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And so the mightiest of the mighty
has now departed this mortal coyle
forever enbraced
forever the hero
of revolutionists, freedom fighters and
surprisingly
ecologists
everywhere

when we write the history
of our planet
of our inspirations and dreams
there will always be Fidel
there will always be Che
there will always be Celia
and there will always be Cuba
standing up for the poor
the workers
withstanding the hundreds of assassination plots
of the imperial giant
to the North

Fidel
how different
how much poorer
how much less possibility
less imagination
our lives
would have held
without you
sitting there
towering

- Mitchel Cohen





History Will Absolve Me

[And so it has. --TOPLAB]

posted at 
<http://www.marxists.org/history/cuba/archive/castro/1953/10/16.htm>http://www.marxists.org/history/cuba/archive/castro/1953/10/16.htm 
and numerous other websites

History Will Absolve Me/La historia me absolverá (October 16, 1953)

a speech by Fidel Castro Ruz delivered at the 
conclusion of his trial for his leadership role 
in the July 26, 1953 attack on the Moncada Barracks, Santiago de Cuba

HONORABLE JUDGES:

Never has a lawyer had to practice his profession 
under such difficult conditions; never has such a 
number of overwhelming irregularities been 
committed against an accused man. In this case, 
counsel and defendant are one and the same. As 
attorney he has not even been able to take a look 
at the indictment. As accused, for the past 
seventy-six days he has been locked away in 
solitary confinement, held totally and absolutely 
incommunicado, in violation of every human and legal right.

He who speaks to you hates vanity with all his 
being, nor are his temperament or frame of mind 
inclined towards courtroom poses or 
sensationalism of any kind. If I have had to 
assume my own defense before this Court it is for 
two reasons. First: because I have been denied 
legal aid almost entirely, and second: only one 
who has been so deeply wounded, who has seen his 
country so forsaken and its justice trampled so, 
can speak at a moment like this with words that 
spring from the blood of his heart and the truth of his very gut.

There was no lack of generous comrades who wished 
to defend me, and the Havana Bar Association 
appointed a courageous and competent jurist, Dr. 
Jorge Pagliery, Dean of the Bar in this city, to 
represent me in this case. However, he was not 
permitted to carry out his task. As often as he 
tried to see me, the prison gates were closed 
before him. Only after a month and a half, and 
through the intervention of the Court, was he 
finally granted a ten minute interview with me in 
the presence of a sergeant from the Military 
Intelligence Agency (SIM). One supposes that a 
lawyer has a right to speak with his defendant in 
private, and this right is respected throughout 
the world, except in the case of a Cuban prisoner 
of war in the hands of an implacable tyranny that 
abides by no code of law, be it legal or humane. 
Neither Dr. Pagliery nor I were willing to 
tolerate such dirty spying upon our means of 
defense for the oral trial. Did they want to 
know, perhaps, beforehand, the methods we would 
use in order to reduce to dust the incredible 
fabric of lies they had woven around the Moncada 
Barracks events? How were we going to expose the 
terrible truth they would go to such great 
lengths to conceal? It was then that we decided 
that, taking advantage of my professional rights 
as a lawyer, I would assume my own defense.

This decision, overheard by the sergeant and 
reported by him to his superior, provoked a real 
panic. It looked like some mocking little imp was 
telling them that I was going to ruin all their 
plans. You know very well, Honorable Judges, how 
much pressure has been brought to bear on me in 
order to strip me as well of this right that is 
ratified by long Cuban tradition. The Court could 
not give in to such machination, for that would 
have left the accused in a state of total 
indefensiveness. The accused, who is now 
exercising this right to plead his own case, will 
under no circumstances refrain from saying what 
he must say. I consider it essential that I 
explain, at the onset, the reason for the 
terrible isolation in which I have been kept; 
what was the purpose of keeping me silent; what 
was behind the plots to kill me, plots which the 
Court is familiar with; what grave events are 
being hidden from the people; and the truth 
behind all the strange things which have taken 
place during this trial. I propose to do all this with utmost clarity.

You have publicly called this case the most 
significant in the history of the Republic. If 
you sincerely believed this, you should not have 
allowed your authority to be stained and 
degraded. The first court session was September 
21st. Among one hundred machine guns and 
bayonets, scandalously invading the hall of 
justice, more than a hundred people were seated 
in the prisoner's dock. The great majority had 
nothing to do with what had happened. They had 
been under preventive arrest for many days, 
suffering all kinds of insults and abuses in the 
chambers of the repressive units. But the rest of 
the accused, the minority, were brave and 
determined, ready to proudly confirm their part 
in the battle for freedom, ready to offer an 
example of unprecedented self-sacrifice and to 
wrench from the jail's claws those who in 
deliberate bad faith had been included in the 
trial. Those who had met in combat confronted one 
another again. Once again, with the cause of 
justice on our side, we would wage the terrible 
battle of truth against infamy! Surely the regime 
was not prepared for the moral catastrophe in store for it!

How to maintain all its false accusations? How to 
keep secret what had really happened, when so 
many young men were willing to risk everything - 
prison, torture and death, if necessary - in 
order that the truth be told before this Court?

I was called as a witness at that first session. 
For two hours I was questioned by the Prosecutor 
as well as by twenty defense attorneys. I was 
able to prove with exact facts and figures the 
sums of money that had been spent, the way this 
money was collected and the arms we had been able 
to round up. I had nothing to hide, for the truth 
was: all this was accomplished through sacrifices 
without precedent in the history of our Republic. 
I spoke of the goals that inspired us in our 
struggle and of the humane and generous treatment 
that we had at all times accorded our 
adversaries. If I accomplished my purpose of 
demonstrating that those who were falsely 
implicated in this trial were neither directly 
nor indirectly involved, I owe it to the complete 
support and backing of my heroic comrades. For, 
as I said, the consequences they might be forced 
to suffer at no time caused them to repent of 
their condition as revolutionaries and patriots, 
I was never once allowed to speak with these 
comrades of mine during the time we were in 
prison, and yet we planned to do exactly the 
same. The fact is, when men carry the same ideals 
in their hearts, nothing can isolate them - 
neither prison walls nor the sod of cemeteries. 
For a single memory, a single spirit, a single 
idea, a single conscience, a single dignity will sustain them all.

 From that moment on, the structure of lies the 
regime had erected about the events at Moncada 
Barracks began to collapse like a house of cards. 
As a result, the Prosecutor realized that keeping 
all those persons named as instigators in prison 
was completely absurd, and he requested their provisional release.

At the close of my testimony in that first 
session, I asked the Court to allow me to leave 
the dock and sit among the counsel for the 
defense. This permission was granted. At that 
point what I consider my most important mission 
in this trial began: to totally discredit the 
cowardly, miserable and treacherous lies which 
the regime had hurled against our fighters; to 
reveal with irrefutable evidence the horrible, 
repulsive crimes they had practiced on the 
prisoners; and to show the nation and the world 
the infinite misfortune of the Cuban people who 
are suffering the cruelest, the most inhuman oppression of their history.

The second session convened on Tuesday, September 
22nd. By that time only ten witnesses had 
testified, and they had already cleared up the 
murders in the Manzanillo area, specifically 
establishing and placing on record the direct 
responsibility of the captain commanding that 
post. There were three hundred more witnesses to 
testify. What would happen if, with a staggering 
mass of facts and evidence, I should proceed to 
cross-examine the very Army men who were directly 
responsible for those crimes? Could the regime 
permit me to go ahead before the large audience 
attending the trial? Before journalists and 
jurists from all over the island? And before the 
party leaders of the opposition, who they had 
stupidly seated right in the prisoner's dock 
where they could hear so well all that might be 
brought out here? They would rather have blown up 
the court house, with all its judges, than allow that!

And so they devised a plan by which they could 
eliminate me from the trial and they proceeded to 
do just that, manu militari. On Friday night, 
September 25th, on the eve of the third session 
of the trial, two prison doctors visited me in my 
cell. They were visibly embarrassed. 'We have 
come to examine you,' they said. I asked them, 
'Who is so worried about my health?' Actually, 
from the moment I saw them I realized what they 
had come for. They could not have treated me with 
greater respect, and they explained their 
predicament to me. That afternoon Colonel 
Chaviano had appeared at the prison and told them 
I 'was doing the Government terrible damage with 
this trial.' He had told them they must sign a 
certificate declaring that I was ill and was, 
therefore, unable to appear in court. The doctors 
told me that for their part they were prepared to 
resign from their posts and risk persecution. 
They put the matter in my hands, for me to 
decide. I found it hard to ask those men to 
unhesitatingly destroy themselves. But neither 
could I, under any circumstances, consent that 
those orders be carried out. Leaving the matter 
to their own consciences, I told them only: 'You 
must know your duty; I certainly know mine.'

After leaving the cell they signed the 
certificate. I know they did so believing in good 
faith that this was the only way they could save 
my life, which they considered to be in grave 
danger. I was not obliged to keep our 
conversation secret, for I am bound only by the 
truth. Telling the truth in this instance may 
jeopardize those good doctors in their material 
interests, but I am removing all doubt about 
their honor, which is worth much more. That same 
night, I wrote the Court a letter denouncing the 
plot; requesting that two Court physicians be 
sent to certify my excellent state of health, and 
to inform you that if to save my life I must take 
part in such deception, I would a thousand times 
prefer to lose it. To show my determination to 
fight alone against this whole degenerate 
frame-up, I added to my own words one of the 
Master's lines: 'A just cause even from the 
depths of a cave can do more than an army.' As 
the Court knows, this was the letter Dr. Melba 
Hernández submitted at the third session of the 
trial on September 26th. I managed to get it to 
her in spite of the heavy guard I was under. That 
letter, of course, provoked immediate reprisals. 
Dr. Hernández was subjected to solitary 
confinement, and I - since I was already 
incommunicado - was sent to the most inaccessible 
reaches of the prison. From that moment on, all 
the accused were thoroughly searched from head to 
foot before they were brought into the courtroom.

Two Court physicians certified on September 27th 
that I was, in fact, in perfect health. Yet, in 
spite of the repeated orders from the Court, I 
was never again brought to the hearings. What's 
more, anonymous persons daily circulated hundreds 
of apocryphal pamphlets which announced my rescue 
from jail. This stupid alibi was invented so they 
could physically eliminate me and pretend I had 
tried to escape. Since the scheme failed as a 
result of timely exposure by ever alert friends, 
and after the first affidavit was shown to be 
false, the regime could only keep me away from 
the trial by open and shameless contempt of Court.

This was an incredible situation, Honorable 
Judges: Here was a regime literally afraid to 
bring an accused man to Court; a regime of blood 
and terror that shrank in fear of the moral 
conviction of a defenseless man - unarmed, 
slandered and isolated. And so, after depriving 
me of everything else, they finally deprived me 
even of the trial in which I was the main 
accused. Remember that this was during a period 
in which individual rights were suspended and the 
Public Order Act as well as censorship of radio 
and press were in full force. What unbelievable 
crimes this regime must have committed to so fear 
the voice of one accused man!

I must dwell upon the insolence and disrespect 
which the Army leaders have at all times shown 
towards you. As often as this Court has ordered 
an end to the inhuman isolation in which I was 
held; as often as it has ordered my most 
elementary rights to be respected; as often as it 
has demanded that I be brought before it, this 
Court has never been obeyed! Worse yet: in the 
very presence of the Court, during the first and 
second hearings, a praetorian guard was stationed 
beside me to totally prevent me from speaking to 
anyone, even among the brief recesses. In other 
words, not only in prison, but also in the 
courtroom and in your presence, they ignored your 
decrees. I had intended to mention this matter in 
the following session, as a question of 
elementary respect for the Court, but - I was 
never brought back. And if, in exchange for so 
much disrespect, they bring us before you to be 
jailed in the name of a legality which they and 
they alone have been violating since March 10th, 
sad indeed is the role they would force on you. 
The Latin maxim Cedant arma togae has certainly 
not been fulfilled on a single occasion during 
this trial. I beg you to keep that circumstance well in mind.

What is more, these devices were in any case 
quite useless; my brave comrades, with 
unprecedented patriotism, did their duty to the utmost.

'Yes, we set out to fight for Cuba's freedom and 
we are not ashamed of having done so,' they 
declared, one by one, on the witness stand. Then, 
addressing the Court with impressive courage, 
they denounced the hideous crimes committed upon 
the bodies of our brothers. Although absent from 
Court, I was able, in my prison cell, to follow 
the trial in all its details. And I have the 
convicts at Boniato Prison to thank for this. In 
spite of all threats, these men found ingenious 
means of getting newspaper clippings and all 
kinds of information to me. In this way they 
avenged the abuses and immoralities perpetrated 
against them both by Taboada, the warden, and the 
supervisor, Lieutenant Rozabal, who drove them 
from sun up to sun down building private mansions 
and starved them by embezzling the prison food budget.

As the trial went on, the roles were reversed: 
those who came to accuse found themselves 
accused, and the accused became the accusers! It 
was not the revolutionaries who were judged 
there; judged once and forever was a man named 
Batista - monstruum horrendum! - and it matters 
little that these valiant and worthy young men 
have been condemned, if tomorrow the people will 
condemn the Dictator and his henchmen! Our men 
were consigned to the Isle of Pines Prison, in 
whose circular galleries Castells' ghost still 
lingers and where the cries of countless victims 
still echo; there our young men have been sent to 
expiate their love of liberty, in bitter 
confinement, banished from society, torn from 
their homes and exiled from their country. Is it 
not clear to you, as I have said before, that in 
such circumstances it is difficult and 
disagreeable for this lawyer to fulfill his duty?

As a result of so many turbid and illegal 
machinations, due to the will of those who govern 
and the weakness of those who judge, I find 
myself here in this little room at the Civilian 
Hospital, where I have been brought to be tried 
in secret, so that I may not be heard and my 
voice may be stifled, and so that no one may 
learn of the things I am going to say. Why, then, 
do we need that imposing Palace of Justice which 
the Honorable Judges would without doubt find 
much more comfortable? I must warn you: it is 
unwise to administer justice from a hospital 
room, surrounded by sentinels with fixed 
bayonets; the citizens might suppose that our 
justice is sick - and that it is captive.

Let me remind you, your laws of procedure provide 
that trials shall be 'public hearings;' however, 
the people have been barred altogether from this 
session of Court. The only civilians admitted 
here have been two attorneys and six reporters, 
in whose newspapers the censorship of the press 
will prevent printing a word I say. I see, as my 
sole audience in this chamber and in the 
corridors, nearly a hundred soldiers and 
officers. I am grateful for the polite and 
serious attention they give me. I only wish I 
could have the whole Army before me! I know, one 
day, this Army will seethe with rage to wash away 
the terrible, the shameful bloodstains splattered 
across the military uniform by the present 
ruthless clique in its lust for power. On that 
day, oh what a fall awaits those mounted in 
arrogance on their noble steeds! - provided that 
the people have not dismounted them long before that!

Finally, I should like to add that no treatise on 
penal law was allowed me in my cell. I have at my 
disposal only this tiny code of law lent to me by 
my learned counsel, Dr. Baudillo Castellanos, the 
courageous defender of my comrades. In the same 
way they prevented me from receiving the books of 
Martí; it seems the prison censorship considered 
them too subversive. Or is it because I said 
Martí was the inspirer of the 26th of July? 
Reference books on any other subject were also 
denied me during this trial. But it makes no 
difference! I carry the teachings of the Master 
in my heart, and in my mind the noble ideas of 
all men who have defended people's freedom everywhere!

I am going to make only one request of this 
court; I trust it will be granted as a 
compensation for the many abuses and outrages the 
accused has had to tolerate without protection of 
the law. I ask that my right to express myself be 
respected without restraint. Otherwise, even the 
merest semblance of justice cannot be maintained, 
and the final episode of this trial would be, 
more than all the others, one of ignominy and cowardice.

