Cuban President Raúl Castro on July 26
Speech on the 55th Anniversary of the Attack on the Moncada and Carlos de Céspedes Barracks
Men and Women from Santiago:
Fifty five years is a short period of time in the life of a nation but
enough to confirm that July 26 marked the beginning of a new era in Cuban
In his fundamental speech at the official ceremony on the 20th
anniversary of the Moncada also held here in Santiago de Cuba, Fidel
recalled the inflammatory poem written by the outstanding Communist
leader and noble intellectual Ruben Martínez Villena:
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.
And he concluded by saying: "Ruben: July 26th was the charge you asked for."
Since that memorable ceremony in 1973, we Cubans have confronted
many difficulties and hard times. Only our people's deep convictions and
determination to hold its ground and to win have made it possible to
celebrate this new anniversary with pride and optimism.
The Granma newspaper had the fine initiative to start a few days
ago reproducing that speech, dividing it into fifteen parts [click to read]. It is thus
unnecessary for us to recount the background, the causes, conditions and
consequences of the attack on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes
barracks since the Chief of the Revolution explained them that day in an
That speech offers not only a sound analysis of the past and of
those days specifically, but also an accurate and precise appraisal of
the harsh realities the future had in store and the way to tackle them.
In a day like this, in 1973, Fidel asserted that the only
possibility the Latin American peoples had to save themselves was to join
forces and to get rid of the imperialist domination, since only that
would enable them to take their place in the large human communities.
And referring to our region, he added:
Only that would make us strong enough to face up to the
enormous economic, social, human and food problems with a population that
will grow an additional 600 million in the next 25 years. Only that would
make possible our participation in the scientific and technical
revolution that will shape up life in the future. Only that will make us
Later on, he admonished:
Luxury and wastage in the developed capitalist societies are
depleting the non-renewable natural resources such as oil whose price is
threatening to increase extraordinarily." End of quote.
If seems to have been said just today but he said it 35 years
ago. That's why Abdelazis Bouteflica, President of the sister nation of
Algeria and a dear friend of Cuba, said on one occasion:
"We have had the immense privilege of being friends with comrade
Fidel, who has never failed us. Fidel has the strange quality of
traveling into the future, returning and then explaining it all."
The 55 years that have passed since July 26, 1953 have more than
justified the choice of Oriente, particularly Santiago de Cuba and
Bayamo, to restart the then incomplete Cuban Revolution. In this
indomitable land of mambises and rebels, like in all of Cuba, the
glorious patriotic and revolutionary traditions of our people are kept
From that very first year of 1959, the nation has been making
great efforts to develop the eastern provinces where 35% of the country's
population lives today, however, compared with the rest of the nation
they are still in a disadvantage. The Special Period and the natural
disasters have hit this area with special force. These have also
prevented us from advancing at a greater speed.
We are aware of the great amount of problems waiting to be
solved, most of which weigh heavily and directly on the population.
Nevertheless, it should be recognized that lately the limited resources
the nation has been able to additionally deliver to the eastern region
have been quickly put to good use.
An example of this is the renovation of numerous facilities that
improve the people's quality of life while contributing to education and
A wok of special significance for the people in Santiago, one
which started last year, is advancing at a good pace: the reconstruction
and expansion of the aqueduct. This old and serious problem should be
definitely solved by 2010, when the entire city will have a daily supply
of water guaranteed.
Then, by 2011 the renovation of the El Cobre and El Cristo
aqueducts shall be completed --there, too, they will have a daily supply
of water-- and the construction of the 15.6 miles of water pipeline from
the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes reservoir up to the Gilbert's. This will
guarantee an additional source of this liquid in case of severe droughts.
So far, 231.2 miles of major water networks and 370.6 miles of
secondary water networks have been completed. This is approximately
one-third of what should be installed; however, it has already benefited
over 26 thousand housing where some 111 thousand Santiagueros live.
Additionally, 15.3 miles of the major water pipeline has been
completed, that is, 17% of the total. Likewise, the modernization of the
Quintero Uno water purification plant will be soon completed. This will
raise the quality of the water supply.
The equipment required for this work is available. Now, to
maximize its use a double shift shall be arranged wherever it is
advisable trying to reduce to the minimum the inconveniences for the
population since a large part of this work is to be done inside the city.
The idea is to open up the trench and immediately lay down the pipes, and
to reestablish the way as soon as the work has been tested.
