Castro Internet Archive
Written: April 23, 1961
First Published: April 24, 1961
Source: Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 1830 GMT (
Markup: Brian Baggins
Online Version: Castro Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2000
The people know a great deal about the events which have taken place as a result of our special reports, the newspaper accounts and the interrogation of prisoners. The people know about the invasion, the details of its organization, and the way in which it was crushed.
We can give you some general ideas about how their plans developed and how ours were developed in the zone of operation. In the first place, we had known for some time that a force was being formed to attack our country. Since the revolution, we have been living amid a series of threats—all of them from abroad. But there were differences in our enemies—that is, imperialism was the only one strong enough to attack.
The aggression was indirect only in regard to the personnel. It was direct aggression in that it came from camps of the North Americans, that North American equipment was used, and that it included a convoy by the U.S. Navy and the participation of the U.S. Air Force. It was a combined thing: they used mercenaries amply supported by the navy and air force.
We were awaiting an indirect attack. But one type of indirect attack is the type of attack made against the Arbenz government in Guatemala; it is known that U.S. aircraft were used against him. We also thought of an indirect attack utilizing the OAS to launch some type of collective action. And we also were expecting a direct attack. The United States has always advocated all three types of action.
It began to prepare immediately for direct action. But it was not able to gather enough support in Latin America for collective action. The Mexican Government has been very firm against intervention in Cuba. So have Quadros and Colombia. So the United States has encountered powerful resistance among the governments and people of Latin America in seeking to further its desire for collective action in the OAS.
On whom could it count? Only on the most corrupt Latin American governments. First the United States tried to work with Trujillo, and most of the Cuban aggression came from the Dominican Republic.
Then it tried to enlist the so-called democratic governments, under the guise of democracy, when they broke with Trujillo because, they said, he was a dictator.
While the United States was taking action against Trujillo, it was strengthening its ties with Somoza and Ydigoras, who are typically corrupt, despotic, and reactionary. Those are the instruments on which the United States can count. It cannot count on Brazil, Mexico, or any other decent Latin American country. Its partners in this venture have been the most reactionary and corrupt governments in Latin America, the governments of Nicaragua and Guatemala.
We have always been in danger of direct aggression. We have been warning about this in the United Nations: that they would find a pretext, that they would organize some act of aggression so that they could intervene. That is why we have followed a cautious policy in regard to Guantanamo Base.
We wish to avoid giving them a pretext for intervention. We made this known in the United Nations. We said that we would never want to obtain the base by force, only through international law, so that we would not provide a pretext for direct aggression.
Our position is that we will fight to the last man, but we do not want direct aggression. We do not wish to suffer the destruction that aggression would bring. If the aggression comes, it will meet the total resistance of our people.
The danger of direct aggression could again gain momentum following this failure. We have said that imperialism will disappear. We do not wish it to commit suicide; we want it to die a natural death. If it dies the world will live in peace. But it will die violently if it begins a world war.
If imperialism acts with a maximum of responsibility it will bring about a war which it could survive only a relatively short time. As an economic way of life, it will have to disappear through historical laws. (Applause) We do not wish it to commit suicide by attacking us. If they attack us, we would resist in an unbelievable manner. (Applause)
They are the ones who are bringing the world to the brink of war through their warlike spirit, their own contradictions, and their economic problems which cause them to provoke a series of crises in order to maintain their war economy. Their factories run only when they are building war material. Their regime is marching toward a crisis. It is not like our economy, which is perfectly planned.
The economy of our country is based on an increase of 10 percent a year, while in the United States the figure is only two percent. The U.S. economy is managed in the interest of only a few groups; it is divorced from the interests of the people. In war they have a cure for their crises.
They have the capacity to do all sorts of things for the benefit of their people. But their system demands production for war, not peace. As a result, there is extensive wasting of natural resources. Look at their military budget. What they could do with this money for schools, industry, homes! What good it could mean for the world!
And that is only part of the story. Some of their factories are working on a part-time basis. How different from the Soviet Union, where everyone works! If someone wants to build a factory in the United States, he does so whether it is needed or not. This is the result of an unplanned economy. In the United States, war militarizes the economy. They plan for that.
