Speech at the Chaplin Theater in Havana at a ceremony commemorating the sixth anniversary of the victory of Playa Giron
Originally broadcast in Spanish from Havana by Cuban Domestic Radio and Television Services 20 April 1967
Relatives of those who fell at Giron,
comrades of the Revolutionary Armed Forces:
Today is another anniversary of the historic battle of Giron. Under what circumstances do we commemorate this sixth anniversary? In 1961 the enemy carried out, with the mercenary invasion of Giron, one of the many chapters of his program to destroy the Cuban Revolution. It was neither the first nor the last attempt. Not much time passed, and once again the aggressive policy against our country let to the October crisis. It has not slacked off for a single day in these eight years of revolution. They have used all their weapons uselessly against us. Those activities have ranged from sabotage against our economy, economic blockade, the organization of counter-revolutionary bands, armed landings, assassination plans, and all in all whatever means have been within their power to vanquish our revolution.
Today, after eight years, the problems of Yankee imperialism do not consist simply of finding ways to crush the Cuban revolution, but rather how to prevent the revolutionary throughout the continent from crushing Yankee imperialism. (Applause) This is the basic difference. Our revolution has been consolidated itself. Our revolution has become stronger as imperialism has become weaker against the revolutionary movements. And not only has the revolutionary awareness of our people grown, but also the revolutionary awareness of the other exploited peoples of Latin America. These years have not passed in vain. This month, these past weeks, have been characterized by a series of event that demonstrate this truth.
One of the important, symptomatic events of this failure of all the imperialist conspiracies against our country, the failure of all the imperialist plans to contain the inevitable revolution in the continent, has been the results of the Punta del Este conference. Opinions are practically unanimous that the Punta del Este meeting of presidents are a resounding failure of imperialism and its accomplices. This is not a gratuitous statement on our part. We have brought some reports, some news, to begin with, from the imperialist news agencies themselves, that document it. We have here a 12 April cable from Punta del Este by AP. It says:
"President Johnson and his advisors, helped by a few allies, are fighting hard to give the inter-American conference as appearance of success, but it appears to be a losing battle. If the objective of this presidents conference, which has received so much publicity and is the object of the strictest security measures, is a demonstration of inter-American unity, this proof has not even come close to its target.
"It its purpose is to offer a show of trust, the objective has been missed by a wide margin. The presidents conference has had the effect of emphasizing divisions rather than mutual interests. The atmosphere here is that each man fights for own interests, that each region concentrates on itself. This can have a disconcerting effect on any idea that the North Americans may have had that Latin America can be treated as a unit. There is a perverted irony in what is happening here. Some of the men meeting here represent countries from which the most vociferous shouts have come against imperialism and colonialism. However, it is these men themselves who seem to argue most strongly that their nations be placed in the status of former colonies. They wish preferential treatment from the United States for their exports, using as their model the system employed by what were once colonial powers in Europe, in their trade relations with former colonies. But they wish something else: loans from the United States with restricted use of the dollars they receive so they will not have to spend them in the United States, not taking into account Washington's exasperating problems in its balance of payments.
"The United States wanted the preamble to mention the question of hemispheric security, mainly security against communist intentions. It was supported by Argentina and Brazil, two of the largest and most developed nations: others have opposed any mention of political considerations due to internal reasons and want to limit the preamble to a summary of intentions with respect to the economic future of the hemisphere. Now the preamble will have different (?tones). That President Johnson wants this included is suggested by the fact that yesterday he conferred for 1 hour and 20 minutes with President Raul Leoni of Venezuela, a much longer time that that devoted to other heads of state when he began his unofficial bilateral conversations. Accompanying President Johnson at the meeting was Walt W. Rostow, his assistant on national security matters."
Another AP cable, dated 13 April: "President Lyndon Johnson's speech was received with general disenchantment by the Latin American heads of state. A promise of greater aid was expected in one form or another from his for the development of the hemisphere. None of the presidents attending the summit meeting wanted to comment immediately on the formal speech by President Johnson. They were already informed by Johnson's informal advance notice the day before."
Of course, nobody was happy, and some of those present event went so far as to show it was some discordant action. Of course, they did not meet there to discuss the case of the fraternal Dominican nation still occupied by Yankee troops. They did not meet here to protest the barbarous genocide practiced by the Yankee imperialism in Vietnam. And if Vietnam was mentioned in one case, it was mentioned by one of those who dared to disagree, even though, of course, nobody should harbor any illusions about any of these good bourgeois men when they disagree.
For example, the President of Ecuador said something revealing in his speech. He said: "It is impressive that the United States of America, to which we are linked with common ideals, traditions, and inviolable principles, should be so much concerned with democracy in a noble but far off nation such as Vietnam." This is the way the bourgeois talks, this business of saying that the United States is concerned about democracy in Vietnam. To what extremes these gentlemen go; that when they want to enunciate some disagreement, they are capable of making such an assertion and later say something that concerns them.
The statement continues: "When peoples at its very doors are rebelling and democracy trembles at the insurgent course of the guerrillas, where undernourishment causes an alarming death toll every year, where the programs for living and housing are inadequate, and where, in short, misery not only corrodes the body but also the soul and brain of the peoples, and of course the soul and brain of those who call themselves the representatives of the people."
Naturally this gentlemen, Arosemena, whose disagreement and refusal to sign in Punta del Este, the news agencies reported, considered it his duty to say afterward that, of course, Johnson was very good, that Johnson was not to blame, and that the bad ones were the ones in the U.S. Senate who did not give poor old Johnson any help, so that poor old Johnson could help the peoples of Latin America.
