Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana, FIEL Network, in Spanish, Jan. 1, 1961, 0630-GMT--E

(Relay of speech by Fidel Castro at banquet at Ciudad Liberated education
center in Havana)

(Summary) Distinguished visitors, teachers, comrades; The revolution today
enters its third year. Cubans can remember happily the Jan. 1 when the
revolution came to power. This third year is the year of education.
(Applause) To those who two years ago saw the end of the stage of battle
and the beginning of the stage of labor, it is a happy event to meet
tonight with 10,000 teachers and await the opening of the school year with
them. This was not an education building, but a building of oppression. It
used to be a Pentagon of tyranny; this camp was a camp of tyranny. The
people always hoped and dreamed of some day converting this camp into a
great school. It was the dream of all of us. No place is more appropriate
for opening the school year than this camp that has become a Ministry of
Education school center, the residence of many university
scholarship-holders. It will be a great center of educational research.

Few works of the revolution are as moving as this. Few are as
extraordinarily spiritual as this, because without this--the
cornerstone--the rest could not be constructed. The camp has been changed
into a school; oppression has been changed into freedom; there are pencils
where there used to be bayonets, and books where there used to be military
treaties. Forty thousand children are now studying in former military
barracks, and not a single one of the great military fortresses of the
country remains: all have been converted into school centers.

When the revolution came to power it found 22,000 teachers, and nearly one
million children without schools. Today our country has 33,000 teachers,
not a single area of Cuba is without teachers. It has been easy to give
teachers to the people, but it has been difficult to solve the problem in
the mountains so we asked for volunteers to teach in distant concerns of
country. Students came forward to offer their services; now there is a
teacher in the most remote area of the country. Cuba is the first American
country to look after school needs 100 percent. This was done in two years
of the revolution.

An international agency thought that a program could be put forward in
Latin America to solve the problem in more than 10 years. It said that by
1970 all schooling needs among Latin American countries could be fulfilled.
We have done it in two years and saved eight. Other Latin American
countries could solve their school problems in less time if they had a
revolution like ours. We ask those subjugated rules who break with us and
wish to exile us from our continent: when are they going to send teachers
to their people? When is Peru going to send teachers to the most remote
corners of the mountains? We ask one question of those who have broken with
us at the orders of the Pentagon: In what year will the exploiting gang in
that country satisfy all the educational needs and problems of its country?
What is it going to do for the Peruvian people and when is it going to do
for Peruvian children what we have done for Cuban children? There are still
children without schools in Peru.

We say that lackeys and traitorous rules find it impossible in two years or
in 100 years to solve education problems or any other problems because
since the last battles were waged by Bolivar 150 years have gone by and
bloody ruling gangs have not been able to do in a century and a half what
the Cuban revolution has done in two years. Let them break with us. It does
not matter. People will ask them for an accounting some day. Let them break
with us. The people sooner or later will achieve in two years what
exploitation and privileged have not been able to do in 150 years.

We are speaking now only of education. We have hundreds of thousands of
illiterates, and the Revolutionary Government has proposed an ambitious
goal: cradication of illiteracy in only one year. Why did we want to do it
in one year? Because the revolution carries out its work in a hurry. The
revolution works fast, it advances fast. Only revolutions are capable of
fulfilling such tasks rapidly. When we have eradicated illiteracy, we can
proclaim at the beginning of the fourth illiteracy, we can proclaim at the
beginning of the fourth year of the revolution that the Cuban revolution
has done in one year what oligarchies and privileged classes could not do
in 150 years. (Applause)

We are certain that we shall achieve our aim. We are certain that we can
say to the world that in our country there is not a single illiterate. In
order to accomplish our aim we will rely first on the teachers, and
secondly on the entire people. If the efforts already made in the organized
campaign have not been sufficient, we shall mobilize more resources and
make greater efforts. If the number of teachers is not enough, then we
shall mobilize all students of the higher grades. We shall set up an army
of educators and send them to every corner of the country.

