Our people have a peaceful mission, but have always been able to defend themselves
Remarks by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz during the national 26th of July commemoration in Guantánamo
“Our people have a peaceful mission, but have always been able to defend themselves,” said President Raúl Castro, speaking to the men and women of Guantánamo, gathered in Mariana Grajales Plaza for the national 26th of July commemoration, on the occasion of the 59th anniversary of the assaults on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes garrisons.
After Machado Ventura’s speech at the conclusion of the event, and in response to the crowd’s appeals, Raúl approached the podium and said, “I’m not here to give a speech, I came up to offer greetings to all of you here, to everyone in the province of Guantánamo and around the country,” and added, “This has been an exemplary event, as all such events should be, with a magnificent presentation by our young Guantánamo artists and by all those here on the stage, and it only lasted 55 minutes.”
He then recalled the intense work which had characterized the last few days, saying, “Machado has already explained that this past week we have been involved in a great deal of intense activity, three speeches in each one of the events mentioned by Machado, though speeches aren’t made, except in Parliament. The rest were discussions, in several cases, taking our gloves off, in the Council of Ministers and Central Committee meetings, debating and going deep into issues which were later approved by the National Assembly, the highest body of state power, our Parliament.”
Visibly moved, the President said, “We feel a deep love for our country, for all of Latin America and, naturally, for those places where we saw the people fight, where we saw dozens of our compañeros fall, where the earth moves. The earth trembles here, because the men did not. This is bravery. Not the men, not the women, no one in all of Cuba trembles, we have shown this throughout the more than 50 years we have been in this struggle.”
He recalled that Frank País fought in the region with his comrades in the Second Eastern Front and commented that as he approached Guantánamo he was seeing the hundreds and hundreds of miles Fidel had crossed from the Granma yacht landing in Las Coloradas, to Guisa. Raúl recalled that the Rebel Army had quickly spread across a front which grew to 12,000 square kilometers, as a result of the preparatory work carried out by the people of Guantánamo.
Raúl then jokingly commented, “Next year we will be celebrating 60 years since the Moncada assault. We can send Machado to speak to Parliament that day and I’ll speak in Santiago de Cuba”, and recalled that they would have to attend the student’s torchlight march from University Hill to the Fragua Martiana, on January 28, just as the Centenary Generation had done 60 years ago.
He reiterated the need to continue moving forward, completing tasks, “There is no need to repeat what has already been proposed in the Party Congress, during the National Conference, in all of these events. We must move forward! We must advance, at the pace we Cubans choose, without haste, but without delay, little by little, little by little.”
To reaffirm this statement, he reminded the people of Guantánamo that the country will persevere in the effort to complete tasks that at one time were perhaps too ambitious, based on the desire to do things to benefit the people and the Revolution, but which are now being thought out, in accordance with resources available.
The President emphasized that the leadership is well aware of the problems the country faces, the problems the population faces: that wages are low, that there are many difficulties, but that before wages can be raised, production and productivity must improve, starting with work at hand which can be accomplished, like the production of food which could save the country millions of dollars in imports.
He commented that at one point teachers were awarded pay increases, although not as large as desired, something was done. Doctors earn very little. That is the situation all Cubans face, he said, but we live and have maintained the Revolution for more than 50 years, which is “the great accomplishment of the Cuban people.”
Reviewing all of Cuba’s struggles for independence, Raúl described the determination of the country’s people, beginning with those who undertook the first battle for sovereignty in 1868; to those who fought in the so-called little war; to Martí, who did not cease despite the failures of Fernandina, when he lost all the weapons which Cuban tobacco workers in the United States had worked so hard to procure, and that of Gómez, who in 1895 attempted to land in Cajobabo, while Antonio and José Maceo did so near Duaba.
He referred to the U.S. intervention which prevented the Mambises from victoriously entering Santiago de Cuba, allowing for the beginning of U.S. domination January 1, 1899.
They left us a national anthem, a shield, a flag, “That was enough to regain the rest,” Raúl said. He commented that comparing the last census done by the Spanish colonialists with the first done by the United States interventionists, a considerable decline in population can be noted.
Discussing this era during which the national bourgeoisie was totally subservient to U.S. interests, Raúl emphasized, “Seventy years of absolute domination! To the degree that Mr. Ambassador was more important than the election of a President. And it was true, the U.S. ambassador was more important than the President of the Republic and, in their enthusiasm, some newspapers didn’t even mention his name or country of origin; they simply said, ‘The Ambassador has arrived;’ that is, he who has the most power, until 60 years later – after having fought throughout the country in the guerrilla war and the underground – Fidel’s barbudos arrived in the capital, and the bedlam ended.”
Raúl said, “The U.S. hopes, with the help of their miniscule groups here, that what is happening in Syria will happen here. But I warn them, this is a peaceful island; we like to dance and make friends with everyone, including the United States, but we are a stubborn people and if they want confrontation, better that it take place only in baseball, or in some other sport, where they win sometimes and, on other occasions, we do, but not anywhere else, that they respect us.”
He said that the world cannot be controlled, certainly not based on the repetition of lies, in the style of Hitler’s minister of propaganda. Any day they like, the table is set, as we have already told them. “If they want discussion,” the President said, “We will discuss human rights, democracy, all those stories they have invented over the last years. We will discuss everything, but on an equal footing, because we are not subjugated, we are no one’s puppets. And I again call upon them to discuss the problems of their allies, in Western Europe, fundamentally
In the meantime, here we are with more or less material wealth, but always with the cavalry ready, just in case. He added, “Once again I proclaim here that our mission is peaceful. We are in no way interested in harming anyone, but that our people know how to defend themselves, there is no need to tell anyone here what must be done.”
Raúl concluded, “In Fidel’s name and in that of all the country’s leaders, some of whom are present here, as Machado has already said, a warm embrace to all the men and women of Gunatanámo.”