The government does not permit any monopoly to produce what they want— they have to produce war materials. Then the government plans and controls production—they produce fantastically. In time of war they plan, then all the people work. They are not capable of solving the problem of unemployment in producing for peace. Only in time of war can they resolve their economic crisis. That is why there are groups who wish to go on a war footing, if possible, with local wars. This has been the American policy after World War II. With respect to our country, they have been holding these ideas of aggression. We have been and are now facing that threat.
Concerning the type of aggression against us: How could they organize a mercenary force against the united people, against our army and militia? They did not think about that type of war. They thought of a frontal attack with mercenaries and of taking over our country.
The first step was economic aggression—to weaken the revolutionthat is to say, they attacked on the economic front: they took away our sugar quota. Our economy was based on one product—the export of sugar with one market: the United States.
When Guatemala tried to take over the United Fruit land, intervention took place immediately. Since the days of Roosevelt, direct aggression has no longer been used. Instead a puppet is sent. In Guatemala there is hunger and oppression and a gentleman who dedicates himself to harboring mercenaries to attack our country.
In our country, when reforms were initiated, a clash resulted with the imperialists of the United States. Here they had no army directed by their diplomats to turn against the people. Here the old army had been destroyed and their weapons left in the hands of the people. The U.S. military mission which had been here until the fall of Batista—when our troops arrived in Camp Libertad were still there to see if perhaps they could teach us, too. We told them to go home. (Laughter) I well recall I told one of them "You taught Batista and we beat him. We don't wish to be taught by you." (Laughter and applause).
Here they had no military organization to direct, and they found that the interests of the government were directly opposed to the military proposals. The Revolutionary Government has an army of the people. They then began their economic aggression and their harrassment.
They said: Cuba depends on us economically. It is underdeveloped. Any government from which we take the sugar quota will surely fall.
We were truly underdeveloped and our imports all came from the United States. Our imports exceeded our exports. We then began a program of economy but not for the poorer classes. They were not the ones who took trips abroad and consumed luxuries—I understand that the import of cars alone was 30 million dollars—agricultural machinery was only 5 million. Much land was not being used. Many lived only during the few months of the harvest, the rest of the time they piled up debts.
We began a program of lowering rents, giving land to cooperatives, investing in programs which would give work to people. The country was saving money, contrary to what the imperialists believed. They have a policy of exploitation of the people. We established a policy of austerity which affected only the social strata which lived in luxury. For their trips abroad we only allowed them a few dollars. This austerity campaign did not afflict the people but only the privileged ones. The revolution imposed a program of austerity for the luxury- using class and not the people. When they heard of the appointment of Che to the national banks they waited for the country to fail. This did not come about.
Then, they took another step of aggression, and tried to leave us without oil. Thanks to our agreement with the USSR, we agreed to sell the USSR sugar in return for oil. Before that, we had had to pay for oil with dollars. So then they decided not to refine Soviet oil. That was because they had control of refining and exploitation of oil in other countries; it was a real monopoly. When they learned that some oil for Cuba would come from other sources, they refused to refine it. They thought if we had anything against them we would be left without oil. But the refineries were taken over, and the USSR made great efforts to give us all the oil we needed. We got through that [U.S.] aggression thanks to the USSR. We get the oil much more cheaply than from the U.S. monopolies, and we pay for it in sugar, not dollars.
Faced with the revolution's success in regard to oil, they took another step—cutting us off entirely from the U.S. market. Aggression like that can be resisted only by a Revolutionary Government supported by the people. When Cuba sold sugar to the U.S. market, most of the sugarmills and cane- growing land belonged to North Americans. The Cuban workers received miserable pay and had employment only part of the year. There was no profit for our country; the profit was for the monopolies. When the agarian reform went through and cooperatives were formed and year-around employment was provided, then our people began to get profits from our economy. So then the U.S. market was cut off in an effort to make our people yield.
The people responded with determination. The Soviet Union again, and other socialist countries—even though they had plenty of sugar production of thier own, made a great effort and agreed to buy four million tons of sugar from us so the revolution could withstand the blow. The OAS, the American system, this hemispheric system the United States talks about so much, had a clause forbidding economic aggression. That clause said no country could use economic pressure or aggression to gain its objectives or influence affairs inside another country.
Economic aggression was banned expressly, and yet our country was brutally attacked economically. Representatives of Latin American countries met at Costa Rica, and did not condemn the aggressor; but there was a declaration against the victim. The powerful country had violated the law against economic aggression; but when the time came to condemn the shark, the sardines met and condemned the other sardine. But this sardine was no longer a sardine.
