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20th anniversary of Moncada attack

'The Goal Had to Be Socialism'

by Fidel Castro

Speech delivered 26 July 1973 on the grounds of the former Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Republished in 15 parts in late July/early August 2008 in the Cuban daily Granma.

Distinguished guests, comrades of the party and the government and mass organizations, relatives of the martyrs of the Moncada assault and of the revolution, heroes of labor, vanguard workers, outstanding students, people of Santiago, fellow citizens:

It is with fervor and with respect that our generous nation wished to commemorate this day, the 20th anniversary of the assault on the Moncada Barracks. In many parts of the world the friends of the revolution are also affectionately commemorating this 26 July with us. Our deepest gratitude goes to the numerous and outstanding delegations from friendly countries and organizations who came to share today's ceremonies with our people.

The 26th of July has become an historical date in the annals of our country's long and heroic struggle for its freedom. This great honor is certainly not what those of us who attempted to storm this fortress were seeking. No revolutionary fights with an eye to the day when the events stemming from his action will be commemorated with honor. Martí said that duty must be performed simply and naturally. The performance of a duty led us to this action without anyone thinking about the glories and honors of this struggle.

Duty also requires that we gather here this evening to pay homage, not to those of us who are still alive and who had the privilege of seeing the fruits of the sacrifices of that day, but to those who fell gloriously and heroically for a cause, who did not have the good fortune to see their victorious insignia deployed over the beloved soil of the country which they sprinkled with their young and generous blood.

It was necessary to raise once more the banners of Baire, of Bayaragua and of Yara. A final attack was needed to complete the work of our predecessors, and that was 26 July. It was not the enthusiasm or the courage of a handful of men which decided that attack. It was the result of profound thought on the aggregate peculiarities of objective and subjective factors that existed in our country at that time. With the nation ruled by a cruel clique of rapacious governors in the service of powerful domestic and foreign interests who openly relied on force, without the existence of any legal means or vehicle to express the people's anxieties and desires, the time had come to resort once again to weapons. However, that is the conclusion.

How was the armed uprising to take place in the face of tyranny which was all powerful with its modern means of warfare, with Washington's support and with the labor movement, which was sold body and soul to the exploited classes, was splintered and its official leadership in the hands of gangsters? The parties of democratic and liberal opinion were in disarray and without leadership; the Marxist party was isolated and repressed; McCarthyism was in its ideological heyday; the people were without a single weapon or military experience; the traditions of armed struggle were more than half a century in the past and almost forgotten; the myth existed that a revolution could not be waged against the constituted military apparatus; and, in conclusion, the economy was in a relative bonanza because of the high postwar sugar prices, with no acute crisis in sight, such as the crisis of the 1930's which caused the desperate and starving masses to fight.

How were the people to be led to rebel? How were they to be led to wage revolutionary warfare, to overcome that debilitating political crisis in order to save the country from prostration and the frightening backwardness caused by the treacherous coup of March 10th? How were we to wage the popular and radical revolution that would transform the subjugated republic and the enslaved and exploited people into a free, just and proud country for which several generations of Cubans had died?

Such was the problem that faced that country during the months which followed Batista's new rise to power. Our dilemma was whether to stand by idly or to fight. However, we who had a revolutionary dream and no intention of resigning ourselves to the adverse factors, did not have any weapons, one cent, a military or political apparatus, a well- known name, or a popular background. During the first few months that followed the coup d’état each of us who organized the movement which assumed the responsibility for assaulting the Moncada Barracks and starting the armed struggle, waited for the opposition forces to join in a common action to fight. We were prepared to participate in the struggle as simple soldiers, were it only for the limited objectives of restoring the lawful government that was swept away by the March 10th events.

The first organizational efforts of the original nucleus of our movements created and instructed the first combat groups with the idea of participating in the joint struggle with all the other opposition forces without any intention of heading or directing the struggle.

As humble rank and file soldiers we knocked at the doors of the political leaders, offering the modest cooperation of our efforts and of our ranks and we urged them to fight. Apparently at that time the politicians and the opposition political parties intended to give battle. They had the financial means, the relations, the background and the resources to undertake the task. We had none of this.

Ardently dedicated to revolutionary work, we, a group of cadres which later became the political and military leadership of the movement, devoted ourselves to the task of recruiting, organizing and training the combatants. At the end of a year of intensive clandestine work, we definitely concluded that the political parties and the politicians of the time were deceiving the people miserably.

Involved in all kinds of internal disputes and strife and personal ambitions of power, they did not have the necessary will or determination to fight, nor were they in any condition to assist in overthrowing Bastista.

A trait common to all those political parties and leaders was the fact that in an atmosphere of McCarthyism and always with an eye out for Washington's approval, they excluded the communists from any agreement or participation in the common struggle against tyranny. Meanwhile, our organization had grown considerably, and it had more men trained for action than all the other organizations opposing the government put together.

