- Created: 07 May 2011
From a COBC broadcast to the Cuban people, Havana, Jan. 9, 1959
Speaking here tonight I am presented with one of the most difficult obligations in this long struggle which began on Nov. 30, 1956, in Santiago. The people are listening, the revolutionaries are listening, and the soldiers whose destinies are in other hands are listening also. this is a decisive moment in our history: The tyranny has been overthrown, but there is still much to be done. Let us not fool ourselves into believing that the future will be easy; perhaps everything will be more difficult in the future.
To tell the truth is the first duty of all revolutionaries; to fool the people always brings the worse consequences. The rebel army won the war by telling the truth. The tyranny lost the war by fooling the soldiers. When we were defeated, we announced it over Radio Rebelde. That was not the way with the army units, many of which repeatedly committed errors because the officers were never told the truth. That is why I want to continue the system of always telling the people the truth.
The new government has been formed and recognized by several countries in the world. It seems that peace has been won. Nevertheless, we should not be complacent. The revolution is no longer led by a battling army. The worst enemies which the Cuban revolution can face are the revolutionaries themselves. When we no longer have the enemy before us, when the war is over, we ourselves can be the only enemies of the revolution. That is why we said that we will be sterner with the rebel soldiers then with anyone else, more demanding than with anyone else, because the triumph or failure of the revolution will depend on them.
There are many kinds of revolutionaries. Many revolutionaries I heard of as a child wanted to live off what they had done in a revolution which unfortunately never succeeded. I think that the first revolution which had a chance to succeed was ours, and we did not waste that chance. The revolutionary of my childhood walked with a .45-calibre pistol at his waist and wanted to live on the respect it commanded. He was to be feared -- capable of murdering anyone. He would arrive at the office of high officials with the air of a man that must be heard. The first thing that we musts ask ourselves is: Why did we do it? Did any of us have any special ambition, any ignoble objective?
If I were asked what soldiers I would prefer to lead, I would say I prefer to lead the people, because the people are invincible. It was the people who won this war, because we had no army, no warships, no tanks, no planes, no guns, no professional soldiers, no military organization. The people won the war. I am not interested in the revolution as such; what I am interested in is the people. The people, however, are interested in the revolution, and they want to know if we are going to make this revolution successful by facing the mistakes that previous revolutions had to face. We are apt to suffer the consequences of our mistakes, because there is no error without its consequence.
The nation was anxious for peace following the period of terror and revolution. The nation wanted peace and freedom, peace and justice, peace and constitutional rights; it wanted no other kind of peace. Batista, for example, used to talk about peace, but no one wanted his peace, because he did not give them what they wanted -- a peace without dictatorship, without crimes, without censorship, and without deceptions. I say to you that under the circumstances the greatest crime that could be committed against Cuba would be a crime against peace. No one in Cuba today would condone a conspiracy against peace. Any one who dares an attempt against the peace of Cuba, anyone who dares to sadden the Cuban mothers again is a criminal and a traitor. Our movement will not place the least obstacle in the way of the peace of Cuba. As of this moment, the people can dispose of us all if they wish.
ROLE OF JULY 26 MOVEMENT DEFINED
It is necessary to say that perhaps one of the greatest evils of the struggle against Machado was the conflict among the revolutionary organization. The result was that Batista took over and stayed in power for 11 years. But despite the sacrifices we had to make one idea sustained us, and that was that we knew that the movement had the sympathy of the great majority of the people. It was clear that the July 26 Movement had the almost unanimous support of the Cuban youth., This time the consequences of having too many revolutionary organizations. Ours was only the first, but we came and proved that the battle needed new tactics. We formed the strategy that led the people of Cuba to the most extraordinary triumph they ever had in their history.
Is it true or false that the July 26 Movement was the most popular movement? All of the important military forts and strategic locations were taken over by the rebel army, and this was done solely through our own efforts, our sacrifices, and our organization. However, does this mean that the others did not fight? No, because we all fought as the people have fought. There was no Sierra in Havana, but there were hundreds of comrades who fell murdered for fulfilling their revolutionary duties. The general strike was a decisive factor that made the revolution complete.
When I say this, I only put things in their proper perspective and define the role of the July 26 Movement in this struggle. the strategy of this revolution was provided by the July 26 Movement. The determination conclusively to defeat the forces of tyranny was molded by the rebel army. Not only were the plans laid out by the July 26 Movement, but it also showed how the enemy was to be treated.