And some people ask why we distrust the OAS. How could we not distrust the OAS? The other sardines were afraid. We got no protection from the inter-American system. But, thanks to the USSR, China, and the other socialist countries, we had the sale of millions of tons of sugar assured. Our revolution could keep going.
Then they forbade the export of raw materials and parts to us. Almost all equipment for transportation, construction, and our industries came from the United States. So we were to be left without raw materials or parts to keep our machinery in operation.
Not content with that, they blocked export of our molasses. Some U.S. companies had already agreed to buy our molasses, but by using pressure, they deprived us of millions of dollars we would have received from that. It was not easy to sell molasses elsewhere.
It was one step after another designed to blockade us, to drive us in a situation in which we would face shortages. The purpose was to defeat the Revolutionary Government, which was working for the people, and return to the old system of corruption, a system under which the monopolies got all types of concessions and controlled the Cuban economy.
U.S. imperialism also used pressure in other countries to get them to blockade us. In the midst of all this, the revolution was carrying out education, reforestation, public beach programs, and so forth.
Then they turned to backing terrorists and saboteurs. A campaign to destroy our stores and factories began. Now that the people own the installations, sabotage comes. When the wealthy owned them, there was no sabotage. But now that people own the establishments, the CIA goes into action. There is a sabotage campaign.
They organize sabotage against our wealth, they burn cane. They began to send planes over to burn it, but there was so much scandal that they changed tactics. They began to stir up counterrevolutionary groups, using formed soldiers, the worst elements. The worst were those who directed the second Escambray front. They sent them all kinds of arms. You have seen the display of weapons in the Civil Plaza. These worms, in a few weeks, got a thousand weapons, while we, in our battles, had to acquire arms one by one. They sent arms by air, by sea. And we are [Unreadable text] seizing these arms.
Aggression began economically, with maneuvers in sugar and an economic blockade; then came sabotage and counterrevolutionary guerrillas.
The United States has no right to meddle in our domestic affairs. We do not speak English and we do not chew gum. We have a different tradition, a different culture, our own way of thinking. Our national characteristics are different. We have no borders with anybody. Our frontiers are the sea, very clearly defined.
Only because it is a big country did the United States take the right to commit that series of brutalities against Cuba. How can the crooked politicians and the exploiters have more rights than the people? What right does a rich country have to impose its yoke on our people? Only because they have might and no scruples; they do not respect international rules. They should have been ashamed to be engaged in this battle of Goliath against David—and to lose it besides.
What did we have against their might? First, we had a sense of dignity and courage. We were not afraid. That is a big thing. Then, we were determined to resist. No matter what they throw against us, we will fight. Our men know how to die, and they have shown it during the past few days.
So far they have gone from aggression to aggression without stopping to think. Only direct aggression is left. Are we going to be afraid? No! (Applause) Imperialism's soldiers are blood and flesh too, and bullets go through them. Let them know they will meet with serious resistance. That may be enough to make them reflect a little. Our people—men, women, and children—must maintain that spirit. If they have no weapons they can take the place of somebody who falls. Have no fear; be calm! After all, the result of aggression against Cuba will be the start of a conflagration of incalculable consequences, and they will be affected too. It will no longer be a matter of them having a feast with us. They will get as much as they give.
To resist is to meet the enemy and fight him with whatever is at hand. To resist is to prepare our spirit, our minds for what comes, for the bombs they drop, because in such a case they would have superiority in the air. We would have to dig many trenches to defend ourselves. They would not have a bomb for each man in a hole.
We would most strongly defend our capital from house to house, as we have said before, from position to position—above all, without retreat. We would mine the fields. We would kill whatever parachutists fell in our zone of control.
If they think they can take our territory by surprise, they are mistaken. They would encounter firm resistance here and would awaken an unprecedented feeling of solidarity with us throughout the world. The attack by the mercenaries had demonstrated this. I am certain that such aggression would be suicide for them. Of that I am completely sure!
I am sure that we would resist in the same spirit as the men who have fallen up to today. In the fight in the Sierra Maestra and in the fight with the mercenaries, many of our friends have fallen. They paid their final tribute. They did their part. We all have the same obligation to act with that spirit of duty, with that feeling of loyalty. None of us has the right to save his life. That is to say, that our decision is firm. To resist regardless of cost, in all ways. That is what we have to do under the circumstances imposed on us through no fault of ours. We feel proud of our position. We used to be the last card in the deck, now we are among the first.