I must admit that I am somewhat disappointed. I 
had expected that the Honorable Prosecutor would 
come forward with a grave accusation. I thought 
he would be ready to justify to the limit his 
contention, and his reasons why I should be 
condemned in the name of Law and Justice - what 
law and what justice? - to 26 years in prison. 
But no. He has limited himself to reading Article 
148 of the Social Defense Code. On the basis of 
this, plus aggravating circumstances, he requests 
that I be imprisoned for the lengthy term of 26 
years! Two minutes seems a very short time in 
which to demand and justify that a man be put 
behind bars for more than a quarter of a century. 
Can it be that the Honorable Prosecutor is, 
perhaps, annoyed with the Court? Because as I see 
it, his laconic attitude in this case clashes 
with the solemnity with which the Honorable 
Judges declared, rather proudly, that this was a 
trial of the greatest importance! I have heard 
prosecutors speak ten times longer in a simple 
narcotics case asking for a sentence of just six 
months. The Honorable Prosecutor has supplied not 
a word in support of his petition. I am a just 
man. I realize that for a prosecuting attorney 
under oath of loyalty to the Constitution of the 
Republic, it is difficult to come here in the 
name of an unconstitutional, statutory, de facto 
government, lacking any legal much less moral 
basis, to ask that a young Cuban, a lawyer like 
himself - perhaps as honorable as he, be sent to 
jail for 26 years. But the Honorable Prosecutor 
is a gifted man and I have seen much less 
talented persons write lengthy diatribes in 
defense of this regime. How then can I suppose 
that he lacks reason with which to defend it, at 
least for fifteen minutes, however contemptible 
that might be to any decent person? It is clear 
that there is a great conspiracy behind all this.

Honorable Judges: Why such interest in silencing 
me? Why is every type of argument foregone in 
order to avoid presenting any target whatsoever 
against which I might direct my own brief? Is it 
that they lack any legal, moral or political 
basis on which to put forth a serious formulation 
of the question? Are they that afraid of the 
truth? Do they hope that I, too, will speak for 
only two minutes and that I will not touch upon 
the points which have caused certain people 
sleepless nights since July 26th? Since the 
prosecutor's petition was restricted to the mere 
reading of five lines of an article of the Social 
Defense Code, might they suppose that I too would 
limit myself to those same lines and circle round 
them like some slave turning a millstone? I shall 
by no means accept such a gag, for in this trial 
there is much more than the freedom of a single 
individual at stake. Fundamental matters of 
principle are being debated here, the right of 
men to be free is on trial, the very foundations 
of our existence as a civilized and democratic 
nation are in the balance. When this trial is 
over, I do not want to have to reproach myself 
for any principle left undefended, for any truth 
left unsaid, for any crime not denounced.

The Honorable Prosecutor's famous little article 
hardly deserves a minute of my time. I shall 
limit myself for the moment to a brief legal 
skirmish against it, because I want to clear the 
field for an assault against all the endless lies 
and deceits, the hypocrisy, conventionalism and 
moral cowardice that have set the stage for the 
crude comedy which since the 10th of March - and 
even before then - has been called Justice in Cuba.

It is a fundamental principle of criminal law 
that an imputed offense must correspond exactly 
to the type of crime described by law. If no law 
applies exactly to the point in question, then there is no offense.

The article in question reads textually: 'A 
penalty of imprisonment of from three to ten 
years shall be imposed upon the perpetrator of 
any act aimed at bringing about an armed uprising 
against the Constitutional Powers of the State. 
The penalty shall be imprisonment for from five 
to twenty years, in the event that insurrection 
actually be carried into effect.'

In what country is the Honorable Prosecutor 
living? Who has told him that we have sought to 
bring about an uprising against the 
Constitutional Powers of the State? Two things 
are self-evident. First of all, the dictatorship 
that oppresses the nation is not a constitutional 
power, but an unconstitutional one: it was 
established against the Constitution, over the 
head of the Constitution, violating the 
legitimate Constitution of the Republic. The 
legitimate Constitution is that which emanates 
directly from a sovereign people. I shall 
demonstrate this point fully later on, 
notwithstanding all the subterfuges contrived by 
cowards and traitors to justify the 
unjustifiable. Secondly, the article refers to 
Powers, in the plural, as in the case of a 
republic governed by a Legislative Power, an 
Executive Power, and a Judicial Power which 
balance and counterbalance one another. We have 
fomented a rebellion against one single power, an 
illegal one, which has usurped and merged into a 
single whole both the Legislative and Executive 
Powers of the nation, and so has destroyed the 
entire system that was specifically safeguarded 
by the Code now under our analysis. As to the 
independence of the Judiciary after the 10th of 
March, I shall not allude to that for I am in no 
mood for joking ... No matter how Article 148 may 
be stretched, shrunk or amended, not a single 
comma applies to the events of July 26th. Let us 
leave this statute alone and await the 
opportunity to apply it to those who really did 
foment an uprising against the Constitutional 
Powers of the State. Later I shall come back to 
the Code to refresh the Honorable Prosecutor's 
memory about certain circumstances he has unfortunately overlooked.

I warn you, I am just beginning! If there is in 
your hearts a vestige of love for your country, 
love for humanity, love for justice, listen 
carefully. I know that I will be silenced for 
many years; I know that the regime will try to 
suppress the truth by all possible means; I know 
that there will be a conspiracy to bury me in 
oblivion. But my voice will not be stifled - it 
will rise from my breast even when I feel most 
alone, and my heart will give it all the fire that callous cowards deny it.

 From a shack in the mountains on Monday, July 
27th, I listened to the dictator's voice on the 
air while there were still 18 of our men in arms 
against the government. Those who have never 
experienced similar moments will never know that 
kind of bitterness and indignation. While the 
long-cherished hopes of freeing our people lay in 
ruins about us we heard those crushed hopes 
gloated over by a tyrant more vicious, more 
arrogant than ever. The endless stream of lies 
and slanders, poured forth in his crude, odious, 
repulsive language, may only be compared to the 
endless stream of clean young blood which had 
flowed since the previous night - with his 
knowledge, consent, complicity and approval - 
being spilled by the most inhuman gang of 
assassins it is possible to imagine. To have 
believed him for a single moment would have 
sufficed to fill a man of conscience with remorse 
and shame for the rest of his life. At that time 
I could not even hope to brand his miserable 
forehead with the mark of truth which condemns 
him for the rest of his days and for all time to 
come. Already a circle of more than a thousand 
men, armed with weapons more powerful than ours 
and with peremptory orders to bring in our 
bodies, was closing in around us. Now that the 
truth is coming out, now that speaking before you 
I am carrying out the mission I set for myself, I 
may die peacefully and content. So I shall not 
mince my words about those savage murderers.

I must pause to consider the facts for a moment. 
The government itself said the attack showed such 
precision and perfection that it must have been 
planned by military strategists. Nothing could 
have been farther from the truth! The plan was 
drawn up by a group of young men, none of whom 
had any military experience at all. I will reveal 
their names, omitting two who are neither dead 
nor in prison: Abel Santamaría, José Luis 
Tasende, Renato Guitart Rosell, Pedro Miret, 
Jesús Montané and myself. Half of them are dead, 
and in tribute to their memory I can say that 
although they were not military experts they had 
enough patriotism to have given, had we not been 
at such a great disadvantage, a good beating to 
that entire lot of generals together, those 
generals of the 10th of March who are neither 
soldiers nor patriots. Much more difficult than 
the planning of the attack was our organizing, 
training, mobilizing and arming men under this 
repressive regime with its millions of dollars 
spent on espionage, bribery and information 
services. Nevertheless, all this was carried out 
by those men and many others like them with 
incredible seriousness, discretion and 
discipline. Still more praiseworthy is the fact 
that they gave this task everything they had; ultimately, their very lives.

The final mobilization of men who came to this 
province from the most remote towns of the entire 
island was accomplished with admirable precision 
and in absolute secrecy. It is equally true that 
the attack was carried out with magnificent 
coordination. It began simultaneously at 5:15 
a.m. in both Bayamo and Santiago de Cuba; and one 
by one, with an exactitude of minutes and seconds 
prepared in advance, the buildings surrounding 
the barracks fell to our forces. Nevertheless, in 
the interest of truth and even though it may 
detract from our merit, I am also going to reveal 
for the first time a fact that was fatal: due to 
a most unfortunate error, half of our forces, and 
the better armed half at that, went astray at the 
entrance to the city and were not on hand to help 
us at the decisive moment. Abel Santamaría, with 
21 men, had occupied the Civilian Hospital; with 
him went a doctor and two of our women comrades 
to attend to the wounded. Raúl Castro, with ten 
men, occupied the Palace of Justice, and it was 
my responsibility to attack the barracks with the 
rest, 95 men. Preceded by an advance group of 
eight who had forced Gate Three, I arrived with 
the first group of 45 men. It was precisely here 
that the battle began, when my car ran into an 
outside patrol armed with machine guns. The 
reserve group which had almost all the heavy 
weapons (the light arms were with the advance 
group), turned up the wrong street and lost its 
way in an unfamiliar city. I must clarify the 
fact that I do not for a moment doubt the courage 
of those men; they experienced great anguish and 
desperation when they realized they were lost. 
Because of the type of action it was and because 
the contending forces were wearing identically 
colored uniforms, it was not easy for these men 
to re-establish contact with us. Many of them, 
captured later on, met death with true heroism.

Everyone had instructions, first of all, to be 
humane in the struggle. Never was a group of 
armed men more generous to the adversary. From 
the beginning we took numerous prisoners - nearly 
twenty - and there was one moment when three of 
our men - Ramiro Valdés, José Suárez and Jesús 
Montané - managed to enter a barrack and hold 
nearly fifty soldiers prisoners for a short time. 
Those soldiers testified before the Court, and 
without exception they all acknowledged that we 
treated them with absolute respect, that we 
didn't even subject them to one scoffing remark. 
In line with this, I want to give my heartfelt 
thanks to the Prosecutor for one thing in the 
trial of my comrades: when he made his report he 
was fair enough to acknowledge as an 
incontestable fact that we maintained a high 
spirit of chivalry throughout the struggle.

Discipline among the soldiers was very poor. They 
finally defeated us because of their superior 
numbers - fifteen to one - and because of the 
protection afforded them by the defenses of the 
fortress. Our men were much better marksmen, as 
our enemies themselves conceded. There was a high 
degree of courage on both sides.

In analyzing the reasons for our tactical 
failure, apart from the regrettable error already 
mentioned, I believe we made a mistake by 
dividing the commando unit we had so carefully 
trained. Of our best trained men and boldest 
leaders, there were 27 in Bayamo, 21 at the 
Civilian Hospital and 10 at the Palace of 
Justice. If our forces had been distributed 
differently the outcome of the battle might have 
been different. The clash with the patrol (purely 
accidental, since the unit might have been at 
that point twenty seconds earlier or twenty 
seconds later) alerted the camp, and gave it time 
to mobilize. Otherwise it would have fallen into 
our hands without a shot fired, since we already 
controlled the guard post. On the other hand, 
except for the .22 caliber rifles, for which 
there were plenty of bullets, our side was very 
short of ammunition. Had we had hand grenades, 
the Army would not have been able to resist us for fifteen minutes.

When I became convinced that all efforts to take 
the barracks were now useless, I began to 
withdraw our men in groups of eight and ten. Our 
retreat was covered by six expert marksmen under 
the command of Pedro Miret and Fidel Labrador; 
heroically they held off the Army's advance. Our 
losses in the battle had been insignificant; 95% 
of our casualties came from the Army's inhumanity 
after the struggle. The group at the Civilian 
Hospital only had one casualty; the rest of that 
group was trapped when the troops blocked the 
only exit; but our youths did not lay down their 
arms until their very last bullet was gone. With 
them was Abel Santamaría, the most generous, 
beloved and intrepid of our young men, whose 
glorious resistance immortalizes him in Cuban 
history. We shall see the fate they met and how 
Batista sought to punish the heroism of our youth.

We planned to continue the struggle in the 
mountains in case the attack on the regiment 
failed. In Siboney I was able to gather a third 
of our forces; but many of these men were now 
discouraged. About twenty of them decided to 
surrender; later we shall see what became of 
them. The rest, 18 men, with what arms and 
ammunition were left, followed me into the 
mountains. The terrain was completely unknown to 
us. For a week we held the heights of the Gran 
Piedra range and the Army occupied the foothills. 
We could not come down; they didn't risk coming 
up. It was not force of arms, but hunger and 
thirst that ultimately overcame our resistance. I 
had to divide the men into smaller groups. Some 
of them managed to slip through the Army lines; 
others were surrendered by Monsignor Pérez 
Serantes. Finally only two comrades remained with 
me - José Suárez and Oscar Alcalde. While the 
three of us were totally exhausted, a force led 
by Lieutenant Sarría surprised us in our sleep at 
dawn. This was Saturday, August 1st. By that time 
the slaughter of prisoners had ceased as a result 
of the people's protest. This officer, a man of 
honor, saved us from being murdered on the spot with our hands tied behind us.

I need not deny here the stupid statements by 
Ugalde Carrillo and company, who tried to stain 
my name in an effort to mask their own cowardice, 
incompetence, and criminality. The facts are clear enough.

My purpose is not to bore the court with epic 
narratives. All that I have said is essential for 
a more precise understanding of what is yet to come.

Let me mention two important facts that 
facilitate an objective judgement of our 
attitude. First: we could have taken over the 
regiment simply by seizing all the high ranking 
officers in their homes. This possibility was 
rejected for the very humane reason that we 
wished to avoid scenes of tragedy and struggle in 
the presence of their families. Second: we 
decided not to take any radio station over until 
the Army camp was in our power. This attitude, 
unusually magnanimous and considerate, spared the 
citizens a great deal of bloodshed. With only ten 
men I could have seized a radio station and 
called the people to revolt. There is no 
questioning the people's will to fight. I had a 
recording of Eduardo Chibás' last message over 
the CMQ radio network, and patriotic poems and 
battle hymns capable of moving the least 
sensitive, especially with the sounds of live 
battle in their ears. But I did not want to use 
them although our situation was desperate.

The regime has emphatically repeated that our 
Movement did not have popular support. I have 
never heard an assertion so naive, and at the 
same time so full of bad faith. The regime seeks 
to show submission and cowardice on the part of 
the people. They all but claim that the people 
support the dictatorship; they do not know how 
offensive this is to the brave Orientales. 
Santiago thought our attack was only a local 
disturbance between two factions of soldiers; not 
until many hours later did they realize what had 
really happened. Who can doubt the valor, civic 
pride and limitless courage of the rebel and 
patriotic people of Santiago de Cuba? If Moncada 
had fallen into our hands, even the women of 
Santiago de Cuba would have risen in arms. Many 
were the rifles loaded for our fighters by the 
nurses at the Civilian Hospital. They fought 
alongside us. That is something we will never forget.

It was never our intention to engage the soldiers 
of the regiment in combat. We wanted to seize 
control of them and their weapons in a surprise 
attack, arouse the people and call the soldiers 
to abandon the odious flag of the tyranny and to 
embrace the banner of freedom; to defend the 
supreme interests of the nation and not the petty 
interests of a small clique; to turn their guns 
around and fire on the people's enemies and not 
on the people, among whom are their own sons and 
fathers; to unite with the people as the brothers 
that they are instead of opposing the people as 
the enemies the government tries to make of them; 
to march behind the only beautiful ideal worthy 
of sacrificing one's life - the greatness and 
happiness of one's country. To those who doubt 
that many soldiers would have followed us, I ask: 
What Cuban does not cherish glory? What heart is 
not set aflame by the promise of freedom?

The Navy did not fight against us, and it would 
undoubtedly have come over to our side later on. 
It is well known that that branch of the Armed 
Forces is the least dominated by the Dictatorship 
and that there is a very intense civic conscience 
among its members. But, as to the rest of the 
national armed forces, would they have fought 
against a people in revolt? I declare that they 
would not! A soldier is made of flesh and blood; 
he thinks, observes, feels. He is susceptible to 
the opinions, beliefs, sympathies and antipathies 
of the people. If you ask his opinion, he may 
tell you he cannot express it; but that does not 
mean he has no opinion. He is affected by exactly 
the same problems that affect other citizens - 
subsistence, rent, the education of his children, 
their future, etc. Everything of this kind is an 
inevitable point of contact between him and the 
people and everything of this kind relates him to 
the present and future situation of the society 
in which he lives. It is foolish to imagine that 
the salary a soldier receives from the State - a 
modest enough salary at that - should resolve the 
vital problems imposed on him by his needs, 
duties and feelings as a member of his community.