Our young fighters had been recruited from the most humble strata of society, almost all of them workers drawn from the urban and rural areas. There were some students and professional people, uncontaminated by the vices of traditional policies or the anticommunism that infested the society of Cuba of that time. With hearts of abnegated and honest patriots, those youths bore the spirit of the humble and exploited classes from which they came. Their hands were sufficiently strong, their minds were sufficiently sane, and their breasts were sufficiently valiant to later become the standard- bearers of the first socialist revolution in America. [applause]

It was then, pursuant to our conviction that nothing could be expected from those who were charged with directing the people in their struggle against the tyrannical regime, we assumed the responsibility of carrying the revolution forward, regardless of whether objective conditions for the revolutionary struggle existed, and we judged that they did exist.

And regardless of whether subjective conditions did exist, because of the widespread repudiation elicited by the March 10th coup and Batista's return to power, coupled with the social discontent provoked by the ruling exploiting regime and the impoverishment and neglect of the dispossessed masses, subjective conditions for carrying the people to the revolution could be created.

History later proved us right. But what made us clearly see that path upon which our fatherland would rise to a higher base of its political life, and that our people, the last to shake off the colonial yoke, today would be the first to break the imperialist chains and begin the period of Latin America's second independence?

No group of men on their own had been able to find a theoretical or practical solution to that problem. The Cuban revolution is not a providential phenomenon nor a socio-political miracle divorced from the realities of modern society and the ideas being debated in the political universe.

The Cuban revolution is the end result of the conscientious and forthright action tailored to the laws of human society. Men do not and cannot make history at their interpretation. But the revolutionary course of human societies is not independent of man's action either.

That course bogs down, retrogresses or advances in the measure that revolutionary classes and its leaders abide by the laws that rule their destinies.

On discovering the scientific laws of that development, Marx raised the awareness factor of revolutionaries to the first plane in historic events. The present phase of the Cuban revolution is the historical continuity of the heroic struggles our people began in 1868 and pressed on indefatigably in 1895 against Spanish colonialism; of the people's constant struggle against the humiliating position to which we were subjected by the United States with its intervention, the Platt Amendment, the usurping of our wealth – which reduced our country to a Yankee dependency, a juicy center of monopolist exploitation, a modern Capua for its tourists, a huge brothel, an immense gambling den.

Our revolution is the fruit of the heroic struggles of our workers, peasants, students and intellectuals over more than 50 years of bourgeois corruption and exploitation and an imperialist domination which tried to absorb us culturally and to destroy the foundations of our nationality.

It is the fruit of the working classes' revolutionary ideology, of the international revolutionary movement, of the struggles waged by the Russian workers and peasants during the glorious October of 1917 directed by Lenin– when they overthrew the power of the czars and launched the first socialist revolution– of the weakening of imperialist power and the tremendous changes in the correlation of forces that have occurred in the world.

Without the illuminating preaching of Jose Martí, without the vigorous example and immortal work of Céspedes, Agramonte, Gomez, Maceo and many legendary men of past struggles, without the extraordinary scientific discoveries of Marx and Engels, and without the genial interpretation of Lenin and his portentous historical exploit, a 26 July would not have been conceived.

Martí taught us ardent patriotism, impassioned love for freedom, man's dignity and decorum, repudiation of despotism and unlimited faith in the people. His revolutionary preaching embodied the moral basis and the historic legitimacy of our armed action. That is why we said he was the intellectual author of 26 July. [applause]

Céspedes gave us the sublime example of beginning a 10-year war with only a handful of men when conditions were ripe. Agramonte, Maceo, Gomez and other founding fathers of our struggles for independence, demonstrated the courage and fighting spirit of our people, irregular warfare and the possibilities of adapting methods of armed popular struggle to the topography of the terrain and the numerical and weaponry superiority of the enemy.

It became necessary to reform the Mambi army. But the revolution today could not have the same content it had in 1868 and 1895. More than half a century had passed. The social problem was added to the issue of popular and national sovereignty in all its force. If the 1868 revolution was launched by the landowning class and pressed forward in 1895 fundamentally by the peasant masses, in 1953 a working class already had been developed.

And it is to that class, which bore a revolutionary ideology, in close alliance with the peasants and our middle classes that the leadership and nature of the new revolution fell.

What then did Marxism contribute to our revolutionary endeavors? The concept of society split into exploiters and exploited: The materialistic concept of history: bourgeois production relations as the last antagonistic form of the process of social production; and the inevitable advent of a classless society as an outgrowth of the development of the productive forces under capitalism and the social revolution. That the government of a modern state is nothing but a board that administers the common affairs of all the bourgeois class; that modern workers live only to find work and are employed only if their labor increases capital; that once the worker has suffered the exploitation of a manufacturer and has received his wages in metal currency he becomes a victim of the other elements of bourgeoisie– the landlord, storekeeper, usurer and so forth; that above all the bourgeoisie produces its own undertakers– the working class.

We, the fundamental nucleus of the leaders of our movement, who, amidst intensive activity found time to study Marx, Engels and Lenin, saw Marxism-Leninism as the only scientific and rational concept, as well as the only means for succinctly comprehending the situation of our own country.