What opinion, for example, did a Colombian political leader advance, one who is neither exactly a guerrilla leader nor a member of any organization that can be called Marxist? Here is a Bogota cable dated 3 April. It says: (?good) for spectacular headlines" -- and this is an English news agency reporting this -- "rather than a positive contribution to the betterment of living conditions for the inhabitants of the hemisphere, was Senator Alfonso Lopez Michelsen's opinion of the conference of American presidents at Punta del Este. Lopez Michelsen, leader of the Liberal Revolutionary Movement, a dissident splinter party of the liberal ruling party and in opposition to the Carlos Llerads Restrepo government, said he was skeptical about the results of the summit meeting just as everyone from the heads of Latin American state to the common citizen should be. In a statement to the press, the political leader added that a comparison should be made with the system of Fidel Castro in Cuba to ascertain which nations have better living conditions, those that enjoy the protection of the United States or those that seek their own development with extracontinental socialist cooperation. The liberal leader said that this is the balance which ought to be struck now: which nation has advanced most in matters of health, education, housing, and land? Later, answering his own questions, he said: With statistics, and objectively, a comparison ought to be made of the results of both experiments since the Alliance for Progress was conceived as the response to a challenge by the socialist world."
What does the North American press say? According to an ANSA cable dated 13 April: "The New York Times declare in an editorial that within the framework of the subjects listed in the order of the day in Punta del Este not enough importance appeared to be given to one of the objectives of the Alliance for Progress as it was conceived originally, that is, social reforms. The paper adds that the agenda forecasts an extensive debate on trade, financial, production, and economic integration problems, but it relegates to a secondary level the main problem of social justice, which John Kennedy made his main point when he launched the Alliance in March 1961. According to the paper, the great and vital ideal of social justice appears to have been forgotten."
The problem of social progress in Latin America is also dealt with by the political commentator Walter Lippmann in the article on Punta del Este published in the Washington Post, a daily of the federal capital. Lippmann declares that in the field of social progress toward prosperity no noticeable steps were taken in South America by comparison with the industrialized regions such as the United States and Europe. It cannot surprise anyone that the continuing poverty has created a revolutionary situation.
The success of the conference in the best of cases cannot give life to substantial changes in a short time,and if substantial improvements are not achieved, if the rate of development is too slow, according to Lippmann, general disorder may be expected, because the men who want radical reforms will clash with those who attempt to block them.
Here we also have a cable from London, which reflects the opinion of the British press. It says: "The relations between the United States and Latin America are emphasized as a decisive factor in the Latin American history of recent times." The Guardian, a British paper, recalls that it was during the years Kennedy that the famous Alliance for Progress was launched and the South American presidents held the first summit conference. Since them, according to the paper, little has been done with respect to the very great problems of the continent. Facts prove, says the paper, that there was no stability of power, which is indispensable for the improvement in each country. The prominent democratic men in the era of the first American summit conference were overthrown by coups d 'etat, and the only ones remaining in power are two dictators: Duvalier and Stroessner.
Similar items are published by the London Times. The press of other countries says the same things. I am going to cite the case of the Catholic daily Le Croix on the Punta del Este conference, according to ANSA: "Without a doubt," says the newspaper, "Johnson will have returned to Washington more informed on the problems of Latin America than on the eve of the conference, but he did not give the impression of having really learned their exact nature. The attitude and the proposals of the North American chief indicate, in effect,that he did not see, or did not wish to see, that the claims of his 'partners' with respect to trade, financial, or social problems were in reality different forms of a fundamental aspiration: the will of the Latin American countries to select the instruments and the manner of their development. The truth is that Johnson as little prepared from a psychological point of view to meet with this partners. When he went to Uruguay, the President did not think so much of the economic and social problems of Latin America, certainly serious, as he did of the problems posted to the United States by its international responsibilities.
"Latin Americans have become perfectly aware of this, and they have resented it. Some have let him know it, sometimes with a certain violence, as was demonstrated by the diatribe of the Ecuadoran President. Johnson looked for a result which he did not obtain in Punta del Este, a success of prestige which would allow him to improve before international opinion the image which the United States has given itself in the war in Vietnam."
From what can be seen, all writers, bourgeois, capitalists, North Americans, Latin Americans, and Europeans, agree that the conference was a resounding failure. And it could not be otherwise, because the fundamental objective, or one of the objectives touted by the Yankee imperialists to justify this conference, was the intention of creating a Latin American common market.
Only the naive, only these open representatives of the oligarchy, only these blind men who have obeyed the mandates of the United States as many times as they were ordered to take a position against Cuba, such as breaking diplomatic relations, breaking trade relations, adopting agreements, conspiring, maintaining conspiratorial silence during these eight years of imperialist aggressions against our country, maintaining conspiratorial silence on the crimes of American imperialism against a country of Latin America, approving and even supporting those aggressions against our country -- only those who have contracted such a responsibility to history, through their blindness, their nearsightedness, their complicity, were able to harbor illusions that some day the United States would take an interest in the progress of Latin America, without seeing, without understanding, the irreconcilable interests, the antagonistic interests that exist between Yankee imperialism and the countries of Latin America.
The imperialists have not even been up to the level of making small concessions to these oligarchies, to these underdeveloped bourgeois nations which thought that the imperialist wolf would become a docile lamb. Now, of course, they are disenchanted. Now they are reaping the harvest. Previously they would say yes to everything, above all when it came to all the crimes against Cuba. Thus they sold their souls to the imperialist devil, and the imperialist devil does not even want to pay them the price for their souls.