Throughout the whole world there are demonstrations in support of us and against the United States. They are surprised because in less than 72 hours we have destroyed the invasion which was prepared by the brains of the Pentagon with all the tactics and preparations of a war. The leaders of the invasion had great faith in the plans on which the United States placed its prestige, and out of which they came without prestige. Their plans were defeated. This they cannot accept. They fell into this ridiculous situation through their own fault. They cannot stand that consequence, so now they threaten with direct intervention, because they could not win. Well, who doubts that if they were capable of making such a mistake, they may not make a greater mistake? Who doubts that if they were capable of making this mistake, they will not make another great mistake? We think that they are capable of making even a greater mistake which will cost them not only their prestige, but will cost them their very existence as well; and no one knows what it may cost the world. The fact is that it is they who are threatening the entire world. They are the gangsters who are threatening the world peace, threatening the world with a war, threatening Cuba with intervention, and threatening Latin America. What can Latin America say to these threats? What they want is to bring back the right of intervention.
Our duty as a soldier in the trenches is to defend our country. All our spirit, all our thoughts, all our energy should be concentrated on this history-making period. We must defend our country. We defend the peace of the entire world, because our defense of our country may perhaps make these gentlemen stop and reflect. If they believe that we will run, they are wrong—nobody ran. Our firm decision is that before they subdue us, they will have to erase us from the map. Resistance will be strong in all sectors, in the fields if they take the cities. Let's see how they take Havana for example. We must look at all these things objectively because of our experience—we cannot go to sleep and rest on our laurels, because imperialism has received a rude blow and it is like an infuriated beast. Let us see if they reconsider, this gentleman we have there now, let us see how he acts.
We awaited his inauguration to see if he would do something different. We did not believe that he would continue with the errors of the previous administration. He himself said: "Let us begin anew." He did not begin anew; he began as of old. He not only followed the policy of Eisenhower, but he was even more aggressive against us. This gentleman has brought this problem on himself, through his lack of commonsense. He has earned this discredit all by himself. While we waited for him to show what policy he was going to follow, he increased the attacks against us. He increased in intensity the aggression against our country.
"Now he must do what he has to do: to recognize his mistake. What he has to do is to fire Mr. Allen Dulles. Because after a government has been placed before the world in such a ridiculous position, as the Yankee intelligence service has placed the U.S. Government, it is the least he can do now. What he has to do is to fire the chief of the intelligence service. You know why he should fire him? Well, because he `shipped' him too." (porque tambien lo embarco—Sp.) (Laughter)
What was one of the most ridiculous things that ever happened in the history of the United States, and they brought it on themselves. All we did was defend ourselves. It is clear that to please Mr. Kennedy and Allen Dulles we could not let ourselves be beaten by mercenaries. What did we do? We threw them into the ocean. (Laughter) This invasion organized by the United States was a species of Normandy which did not end in a Dunkirk because they did not get off the beaches.
That is what happened and that is why they are now furious and threatening. What are we going to do before the threats of Mr. Kennedy? Be frightened? No, we smile, because there are many thousands of men in the trenches with weapons in their hands. Once again we must take to the trenches. We have no other alternative—once more we must wait to see what happens in this crisis.
The defense of our country is what I wish to speak of first today. The expedition should strive to warn us that these people make many mistakes and that they are capable of committing the greatest imbecilities. As far as we are concerned, we cannot stop them from meddling. We do all we can to prevent it by arming ourselves and preparing for defense so that they may reconsider. But if they make a mistake, we cannot stop them from making it. Our duty is to maintain our firm position and be ready to defend ourselves without alarm, without panic, just as our many comrades went to fight and die. Nobody has the right to preserve his life. We all have the same obligations. We must keep this thought ever-present, especially right now when we have just finished a bloody battle where a great number of friends and brothers of the people have fallen. Of that we want to speak first.
The lackeys that took part in this Yankee-planned invasion evidently had confidence that the plan would not fail. They were so confident that they even sent their sons. Now they are seeking for clemency for the prisoners. Let them have clemency of the victims of their bombing. Let them cease sending arms to Cuba; arms to murder and kill, and the send of explosives and incendiaries. Let all this cease if they wish clemency.