Any honest man who viewed the poverty, unemployment and the material and moral (?deprivation) of the people from the heart of a capitalist society had to share Marx's irrefutable truism, when he wrote: "You are horrified that we are going to abolish private property, but in your present society private property stands abolished for nine-tenths of its members. It is precisely because private property does not exist for those nine-tenths that it exists for you. Do you then reproach us for seeking to abolish a form of property that can exist only on the condition that the immense majority of society be deprived of property?"

Above all, Marxism taught us the historic mission of the working class, the only genuinely revolutionary class which is called upon to transform even the foundations of the capitalist society and the role of the masses in revolution.

Lenin's State and Revolution made clear to us the role of the state as an instrument of the domination of the oppressed classes as well as the need to create a revolutionary power capable of smashing the resistance of the exploiters. It is only under the light of Marxism that we can understand not only the present course of events but also the entire evolution of the country's history and Cuban political thinking during the last century.

When the sister countries of this continent shook off the Spanish yoke, Cuba remained bound to the colonial cart until almost 100 years later. Moreover, when an energetic struggle was being waged here, Cuba was given the doubtfully honorable title of "The Ever-Faithful Island of Cuba" by the absolute kings of Spain.

The production relations based on slavery –a frightful system of exploitation which took deep roots in this country's colonial life– clearly explain that political phenomenon. The native white population which possessed the wealth and culture, had a constant conflict of interest with Spain. Nonetheless, those people were unwilling to risk sharing the enjoyment of the economic privileges and the social prerogatives, which placed them in an enslaving position, in exchange for independence.

The fear of jeopardizing the slavery regime itself made those people consistently oppose the idea of fighting for emancipation. A revolt of the slaves horrified them. They needed Spain's military power to keep the exploited subjugated. And Spain, leaning on this reality more than on arms, maintained domination over Cuba.

Reformism, a political doctrine which held sway in Cuban political thinking for over half a century, originated from the same factors. And the trend of favoring annexation to the United States– which at one time gained considerable weight– was born from the fear of abolition, for abolition drove the Cuban ruling classes and Spanish slave-owners themselves to seek the protection of their privileges through the path of converting Cuba into a U.S. slave state.

Arango Anbarrenos, Jose Antonio Sacos and Jose de la Luz y Caballero, Prominent Cuban political thinkers during the first half of the last century, despite their concern for the country's progress and their nationalist sentiments, molded their doctrine and conduct to fit the tragic situation of a social class that was unable to fight the Spanish masters because the class itself owned slaves.

Ultimately, the wars for independence began precisely in the points of the island where the base of slavery was minimal in the local economic and social life. In turn, slavery greatly held back the struggle in areas where it was the overriding means of production.

On recalling that up to only a few decades ago our country was the scene of that hateful form of man's exploitation by man in this continent, we feel impelled to render due tribute to those unselfish slave fighters who in 1843 revolted, fought and died by the hundreds of many sugar mills in Matanzas. And they also perished on the scaffold or even committed suicide to shatter the inhuman chains that bound their bodies to work for life.

Little was written later about the extraordinary human and political value of these events in the official history books of the exploiters. And no monument was built in memory of those dark-skinned gladiators who were genuine anonymous heroes of the exploited– men who were forerunners of the revolution of those who after them became the modern slaves, the workers. [applause]

Some of us, even before March 10th 1953, had become deeply convinced that the solution of Cuba's problems had to be revolutionary. We believed that power at a given moment had to be taken over by the masses and weapons, and that the goal had to be socialism.

But how were the masses, which by and large were unaware of the exploitation of which they were the victims, to be led in that direction? Many considered administrative corruption as the only cause of the social malaise. Subjected to an incessant barrage of anticommunism, those people cringed. They were prejudiced and they could not look beyond the narrow horizon of democratic-bourgeois ideas.

As we saw things, the masses who were irked at the arbitrary actions, abuses and corruption of the governing officials, embittered by poverty, unemployment and neglect– even though they as yet did not see the path for definite and genuine solutions– would nevertheless be the driving force of the revolution.

The revolutionary struggle itself, which had fixed and concrete objectives which embraced the masses' most vital interests and which would actively place the masses against their exploiters, would train the masses politically.

Only the struggle of classes set off by an ongoing revolution would sweep away like a deck of cards the base prejudices and the frightful ignorance imposed on the masses by their oppressors.

The March 10th coup, which drove frustration and discontent among the population to its highest peak and, above all, the cowardly vacillation of the bourgeois parties and their outstanding leaders– which forced our movement to shoulder the responsibility of the struggle– created the propitious moment to implement these ideas.

It was on those ideas that the political strategy of the struggle was launched on 26 July. The first revolutionary laws were to be promulgated as soon as Santiago de Cuba was in our power, and the laws would be publicized by all means.

The people would be rallied to fight against Batista and to pursue the objectives that had been set. All the workers in the country would be called on to stage a revolutionary general strike over and beyond the yellow unions and the leaders who had sold out to the government.

