving
the holding off of an attack in the Santiago de Cuba area.  In order that
no possible doubt whatever may persist, I will confirm that although at any
time before the fighting begins we can renew our negotiations, as of today
it must be made clear that the attack will take place momentarily and that
nothing will convince us to alter the plans again."

A Letter from Colonel Rego

Colonel Rego replied in a very punctilious note, worthy of the
greatest praise, which reads as follows:

"Sir, I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of today's date,
and believe me, I wish to thank you most sincerely for the explanation
regarding the previous message.  However, I must confess that I felt some
error of interpretation was involved since I have observed your line of
conduct for some time and know that you are a man of principle.  I ignored
the details of the original plan because I was only informed of the first
part of it.  I might add that I am also not aware of some of the details of
the present plan.  I believe you are partly right in your analysis of the
first part of the original plan.  However, I believe that a few more days
would be necessary before it could be consummated and we would never be
able to prevent some of the major, intermediary and minor guilty parties
from escaping.  I am among those who believe it is absolutely essential to
give an example of Cuba of all those who take advantage of the positions of
power they occupy to commit every possible type of punishable offense.
Unfortunately, history is plagued with a series of similar cases ad rarely
do the criminals fall into the hands of the competent authorities.

"I am fully aware of your concern for the men who have the least
responsibility for the course of historical events."

Opposed to the Flight of the Guilty

"I have no reason whatsoever to believe that any person is
attempting to facilitate the escape of the guilty, and, personally, I
might add that I am opposed to their flight."  That was Colonel Rego
Rubido's view.  However, he also added that should such an event take
place, the historical responsibility for such an act would fall on the
shoulders of those who facilitated the escape, and never on those of anyone
else.  "I believe," he said, "that everything will take place in accordance
with your ideas, and that it will be for the good of Cuba and of the
Revolution of which you are the leader.  I heard of a young student who had
been murdered and whose body was in the cemetery.  Today, I myself made
sure that every possible measure be taken to determine who was guilty of
those crimes and what the circumstances of his death were, and how it took
place, just as I had done a few days ago, not sparing any effort until I am
able to put the suspected authors of this crime at the disposal of the
competent authorities.  Lastly, I should advise you that I sent a message
through to the General, letting him know that I had obtained a plane to
carry your note to him.  Do not be impatient for I feel sure that even
before the date established as the maximum limit you will be in Havana.
When the General left here, I asked him to let me have the helicopter and a
pilot, just in case you might like to fly over Santiago de Cuba on Sunday

"With sincerest greetings and my warmest wishes for a Happy New
Year, (Signed) Colonel Rego Rubido."

Surprised by the Coup in Colombia

This was the state of our negotiations when Colonel Rego,
Commander of the garrison of Santiago de Cuba and I were equally surprised
by the coup d'etat in Colombia, which was completely in contradiction with
all that had been agreed upon.  The first thing done and the most criminal
aspect of all was that Batista was allowed to escape, and with him
Tabernilla, and the other major criminals.  They allowed them to escape
with their millions of pesos; yes, they allowed them to flee with the three
or four hundred million pesos they had stolen.

This will prove very costly for us because now, from Santo Domingo
and from other countries, they will be directing propaganda against the
Revolution, plotting all the harm they can against our cause and for a good
many years we will have them there, threatening our people, and causing the
people to remain in a constant state of alarm because they will be
conspiring against us and paying others to do so also.  What did we do as
soon as we learned of the blow?  We heard about it on Radio Progreso and by
that time, guessing what their plans were, as I was making a statement I
was told that Batista had left for Santo Domingo.  Is it a rumor?  I
wondered.  Could it be a trick?  I sent someone out to confirm the story
and was informed that Batista and Tabernilla had actually gone to Santo
Domingo.  And the most astonishing thing of all was that General Cantillo
declared that this movement had taken place thanks to the patriotic
intentions of General Batista, who had resigned in order to avoid
bloodshed.  What do you think about that?

There is something else I must tell you in order to let you see
what kind of a coup had been prepared.  Pedraza had been appointed to
membership of the Junta and then he left.  I don't think one need add
anything else to explain the nature of the aims of those responsible for
carrying out the coup.  Subsequently, they did not appoint Urrutia to the
Presidency, that is, the man proclaimed by the movement and by all the
revolutionary organizations.  The person they chose is no less than the
oldest member of the Supreme Court bench, and all his colleagues are quite
old themselves.  And above all he is a man who has been a President up to
the present time:  a President of a Supreme Court of Justice which never
dispenses any justice, which never did dispense any justice whatsoever.