We shall be checking the timetable for the execution of this
work on a monthly basis with those responsible who signed the contract on
behalf of the entities involved. That is, Fidel Figueroa, minister of
Construction; Rene Mesa, director of the National Institute of Water
Resources; and Rolando Yero, president of People's Power in this
This kind of work is not only being done here but also with the
27 brigades created for this purpose in the aqueducts of Holguín,
Baracoa and Tunas, and other eastern provinces; in the capital of the
country; in Camaguey and other places in the center and west of the
island. This major work also includes tens of small towns and small
A piece of advise: the more water that is distributed, the greater the
need to save it. Water is a very valuable resource which is ndispensable
for everything; therefore, it should be used rationally.
Also, it is necessary to work hard and urgently on the recovery
of roadworks as a good part of them was destroyed at the end of last year
by tropical storm Noel. There is much to be done, but despite the limited
resources about 2218.7 miles of dirt roads and paved roads were rebuilt
in the eastern and Camaguey provinces, the same as the 75 miles of
railways affected, including most of the bridges and other major pieces
of work associated with them.
Likewise work is being done on several water transfer systems throughout
the country which will allow us to take water from one province to
another. Given their significance, our media has been reporting on them.
I will only mention the so-called east-west water transfer
system in Holguín whose construction is advancing at good speed. The
first stage of this project will soon be ready for opening. This will
make possible a steady water supply to the provincial capital and to
other areas, as construction proceeds and concludes with the
reestablishment of the water pipeline.
The brigades involved in these works have the necessary equipment.
Besides, the production capacity of heavy polyethylene pipes has been
largely increased with the construction of factories in Holguín and
Havana City, which come to add to that of Ciego de Avila which has
been in operation for years.
This is an enormous investment that we are carrying out looking
not only into the present but especially into the future. This work is of
paramount importance in a long and narrow island such as ours where the
rainfalls run fast into the sea and where we regularly sustain periods of
severe draughts which can be alleviated by transferring water resources,
including those from the mountains, through large tunnels.
Such precaution will be appreciated by all, especially by the future
generations, those that will be living in a world where drinking water
will be an ever more scarce and expensive resource.
That's why many are predicting that future wars will be fought over the
reserves of this irreplaceable natural resource. Presently, wars are
being fought over oil.
A special place among the new investments undertaken in cooperation with
Venezuela is taken by petrochemicals: the increase of oil refining, the
production of fertilizers and the manufacturing of synthetic resins like
the so-called PVC. This is used, among many other things, for the
manufacturing of petrohouses. Actually, 100 of these houses are being
built at the La Risueña community in this city. They are similar to
those built in Cienfuegos as part of an effort to test their
possibilities in our environmental conditions.
At the same time, a major expansion has been undertaken --in some cases
with our own resources and in others with foreign companies-- in the
area of nickel, cement and mining. Many of these works will be carried
out here in Santiago de Cuba and other eastern provinces, albeit they
are spread all over the country. For example, the expansion of
the 'Hermanos Diaz' oil refinery has been planned to exceed twice its
capacity; at that point it will be in a position to supply oil to the
entire eastern part of the country.
As we said last July 11th at the Parliament, an extraordinary
effort is made to invest the existing resources in those areas that can
generate a profit on a short term basis. We should try for the best
possible coordination to exist among investors, designers and
construction workers in order to achieve the greatest efficiency and to
complete every work according to the agreed timetable.
We must bear in mind that we are living in the midst of a true
world crisis which is not only economic but also associated to climate
change, the irrational use of energy and a great number of other
This situation impacts on every nation but it has a particularly
dramatic effect on the Third World peoples. International agencies have
been issuing strong alerts. Such is the case of FAO, whose director
general, who has just visited with us, has made brave denunciations and
offered sound arguments on the seriousness of this crisis of
Meanwhile, in the light of this crisis the leaders of the
wealthy nations and the big transnational corporations behave passively,
an attitude that is not only selfish and irresponsible but also suicidal,
since we all live on this planet whether they like it or not.
A few days back, even the President of the World Bank, an
organization nobody would say is opposed to capitalism, brought pressure
on the industrial nations for these to take part in the solution of the
problem. However, his words fell on deaf ears despite the fact that he
invited them to contribute to the UN Food Program with the ridiculous sum
of 500 million dollars. Both, the World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund have stated that the already serious situation with food is
aggravated by the U.S. policy that promotes the use of agrofuels.
Most of our people have shown to have sufficient knowledge and
maturity to understand these simply inescapable realities. Others,
however, try to stubbornly close theirs eyes to the world problems.