Instead of defending the mercenaries, and there are some who do, they should be defending the victims of aggression. That is the situation.
Let us now analyze the plan of attack by imperialism against Cuba, and why they landed where they did, and why they did not land on the other side. In the first place they exaggerated the number of mercenaries. Instead of four or five thousand they did not have anywhere near that number. What they landed here was the group they had in Guatemala.
They have another in Caimanera, but it is smaller and not armed as well. The group that had the most arms, were better trained, and had air cover, was the Guatemala group. At first it appeared that the intentions were to take the Isle of Pines, to take it and free the war criminals imprisoned there and add them to their ranks and to take a piece of national territory and then give us the problem of dislodging them.
They were to direct their efforts toward gaining a piece of territory to establish there a provisional government from which to operate. The establishment of a base on our territory would have given them a base to bomb our country and would have created a difficult situation for us. We had to stop this at all costs. The Isle of Pines was ideal for the establishment of a base on our territory which would open the road for aid on territory of Cuba and make unnecessary to use of other countries to launch aggressions. But here is what we did. We filled the Isle of Pines with tens of batallions of cannon and tanks, we posted a force in the Isle of Pines that make the Isle of Pines invulnerable. A huge army would have been needed to attack it. They could not count on Escambray after it had been cleaned out. Would imperialism land mercenaries with just one combat force, or would it split its force into several groups, that was the problem if faced. Would it try to introduce groups and send them arms from the air, to establish many counterrevolutionary networks. We took measures to counter multiple landings, concentrating on logical points, in case they divided force into many groups. We concentrated especially on places giving access to the mountains.
A few days before the aggression, many U.S. papers carried the report that imperialism had decided on splitting up the force and opening different fronts in Cuba. That could be true. It could also be true that the rumors were intended to throw us off the track. Events later showed that they had decided to send the whole force together and seize a point of our territory. Among the rumors in the U.S. press, it was said that it was risky to send all forces against one point and expose them to a crushing defeat and strengthening the revolution.
If they had split up their forces in many landings, they could have used it for much propaganda. A defeat in that case would have been diluted. I believe they could have chosen either tactic. We trusted that we would defeat them wherever, they came. For us it would be best if they all came against the same point but we did not think they would do this. They chose something that offered more but also was much more risky for morale and prestige. They should have been worried about the blow to the morale of imperialism and counterrevolution. For us it was better for them to come in one force, but we thought they would avoid that mistake. But we were still ready with adequate force if they all came together.
A series of facts showed that the time was near: statements; formation of council of worms in exile; the famous White Book from Kennedy. A whole series of political facts and statements plus the indications in the U.S. press, including discrepancies about possible tactics. We heard that the last shipments of arms and men had gone to Guatemala. We increased our vigilance. On 15 April, because of a report from Oriente, we had not gone to bed. Everything indicated the attack might come at any minute; we got news from Oriente that many groups of ships were off Baracoa. Our forces were put on the alert.
It was necessary to be very careful because American ships often came close to the coast trying to cause trouble. One American ship without any flag was very close to the coast. It was detained by our craft. Then U.S. planes came, apparently to provoke an incident, so our vessel was ordered to let the ship proceed to avoid an incident. In connection with the mercenary landing, Americans carried out some ship movements to throw us off the track. The Baracoa battalion was waiting for a landing so there could be no doubt as to what kind of a ship it was. But in the end there was no landing at Baracoa. We still did not know what group of ships that was. It may have been mercenaries who never landed, it may have been U.S. ships; anyway, nothing happened.
We heard bombs and ack-ack. We saw it was a bombing raid in Ciudad Libertad. We decided it was definite that the aggression was beginning. We tried to get in touch with San Antonio to get our planes up and found that a simultaneous attack was going on there; and Santiago was attacked too.
We had taken measures at the air base. We have few planes and even fewer pilots. We were taking care of those planes. We wanted to be sure they would not be destroyed. So our planes were kept scattered. At San Antonio they managed to destroy one transport plane and one fighter; that was not much. At (Santiago?) they destroyed one fighter and several civilian planes.
They had hoped to destroy our air force. Imperialist aggressions are characterized by an attack on aviation to immobilize it. Our force is small, but we expect to make good use of those few planes and pilots.