It Appears To Be Only Half a Revolution

What would the result of all this be?  Only half a revolution.  A
compromise, a caricature of a revolution.  Mr. Jack Straw, or whatever name
you may wish to give this Mr. Piedra who, if he has not resigned by now
should be getting ready to do so, because we are going to make him resign
in Havana.  I do not believe he will last twenty-four hours in office.  It
will break all records.  They appoint this gentleman and, isn't it perfect,
Cantillo becomes a national hero, the defender of Cuba's freedoms, the Lord
and Master of Cuba, and there is Mr. Piedra...   It would simply mean
getting rid of one dictator to put another in his place.

Every order contained in the documents referring to the movement
in Colombia indicated that it was to be a counterrevolutionary uprising.
In all the orders, the general trend was away from the aims of the people,
and in all the orders there was an atmosphere of something suspect.  Mr.
Piedra immediately made an appeal, or stated that he was going to make an
appeal to the rebels and to a peace commission.  Meanwhile, we were
supposed to be so calm and trusting; we would put down our guns and abandon
everything and go and plead and pay homage to Mr. Piedra and Mr. Cantillo.

Cantillo and Piedra Out of Touch With Reality

It is obvious that both Cantillo and Piedra were out of touch with
reality because I believe that the Cuban people have learned a great deal
and we rebels have also learned something.  That was the situation this
morning but it is not the situation this evening, because many things have
changed.  Given these facts, given this betrayal, I ordered all the rebel
commanders to continue marching on toward their targets, and in keeping
with this, I also immediately ordered all the columns allocated to the
Santiago de Cuba operations to advance against that garrison.

I want you to know that our forces were firmly determined to take
Santiago de Cuba by assault.  This would have been regrettable because it
would have led to much bloodshed and tonight would not have been a night of
celebration and happiness, as it is, it would not have been a night of
peace and fraternization, as it is.  I must acknowledge that if there was
not a bloody battle waged here in Santiago de Cuba, it is due largely to
the patriotic attitude of Army Colonel Jose Rego Rubido, to the commanders
of the frigates Maximo Gomez and Maceo and to the chief of the Santiago de
Cuba Naval District, as well as to the officer who was acting as Chief of

Avoiding a Bloody Battle

Citizens, it is only just that we should recognize these facts
here and now and be thankful to the men responsible for them.  They
contributed to averting considerable bloodshed and to converting this
morning's counterrevolutionary movement into the revolutionary movement of
this afternoon.

We had no alternative other than to attack because we could not
allow the Colombia coup to be consolidated.  Therefore, it was necessary to
attack.  When the troops were already marching out against their targets,
Colonel Rego made use of a helicopter to try and locate me.  The Navy
commanders contacted us and placed themselves unconditionally at the
service of the Revolution.  Backed by the support of their two vessels,
equipped with heavy firing capacity, and by the Naval District and the
Police, I called a meeting of all the Army officers stationed at the
Santiago de Cuba garrison -- and there are over a hundred of these
officers.  I explained to them that I was not the least worried by the
thought of addressing them because I knew I was right, and I knew they
would understand my arguments and that we would reach an agreement in the
course of the meeting.  Indeed, in the early evening, just at nightfall, I
went to the meeting at the Escande which was attended by nearly all the
Army officers in Santiago de Cuba.  Many of them were young men who were
clearly anxious to struggle and fight for the good of their country.  I met
with these military men and spoke to them of our aims for our country, of
what we wanted for the country, of the manner in which we had always dealt
with the military and of all the harm done to the army by the tyrants.  I
said I did not think it fair that all military men be regarded equally,
that the criminals were only a small minority, that there were many
honorable men in the army who I knew repudiated criminal tactics, abuse and
injustice.  I knew it was not easy for the military to develop a specific
type of action.

There Was Great Fear in the Army

It was clear that when the highest positions in the army were in
the hands of the Tabernilla and the Pilar Garcia, relatives and
unconditional supporters of Batista, there was a generalized feel of great
fear in the Army.  One could not ask an officer individually to accept any
responsibility.  There were two kinds of military men and we know them
well.  There were military men like Sosa Blanco, Canizares, Sanchez
Mosquera and Chaviano, known for their crimes and the cowardly murder of
unfortunate peasants; and then there are military men who have waged
honorable campaigns, who never murdered anyone, nor burned down houses, men
such as Commander Quevedo, who was our prisoner after his heroic resistance
at the Battle of Jibo and who is still an Army officer.  Men like Commander
Sierra and many other officers who never in their lives burned down a
house.  However, this type of officer got no promotion.  Those who were
promoted were the criminals because Batista always made a point of
recompensing crime.