This is what they offered, this is what they offered when they condemned Cuba, this is what they demanded for the severance of relations with Cuba. What have they gained? What has happened? Every day pessimism and hopelessness becomes increasingly greater among those who sold their souls to imperialism. And every day they see reality with greater fear and worry, a reality that is the outcome of the interests that Yankee imperialism can never renounce, a reality that is summarized in a few phrases much in vogue in speeches and declamations by these gentlemen: that Latin America has to sell raw materials to the imperialists at increasingly cheaper prices; that Latin America has to pay increasingly higher prices for manufactured goods it imports; that the credits granted by imperialism are onerous, insufficient, and what is more, must be spent in the United States itself, that protective tariffs are affecting the economies of the Latin American nations; that the dumping -- and this parenthetically -- that these gentlemen would not for the world dare mention one of the reasons for this misery, one of the causes for bloodletting, which is not only the problem of cheap raw materials, the problem of expensive merchandise, the problem of onerous credits, but the annual flow of billions of pesos from the economies of the peoples of Latin America in profits, dividends, and interest to American capital invested in such nations.
But, of course, who in these meetings is going to talk about the sacrosanct capitalist property, about the mines, about the natural resources? How could one conceive that a gentlemen like Leoni would rise to speak about how the United States is rapidly depleting the natural resources of Venezuela, how it is the owner of that nation's oil? This is the main question, and it is not even mentioned. The most Mr. Leoni dated talk about was whether there are some problems about Venezuelan oil in the United States, whether the tariff on sulfur is high, and matters that have nothing to do with the heart of the question and the problems of Latin America. He, of course, did not speak about the exploitation of natural resources and Latin American workers by the monopolist capital of the United States.
The other questions mentioned, the expensive prices of articles the Latin Americans import, the increasingly lower prices for raw materials -- how could one think that the wolf would turn into a lamb? How could one think that the pitiless imperialist exploiter would turn into a generous friend of the people of Latin America?
How could one think that the fierce monopolist magnates in whose name they govern in the United States would be willing to make the least concession, the least sacrifice on behalf of their own partners? Imperialism is to voracious to make sacrifices of any kind, not even to pay off its accomplices.
And what is the situation of these countries? What is the situation of the Latin America economy? Here, for example, are some figures of the economic study of Latin America published this year, on 29 March, by the U.N. Economic Committee for Latin America. Among the figures are some that are revealing. For example, the domestic gross product of Latin America, all told, in 1966 increased only 3 percent. This rate practically equals that of the population growth, and means, therefore, that the per capita product has remained stationary. From 1950 and 1964, agricultural-livestock production per inhabitant in Latin America, Cuba not included, decreased almost 24 percent.
Between 1960 and 1964, agricultural production per capita, instead of growing continued to decline. According to the Economic Committee for Latin America, the most dramatic aspect is that of the poverty and ignorance in which no less than 70 million rural dwellers of Latin America live. In some parts of Latin America, it says, the levels of life can be compared with those of the poorest areas of the world. Even though Latin American exports have growth, the availability of foreign credits in those countries does not increase because the weight of the foreign debt and the profits of foreign investments a siphon off what is brought in by trade exchange. The commission says that the insufficient increase in export income, losses of purchasing power because of the decline in prices, the heavy burden of interest on accumulated debts, and the inflexibility of the foreign financing machinery weigh heavily in the adverse situation of Latin America.
In another part is says: The agrarian reform plans advance very slowly -- this means that they do not advance to all -- and the relative stagnation of agricultural-livestock production continued to curb the rate of growth leading to inflation and aggravating the imbalance in the balance of payments. Also during 1966 there was a weakening in the rate of expansion of the manufacturing industry, which means something else to worry about. Losses in purchasing power by Latin American countries because of the deterioration of the rate of exchange with foreign countries since the middle of the decade of the fifties were of such an amount that they equalled the total of net foreign financing that the entire region used altogether during the period. If we subtract from the new movement of capital -- that is the loans and investments that Latin America received -- the interest, profits, and other gains, from those loans and investments, what Latin America received in the period from 1961 to 1965 was an average of only 430 million dollars.
This annual amount also continues on a downward course to the extreme that the net amount tended to cancel out in 1965. In 1966 Latin America paid in direct profits to foreign investments, interest, and so forth, the sum of 2.14 million dollars. This is the reality of the Latin American economic situation, and this said -- let no one imagine that it was said by revolutionary organizations -- by study committees of the United Nations itself, said by the government leaders of Latin America themselves in some cases like the confession made in Punta del Este by the President of Ecuador.
This is what the imperialists offer this continent, this frightful reality where no less than 70 million inhabitants live in the worst and most dramatic poverty and ignorance. The Latin American population grows, but the economy does not. The population grows, but production of food does not. And imperialism sees itself forced to be more of an exploiter all the time. It is forced to be more voracious because of its war policy, aggression, repression of the revolutionary movement, the economic situation; that is, the gold reserves of the United States diminish daily and the trade balance is unfavorable. This is a result of its adventures, its policy, and among other things, its criminal war in Vietnam. And it sees itself forced to extract more and more resources from Latin America, and it is less and less able to give the slightest help to the economy of those countries.
What is the inevitable result? What does it mean that in an entire continent with 230 million inhabitants the population grows more than food production? What can be the only out? What must be the inevitable out? What must be the unpostponable out for a situation that is by itself already one of misery and hunger leading with every passing year to more misery, more hunger? What can the outcome of that situation be? What can be the only way out of this situation? Nothing other than revolution. And this is the phantom, more than the phantom, the reality which frightens the myopic, the blind, those who believed that this situation of misery and hunger could be resolved in cooperation with the exploiting imperialists mainly responsible for the situation of misery.
