Playa Girón/Bay of Pigs: Washington’s First Military Defeat in the Americas by Fidel Castro and José Ramón Fernández is being featured this week to mark the 61st anniversary of this historic event. In under 72 hours, April 17-20, 1961, Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces, commanded by Castro and Fernández, defeated a mercenary invasion backed by the U.S. rulers. In successfully defending their socialist revolution, Cuban working people set an example for workers, farmers and youth worldwide that with political consciousness, class solidarity, courage and Marxist leadership it is possible to stand up to seemingly insurmountable odds and win. The excerpt is from Castro’s April 16 speech given on the eve of the invasion. Copyright © 2001 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.
[The U.S. rulers] organized the attack, prepared the attack, trained the mercenaries, supplied the planes, supplied the bombs, prepared the airports — everyone knows it. The attack occurs and they calmly state before the world that it’s not so. This is a world that they know would rise up in indignation in face of such a monstrous, cowardly act that violates the rights of the peoples and is a violation of peace! [Applause ]
And these miserable gringo imperialists, after shrouding seven homes in mourning, after murdering a handful of young people who were not millionaire parasites — because those we’ve come here to bury were not millionaire parasites, they were not mercenaries who sold themselves for foreign gold, they were not thieves. They are true sons of our people! [Prolonged applause ]
They were young workers, children from families of ordinary people who never stole anything from anyone, who never exploited anyone, and who had a right to live more than the millionaires. They had more right to live than the parasites and the gusanos ! [Applause ] Because they did not live off the labor of others, like the Yankee millionaires. They did not live off foreign gold, like the mercenaries and gusanos who have sold out to imperialism. [Shouts of “Down with them!” ] They did not live off vice or theft, and they had a right to have their lives respected. And no miserable imperialist millionaire has the right to send planes, bombs, and missiles to snuff out these young and cherished lives of the homeland! [Applause ] …
What the imperialists cannot forgive is that we are here. What the imperialists cannot forgive is the dignity, the integrity, the courage, the firmness of ideas, the spirit of sacrifice, and the revolutionary spirit of the people of Cuba. [Applause ]
That is what they cannot forgive, that we are here under their very nose. What they cannot forgive is that we have made a socialist revolution right under the very nose of the United States! [Applause and shouts ] That we defend this socialist revolution with these guns! [Applause ] That we defend this socialist revolution with the same courage shown yesterday when our antiaircraft artillery riddled the aggressor’s planes with bullets! [Applause and shouts of “Venceremos!” and other revolutionary slogans.]
This revolution is not defended with mercenaries. This revolution is defended by men and women of the people.
Who has the weapons? Do the mercenaries perhaps have the weapons? [Shouts of “No!” ] Because mercenaries and millionaires are the same thing. Do the little rich boys perhaps have the weapons? [Shouts of “No!” ] Do the overseers perhaps have the weapons? [Shouts of “No!” ] Who has the weapons? [Shouts ] In whose hands are these weapons now being raised? [Shouts ] Are they the hands of playboys? [Shouts of “No!” ] Are they the hands of the rich? [Shouts of “No!” ] Are they the hands of the exploiters? [Shouts of “No!” ]
Whose hands are now raising these weapons? Aren’t they the hands of workers? [Shouts of “Yes!” ] Aren’t they the hands of peasants? [Shouts of “Yes!” ] Aren’t they hands hardened by work? [Shouts of “Yes!” ] Aren’t they hands that create? [Shouts of “Yes!” ] Aren’t they the hands of the humble, of ordinary men and women? [Shouts of “Yes!” ] And who are the majority of the people — the millionaires or the workers? The exploiters or the exploited? The privileged or the working people? [Shouts ]
Do the privileged have the weapons? [Shouts of “No!” ] Are the privileged a minority? [Shouts of “Yes!” ] Are the working people a majority? [Shouts of “Yes!” ] Is it democratic to have a revolution in which the working people have the weapons? [Shouts of “Yes!” Applause and shouts of “Fidel, Fidel!” and various revolutionary slogans.]
Compañero workers and peasants, this is the socialist and democratic revolution of the working people, with the working people, and for the working people. [Applause ] And for this revolution of the working people, by the working people, and for the working people we are prepared to give our lives. [Shouts ]
Workers and peasants, men and women of our homeland: Do you swear to defend to the last drop of blood this revolution of the working people, by the working people, and for the working people? [Shouts of “Yes!” ]
Compañero workers and peasants of the homeland: yesterday’s attack was the prelude to the mercenaries’ aggression. Yesterday’s attack, which cost seven heroic lives, aimed to destroy our planes on the ground. But the mercenaries failed; they did not destroy our planes, and the bulk of the enemy planes were damaged or shot down. [Applause ]
Here, in front of the graves of our fallen comrades; beside the remains of the heroic youth, children of workers and children of ordinary working men and women, we reaffirm our determination. Just as they faced the bullets, just as they gave their lives, we state that no matter when the mercenaries come, no matter who we face, that we are all proud of our revolution, proud to defend this revolution of the working people, for the working people, and by the working people. And we will not hesitate to defend it to the last drop of blood. [Applause ] …
Long live the socialist revolution! [Shouts of “Long live!” ] Long live free Cuba! [Shouts of “Long live!” ]
Patria o muerte! Venceremos! [Applause ]