Support for the Cuban Revolution

For example, we have the case of Colonel Rego Rubido who does not
owe his position to the dictatorship since he was already a Colonel when
the 10 March coup took place.  The fact is that I was given the support of
the Army officers in Santiago de Cuba and the army officers in Santiago de
Cuba gave their unconditional backing to the Cuban Revolution.  When the
Navy, Army and Police officers met together, they agreed to condemn the
Colombia uprising and to support the Legal Government of the Republic
because it has the backing of the majority of the population, and is
represented by Dr. Manuel Urrutia Lleo, and they also agreed to support the
Cuban Revolution.  Thanks to their attitude, we were able to prevent much
bloodshed; thanks to their attitude, this afternoon we saw the birth of a
truly revolutionary movement.  I quite understand that among the people
there may be many justifiably passionate feelings.  I appreciate the
concern for justice evinced by our people and I promise to give them
justice, but I want to ask the people, above all and before all else, to
remain calm.

Before All Else, Power Must Be Consolidated

At the present moment, power must be consolidated before we do
anything else.  Before all else, power must be consolidated.  After that,
we will appoint a commission, made up of reputable military men and
officers of the Rebel Army to take the necessary measures.  These will
include establishing responsibilities where they are due.  No one will
oppose such measures because it is precisely the army and the armed forces
who are most concerned in insuring that the guilt of a few should not be
borne by the whole corps.  They are the ones most interested in insuring
that the wearing of a uniform not be regarded as degrading, and that the
guilty be punished in order that the innocent not be charged with the
disreputable acts of others.  We would ask the people to have confidence in
us because we know how to fulfill our obligations.  Those were the
circumstances surrounding the meeting held this afternoon -- a meeting that
proved to be a truly revolutionary movement in which the people, the
military and the rebels participated.

The Entry into Santiago de Cuba

Words fail us to describe the enthusiasm of the military in
Santiago de Cuba.  As a proof of their trust, I asked the military to join
me in entering Santiago de Cuba, so that here I am with all the Army
officers.  There are the tanks that are at the service of the Revolution.
there is the artillery and the service of the Revolution.  And there are
the vessels, now at the service of the Revolution.  And finally the people.
The people who at the outset... I need not add that the Revolution can
depend on the people because this is a well-known fact.  However, the
people, who at the outset had only shotguns, now have artillery, tanks and
well-armed vessels, and many trained army technicians to help us handle
them.  Now the people are properly armed.  And let me assure you that if
when we were only 12 men, we never lost faith, now that we have 12 tanks
there, how are we going to lose faith?  Let me tell you that today,
tonight, as of this dawn -- because daybreak is at hand, the eminent
magistrate Dr. Manuel Urrutia Lleo will take over the presidency of the
Republic.  Does Dr. Urrutia have the support of the people or does he not
have the support of the people?  What I really mean to say is that it is
the President of the Republic, the legal president, who has the support of
the people of Cuba and that is Dr. Manuel Urrutia.  Who wants Mr. Piedra as
President?  Then if no one wants Mr. Piedra as President, how are they
going to impose Mr. Piedra on us now?

March toward the Capital

Since those are the instructions given by the people of Santiago
de Cuba, and since they represent the feelings of all the people of all
Cuba, as soon as this meeting is over I will march with the veteran troops
of Sierra Maestra, with the tanks and the artillery, toward the Capital in
order to fulfill the will of people.  We are here entirely at the request
of the people.  The mandate of the people is the only legal mandate at
present.  The President is elected by the people and not by a council in
Colombia, meeting at four o'clock in the morning.

The people have elected their President and this means that from
this moment on the most powerful legal authority in the Republic has been
established.  Not a single one, not a single one of the appointments and
promotions made by the Military Junta in the early hours of today is at all
valid.  All the appointments and promotions in the Army are annulled, all
the appointments and promotions, I mean, that were made at dawn today.
Anyone accepting a commission from the treacherous Junta which met this
morning is regarded as adopting a counterrevolutionary attitude, call it by
whatever name you wish, and as a result will be branded as an outlaw.  I am
absolutely convinced that by tomorrow morning all the army commands
throughout the country will have accepted the decisions taken by the
President of the Republic.  The President will immediately appoint the
chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Police.  Because of the very valuable
service rendered now to the Revolution and because he placed his thousands
of men at the service of the Revolution, we would recommend that colonel
Rego Rubido be made Chief of the Army.  Similarly, the Chief of the Navy
will be one of the two commanders who first placed their vessels at the
orders of the Revolution.  And I would recommend to the President of the
Republic that Commander Efigenio Almejeiras be appointed national Chief of
Police.  He lost three brothers in the Revolution, was one of the members
of the gamma expeditionary force and one of the most able men in the
revolutionary army.  Almejeiras is on duty in the Guantanamo operations but
will arrive here tomorrow.

