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Cuba, 50 years on ... and the same challenge of making a revolution

By Lázaro Barredo Medina

Granma International -- October 30, 2008 -- "The dictatorship has been defeated. The joy is immense. And yet, there still remains much to do. We won’t deceive ourselves by believing that everything will be much easier from now on; perhaps it will be much more difficult." This is what Commander in Chief Fidel Castro told the people on January 8, 1959, the day of his entry into Havana. Many people could never imagine the immense challenge that they would live to experience.

Suffice it to say that just a few days later, Fidel proclaimed the right to self-determination in terms of relations with the United States and immediately, the aggressions, attempts on his life and anger on the part of US politicians began, evidence of which can be seen in speeches and articles of the time, as in an editorial of Time magazine, the mouthpiece of the most conservative sectors, entitled: "Fidel Castro’s neutralism is a challenge for the United States."

But the Cuban people could not be neutral in the face of the United States. The triumph of the Revolution that January 1959 signified for the Cuban nation, for the first time in its history, the real possibility of exercising the right to self-determination. From that moment on, neither the US president, Congress nor its ambassadors could continue making decisions on what could or could not be done in Cuba. The bitter dependence had been brought to an end; a dependence that saw US governors and ambassadors enjoying a degree of power in Cuba that was far greater than the actual power that they had – with respect to decision-making – within the US federal government or in relation to any of the 50 states that make up the USA.

When full national independence was achieved, the Revolution began to exercise that right by immediately applying the program that Fidel had announced during the Moncada trial of 1953 and which is contained in his historic self-defence speech History Will Absolve Me.

Dependence on US ends

Cuba established the economic and social regime that it believed was most just and established a socialist state with participatory democracy, equality and social justice. The country’s economy was characterised by limited industrial development, essentially depending on sugar production and a latifundia agricultural economy, where landowners controlled 75% of the total arable land.

Most of the country’s economic activity and its mineral resources were managed by US capital, which controlled 1.2 million hectares of land (a quarter of the productive territory) and most of the sugar industry, nickel production, oil refineries, the electricity and telephone services and the majority of bank credits. Likewise, the US market controlled approximately 70% of Cuban imports and exports, within a system of highly dependent volumes of exchange: in 1958, Cuba exported products worth 733 million pesos and imported 777 million pesos worth of goods.

The prevailing social picture was characterised by a high unemployment and illiteracy, a precarious healthcare, social welfare and housing system for the vast majority of the population, as well as abysmal differences in living conditions between urban and rural populations. There was a high degree of polarisation and unequal distribution of income; in 1958, 50% of the population earned just 11% of total income, while a 5% minority controlled 26%. Racial and gender discrimination, begging, prostitution and social and administrative corruption were widespread.

Addressing the social and economic problems in Cuban society could no longer be put off and could only be resolved if the Cuban people had control of their own wealth and natural resources. Thus, using the 1940 constitution and in line with international law, Cuba exercised its right to take control of these resources and assumed total responsibility for this action. The island paid compensation to all nationals from third countries (Canada, Spain, Britain, etc.) with the exception of US nationals, given that that government rejected the provisions outright and transformed the Cuban government’s decision into a pretext for unleashing a war unprecedented in the history of bilateral relations between the two nations.

Not only did the Revolution hand over land to campesinos who, up until then, had been subjected to semi-feudal conditions of production and forced to live in extreme poverty, but it also determined that that all the country’s resources should be allocated to national economic development and improving the material and living conditions of the population. To give just one example, in the 1980s alone, approximately 60 billion pesos were allocated to the construction of productive and social facilities.


The process of industrialisation underway paved the way for economic and productive diversification. Under the Revolution and up until the economic crisis which began with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Eastern European socialist bloc between 1989 and 1991 – what we in Cuba call the ``Special Period'' – the country’s capacity for producing steel grew 14-fold, fertiliser increased six-fold, the oil-refining industry quadrupled (not counting the new refinery in Cienfuegos), the textile industry grew seven-fold, tourism three-fold, to mention but a few. The state also created complete new industries such as machinery, mechanics, electronics, the production of medical equipment, a pharmaceutical industry, construction materials, a glass industry and ceramics, as well as making investments to increase and upgrade the sugar, food and light industries. In addition to these endeavours, we have the development of biotechnology, genetic engineering and other branches of science.

The country has also made great efforts in terms of improving its infrastructure. Electricity generation has risen eight-fold and water storage capacity has increased 310 times, from 29 million cubic metres in 1958 to nine billion-plus cubic metres today. There has been diversification with respect to roads and freeways and modernisation of ports and other areas. Social needs have been covered fairly well, except for housing, which has been Cuba’s biggest problem.

Social progress

The progressive growth and diversification of productive potential and the application of a widespread social program has allowed the nation to confront the problem of unemployment. In 1958, with a population of 6 million inhabitants, approximately one third of the economically active population was unemployed. Of this figure, 45% of the unemployed lived in rural areas while, out of 200,000 women in work, 70% were employed as domestic servants. Today, with 11 million inhabitants, the number of people in work is in excess of 4.5 million. More than 40% of workers are women and today they represent more than 60% of the nation’s technical and professional sectors.

In 1958, the number of illiterate and semi-illiterate people in Cuba stood at 2 million. The average academic level of 15-plus-year-olds was third grade, more than 600,000 children did not attend school and 58% of teachers were unemployed. Just 45.9% of school-age children were enrolled and half of them did not attend classes. Only 6% of those enrolled finished elementary education. Universities were available to just 20,000 students.