This brief explanation has been necessary because 
it is basic to a consideration to which few 
people, until now, have paid any attention - 
soldiers have a deep respect for the feelings of 
the majority of the people! During the Machado 
regime, in the same proportion as popular 
antipathy increased, the loyalty of the Army 
visibly decreased. This was so true that a group 
of women almost succeeded in subverting Camp 
Columbia. But this is proven even more clearly by 
a recent development. While Grau San Martín's 
regime was able to preserve its maximum 
popularity among the people, unscrupulous 
ex-officers and power-hungry civilians attempted 
innumerable conspiracies in the Army, although 
none of them found a following in the rank and file.

The March 10th coup took place at the moment when 
the civil government's prestige had dwindled to 
its lowest ebb, a circumstance of which Batista 
and his clique took advantage. Why did they not 
strike their blow after the first of June? Simply 
because, had they waited for the majority of the 
nation to express its will at the polls, the 
troops would not have responded to the conspiracy!

Consequently, a second assertion can be made: the 
Army has never revolted against a regime with a 
popular majority behind it. These are historic 
truths, and if Batista insists on remaining in 
power at all costs against the will of the 
majority of Cubans, his end will be more tragic than that of Gerardo Machado.

I have a right to express an opinion about the 
Armed Forces because I defended them when 
everyone else was silent. And I did this neither 
as a conspirator, nor from any kind of personal 
interest - for we then enjoyed full 
constitutional prerogatives. I was prompted only 
by humane instincts and civic duty. In those 
days, the newspaper Alerta was one of the most 
widely read because of its position on national 
political matters. In its pages I campaigned 
against the forced labor to which the soldiers 
were subjected on the private estates of high 
civil personages and military officers. On March 
3rd, 1952 I supplied the Courts with data, 
photographs, films and other proof denouncing 
this state of affairs. I also pointed out in 
those articles that it was elementary decency to 
increase army salaries. I should like to know who 
else raised his voice on that occasion to protest 
against all this injustice done to the soldiers. 
Certainly not Batista and company, living 
well-protected on their luxurious estates, 
surrounded by all kinds of security measures, 
while I ran a thousand risks with neither bodyguards nor arms.

Just as I defended the soldiers then, now - when 
all others are once more silent - I tell them 
that they allowed themselves to be miserably 
deceived; and to the deception and shame of March 
10th they have added the disgrace, the thousand 
times greater disgrace, of the fearful and 
unjustifiable crimes of Santiago de Cuba. From 
that time since, the uniform of the Army is 
splattered with blood. And as last year I told 
the people and cried out before the Courts that 
soldiers were working as slaves on private 
estates, today I make the bitter charge that 
there are soldiers stained from head to toe with 
the blood of the Cuban youths they have tortured 
and slain. And I say as well that if the Army 
serves the Republic, defends the nation, respects 
the people and protects the citizenry then it is 
only fair that the soldier should earn at least a 
hundred pesos a month. But if the soldiers slay 
and oppress the people, betray the nation and 
defend only the interests of one small group, 
then the Army deserves not a cent of the 
Republic's money and Camp Columbia should be 
converted into a school with ten thousand orphans 
living there instead of soldiers.

I want to be just above all else, so I can't 
blame all the soldiers for the shameful crimes 
that stain a few evil and treacherous Army men. 
But every honorable and upstanding soldier who 
loves his career and his uniform is dutybound to 
demand and to fight for the cleansing of this 
guilt, to avenge this betrayal and to see the 
guilty punished. Otherwise the soldier's uniform 
will forever be a mark of infamy instead of a source of pride.

Of course the March 10th regime had no choice but 
to remove the soldiers from the private estates. 
But it did so only to put them to work as 
doormen, chauffeurs, servants and bodyguards for 
the whole rabble of petty politicians who make up 
the party of the Dictatorship. Every fourth or 
fifth rank official considers himself entitled to 
the services of a soldier to drive his car and to 
watch over him as if he were constantly afraid of 
receiving the kick in the pants he so justly deserves.

If they had been at all interested in promoting 
real reforms, why did the regime not confiscate 
the estates and the millions of men like Genovevo 
Pérez Dámera, who acquired their fortunes by 
exploiting soldiers, driving them like slaves and 
misappropriating the funds of the Armed Forces? 
But no: Genovevo Pérez and others like him no 
doubt still have soldiers protecting them on 
their estates because the March 10th generals, 
deep in their hearts, aspire to the same future 
and can't allow that kind of precedent to be set.

The 10th of March was a miserable deception, yes 
... After Batista and his band of corrupt and 
disreputable politicians had failed in their 
electoral plan, they took advantage of the Army's 
discontent and used it to climb to power on the 
backs of the soldiers. And I know there are many 
Army men who are disgusted because they have been 
disappointed. At first their pay was raised, but 
later, through deductions and reductions of every 
kind, it was lowered again. Many of the old 
elements, who had drifted away from the Armed 
Forces, returned to the ranks and blocked the way 
of young, capable and valuable men who might 
otherwise have advanced. Good soldiers have been 
neglected while the most scandalous nepotism 
prevails. Many decent military men are now asking 
themselves what need that Armed Forces had to 
assume the tremendous historical responsibility 
of destroying our Constitution merely to put a 
group of immoral men in power, men of bad 
reputation, corrupt, politically degenerate 
beyond redemption, who could never again have 
occupied a political post had it not been at 
bayonet-point; and they weren't even the ones 
with the bayonets in their hands ...

On the other hand, the soldiers endure a worse 
tyranny than the civilians. They are under 
constant surveillance and not one of them enjoys 
the slightest security in his job. Any 
unjustified suspicion, any gossip, any intrigue, 
or denunciation, is sufficient to bring transfer, 
dishonorable discharge or imprisonment. Did not 
Tabernilla, in a memorandum, forbid them to talk 
with anyone opposed to the government, that is to 
say, with ninety-nine percent of the people? ... 
What a lack of confidence! ... Not even the 
vestal virgins of Rome had to abide by such a 
rule! As for the much publicized little houses 
for enlisted men, there aren't 300 on the whole 
Island; yet with what has been spent on tanks, 
guns and other weaponry every soldier might have 
a place to live. Batista isn't concerned with 
taking care of the Army, but that the Army take 
care of him! He increases the Army's power of 
oppression and killing but does not improve 
living conditions for the soldiers. Triple guard 
duty, constant confinement to barracks, 
continuous anxiety, the enmity of the people, 
uncertainty about the future - this is what has 
been given to the soldier. In other words: 'Die 
for the regime, soldier, give it your sweat and 
blood. We shall dedicate a speech to you and 
award you a posthumous promotion (when it no 
longer matters) and afterwards ... we shall go on 
living luxuriously, making ourselves rich. Kill, 
abuse, oppress the people. When the people get 
tired and all this comes to an end, you can pay 
for our crimes while we go abroad and live like 
kings. And if one day we return, don't you or 
your children knock on the doors of our mansions, 
for we shall be millionaires and millionaires do 
not mingle with the poor. Kill, soldier, oppress 
the people, die for the regime, give your sweat and blood ...'

But if blind to this sad truth, a minority of 
soldiers had decided to fight the people, the 
people who were going to liberate them from 
tyranny, victory still would have gone to the 
people. The Honorable Prosecutor was very 
interested in knowing our chances for success. 
These chances were based on considerations of 
technical, military and social order. They have 
tried to establish the myth that modern arms 
render the people helpless in overthrowing 
tyrants. Military parades and the pompous display 
of machines of war are used to perpetuate this 
myth and to create a complex of absolute 
impotence in the people. But no weaponry, no 
violence can vanquish the people once they are 
determined to win back their rights. Both past 
and present are full of examples. The most recent 
is the revolt in Bolivia, where miners with 
dynamite sticks smashed and defeated regular army regiments.

Fortunately, we Cubans need not look for examples 
abroad. No example is as inspiring as that of our 
own land. During the war of 1895 there were 
nearly half a million armed Spanish soldiers in 
Cuba, many more than the Dictator counts upon 
today to hold back a population five times 
greater. The arms of the Spaniards were, 
incomparably, both more up to date and more 
powerful than those of our mambises. Often the 
Spaniards were equipped with field artillery and 
the infantry used breechloaders similar to those 
still in use by the infantry of today. The Cubans 
were usually armed with no more than their 
machetes, for their cartridge belts were almost 
always empty. There is an unforgettable passage 
in the history of our War of Independence, 
narrated by General Miró Argenter, Chief of 
Antonio Maceo's General Staff. I managed to bring 
it copied on this scrap of paper so I wouldn't have to depend upon my memory:

'Untrained men under the command of Pedro 
Delgado, most of them equipped only with 
machetes, were virtually annihilated as they 
threw themselves on the solid rank of Spaniards. 
It is not an exaggeration to assert that of every 
fifty men, 25 were killed. Some even attacked the 
Spaniards with their bare fists, without 
machetes, without even knives. Searching through 
the reeds by the Hondo River, we found fifteen 
more dead from the Cuban party, and it was not 
immediately clear what group they belonged to, 
They did not appear to have shouldered arms, 
their clothes were intact and only tin drinking 
cups hung from their waists; a few steps further 
on lay the dead horse, all its equipment in 
order. We reconstructed the climax of the 
tragedy. These men, following their daring chief, 
Lieutenant Colonel Pedro Delgado, had earned 
heroes' laurels: they had thrown themselves 
against bayonets with bare hands, the clash of 
metal which was heard around them was the sound 
of their drinking cups banging against the 
saddlehorn. Maceo was deeply moved. This man so 
used to seeing death in all its forms murmured 
this praise: "I had never seen anything like 
this, untrained and unarmed men attacking the 
Spaniards with only drinking cups for weapons. And I called it impedimenta!"'

This is how peoples fight when they want to win 
their freedom; they throw stones at airplanes and overturn tanks!

As soon as Santiago de Cuba was in our hands we 
would immediately have readied the people of 
Oriente for war. Bayamo was attacked precisely to 
locate our advance forces along the Cauto River. 
Never forget that this province, which has a 
million and a half inhabitants today, is the most 
rebellious and patriotic in Cuba. It was this 
province that sparked the fight for independence 
for thirty years and paid the highest price in 
blood, sacrifice and heroism. In Oriente you can 
still breathe the air of that glorious epic. At 
dawn, when the cocks crow as if they were bugles 
calling soldiers to reveille, and when the sun 
rises radiant over the rugged mountains, it seems 
that once again we will live the days of Yara or Baire!

I stated that the second consideration on which 
we based our chances for success was one of 
social order. Why were we sure of the people's 
support? When we speak of the people we are not 
talking about those who live in comfort, the 
conservative elements of the nation, who welcome 
any repressive regime, any dictatorship, any 
despotism, prostrating themselves before the 
masters of the moment until they grind their 
foreheads into the ground. When we speak of 
struggle and we mention the people we mean the 
vast unredeemed masses, those to whom everyone 
makes promises and who are deceived by all; we 
mean the people who yearn for a better, more 
dignified and more just nation; who are moved by 
ancestral aspirations to justice, for they have 
suffered injustice and mockery generation after 
generation; those who long for great and wise 
changes in all aspects of their life; people who, 
to attain those changes, are ready to give even 
the very last breath they have when they believe 
in something or in someone, especially when they 
believe in themselves. The first condition of 
sincerity and good faith in any endeavor is to do 
precisely what nobody else ever does, that is, to 
speak with absolute clarity, without fear. The 
demagogues and professional politicians who 
manage to perform the miracle of being right 
about everything and of pleasing everyone are, 
necessarily, deceiving everyone about everything. 
The revolutionaries must proclaim their ideas 
courageously, define their principles and express 
their intentions so that no one is deceived, neither friend nor foe.

In terms of struggle, when we talk about people 
we're talking about the six hundred thousand 
Cubans without work, who want to earn their daily 
bread honestly without having to emigrate from 
their homeland in search of a livelihood; the 
five hundred thousand farm laborers who live in 
miserable shacks, who work four months of the 
year and starve the rest, sharing their misery 
with their children, who don't have an inch of 
land to till and whose existence would move any 
heart not made of stone; the four hundred 
thousand industrial workers and laborers whose 
retirement funds have been embezzled, whose 
benefits are being taken away, whose homes are 
wretched quarters, whose salaries pass from the 
hands of the boss to those of the moneylender, 
whose future is a pay reduction and dismissal, 
whose life is endless work and whose only rest is 
the tomb; the one hundred thousand small farmers 
who live and die working land that is not theirs, 
looking at it with the sadness of Moses gazing at 
the promised land, to die without ever owning it, 
who like feudal serfs have to pay for the use of 
their parcel of land by giving up a portion of 
its produce, who cannot love it, improve it, 
beautify it nor plant a cedar or an orange tree 
on it because they never know when a sheriff will 
come with the rural guard to evict them from it; 
the thirty thousand teachers and professors who 
are so devoted, dedicated and so necessary to the 
better destiny of future generations and who are 
so badly treated and paid; the twenty thousand 
small business men weighed down by debts, ruined 
by the crisis and harangued by a plague of 
grafting and venal officials; the ten thousand 
young professional people: doctors, engineers, 
lawyers, veterinarians, school teachers, 
dentists, pharmacists, newspapermen, painters, 
sculptors, etc., who finish school with their 
degrees anxious to work and full of hope, only to 
find themselves at a dead end, all doors closed 
to them, and where no ears hear their clamor or 
supplication. These are the people, the ones who 
know misfortune and, therefore, are capable of 
fighting with limitless courage! To these people 
whose desperate roads through life have been 
paved with the bricks of betrayal and false 
promises, we were not going to say: 'We will give 
you ...' but rather: 'Here it is, now fight for 
it with everything you have, so that liberty and happiness may be yours!'

The five revolutionary laws that would have been 
proclaimed immediately after the capture of the 
Moncada Barracks and would have been broadcast to 
the nation by radio must be included in the 
indictment. It is possible that Colonel Chaviano 
may deliberately have destroyed these documents, 
but even if he has I remember them.

The first revolutionary law would have returned 
power to the people and proclaimed the 1940 
Constitution the Supreme Law of the State until 
such time as the people should decide to modify 
or change it. And in order to effect its 
implementation and punish those who violated it - 
there being no electoral organization to carry 
this out - the revolutionary movement, as the 
circumstantial incarnation of this sovereignty, 
the only source of legitimate power, would have 
assumed all the faculties inherent therein, 
except that of modifying the Constitution itself: 
in other words, it would have assumed the 
legislative, executive and judicial powers.

This attitude could not be clearer nor more free 
of vacillation and sterile charlatanry. A 
government acclaimed by the mass of rebel people 
would be vested with every power, everything 
necessary in order to proceed with the effective 
implementation of popular will and real justice. 
 From that moment, the Judicial Power - which 
since March 10th had placed itself against and 
outside the Constitution - would cease to exist 
and we would proceed to its immediate and total 
reform before it would once again assume the 
power granted it by the Supreme Law of the 
Republic. Without these previous measures, a 
return to legality by putting its custody back 
into the hands that have crippled the system so 
dishonorably would constitute a fraud, a deceit, one more betrayal.

The second revolutionary law would give 
non-mortgageable and non-transferable ownership 
of the land to all tenant and subtenant farmers, 
lessees, share croppers and squatters who hold 
parcels of five caballerías of land or less, and 
the State would indemnify the former owners on 
the basis of the rental which they would have 
received for these parcels over a period of ten years.

The third revolutionary law would have granted 
workers and employees the right to share 30% of 
the profits of all the large industrial, 
mercantile and mining enterprises, including the 
sugar mills. The strictly agricultural 
enterprises would be exempt in consideration of 
other agrarian laws which would be put into effect.

The fourth revolutionary law would have granted 
all sugar planters the right to share 55% of 
sugar production and a minimum quota of forty 
thousand arrobas for all small tenant farmers who 
have been established for three years or more.

The fifth revolutionary law would have ordered 
the confiscation of all holdings and ill-gotten 
gains of those who had committed frauds during 
previous regimes, as well as the holdings and 
ill-gotten gains of all their legates and heirs. 
To implement this, special courts with full 
powers would gain access to all records of all 
corporations registered or operating in this 
country, in order to investigate concealed funds 
of illegal origin, and to request that foreign 
governments extradite persons and attach holdings 
rightfully belonging to the Cuban people. Half of 
the property recovered would be used to subsidize 
retirement funds for workers and the other half 
would be used for hospitals, asylums and charitable organizations.