This has been perhaps the first revolution in the history of the world in which no prisoner was ever killed -- there must be some of my former prisoners right here -- and in which the wounded were never abandoned or tortured. This is the first revolution in the world from which no general has emerged. The title given me by my comrades was that of major, and I have not changed that title despite the fact that we have won many battles and even a war. I continue to be a major, and I do not want another rank. But I believe that the people want me to speak in plain terms, because to have fought as I have fought for the rights of each citizen gives me the right to speak the truth in a loud voice. And also because it is in the interest of the fatherland.
The republic and the revolution have entered a new stage. Would it be just for ambition to endanger the destiny of the revolution? The people are the only ones who can speak. The people are interested in the liberties, the rights which have been taken from them, and peace. I think that in speaking to the people in this way the revolution can avoid the only dangers which can threaten it. I would prefer that not another drop of Cuban blood be shed in consolidating the revolution. My great preoccupation is that abroad, where this revolution won the admiration of the entire world, it shall not be said that we had to shed Cuban blood in order to consolidate the revolution.
WARNS OF NEW CONSPIRACIES
I would not have spoken this way when we were a group of 12 men, because then all we had to do was to fight, fight, fight. Now that we have all this power, however, I am very interested in not fighting, because there is a limit. I would prefer to go to the Siera Maestra again with 12 men rather than shoot at anyone again. And who do I ask with all my heart to help us? The people. I appeal to the public to disarm the ambitious. Why are clandestine arms being stored at this very minute? Why are arms being hidden at distinct points of the capital? Why are arms being smuggled at this moment? I tell you that there are members of certain revolutionary organizations who are smuggling and storing arms. All the arms that were found by the rebel army are stored and locked in barracks, where they belong.
What are these arms for? Against whom are they going to be used? Against the revolutionary government that has the support of all the people? Do we have a dictatorship here? Are we going to take up arms against a free government that respects the rights of the people?
We have a free country here. We have no censorship, and the press is free. The people can gather freely if they want to. There is no tormenting of political prisoners, no murders, no terror. When all the rights of the citizens have been restored -- and an election for the purpose is going to be held as soon as possible -- why do we need arms? Are we going to unseat the President with the arms? Are we going to set up revolutionary organizations? Are we going to have gangsters? Are we going to practice daily shooting on the streets of the capital? Why do we need arms? Yet I tell you here and now that two days ago elements of certain organizations broke into the San Antonio barracks, which are under the jurisdiction of Commander Camilo Cienfuegos and also under my jurisdiction as commander in chief of the armed forces, and carried away 500 small arms, (16?) machine guns, and 80,000 cartridges.
I wanted to tell you about this and make use of the influence exerted by public opinion so that those who are planning any criminal adventure will not be able to recruit any troops to follow them. The theft of the weapons cannot be justified, because this is not a dictatorship. We are never going to use force, because we belong to the people. Moreover, the day that the people do not want us we shall leave. As soon as possible I will take the rifles off the streets. There are no more enemies, there is no longer anything to fight against, and if some day any foreigner or any movement comes up against the revolution, all the people will fight. The weapons belong in the barracks. No one has the right to have private armies here.
I want to warn the people and tell the Cuban mothers that I will try to solve every problem without shedding blood. I want to tell the Cuban mothers that no more shots will be fired. And I want to ask the people to help us solve this problem. From now on the festivities are over. It is time now for us to go to work. Tomorrow we will need many things, money to pay for food, electricity, and other things. This is the same problem as faced by the revolutionary government. All of us have to work harder on behalf of the nation. Anyone who returns here after two years will not recognize the republic. I see an extraordinary spirit of cooperation everywhere. I see that the press and the reporters are all willing to help. All of Cuba has learned a lot during these eleven years.
Now we have a big job to do. The problem of the armed forces is my future activity. I am not a professional soldier, and I will be in this post the shortest time necessary. When I finish here, I will move on to other things. the President of the Republic has appointed a majority of ministers from the July 26 Movement. Cabinet office is something new for them, and they are entering these posts with good intentions. Our men did not know anything about using a rifle either. Raul did not know anything either - he was just told to take a position, but he would advance and would take his objective. The same thing is true about the ministers. Within a few months they will know their jobs, because they possess the most important thing: the desire to serve the people. They may not be geniuses, no one here is a genius, but you can be sure that there is honesty here. So let us give them our confidence. Let us see, let us wait.
Yes, the majority are from the July 26 Movement, but if they are no good, then those of the 27th, and 28th, and so forth will come. We know that there are many capable persons, but they cannot all be ministers.
by Fidel Castro