At San Antonio the ack-ack reaction was formidable. Planes were driven off and our planes took off in pursuit of the enemy till he was on way to Miami. The first step of aggression—to destroy our planes on the ground—had failed. We reinforced our ack-ack but they did not come back. They had attacked with six planes. Some did not get back, others were riddled. Our air force was intact and ready. And our pilots wanted revenge. That was Saturday. All forces were alerted. Sunday the funeral services were held, our own planes kept guard.
An ammo truck has been set afire by the attack but the people kept calm. They drove the other trucks away while the ammo on the first one was exploding. (Applause) Of course no trucks with ammo should have been there but those things do happen. We were alert all day Sunday. We slept in the afternoon and not at night. We figured that the air raid was not just harrassment but had a military objective, to destroy our air force. Therefore we figured the aggression would come soon. We reinforced our measures after the air attack.
Why was this attack made two days early? Tactically speaking it was an error because we had a chance to take some measures. We mobilized all combat units. On Sunday nothing happened. On Monday morning at 3:15 I was informed that fighting was going on at Playa Giron and Playa Larga. We confirmed this. Then came the report that an invading force was bombing heavily with bazookas and cannons at the two beaches. There was no doubt of a landing attempt at that point—one supported by heavy equipment. Resistance began. Results of the attacks came. The microwave system was cut off. Communications were then cut off. This was the situation.
Here is Cochino Bay and here is Cienfugeos. There was a Cienfugeos battalion at the Central Australia. These were the first to meet the aggression. Here is Playa Larga and here Playa Giron. Here is Zapata Peninsula. This piece of impassible swamp land was the sole communication available to peasants. This area bothered the revolution most.
(Editor's Note: At this point Castro discusses for approximately six minutes the Zapata swamp area and tells what the revolution has done for it and its people, the building of schools, roads, and medical facilities. He then spends about five minutes giving in some detail a list of the weapons captured in this area, apparently reading from a report. Then during a period of bad reception of approximately 10 minutes, he discusses the invader miscalculations of the Castro air force and, in some detail, the battle plans and the tactical situation during the early stages of the invasion. During much of the time Castro seems to be referring to maps.)
That was the plan. They put two battalions here, and five further back; here were four and six, that was very early in the morning. Then planes were to drop paratroops. They began landing very well. But at Playa Larga and Playa Giron they met resistance. They began losing time. They got two battalions ashore. Paratroops began operating. As they dropped paratroops at these spots, our troops were caught between the main force and the paratroops. Our first measures were to alert all commands and the air force. Orders were given to disperse planes and have ack-ack ready if an attack was made on the airstrip.
We had planes ready for defense against air attack. The battalion at the Australia central was ordered to Playa Larga to fight. It was an infantry battalion recently formed. At the same time an order given to mobilize Matanzas militia battalion and advance to here. Orders were given to other forces. We had two battalions in Las Villas. The problem first of all was to keep a beachhead here. The main thing was to keep a bit of Playa Larga here, on this side. The Cienfuegos battalion got there before dawn and began fighting. But then came time another group of our forces was fighting at Cayo Ramona. The air force was ordered to take before dawn and attack all ships off Giron and Playa Larga. Our battalion prevented battalion five from getting ashore. Our planes began attacking the ships and doing much damage. Meanwhile our battalion was facing strong fire, and was taken from the rear. It fell back fighting the paratroops. A battalion was sent from Matanzas to reinforce it.
Enemy planes were painted with revolutionary armed forces insignia. They attacked our advancing troops. We were most interested in keeping this bit of territory. When we saw paratroops dropped we realized that the attack would come against a single point and any other move would be for diversion. Mobilization of two combat columns of the army was ordered; also of a company of tanks and anti-tank batteries and mortars. Since they controlled the air, the first day our forces had to wait till night to advance. Our planes could not shift from attacking the ships.
Our planes continued to attack the ships. They did wonderful work. Besides attacking the ships, they fought with enemy planes. But they kept hammering the ships until not much was left of their fleet. We lost two planes the first morning. Five enemy planes were downed. Four ships were sunk. That was the first day.
They had an unexpected surprise. They had thought our air force was knocked out, and so the first day ended. They lost more than half of their ships. Our pilots acted with special courage. What they did was incredible.