Furthermore, it was declared that the Cuban 
policy in the Americas would be one of close 
solidarity with the democratic peoples of this 
continent, and that all those politically 
persecuted by bloody tyrannies oppressing our 
sister nations would find generous asylum, 
brotherhood and bread in the land of Martí; not 
the persecution, hunger and treason they find 
today. Cuba should be the bulwark of liberty and 
not a shameful link in the chain of despotism.

These laws would have been proclaimed 
immediately. As soon as the upheaval ended and 
prior to a detailed and far reaching study, they 
would have been followed by another series of 
laws and fundamental measures, such as the 
Agrarian Reform, the Integral Educational Reform, 
nationalization of the electric power trust and 
the telephone trust, refund to the people of the 
illegal and repressive rates these companies have 
charged, and payment to the treasury of all taxes brazenly evaded in the past.

All these laws and others would be based on the 
exact compliance of two essential articles of our 
Constitution: one of them orders the outlawing of 
large estates, indicating the maximum area of 
land any one person or entity may own for each 
type of agricultural enterprise, by adopting 
measures which would tend to revert the land to 
the Cubans. The other categorically orders the 
State to use all means at its disposal to provide 
employment to all those who lack it and to ensure 
a decent livelihood to each manual or 
intellectual laborer. None of these laws can be 
called unconstitutional. The first popularly 
elected government would have to respect them, 
not only because of moral obligations to the 
nation, but because when people achieve something 
they have yearned for throughout generations, no 
force in the world is capable of taking it away again.

The problem of the land, the problem of 
industrialization, the problem of housing, the 
problem of unemployment, the problem of education 
and the problem of the people's health: these are 
the six problems we would take immediate steps to 
solve, along with restoration of civil liberties and political democracy.

This exposition may seem cold and theoretical if 
one does not know the shocking and tragic 
conditions of the country with regard to these 
six problems, along with the most humiliating political oppression.

Eighty-five per cent of the small farmers in Cuba 
pay rent and live under constant threat of being 
evicted from the land they till. More than half 
of our most productive land is in the hands of 
foreigners. In Oriente, the largest province, the 
lands of the United Fruit Company and the West 
Indian Company link the northern and southern 
coasts. There are two hundred thousand peasant 
families who do not have a single acre of land to 
till to provide food for their starving children. 
On the other hand, nearly three hundred thousand 
caballerías of cultivable land owned by powerful 
interests remain uncultivated. If Cuba is above 
all an agricultural State, if its population is 
largely rural, if the city depends on these rural 
areas, if the people from our countryside won our 
war of independence, if our nation's greatness 
and prosperity depend on a healthy and vigorous 
rural population that loves the land and knows 
how to work it, if this population depends on a 
State that protects and guides it, then how can 
the present state of affairs be allowed to continue?

Except for a few food, lumber and textile 
industries, Cuba continues to be primarily a 
producer of raw materials. We export sugar to 
import candy, we export hides to import shoes, we 
export iron to import plows ... Everyone agrees 
with the urgent need to industrialize the nation, 
that we need steel industries, paper and chemical 
industries, that we must improve our cattle and 
grain production, the technology and processing 
in our food industry in order to defend ourselves 
against the ruinous competition from Europe in 
cheese products, condensed milk, liquors and 
edible oils, and the United States in canned 
goods; that we need cargo ships; that tourism 
should be an enormous source of revenue. But the 
capitalists insist that the workers remain under 
the yoke. The State sits back with its arms 
crossed and industrialization can wait forever.

Just as serious or even worse is the housing 
problem. There are two hundred thousand huts and 
hovels in Cuba; four hundred thousand families in 
the countryside and in the cities live cramped in 
huts and tenements without even the minimum 
sanitary requirements; two million two hundred 
thousand of our urban population pay rents which 
absorb between one fifth and one third of their 
incomes; and two million eight hundred thousand 
of our rural and suburban population lack 
electricity. We have the same situation here: if 
the State proposes the lowering of rents, 
landlords threaten to freeze all construction; if 
the State does not interfere, construction goes 
on so long as landlords get high rents; otherwise 
they would not lay a single brick even though the 
rest of the population had to live totally 
exposed to the elements. The utilities monopoly 
is no better; they extend lines as far as it is 
profitable and beyond that point they don't care 
if people have to live in darkness for the rest 
of their lives. The State sits back with its arms 
crossed and the people have neither homes nor electricity.

Our educational system is perfectly compatible 
with everything I've just mentioned. Where the 
peasant doesn't own the land, what need is there 
for agricultural schools? Where there is no 
industry, what need is there for technical or 
vocational schools? Everything follows the same 
absurd logic; if we don't have one thing we can't 
have the other. In any small European country 
there are more than 200 technological and 
vocational schools; in Cuba only six such schools 
exist, and their graduates have no jobs for their 
skills. The little rural schoolhouses are 
attended by a mere half of the school age 
children - barefooted, half-naked and 
undernourished - and frequently the teacher must 
buy necessary school materials from his own 
salary. Is this the way to make a nation great?

Only death can liberate one from so much misery. 
In this respect, however, the State is most 
helpful - in providing early death for the 
people. Ninety per cent of the children in the 
countryside are consumed by parasites which 
filter through their bare feet from the ground 
they walk on. Society is moved to compassion when 
it hears of the kidnapping or murder of one 
child, but it is indifferent to the mass murder 
of so many thousands of children who die every 
year from lack of facilities, agonizing with 
pain. Their innocent eyes, death already shining 
in them, seem to look into some vague infinity as 
if entreating forgiveness for human selfishness, 
as if asking God to stay His wrath. And when the 
head of a family works only four months a year, 
with what can he purchase clothing and medicine 
for his children? They will grow up with rickets, 
with not a single good tooth in their mouths by 
the time they reach thirty; they will have heard 
ten million speeches and will finally die of 
misery and deception. Public hospitals, which are 
always full, accept only patients recommended by 
some powerful politician who, in return, demands 
the votes of the unfortunate one and his family 
so that Cuba may continue forever in the same or worse condition.

With this background, is it not understandable 
that from May to December over a million persons 
are jobless and that Cuba, with a population of 
five and a half million, has a greater number of 
unemployed than France or Italy with a population of forty million each?

When you try a defendant for robbery, Honorable 
Judges, do you ask him how long he has been 
unemployed? Do you ask him how many children he 
has, which days of the week he ate and which he 
didn't, do you investigate his social context at 
all? You just send him to jail without further 
thought. But those who burn warehouses and stores 
to collect insurance do not go to jail, even 
though a few human beings may have gone up in 
flames. The insured have money to hire lawyers 
and bribe judges. You imprison the poor wretch 
who steals because he is hungry; but none of the 
hundreds who steal millions from the Government 
has ever spent a night in jail. You dine with 
them at the end of the year in some elegant club 
and they enjoy your respect. In Cuba, when a 
government official becomes a millionaire 
overnight and enters the fraternity of the rich, 
he could very well be greeted with the words of 
that opulent character out of Balzac - Taillefer 
- who in his toast to the young heir to an 
enormous fortune, said: 'Gentlemen, let us drink 
to the power of gold! Mr. Valentine, a 
millionaire six times over, has just ascended the 
throne. He is king, can do everything, is above 
everyone, as all the rich are. Henceforth, 
equality before the law, established by the 
Constitution, will be a myth for him; for he will 
not be subject to laws: the laws will be subject 
to him. There are no courts nor are there sentences for millionaires.'

The nation's future, the solutions to its 
problems, cannot continue to depend on the 
selfish interests of a dozen big businessmen nor 
on the cold calculations of profits that ten or 
twelve magnates draw up in their air-conditioned 
offices. The country cannot continue begging on 
its knees for miracles from a few golden calves, 
like the Biblical one destroyed by the prophet's 
fury. Golden calves cannot perform miracles of 
any kind. The problems of the Republic can be 
solved only if we dedicate ourselves to fight for 
it with the same energy, honesty and patriotism 
our liberators had when they founded it. 
Statesmen like Carlos Saladrigas, whose 
statesmanship consists of preserving the statu 
quo and mouthing phrases like 'absolute freedom 
of enterprise,' 'guarantees to investment 
capital' and 'law of supply and demand,' will not 
solve these problems. Those ministers can chat 
away in a Fifth Avenue mansion until not even the 
dust of the bones of those whose problems require 
immediate solution remains. In this present-day 
world, social problems are not solved by spontaneous generation.

A revolutionary government backed by the people 
and with the respect of the nation, after 
cleansing the different institutions of all venal 
and corrupt officials, would proceed immediately 
to the country's industrialization, mobilizing 
all inactive capital, currently estimated at 
about 1.5 billion pesos, through the National 
Bank and the Agricultural and Industrial 
Development Bank, and submitting this mammoth 
task to experts and men of absolute competence 
totally removed from all political machines for 
study, direction, planning and realization.

After settling the one hundred thousand small 
farmers as owners on the land which they 
previously rented, a revolutionary government 
would immediately proceed to settle the land 
problem. First, as set forth in the Constitution, 
it would establish the maximum amount of land to 
be held by each type of agricultural enterprise 
and would acquire the excess acreage by 
expropriation, recovery of swampland, planting of 
large nurseries, and reserving of zones for 
reforestation. Secondly, it would distribute the 
remaining land among peasant families with 
priority given to the larger ones, and would 
promote agricultural cooperatives for communal 
use of expensive equipment, freezing plants and 
unified professional technical management of 
farming and cattle raising. Finally, it would 
provide resources, equipment, protection and useful guidance to the peasants.

A revolutionary government would solve the 
housing problem by cutting all rents in half, by 
providing tax exemptions on homes inhabited by 
the owners; by tripling taxes on rented homes; by 
tearing down hovels and replacing them with 
modern apartment buildings; and by financing 
housing all over the island on a scale heretofore 
unheard of, with the criterion that, just as each 
rural family should possess its own tract of 
land, each city family should own its own house 
or apartment. There is plenty of building 
material and more than enough manpower to make a 
decent home for every Cuban. But if we continue 
to wait for the golden calf, a thousand years 
will have gone by and the problem will remain the 
same. On the other hand, today possibilities of 
taking electricity to the most isolated areas on 
the island are greater than ever. The use of 
nuclear energy in this field is now a reality and 
will greatly reduce the cost of producing electricity.

With these three projects and reforms, the 
problem of unemployment would automatically 
disappear and the task of improving public health 
and fighting against disease would become much less difficult.

Finally, a revolutionary government would 
undertake the integral reform of the educational 
system, bringing it into line with the projects 
just mentioned with the idea of educating those 
generations which will have the privilege of 
living in a happier land. Do not forget the words 
of the Apostle: 'A grave mistake is being made in 
Latin America: in countries that live almost 
completely from the produce of the land, men are 
being educated exclusively for urban life and are 
not trained for farm life.' 'The happiest country 
is the one which has best educated its sons, both 
in the instruction of thought and the direction 
of their feelings.' 'An educated country will always be strong and free.'

The soul of education, however, is the teacher, 
and in Cuba the teaching profession is miserably 
underpaid. Despite this, no one is more dedicated 
than the Cuban teacher. Who among us has not 
learned his three Rs in the little public 
schoolhouse? It is time we stopped paying 
pittances to these young men and women who are 
entrusted with the sacred task of teaching our 
youth. No teacher should earn less than 200 
pesos, no secondary teacher should make less than 
350 pesos, if they are to devote themselves 
exclusively to their high calling without 
suffering want. What is more, all rural teachers 
should have free use of the various systems of 
transportation; and, at least once every five 
years, all teachers should enjoy a sabbatical 
leave of six months with pay so they may attend 
special refresher courses at home or abroad to 
keep abreast of the latest developments in their 
field. In this way, the curriculum and the 
teaching system can be easily improved. Where 
will the money be found for all this? When there 
is an end to the embezzlement of government 
funds, when public officials stop taking graft 
from the large companies that owe taxes to the 
State, when the enormous resources of the country 
are brought into full use, when we no longer buy 
tanks, bombers and guns for this country (which 
has no frontiers to defend and where these 
instruments of war, now being purchased, are used 
against the people), when there is more interest 
in educating the people than in killing them 
there will be more than enough money.

Cuba could easily provide for a population three 
times as great as it has now, so there is no 
excuse for the abject poverty of a single one of 
its present inhabitants. The markets should be 
overflowing with produce, pantries should be 
full, all hands should be working. This is not an 
inconceivable thought. What is inconceivable is 
that anyone should go to bed hungry while there 
is a single inch of unproductive land; that 
children should die for lack of medical 
attention; what is inconceivable is that 30% of 
our farm people cannot write their names and that 
99% of them know nothing of Cuba's history. What 
is inconceivable is that the majority of our 
rural people are now living in worse 
circumstances than the Indians Columbus 
discovered in the fairest land that human eyes had ever seen.

To those who would call me a dreamer, I quote the 
words of Martí: 'A true man does not seek the 
path where advantage lies, but rather the path 
where duty lies, and this is the only practical 
man, whose dream of today will be the law of 
tomorrow, because he who has looked back on the 
essential course of history and has seen flaming 
and bleeding peoples seethe in the cauldron of 
the ages knows that, without a single exception, 
the future lies on the side of duty.'

Only when we understand that such a high ideal 
inspired them can we conceive of the heroism of 
the young men who fell in Santiago. The meager 
material means at our disposal was all that 
prevented sure success. When the soldiers were 
told that Prío had given us a million pesos, they 
were told this in the regime's attempt to distort 
the most important fact: the fact that our 
Movement had no link with past politicians: that 
this Movement is a new Cuban generation with its 
own ideas, rising up against tyranny; that this 
Movement is made up of young people who were 
barely seven years old when Batista perpetrated 
the first of his crimes in 1934. The lie about 
the million pesos could not have been more 
absurd. If, with less than 20,000 pesos, we armed 
165 men and attacked a regiment and a squadron, 
then with a million pesos we could have armed 
8,000 men, to attack 50 regiments and 50 
squadrons - and Ugalde Carrillo still would not 
have found out until Sunday, July 26th, at 5:15 
a.m. I assure you that for every man who fought, 
twenty well trained men were unable to fight for 
lack of weapons. When these young men marched 
along the streets of Havana in the student 
demonstration of the Martí Centennial, they 
solidly packed six blocks. If even 200 more men 
had been able to fight, or we had possessed 20 
more hand grenades, perhaps this Honorable Court 
would have been spared all this inconvenience.

The politicians spend millions buying off 
consciences, whereas a handful of Cubans who 
wanted to save their country's honor had to face 
death barehanded for lack of funds. This shows 
how the country, to this very day, has been 
governed not by generous and dedicated men, but 
by political racketeers, the scum of our public life.

With the greatest pride I tell you that in 
accordance with our principles we have never 
asked a politician, past or present, for a penny. 
Our means were assembled with incomparable 
sacrifice. For example, Elpidio Sosa, who sold 
his job and came to me one day with 300 pesos 
'for the cause;' Fernando Chenard, who sold the 
photographic equipment with which he earned his 
living; Pedro Marrero, who contributed several 
months' salary and who had to be stopped from 
actually selling the very furniture in his house; 
Oscar Alcalde, who sold his pharmaceutical 
laboratory; Jesús Montané, who gave his five 
years' savings, and so on with many others, each giving the little he had.

One must have great faith in one's country to do 
such a thing. The memory of these acts of 
idealism bring me straight to the most bitter 
chapter of this defense - the price the tyranny 
made them pay for wanting to free Cuba from oppression and injustice.

Beloved corpses, you that once
Were the hope of my Homeland,
Cast upon my forehead
The dust of your decaying bones!
Touch my heart with your cold hands!
Groan at my ears!
Each of my moans will
Turn into the tears of one more tyrant!
Gather around me! Roam about,
That my soul may receive your spirits
And give me the horror of the tombs
For tears are not enough
When one lives in infamous bondage!

