On April 17-19, 1961, U.S. imperialism suffered what Fidel Castro called its “first great defeat in the Americas” at the hands of the workers and peasants of Cuba. Millions were mobilized arms in hand to defend their newly proclaimed socialist revolution against a mercenary invasion at Playa Girón organized by Washington.
It was meant to pave the way for a full-scale invasion by U.S. forces to crush the revolution begun two years before with the popular triumph, led by Castro and the July 26 Movement, over the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.
In less than 72 hours the invaders were completely defeated. Below is an excerpt from Castro’s April 17 battle orders to the people of Cuba as Washington’s attack began.
Opponents of the U.S. rulers’ ongoing economic and political assaults against Cuba’s people and their revolution are organizing activities in April to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the victory at Playa Girón. For information in your area, visit the National Network on Cuba website, http://nnoc.info.
The people are already mobilizing to carry out the slogans of defending the homeland and maintaining production.
Forward, Cubans! Let us answer with fire and sword the barbarians who scorn us and seek to return us to slavery. They come to take away the land that the revolution gave to the peasants and cooperativists; we fight to defend the land of the peasant and the cooperativist. They come to take away the people’s factories, the people’s sugar mills, the people’s mines; we fight to defend our factories, our sugar mills, our mines. They come to take away from our children and from our peasant women the schools that the revolution has opened for them everywhere; we defend the schools of our children and of the peasantry. They come to take away from black men and women the dignity that the revolution has returned to them; we fight to maintain the supreme dignity of each and every human being. They come to take away from workers their new jobs; we fight for a free Cuba with jobs for every working man and woman. They come to destroy the homeland, while we defend the homeland.
Forward, Cubans! Everyone to their posts of combat and work!
Forward, Cubans! The revolution is invincible, and against it and the heroic people that defend it, all enemies will be shattered!
Let us cry out, with more ardor and firmness than ever, at a time when Cubans are already laying down their lives in battle:
Viva Cuba libre!
Patria o muerte!
Fidel Castro Ruz
Commander in Chief
and Prime Minister of the