The education sector received immediate attention from the revolutionary government. Its first task was to develop a mass literacy campaign with the participation of the population. An extensive network of schools was constructed throughout the country and more than 300,000 teachers and professors were in full-time employment in this sector. The average academic level for 15-plus-year-olds rose to ninth grade. One-hundred per cent of school-age children are enrolled in schools, some 98% complete elementary education and 91% complete junior high. One in every 11 citizens is a university graduate and one in eight has technical-professional qualifications. There are 650,000 students in the country’s universities today and all education is free of charge. Education and vocational skills are also guaranteed for 100% of children with physical or mental disabilities, who attend special schools.

The precarious situation in 1958 with respect to public health was characterised by an infant mortality rate of 60 per 1000 live births and a maternal mortality rate of 118 per 10,000. The mortality rate for those suffering from gastroenteritis was 41.2 per 100,000, and from tuberculosis, 15.9 per 100,000. In rural areas, 36% of the population suffered from intestinal parasites, 31% from malaria, 14% from tuberculosis and 13% from typhoid. Life expectancy at birth was estimated at 58.8 years.

Around 61% of hospital beds and 65% of the nation’s 6500 doctors were concentrated in the capital. In the other provinces, medical coverage was one doctor for every 2378 inhabitants and there was just one hospital for all the country’s rural areas.

Today, healthcare is free of charge and Cuba has more than 70,000 doctors, providing coverage of one for every 194 inhabitants. Almost 30,000 of them are providing services in more than 60 different countries. A national network of more than 700 hospitals and polyclinics has been created. Thanks to a widespread vaccination campaign (every child currently receives vaccines against 13 different illnesses) diseases such as polio, diphtheria, measles, whooping cough, tetanus, rubella, mumps and hepatitis B have been almost entirely eradicated. The infant mortality rate is now 5.3 for every 1000 live births and life expectancy exceeds 77 years.

There is also a series of advanced medical services that are not considered as "basic" in the international arena, and are provided completely free of charge, such as intensive care units in pediatric and general hospitals, cardiovascular surgery, transplant services, special perinatal care, treatment for chronic renal failure, and special services for occupational and physical rehabilitation.


The revolutionary state did not focus its attention solely on economic and social measures. It also embarked on efforts to establish an internal legal system to facilitate the right to self-determination via the population’s direct participation in discussions, analyses and the passing of the country’s principal laws. The most notable of these was the 1976 constitution, supported by 97% of Cubans aged 16 and over through a referendum, as well as other momentous laws like the Penal Code, the Civil Code, the Family Code, the Children and Young People’s Code, the Labour and Social Security Code and many others.

Likewise, the self-determination of the Cuban people is expressed through the right to defend the nation against foreign aggression. Today, more than four million Cubans – workers, campesinos and university students – are organised in militia groups have access to weapons in their campuses, factories and in rural areas.

US aggression

However, since 1959, Cuba has had to confront the hostility of ten US administrations that have attempted to limit its right to national self-determination through the use of aggression and the unilateral imposition of a criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade.

One of the universally accepted principles of international law is that state cannot be allowed to coerce another in order to deny it the right to exercise its sovereign rights. Article 24 of the UN Charter states that, in the context of international relations, nations must refrain from using threats or force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.

Over the past 45 years, the United States has prohibited any trade with Cuba, including foodstuffs and medicines; it cancelled the Cuban sugar quota; prohibited its citizens from travelling to Cuba via the imposition of heavy sanctions; prohibited the re-export of US products or items containing US components or technology to Cuba from third countries; prescribed that banks in third countries should maintain Cuban bank accounts in US dollars or use that currency in their transactions with Cuba; has systematically intervened to prevent or hinder trade with or financial assistance to Cuba on the part of governments, institutions and citizens from other countries and international organisations.

In the 1960s these reprisals forced Cuba to structurally reconstitute its economic relations and establish its essential markets in countries in the former East European bloc – specifically in the Soviet Union – which meant that the country had to embark on an almost total re-conversion of its industrial technology, means of transport, and provisions, etc.

When Cuba lost its natural markets in Eastern Europe, the US government intensified its blockade via the 1992 Torricelli Act, which used the pretext of "democracy and human rights" to prohibit US subsidiaries located in third countries and subject to the laws of those nations from engaging in commercial or financial operations with Cuba (particularly in respect to food and medicines), and punishing these by prohibiting the entry into US ports for 180 days of vessels transporting goods to or from Cuba or on behalf of Cuba, measures that – given their extraterritorial nature – do not just prejudice Cuba but also harm the sovereignty of other nations and the international freedom of transportation.

On March 12, 1996, the US government passed the Helms-Burton Act, further aggravating relations between the two countries and assuming the right to sanction citizens of third countries in US courts, as well as determining their expulsion or denying them and their families entry visas into the United States, with the aim of hindering Cuba’s efforts to recover its economy and hampering its possibilities of securing a greater insertion in the international market. That was also a way of attempting to pressure the Cuban people into relinquishing their efforts of self-determination.

More recently, it has adopted the Bush Plan, an attempt to transform Cuba into a colony through an annexationist program and the intention to intervene via a pretext of "transition", a scenario in which the US State Department would entrust one of its leaders as "governor", when the Cuban revolutionary state disappears. This plan, with which US President George W. Bush decided "to precipitate the day when Cuba becomes a free country", has intensified the blockade and pressure on the Cuban people by repressing family relations between Cubans resident in the United States and their families on the island; grants million-dollar resources to terrorist groups in Miami, as well as to mercenary subordinates in the US Interests Sections in Havana; and promotes formulas to destabilise the country and redouble international pressure on the island.