We had wanted to celebrate this anniversary in the company of so many
distinguished representatives from all over the world, as well as the
10,000 teachers, and to commemorate also with the Jan. 2 parade the
liberation of our country. However, our wish to speak of education today,
and only of education, will not be fulfilled, because of the necessity of
discussing other topics. We have held this meeting and banquet at a moment
of great tension and danger. What a contrast tonight--two great efforts by
our nation, two great aspirations of our nation-the contrast between this
banquet of teachers, and the mobilization of the militia and revolutionary
armed forces which has been made necessary for the defense of our national
integrity. So, at present, just around the capital and in it, there are
tends of thousands of armed men alert in their trenches. (Chanting: "We
will conquer.")

Tens of thousands of men are in strategic position on guard so that our
country may not run the risk of surprise attack, a treacherous blow from
imperialism, for the difference between one and infinity. We do not want
history to reproach us for having been caught napping. As soon as we were
sure of the danger, we mobilized all the strength of the people throughout
Cuba. As proof that peoples who fight for liberation can never become
careless, as a sign that peoples fighting for a great aspiration cannot
harbor illusions, when the atmosphere seemed the calmest, we were actually
nearest to danger. This danger is due to the law that the exploiters want
to impose on the world, the law they have imposed throughout history: the
use of force to subjugate peoples--especially if the latter are small
nations--the use of force and power to maintain exploitation of our country
and of all America. The resentment of imperialism is so profound, its
hatred of our revolution so great, that the imperialists refuse to resign

The world has seen sadly how the U.S. people have been led down the wrong
path, to the danger of war. suffice it to say that one high officer of the
Nazi army is today one of the heads of the NATO army. Suffice it to say
that Nazi officers who invaded a dozen nations of Europe are today military
chiefs in NATO, sponsored by imperialism, which has thus miserably betrayed
the hundreds of thousands of U.S. men who fell fighting fascism and nazism.
We might ask the U.S. Government what has become of the principles on
behalf of which so many North Americans gave their lives fighting those
same Nazi officers who today are placed by the U.S. Government at the head
of U.S. soldiers.

We could also ask the French Government what has become of France's dignity
since it has agreed to let these Nazi officers, who once invaded France and
killed millions of Frenchmen and oppressed the French for years, have
military bases on French soil today.

One question alone is enough to unmask evil causes. Evil causes have no
defense,and so they resort to aggression. That is our case. Many have asked
if Eisenhower in his last days in power, that is, if imperialism before the
change of administration, might not decide to clear us out of the way. Late
in December we received information from a reliable source that the CIA,
headed by Allen Dulles, had hatched a plan against our country, had hatched
a plan to create a fictitious incident on our territory or near our shores,
to invent an incident, propitiate it, and in any case carry forward a plan
that consisted of taking advantage of this provoked incident to give a
pretext for military intervention by imperialist forces in Cuba.

The report worried us seriously, so the Revolutionary Government decided to
send Foreign Minister Roa urgently to the United Nations to denounce the
plan and alert world public opinion to the fact that during the last 18
days of the old U.S. administration, it had been decided to carry out
aggression. More signs began appearing that the plan was practically being
put into execution. They had thought up the provoked incident, but since
they felt they had to pave the way first in Latin America and seek the
collaboration of certain governments in Latin America, and since in order
to prepare the conditions it was impossible to speak of a future incident,
they had to tell the Latin American governments something to get them to
move against us. Without scruples they had to resort to an absurd lie, a
mockery of the puppet Latin American governments themselves. But we stole a
march on them. We found out their plan while they were in the middle of the
road, and we moved to cut them off.

A cable from Uruguay yesterday showed that something serious was brewing.
It said: The U.S. Government has informed Latin American governments of
Russian rocket launching ramps. EL DIARIO said that the Uruguayan
Government was informed of this by the Washington Government. The paper
said this confidential report was thought to have been made known to other
Latin American governments also, so that they should not be surprised by
U.S. action against Cuba. The report said the launching site construction
had ceased, but action would be taken if construction was resumed.

On the same day came the announcement, notwithstanding the lack of any
problem or complaint, that the Peruvian Government was breaking relations
with the Cuban Government. Today an A.P. dispatch stated: The Uruguayan
foreign minister today refused to confirm or deny reports attributed to the
ambassador in Washington that the USSR is building rocket sites in Cuba.
The morning papers said he had learned in Washington that nuclear rockets
were being established in Cuba, directed against the United States.

