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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Of the Poor, by the Poor, for the Poor -- Castro's speech on the eve of the Bay of Pigs

Castro during the Bay of Pigs invasion.

On April 16, 1961 the day before the Bay of Pigs US backed counter-revolutionary invasion of Cuba, Fidel Castro spoke at the funeral of the victims of the air raids which preceded the invasion. We publish below the stirring, powerful English text of his address.


THEY HATE US because we are ready to defend the revolution with those guns, those rifles and machine guns, you have in your hands! And also because they know that this socialist revolution is going to be defended with the courage with which our anti-aircraft gunners made sieves out of the attacking invaders. This revolution is not going to be defended by mercenaries. It is going to be defended by men and women of the people!

Who has the weapons? Are they in the hands of mercenaries? Are they being held by millionaires? The fact is that mercenary and millionaire are two of a kind. Are these arms in the hands of the spoiled boys of the rich families? Are they being handled by the overseers? No! Who is holding these weapons? Whose hands are raising these weapons? Are they the hands of the rich? Are they the hands of exploiters? No, they are not. Whose hands are they? Are they not workers' hands? Are they not peasants' hands? Are they not hands toughened by hard work? Are they not creative hands? Are they not the hands of the humble, of the poor, of the people?

And what makes up the majority of the people? The millionaires or the workers? The exploiters or the exploited? The privileged or the humble? Are the arms in the hands of the privileged? No, they are held by the poor, by the under-privileged! Are the privileged in a majority? Is a revolution in which the poor have arms a democratic one? Comrades, workers and peasants: this is a socialist and democratic revolution of the poor and the humble, for the poor and the humble! And for this revolution of the poor, by the poor and for the poor we are more than ready; we are anxious to give our lives!


Workers and peasants, men and wo-men of the Fatherland: Do you swear that you will defend with your last drop of blood this revolution of the poor, by the poor and for the poor?

Fellow workers and peasants of the Fatherland: yesterday's raids were only a prelude, a preliminary to the full-fledged aggression by the mercenaries. Yesterday's attack, which cost the lives of seven heroes, was designed to destroy our ground installations and the aircraft parked in them -- though of course, they failed. The enemy managed to destroy only

two machines and most of the enemy craft were badly damaged or shot down.

Here, facing the graves of our fallen comrades, close to the remains of these young heroes, the children of poor people, by the dead bodies of these victims, let us reaffirm our decision to emulate them. Let us swear that just as they presented their young breasts to the enemy's bullets, just as they offered their lives, so will we, no matter when or how the mercenaries may come. All of us, immensely proud of our revolution, proud to defend this revolution of the poor, by the poor and for the poor, will not hesitate, will not waver and will not be stopped, no matter who they are or how many they are. We will shed our last drop of blood.

Long live the working class! Long live the peasants! Long live the poor! Long live the martyrs of the Father-land. Long live the socialist revolution! Long live liberty for Cuba!

Fatherland or Death! We will win! To battle! Let us sing the national anthem.

* * *

Comrades, all units must go to the quarters of their respective battalions in view of the mobilization ordered to keep the whole country on the alert. In face of the imminence of the aggression that can be expected after all the events of the last few weeks, and from the cowardly attack of yesterday, let us march to the mi-litia headquarters, let us form our battalions and make ready to face the enemy, with the National An-them on our lips, the words of that patriotic song: "to die for one's coun-try is to live forever! To live in chains is to live in shame and de-gradation!" Let us march to our respective bat-talions, and once there, await orders, comrades!



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