BY ARMY GENERAL RAUL CASTRO RUZ, PRESIDENT OF THE STATE COUNCIL AND THE COUNCIL
OF MINISTERS OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, AT THE COMMEMORATION OF THE 60TH
ANNIVERSARY OF THE ATTACKS ON THE MONCADA AND CARLOS MANUEL DE CESPEDES
Do not be surprise if along with this olive green uniform and the ranks of Army General I’m carrying a ‘mambí’ hat (Applauses), since this army was born from the ‘mambí’ army; and dark glasses although I like to look my interlocutors clearly in the eyes.
Men and women from
People from Oriente,
We have listened attentively to the
generous and fraternal words of the heads of State and Government of the
Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America, and also the President of
Uruguay, who is in
We’d also like to express our appreciation to outstanding personalities from other countries that are here with us today.
We salute the members of the 24th Caravan of U.S.-Cuba Friendship (Applauses) organized by the interreligious group Pastors for Peace (Applauses), which has persevered in the solidarity effort of the unforgettable Reverend Lucius Walker.
The presence of all of these friends in this commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the attacks on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Barracks is a clear expression of support to and solidarity with the Cuban Revolution showing the changes Our America has gone through since the challenging and bleak days of 1953.
At that time we, but mostly Fidel,
had read about Bolívar’s exploits and those of other national heroes of the
struggle for independence in our region, and we all realized the importance of
a united and independent Latin American and
In his transcendental court appeal
known as “History Will Absolve Me”, Fidel anticipated, and I quote: “[...] the
Cuban policy for the Americas would be one of deep solidarity with the
democratic peoples of the continent, and those subjected to political
persecution by the bloody tyrannies that oppress our sister nations would find
in Martí’s homeland not persecution, hunger and treason but generous asylum,
brotherhood and bread.
Martí’s premature death in combat had thwarted his yearnings, expressed in an unfinished letter to his Mexican friend Manuel Mercado, “[...] to opportunely prevent with the independence of Cuba that the United States expand throughout the Antilles and fall, with that additional force, on our lands of America.”
The Cuban Revolution has been faithful to that legacy and offered its solidarity, even during the hardest times, despite attempts at isolating it and starving it into submission with a criminal blockade that has been in place for over half a century, and efforts to destroy it through all kinds of aggressions.
We shall never forget that after our
release from prison
The support and solidarity of the peoples
of every continent has never failed us, particularly of the peoples in this
region, which have always perceived
Twenty years after the triumph of
January 1st, the Sandinista Revolution attained its own victory.
Just last week,
Two more decades would pass before our dearest brother Hugo Chávez embodied Bolívar’s ideals, and today, multiplied in his people he moves along with his Revolution under the steady guidance of comrade President Nicolás Maduro. (Applauses)
The unstoppable processes of Bolivia’s
Democratic and Cultural Revolution advance headed by Evo Morales, a symbol of the
vindication of the original peoples (Applauses); like the victorious Citizens’
Revolution in Ecuador led by President Rafael Correa (Applauses), represented
here by his Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño, with wide popular support, and the
great social progress experienced in Uruguay under the leadership of comrade
José Mujica (Applauses), a Tupamaro guerrilla incarcerated for fourteen years.
Similar processes take place in the
Despite attempts at causing divisions
that facilitate plundering, the integration of our nations keeps strengthening
through such mechanisms as Alba, Caricom, Mercosur, Unasur, and others. Likewise, the Community of Latin American and
I avail myself of this opportunity and, on behalf of all Cubans and particularly of the victims of hurricane Sandy in the provinces of Guantánamo, Holguín and Santiago de Cuba, express our deepest gratitude to all the governments and peoples that have generously supported, and are still supporting, our reconstruction works. (Applauses)
Nine months ago that hurricane hit
land in this city, and for five hours fierce winds of approximately 125
miles/hour lashed the provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Holguín and Guantánamo
causing the death of eleven people. The effects of that meteorological
phenomenon also impacted on the
After a thorough study it was determined that total economic losses amounted to nearly seven billion pesos, most of these due to devastation of houses and public buildings although farming and crucial infrastructure like utilities, communication and roads sustained considerable damages.
The trajectory of hurricane
The western municipalities of the Guantánamo province were also impacted by the same hurricane but less severely, and have since then recovered.
In the case of Santiago de Cuba,
first of all with the efforts of its own people and with the resolute support
of the rest of the country, including the contribution of the combatants from
the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior, as well as
brigades of electricians and telephone workers from every province, minimal
living conditions were reestablished in a few days. The largest contribution to
palliate the situation in
In the months following the event, the recovery work has not ceased, consequently, 42 percent of the housing problems have been resolved. At the same time, a construction program is underway in the province leading to the eventual relief of the tense situation in that area.
On the other hand, the government has subsidized 50 percent of the price of the construction materials assigned to the repair of the damaged houses, and with the same end it has offered bank credits at lower interest rates and with a longer period for repayment. Likewise, in the cases of full house collapse the State Budget has taken on the payment of the interests and subsidized the lowest income families. Progress has also been made in the recuperation of healthcare, education and culture facilities, and of transportation.
