by Fidel Castro Ruz


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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 ! 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

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

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

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

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

'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.

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

... 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

'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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.