Things Will Be the Way the People Want Them

All I can do is ask you to give us time and to allow time to the
civil powers of the Republic, so that we can do things the way the people
want them; but they must be done gradually, little by little.  I would only
ask one thing of the people, and that is that you remain calm.  (A voice is
heard shouting Oriente Federal!)  No... no, the Republic, above all else,
must remain united.  What you must demand is justice for Oriente
[province].  Time is a highly important factor in all things.  The
Revolution cannot be completed in a single day but you may be sure that we
will carry the Revolution through to the full.  You may be sure that for
the first time the Republic will be truly and entirely free and the people
will have their just recompense.  Power was not achieved through politics,
but through the sacrifices of hundreds and thousands of our fellows.  It is
not a promise we make to ourselves but to the people, the whole Cuban
nation; the man who has taken over power has no commitments with anyone
other than with the people.  Che Guevara has been ordered to march on the
Capital, not on the provisional Capital of the Republic.  Commander Camilo
Cienfuegos of Number 2 Column -- the Antonio Maceo column -- was likewise
ordered to march on Havana and to take over command of the Colombia
military camp.  The orders issued by the President of the Republic were
carried out, as is required by the mandate of the Revolution.  We must not
be blamed for the excesses occurring in Havana.  General Cantillo and his
fellow-conspirators of this day's dawn are to blame for those.  They
believed that they could overcome the situation there.  In Santiago de
Cuba, where a genuine revolution took place, complete order has reigned.
In Santiago de Cuba, the people joined with the military and the
revolutionaries in a way I cannot describe.  The head of the Government,
the head of the Army and the head of the Navy will be in Santiago de Cuba
and their orders must be obeyed by every authority in the country.  It is
our hope that every honorable military man will respect these instructions.

There Is No Need to Fear the Revolution

It is important to remember that primarily the military forces are
at the service of law and of authority, not improperly constituted
authorities but the legitimate authority.  No reputable Army man need fear
anything from the Revolution.  In this struggle, there are no conquered
ones because the only conqueror is the people.  There are men who have
fallen on one side and the other, but we have all joined together that the
victory may be the nation's.  We have all joined together, the reputable
military and the revolutionaries.  There will be no more bloodshed.  I hope
that no group puts up any resistance because apart from such an attitude
proving foolhardy, it would be overcome in short shift.  Moreover, it would
be resistance against the Law, against the Republic and against the
feelings of the whole Cuban nation.  It was necessary to organize today's
movement in order to prevent another war taking place in six months' time.
What happened at the time of Machado's coup?  Well one of machado's
generals also organized a coup d'etat, removed Machado from power and put
in a new President who remained in office for 15 days.  Then the sergeants
came along and said those officers were responsible for Machado's
dictatorship and that they could not countenance them.  The revolutionary
spirit spread and the officers were ousted.  That cannot take place now.
those officers have the backing of the people and of the troops.  They also
enjoy the prestige acquired by having joined a truly revolutionary
movement.  The people will respect and esteem these officers and it will
not be necessary for them to use force nor to go about the streets armed
nor to attempt to strike fear in the hearts of the people.

Order, Freedom and Justice

True order is that based on freedom, on respect and on justice,
but at the same time that which precludes the use of force.  Henceforward,
the people shall be entirely free and the people know how to conduct
themselves, as they have proven today.  We have achieved the peace that our
country needs.  Santiago de Cuba has paid for its freedom without
bloodshed.  That is why happiness reigns supreme here.  That is why the
military, today, condemned and repudiated the Colombia coup, in order to
join the revolution unconditionally.  Therefore, they deserve our
acknowledgment of their motivation, our thanks and our respect.

In the future, the armed forces of the Republic will be regarded
as exemplary, given their ability, their training and the manner in which
they identified with the cause of the people and because, henceforward,
their rifles will be solely and always at the service of the people.  There
will be no more coups d'etat, no more war, because we have now taken care
to prevent a repetition of what happened to Machado.  To make the present
case -- the one that took place at dawn today -- resemble Machado's fall
even more closely, those gentlemen put a Carlos Manuel in office, just as a
Carlos Manuel had been put in office previously.  What we will not have
this time is a Batista because there will be no need for a 4 September
which destroys the discipline in the Armed Forces.  It will be remembered
that it was Batista who was responsible for the armed uprising at that
time.  His policy consisted in cajoling the soldiers in order to disguise
the authority of the officers.  The officers will have authority; there
will be discipline in the Army; there will be a military penal code, in
which any violation of human rights, any dishonorable or immoral acts by
any military personnel, will be severely punished.

There will be no privileges; there will be no privileges for
anyone; and the members of the Armed Forces who are capable and deserving
will be promoted.  It will not be as it has been in the past -- that is,
that relations and friends are promoted, regardless of grades.  This sort
of thing will finish for the military as it will finish for laborers.
There will be no more exploitation or compulsory contributions, which for
the workers represent the trade union payments and for the military
represent a peso here for the First Lady and two pesos elsewhere for
something else and so all their pay dwindles away.