The tactics of wars would be adjusted to the development of events. If the city could not be held with the thousands of weapons we were to seize from the enemy in Santiago de Cuba, we would begin guerrilla warfare in the Sierra Maestra. The most difficult part of the Moncada assault had nothing to do with attacking or capturing. It lay in the gigantic effort or organizing, preparing, and acquiring resources, and in mobilizing clandestinely, virtually beginning with nothing.

It was with infinite bitterness that we saw our efforts thwarted as we were on the verge of seizing the garrison. Factors that were absolutely accidental destroyed the action. The war taught us later how to capture garrisons and cities. However, with the experience which we acquired, had we been faced with the same action again, with the same means and the same men, we would not have made any essential change in our plan of attack. We would have captured it had those unfortunate accidental occurrences not taken place. We could have captured it had we had greater operational experience, regardless of any accidental factor.

The most admirable feature of those men who participated in the operation was that they were going into battle for the first time. They attacked their targets with tremendous force in the belief that they were already inside the fortifications, the exact shape of which was unknown to them.

However, unfortunately the struggle began outside the fortress. Faced with that force with which they alighted from their vehicles, no unprepared army could have withstood them. However, the political, military and revolutionary strategy conceived in light of the Moncada was essentially the same as that implemented when we landed from the Granma 3 years later, and it led us to victory. [applause]

Implementing a method of war in accordance with the terrain, the means and the technical and numerical superiority of the enemy, we defeated them in 25 months of warfare, not without initially suffering the hardest setback at Algeria del Pio which reduces our forces to seven armed men with whom we resumed the struggle.

That unbelievably small number of men with whom we were forced to continue proves how correct the revolutionary concept of 26 July, 1953 was. Five and a half years later, on 1 January 1959, our forces having surrounded Santiago de Cuba and the 5,000 men of its garrison, we issued orders from Palma Soriano for the workers to stage a general revolutionary overthrow. The entire country came to an absolute standstill, despite the governmental control of the official apparatus of the labor movement. In the afternoon the rebel vanguard forces seized the Moncada Barracks without firing a shot. [applause]

The enemy was defeated. In 48 hours the country's military installations were in the hands of our troops. The people seized their weapons, and the military coup in the capital, which was instigated by the Yankee embassy with the intention of scrapping the victory, failed.

Terrorized, the murderers saw the ideas of the men who had been murdered at the Moncada Barracks arise from their heroic bodies as victorious spectres. [applause] These were the same general strike orders which we planned to issue on 26 July 1953 after Santiago de Cuba had been captured. It is true that this time, now possessing revolutionary power, we implemented the Moncada program. But the idea that the struggle itself would create among the masses the superior political awareness which would carry us to a socialist revolution has proven –under the conditions existing in our country– to be absolutely true.

Confronting the exploiters and the exploited in every sphere of endeavor, large landowners, capitalists, landowners, bankers, big businessmen, bourgeoisie and oligarchs of every kind and their innumerable attendants reacted immediately against the revolutionary power in collusion with imperialism, a privileged owner in Cuba of broad expanses of land, mines, sugar mills, banks, public services, business establishments, factories, lord and master of our economy which no longer had an army to serve it.

Then began the conspiracies, the sabotage, the big press campaigns, the external threats. However, the people had not only received the benefits of the revolutionary laws. Above all, and for the first time in the history of our country, they had won the full awareness of their own dignity, an awareness of their power and of their immense energy.

For the first time, the worker, the peasant, the student and the people from the most modest strata of our society rose to the highest positions in national life. The revolutionary power was their power. The state was their state. The soldier was their soldier, because they became soldiers. The rifle became their rifle. [applause] The gun became their gun. The tank became their tank. The authority became their authority, because they were authority.

No human being would ever endure humiliation because of the color of his skin. No woman would have to prostitute herself in order to earn her living. No citizen would have to beg. No old person would be without care. No man would be without work. No sick person would be without assistance. No child would be without school. No eyes would not know how to read. No hand would not know how to write. [applause]

What the revolution meant to man's sense of decorum from the very beginning, what it meant from a moral viewpoint, was the same or more than what the material benefits meant. Class awareness developed with unusual rapidity. Soon the workers, the peasants, the students and the revolutionary intellectuals had to take up their weapons in order to defend their gains against the imperialist enemy and his reactionary accomplices. Soon they had to shed their generous blood fighting the Central Intelligence Agency and the bandits.

They soon had to place themselves on a war footing against the danger from abroad. Soon they had to fight on the shores of Giron and Playa Larga against the mercenary invaders. [applause]

But by then the exploited class had opened their eyes to the facts. They had finally encountered their own ideology, which was no longer that of the bourgeoisie, landowners and other exploiters, but the revolutionary ideology of the proletariat--Marxism- Leninism. [applause] Capitalism vanished in Cuba. It would simply have been a crime to have shed to blood at Moncada and of thousands of more Cubans to maintain capitalism. [applause]

Thus, 16 April 1961, when our working class was burying its dead, rifles held high on the eve of the invasion, it proclaimed the socialist character of our revolution and in its name it fought and shed its blood, and an entire nation was prepared to die. [applause]

A definite leap in political awareness had taken place since 26 July 1953. No moral victory could be compared to this on the glorious path of our revolution, because no nation in America had been subjected by the imperialists to such an intensive process of reactionary indoctrination and destruction of nationality and historical values. No nation had been so deformed for half a century. And this nation arose like a moral giant against its age-old oppressors and in a few years eradicated all that ideological cancer and all the filth of McCarthyism and anticommunism. [applause] The nation learned to know its class enemies at home and abroad in combat. It came to know its true allies at home and abroad.