Multiply the crimes of November 27th, 1871 by ten 
and you will have the monstrous and repulsive 
crimes of July 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th, 1953, 
in the province of Oriente. These are still fresh 
in our memory, but someday when years have 
passed, when the skies of the nation have cleared 
once more, when tempers have calmed and fear no 
longer torments our spirits, then we will begin 
to see the magnitude of this massacre in all its 
shocking dimension, and future generations will 
be struck with horror when they look back on 
these acts of barbarity unprecedented in our 
history. But I do not want to become enraged. I 
need clearness of mind and peace in my heavy 
heart in order to relate the facts as simply as 
possible, in no sense dramatizing them, but just 
as they took place. As a Cuban I am ashamed that 
heartless men should have perpetrated such 
unthinkable crimes, dishonoring our nation before the rest of the world.

The tyrant Batista was never a man of scruples. 
He has never hesitated to tell his people the 
most outrageous lies. To justify his treacherous 
coup of March 10th, he concocted stories about a 
fictitious uprising in the Army, supposedly 
scheduled to take place in April, and which he 
'wanted to avert so that the Republic might not 
be drenched in blood.' A ridiculous little tale 
nobody ever believed! And when he himself did 
want to drench the Republic in blood, when he 
wanted to smother in terror and torture the just 
rebellion of Cuba's youth, who were not willing 
to be his slaves, then he contrived still more 
fantastic lies. How little respect one must have 
for a people when one tries to deceive them so 
miserably! On the very day of my arrest I 
publicly assumed the responsibility for our armed 
movement of July 26th. If there had been an iota 
of truth in even one of the many statements the 
Dictator made against our fighters in his speech 
of July 27th, it would have been enough to 
undermine the moral impact of my case. Why, then, 
was I not brought to trial? Why were medical 
certificates forged? Why did they violate all 
procedural laws and ignore so scandalously the 
rulings of the Court? Why were so many things 
done, things never before seen in a Court of Law, 
in order to prevent my appearance at all costs? 
In contrast, I could not begin to tell you all I 
went through in order to appear. I asked the 
Court to bring me to trial in accordance with all 
established principles, and I denounced the 
underhanded schemes that were afoot to prevent 
it. I wanted to argue with them face to face. But 
they did not wish to face me. Who was afraid of the truth, and who was not?

The statements made by the Dictator at Camp 
Columbia might be considered amusing if they were 
not so drenched in blood. He claimed we were a 
group of hirelings and that there were many 
foreigners among us. He said that the central 
part of our plan was an attempt to kill him - 
him, always him. As if the men who attacked the 
Moncada Barracks could not have killed him and 
twenty like him if they had approved of such 
methods. He stated that our attack had been 
planned by ex-President Prío, and that it had 
been financed with Prío's money. It has been 
irrefutably proven that no link whatsoever 
existed between our Movement and the last regime. 
He claimed that we had machine guns and 
hand-grenades. Yet the military technicians have 
stated right here in this Court that we only had 
one machine gun and not a single hand-grenade. He 
said that we had beheaded the sentries. Yet death 
certificates and medical reports of all the 
Army's casualties show not one death caused by 
the blade. But above all and most important, he 
said that we stabbed patients at the Military 
Hospital. Yet the doctors from that hospital - 
Army doctors - have testified that we never even 
occupied the building, that no patient was either 
wounded or killed by us, and that the hospital 
lost only one employee, a janitor, who 
imprudently stuck his head out of an open window.

Whenever a Chief of State, or anyone pretending 
to be one, makes declarations to the nation, he 
speaks not just to hear the sound of his own 
voice. He always has some specific purpose and 
expects some specific reaction, or has a given 
intention. Since our military defeat had already 
taken place, insofar as we no longer represented 
any actual threat to the dictatorship, why did 
they slander us like that? If it is still not 
clear that this was a blood-drenched speech, that 
it was simply an attempt to justify the crimes 
that they had been perpetrating since the night 
before and that they were going to continue to 
perpetrate, then, let figures speak for me: On 
July 27th, in his speech from the military 
headquarters, Batista said that the assailants 
suffered 32 dead. By the end of the week the 
number of dead had risen to more than 80 men. In 
what battles, where, in what clashes, did these 
young men die? Before Batista spoke, more than 25 
prisoners had been murdered. After Batista spoke fifty more were massacred.

What a great sense of honor those modest Army 
technicians and professionals had, who did not 
distort the facts before the Court, but gave 
their reports adhering to the strictest truth! 
These surely are soldiers who honor their 
uniform; these, surely, are men! Neither a real 
soldier nor a true man can degrade his code of 
honor with lies and crime. I know that many of 
the soldiers are indignant at the barbaric 
assassinations perpetrated. I know that they feel 
repugnance and shame at the smell of homicidal 
blood that impregnates every stone of Moncada Barracks.

Now that he has been contradicted by men of honor 
within his own Army, I defy the dictator to 
repeat his vile slander against us. I defy him to 
try to justify before the Cuban people his July 
27th speech. Let him not remain silent. Let him 
speak. Let him say who the assassins are, who the 
ruthless, the inhumane. Let him tell us if the 
medals of honor, which he went to pin on the 
breasts of his heroes of that massacre, were 
rewards for the hideous crimes they had 
committed. Let him, from this very moment, assume 
his responsibility before history. Let him not 
pretend, at a later date, that the soldiers were 
acting without direct orders from him! Let him 
offer the nation an explanation for those 70 
murders. The bloodshed was great. The nation 
needs an explanation. The nation seeks it. The nation demands it.

It is common knowledge that in 1933, at the end 
of the battle at the National Hotel, some 
officers were murdered after they surrendered. 
Bohemia Magazine protested energetically. It is 
also known that after the surrender of Fort 
Atarés the besiegers' machine guns cut down a row 
of prisoners. And that one soldier, after asking 
who Blas Hernández was, blasted him with a bullet 
directly in the face, and for this cowardly act 
was promoted to the rank of officer. It is 
well-known in Cuban history that assassination of 
prisoners was fatally linked with Batista's name. 
How naive we were not to foresee this! However, 
unjustifiable as those killings of 1933 were, 
they took place in a matter of minutes, in no 
more time than it took for a round of machine gun 
fire. What is more, they took place while tempers were still on edge.

This was not the case in Santiago de Cuba. Here 
all forms of ferocious outrages and cruelty were 
deliberately overdone. Our men were killed not in 
the course of a minute, an hour or a day. 
Throughout an entire week the blows and tortures 
continued, men were thrown from rooftops and 
shot. All methods of extermination were 
incessantly practiced by well-skilled artisans of 
crime. Moncada Barracks were turned into a 
workshop of torture and death. Some shameful 
individuals turned their uniforms into butcher's 
aprons. The walls were splattered with blood. The 
bullets imbedded in the walls were encrusted with 
singed bits of skin, brains and human hair, the 
grisly reminders of rifle shots fired full in the 
face. The grass around the barracks was dark and 
sticky with human blood. The criminal hands that 
are guiding the destiny of Cuba had written for 
the prisoners at the entrance to that den of 
death the very inscription of Hell: 'Forsake all hope.'

They did not even attempt to cover appearances. 
They did not bother in the least to conceal what 
they were doing. They thought they had deceived 
the people with their lies and they ended up 
deceiving themselves. They felt themselves lords 
and masters of the universe, with power over life 
and death. So the fear they had experienced upon 
our attack at daybreak was dissipated in a feast 
of corpses, in a drunken orgy of blood.

Chronicles of our history, down through four and 
a half centuries, tell us of many acts of 
cruelty: the slaughter of defenseless Indians by 
the Spaniards; the plundering and atrocities of 
pirates along the coast; the barbarities of the 
Spanish soldiers during our War of Independence; 
the shooting of prisoners of the Cuban Army by 
the forces of Weyler; the horrors of the Machado 
regime, and so on through the bloody crimes of 
March, 1935. But never has such a sad and bloody 
page been written in numbers of victims and in 
the viciousness of the victimizers, as in 
Santiago de Cuba. Only one man in all these 
centuries has stained with blood two separate 
periods of our history and has dug his claws into 
the flesh of two generations of Cubans. To 
release this river of blood, he waited for the 
Centennial of the Apostle, just after the 
fiftieth anniversary of the Republic, whose 
people fought for freedom, human rights and 
happiness at the cost of so many lives. Even 
greater is his crime and even more condemnable 
because the man who perpetrated it had already, 
for eleven long years, lorded over his people - 
this people who, by such deep-rooted sentiment 
and tradition, loves freedom and repudiates evil. 
This man has furthermore never been sincere, 
loyal, honest or chivalrous for a single minute of his public life.

He was not content with the treachery of January, 
1934, the crimes of March, 1935 and the forty 
million dollar fortune that crowned his first 
regime. He had to add the treason of March, 1952, 
the crimes of July, 1953, and all the millions 
that only time will reveal. Dante divided his 
Inferno into nine circles. He put criminals in 
the seventh, thieves in the eighth and traitors 
in the ninth. Difficult dilemma the devils will 
be faced with, when they try to find an adequate 
spot for this man's soul - if this man has a 
soul. The man who instigated the atrocious acts 
in Santiago de Cuba doesn't even have a heart.

I know many details of the way in which these 
crimes were carried out, from the lips of some of 
the soldiers who, filled with shame, told me of the scenes they had witnessed.

When the fighting was over, the soldiers 
descended like savage beasts on Santiago de Cuba 
and they took the first fury of their 
frustrations out against the defenseless 
population. In the middle of a street, and far 
from the site of the fighting, they shot through 
the chest an innocent child who was playing by 
his doorstep. When the father approached to pick 
him up, they shot him through his head. Without a 
word they shot 'Niño' Cala, who was on his way 
home with a loaf of bread in his hands. It would 
be an endless task to relate all the crimes and 
outrages perpetrated against the civilian 
population. And if the Army dealt thus with those 
who had had no part at all in the action, you can 
imagine the terrible fate of the prisoners who 
had taken part or who were believed to have taken 
part. Just as, in this trial, they accused many 
people not at all involved in our attack, they 
also killed many prisoners who had no involvement 
whatsoever. The latter are not included in the 
statistics of victims released by the regime; 
those statistics refer exclusively to our men. 
Some day the total number of victims will be known.

The first prisoner killed has our doctor, Mario 
Muñoz, who bore no arms, wore no uniform, and was 
dressed in the white smock of a physician. He was 
a generous and competent man who would have given 
the same devoted care to the wounded adversary as 
to a friend. On the road from the Civilian 
Hospital to the barracks they shot him in the 
back and left him lying there, face down in a 
pool of blood. But the mass murder of prisoners 
did not begin until after three o'clock in the 
afternoon. Until this hour they awaited orders. 
Then General Martín Díaz Tamayo arrived from 
Havana and brought specific instructions from a 
meeting he had attended with Batista, along with 
the head of the Army, the head of the Military 
Intelligence, and others. He said: 'It is 
humiliating and dishonorable for the Army to have 
lost three times as many men in combat as the 
insurgents did. Ten prisoners must be killed for 
each dead soldier.' This was the order!

In every society there are men of base instincts. 
The sadists, brutes, conveyors of all the 
ancestral atavisms go about in the guise of human 
beings, but they are monsters, only more or less 
restrained by discipline and social habit. If 
they are offered a drink from a river of blood, 
they will not be satisfied until they drink the 
river dry. All these men needed was the order. At 
their hands the best and noblest Cubans perished: 
the most valiant, the most honest, the most 
idealistic. The tyrant called them mercenaries. 
There they were dying as heroes at the hands of 
men who collect a salary from the Republic and 
who, with the arms the Republic gave them to 
defend her, serve the interests of a clique and murder her best citizens.

Throughout their torturing of our comrades, the 
Army offered them the chance to save their lives 
by betraying their ideology and falsely declaring 
that Prío had given them money. When they 
indignantly rejected that proposition, the Army 
continued with its horrible tortures. They 
crushed their testicles and they tore out their 
eyes. But no one yielded. No complaint was heard 
nor a favor asked. Even when they had been 
deprived of their vital organs, our men were 
still a thousand times more men than all their 
tormentors together. Photographs, which do not 
lie, show the bodies torn to pieces, Other 
methods were used. Frustrated by the valor of the 
men, they tried to break the spirit of our women. 
With a bleeding eye in their hands, a sergeant 
and several other men went to the cell where our 
comrades Melba Hernández and Haydée Santamaría 
were held. Addressing the latter, and showing her 
the eye, they said: 'This eye belonged to your 
brother. If you will not tell us what he refused 
to say, we will tear out the other.' She, who 
loved her valiant brother above all things, 
replied full of dignity: 'If you tore out an eye 
and he did not speak, much less will I.' Later 
they came back and burned their arms with lit 
cigarettes until at last, filled with spite, they 
told the young Haydée Santamaría: 'You no longer 
have a fiancé because we have killed him too.' 
But still imperturbable, she answered: 'He is not 
dead, because to die for one's country is to live 
forever.' Never had the heroism and the dignity 
of Cuban womanhood reached such heights.

There wasn't even any respect for the combat 
wounded in the various city hospitals. There they 
were hunted down as prey pursued by vultures. In 
the Centro Gallego they broke into the operating 
room at the very moment when two of our 
critically wounded were receiving blood 
transfusions. They pulled them off the tables 
and, as the wounded could no longer stand, they 
were dragged down to the first floor where they arrived as corpses.

They could not do the same in the Spanish Clinic, 
where Gustavo Arcos and José Ponce were patients, 
because they were prevented by Dr. Posada who 
bravely told them they could enter only over his dead body.

Air and camphor were injected into the veins of 
Pedro Miret, Abelardo Crespo and Fidel Labrador, 
in an attempt to kill them at the Military 
Hospital. They owe their lives to Captain Tamayo, 
an Army doctor and true soldier of honor who, 
pistol in hand, wrenched them out of the hands of 
their merciless captors and transferred them to 
the Civilian Hospital. These five young men were 
the only ones of our wounded who survived.

In the early morning hours, groups of our men 
were removed from the barracks and taken in 
automobiles to Siboney, La Maya, Songo, and 
elsewhere. Then they were led out - tied, gagged, 
already disfigured by the torture - and were 
murdered in isolated spots. They are recorded as 
having died in combat against the Army. This went 
on for several days, and few of the captured 
prisoners survived. Many were compelled to dig 
their own graves. One of our men, while he was 
digging, wheeled around and slashed the face of 
one of his assassins with his pick. Others were 
even buried alive, their hands tied behind their 
backs. Many solitary spots became the graveyards 
of the brave. On the Army target range alone, 
five of our men lie buried. Some day these men 
will be disinterred. Then they will be carried on 
the shoulders of the people to a place beside the 
tomb of Martí, and their liberated land will 
surely erect a monument to honor the memory of the Martyrs of the Centennial.

The last youth they murdered in the surroundings 
of Santiago de Cuba was Marcos Martí. He was 
captured with our comrade Ciro Redondo in a cave 
at Siboney on the morning of Thursday the 30th. 
These two men were led down the road, with their 
arms raised, and the soldiers shot Marcos Martí 
in the back. After he had fallen to the ground, 
they riddled him with bullets. Redondo was taken 
to the camp. When Major Pérez Chaumont saw him he 
exclaimed: 'And this one? Why have you brought 
him to me?' The Court heard this incident from 
Redondo himself, the young man who survived 
thanks to what Pérez Chaumont called 'the soldiers' stupidity.'

It was the same throughout the province. Ten days 
after July 26th, a newspaper in this city printed 
the news that two young men had been found hanged 
on the road from Manzanillo to Bayamo. Later the 
bodies were identified as those of Hugo Camejo 
and Pedro Vélez. Another extraordinary incident 
took place there: There were three victims - they 
had been dragged from Manzanillo Barracks at two 
that morning. At a certain spot on the highway 
they were taken out, beaten unconscious, and 
strangled with a rope. But after they had been 
left for dead, one of them, Andrés García, 
regained consciousness and hid in a farmer's 
house. Thanks to this the Court learned the 
details of this crime too. Of all our men taken 
prisoner in the Bayamo area, this is the only survivor.