Honesty in Respect of What is Collected

Naturally, the whole population can expect it of us and can count
on it.  However, I have spoken of the military so that they will know that
they can also count on the Revolution for all the improvements which have
been lacking until now, because if the budgetary resources are not stolen,
the military will be in a much better position than at the present.
Moreover, the soldier will not be called upon to exercise the duty of a
policeman because he will be busy with his own training in the barracks;
the soldier will not be engaged in police work but will be busy being a
soldier.  We will not have to resort to short-wave systems [Translator's
note:  It is believed that the reference is to "bugging" devices].  I think
that I should add that we rebels make use of short-wave facilities because
this is advisable.  However, the short-wave facilities have not made
reference to assassins, have not involved sudden stopping of cars in front
of houses nor ambushes at midnight.

I am certain that as soon as the President of the Republic takes
office and assumes command of the situation, he will decree the
re-establishment of all rights and freedoms, including the absolute freedom
of the press, of all individual rights, of all trade union rights, and of
the rights and demands of the rural workers and our own free people.  We
will not forget our peasants in the Sierra Maestra and those in the
interior of the country.  I will not go and live in Havana because I want
to live in Sierra Maestra, at least in that part for which I feel a very
deep sense of gratitude.  I will never forget those country people and as
soon as I have a free moment we will see about building the first school
city with seats for 20,000 children.  We will do it with the help of the
people and the rebels will work with them there.  We will ask each citizen
for a bag of cement and a trowel.  I know we will have the help of our
industry and of business and we will not forget any of the sectors of our

Re-Establishment of the Economy

The country's economy will be re-established immediately.  This
year it is we who will take care of the sugar cane to prevent its being
burnt, because this year the tax on sugar is not going to be used for the
purchase of murderous weapons nor for planes and bombs with which to attack
the people.  We will take care of communications and already from Jiguani
to Palma Soriano the telephone lines have been re-established, and the
railroad is being rebuilt.  There will be a harvest all over the country
and there will be good wages because I know that this is the intention of
the President of the Republic.  There will be good prices because the fear
that there would be no harvest has raised prices on the world market.  The
peasants can sell their coffee and the cattle breeders can sell their fat
steers in Havana because fortunately we triumphed soon enough to prevent
their being ruins of any kind.  It is not my place to say all these things.
You know that we keep our word, and what we promise we fulfill and we
promise less than what we intend to fulfill; we promise not more but less
and we intend to do more than we have offered the people of Cuba.

We do not believe that all the problems can be solved readily; we
know the road is sown with obstacles, but we are men of good faith and we
are always ready to face great difficulties.  The people can be certain of
one thing, and that is that we may make one or even many mistakes.  But the
only thing which cannot be said of us is that we have stolen, that we have
profited from our position, that we have betrayed the movement.  I know
that the people can forgive mistakes but not dishonorable deeds, and what
we had here were dishonorable men.

In accepting the presidency, Dr. Manuel Urrutia, from the very
first moment when he was invested in office, from the moment when he swore
his oath before the people as President of the Republic, became the maximum
authority in the country.  Let no one think that I intend to exercise any
power greater than that of the President of the Republic.  I will be the
first to obey orders issued by the civilian authority of the Republic and I
will be the first to set an example.  We will carry out his orders and
within the scope of the authority granted to us we will try to do the
utmost for our people without any personal ambition, because fortunately we
are immune to the temptations of such ambitions and such vanity.  What
greater glory could we have than the affection of our people?  What greater
reward could we envision than the thousands of arms waving before us, full
of hope, and faith in us and affection for us.  We shall never allow
ourselves to be influenced by vanity or ambition because, in the words of
the Apostle, all the glory of the world can be contained within a single
ear of corn, and there is no greater reward or satisfaction than to fulfill
one's duty as we have been doing until the present time and as we shall
always continue to do.  In saying this, I am not speaking in my own name
but in the name of the thousands and thousands of combatants who ensured
the victory of the people.  I speak on behalf of our deep sentiments and of
our devotion for our people.  I have in mind the respect we owe to our
dead, to the fallen, who shall not be forgotten and whose faithful
companions we shall always be.  This time they shall not say of us as has
been said of others in the past that we betrayed the memory of those who
died because the years will still be given by those who died.  Frank Pais
is not physically among us, nor are many others, but they are all
spiritually present and the mere knowledge that their sacrifice was not in
vain recompenses us in part for the immense emptiness which they left
behind them.