Faced with the sabotage of Le Coubre [Belgian ship carrying munitions -editor] and the embargo of weapons from capitalist countries just when the needed them most, faced with the criminal blockade by the United States and the isolation decided upon by the Latin American governments upon the instructions of Yankee imperialism, only from the socialist camp, from Lenin's great homeland, was a friendly and generous hand extended. [applause] From there came weapons, petroleum, wheat, machinery and raw materials. A market for our boycotted products arose there. And, from there, traveling 10,000 km, came ships plying the seas. From there came internationalist solidarity and fraternal support.

There was very little left of all those lies, the odious hypocrisy, the humiliating Yankee arrogance in our country, since nothing was left of its banks, its mines, its factories, its immense estates, its all-powerful public service enterprises, because blow by blow, in the face of aggression and blockades, they were all nationalized. [applause]

The Moncada proclamation, which we clearly explained to the court that was trying us, contained the germ of the entire subsequent development of the revolution. A careful reading will show that we had already moved away completely from the capitalist concept of economic and social development. As we have said on other occasions, that program contained the greatest number of revolutionary and economic goals which could be set at that time because of the political level of the masses and the national and international correlation of forces.

However, the consistent implementation of these goals would lead us along the paths we are treading today. We had complete trust in the laws of history and in the unlimited strength of a liberated nation. No economic or social program has ever been carried out on this continent as the Moncada program was carried out. With the passing of time and combat itself, all the hopes of those days have been exceeded, and some time ago we surpassed them along the glorious path of the socialist revolution.

Martí, Marx, Engels and Lenin guided our political thought. Céspedes, Agramonte, Maceo, Gomez and the other patriots of 1868 and 1895 were the inspiration for our military action. The people of Cuba, particularly the humble classes, accompanied us along this long road. It was they who conceived our struggles. They were the true heroes of the revolutionary epic. They gave their best sons at Moncada, on the Granma, in the Sierra, on the plains, at Palacio, at Goicuria, at Corintia, in all the battles and struggles against the tyranny, in the torture chambers, at the hands of the butchers, in the Escambray Mountains at Playa Giron, in the struggle against the Central Intelligence Agency and its agents in the classrooms, like Benitez, educating like Ascunce, at the work centers producing for society, or in other lands where, heeding their internationalist duty, they lay down their lives. [applause]

Millions of Cubans have worked selflessly in production, in defense, in health, in education, providing services, in administration, and in the difficult and arduous responsibilities of political work and mass organizations. They have the immense honor of having carried the country upon their shoulders in the struggle which has led us to this moving commemoration of the 20th anniversary. [applause]

Moncada taught us to turn our setbacks into victories. That was not the only bitter test of adversity, but nothing could contain our people's victorious struggle. The trenches of ideas were more powerful than trenches of stone. Moncada showed us the value of a doctrine, the strength of ideas, and it taught us the permanent lesson of perseverance and steadfastness when the purpose is correct.

Our dead heroes did not give their lives in vain. They showed us the duty of pressing onward. They fired our souls with inextinguishable courage. They accompanied us in the jails and in exile. They fought side by side with us throughout the war. And we see them reborn in the new generations which are growing amid the revolution's fraternal and human warmth. We see them in our working students who came here to receive their trophy. And we see them in every vanguard worker and the youths who honorably are representing Cuba in the World Youth Festival. [applause]

We see them in the Camilitos, who, like them, seek to become soldiers, [applause] and also in the cadets who took the oath to the flag on the 22nd of this month.

It was 20 years ago and many of them were not even 20 years old. Nonetheless, they are in the ones who had not been born. And they are in the children who are studying in the schools built by the revolution. They are in every infant life that our revolutionary doctors save from death, in every victory and every joy, as well as in every smile, and heart of our people.

Over the generous blood that began to be shed on 26 July, Cuba arises to blaze away in this continent and end the north's turbulent, brutal domination over the peoples of our America –marking a historic turning point in the uninterrupted and haughty advance over our lands, wealth and sovereignty, which lasted 150 years.

At the beginning of the Cuban revolution, no region in the world, no continent, was as completely subjected to the policy and dictates of a foreign power as Latin America.

The United States truncated Mexico; it took over Cuba; occupied Guantanamo; seized Puerto Rico; strangled Panama; dissolved the Central American union; and intervened with arms in the scattered republics. It sent the Marines into Veracruz, Haiti and Santo Domingo.