Near the Cauto River, in a spot known as 
Barrancas, at the bottom of a pit, lie the bodies 
of Raúl de Aguiar, Armando del Valle and Andrés 
Valdés. They were murdered at midnight on the 
road between Alto Cedro and Palma Soriano by 
Sergeant Montes de Oca - in charge of the 
military post at Miranda Barracks - Corporal 
Maceo, and the Lieutenant in charge of Alta Cedro 
where the murdered men were captured. In the 
annals of crime, Sergeant Eulalio Gonzáles - 
better known as the 'Tiger' of Moncada Barracks - 
deserves a special place. Later this man didn't 
have the slightest qualms in bragging about his 
unspeakable deeds. It was he who with his own 
hands murdered our comrade Abel Santamaría. But 
that didn't satisfy him. One day as he was coming 
back from the Puerto Boniato Prison, where he 
raises pedigree fighting cocks in the back 
courtyard, he got on a bus on which Abel's mother 
was also traveling. When this monster realized 
who she was he began to brag about his grisly 
deeds, and - in a loud voice so that the woman 
dressed in mourning could hear him - he said: 
'Yes, I have gouged many eyes out and I expect to 
continue gouging them out.' The unprecedented 
moral degradation our nation is suffering is 
expressed beyond the power of words in that 
mother's sobs of grief before the cowardly 
insolence of the very man who murdered her son. 
When these mothers went to Moncada Barracks to 
ask about their sons, it was with incredible 
cynicism and sadism that they were told: 'Surely 
madam, you may see him at the Santa Ifigenia 
Hotel where we have put him up for you.' Either 
Cuba is not Cuba, or the men responsible for 
these acts will have to face their reckoning one 
day. Heartless men, they threw crude insults at 
the people who bared their heads in reverence as 
the corpses of the revolutionaries were carried by.

There were so many victims that the government 
still has not dared make public the complete 
list. They know their figures are false. They 
have all the victims' names, because prior to 
every murder they recorded all the vital 
statistics. The whole long process of 
identification through the National 
Identification Bureau was a huge farce, and there 
are families still waiting for word of their 
sons' fate. Why has this not been cleared up, after three months?

I wish to state for the record here that all the 
victims' pockets were picked to the very last 
penny and that all their personal effects, rings 
and watches, were stripped from their bodies and 
are brazenly being worn today by their assassins.

Honorable Judges, a great deal of what I have 
just related you already know, from the testimony 
of many of my comrades. But please note that many 
key witnesses have been barred from this trial, 
although they were permitted to attend the 
sessions of the previous trial. For example, I 
want to point out that the nurses of the Civilian 
Hospital are absent, even though they work in the 
same place where this hearing is being held. They 
were kept from this Court so that, under my 
questioning, they would not be able to testify 
that - besides Dr. Mario Muñoz - twenty more of 
our men were captured alive. The regime fears 
that from the questioning of these witnesses some 
extremely dangerous testimony could find its way into the official transcript.

But Major Pérez Chaumont did appear here and he 
could not elude my questioning. What we learned 
from this man, a 'hero' who fought only against 
unarmed and handcuffed men, gives us an idea of 
what could have been learned at the Courthouse if 
I had not been isolated from the proceedings. I 
asked him how many of our men had died in his 
celebrated skirmishes at Siboney. He hesitated. I 
insisted and he finally said twenty-one. Since I 
knew such skirmishes had never taken place, I 
asked him how many of our men had been wounded. 
He answered: 'None. All of them were killed.' It 
was then that I asked him, in astonishment, if 
the soldiers were using nuclear weapons. Of 
course, where men are shot point blank, there are 
no wounded. Then I asked him how many casualties 
the Army had sustained. He replied that two of 
his men had been wounded. Finally I asked him if 
either of these men had died, and he said no. I 
waited. Later, all of the wounded Army soldiers 
filed by and it was discovered that none of them 
had been wounded at Siboney. This same Major 
Pérez Chaumont who hardly flinched at having 
assassinated twenty-one defenseless young men has 
built a palatial home in Ciudamar Beach. It's 
worth more than 100,000 pesos - his savings after 
only a few months under Batista's new rule. And 
if this is the savings of a Major, imagine how much generals have saved!

Honorable Judges: Where are our men who were 
captured July 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th? It is 
known that more than sixty men were captured in 
the area of Santiago de Cuba. Only three of them 
and the two women have been brought before the 
Court. The rest of the accused were seized later. 
Where are our wounded? Only five of them are 
alive; the rest were murdered. These figures are 
irrefutable. On the other hand, twenty of the 
soldiers who we held prisoner have been presented 
here and they themselves have declared that they 
received not even one offensive word from us. 
Thirty soldiers who were wounded, many in the 
street fighting, also appeared before you. Not 
one was killed by us. If the Army suffered losses 
of nineteen dead and thirty wounded, how is it 
possible that we should have had eighty dead and 
only five wounded? Who ever witnessed a battle 
with 21 dead and no wounded, like these famous 
battles described by Pérez Chaumont?

We have here the casualty lists from the bitter 
fighting sustained by the invasion troops in the 
war of 1895, both in battles where the Cuban army 
was defeated and where it was victorious. The 
battle of Los Indios in Las Villas: 12 wounded, 
none dead. The battle of Mal Tiempo: 4 dead, 23 
wounded. Calimete: 16 dead, 64 wounded. La Palma: 
39 dead, 88 wounded. Cacarajícara: 5 dead, 13 
wounded. Descanso: 4 dead, 45 wounded. San 
Gabriel de Lombillo: 2 dead, 18 wounded ... In 
all these battles the number of wounded is twice, 
three times and up to ten times the number of 
dead, although in those days there were no modern 
medical techniques by which the percentage of 
deaths could be reduced. How then, now, can we 
explain the enormous proportion of sixteen deaths 
per wounded man, if not by the government's 
slaughter of the wounded in the very hospitals, 
and by the assassination of the other helpless 
prisoners they had taken? The figures are irrefutable.

'It is shameful and a dishonor to the Army to 
have lost three times as many men in combat as 
those lost by the insurgents; we must kill ten 
prisoners for each dead soldier.' This is the 
concept of honor held by the petty corporals who 
became generals on March 10th. This is the code 
of honor they wish to impose on the national 
Army. A false honor, a feigned honor, an apparent 
honor based on lies, hypocrisy and crime; a mask 
of honor molded by those assassins with blood. 
Who told them that to die fighting is 
dishonorable? Who told them the honor of an army 
consists of murdering the wounded and prisoners of war?

In war time, armies that murder prisoners have 
always earned the contempt and abomination of the 
entire world. Such cowardice has no 
justification, even in a case where national 
territory is invaded by foreign troops. In the 
words of a South American liberator: 'Not even 
the strictest military obedience may turn a 
soldier's sword into that of an executioner.' The 
honorable soldier does not kill the helpless 
prisoner after the fight, but rather, respects 
him. He does not finish off a wounded man, but 
rather, helps him. He stands in the way of crime 
and if he cannot prevent it, he acts as did that 
Spanish captain who, upon hearing the shots of 
the firing squad that murdered Cuban students, 
indignantly broke his sword in two and refused to 
continue serving in that Army.

The soldiers who murdered their prisoners were 
not worthy of the soldiers who died. I saw many 
soldiers fight with courage - for example, those 
in the patrols that fired their machine guns 
against us in almost hand-to-hand combat, or that 
sergeant who, defying death, rang the alarm to 
mobilize the barracks. Some of them live. I am 
glad. Others are dead. They believed they were 
doing their duty and in my eyes this makes them 
worthy of admiration and respect. I deplore only 
the fact that valiant men should fall for an evil 
cause. When Cuba is freed, we should respect, 
shelter and aid the wives and children of those 
courageous soldiers who perished fighting against 
us. They are not to blame for Cuba's miseries. 
They too are victims of this nefarious situation.

But what honor was earned by the soldiers who 
died in battle was lost by the generals who 
ordered prisoners to be killed after they 
surrendered. Men who became generals overnight, 
without ever having fired a shot; men who bought 
their stars with high treason against their 
country; men who ordered the execution of 
prisoners taken in battles in which they didn't 
even participate: these are the generals of the 
10th of March - generals who would not even have 
been fit to drive the mules that carried the 
equipment in Antonio Maceo's army.

The Army suffered three times as many casualties 
as we did. That was because our men were expertly 
trained, as the Army men themselves have 
admitted; and also because we had prepared 
adequate tactical measures, another fact 
recognized by the Army. The Army did not perform 
brilliantly; despite the millions spent on 
espionage by the Military Intelligence Agency, 
they were totally taken by surprise, and their 
hand grenades failed to explode because they were 
obsolete. And the Army owes all this to generals 
like Martín Díaz Tamayo and colonels like Ugalde 
Carrillo and Albert del Río Chaviano. We were not 
17 traitors infiltrated into the ranks of the 
Army, as was the case on March 10th. Instead, we 
were 165 men who had traveled the length and 
breadth of Cuba to look death boldly in the face. 
If the Army leaders had a notion of real military 
honor they would have resigned their commands 
rather than trying to wash away their shame and 
incompetence in the blood of their prisoners.

To kill helpless prisoners and then declare that 
they died in battle: that is the military 
capacity of the generals of March 10th. That was 
the way the worst butchers of Valeriano Weyler 
behaved in the cruelest years of our War of 
Independence. The Chronicles of War include the 
following story: 'On February 23rd, officer 
Baldomero Acosta entered Punta Brava with some 
cavalry when, from the opposite road, a squad of 
the Pizarro regiment approached, led by a 
sergeant known in those parts as Barriguilla (Pot 
Belly). The insurgents exchanged a few shots with 
Pizarro's men, then withdrew by the trail that 
leads from Punta Brava to the village of Guatao. 
Followed by another battalion of volunteers from 
Marianao, and a company of troops from the Public 
Order Corps, who were led by Captain Calvo, 
Pizarro's squad of 50 men marched on Guatao ... 
As soon as their first forces entered the village 
they commenced their massacre - killing twelve of 
the peaceful inhabitants ... The troops led by 
Captain Calvo speedily rounded up all the 
civilians that were running about the village, 
tied them up and took them as prisoners of war to 
Havana ... Not yet satisfied with their outrages, 
on the outskirts of Guatao they carried out 
another barbaric action, killing one of the 
prisoners and horribly wounding the rest. The 
Marquis of Cervera, a cowardly and palatine 
soldier, informed Weyler of the pyrrhic victory 
of the Spanish soldiers; but Major Zugasti, a man 
of principles, denounced the incident to the 
government and officially called the murders 
perpetrated by the criminal Captain Calvo and 
Sergeant Barriguilla an assassination of peaceful citizens.

'Weyler's intervention in this horrible incident 
and his delight upon learning the details of the 
massacre may be palpably deduced from the 
official dispatch that he sent to the Ministry of 
War concerning these cruelties. "Small column 
organized by commander Marianao with forces from 
garrison, volunteers and firemen led by Captain 
Calvo, fought and destroyed bands of Villanueva 
and Baldomero Acosta near Punta Brava, killing 
twenty of theirs, who were handed over to Mayor 
of Guatao for burial, and taking fifteen 
prisoners, one of them wounded, we assume there 
are many wounded among them. One of ours suffered 
critical wounds, some suffered light bruises and wounds. Weyler."'

What is the difference between Weyler's dispatch 
and that of Colonel Chaviano detailing the 
victories of Major Pérez Chaumont? Only that 
Weyler mentions one wounded soldier in his ranks. 
Chaviano mentions two. Weyler speaks of one 
wounded man and fifteen prisoners in the enemy's 
ranks. Chaviano records neither wounded men nor prisoners.

Just as I admire the courage of the soldiers who 
died bravely, I also admire the officers who bore 
themselves with dignity and did not drench their 
hands in this blood. Many of the survivors owe 
their lives to the commendable conduct of 
officers like Lieutenant Sarría, Lieutenant 
Campa, Captain Tamayo and others, who were true 
gentlemen in their treatment of the prisoners. If 
men like these had not partially saved the name 
of the Armed Forces, it would be more honorable 
today to wear a dishrag than to wear an Army uniform.

For my dead comrades, I claim no vengeance. Since 
their lives were priceless, the murderers could 
not pay for them even with their own lives. It is 
not by blood that we may redeem the lives of 
those who died for their country. The happiness 
of their people is the only tribute worthy of them.

What is more, my comrades are neither dead nor 
forgotten; they live today, more than ever, and 
their murderers will view with dismay the 
victorious spirit of their ideas rise from their 
corpses. Let the Apostle speak for me: 'There is 
a limit to the tears we can shed at the graveside 
of the dead. Such limit is the infinite love for 
the homeland and its glory, a love that never 
falters, loses hope nor grows dim. For the graves 
of the martyrs are the highest altars of our reverence.'

... When one dies
In the arms of a grateful country
Agony ends, prison chains break - and
At last, with death, life begins!

Up to this point I have confined myself almost 
exclusively to relating events. Since I am well 
aware that I am before a Court convened to judge 
me, I will now demonstrate that all legal right 
was on our side alone, and that the verdict 
imposed on my comrades - the verdict now being 
sought against me - has no justification in 
reason, in social morality or in terms of true justice.

I wish to be duly respectful to the Honorable 
Judges, and I am grateful that you find in the 
frankness of my plea no animosity towards you. My 
argument is meant simply to demonstrate what a 
false and erroneous position the Judicial Power 
has adopted in the present situation. To a 
certain extent, each Court is nothing more than a 
cog in the wheel of the system, and therefore 
must move along the course determined by the 
vehicle, although this by no means justifies any 
individual acting against his principles. I know 
very well that the oligarchy bears most of the 
blame. The oligarchy, without dignified protest, 
abjectly yielded to the dictates of the usurper 
and betrayed their country by renouncing the 
autonomy of the Judicial Power. Men who 
constitute noble exceptions have attempted to 
mend the system's mangled honor with their 
individual decisions. But the gestures of this 
minority have been of little consequence, drowned 
as they were by the obsequious and fawning 
majority. This fatalism, however, will not stop 
me from speaking the truth that supports my 
cause. My appearance before this Court may be a 
pure farce in order to give a semblance of 
legality to arbitrary decisions, but I am 
determined to wrench apart with a firm hand the 
infamous veil that hides so much shamelessness. 
It is curious: the very men who have brought me 
here to be judged and condemned have never heeded 
a single decision of this Court.

Since this trial may, as you said, be the most 
important trial since we achieved our national 
sovereignty, what I say here will perhaps be lost 
in the silence which the dictatorship has tried 
to impose on me, but posterity will often turn 
its eyes to what you do here. Remember that today 
you are judging an accused man, but that you 
yourselves will be judged not once, but many 
times, as often as these days are submitted to 
scrutiny in the future. What I say here will be 
then repeated many times, not because it comes 
from my lips, but because the problem of justice 
is eternal and the people have a deep sense of 
justice above and beyond the hairsplitting of 
jurisprudence. The people wield simple but 
implacable logic, in conflict with all that is 
absurd and contradictory. Furthermore, if there 
is in this world a people that utterly abhors 
favoritism and inequality, it is the Cuban 
people. To them, justice is symbolized by a 
maiden with a scale and a sword in her hands. 
Should she cower before one group and furiously 
wield that sword against another group, then to 
the people of Cuba the maiden of justice will 
seem nothing more than a prostitute brandishing a 
dagger. My logic is the simple logic of the people.

Let me tell you a story: Once upon a time there 
was a Republic. It had its Constitution, its 
laws, its freedoms, a President, a Congress and 
Courts of Law. Everyone could assemble, 
associate, speak and write with complete freedom. 
The people were not satisfied with the government 
officials at that time, but they had the power to 
elect new officials and only a few days remained 
before they would do so. Public opinion was 
respected and heeded and all problems of common 
interest were freely discussed. There were 
political parties, radio and television debates 
and forums and public meetings. The whole nation 
pulsated with enthusiasm. This people had 
suffered greatly and although it was unhappy, it 
longed to be happy and had a right to be happy. 
It had been deceived many times and it looked 
upon the past with real horror. This country 
innocently believed that such a past could not 
return; the people were proud of their love of 
freedom and they carried their heads high in the 
conviction that liberty would be respected as a 
sacred right. They felt confident that no one 
would dare commit the crime of violating their 
democratic institutions. They wanted a change for 
the better, aspired to progress; and they saw all 
this at hand. All their hope was in the future.