I repeat that the revolution has done and will continue to do
anything within its power to continue to advance and to reduce to the
minimum the unavoidable consequences of the present international crisis
for our people. Yet, we should timely explain to our people the
difficulties so that we can be better prepared to face them. We must get
used to receiving not only good news.
Some opinions collected with regards to the preliminary draft of
the Social Security Bill show that it is necessary to continue providing
information on this strategically important issue.
The process of study and consultation with all of the workers
will begin next September, prior to the adoption of the Bill by the
National Assembly on December. That procedure will be useful to clarify
every doubt and offer the opportunity to volunteer any criteria.
Everybody will be attentively listened to, whether their views
coincide or not with those of the majority, the same as we have done with
the views expressed during the process of reflection on the last July
26th speech. We do not aspire to unanimity which is usually fictitious,
on this or any other subject.
Nevertheless, it should be kept in mind that in 1953, the year
we attacked this and Bayamo's barracks, life expectancy in Cuba was 59
years, almost 20 years less than at this moment. This means that at
present we are living 5 years more than the average Latin American and
Caribbean, as I said at the National Assembly. Let's not forget that in
the past there were no jobs during the sugarcane off-season; that there
were long lines of unemployed; that the peasants were evicted from the
land they tilled and the workers from their housing when they could not
pay the rent. Let's not forget the terrible image of the hungry children
begging for alms, without access to doctors or schools.
Thousands of compatriots, including the martyrs of Moncada and
Bayamo, have given their lives to put an end to all those injustices that
Fidel summed up in 'History Will Absolve Me'. It is most appropriate to
remember the situation of poverty and inequality inherited by the
revolution almost have a century ago, especially when 71% of today's
Cubans were born after January 1st, 1959.
There are still many things we would like our people to enjoy,
even though our reality today is very different from that found by the
Revolution. I remember that in the toughest days of the Special Period, a
Latin American trade union leader addressing his Cuban colleagues said:
"You may have many problems, but I know my country and a good part of
this continent, and I'll give you a piece of advise: preserve what you
Regardless of our great wishes to solve every problem we cannot
spend in excess of what we have. And to make the best of what we have it
is indispensable to save everything, foremost fuel.
I shall repeat what the Chief of the Revolution said from this
same rostrum, in a day like this 35 years ago, because I think it is
permanently valid. He said:
As a poor country, with little natural resources that can be
easily exploited, one that must work hard to earn its living in a world
where a large part of the peoples live in dreadful poverty [.] the goals
of our people in terms of material goods cannot be very ambitious. And
It will be our duty in the following years to rise to the
maximum the efficiency in the use of our economic and human resources;
and to carefully take note of costs and spending. Also, we should have
the courage to rectify the mistakes made on the side of idealism in the
management of our economy.
Recently, the Law Decrees were published on the distribution of
idle land and the remuneration of teachers and professors that return to
the classrooms. Both have received ample support from our people.
Likewise, an experience of which I spoke one year ago in
Camaguey, that is, the direct distribution of milk by the producer to the
grocery stores, keeps extending at a good pace.
Last June 30th, the consumers registered in 5,361 grocery
stores, that is, 49% of those in the 154 municipalities that could
implement this procedure, were receiving milk this way. Actually, 52
million liters of milk were sold in this way in the first six months of
Additionally, 1,800 tons of fuel has been saved whose value
exceeds 2,350,000 dollars. This fuel saving could increase every year
with the expansion of this direct milk distribution procedure.
Efforts are also being made to improve the organization of cargo
transportation since it is a fact that an adequate operation allows for a
20% fuel saving.
Besides, an experience is underway in 16 municipalities which
consist in centralizing the transportation used for this purpose at that
level, except in those cases where it is not logical due to the type of
vehicles used or the nature of the work they do. The results are showing
that the work can be done with 30% of the cargo transportation operated
today. We shall continue to advance with this experience at a pace that
can guarantee its rigorous application to avoid spoiling the idea, which,
by the way, has had to face some people's useless resistance.
Progress has also been made in crucial sectors of the economy.
The oil production plan is being fulfilled, although as we all know it is
far from meeting our needs. Also, a part of it is produced in joint
ventures with foreign companies from which we need to purchase the amount
required at the present high prices.
Advances have been experienced in the recovery of tourism. Until
June 25th, close to 1,309,000 tourists had arrived in our country; this
accounts for a 14.8% growth compared with the same period last year. And
something very important: the cost has been reduced for every incoming
Likewise, we keep on our cooperation with other peoples. Next
December, this city will be the venue of the Third Cuba-CARICOM Summit.