These are the facts that cannot be concealed and that will lead to the only solution -- revolution. And the revolution is the result of a historic need, not the result of whims or of anybody's will. Nobody can impose that revolution, nor will anybody be capable of preventing it. Because that revolution is the result of a vital need and the only way out for the Latin American people. This is what our revolution has been setting forth since the first day. This is what our revolution has been setting forth since the first Havana Declaration, the second Havana Declaration, and in each of our pronouncements during these meetings. We have said, we have firmly believed, we have passionately argued that this revolution, in Latin America's situation, could be nothing other than the armed struggle of the peoples. (Applause) Is it perhaps the peoples who voluntarily choose that path? Is it perhaps the peoples who have the alternative of choosing one path or the other? No. It is imperialism itself. It is the bloody dictatorship of the oligarchs and the exploiters who will not abandon, who will never willingly abandon their privileges, who will not meekly yield the destiny of society to the exploited.
But, in addition, the exploiters do not only dominate all the economic resources, they control the forces at hand, they control the military institutions, they control all the means for the dissemination of thought, they monopolize television, radio, the press, the great majority of the newspapers, most of the educational institutions, the cultural institutions. And the revolutionary organizations find themselves unarmed. What kind or arms can they get to try to attain revolutionary power by peaceful means if not even the weapons which supposedly are used in such a fray are ever within reach of the revolutionaries?
It is not just a problem of repression. The oligarchic classes, the exploiting classes, create the conditions to prevent the assumption of power of the revolutionaries and the exploited, and history has taught us so far that there is only one way, our history yesterday and today and forever, the history of the peoples who have made their revolutions show us that it is not by bending out backs, that it is not by placing our necks in the noose, that the peoples have made any progress any freedom.
The peoples have been compelled to struggle, and they have had to struggle (applause), they have had to struggle not because they like to see blood spilled, not because they like war, but because they face the alternative of slavery or sacrifice, the price of having to conquer their freedom and their justice with their blood and sacrifice. This alternative is the one which the exploiters historically have left to the exploited, the oppressors have left to the oppressed, the enslavers have left to the slaves -- oppression and exploitation, slavery or sacrifice.
It is not the peoples who select the path; the peoples only fellow the paths imposed on them by their oppressors and their exploiters. It is clear to us, who have defended it with conviction, with vigor, with passion, that our peoples unfortunately have no other path for their liberation than the path of struggle. Deeds increasingly prove this to us. Deeds are demonstrating that awareness of this truth becomes more palpable every day. The peoples begin to be feared when they begin to find their truths. We also were inoffensive vassals, defenseless, oppressed. That is what our people were until they began to discover their truth, until they began to discover their path. Today it is almost inexplicable to all of us how it was possible for all that barbarity, all that injustice, all that merciless exploitation to have been endured for such a long time. How was it possible for all that social order to exist defended by a mercenary army, defended by little squads of soldiers scattered throughout the sugar centrals, defended by pairs of rural guards? How was it possible? It was possible because all the people believed in the myth that this force was unbeatable, that this force was invincible.
That myth, that lie, was the mainstay of that system much more, much more, than the real power that defended it. And if our older comrades -- I do not mean in age, I mean older in the sense of guerrillas -- if our comrades who participated in that struggle could imagine a situation in which they knew what they know today, what they understand today, what they see today, but in which they did not have even one bullet, not even one right, as, for example, 11 March 1952 after that coup d'etat; and placed in that situation, which can only be absolutely hypothetical, they were to be asked: "How long do you think the situation will last? Nobody could argue that there would be seven years of oppression and blood, and very few would doubt, practically no one would doubt, with what they know today, that on 12 March -- if not on 11 March and perhaps on 10 March -- the revolutionary armed struggle would have begun in our country, (applause) that it was enough to take the rifles away from a team of those rural guards to begin the revolutionary struggle -- from one team of guards. Rocks or a hit on the head would have dropped one of those little thugs, and I am convinced that what has been learned, with what is known and understood today, the struggle would have begun the following day.
But this is what we know today. However, how long it took us to learn it! How long it took us to understand it as a truth. It is obvious that this is seen from a revolutionary point of view. When the myth of invincibility of that army, when the life was destroyed, the counterrevolutionaries started another myth. They fell into another life, they were incapable of distinguishing between the power of exploitation and injustice and the power of (?revolution), and they believed that it was as easy to destroy a revolutionary as it was to destroy exploitation and oppression.
Then it took time, it took years to establish the other truth, and that is that just as it is possible to destroy a system of exploitation and injustice, it is absolutely impossible by any means to destroy a revolution. (Applause) The imperialists, the CIA, learned this very well. They learned that tricks and mercenary bands are worth nothing against a revolution, that a guerilla can be absolutely nothing against a revolution, and it is because the revolution defends itself with the people. The revolution defends itself with armed people and peasants. That is why the imperialists live in a state of shock, with specters everywhere. How is it possible that they, with very modern weapons, many resources, and much equipment, with the absolute impunity with which they have carried out their misdeeds throughout the world, cannot promote a counterrevolutionary movement, and how, nevertheless, revolutionary movements rise everywhere and they cannot crush them. (Applause)
This is how the revolutionary movement began in South Vietnam. (Applause) To crush it, they organized an immense, a tremendous mercenary army, a puppet army, for the purpose -- with modern weapons and every mind of equipment -- of crushing the revolutionary movement of peasant and workers of Vietnam, crushing the guerrilla movement. But the more the counterrevolutionary army grew in numbers, the more strength and power the guerrillas had. They came to have an army of 400,000 men, and it was not enough. They began sending special troops, first a few hundred, a few thousand later, and it was not enough. They then began sending tens of thousands, and that was not enough either. They began sending hundreds of thousands of Yankee soldiers, and that has not been enough either. They have brought in mercenary troops from half a dozen nations, and it has not been enough.