Poor country! One morning the citizens woke up 
dismayed; under the cover of night, while the 
people slept, the ghosts of the past had 
conspired and has seized the citizenry by its 
hands, its feet, and its neck. That grip, those 
claws were familiar: those jaws, those 
death-dealing scythes, those boots. No; it was no 
nightmare; it was a sad and terrible reality: a 
man named Fulgencio Batista had just perpetrated 
the appalling crime that no one had expected.

Then a humble citizen of that people, a citizen 
who wished to believe in the laws of the 
Republic, in the integrity of its judges, whom he 
had seen vent their fury against the 
underprivileged, searched through a Social 
Defense Code to see what punishment society 
prescribed for the author of such a coup, and he discovered the following:

'Whosoever shall perpetrate any deed destined 
through violent means directly to change in whole 
or in part the Constitution of the State or the 
form of the established government shall incur a 
sentence of six to ten years imprisonment.

'A sentence of three to ten years imprisonment 
will be imposed on the author of an act directed 
to promote an armed uprising against the 
Constitutional Powers of the State. The sentence 
increases from five to twenty years if the insurrection is carried out.

'Whosoever shall perpetrate an act with the 
specific purpose of preventing, in whole or in 
part, even temporarily, the Senate, the House of 
Representatives, the President, or the Supreme 
Court from exercising their constitutional 
functions will incur a sentence of from six to ten years imprisonment.

'Whosoever shall attempt to impede or tamper with 
the normal course of general elections, will 
incur a sentence of from four to eight years imprisonment.

'Whosoever shall introduce, publish, propagate or 
try to enforce in Cuba instructions, orders or 
decrees that tend ... to promote the unobservance 
of laws in force, will incur a sentence of from two to six years imprisonment.

'Whosoever shall assume command of troops, posts, 
fortresses, military camps, towns, warships, or 
military aircraft, without the authority to do 
so, or without express government orders, will 
incur a sentence of from five to ten years imprisonment.

'A similar sentence will be passed upon anyone 
who usurps the exercise of a function held by the 
Constitution as properly belonging to the powers of State.'

Without telling anyone, Code in one hand and a 
deposition in the other, that citizen went to the 
old city building, that old building which housed 
the Court competent and under obligation to bring 
cause against and punish those responsible for 
this deed. He presented a writ denouncing the 
crimes and asking that Fulgencio Batista and his 
seventeen accomplices be sentenced to 108 years 
in prison as decreed by the Social Defense Code; 
considering also aggravating circumstances of 
secondary offense treachery, and acting under cover of night.

Days and months passed. What a disappointment! 
The accused remained unmolested: he strode up and 
down the country like a great lord and was called 
Honorable Sir and General: he removed and 
replaced judges at will. The very day the Courts 
opened, the criminal occupied the seat of honor 
in the midst of our august and venerable patriarchs of justice.

Once more the days and the months rolled by, the 
people wearied of mockery and abuses. There is a 
limit to tolerance! The struggle began against 
this man who was disregarding the law, who had 
usurped power by the use of violence against the 
will of the people, who was guilty of aggression 
against the established order, had tortured, 
murdered, imprisoned and prosecuted those who had 
taken up the struggle to defend the law and to restore freedom to the people.

Honorable Judges: I am that humble citizen who 
one day demanded in vain that the Courts punish 
the power-hungry men who had violated the law and 
torn our institutions to shreds. Now that it is I 
who am accused for attempting to overthrow this 
illegal regime and to restore the legitimate 
Constitution of the Republic, I am held 
incommunicado for 76 days and denied the right to 
speak to anyone, even to my son; between two 
heavy machine guns I am led through the city. I 
am transferred to this hospital to be tried 
secretly with the greatest severity; and the 
Prosecutor with the Code in his hand solemnly 
demands that I be sentenced to 26 years in prison.

You will answer that on the former occasion the 
Courts failed to act because force prevented them 
from doing so. Well then, confess, this time 
force will compel you to condemn me. The first 
time you were unable to punish the guilty; now 
you will be compelled to punish the innocent. The 
maiden of justice twice raped.

And so much talk to justify the unjustifiable, to 
explain the inexplicable and to reconcile the 
irreconcilable! The regime has reached the point 
of asserting that 'Might makes right' is the 
supreme law of the land. In other words, that 
using tanks and soldiers to take over the 
presidential palace, the national treasury, and 
the other government offices, and aiming guns at 
the heart of the people, entitles them to govern 
the people! The same argument the Nazis used when 
they occupied the countries of Europe and installed their puppet governments.

I heartily believe revolution to be the source of 
legal right; but the nocturnal armed assault of 
March 10th could never be considered a 
revolution. In everyday language, as José 
Ingenieros said, it is common to give the name of 
revolution to small disorders promoted by a group 
of dissatisfied persons in order to grab, from 
those in power, both the political sinecures and 
the economic advantages. The usual result is no 
more than a change of hands, the dividing up of 
jobs and benefits. This is not the criterion of a 
philosopher, as it cannot be that of a cultured man.

Leaving aside the problem of integral changes in 
the social system, not even on the surface of the 
public quagmire were we able to discern the 
slightest motion that could lessen the rampant 
putrefaction. The previous regime was guilty of 
petty politics, theft, pillage, and disrespect 
for human life; but the present regime has 
increased political skullduggery five-fold, 
pillage ten-fold, and a hundred-fold the lack of respect for human life.

It was known that Barriguilla had plundered and 
murdered, that he was a millionaire, that he 
owned in Havana a good many apartment houses, 
countless stock in foreign companies, fabulous 
accounts in American banks, that he agreed to 
divorce settlements to the tune of eighteen 
million pesos, that he was a frequent guest in 
the most lavishly expensive hotels for Yankee 
tycoons. But no one would ever think of 
Barriguilla as a revolutionary. Barriguilla is 
that sergeant of Weyler's who assassinated twelve 
Cubans in Guatao. Batista's men murdered seventy 
in Santiago de Cuba. De te fabula narratur.

Four political parties governed the country 
before the 10th of March: the Auténtico, Liberal, 
Democratic and Republican parties. Two days after 
the coup, the Republican party gave its support 
to the new rulers. A year had not yet passed 
before the Liberal and Democratic parties were 
again in power: Batista did not restore the 
Constitution, did not restore civil liberties, 
did not restore Congress, did not restore 
universal suffrage, did not restore in the last 
analysis any of the uprooted democratic 
institutions. But he did restore Verdeja, Guas 
Inclán, Salvito García Ramos, Anaya Murillo and 
the top hierarchy of the traditional government 
parties, the most corrupt, rapacious, reactionary 
and antediluvian elements in Cuban politics. So 
went the 'revolution' of Barriguilla!.

Lacking even the most elementary revolutionary 
content, Batista's regime represents in every 
respect a 20 year regression for Cuba. Batista's 
regime has exacted a high price from all of us, 
but primarily from the humble classes which are 
suffering hunger and misery. Meanwhile the 
dictatorship has laid waste the nation with 
commotion, ineptitude and anguish, and now 
engages in the most loathsome forms of ruthless 
politics, concocting formula after formula to 
perpetuate itself in power, even if over a stack 
of corpses and a sea of blood.

Batista's regime has not set in motion a single 
nationwide program of betterment for the people. 
Batista delivered himself into the hands of the 
great financial interests. Little else could be 
expected from a man of his mentality - utterly 
devoid as he is of ideals and of principles, and 
utterly lacking the faith, confidence and support 
of the masses. His regime merely brought with it 
a change of hands and a redistribution of the 
loot among a new group of friends, relatives, 
accomplices and parasitic hangers-on that 
constitute the political retinue of the Dictator. 
What great shame the people have been forced to 
endure so that a small group of egoists, 
altogether indifferent to the needs of their 
homeland, may find in public life an easy and comfortable modus vivendi.

How right Eduardo Chibás was in his last radio 
speech, when he said that Batista was encouraging 
the return of the colonels, castor oil and the 
law of the fugitive! Immediately after March 
10th, Cubans again began to witness acts of 
veritable vandalism which they had thought 
banished forever from their nation. There was an 
unprecedented attack on a cultural institution: a 
radio station was stormed by the thugs of the 
SIM, together with the young hoodlums of the PAU, 
while broadcasting the 'University of the Air' 
program. And there was the case of the journalist 
Mario Kuchilán, dragged from his home in the 
middle of the night and bestially tortured until 
he was nearly unconscious. There was the murder 
of the student Rubén Batista and the criminal 
volleys fired at a peaceful student demonstration 
next to the wall where Spanish volunteers shot 
the medical students in 1871. And many cases such 
as that of Dr. García Bárcena, where right in the 
courtrooms men have coughed up blood because of 
the barbaric tortures practiced upon them by the 
repressive security forces. I will not enumerate 
the hundreds of cases where groups of citizens 
have been brutally clubbed - men, women, children 
and the aged. All of this was being done even 
before July 26th. Since then, as everyone knows, 
even Cardinal Arteaga himself was not spared such 
treatment. Everybody knows he was a victim of 
repressive agents. According to the official 
story, he fell prey to a 'band of thieves'. For 
once the regime told the truth. For what else is this regime? ...

People have just contemplated with horror the 
case of the journalist who was kidnapped and 
subjected to torture by fire for twenty days. 
Each new case brings forth evidence of unheard-of 
effrontery, of immense hypocrisy: the cowardice 
of those who shirk responsibility and invariably 
blame the enemies of the regime. Governmental 
tactics enviable only by the worst gangster mobs. 
Even the Nazi criminals were never so cowardly. 
Hitler assumed responsibility for the massacres 
of June 30, 1934, stating that for 24 hours he 
himself had been the German Supreme Court; the 
henchmen of this dictatorship which defies all 
comparison because of its baseness, maliciousness 
and cowardice, kidnap, torture, murder and then 
loathsomely put the blame on the adversaries of 
the regime. Typical tactics of Sergeant Barriguilla!

Not once in all the cases I have mentioned, 
Honorable Judges, have the agents responsible for 
these crimes been brought to Court to be tried 
for them. How is this? Was this not to be the 
regime of public order, peace and respect for human life?

I have related all this in order to ask you now: 
Can this state of affairs be called a revolution, 
capable of formulating law and establishing 
rights? Is it or is it not legitimate to struggle 
against this regime? And must there not be a high 
degree of corruption in the courts of law when 
these courts imprison citizens who try to rid the country of so much infamy?

Cuba is suffering from a cruel and base 
despotism. You are well aware that resistance to 
despots is legitimate. This is a universally 
recognized principle and our 1940 Constitution 
expressly makes it a sacred right, in the second 
paragraph of Article 40: 'It is legitimate to use 
adequate resistance to protect previously granted 
individual rights.' And even if this prerogative 
had not been provided by the Supreme Law of the 
Land, it is a consideration without which one 
cannot conceive of the existence of a democratic 
collectivity. Professor Infiesta, in his book on 
Constitutional Law, differentiates between the 
political and legal constitutions, and states: 
'Sometimes the Legal Constitution includes 
constitutional principles which, even without 
being so classified, would be equally binding 
solely on the basis of the people's consent, for 
example, the principle of majority rule or 
representation in our democracies.' The right of 
insurrection in the face of tyranny is one such 
principle, and whether or not it be included in 
the Legal Constitution, it is always binding 
within a democratic society. The presentation of 
such a case to a high court is one of the most 
interesting problems of general law. Duguit has 
said in his Treatise on Constitutional Law: 'If 
an insurrection fails, no court will dare to rule 
that this unsuccessful insurrection was 
technically no conspiracy, no transgression 
against the security of the State, inasmuch as, 
the government being tyrannical, the intention to 
overthrow it was legitimate.' But please take 
note: Duguit does not state, 'the court ought not 
to rule.' He says, 'no court will dare to rule.' 
More explicitly, he means that no court will 
dare, that no court will have enough courage to 
do so, under a tyranny. If the court is 
courageous and does its duty, then yes, it will dare.

Recently there has been a loud controversy 
concerning the 1940 Constitution. The Court of 
Social and Constitutional Rights ruled against it 
in favor of the so-called Statutes. Nevertheless, 
Honorable Judges, I maintain that the 1940 
Constitution is still in force. My statement may 
seem absurd and extemporaneous to you. But do not 
be surprised. It is I who am astonished that a 
court of law should have attempted to deal a 
death blow to the legitimate Constitution of the 
Republic. Adhering strictly to facts, truth and 
reason - as I have done all along - I will prove 
what I have just stated. The Court of Social and 
Constitutional Rights was instituted according to 
Article 172 of the 1940 Constitution, and the 
supplementary Act of May 31, 1949. These laws, in 
virtue of which the Court was created, granted 
it, insofar as problems of unconstitutionality 
are concerned, a specific and clearly defined 
area of legal competence: to rule in all matters 
of appeals claiming the unconstitutionality of 
laws, legal decrees, resolutions, or acts that 
deny, diminish, restrain or adulterate the 
constitutional rights and privileges or that 
jeopardize the operations of State agencies. 
Article 194 established very clearly the 
following: 'All judges and courts are under the 
obligation to find solutions to conflicts between 
the Constitution and the existing laws in 
accordance with the principle that the former 
shall always prevail over the latter.' Therefore, 
according to the laws that created it, the Court 
of Social and Constitutional Rights should always 
rule in favor of the Constitution. When this 
Court caused the Statutes to prevail above the 
Constitution of the Republic, it completely 
overstepped its boundaries and its established 
field of competence, thereby rendering a decision 
which is legally null and void. Furthermore, the 
decision itself is absurd, and absurdities have 
no validity in law nor in fact, not even from a 
metaphysical point of view. No matter how 
venerable a court may be, it cannot assert that 
circles are square or, what amounts to the same 
thing, that the grotesque offspring of the April 
4th Statutes should be considered the official Constitution of a State.

The Constitution is understood to be the basic 
and supreme law of the nation, to define the 
country's political structure, regulate the 
functioning of its government agencies, and 
determine the limits of their activities. It must 
be stable, enduring and, to a certain extent, 
inflexible. The Statutes fulfill none of these 
qualifications. To begin with, they harbor a 
monstrous, shameless, and brazen contradiction in 
regard to the most vital aspect of all: the 
integration of the Republican structure and the 
principle of national sovereignty. Article 1 
reads: 'Cuba is a sovereign and independent State 
constituted as a democratic Republic.' Article 2 
reads: 'Sovereignty resides in the will of the 
people, and all powers derive from this source.' 
But then comes Article 118, which reads: 'The 
President will be nominated by the Cabinet.' So 
it is not the people who choose the President, 
but rather the Cabinet. And who chooses the 
Cabinet? Article 120, section 13: 'The President 
will be authorized to nominate and reappoint the 
members of the Cabinet and to replace them when 
occasion arises.' So, after all, who nominates 
whom? Is this not the classical old problem of 
the chicken and the egg that no one has ever been able to solve?

One day eighteen hoodlums got together. Their 
plan was to assault the Republic and loot its 350 
million pesos annual budget. Behind peoples' 
backs and with great treachery, they succeeded in 
their purpose. 'Now what do we do next?' they 
wondered. One of them said to the rest: 'You name 
me Prime Minister, and I'll make you generals.' 
When this was done, he rounded up a group of 20 
men and told them: 'I will make you my Cabinet if 
you make me President.' In this way they named 
each other generals, ministers and president, and 
then took over the treasury and the Republic.

What is more, it was not simply a matter of 
usurping sovereignty at a given moment in order 
to name a Cabinet, Generals and a President. This 
man ascribed to himself, through these Statutes, 
not only absolute control of the nation, but also 
the power of life and death over every citizen - 
control, in fact, over the very existence of the 
nation. Because of this, I maintain that the 
position of the Court of Social and 
Constitutional Rights is not only treacherous, 
vile, cowardly and repugnant, but also absurd.