US terrorism

That hostility on the part of the US has included other notorious manifestations of aggression, ranging from the military aggression through the Bay of Pigs in 1961, the dirty war carried out by counterrevolutionary gangs heavily supplied by the US CIA, bacteriological warfare on agricultural crops (sugar, tobacco and citric fruits), animals (swine fever) and humans (hemorrhagic dengue), to sabotage plans, bombings using pirate planes and assassination attempts on the country’s principal leaders.

The actions of terrorist organisations executing military attacks on Cuba from US territory are notorious, and are publicised and fomented by the Miami media. Groups are constantly recruiting adventurers who are willing to head off to Cuba as agents and saboteurs, who openly declare that they have no fear whatsoever of being brought to justice in US courts.

That is why Cuban patriots have had to leave aside their personal interests to serve those of the nation, even sacrificing their family relationships, in order to infiltrate the ranks of those terrorist groups in order to discover their activities and, with this information, prevent the bloodshed of Cuban and US people. They are willing to pay the price of the political irrationality of the US government, as is the case of the five Cuban heroes unjustly incarcerated in US jails for combating terrorism.

The above is compounded by the heavy military mechanism created by the United States around Cuba and its constant tension-generating activities, as well as the illegal occupation of the Guantánamo Naval Base on Cuban territory (today converted into a horrific prison camp), a part of Cuba rented out by force to the United States in the early 20th century and which the US government refuses to return.

In the early 1990s, with the disappearance of the Soviet Union, isolated and reviled by the international reaction, Cuba absorbed the terrible blow of losing the bulk of its markets in a matter of months and an abrupt descent in its gross domestic product. But the island confirmed that it shone with its own light and that it had never been a satellite of anyone, given that it was able to face that juncture on account of the extraordinary resistance of the majority of Cubans, who have acted on the basis of authentic motivations, values and ethical principles.

Challenges of the revolution

The Cuban people have made a conscious decision to support the country’s leadership, not only because they identify the system with their own interests, but also because of the responsible manner in which the state took on the crisis, reorganised its forces and designed a recovery strategy, despite the US blockade and conditions imposed by its European allies.

The sacrifices provoked by that situation have been hard, but it has been possible to endure them because of the undisputed social advances attained, because of the confidence deposited in the country’s leading institutions and because of people’s appreciation that their government is not a decadent one or one that is in management crisis or lacking in strategies, but has confirmed that the population has remained at the centre of all its work, even in the most difficult circumstances.

Fifty years have gone by and the liberation process has reached this point following the same direction indicated that night, 50 years ago, when Fidel, speaking to the huge crowd awaiting him in what was the dictatorship’s headquarters, affirmed that everything could be more difficult in the future, because we would have to fight to make the Revolution.

That is the challenge of the struggle currently underway to eradicate vices and exalt virtues, with Fidel as a soldier of ideas serving as a compass in the fight for freedom and independence.

Cuba’s enemies are backing their all on the opposite of that. In this world, where politics is a caricature, they cannot comprehend that, in its thinking and action, this revolution is a process of continuity, and that Fidel will continue to be the leader of the Revolution of today and tomorrow, because, beyond responsibilities and titles, he will continue to be the counsellor of ideas to which we will always have recourse.


Raul Castro´s Speech on the 50th Anniversary of the Revolution

Raul Castro´s Speech on the 50th Anniversary of the Revolution

Santiago de Cuba, Jan 1 (Prensa Latina) Prensa Latina is posting below
the full text of the speech delivered by President Raul Castro at the
commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.


Men and women from Santiago;

People from Oriente;

Combatants of the Ejército Rebelde, of the underground struggle and of
every combat in defense of the Revolution throughout these 50 years;


In a day like this, our first thoughts are for those who fell in this
long struggle. They constitute a paradigm and a symbol of the efforts
and sacrifices of millions of Cubans. Closely united in the clamor of
battle, waging the powerful weapons embodied in Fidel's leadership,
his teachings and his example, we have learned how to transform our
dreams into a reality; how to keep our heads cool and our confidence
in the face of dangers and threats; how to get over the big setbacks;
how to turn every challenge into a victory and to overcome adversity,
no matter how insurmountable they might have seem.

Those of us who have had the privilege to experience the intensity of
this stage of our history are well aware of the truth contained in
that alert he issued that January 8, 1959, during his first speech
after entering the capital:

"The tyranny has been overthrown. Our joy is immense. However, much
remains to be done. We shall not deceive ourselves believing that in
the future everything will be easier, because perhaps everything will
be more difficult," he said.

For the first time, the Cuban people had attained political power.
This time, with Fidel, the mambises entered Santiago de Cuba leaving
behind exactly 60 years of absolute domination by the emerging US
imperialism, which did not take long to show its real purposes by
preventing the Liberation Army from entering this city.

The great confusion and above all the enormous frustration caused by
the US intervention had been left way behind. But the Mambí Army,
despite its formal dismantling, always preserved its fighting spirit
and the ideas that led Céspedes, Agramonte, Gómez, Maceo and so many
other heroes and independence combatants to take up arms.

For over fifty years our people would endure corrupted governments and
new US interventions, the Machado tyranny and the frustrated
revolution that overthrew him. Later, in 1952, the coup d'état dealt
with the support of the US administration, reinstated the
dictatorship. This formula was commonly applied in those years to
ensure its dominion in Latin America.

It was clear to us that the armed struggle was the only way. Again,
the revolutionaries would have to face –as Martí before us—the dilemma
of the necessary war for the independence that was cut short in 1898.