They have used the tactical air force, they have used the strategic air force, against the south and the north, and yet, what have they achieved? It has been more than two years since they began mass bombing, and what have they accomplished? This is a lesson that the imperialists must inevitably learn. (?We have said on other occasions), and we will have occasion to say it often, that the people of Vietnam have given to the world, to the revolutionaries, and also to the imperialists, a supreme lesson, a lesson that they cannot disregard. The imperialists have seen that their might has limits. They have seen that despite their industrial and military resources, they have been unable to crush the revolutionary movement in a country many times smaller than the United States. Neither with the mercenary troops, nor with the complicity of mercenary armies from various countries nor with their own troops, nor with their own air and naval forces have they been able to crush the revolution.
They have caused much suffering, much sacrifice, and much bloodshed, to be sure. But they are far -- and farther with the passing of time -- from defeating the revolutionary movement in Vietnam. The situation of the imperialist aggressors is steadily worsening.
The consequences on the domestic political scene, the moral consequences, the economic consequences are becoming increasingly hard to overlook. For example, the resistance of the North American people, who a few days ago staged one of the most gigantic mass meetings ever held in the United States against the brutal, criminal war being waged by the imperialists in Vietnam. (Applause) The ranks of the North American people are furnishing one more ally, greatly esteemed, in the bosom of the people of the United States itself. It is truly interesting, from the heroic point of view, from the viewpoint of the course taken by events in contemporary times, to note that there, in the heart of New York, hundreds of thousands of citizens rallied around this watchword. A considerable number of representatives were there from the civil rights movement against racial discrimination in the United States, displaying posters saying that the war the imperialists are waging against the people of Vietnam is inspired by the same sentiments oppressing the Negro in the United States. (Applause) That is, the exploited, the victims of discrimination in the United States, have realized that their own cause has an ally in those who are fighting and dying for their country in Vietnam.
It is truly impressive to see how hundreds of thousands of North American paraded through New York, and that they carried portraits of Ho Chi Minh, among others; (applause) and something even more illustrative -- together with the portraits of Ho Chi Minh and some martyrs of the civil rights cause, news dispatches reported that portraits of Che Guevara also were in evidence.
This teaches us revolutionaries that amont the exploited people of the United States, among persons discriminated against by that system, among the exploited, among the poor in the United States, among the students in the United States, and even among the progressive sectors, among U.S. intellectuals there are many capable of understanding all the brutality of the imperialist policy. In the progressive sectors of the United States and in the people of the United States themselves, whose awareness will flower more and more, the world revolutionary movement and very particularly the revolutionary movement of Latin America, will sooner or later have a formidable ally.
The interests of imperialism, the interests of the (word indistinct) monopolist minority that governs the United States, seek to make the U.S. people believe that the peoples' liberating revolution is contrary to their interests. But the North American people will come to understand better and better and with increasing clarity who is actually going counter to their interests, who is compromising the most vital interests of the North American people: whether it is the revolutionaries of the liberation movements, or the imperialists who are spending almost 100 billion pesos on warlike adventures, who are spending more and more for the U.S. war budgets -- more than 50 billion a few years ago -- because of the Vietnam war and its escalation having increasing considerably in the past few years.
Who pays for this outlay? Who pays for these adventures? Where does the money come from? Of course, part comes from the work of the peoples exploited by the monopolists. But much comes from the sweat of the North American workers. And that it not all. Not only do the imperialists waste the fruits of the North American people's work in warlike adventures, in brutal crimes, not only dot they take much of the product of the North American people's work to swell their monopolistic capital; they also use it for waging bloody wars in defense of the interests of those monopolies. And not only do they spend the North American people's money, they also spend the blood of the North American people and threaten to more and more blood.
The worldwide, revolutionary, anti-imperialist spirit is growing -- outside the United States and inside the United States. Or course, the North American people have not learned this lesson as the result of speeches or pamphlets. No, this lesson has cost the people dearly. This lesson has cost much bloods, shed by the Vietnamese people; this lesson has cost Dominican blood; and this lesson, unfortunately, with demand much blood yet from those peoples and other peoples. That is to say, the peoples of the world have had to pay the price to imperialist savagery to make the people of the United States begin to open their eyes. And the people of the United States will open their eyes; they will open them wider and wider as the people's revolutionary struggle grows and the imperialists find themselves more and more impotent and harassed by the revolutionary movement, not in Vietnam alone, but -- as Che says -- in two, in three, in four, in five, and so indefinitely, Vietnams. (Applause)
The imperialist press has tried to warp the meaning of some of the ideas contained in the formidable message which Che has addressed to the people in the world. It has tried to show that this message proposes the destruction of the United States. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He clearly expresses the idea that the revolutionary strategy does not aim at the destruction of the United States, much less at the destruction of the people of the United States. It is directed at the destruction of the imperialist domination of the United States of North America. Do not, Messrs. imperialists, confuse the people of the United States -- the North America nation, which is not made up solely of imperialists -- with the imperialist. In Ernesto Guevara's message we can see clearly that the strategy is directed against imperialist domination. This means that once imperialist domination is destroy, imperialism as a system will disappear. Above all, when imperialist domination over Latin America is destroyed, imperialism as as system will disappear. This means that Latin America's liberation will signify a decisive step toward the world's liberation from its worst enemy, namely, U.S. imperialism.