The Statutes contain an article which has not 
received much attention, but which gives us the 
key to this situation and is the one from which 
we shall derive decisive conclusions. I refer 
specifically to the modifying clause included in 
Article 257, which reads: 'This constitutional 
law is open to reform by the Cabinet with a 
two-thirds quorum vote.' This is where mockery 
reaches its climax. Not only did they exercise 
sovereignty in order to impose a Constitution 
upon a people without that people's consent, and 
to install a regime which concentrates all power 
in their own hands, but also, through Article 
257, they assume the most essential attribute of 
sovereignty: the power to change the Basic and 
Supreme Law of the Land. And they have already 
changed it several times since March 10th. Yet, 
with the greatest gall, they assert in Article 2 
that sovereignty resides in the will of the 
people and that the people are the source of all 
power. Since these changes may be brought about 
by a vote of two-thirds of the Cabinet and the 
Cabinet is named by the President, then the right 
to make and break Cuba is in the hands of one 
man, a man who is, furthermore, the most unworthy 
of all the creatures ever to be born in this 
land. Was this then accepted by the Court of 
Social and Constitutional Rights? And is all that 
derives from it valid and legal? Very well, you 
shall see what was accepted: 'This constitutional 
law is open to reform by the Cabinet with a 
two-thirds quorum vote.' Such a power recognizes 
no limits. Under its aegis, any article, any 
chapter, any section, even the whole law may be 
modified. For example, Article 1, which I have 
just mentioned, says that Cuba is a sovereign and 
independent State constituted as a democratic 
Republic, 'although today it is in fact a bloody 
dictatorship.' Article 3 reads: 'The national 
boundaries include the island of Cuba, the Isle 
of Pines, and the neighboring keys ...' and so 
on. Batista and his Cabinet under the provisions 
of Article 257 can modify all these other 
articles. They can say that Cuba is no longer a 
Republic but a hereditary monarchy and he, 
Batista, can anoint himself king. He can 
dismember the national territory and sell a 
province to a foreign country as Napoleon did 
with Louisiana. He may suspend the right to life 
itself, and like Herod, order the decapitation of 
newborn children. All these measures would be 
legal and you would have to incarcerate all those 
who opposed them, just as you now intend to do 
with me. I have put forth extreme examples to 
show how sad and humiliating our present 
situation is. To think that all these absolute 
powers are in the hands of men truly capable of 
selling our country along with all its citizens!

As the Court of Social and Constitutional Rights 
has accepted this state of affairs, what more are 
they waiting for? They may as well hang up their 
judicial robes. It is a fundamental principle of 
general law that there can be no constitutional 
status where the constitutional and legislative 
powers reside in the same body. When the Cabinet 
makes the laws, the decrees and the rules - and 
at the same time has the power to change the 
Constitution in a moment of time - then I ask 
you: why do we need a Court of Social and 
Constitutional Rights? The ruling in favor of 
this Statute is irrational, inconceivable, 
illogical and totally contrary to the Republican 
laws that you, Honorable Judges, swore to uphold. 
When the Court of Social and Constitutional 
Rights supported Batista's Statutes against the 
Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land was not 
abolished but rather the Court of Social and 
Constitutional Rights placed itself outside the 
Constitution, renounced its autonomy and 
committed legal suicide. May it rest in peace!

The right to rebel, established in Article 40 of 
the Constitution, is still valid. Was it 
established to function while the Republic was 
enjoying normal conditions? No. This provision is 
to the Constitution what a lifeboat is to a ship 
at sea. The lifeboat is only launched when the 
ship has been torpedoed by enemies laying wait 
along its course. With our Constitution betrayed 
and the people deprived of all their 
prerogatives, there was only one way open: one 
right which no power may abolish. The right to 
resist oppression and injustice. If any doubt 
remains, there is an article of the Social 
Defense Code which the Honorable Prosecutor would 
have done well not to forget. It reads, and I 
quote: 'The appointed or elected government 
authorities that fail to resist sedition with all 
available means will be liable to a sentence of 
interdiction of from six to eight years.' The 
judges of our nation were under the obligation to 
resist Batista's treacherous military coup of the 
10th of March. It is understandable that when no 
one has observed the law and when nobody else has 
done his duty, those who have observed the law 
and have done their duty should be sent to prison.

You will not be able to deny that the regime 
forced upon the nation is unworthy of Cuba's 
history. In his book, The Spirit of Laws, which 
is the foundation of the modern division of 
governmental power, Montesquieu makes a 
distinction between three types of government 
according to their basic nature: 'The Republican 
form wherein the whole people or a portion 
thereof has sovereign power; the Monarchical form 
where only one man governs, but in accordance 
with fixed and well-defined laws; and the 
Despotic form where one man without regard for 
laws nor rules acts as he pleases, regarding only 
his own will or whim.' And then he adds: 'A man 
whose five senses constantly tell him that he is 
everything and that the rest of humanity is 
nothing is bound to be lazy, ignorant and 
sensuous.' 'As virtue is necessary to democracy, 
and honor to a monarchy, fear is of the essence 
to a despotic regime, where virtue is not needed 
and honor would be dangerous.'

The right of rebellion against tyranny, Honorable 
Judges, has been recognized from the most ancient 
times to the present day by men of all creeds, ideas and doctrines.

It was so in the theocratic monarchies of remote 
antiquity. In China it was almost a 
constitutional principle that when a king 
governed rudely and despotically he should be 
deposed and replaced by a virtuous prince.

The philosophers of ancient India upheld the 
principle of active resistance to arbitrary 
authority. They justified revolution and very 
often put their theories into practice. One of 
their spiritual leaders used to say that 'an 
opinion held by the majority is stronger than the 
king himself. A rope woven of many strands is strong enough to hold a lion.'

The city states of Greece and republican Rome not 
only admitted, but defended the meting-out of violent death to tyrants.

In the Middle Ages, John Salisbury in his Book of 
the Statesman says that when a prince does not 
govern according to law and degenerates into a 
tyrant, violent overthrow is legitimate and 
justifiable. He recommends for tyrants the dagger rather than poison.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, in the Summa Theologica, 
rejects the doctrine of tyrannicide, and yet 
upholds the thesis that tyrants should be overthrown by the people.

Martin Luther proclaimed that when a government 
degenerates into a tyranny that violates the 
laws, its subjects are released from their 
obligations to obey. His disciple, Philippe 
Melanchton, upholds the right of resistance when 
governments become despotic. Calvin, the 
outstanding thinker of the Reformation with 
regard to political ideas, postulates that people 
are entitled to take up arms to oppose any usurpation.

No less a man that Juan Mariana, a Spanish Jesuit 
during the reign of Philip II, asserts in his 
book, De Rege et Regis Institutione, that when a 
governor usurps power, or even if he were 
elected, when he governs in a tyrannical manner 
it is licit for a private citizen to exercise 
tyrannicide, either directly or through 
subterfuge with the least possible disturbance.

The French writer, François Hotman, maintained 
that between the government and its subjects 
there is a bond or contract, and that the people 
may rise in rebellion against the tyranny of 
government when the latter violates that pact.

About the same time, a booklet - which came to be 
widely read - appeared under the title Vindiciae 
Contra Tyrannos, and it was signed with the 
pseudonym Stephanus Junius Brutus. It openly 
declared that resistance to governments is 
legitimate when rulers oppress the people and 
that it is the duty of Honorable Judges to lead the struggle.

The Scottish reformers John Knox and John Poynet 
upheld the same points of view. And, in the most 
important book of that movement, George Buchanan 
stated that if a government achieved power 
without taking into account the consent of the 
people, or if a government rules their destiny in 
an unjust or arbitrary fashion, then that 
government becomes a tyranny and can be divested 
of power or, in a final recourse, its leaders can be put to death.

John Althus, a German jurist of the early 17th 
century, stated in his Treatise on Politics that 
sovereignty as the supreme authority of the State 
is born from the voluntary concourse of all its 
members; that governmental authority stems from 
the people and that its unjust, illegal or 
tyrannical function exempts them from the duty of 
obedience and justifies resistance or rebellion.

Thus far, Honorable Judges, I have mentioned 
examples from antiquity, from the Middle Ages, 
and from the beginnings of our times. I selected 
these examples from writers of all creeds. What 
is more, you can see that the right to rebellion 
is at the very root of Cuba's existence as a 
nation. By virtue of it you are today able to 
appear in the robes of Cuban Judges. Would it be 
that those garments really served the cause of justice!

It is well known that in England during the 17th 
century two kings, Charles I and James II, were 
dethroned for despotism. These actions coincided 
with the birth of liberal political philosophy 
and provided the ideological base for a new 
social class, which was then struggling to break 
the bonds of feudalism. Against divine right 
autocracies, this new philosophy upheld the 
principle of the social contract and of the 
consent of the governed, and constituted the 
foundation of the English Revolution of 1688, the 
American Revolution of 1775 and the French 
Revolution of 1789. These great revolutionary 
events ushered in the liberation of the Spanish 
colonies in the New World - the final link in 
that chain being broken by Cuba. The new 
philosophy nurtured our own political ideas and 
helped us to evolve our Constitutions, from the 
Constitution of Guáimaro up to the Constitution 
of 1940. The latter was influenced by the 
socialist currents of our time; the principle of 
the social function of property and of man's 
inalienable right to a decent living were built 
into it, although large vested interests have 
prevented fully enforcing those rights.

The right of insurrection against tyranny then 
underwent its final consecration and became a 
fundamental tenet of political liberty.

As far back as 1649, John Milton wrote that 
political power lies with the people, who can 
enthrone and dethrone kings and have the duty of overthrowing tyrants.

John Locke, in his essay on government, 
maintained that when the natural rights of man 
are violated, the people have the right and the 
duty to alter or abolish the government. 'The 
only remedy against unauthorized force is opposition to it by force.'

Jean-Jaques Rousseau said with great eloquence in 
his Social Contract: 'While a people sees itself 
forced to obey and obeys, it does well; but as 
soon as it can shake off the yoke and shakes it 
off, it does better, recovering its liberty 
through the use of the very right that has been 
taken away from it.' 'The strongest man is never 
strong enough to be master forever, unless he 
converts force into right and obedience into 
duty. Force is a physical power; I do not see 
what morality one may derive from its use. To 
yield to force is an act of necessity, not of 
will; at the very least, it is an act of 
prudence. In what sense should this be called a 
duty?' 'To renounce freedom is to renounce one's 
status as a man, to renounce one's human rights, 
including one's duties. There is no possible 
compensation for renouncing everything. Total 
renunciation is incompatible with the nature of 
man and to take away all free will is to take 
away all morality of conduct. In short, it is 
vain and contradictory to stipulate on the one 
hand an absolute authority and on the other an unlimited obedience ...'

Thomas Paine said that 'one just man deserves 
more respect than a rogue with a crown.'

The people's right to rebel has been opposed only 
by reactionaries like that clergyman of Virginia, 
Jonathan Boucher, who said: 'The right to rebel 
is a censurable doctrine derived from Lucifer, the father of rebellions.'

The Declaration of Independence of the Congress 
of Philadelphia, on July 4th, 1776, consecrated 
this right in a beautiful paragraph which reads: 
'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that 
all men are created equal, that they are endowed 
by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, 
that among these are Life, Liberty and the 
Pursuit of Happiness; That to secure these 
Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, 
deriving their just powers from the consent of 
the governed; That whenever any Form of 
Government becomes destructive of these ends, it 
is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it 
and to institute a new Government, laying its 
foundation on such principles and organizing its 
powers in such form as to them shall seem most 
likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.'

The famous French Declaration of the Rights of 
Man willed this principle to the coming 
generations: 'When the government violates the 
rights of the people, insurrection is for them 
the most sacred of rights and the most imperative 
of duties.' 'When a person seizes sovereignty, he 
should be condemned to death by free men.'

I believe I have sufficiently justified my point 
of view. I have called forth more reasons than 
the Honorable Prosecutor called forth to ask that 
I be condemned to 26 years in prison. All these 
reasons support men who struggle for the freedom 
and happiness of the people. None support those 
who oppress the people, revile them, and rob them 
heartlessly. Therefore I have been able to call 
forth many reasons and he could not adduce even 
one. How can Batista's presence in power be 
justified when he gained it against the will of 
the people and by violating the laws of the 
Republic through the use of treachery and force? 
How could anyone call legitimate a regime of 
blood, oppression and ignominy? How could anyone 
call revolutionary a regime which has gathered 
the most backward men, methods and ideas of 
public life around it? How can anyone consider 
legally valid the high treason of a Court whose 
duty was to defend the Constitution? With what 
right do the Courts send to prison citizens who 
have tried to redeem their country by giving 
their own blood, their own lives? All this is 
monstrous to the eyes of the nation and to the principles of true justice!

Still there is one argument more powerful than 
all the others. We are Cubans and to be Cuban 
implies a duty; not to fulfill that duty is a 
crime, is treason. We are proud of the history of 
our country; we learned it in school and have 
grown up hearing of freedom, justice and human 
rights. We were taught to venerate the glorious 
example of our heroes and martyrs. Céspedes, 
Agramonte, Maceo, Gómez and Martí were the first 
names engraved in our minds. We were taught that 
the Titan once said that liberty is not begged 
for but won with the blade of a machete. We were 
taught that for the guidance of Cuba's free 
citizens, the Apostle wrote in his book The 
Golden Age: 'The man who abides by unjust laws 
and permits any man to trample and mistreat the 
country in which he was born is not an honorable 
man ... In the world there must be a certain 
degree of honor just as there must be a certain 
amount of light. When there are many men without 
honor, there are always others who bear in 
themselves the honor of many men. These are the 
men who rebel with great force against those who 
steal the people's freedom, that is to say, 
against those who steal honor itself. In those 
men thousands more are contained, an entire 
people is contained, human dignity is contained 
...' We were taught that the 10th of October and 
the 24th of February are glorious anniversaries 
of national rejoicing because they mark days on 
which Cubans rebelled against the yoke of 
infamous tyranny. We were taught to cherish and 
defend the beloved flag of the lone star, and to 
sing every afternoon the verses of our National 
Anthem: 'To live in chains is to live in disgrace 
and in opprobrium,' and 'to die for one's 
homeland is to live forever!' All this we learned 
and will never forget, even though today in our 
land there is murder and prison for the men who 
practice the ideas taught to them since the 
cradle. We were born in a free country that our 
parents bequeathed to us, and the Island will 
first sink into the sea before we consent to be the slaves of anyone.

It seemed that the Apostle would die during his 
Centennial. It seemed that his memory would be 
extinguished forever. So great was the affront! 
But he is alive; he has not died. His people are 
rebellious. His people are worthy. His people are 
faithful to his memory. There are Cubans who have 
fallen defending his doctrines. There are young 
men who in magnificent selflessness came to die 
beside his tomb, giving their blood and their 
lives so that he could keep on living in the 
heart of his nation. Cuba, what would have become 
of you had you let your Apostle die?

I come to the close of my defense plea but I will 
not end it as lawyers usually do, asking that the 
accused be freed. I cannot ask freedom for myself 
while my comrades are already suffering in the 
ignominious prison of the Isle of Pines. Send me 
there to join them and to share their fate. It is 
understandable that honest men should be dead or 
in prison in a Republic where the President is a criminal and a thief.

To you, Honorable Judges, my sincere gratitude 
for having allowed me to express myself free from 
contemptible restrictions. I hold no bitterness 
towards you, I recognize that in certain aspects 
you have been humane, and I know that the Chief 
Judge of this Court, a man of impeccable private 
life, cannot disguise his repugnance at the 
current state of affairs that compels him to 
dictate unjust decisions. Still, a more serious 
problem remains for the Court of Appeals: the 
indictments arising from the murders of seventy 
men, that is to say, the greatest massacre we 
have ever known. The guilty continue at liberty 
and with weapons in their hands - weapons which 
continually threaten the lives of all citizens. 
If all the weight of the law does not fall upon 
the guilty because of cowardice or because of 
domination of the courts, and if then all the 
judges do not resign, I pity your honor. And I 
regret the unprecedented shame that will fall upon the Judicial Power.

I know that imprisonment will be harder for me 
than it has ever been for anyone, filled with 
cowardly threats and hideous cruelty. But I do 
not fear prison, as I do not fear the fury of the 
miserable tyrant who took the lives of 70 of my 
comrades. Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.

  -------------------------------------------------------
Spoken: 1953
Publisher: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana, Cuba. 1975
Translated: Pedro Álvarez Tabío & Andrew Paul 
Booth (who rechecked the translation with the 
Spanish La historia me absolverá, same publisher, in 1981)
Transcription/Markup: Andrew Paul Booth/Brian Baggins
Online Version: 1997, Castro Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2001