We Shall Be Generous to Everyone

Fresh flowers will continue to adorn their tombstones; their
children shall not be forgotten because assistance will be given to the
families of the fallen.  We rebels will not ask for retroactive pay over
the years during which we struggled because we feel proud not to be paid
for the services rendered to Cuba.  Indeed, it is quite possible that we
should continue to fulfill our obligations without asking for pay because
this is immaterial if funds are lacking.  What exists is goodwill and we
shall do everything necessary.  However, I will repeat here what I have
already said, "and history will absolve me," that we shall insure that
maintenance, assistance, and education shall not be lacking for the
children of the military who died fighting against us because they are not
to blame for the errors of the tyrant.  We shall be generous to everyone
because, as I have said before, here there are no vanquished, but only
victors.  The war criminals will all be punished because it is the
irrevocable duty of the Revolution to do so and the people can be certain
that we shall fulfill that duty.  The people should also be sure that when
justice reigns there will be no revenge because if on the morrow there are
to be no assaults made against anyone, justice must reign now.  Since there
will be justice, there will be no revenge nor will there be hatred.

Let Trujillo Not Make Any Mistake

We shall exile hatred from the Republic, that hatred which is a
damned and evil shadow bequeathed to us by ambition and tyranny.  The pity
is that the major criminals should have escaped.  There are thousands of
men who would pursue them, but we must respect the laws of other countries.
It would be easy for us because we have more than enough volunteers to
pursue those delinquents, ready and willing to risk their lives.  However,
we do not wish to give the appearance of a people who violate the laws of
other peoples; we shall respect these laws while ours are respected.
notwithstanding, I will issue one warning and that is that if in Santo
Domingo they begin to conspire against the Revolution, if Trujillo... makes
any mistake and directs any aggression against us, it will be a sorry day
for him.  (At one time I said that Trijillo had harmed Batista by selling
him arms and the harm he did us not so much in selling arms but in selling
weapons of poor quality, so bad, in fact, that when they fell into our
hands they were no use at all.)  However, he did sell bombs and those
served to murder many peasants.  We have no wish to return the rifles
because they are worth nothing, but we would like to reciprocate with
something better.  In the first place, it is logical that the political
refugees from Santo Domingo should have their safest asylum and most
comfortable home here and that the political refugees of every dictatorship
should find here their best protection, since we, too, have been refugees.

The Rejoicing in Latin America

If Santo Domingo is to be converted into an arsenal of
counterrevolutionaries, if Santo Domingo is to be a base for conspiracies
against the Cuban Revolution and if these gentlemen devote themselves to
conspiracies over there, it would be better for them to leave Santo Domingo
immediately.  We say this, because they will not be very safe there either
and it will not be because of us since we have no right to intervene in the
problems of Santo Domingo.  It will be because the citizens of the
Dominican Republic have learnt from Cuba's example and conditions will be
very grave indeed there.  The citizens of the Dominican Republic have
learned that one can struggle against tyranny and defeat and this is the
lesson dictatorships fear the most.  Yet, it is a lesson which is
encouraging for the Americas; a lesson exemplified just now in our country.
All of America is watching the course of the fate of this revolution.  All
the Americas are watching us and they follow our actions with their best
wishes for our triumph as they will all of them support us in our times of
need.  Therefore, everything is joyful now, not only in Cuba but also in
the Americas.  They rejoice as we have rejoiced when a dictator has fallen
in Latin America, so now they rejoice with the Cuban people.  It is assumed
that there will be justice, as I was saying, despite the enormous
accumulation of sentiments and ideas stemming from the general disorder,
commotion, and feelings registered in our minds today.  As I was saying, it
was a pity that the major criminals escaped.  We now know who was
responsible because the people know who is to blame for their escape as
they know that they also left here not the most unfortunate but the
dullest, those who were penniless, the rank and file who took their orders
from the major criminals.  They allowed the major criminals to escape so
that the people might state their anger and their indignation upon those
who were least to blame although it is only right that they should be
justly punished in order to learn their lesson.  The same thing always
happens, the people tell this group that the "big shots" will get away and
they will be left behind and, nevertheless, though some of them may leave,
others remain and must be punished.  The top men may go but they will also
have their punishment, a harsh punishment, for it is harsh to be exiled
from one's country for the rest of one's days because they will, even in
the best of circumstances, be ostracized for the rest of their lives as
criminals and thieves who fled precipitately.

Both a Common and a Political Delinquent Criminal

If only one could see Mr. Batista now -- through the eye of a
needle, as the people say.  If only one could see the proud, handsome Mr.
Batista, who never made a single speech but that he described others as
cowards, wretched villains, etcetera.  Here, we have not even used the
epithet of "villain" for anyone.  Here we do not breathe hatred, nor are we
proud or disdainful as are those who made speeches during the dictatorship.
Like that man who claimed that he had a single bullet in his pistol when he
entered Colombia and who left in the early hours of the dawn, on a plane,
with a single bullet in his pistol.  And it was proved that dictators are
not so frightening nor so likely to commit suicide, because when they have
lost the game, they immediately take flight like cowards.  The sad part of
it is that they escaped when they could have been taken prisoners and had
we caught Batista, we could have taken the 200 million from him.  But we
will claim the money, wherever he is hiding it, because they are not
political delinquents but common criminals.  And we will see those who turn
up in the embassies, if Mr. Cantillo has not already given them
safe-conducts.  We will distinguish then between the political prisoners
but nothing for the common criminals.  They will have to go before the
courts and prove that they are political delinquents.  However, if it
should be proved that they are common criminals, they will have to appear
before the proper authorities.  For instance, Mujal, as big and as fat as
he is, nobody knows where he is hiding at the present time.  I can't
understand how they got away.  Nevertheless you will remember these
unfortunate wretches....