The United States seized control of the continent's copper, petroleum, tin, nickel and iron. The United States demanded and obtained onerous exchange agreements and finally forged, under the title OAS, a real instrument of colonial administration under whose aegis it imposed the Rio de Janeiro military pact, the Inter-American Defense Board, the joint military maneuvers with which it tries to influence, indoctrinate and dominate the armed forces. It managed governments, instigated coups, installed bloody tyrannies, imposed its sovereign law throughout the hemisphere, dragging us into the cold war movement. The nefarious influence exerted by the United States in its military interventions is clearly demonstrated by the satrapies left behind by the Marines in Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala and other Central American countries.

They imposed weakness, corruption and backwardness in these republics to such an extent that today their governments are the most abject U.S. puppets in Latin America. They, along with the governments of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay, constitute the counterrevolutionary bridgehead through which imperialism intends to isolate the fraternal peoples of Chile, Peru, Argentina and Panama, whose political processes are in conflict with the empire's omnipotence. Clearly the hands of the United States and Brazil were behind the Uruguayan coup and are part of its unconditional strategy.

Just as it did in Europe, Africa and Asia, the United States groups together the most corrupt, unpopular and discredited governments in this continent against the progressive and revolutionary states. And the imperialist policy behaves the same throughout the world vis-à-vis the peoples who are struggling for liberation.

Accordingly, we do not understand the odd thesis that refers to two alleged imperialisms that is brandished by certain leaders who consider themselves part of the Third World. [reference to Mao and his co-thinkers –editor] They try to draw a parallel between the USSR and the United States, because by so doing they serve the real imperialism and isolate their people.

That thesis, which per se is reactionary and the exclusive fruit of the ideology and intrigue of bourgeoisie and imperialist theoreticians, aims to fan division and distrust among the revolutionary forces at an international level and also to separate the liberation movements from the socialist countries.

The ending of colonialism and the liberation of dozens of peoples in all the countries would have been absolutely impossible without the October Revolution and without the immortal exploit of the Soviet people, who first resisted imperialist intervention and blockade and later defeated the aggression of fascism and smashed technology and economy at an incredible cost of sweat and sacrifice, without exploiting the labor of one single worker anywhere in the world.

It cannot be forgotten for one second that the arms with which Cuba smashed the Giron mercenaries and defended itself from the United States, those which in Arab hands resist imperialist aggression, those used by the African patriots against Portuguese colonialism, and those wielded by the Vietnamese in their extraordinary, heroic, and victorious struggle [applause] arrived from the socialist countries, primarily from the USSR. [applause]

To separate the peoples from their natural allies is to disarm them, isolate them and defeat them. This is the policy of the ostrich. No worse service can be made to the cause of national liberation. The path of the peoples of Latin American is not easy. Yankee imperialism will staunchly defend its dominion over this part of the world. Ideological confusion is still vast. The states which have undertaken a course of action independent of the United States and policies of structural changes are increasing in number. But they have yet to overcome great difficulties. But no one will be able to halt the process of liberation in the long run.

The peoples of Latin American had no other possible salvation but to wrest themselves free of imperialist domination, carry out a revolution and unite. Only this will permit us to occupy a place in the world among the great human communities. Only this will give us strength to face the gigantic nutritional, economic, social and human problems of a population which will increase to 600 million in 25 years. Only this will make possible our participation in the scientific-technical revolution which will determine life in the future. Only this will make us free. Without this, our natural resources will be exhausted for the exclusive benefit of the capitalist consumer and we will be the pariahs of the world of tomorrow, estranged from civilization.

To struggle for these objectives should be the task of an effective regional organization. No matter how much the OAS is reorganized or changes its name, it will continue to be the OAS. As long as the United States remains within the fold of a regional organization of our countries, pulling the strings of its puppets, exerting powerful economic influence on the individual governments, engaging in intrigue, conspiring and taking the liberty of doing whatever is most convenient for its interests in every case, we shall continue to have an OAS. The regional organization would only have a raison d’être as a representative of our peoples to defend their interests against imperialism and to fight for unity.

For the entire family to be able to deal with the United States, it is not necessary to have the empire within the fold of the family. If it is true that under current circumstances –considering the correlation of forces between progressive governments and reactionary governments within the fold of the Latin American family–that this regional organization cannot yet be formed because the United States still controls many governments, it is also true that it is impossible to revive the old OAS. And it makes no sense to revive it. Let us allow it to die a natural death. [applause]

Cuba knows how to wait patiently. The solidness of our revolution is greater than ever today, and it will still be young when the OAS has died and with it everything which signified humiliation and shame for our peoples. The OAS will carry to its tomb the crimes which were committed against the Guatemalan people, whose popular government was destroyed by the Yankees with complicity and complacency; the scurrilous invasion against Santo Domingo by U.S. troops, which the OAS cynically approved, blessed and even supported with military units to prevent the liberation of that heroic people under the leadership of that immortal paladin, Francisco Caamano; [applause] the infamy of the attack on Playa Giron, the isolation of Cuba, the economic blockage, the piritic attacks, the infiltrations, supplying weapons to arm bandits, the sabotage and the other misdeeds which with its help imperialism carried out against the people of Cuba. In the face of all these evil deeds our people, with the international solidarity of its class brothers, struggled and emerged victorious in all the tests.