It is a clear fact that the revolutionary spirit is spreading in Latin America. This spirit generate action. With the development of action, the revolutionary spirit is strengthened. Guerrilla movements are no longer limited to one, or two, or three. There already are four guerrilla movements developing with growing strength. Four guerrilla movements already show clearly that the oligarchies are incapable of crushing them. There is the Guatemalan guerrilla movement in Central America, (applause) the guerrilla movements in Central America, (applause) and the guerrilla movement in Bolivia. (Applause) All of these movements are growing. At first their growth was gradual, but there are now growing vigorously and swiftly.
Revolutionary fighters have been gaining experience in the revolutionary movement in this continent. The people have been discovering the truth. The pusillanimous, the weak, and the pseudorevolutionaries who thought that the setbacks meant the revolution had failed and that the armed struggle was meaningless will gradually discover reality. No blow and no setback has killed the faith, the tenacity, or the determination of the real revolutionaries. These things will never have this effect in any country. In some instances the struggle may unfold more swiftly, and in others the development will be more accelerated. It is noteworthy to observe that important actions are being wages in Colombia, that the revolutionaries are attacking military convoys on important railway lines, that they are capturing towns or that they are waging bitter battle lasting hours on end, victorious battles in which the repressive forces are sustaining numerous casualties. We can appreciate the force of the guerrilla movement in Colombia throughout the country without exception.
Regarding Venezuela, Mr. Leoni recently was the laughingstock of the Punta del Este conference when he said the existence of guerrilla forces in Venezuela is almost an invention of the press and that these guerrillas do not exist. How often have they already said that they had annihilated them? It is certain that despite the iron censorship it is known that the guerrilla movement is growing in Venezuela and that some heavily armed detachments that really inspire fear in the government, that inspire fear in its soldiers, have been constituted. Although they may seek to conceal the fast, they cannot deny that not only are the guerrilla columns under Douglas Bravo operating in the zone of Falcon State, but they have extended their victorious operations into Lara State itself. (Applause) Nor can they deny that despite the offensives waged by the Venezuelan Army, the guerrilla forces under Amerigo Martin are holding firm in the Bachiller Mountains. (Applause)
Recently we read dispatches to the effect that the army had installed artillery pieces opposite the Bachiller Mountains and that intense artillery fire was directed against the mountains. We have here among us quite a few old guerrilla fighters, and not only old guerrilla fights, but persons who learned the art of guerrilla fighting but pursuing gangs of counterrevolutionaries. Moreover, anyone who has had some guerrilla experience knows that there is nothing more ridiculous than to fire a battery of cannons at mountains. How ridiculous it is to shoot at planes! It they can drop hundreds of thousands of bombs at a time and not score one single hit near a guerrilla fighter, what, gentlemen, is the good of turning artillery fire on mobile guerrillas? When we reach such reports, we wonder whom they are fooling. Are they fooling Leoni? Or are the Green Beret advisors fooling the army? Or are they fooling each other? Perhaps they are fooling the people, but who the devil is going to believe something so ridiculous? Is this not an act of desperation, an absurdity, an incredible act of stupidity? It is another sign of impotence and of inability to crush the guerrilla movement.
According to information gleaned from dispatches, the guerrilla movement in Bolivia in emerging with strength and fighting ability. According to what we have read, in a few weeks the government repressive forces suffered more than 40 casualties, including dead, wounded, and prisoners, in deadly battle, despite the fact that specially trained troops are being employed against the guerrilla forces. These specially trained troops are employed to repress the people on the streets, to assassinate workers with impunity, and to attack the miners of the mines. But when they have to fight the guerrillas in the mountains they are completely useless and absolutely incompetent, and, like the mercenaries in Vietnam, they are called upon to die like bedbugs. (Applause)
Green Berets are being employed in increasing numbers of Guatemala, in Colombia, and in Venezuela, and recently, according to reports from Bolivia, the imperialists already sent approximately 1,000 Green Berets to that country. Travelers flying between Panama and Bolivia report that groups of 50 Yankee tourists -- strange tourists with leaders, who are received at various airports along the way by their confederates -- are arriving in Bolivia and are filling the hotels. They also say that the members of the U.S. Special Forces barely conceal their presence in the Interior Ministry, the Defense Ministry, at the headquarters of the repressive forces, and everywhere.
Of course, the imperialists try to conceal the magnitude of their intervention in Bolivia. They have spoken of planes that arrived with weapons and instructors who arrived here in accordance with agreements reached prior to the emergence of the guerrilla movement. However, it is certain that they carried their weapons on the planes and that some 1,000 members of the Special Forces have arrived in Bolivia over a period of several days. This demonstrates the imperialists' panic, their desperation, their fear, and the blind alley the imperialists have entered. For, over and above the hundreds of thousands of soldiers they already have in Vietnam, the thousands of soldiers that still occupy Dominican territory, they are now obliged to send more and more soldiers to the various guerrilla fronts in Latin America in brazen intervention, which is, as is logically to be supposed, the way these imperialist adventures begin.