Thus, the Ejército Rebelde took up again the weapons of the mambises
and after the triumph was forever transformed into the unbeaten
Revolutionary Armed Forces.

The Centennial Generation, which in 1953 stormed the Moncada's and
Carlos Manuel de Céspedes' barracks, was inspired in Marti's important
legacy and his humanistic global vision reaching beyond the attainment
of national liberation.

Speaking in historical terms, a short time would pass from the moment
the mambises' dreams were frustrated to the triumph of the War of
Liberation. Early in that period, Mella, one of the founding members
of our first communist party and of the FEU (University Students
Federation), became the legitimate heir and the bridge connecting
Marti's thoughts to the most advanced ideas.

In those years, the conscience and action of workers and farmers
matured and a genuine, valiant and patriotic intelligentsia was formed
which has accompanied them to the present. Then, the Cuban school, as
a loyal repository of the fighting traditions of its predecessors,
planted them in the best of the new generations.

Right after the triumph it became evident for every humble man and
woman that the Revolution was like a social cataclysm of justice
knocking on every door, from the large palaces on the 5th Avenue, in
the capital of the country, to the poorest shanty in the remotest
mountain or plain field.

The revolutionary laws not only fulfilled the program that inspired
the Moncada but also went far beyond it in the logical evolution of
the process. At the same time, they set a precedent for peoples of Our
America, which 200 years back had started the movement for the
emancipation from colonialism.

But, in Cuba the history of the Americas would take a different turn.
Nothing morally valuable has been alien to the turmoil that even
before January 1st, 1959, started to sweep away opprobrium and
inequity while opening the way to the enormous effort of all the
people determined to give itself everything it deserves and that it
has built with its own sweat and blood.

Millions of Cubans, men and women, have been workers, students or
soldiers; sometimes all of these as the circumstances have demanded.

Nicolas Guillén's masterly verses synthesized what the January 1959
triumph brought to our people. "I have what I was meant to have," he
said in one of his poems, referring not to material wealth but to
being the masters of our own destiny.

This victory is twice as worthy for it has been attained despite the
unhealthy and vindictive hatred of the powerful neighbor.

The promotion and support of sabotage and banditry; the Playa Girón
[Bay of Pigs] invasion; the blockade and other economic, political and
diplomatic aggressions; the permanent slandering campaign aimed at
denigrating the Cuban Revolution and its leaders; the October
[Missile] Crisis; the hijackings of and attacks on civilian planes and
sea crafts; the state terrorism, with its terrible result of 3478 dead
and 2099 maimed; the attempts on the life of Fidel and other leaders;
the murder of Cuban workers, farmers, fishermen, students, diplomats
and combatants; these and many other crimes bear witness to the
stubborn insistence on putting out, at any cost, the beacon of justice
and honor that January 1st meant to so many.

One way or another, with more or less aggressiveness, every US
administration has tried to impose a regime change in Cuba. Resistance
has been the key word and the explanation of every one of our
victories throughout this half century of continued fighting when we
have consistently acted on our own and taken our own risks
notwithstanding the extensive and decisive solidarity we have

For many years, Cuban revolutionaries have abided by Martí's apothegm:
"Freedom is most precious and one must either accept to live without
it or be determined to buy it for its price."

On the 30th anniversary of the victory, Fidel said at this square: "We
are here because we have put up a resistance." Ten years later, in
1999, from this same balcony, he said that the Special Period was "the
most extraordinary page of revolutionary and patriotic glory and
firmness […] when we were left absolutely alone in the West, only 90
miles away from the United States, and we decided to continue
forward." End of quote. We repeat the same thing today.

We have firmly resisted --far from any fanaticism-- based on sound
convictions, and on the resolution of all of the people to defend them
at any cost. Presently, our glorious Five Heroes are a living example
of that unshakable determination. (Applause and exclamations)

Today, we are not alone on this side of the ocean facing the empire,
as it was the case in the 1960s when in January 1962 the United States
of America forced on the OAS the absurd expulsion of Cuba, the country
which had shortly before been the victim of an invasion organized by
the US administration and escorted to our coasts by its own warships.
Actually, as it has been proven, that expulsion was the prelude to a
direct military intervention only prevented by the deployment of the
Soviet nuclear missiles leading to the October Crisis, known to the
world as the Missile Crisis.

Today, the Revolution is stronger than ever; it has never failed to
stand by its principles, not even in the most difficult circumstances.
This truth cannot be changed in the least even if some get tired or
even renounce their history as they forget that life is in itself an
eternal fight.

Does it mean there is less danger? No, it doesn't. Let's not entertain
any illusions. As we commemorate this half century of victories, it is
time to reflect on the future, on the next fifty years when we shall
continue to struggle incessantly.

The observation of the current disturbances in the contemporary world
tells us that the coming years will not be easier. This is the truth;
I am not saying this to scare anyone.

We should also keep in mind what Fidel told us all, but especially the
youth, at the University of Havana on November 17, 2005: "This country
could destroy itself, this Revolution could destroy itself, but they
[the enemy] cannot destroy it. We could destroy it ourselves, and it
would only be our fault," he argued.

In the face of this possibility, I ask myself:

What is the guarantee that such a horrible thing would not happen to our people?

How could we avoid such a numbing blow that we would need much time to
recover from and to attain victory again?