The militia attacked the Playa Larga position. The battalion had only a narrow road to attack from. On the first day they deployed forces. They were attacking with planes here, and here. We tried to approach the enemy as close as possible under B-26 fire. The battle was accompanied by tanks. So we attacked them all day without respite, fighting constantly. An early morning tank attack came from the same beach with antiair fire support. One of our tanks was damaged. An antitank battery hit us and also another entrenched tank. The goal was to take Playa Larga beach.
They then began to flee. Here a tank surrendered. At dawn on 19 April the planes bombed the Australia central. On the 19th we had antiaircraft in position. This column, when in movement, was attached by American Sabre planes. They (the invaders—Ed.) had B-26's, not jets. Then, this column of ours, when it advanced between Playa Larga and Playa Giron during the afternoon, suffered many casualties under attack of American Sabres. Those planes were at high altitudes, and on that day when it was already dusk on the 18th, they attacked our column, with Sabres, with jet planes, and they caused many casualties in the column. That was one of the cases in which American planes participated directly. They attacked the column coming from Playa Larga to Giron. At dawn on 19 April a plane attacked the Australia central and was downed and then two more planes. Our planes downed more B-26's. We downed 10 planes during the entire fighting. On the 19th none of their planes returned and we did not see the enemy anymore.
On 19 April there were losses, as they were well entrenched. Our people had to fight facing heavy mortar fire and anti-tank guns. There were 87 dead on our side and 250 wounded. That means that our combat units paid a high price in lives while they were on the offensive and that was due to the fact that we were on the offensive constantly until the last position was taken. It is possible that the dead on our side will amount to 100. That indicates the heroism of our troops. They fought constantly without relief against an enemy with relief and more planes than we had. (Castro confers with one of his aides on figures—Ed.) An exact figure cannot yet be given on losses because many of those who came in ships were drowned. According to date here 88. One cannot count those lost in bombing and sunken ships. This will be possible only after identification and a check of personnel lost from each unit. There are some 450 prisoners. We cannot study all data of units and determine how many men were in ships which were sunk. One cannot give an exact figure on that. As I said, one of the basic principles of battle was the courage with which our men fought. It is one thing to defend a position and another to attack without protection under heavy fire. Of course, under such circumstances the losses increase. In the future, we shall be able to have more officers, Battalion chiefs are learning more. The training of units and officers will be better. All kinds of personnel—mortar, shell, cannonwill be specialized. The fact have shown us the necessity of using our knowledge to defend the revolution. The units have acquired considerable experience.
The government plans to create a decoration—to decorate as "Hero of the Revolution" those who were outstanding for valor; and another type of decoration to reward acts of valor in battle. Meanwhile the government will pass a pension law to give a pension to kin of militia and soldiers who fell in this fighting. The least the revolution can do for those who fell is to protect their families who depended on them. This will be done as soon as the cabinet meets.
If our troops had had more experience, we could have had fewer casualties. When imperialism found what had happened, it had no army left here. The enemy is still dumbfounded.
The committees for defense of the revolution acted too. There was a needed to arrest anybody who for one reason or another might help the counterrevolution. That kind of measure always entails some injustice, but that is inevitable. The country faced aggression and had to take any measure for defense. Those persons will be released unless there are charges against them other than that they were considered suspect. Those who have counterrevolutionary activity proven against them or are well known will continue to be held. Since yesterday, those arrested as a precaution have started being released. This does not mean that the danger is past. We think the danger is great, especially of direct aggression from the United States.
At Mesa, Arizona, Senator Goldwater said he had recommended direct intervention if all else failed. That is the idea of right that this ultra has. What respect for sovereignty of other countries and international law! How calmly they speak of direct military intervention. They respect nothing. And they talk as if it were so easy. They do not learn. They should think of the sorrow military aggression causes—and all to restore privileges here. What need was there to bring this bloodshed to our country? What need to threaten us with intervention? They are so irresponsible that after causing bloodshed here, they threaten with more intervention. The reply is our determination to resist; and if they attack, it will be the end of imperialism. Better to die than live under the yoke of those gentlemen.
Glorious death fighting to defeat imperialism deserves a monument. There should be a big monument in Zapata swamps with the names of the fallen on it, to tell the world that on that day Zapata imperialism sustained its first great defeat in America. Precious lives were given in this battle. The militia performed countless feats of prowess. The people defended their land, honor, rights. They have earned the admiration of the world and prestige. They waged a battle for peace.