Additionally, the investment process
undertaken in 2004 has continued with the rehabilitation and expansion of the
provincial capital aqueduct, allowing a steady and daily supply of water to 30
of the 32 hydrometric segments of the city, although this service is yet to be
ensured to the areas of
These works regularly monitored by
the Central government have yet to be completed. Let me assure the women and
It seems miraculous that 60 years after that 26 of July some of us involved in those events are still alive, particularly when the dictatorship unleashed its thirst for revenge on many combatants who were tortured and murdered.
We also wanted to take heaven by assault. It was a dream, we tried and couldn’t make it, but exactly five years, fives months and five days later, on January 1st, 1959, we came through that main gate to demand, on behalf of Fidel, the unconditional surrender of the city garrison with its over 5000 troops. (Applauses)
Fidel’s determination and decorum, that turned him from accused into accuser in the trial to which we were submitted, led to our first victory, followed by a fruitful imprisonment and exile in Mexico; the rearrangement of the revolutionary forces and the preparations for the Granma expedition, whose delayed arrival in the Cuban coasts prevented the synchronization with the heroic uprising in Santiago de Cuba organized by that young leader Frank País, on November 30, 1956 −he was not 22 years old yet, and the following year, before his 23rd birthday, he was cowardly murdered by the tyranny’s henchmen.
There was the setback in Alegría de Pío and the reunion with Fidel in Cinco Palmas two weeks later; the liberation war, first in the Sierra Maestra and later in other mountainous regions; the decisive victory, in 74 days of ceaseless and intensive combats, against the great offensive launched by Batista’s forces on the territory of the I Front in the Sierra Maestra, where the Rebel Army’s General Staff was located. As Che [Guevara] indicated, that victory “broke the backbone of the tyranny” and marked the onset of the strategic counteroffensive of the insurrectional Movement.
Thus came, in the summer of 1958,
the irreversible turning point of the war, that with the operations of the
invading columns, which had departed from the Sierra Maestra, and the actions
of the combatants in the underground movement led to the military collapse of
the regime, the assumption of power by the victorious Revolution and the
establishment of the first Revolutionary Government at the University of this
city. Then, the general strike −called by Fidel from Palma Soriano,
before entering Santiago− with the working class and the support of all
of the people, frustrated the
At that point, a much more challenging period started, one which shook the foundations of the society as a whole. Four and a half months after the victory, −in the Sierra Maestra itself and the headquarters used by Fidel in the final days of the war− in compliance with the Moncada Program, the first Land Reform Law was enacted. This action placed the Revolution in a confrontational path with powerful foreign economic interests and with the local bourgeoisie, which for several years would fund and encourage the actions of armed gangs and the assassination of young teachers, many of them only teenagers; the Playa Girón invasion in April 1961, on the eve of which the Socialist nature of the Revolution was proclaimed; the Missile Crisis in October 1962, when the United States was preparing a direct invasion of Cuba with its troops, and the incessant aggressions and crimes against our people carried out for decades.
Many years have passed but this is
still a revolution of the young, as we were young that
Hundreds of thousands of our compatriots who discharged their duty with internationalist missions in other lands of the world −most of them in Angola, as one of guests just said− were young, the same as those who are today offering healthcare and education services in various countries −most of them young women; the scientists, intellectuals, artists and sports people who have brought so much glory to the homeland; those who do their military services, including girls who have volunteered for this task; the middle level education students and our university students who were the successful protagonists of the latest population and housing census; the workers and farmers who in the areas of production and services yield revenues for the economy; our teachers and professors.
This shall continue as the Socialist
Revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble proclaimed by Fidel
Today, over 70 percent of Cubans were born after the triumph of the Revolution. It could be said that several generations are living in our homeland, each with their own history and merits depending on their times.
The historical generation is giving space to the “new trees”, at peace and with calm confidence, aware of their proven capacity and preparation to uphold the flags of the Revolution and of Socialism for which countless patriots and revolutionaries have sacrificed their lives, from the natives and slaves who rebelled against oppression until today.
As previously informed, the process is underway for the progressive and orderly transference of the main leadership responsibilities of the nation. To ensure the success of this undertaking, we will never lose sight of the strategic importance of preserving, above all −and I repeat it, preserving above all!− the unity of all worthy Cubans, just as Fidel has taught us.
This is a good occasion to pay homage to all those who fell through centuries of redeeming struggle. And also to Fidel, the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution (Applauses), who with unwavering optimism and alongside our people −capable of enduring so much sacrifice, and the true protagonist of this epic− led us to victory and placed our tiny island in the world map as a beacon of social justice and respect for human dignity.
Let’s pay tribute to Cuban women (Applauses) in their roles of mothers, combatants, comrades in sacrifices, struggles and joy (Applauses), and to the new generations that will forever defend the revolutionary ideals.
From this historical place we send a
fraternal embrace to the courageous antiterrorist fighters (Applauses) that for
fifteen years have been kept unjustly incarcerated in the
At this point, we cannot fail to pay
a heartfelt tribute to the unconquered Commander of the Bolivarian Revolution
in our sister country
Eternal glory to the martyrs of our Homeland! (Exclamations of “Glory!”)
Long live the Socialist Revolution! (Exclamations of “Long live!”)
Long live free
Long live Fidel! (Exclamations of “Long live!”)
Ever onward to Victory! (Exclamations of “Long live! Long live!”)