I am speaking on behalf of all those who have been fighting from the
moment the first shots were fired on the walls of the Moncada barracks
55 years ago and of those who fulfilled heroic internationalist

Of course, I am also speaking on behalf of those who fell in the wars
of independence and more recently in the War of Liberation. I speak on
behalf of them all, and on behalf of Abel and Jose Antonio, of Camilo
and Che, when I say that this demands foremost from tomorrow's leaders
that they never forget that this is a Revolution of the humble, by the
humble and for the humble; (Applause) that they should never be misled
by the enemy's siren songs and be aware that, given its very essence,
the enemy will never cease to be aggressive, treacherous and dominant;
that they should never distance themselves from our workers, our
farmers and the people at large; that the party members must prevent
the destruction of the Party. Let's learn from history.

If they act consistently, they will always have the support of the
people, even if they make mistakes which do not breach basic
principles. But, if their actions were inconsistent with such
principles, they would even lack the strength and the opportunity to
rectify, since they would fail to have the moral authority that the
masses only grant to those who never back from the struggle. They
could end up incapacitated for tackling internal and external dangers
and unable to preserve the work that is the fruit of the blood and the
sacrifices of many generations of Cubans.

Nobody should have any doubt that if that would ever happen our people
would put up a fight, and today's mambises would be in the frontline;
that they would never be ideologically disarmed nor would they ever
let down their sword. (Applause and exclamations)

It befits the historical leadership of the Revolution to prepare the
new generations to take up the enormous responsibility of continuing
to carry forward the revolutionary process.

This heroic city of Santiago and all of Cuba witnessed the sacrifices
of thousands of compatriots, the rage accumulated for so many lives
cut short by crime, the endless pain of our mothers and the sublime
courage of its sons and daughters.

This was the birthplace of a young revolutionary killed when he was
only 22 years old, a man who is a symbol of that willingness to make
sacrifices, of that purity, courage and serenity, and of that love for
our people: Frank País García.

This eastern land was the birthplace of the Revolution. It was here
that the call of duty was made in La Demajagua and on July 26th; it
was here that we landed in the Granma and started the fight on the
mountains and the plains, the same that extended later to the entire
island. As Fidel said in History Will Absolve Me, "every day here
looks like it will be again the day of Yara and Baire."

Never again shall poverty, ignominy, abuse and injustice return to our land!

Never again shall the heart of our mothers be filled with pain and the
soul of every honest Cuban succumb to shame!

Such is the firm resolution of a nation on a war footing; a nation
that is aware of its duty and proud of its history.(Applause)

Our people are well aware of every shortcoming in the work they have
built with their own hands and defended with their own lives. We, the
revolutionaries are our strongest critics. We have never hesitated to
publicly discuss our flaws and mistakes. There are plenty of past and
recent examples.

Since October 10, 1868, disunity had been the main cause of our
defeats. After January 1st, 1959, the unity forged by Fidel has been
the guarantee of our victories. Our people have been able to preserve
that unity despite all of the ups and downs and the attempts at
division, and have rightly placed common aspirations above
differences, crushing meanness with the strength of collectivism and

Revolutions can only advance and endure when they are carried forward
by the people. The full understanding of this truth and the consistent
and unshakable action carried forward have been decisive elements in
the victory of the Cuban Revolution over its enemies, and over
seemingly insurmountable difficulties and challenges.

As we arrive at the first half century of the victorious Revolution,
let's pay homage first to our wonderful people and to its exemplary
decision, courage, loyalty and internationalist and fraternal
vocation; to its extraordinary show of will, its spirit of sacrifice
and its confidence in victory, in the Party, in its maximum leader
and, above all, in itself. (Applause)

I know that I am expressing the feelings of my compatriots and of many
revolutionaries in the world, when I pay homage to the Commander in
Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz. (Applause and

We know that a man alone doesn't make history, but some men are
indispensable as they can have a decisive influence in the course of
events. Fidel is one of them; nobody doubts it, not even his most
bitter enemies.

Ever since his early youth he adopted as his own one of Martí's
thoughts: "All of the glory in the world fits in a kernel of corn."
This he turned into his shield from everything that is superfluous or
transient, into his main weapon to transform praises and honors --even
if well-deserved—into greater humility, honesty, fighting spirit and
love for truth, which he has invariably placed above all else.

He made reference to these ideas 50 years ago in this same square. His
words that night are absolutely valid today.

At this very special moment when we think of our past journey and
particularly of the long way ahead, when we reiterate our commitment
to the people and to our martyrs, allow me to conclude by recalling
the premonitory alert and the call to combat made by the Commander in
Chief in this historic place on January 1st, 1959, as he indicated:

"We do not believe that all of the problems can be easily solved; we
know that the path is fraught with obstacles, but we are men of faith,
we are used to facing great difficulties. Our people can be sure of
one thing, and that is that we can make one or many mistakes, but we
will never steal and we will never betray you."

And he added:

"We shall never let ourselves be carried away by vanity or ambition,
[…] there can be no greater reward or satisfaction than the
fulfillment of our duty," he concluded.

On this date full of significance and symbolism, let's reflect on
these ideas which constitute a guidance for true revolutionaries;
let's do it with the satisfaction of having fulfilled our duty until
the present and having behind us a life lived with dignity in the most
intense and fruitful half century of our history. Let's do it with the
firm commitment that we will always be able to proudly claim in this
land: Glory to our heroes and martyrs! (Exclamations)

Long live Fidel! (Exclamations)

Long live the Revolution! (Exclamations)

Long live Free Cuba! (Exclamations)




La Habana, 1 de enero de 2009

¡Jamás regresará el dolor al corazón
de las madres ni la vergüenza al alma de cada cubano honesto!
• Discurso pronunciado por el Presidente de los Consejos de Estado y
de Ministros de la República de Cuba, General de Ejército Raúl Castro
Ruz, en el acto por el aniversario 50 del triunfo de la Revolución,
efectuado en Santiago de Cuba, el 1ro. de enero de 2009, "Año del 50
aniversario del triunfo de la Revolución".