Today, the conditions created for the revolutionary struggle fare better than ever. The tyrannical and oppressive governments at the service of the exploiters always wield the argument of peace and order to justify violence against the people and combat rebellion. For them the revolutions are always synonymous with anarchy and chaos. The total internal discipline and the full support of the revolution from our workers, peasants, students, professionals, men and women, young and old, which permits us to dedicate ourselves entirely to creative work –never existed in Cuba, or, to such an extent, in any other Latin American society.

Our Revolutionary Armed Forces –pride or our people because they, their soldiers, officers and reservists: and the combatants of the Interior Ministry are the people in uniform– are a model of discipline, humility, self-denial and loyalty to the revolution, the party and the fatherland. [applause]

When we see the disturbing panorama that reigns in the capitalist countries and in almost all the Latin American countries, we can do nothing but meditate on the extraordinary moral advance of our country as a result of the radical abolition of the capitalist production system and every form of exploitation of man by man with their sequels of vice, corruption, injustice and selfish egoism which separates men from all feeling of human solidarity.

The granite-like strength of the Cuban revolution comes from its own socialist character which has brought to our people an immense wealth of equality and justice. Marx's dream of a society without exploiters nor exploited –which he conceived as a natural result of developed capitalist systems–is the only road to advance economically and socially, even for the poor underdeveloped countries, without the horrors and sufferings of capitalist development.

Some leaders of poor countries –in order to excuse their political weaknesses– have said that they do not want to socialize poverty. But socialized poverty is much more than just keeping the masses in poverty and allowing a privileged minority to enjoy the wealth. [applause] To capitalize on poverty is worse than to socialize it.

Our revolution has had to confront, and still confronts, the inevitable difficulties in carrying on with its commitment under the conditions of a poor and economically backward country. Our limited wealth was barely enough to satisfy a minimum of the immense needs of a people that is also growing rapidly. Oriente Province, which 20 years ago had 1.5 million inhabitants, now has 3.1 million.

In order to obstruct our path, imperialism –which, specifically, was the principal cause of our poverty, besides forcing us into extraordinary expenditures for national defense– uses all its influential world powers to impose a rigid economic blockage upon us. It also took many of the few remaining technicians in Cuba at the service of the bourgeoisie. The fact that our economy depended on the army of unemployed and which was subject to the irregularities of weather and the most incredible price fluctuations, complicated the task.

The total shortage of energy sources, mechanical, and chemical industries, and production of steel, lumber and other products, undoubtedly were very serious obstacles for us. Perhaps for that reason the imperialists were completely certain that the revolution would not survive their acts of aggression. We had to devote most of our energies to survival during the first years of the revolution. But not only have we survived, but with the generous cooperation of our Soviet brothers, we have advanced considerably in many aspects.

There is no longer unemployment in our country and our standards of health, education, social security are better than those of all the Latin American countries. [applause] Our people are commemorating this 20th anniversary by working intensively and advancing in all fields. All the conditions have been created for a yearly sustained growth of our economy.

As a poor country without easily exploitable large natural resources –which has to work hard to earn a living in a world where most of the people live in the most dire poverty and whose total population is now 3.5 billion and will reach 7 billion in the next 2 and 1/2 decades; and where the luxury and extravagance of developed capitalist societies exhaust unrecoverable natural resources such as petroleum, whose price threatens to rise extraordinarily– the material objectives of our people cannot be too ambitious.

It will be our duty in the next few years to raise the utilization of our economic and human resources to maximum efficiency. We must maintain careful accounting of expenditures and costs. [applause] We must learn to courageously rectify the idealistic mistakes we may have made in managing the economy. [applause]

Our great dream of advancing toward a communist society, in which every human being with a superior awareness and a full spirit of solidarity is capable of contributing according to his ability and receiving according to his needs, is our great dream. But this level of awareness and the material possibilities of distributing the social production according to that beautiful formula can only result from communist education for the new generations and the development of the productive forces.

Marx said that the law can never be superior to the economic structure and the cultural development conditioned by that structure, and that in the ultimate phase of a communist society when the slaving subordination of individuals to the division of work has disappeared, and with it the contrast between the intellectual worker and the manual worker, when work is not only a means to live but the first vital need, when along with the development of individuals in all aspects the productive forces also grow and there is a stream of full production from the collective wealth, only then can the narrow thinking of bourgeois law be completely rooted out and society can then write on its banners: "from each according to his ability; to each according to his needs."

We are in the socialist phase of the revolution in which –because of the material needs and cultural level and awareness of a society which has recently emerged from a capitalist society– the type of distribution needed is the one set forth by Marx in his program "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his work." [applause]

It is true that many of our workers are living examples of communists because of their attitude, their higher conscience, and their great human solidarity. They are the vanguard of what all society should be some day. However, to think and to act as if all members of that society were already behaving that way would be an example of an idealism with the results that the greater social effort would unjustly fall on the best without any moral effect on the conscience of the more backward members. It would have equally adverse results for the economy.