There is a growing exchange with the Caribbean countries members of
CARICOM. We are sure that the Santiagueros will be great hosts.
It has also been decided that here, in our Heroic City, we
celebrate an extraordinary event: the 50th Anniversary of the Revolution.
Yesterday, today and forever: Santiago is Santiago!
And together with production, we shall continue paying special
attention to defense, regardless of the results of the next presidential
elections in the United States.
The country is doing well in its defense preparation. On
November 2007 we conducted with satisfactory results the Moncada military
exercise in the west and center parts of the island. This was done in the
eastern territory last June since the decision had been made to postpone
it to avoid interfering with the work of recuperation after the intense
rainfall at the end of last year.
On the other hand, Operation Caguairán continues to favorably
develop; this has enabled us to significantly raise the preparation of
our reservists, who complement the regular troops, and of our militia.
At the same time, we have continued the engineering fitting-out
of the military theater of operations and the modernization of the
weapons and other means as well as the training and upgrading of
officers. This year over 2,000 officers graduated; the highest figure in
the last ten years.
Simultaneously, conditions are being created to perform with
excellence and rigor, in the month of November, the Bastion 2008
Strategic Military Exercise.
When we think 50 years into the future it seems something rather
distant; however, as I look back at the past 55 years, I feel that they
have gone by very quickly.
When we attacked the Moncada, none of us dreamed of being here
today; we didn't have such dreams even when following the Commander in
Chief's orders we entered this fortress victoriously on January 1st,
1959, exactly five year, five months and five days later. Most of us
were twenty or thirty some years old, some were even younger, and half a
century seemed to us an eternity. But if there is something we have
learned well is that time flies, therefore, to waste it away out of
inertia or hesitation is an unforgivable negligence. We must take
advantage of every minute and learn fast from every experience, even from
our mistakes since they always teach a lesson if they are seriously
The main problems and tasks we shall continue to analyze with
the people, particularly with the workers, with the same transparency and
confidence we've always had. We shall seek for the best solutions
mindless of those who abroad try to take advantage of such debates.
Sooner or later the truth prevails.
We shall continue to care for, prepare and listen to our youths
so that they can act with the firmness, the conviction and the loyalty of
our Five Heroes. We are aware of the high responsibility and dedication
demanded from the new generations, and we are certain that the same as
those who unhesitatingly followed Céspedes in 1868, Martí in 1895 and
Fidel in 1953, they will live up to their historical moment, equally
difficult and glorious.
Let's never forget that this is the socialist Revolution of the
people, for the people and by the people. We will never betray the memory
of those who fell in combat or who were murdered in Santiago de Cuba and
Bayamo 55 years ago.
In the days following the attack, this barrack was wet with
blood everywhere, from the dungeons to the cellar, even to the terrace
roof of the building where I was taken one night for several hours, when
they brought me here from San Luis where I was captured. I will never
forget the horrific image of the already clotted blood of my comrades
spread throughout that terrace roof.
That dreadful image, that stain on the glorious name of
Guillermón Moncada, could only be watched away by the happiness and the
smile of the tens of thousands of children who have studied in the
classrooms of this School Center, one of the first barracks of the
tyranny to be turned into a school. This is partly the fruit of the work
of our entire people and of the sacrifices of all those who have given
their lives for the same ideas, from the independence wars until the
present, in Cuba and in the fulfillment of our internationalist duty.
Our battle today is the same that started on July 26, 1953. It
is only taking place in new scenarios, at a higher scale and now in
defense of the great conquests attained in half a century.
We are now facing an enemy which is much more powerful than the soldiers
of the tyranny entrenched behind the walls of this barrack and in
Bayamo. But the strength of our people has also grown tremendously
thanks to its revolutionary unity, organization and conscience, and to
its education. We also have very superior reasons to sacrifice our lives
for, if need be.
Fifty-five years ago a bunch of revolutionaries attempted to take heaven
by storm. We were then impelled by the decision to free our land from
ignominy and to fulfill Martí's purpose to conquer all the justice for
On behalf of every patriot in this island, from the heroic Santiago de
Cuba, birthplace of the Revolution, we dedicate this 55th Anniversary to
you, Fidel, and we say to you:
We shall continue with the charge Rubén asked for and that you started
on July 26!
Everlasting glory to our martyrs!
Long live the Revolution!
Long live free Cuba!