Santiagueras y santiagueros;


Combatientes del Ejército Rebelde, la lucha clandestina y de cada
combate en defensa de la Revolución durante estos 50 años;


Raúl Castro RuzEl primer pensamiento, un día como hoy, para los caídos
en esta larga lucha. Ellos son paradigma y símbolo del esfuerzo y el
sacrificio de millones de cubanos. En estrecha unión, empuñando las
poderosas armas que han significado la dirección, las enseñanzas y el
ejemplo de Fidel, aprendimos en el rigor de la lucha a transformar
sueños en realidades; a no perder la calma y la confianza frente a
peligros y amenazas; a levantar el ánimo tras los grandes reveses; a
convertir en victoria cada reto y a superar las adversidades, por
insuperables que pudieran parecer.

Los que hemos tenido el privilegio de vivir con toda intensidad esta
etapa de nuestra historia, sabemos bien cuán cierta ha resultado la
alerta que nos hizo aquel 8 de enero de 1959, en su primer discurso al
entrar a la capital:

"La tiranía ha sido derrocada. La alegría es inmensa. Y sin embargo,
queda mucho por hacer todavía. No nos engañamos creyendo que en lo
adelante todo será fácil; quizás en lo adelante todo sea más difícil",

Por primera vez el pueblo cubano alcanzaba el poder político. En esta
ocasión, junto a Fidel, los mambises sí entraron a Santiago de Cuba.
Atrás quedaban 60 años exactos de dominación absoluta del naciente
imperialismo norteamericano, que no tardaría en mostrar sus verdaderos
propósitos, al impedir la entrada a esta ciudad del Ejército

Atrás quedaron también la gran confusión y sobre todo la frustración
enorme que generó la intervención norteamericana. Sin embargo se
mantuvo en vilo, más allá de su disolución formal, la voluntad de
lucha del Ejército Mambí y el pensamiento que guió las armas de
Céspedes, Agramonte, Gómez, Maceo y tantos otros próceres y
combatientes por la independencia.

Vivimos algo más de cinco décadas de gobiernos corruptos, de nuevas
intervenciones norteamericanas; la tiranía machadista y la revolución
frustrada que la derrocó. Más tarde, en 1952, el golpe de Estado, con
el apoyo del gobierno norteamericano, instauró nuevamente la
dictadura, fórmula aplicada en esos años para asegurar su dominio en
América Latina.

Para nosotros quedó claro que la lucha armada era la única vía. A los
revolucionarios se nos planteaba nuevamente, como a Martí antes, el
dilema de la guerra necesaria por la independencia que quedó trunca en

El Ejército Rebelde retomó las armas mambisas y después del triunfo se
transformó para siempre en las invictas Fuerzas Armadas

La Generación del Centenario, que en 1953 asaltó los cuarteles Moncada
y Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, contó con el importante legado de Martí,
con su visión global humanística que va más allá de la consecución de
la liberación nacional.

En términos históricos, fue breve el tiempo que medió entre la
frustración del sueño mambí y el triunfo en la Guerra de Liberación. A
comienzos de este período, Mella, uno de los fundadores de nuestro
primer partido comunista y creador de la Federación Estudiantil
Universitaria (FEU), se convierte en heredero legítimo y puente que
une el pensamiento martiano y las ideas más avanzadas.

Fueron años de maduración de la conciencia y la acción de obreros y
campesinos, y de formación de una intelectualidad genuina, valiente y
patriota que los ha acompañado hasta el presente.

El magisterio cubano, fiel depositario de las tradiciones de lucha de
sus predecesores, las sembró en lo mejor de las nuevas generaciones.

Desde el mismo momento del triunfo, se hizo evidente para cada hombre
y mujer humilde que la Revolución era un justiciero cataclismo social
que tocó todas las puertas, desde los palacetes de la Quinta Avenida
en la capital, hasta el más misérrimo y apartado bohío de nuestros
campos y montañas.

Las leyes revolucionarias no sólo dieron cumplimiento al programa del
Moncada, lo superaron con creces en la lógica evolución del proceso.
Además sentaron un precedente para los pueblos de nuestra América que
hace 200 años iniciaron el movimiento emancipador del colonialismo.

En Cuba, la historia americana tomó rumbos diferentes. Nada moralmente
valioso ha sido ajeno al torbellino que aun antes del primero de enero
de 1959, comenzó a barrer oprobios e inequidades, a la vez que abrió
paso al gigantesco esfuerzo de todo un pueblo, decidido a darse a sí
mismo cuanto merece y ha logrado levantar con su sangre y su sudor.

Millones de cubanas y cubanos han sido trabajadores, estudiantes,
soldados, o simultáneamente las tres cosas, cuantas veces las
circunstancias lo han exigido.

La síntesis magistral de Nicolás Guillén resumió el significado para
el pueblo del triunfo de enero de 1959: "Tengo lo que tenía que
tener", dice uno de sus versos, refiriéndose no a riquezas materiales,
sino a ser dueños de nuestro destino.

Es una victoria doblemente meritoria, porque ha sido alcanzada a pesar
del odio enfermizo y vengativo del poderoso vecino.