Thus the CIA is paving the way in other Latin American countries and
preparing them for what is to follow. A truculent, ridiculous invention was
made by Washington and the information was given to other Latin American
countries. The point is that the U.S. Government must intervene in Cuba
because an aggressive plan is being hatched in Cuba--with this lie they got
results from Peru and they expect to get the same results in other Latin
American countries: approval for intervention in Cuba.

We are aware of the fact that the imperialist government has made mistakes
in estimates and these mistakes have more than once led others to take
disastrous actions. We are sure the the imperialists believe that
intervention in Cuba will be a weekend affair. The imperialists believe
that their work in Cuba will be a matter of hours and that the world will
be presented with a fait accompli. We are sure that an incorrect estimate
of the situation is being made by the imperialists.

We have alerted the country and the world to danger facing Cuba during the
last 18 days of the present administration in Washington. We have thus
taken steps to make the imperialists see that it will be no military
weekend. Every measure must be taken by us to make them realize they are
making a mistake. Paratroops and ships will not be able to seize any of the
main Cuban cities. In order to attack positions defending the capital, they
will have to use much more force than they think. To attack us they must
organize large numbers of effectives and they will have a tougher time
landing here than they did in Normandy or Okinawa. This is one of the
things that we have done: make aggression difficult. We have worked hard at
it and therefore our capital and main centers can feel they are
well-defended and our citizens can trust the thousands of men now at their

We are obliged to defend what we are doing to the last drop of blood, if
they wish to destroy the revolution and its example. Thus, a people who in
two years has given teachers to all children in our country, a people who
awaits the coming year with eagerness in order to eradicate illiteracy, is
faced with enemies which are trying to plunge us into slavery and misery.

The enemies cannot prevent us from moving forward, however, because every
man, ready for attack, feels sure that he is at this post for some reason.
Such men will always be superior to those who fight under standards of
crime, injustice, and wrong. Those who fight under the standard of good
will know how to die at their posts; they will have more courage than their
enemies because they are on their soil defending the fatherland. To die
defending one's country under just standards against repugnant ambition
will be a great glory for every Cuban.

We denounce these plans; we categorically refute the lie they have
invented. No one here has ever spoken about rockets and ramps--the only
thing we know abut rockets is the rocket that fell on our soil. Those who
are paying the terrorists, those who want to subject our soil to flame and
explosion, those who have given bases to those who attack us, those who
have been attacking us continuously,and those who have constructed atomic
bases around the Soviet Union, now want to invent the lie about rocket
bases in Cuba. What would have happened if bases near its border? The
Soviet Union had to watch the imperialists surround it with bases. The only
ones interested in not avoiding a war are those whose world is declining;
they are playing with the threat of war.

What we want is to use all our energies on work like the one that has
brought us here tonight. We want to live in peace. We proclaim this wish to
the whole world, with the same assurance that we proclaim that in case of
aggression, Cubans will fight to the last drop of blood. In view of the
imminence of the danger, what has been the reaction of our people? It can
be seen here; it could be seen today. With smiles, with the emotion of
those whose cause is just, tends of thousands of men marched to their
posts; tens of thousands of youths with their antitank and antiaircraft
batteries and mortars marched to their posts; and the revolutionary army
with its heavy tanks and specialized combat groups and its artillery took
up positions, calmly, unmoved.

Here nobody will die of fear lest the marines come. The people will go
forward calmly. They are not even giving up their traditional celebration.
Production will not cease. On Jan. 3, after the big parade--where the
people will go to show they are not afraid--when the factories and shops
open, it will be necessary to fill the places of tens of thousands of men
who are in trenches and will stay in trenches until Jan. 18, as long as the
danger of a criminal blow lasts. It will be necessary to replace them so
that no service or place of work lags.

Women, too, will take their places at work, will take the places of men who
are at posts. It will be another example of what the revolution is capable
of. Let us determine that no service or work will fall behind, that the
measure we have had to take will not hamper our work.

The people can do anything; the people are capable of the most
extraordinary feats, and the facts show this. What our people needed was
just the opportunity, what our people needed was the revolution. Two years
ago in face of the danger of our advancing people, the servants of
imperialism fled. Today we and the people, with a just cause, facing those
who wrongly want to prevent us from having a life of peace and progress,
are not here to flee. Those who are in the right never flee. They know how
to die. What we have done is to gather here to say: Fatherland or Death; We
will conquer!