Just think, during these past days the literacy campaign was not halted; the lifestock fair is opening; the Conrado Benitez literacy brigade is about to set forth. This work did not stop in the midst of tension. This shows the stuff the revolution is made of.
The comrades who fell saved tens of thousands of lives. Their service to the nation is incalculable. The pilots who fought so steadily and eagerly have created the air force. I am sure no air force ever did before what they have done. We believe 17 April should be made Cuban revolutionary air force day.
Mansfield said the Cuban crisis is very grave. The Vermont senator said Cuba is a permanent threat to the hemisphere. If that means they will invade Cuba, nobody here is frightened at all. We will give them a great reception. The might of an empire cannot go as far as the dignity of the people. It will collapse when it runs into the will of the people.
It is regrettable that U.S. leaders make so many mistakes, such as this one. Why did the U.S. Government need to make itself so ridiculous? It calculated a lot but it calculated badly. In Latin America, there will be war by all who support our revolution. Latin American forces would have a hard time to protect U.S. ambassadors. They should reflect on that. It is too bad they are playing with the idea of attacking us. Such a mistake—nobody knows where it would end. It is too bad the world has to be exposed to the mistakes of those men who know nothing about politics.
Kennedy's speeches and his threats are similar to Hitler's. Hitler threatened the small neighboring countries, and Kennedy is threatening Cuba and is saying that he will intervene. He says that his patience is coming to an end. Well, what about our patience, with all the things we have had to endure? In attacking Cuba, they shall unmask themselves more and arouse more revolutionary spirit in Latin America and they will only increase their own future worries. We want them to leave us alone. We want to live in peace with our revolution without losing any more sons. They should stop supplying the counterrevolutionaries with weapons. We will simply have to use a heavy hand. (Applause)
The imperialist powers use the method of surprise attacks, the same method of Hitler and Mussolini. We wish they would reconsider things, take a cold or a hot shower, anything. Let humanity, let history, end a system which is outdated now. Imperialism must pass just as feudalism did, just as slavery did.
The wars of 1914 and 1940's were bad. Nazism didn't save itself. The forces in the world in favor of peace are great. They know history is with them. They need not fight against history to preserve their system and privileges. It will be a sorry day for the world if those gentlemen are not able to reconsider. This is the question we must consider quietly. Cuba is part of the world today and there can be no discussion with Cuba that do not effect the world. (Applause)
We shall keep all the revolutionary forces mobilized and we shall plan for the May Day celebrations and we shall work for the victory of the revolution. We shall prepare ourselves to make the necessary sacrifices. The people have tasted victory. Victory is based upon sacrifices, on the basis of the 87 who died to guarantee the future of the country. They sacrificed themselves for the rest, for the independence and sovereignty of the nation and to obtain a better nation. This joy of today we owe it to those who fell and we hope that the future generations will enjoy their lives for today's sacrifices.
The first prisoner, (Anzon Bayon?) said he was in training for two months in Guatemala under American instructors and then went to Nicaragua but was there only one day. He said that the situation in Cuba was pictured as intolerable.
The second prisoner, whose name was not heard, said he was trained at the Helvetia Ranch in Guatemala, that he saw the Guatemalan minister of war at the Retalhuleu base in November and that President Ydigoras visited the camp in December. When asked if he had joined or enlisted in Miami, he replied, "In Mexico."
Questioned about the nationality of two destroyers which the prisoner said served as an escort, he replied;
"They came in the area of the straits between Caiman Grande and Jamaica. I could see in the distance that two destroyers escorted us. I could see the number on one of them that came more to the North. The number was 507."
Question: "Did you understand what I asked about the destroyer?"
Answer: "It was of North American nationality. The destroyer accompanied us from Caiman strait and Jamaica up to very near the Playa Giron."
Question: "What idea did you and those who were with you have about the Cuban situation?"
Answer: "Our ideas were principally from information media we had from (here?). We had bulletin board notices at the brigade headquarters, a series of notes headed News about Cuba: That the militia was discontented; that there was friction between the army and the militia, very great friction—I do not have to tell you that that was not true; that the people were discontented with the government, with the economic measures—the propaganda was constant. They emphasized that the investigation services of the government were...