El fomento y apoyo al sabotaje y el bandidismo; la invasión de Playa
Girón; el bloqueo y demás agresiones económicas, políticas y
diplomáticas; la permanente campaña de mentiras dirigida a denigrar a
la Revolución y sus líderes; la Crisis de Octubre, los secuestros y
ataques a embarcaciones y aeronaves civiles; el terrorismo de Estado,
con su terrible saldo de 3 478 muertos y 2 099 incapacitados; los
planes de atentados a Fidel y otros dirigentes; los asesinatos de
obreros, campesinos, pescadores, estudiantes, diplomáticos y
combatientes cubanos. Esos y otros muchos crímenes dan fe del tozudo
empeño de apagar a cualquier precio la luz de justicia y decoro que
significó la alborada del Primero de Enero.

Una tras otra, todas las administraciones norteamericanas no han
cesado de intentar forzar un cambio de régimen en Cuba, empleando una
u otra vía, con mayor o menor agresividad.

Resistir ha sido la palabra de orden y la clave de cada una de
nuestras victorias, durante este medio siglo de ininterrumpido
batallar, en que hemos partido invariablemente de jugarnos nuestra
propia piel, sin dejar de reconocer la amplia y decisiva solidaridad

Desde hace muchos años, los revolucionarios cubanos nos atenemos a la
máxima martiana: "La libertad cuesta muy cara, y es necesario o
resignarse a vivir sin ella, o decidirse a comprarla por su precio".

En esta plaza, en el 30 aniversario del triunfo, Fidel nos dijo: "Aquí
estamos porque hemos podido resistir". Una década después, en 1999,
desde este mismo balcón, afirmó que el período especial constituía "la
más extraordinaria página de gloria y firmeza patriótica y
revolucionaria, (…) cuando nos quedamos absolutamente solos en medio
de Occidente a 90 millas de Estados Unidos y decidimos seguir
adelante". Fin de la cita. Así lo repetimos hoy.

Ha sido una resistencia firme, ajena a fanatismos, basada en sólidas
convicciones y en la decisión de todo un pueblo de defenderlas al
precio que sea necesario. Ejemplo vivo de ello en estos momentos es la
inconmovible firmeza de nuestros gloriosos Cinco Héroes (Aplausos y
exclamaciones de: "¡Viva!") .

Hoy no estamos solos frente al imperio en este lado del océano, como
ocurrió en los años sesenta, cuando los Estados Unidos impusieron el
absurdo de expulsar de la OEA, en enero de 1962, a Cuba, el país que
poco antes había sido víctima de una invasión organizada por el
gobierno norteamericano y escoltada hasta nuestras costas por sus
buques de guerra. Precisamente, como se ha demostrado, esa expulsión
era el preludio de una intervención militar directa, impedida sólo por
el despliegue de los cohetes nucleares soviéticos que desembocó en la
Crisis de Octubre, conocida mundialmente como la crisis de los

Hoy la Revolución es más fuerte que nunca y jamás ha cedido un
milímetro en sus principios, ni en los momentos más difíciles. No
cambia en lo más mínimo esa verdad que algunos pocos se cansen y hasta
renieguen de su historia, olvidándose de que la vida es un eterno

¿Significa que han disminuido los peligros? No, no nos hagamos
ilusiones. Cuando conmemoramos este medio siglo de victorias, se
impone la reflexión sobre el futuro, sobre los próximos cincuenta años
que serán también de permanente lucha.

Observando las actuales turbulencias del mundo contemporáneo, no
podemos pensar que serán más fáciles, lo digo no para asustar a nadie,
es la pura realidad.

También debemos tener muy presente lo que Fidel nos dijo a todos,
pero especialmente a los jóvenes, en la Universidad de La Habana, el
17 de noviembre del 2005: "Este país puede autodestruirse por sí
mismo; esta Revolución puede destruirse, los que no pueden destruirla
hoy son ellos; nosotros sí, nosotros podemos destruirla, y sería culpa
nuestra", sentenció.

Ante esta posibilidad, me pregunto: ¿cuál es la garantía de que no
ocurra algo tan terrible para nuestro pueblo?

¿Cómo evitar un golpe tan anonadante que necesitaríamos mucho tiempo
para recuperarnos y alcanzar de nuevo la victoria?

Hablo en nombre de todos los que hemos luchado, desde los primeros
disparos en los muros del Moncada, hace 55 años, hasta los que
cumplieron heroicas misiones internacionalistas.

Hablo, por supuesto, también en nombre de los que cayeron en las
guerras de independencia y más recientemente en la Guerra de
Liberación. En representación de todos ellos, hablo en nombre de Abel
y José Antonio, de Camilo y Che, cuando afirmo, en primer lugar, que
ello exige de los dirigentes del mañana que no olviden nunca que esta
es la Revolución de los humildes, por los humildes y para los humildes
(Aplausos); que no se reblandezcan con los cantos de sirena del
enemigo y tengan conciencia de que por su esencia, nunca dejará de ser
agresivo, dominante y traicionero; que no se aparten jamás de nuestros
obreros, campesinos y el resto del pueblo; que la militancia impida
que destruyan al Partido. Aprendamos de la historia.

Si actúan así, contarán siempre con el apoyo del pueblo, incluso
cuando se equivoquen en cuestiones que no violen principios
esenciales. Pero si sus actos no estuvieran en consonancia con esa
conducta, no contarán siquiera con la fuerza necesaria ni la
oportunidad para rectificar, pues les faltará la autoridad moral que
sólo otorgan las masas a quienes no ceden en la lucha. Pudieran
terminar siendo impotentes ante los peligros externos e internos, e
incapaces de preservar la obra fruto de la sangre y el sacrificio de
muchas generaciones de cubanos.