Of course, they cannot have many experts, because the Vietnamese have liquidated many of the Green Beret experts. (Applause) And if the imperialists keep sending more and more Green Berets against the guerrilla movements, so much the worse for the Green Berets, not just because the revolutionaries will take care of the them, but also because it will accelerate and increase the solidarity among peoples. For every Green Beret the imperialists send to put down the revolutionary movement, there will, among all peoples of the world, be many red berets ready to fight alongside the revolutionaries. (Applause)
The scope and content of this struggle -- the internationalist scope and content of this struggle -- is explained by Che is beautiful words in his message, this struggle of the revolutionaries of all peoples against the Yankee imperialists who are their enemies. Awareness is growing. The revolutionary arguments are gaining ground; they are constantly winning more support; they are constantly gaining followers, whereas the conformist, reformist, cowardly, and pseudorevolutionary positions are more and more isolated, weaker and weaker. We have no doubt whatever that it is merely a question of time and that the vacillating, the cowardly, and the pseudorevolutionaries will be swept away here as the peoples' truth clears a path for itself. Nobody will be left to heed any charlatan whispering that he should bow his head to accept a yoke. This is obvious. More and more the peoples of this continent are discovering the truth. For the revolutionary movement throughout the world, for those who are confronting imperialism in Asia, Africa and Latin America, Maj. Ernesto Guevara's message (applause) has been a vitally important event. We are not going to speak here of us Cubans. Nobody here ever did believe the intrigues, the lies, the fables of imperialism. Here we all know one another, and we know the truth about things, because we hear it or guess it.
The imperialists tried, in the rest of the world, to spread confusion an lies. They had Che appearing in many placed. They killed him (?dozens) of time. For the imperialists, first of all, this message must have been traumatic. This resurrection of Che, this appearance of Che, must have been profoundly discouraging and worrying for them. This Che -- without a beard and with a beard, a beard which they do not know whether it is old or new, (applause) and with a beret that seems to symbolize something like a kind of red beret (applause) -- must have caused the Yankee imperialists serious concern. This Che, in fine physical shape, with unmatchable enthusiasm and more experience than ever in guerrilla fighting, must be a matter of concern to the imperialists, just as he in an encouragement for revolutionaries. Where is Che, the imperialists ask, organizing liberation movements or fighting on one of the liberation fronts? What the imperialists would not give to know! But even if they did know, they would merely be satisfying their curiosity, for if they really want to conserve the health of their Green Berets, the latter better not try to run into Che. (Applause)
Those who tried to make capital and those who engaged in intrigue and slander, uttering in Che's absence all sorts of slander against the revolution, must also have learned a lesson with Che's reappearance. Why waste our time on these people! Their punishment awaits them, the punishment dealt by history. History takes care of settling accounts with the farcical, the intriguers, and the slanderers. This is the reason why, even though we were pained by the perversity of the slanderers, we were unworried. History, we knew, would take care of clarifying matters. This will be the punishment meted out to intriguers and slanderers who gave all possible support to the imperialists on the occasion of this new stage which Comrade Ernesto Guevara started two years ago. Of course, not everything is known. However, let us leave it to history again. We have all rejoiced greatly over this document. None of us has the slightest doubt that time -- days, weeks, months, and years -- will inevitably bring fresh news from Che. (Applause)
Today a report reached our country from Vietnam, informing us that in this connection -- a dispatch that says word for word: "I now send you text of dispatch received from our embassy in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam concerning the Latin American Continental Student Organization (OCLAE) delegation, in that country in response to an invitation from the DRV Student Federation, made up of comrades Enrique Velasco of Cuba; Danilo Fernandez, Dominican; and Jose Varona of Puerto Rico. FEU (University Student Federation -- ed.) delegation presided over by president of the FEU of Cuba. The three badly wounded, the Puerto Rican worst. We have no further details. I am leaving for Than Hoa. On my return I will report."
Later: "With reference to our wire, the Puerto Rican critical, the Cuban unhurt, the Dominican in no danger. In case the Puerto Rican dies consult MPI (Puerto Rican Independence Movement -- ed.) whether he should be buried in Vietnam. There is no way of sending him. Inform the Dominican's organization of his condition. Comrade Velazquez says to report the affair to comrade Lazaro Mora of the "UJC (Cuban Young Communist Union -- ed.) so he can inform the OCLAE."
Luckily, while the first dispatch spoke of the three being in serious condition, it turned out later that one of the three is unhurt, another not in serious condition, but regrettably it appears that the condition of the representative of the Puerto Rican students is critical. This shows the ferocity and criminal nature of Yankee bombing raids, and this is not a story, because these students were visiting that country. Although no further details have been received, it was surely a result of one of the savage air attacks the Yankee imperialists against Vietnam.
Here is another item of interest because it tells about a group of armed men, presumably guerrilla, seizing control for several hours yesterday of the installations of a sawmill situated near San Javier, El Beni Department, in the northern part of the country. That is in Bolivia. The owner of the sawmill reported the incident to the military authorities. The unidentified group left the place in the afternoon. An army garrison and personnel of the Criminal Investigations Division flew to the spot to investigate and establish the motive for the attack. In case it was carried out by guerrillas, it would be a second front, because of the distance between the point where the subversive armed movement is currently active and the site of the attack on the sawmill.
To continue -- here is another item which on a day like today must strike us as a joke. It says: "Miami, 19 April. The use by the Cuban regime of a secret formula for intramuscular injections to give courage to the armed forces in case of battle was called to the attention of the OAS Human Rights Committee today. The accusation concerning use of this procedure to enrage the troops and militiamen in case of battle, resistance, and suicide operations -- creating a condition of homicidal fury -- was made by the chairman of the Human Rights and Political Committee of the civic group, Miguel Angel (word indistinct). The paper submitted calls this procedure an international crime and calls on the OAS to issue a serious warning to the communist Cuban Government to the effect that the facts as charged constitute international crimes against mankind, condemned by international penal law and agreements which Cuba has signed."