They May Speak Freely, Whether For or Against

At last the people have been able to free themselves from this
rabble.  Now anyone may speak out, whether they are for or against.  But
anyone who wishes to do so may speak out.  That was not the case here
previously because until the present time, they were the only ones
[allowed] to speak out; only they spoke out.  And they spoke against us.
There will be freedom for those who speak in our favor and for those who
speak against us and criticize us.  There will be freedom for all men
because we have achieved freedom for all men.  We shall never feel
offended; we shall always defend ourselves and we shall follow a single
precept, that of respect for the rights and feelings of others.

Other names have been mentioned here.  Those people!  Heaven alone
knows in what embassy, on what beach, in what boat they now find
themselves.  We were able to get rid of them.  If they have a tiny shack,
or a small boat, or a tiny farm somewhere round here, we will naturally
have to confiscate it, because we must sound the warning that the employees
of tyranny, the representatives, the senators, etcetera, those who did not
necessarily steal but who accepted their remuneration, will have to pay
back, up to the last penny, what they received over these four years,
because they received it illegally.  The will have to pay back to the
Republic the money they received as remuneration and if they do not
reimburse the national coffers, we will confiscate whatever property they
have.  That is quite apart from what they may have stolen.  Those who
robbed will not be allowed to retain any of the stolen goods.  That is the
law of the Revolution.  It is not fair to send a man to prison for stealing
a chicken or a turkey, and at the same time allow those who stole millions
of pesos to spend a delightful life wandering around.

Triumph Without Obligations

Let the thieves of yesterday and today beware!  Let them beware!
Because the Revolution's laws may reach out to draw in the guilty of every
period.  Because the Revolution has triumphed and has no obligations to
anyone whatsoever.  It's only obligation is to the people, to whom it owes
its victory.

I want to conclude for today.  Remember that I must leave right
away.  It is my duty.  What is more, you have been standing there for a
good many hours.  However, I see so many red and black flags on the dresses
of our women followers that it is really hard for us to leave this
platform, on which all of us here have felt the great emotion in all our

We would not do less than remember Santiago de Cuba with the
greatest warmth.  The few times we have met here -- a meeting on the
Alameda and another on Trocha Avenue, at which I said that if we were
deprived of our rights by force, we would recover them with our rifles in
hand, and yet they attributed the statement to Luis Orlando.  I kept quiet
and at the time, while the newspapers made it seem as if Luis Orlando was
the one who had done the most, although it was I who did the most.  Yet I
was not very sure whether or not things were well done because at that time
there was no... [Translator's note:  The remainder of this sentence and the
beginning of the next is missing.]... and the result was that we had to
exchange everything, the books and the diagrams for rifles, while the
peasants exchanged their farm implements for rifles and we all had to
exchange everything for rifles.  Fortunately the task that required rifles
is done; so let us keep the rifles where they are, far away from their
eyes, because they will have to defend our sovereignty and our rights.
Yet, when our people are threatened, it will not be only the thirty or
forty thousand armed men who will fight, but the three or four or five
hundred thousand Cubans, men and women, who can come here for their arms.
There will be arms for all those who wish to fight when the time comes to
defend our freedom.  It has been proven that it is not only the men who
fight but that in Cuba the women also fight.  The best evidence of this is
the Mariana Grajales platoon, which made such an outstanding showing in
numerous encounters.  The women are as good soldiers as our best military
men and I wanted to prove that women can be good soldiers.

The Work of the Women Soldiers

At the outset, this scheme gave me a lot of trouble because they
were very prejudiced.  There were men who asked how on earth one could give
a rifle to a woman while there was still a man alive to carry one.  Yet on
our front, women must be rescued because they are still the victims of
discrimination insofar as labor is concerned and in other aspects of their
lives.  So we organized the women's units and these proved that women could
fight, and when the men fight in a village and the women can fight
alongside them, such villages are impregnable and the women of such
villages cannot be defeated.  We have organized the feminine combatants or
militias and we will keep them trained -- all of them on a voluntary basis
-- all these young women I see here with their black and red dresses
recalled 26 July.  And I ask all of you to learn to handle firearms.