Si ello llegara a suceder, nadie lo dude, nuestro pueblo sabrá dar la
pelea, y en la primera línea estarán los mambises de hoy, que no se
desarmarán ideológicamente ni dejarán caer la espada (Aplausos y

Corresponde a la dirección histórica de la Revolución preparar a las
nuevas generaciones para asumir la enorme responsabilidad de continuar
adelante con el proceso revolucionario.

Esta heroica ciudad de Santiago, y Cuba entera, fue testigo del
sacrificio de miles de compatriotas; de la ira acumulada ante tanta
vida tronchada por el crimen; del dolor infinito de nuestras madres y
del valor sublime de sus hijas e hijos.

Aquí nació un joven revolucionario, de sólo 22 años al caer asesinado,
que simboliza esa disposición al sacrificio, pureza, valentía,
serenidad y amor a la patria de nuestro pueblo: Frank País García.

En esta tierra oriental nació la Revolución. Aquí fue la clarinada de
La Demajagua y el 26 de Julio; aquí desembarcamos en el Granma e
iniciamos el combate en montañas y llanos, que luego se extendió a
toda la isla. Como dijo Fidel en La Historia me Absolverá, aquí "cada
día parece que va a ser otra vez el de Yara o el de Baire".

¡Nunca más volverán la miseria, la ignominia, el abuso y la injusticia
a nuestra tierra!

¡Jamás regresará el dolor al corazón de las madres ni la vergüenza al
alma de cada cubano honesto!

Es la firme decisión de una nación en pie de lucha, consciente de su
deber y orgullosa de su historia (Aplausos).

Nuestro pueblo conoce cada imperfección de la obra que él mismo ha
levantado con sus brazos y defendido a riesgo de su vida. Los
revolucionarios somos nuestros principales críticos. No hemos dudado
en dilucidar deficiencias y errores públicamente. Sobran los ejemplos
pasados y recientes.

Desde el 10 de octubre de 1868, la desunión fue causa fundamental de
nuestras derrotas. A partir del primero de enero de 1959, la unidad,
forjada por Fidel, ha sido garantía de nuestras victorias. Nuestro
pueblo logró mantenerla frente a todos los avatares e intentos
divisionistas y ha sabido situar los anhelos comunes por encima de las
diferencias, derrotar mezquindades a fuerza de colectivismo y

Las revoluciones sólo avanzan y perduran cuando las lleva adelante el
pueblo. Haber comprendido esa verdad y actuado invariablemente en
consecuencia con ella, ha sido factor decisivo de la victoria de la
Revolución cubana frente a enemigos, dificultades y retos en
apariencia invencibles.

Al arribar al primer medio siglo de Revolución triunfante, llegue el
principal tributo a nuestro maravilloso pueblo; a su ejemplar
decisión, valor, fidelidad, vocación solidaria e internacionalista; a
su extraordinaria demostración de voluntad, espíritu de sacrificio y
confianza en la victoria, en el Partido, en su máximo líder y sobre
todo en sí mismo (Aplausos).

Sé que expreso el sentir de mis compatriotas y de muchos
revolucionarios en el mundo, al rendir homenaje en esta hora al
Comandante en Jefe de la Revolución Cubana, Fidel Castro Ruz (Aplausos
y exclamaciones).

Un individuo no hace la historia, lo sabemos, pero hay hombres
imprescindibles capaces de influir en su curso de manera decisiva.
Fidel es uno de ellos, nadie lo duda, ni aun sus enemigos más

Desde muy joven hizo suyo un pensamiento martiano: "Toda la gloria del
mundo cabe en un grano de maíz". Lo convirtió en escudo contra lo
fatuo y lo pasajero, en su principal arma para transformar halagos y
honores, por merecidos que fueran, en mayor modestia, honradez,
voluntad de lucha y amor por la verdad, que invariablemente ha situado
por encima de todo.

A estas ideas se refirió, en esta misma plaza, hace 50 años. Sus
palabras de aquella noche mantienen absoluta vigencia.

En este especial momento que nos hace meditar en el camino recorrido y
sobre todo en el aún más largo que está por delante, cuando
ratificamos nuevamente el compromiso con el pueblo y nuestros
mártires, permítanme concluir repitiendo la alerta premonitoria y el
llamado al combate que nos hiciera el Comandante en Jefe en este
histórico lugar, el primero de enero de 1959, cuando señaló:

"No creemos que todos los problemas se vayan a resolver fácilmente,
sabemos que el camino está trillado de obstáculos, pero nosotros somos
hombres de fe, que nos enfrentamos siempre a las grandes dificultades.
Podrá estar seguro el pueblo de una cosa, que es que podemos
equivocarnos una y muchas veces, lo único que no podrá decir jamás de
nosotros es que robamos, que traicionamos".

Y agregó:

"Nunca nos dejaremos arrastrar por la vanidad ni por la ambición, (…)
no hay satisfacción ni premio más grande que cumplir con el deber",

En una fecha de tanto significado y simbolismo, reflexionemos sobre
estas ideas que constituyen guía para el revolucionario verdadero.
Hagámoslo con la satisfacción de haber cumplido el deber hasta el
presente; con el aval de haber vivido con dignidad el más intenso y
fecundo medio siglo de historia patria y con el firme compromiso de
que en esta tierra siempre podremos exclamar con orgullo:

¡Gloria a nuestros héroes y mártires! (Exclamaciones de: "¡Gloria!")

¡Viva Fidel! (Exclamaciones de: "¡Viva!")

¡Viva la Revolución! (Exclamaciones de: "¡Viva!")

¡Viva Cuba libre! (Exclamaciones de: "¡Viva!")


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