There are dispatches that amuse themselves with this kind of thing, organizations that amuse themselves by paying attention to this kind of thing. But the question occurs: Why, why precisely today, 19 April? There must be a reason. They must be remembering Giron beach. (Applause) They are remembering what happened to them so fast, and they must be wondering: What do those people have, what do they east, what to they do? And this absurdity occurred to some man suffering from the traumatic experience. No, sir. The injections these people here have are injections of morale, awareness, and revolutionary self-respect. (Applause) They are the same as the injections used by the Vietnamese, the same as those that were used by the Koreans against the Yankees, the same as the injections used by the guerrillas in Latin America. (Applause)
And if by chance there are actually injections of some other kind, we advise them to use them to inject the mercenaries so the latter can provide a somewhat more decent performance or can die a little faster and a little more contentedly. (Applause) Now it appears they are called secret intramuscular injections. These things are suitable for imbeciles, desperate people, failures. Of course, our people's traditional courage and self-respect worry the imperialists. Giron was an unforgettable lesson form them. And not at Giron alone, but in every circumstance our people have risen to the occasion. Since Giron our strength has increased. Since Giron our fighters have become much more numerous, our armies more effective, our experience greater. Since Giron the defensive and combat potential of our people has grown.
Somebody asked about the meaning of something said on the university steps on the 13th. I believe it was 3.6. Was it 3.6? I am asking because I do not want to have to figure it out again now -- that they were going to run into 3.6 Vietnams and one Stalingrad. What we meant was that the firepower and the combat potential they are going to meet is equal to more than three times the firepower of the South Vietnam revolutionary fighters. I am speaking of firepower in terms of weapons and number of combatants -- that is to say, to judge by what they have there, in Vietnam, so they will have some idea of what they are going to meet here; and this is discounting a Stalingrad. If we understand it a bit better with these figures and you consider them sufficient, they are sufficient. Let the rest of them find out when circumstances require it. (Applause) The imperialists must deal with Vietnam plus the several Vietnams being developed in this continent and the Vietnamese they will find here if they attack us.
Of course, we do not attempt to frighten them. That is naive, trying to frighten the imperialists. Moreover, they are already quite frightened. It is childish and naive for us to frighten them, even to warn them.
We know that those unfortunates are cretins, imbeciles, stupid, suicides -- that they have outdone themselves in perpetrating outrages throughout the world, and they will continue to perpetrate them. The important thing is for us to know that this continent is experiencing a decisive period, to not lose sight of the hatred toward us felt by the imperialists, the savage hostility they feel toward this revolution, toward this historic event, toward this nation, toward its posture, its dignity, its political line; the profound hatred the imperialists and the oligarchs feels toward this nation. And at Punta del Este, didn't Johnson meet there with (?Rusk)? They spent 1 hour and 20 minutes talking with the puppet Leoni, and they have not concealed their moves and maneuvers to promote aggression against our fatherland. This is the position of all these servile, lackey, cowardly governments which are incapable of confronting the revolutionary movement, which are dreaming of aggressions against Cuba, and which agree with the imperialists in their hatred toward our fatherland.
Therefore, we must be aware of the fact that great threats will hand over our fatherland, years of dangers and risks. This does not discourage us. Today the revolution is working with more optimism, with more confidence than ever. It is not necessary to make propaganda. We know that everything today is moving at an accelerated pace, a more certain pace. Many in the world are already beginning to understand that. There is already talk of figures, but one need not be concerned. They will have to speak of figures much more and much sooner. It will not be long before the achievements of our fatherland will profoundly impress the world. Our people are working with more enthusiasm today, with more responsibility, with more seriousness. Very important battles are being won. Vices seemingly difficult to overcome are being defeated. Our youth and all our people are joining in creative work more and more.
The sugar harvest is going well, and we are planning to cut even the last stalk of sugarcane. And if the results are already important this year, what will they be next year, since this year we are applying approximately half a million tons of fertilizer to the sugarcane, and beginning now we are applying -- under conditions unprecedented in this country -- we are fertilizing 40 million banana plants, 4 million citrus plants. That is not all; 4 million is the total of citrus trees in production in our country. However, the interesting point is that we are planting, between this year and next, approximately 60 million plants in this category, as is being done with coffee and a number of agricultural products. That is to say that we are working with enthusiasm. We are working with enthusiasm, and we all have assumed, as a question of honor, the task of carrying out those plans. We want our work to be turned into wealth and well-being for our people and for other peoples. We want to work for ourselves and to help others.
Nevertheless, we know the dangers, but such dangers do not discourage us. They will not lesson our enthusiasm one bit. Important is our fatherland; important is our nation of 230 million in our Latin American brothers. (Applause) Important is all of the Americas. Important is the future of this continent. And even more important is the world. If someone in the last century has already said -- before Marxist ideas had been adopted by hundreds of millions of human beings -- that mankind comes before the fatherland, we internationalist revolutionaries will also always say: We love our fatherland; we love the well-being of our people; we love the wealth we create with our hands; but mankind comes before the fatherland. (Applause)
Eternal life to the heroes who fell in Giron fighting for the fatherland and fighting for mankind.
PATRIA O MUERTE!
by Fidel Castro