A People Is Aroused

My dear Compatriots, this Revolution carried out with such
sacrifice, our Revolution, the Revolution of the people, is now a
magnificent and indestructible reality, a cause for no uncertain nor
unjustified pride and a cause for the great joy that Cuba awaited.  I know
that it is not only here in Santiago de Cuba, it is everywhere, from Punta
de Maisi to Cape San Antonio.  I long to see our people all along our route
to the Capital, because I know I will encounter the same hopes, the same
faith, a single people, aroused, a people who patiently bore all the
sacrifices, who cared little for hunger, who when we gave them three days'
leave for the re-establishment of communications, in order not to suffer
hunger, the whole mass of the people protested because what they wanted was
victory at any price.  Such a people deserves a better fate, and deserves
to achieve the happiness it has not had in 56 years of a Republican form of
government.  It deserves to become one of the leading nations in the world
by reasons of its intelligence, its valor and the firmness of its decision.

No one can allege that I am speaking as a demagogue.  No one can
charge that I am seeking to assuage the people.  I have given ample proof
of my faith in the people because when I landed with 82 men on the beaches
of Cuba and people said we were mad, and asked us why we thought we could
win the war, we replied, "Because we have the people behind us!"  And when
we were defeated for the first time, and only a handful of men were left
and yet we persisted in the struggle, we knew that this would be the
outcome because we had faith in the people.  When they dispersed us five
times in forty-five days and we met up together again and renewed the
struggle, it was because we had faith in the people.  Today is the most
palpable demonstration of the fact that our faith was justified.  I have
the greatest satisfaction in the knowledge that I believed so deeply in the
people of Cuba and in having inspired my companions with this same faith.
This faith is more than faith.  It is complete security.  This same faith
that we have in you is the faith we wish you to have in us always.

The Dream of the Founders

The Republic was not freed in '95 and the dream was frustrated at
the last minute.  The Revolution did not take place in '33 and was
frustrated by its enemies.  However, this time the Revolution is backed by
the mass of the people, and has all the revolutionaries behind it.  It also
has those who are honorable among the military.  It is so vast and so
uncontainable in its strength that this time its triumph is assured.  We
can say -- and it is with joy that we do so -- that in the four centuries
since our country was founded, this will be the first time that we are
entirely free and that the work of the first settlers will have been

A few days ago, I could not resist the temptation to go and visit
my Mother whom I had not seen for several years.  On my return, as I was
traveling along the road that cuts through Mangos de Baragua, late at
night, the feelings of deep devotion, on the part of those of us who were
riding in that vehicle, made us stop at the monument raised to the memory
of those involved in the protest at Baragua and the beginning of the
Invasion.  At that late hour, there was only our presence in that place,
the thought of the daring feats connected with our wars of independence,
the idea that these men fought for 30 years and in the end did not see
their dream come true, but witnessed only one more frustration of the
Republic.  Yet they had a presentiment that very soon the Revolution of
which they dreamed, the mother country of which they dreamed, would be
transformed into reality, and this gave us one of the greatest emotions
possible.  In my mind's eye, I saw these men relive their sacrifice,
sacrifices which we also underwent.  I conjured up their dreams and their
aspirations, which were the same as our dreams and our aspirations and I
ventured to think that the present generation in Cuba must render and has
rendered homage, gratitude and loyalty, as well as fervent tribute to the
heroes of our independence.

In the Hands of the Civil Authorities

The men who fell in our three wars of independence now join their
efforts to those of the men who fell in this war, and of all those who fell
in the struggle for freedom.  We can tell them that their dreams are about
to be fulfilled and that the time has finally come when you, our people,
our noble people, our people who are so enthusiastic and have so much
faith, our people who demand nothing in return for their affection, who
demand nothing in return for their confidence, who reward men with a
kindness far beyond anything they might deserve, the time has come, I say,
when you will have everything you need.  There is nothing left for me to
add, except, with modesty and sincerity to say, with the deepest emotion,
that you will always have in us, in the fighters of the Revolution, loyal
servants whose sole motto is service to you.

On this date, today, when Dr. Urrutia took over the Presidency of
the Republic Dr. Urrutia, the leader who declared that this was a just
Revolution -- on territory that has been liberated, which by now is the
whole of our country, I declare that I will assume only those duties
assigned to me, by him.  The full authority of the Republic is vested in
him.  And our arms bow respectfully to the civil powers of the Civilian
Republic of Cuba.  All I have to say is that we hope that he will fulfill
his duty because we naturally feel assured that he will know how to fulfill
his duty.  I surrender my authority to the Provisional President of the
Republic of Cuba and with it I surrender to him the right to address the
people of Cuba.

Speech made at the Cospedes Park in Santiago de Cuba, published
Revolucion [Revolution] on 3, 4 and 5 January 1959.