Along with the moral stimulus, we also have to use the material stimulus, without abusing one or the other. The first would lead us to idealism, the second would lead us to develop individual selfishness. We must act so that economic incentives will not become man's exclusive motivation, nor moral incentives a pretext for some to live off the work done by others. [applause]

Perhaps the hardest task in the process toward communism is the science of knowing how to dialectically reconcile the formulas that the present requires, with the final goal of our cause.

Education is society's basic instrument to develop worthy individuals able to live within communism. We must work in the next 10 years to improve our economy at an average yearly rate of not less than 6 percent. We must constantly improve our standard of public health. We must raise the educational system to the highest level, with hundreds of thousands of youngsters enrolled in the magnificent study and work schools that we are already massively building. [applause]

We must improve the people's standards in food, clothing and shoes. We must continue housing construction at a rate that will satisfy the country's basic needs and improve transport and other services for the people. These aspirations of socioeconomic development –which do not belong to a people moved by a spirit of consumption– can easily be reached.

Since we attacked Moncada on 26 July 1953 we have achieved and surpassed the goals that we set then, although the tasks were greater than we then presumed. But if that day we were only a handful of men, toady we are an entire nation conquering the future. [applause]

If before, almost unarmed, we stood up to the tyranny, today we have a powerful army born of the people, born of the dogged effort of those combatants. This army is equipped with the most modern means, and composed of every countryman who can carry a gun. If before our political framework was limited, and the men in our ranks only numbered a few hundred, today we have a party of more than 100,000 members and thousands of loyal and firm supporters. [applause]

This party was born of the union of all those revolutionaries. This union was wrought with the most exemplary self-sacrifice and without any interests, as a symbol that a new era was dawning in our country. That is how, in great style, we began to tread our new path, without leaders, without individualism, without factions, in a country where division and the conflict of personalities traditionally led to great political defeats. Our party, as the Cuban revolutionary independence party, now leads the revolution. Membership in this party is not a source of privileges, but of sacrifices and complete devotion to the revolutionary cause. That is why the most worthy sons of the working class and the people join the party, always watchful for quality, not quantity. Its roots are the best traditions of the history of our nation. It has the ideology of the working class – Marxism-Leninism. The party is the holder of political power and is the present and future guarantee of the purity, consolidation, continuity and progress of the revolution. If in the uncertain times or 26 July and in the first years of the revolution, men individually played decisive roles, this role is not being played by the party. Men die, the party is immortal. [applause]

To consolidate it, increase its authority and discipline, to improve its methods of direction and its democratic nature, and to raise the cultural and political level of its cadres and militants is the inevitable duty of every revolutionary. Along with the party, its youth organizations, the Union of Young Communists and the mass organizations, [applause] the trade unions, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, [applause] the Cuban Women's Federation, [applause] the National Association of Small Farmers, [applause] the Federation of University Students [applause] the Federation of Intermediate-Level Students [applause] and the Cuban Pioneers Union [applause] form the gigantic political and social force that is carrying out the task we started on 26 July.

At this very moment I am speaking especially to youth. The revolution has devoted its greatest efforts and has placed its greatest hopes in them. We are working with true affection for the new generations. The revolution is basically being carried out for them. For them, for those who had not yet been born on 26 July, the youths who fell at Moncada shed their pure and generous blood. [applause] For them, hundreds of excellent schools are being built. For them, an economy which will be free from today's limitations is being developed. Tens of thousands of technicians who are being trained today will work with them. They will possess a cultural level which can only be imagined today.

Our generation which began its struggle when dreams could not be talked about without the risk of being misinterpreted, when the word socialism could not be said without evoking fear or prejudice, deposits in you its purest ideals, with the innermost conviction that you will know how to grasp them, carrying them forward and transfer them to those who will follow you, until the day when human society may inscribe the brotherly and human doctrine of communist life on its banner. [applause]

Ruben Martínez Villena wrote one day in fiery patriotic lines:

A charge is needed to kill the scoundrels, 
To finish the work of revolutions, 
To avenge the outraged dead, 
To remove the tenacious scab of colonization, 
So the humiliating fate, the efforts and hunger, 
The wounds and death shall not be in vain; 
So the Republic stays by itself 
To fulfill Martí's dream of marble, 
So our children do not beg on their knees 
The Nation our fathers won for us on their feet.

[lengthy applause]

From here we can tell you, Ruben, that the 26th of July was the charge that you wanted.

Fatherland or Death, We Will Win! [applause]


[When Fidel Castro completes this 93-minute speech, which he reads from a prepared text, the crowd stands and sings the Internationale in Spanish as the cameras pan out on the crowd focusing on background portraits of numerous Cuban heroes, including Che. Then the title "My Comrades Are Not Dead, They Live Now More Than Ever" is superimposed as the crowd, estimated at 20,000 slowly departs.]




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