Once achieved, military invulnerability can only be maintained with constant improvements

Speech by Second Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party and Minister of the Army General Raúl Castro, during the event marking the 45th anniversary of the founding of the Western Army in San José de las Lajas, Habana province, June 14, 2006, Year of the Energy Revolution in Cuba

Compañeras and compañeros,

FORTY-FIVE years after 1961, that decisive year for the Revolution, we can feel the double satisfaction of still having with us the Commander in Chief of always, and of having acted in accordance with the principle summed up by this affirmation of his: "We shall not drop our guard for a single minute. We shall not rest for one minute in the work of organizing the defense."

Fidel made that affirmation on January 20, 1961 before the thousands of Havana militia troops returning to confront – together with their comrades from the center and east of the country – the armed bands incited by the empire in the mountains of the central region, in what was then Las Villas province.

The Revolution had already given palpable evidence that arming the people was far from being a slogan. It was a reality, growing before the eyes of the enemy forces, who would be able to confirm that in their own flesh three months later.

The Bay of Pigs is a crucial landmark in the decision to confront the enemy with weapons in hand. The Days of the Militia, the Anti-Aerial Defense (DAAFAR) and of the Tank Regiment are associated with its battles, and shortly before or after that great victory, the Central, Eastern and Western armies were born on April 4, April 21, and June 14, respectively. A few days previously, on June 6, the Ministry of the Interior was created. Thus these have been months of many and justified celebrations.

Majors of the Revolution Juan Almeida, Ramiro Valdés and Guillermo García, founder members of those institutions and exceptional protagonists of those events, are here as well as myself, who did something for the Eastern Army in those days.

Also present are the current chiefs, Generals of the Army Corps Leopoldo Cintra, Ramón Espinosa and Joaquín Quintas. I believe that all our combatants, as firmly united as they were in 1961 and always will be, will feel represented by them.

In a fortunate historical coincidence, we are also commemorating today the birth of two great men: the 161st anniversary of that of Lieutenant General Antonio Maceo and the 78th of Commander Ernesto Che Guevara, and thus three stages of one same army are symbolically fused in this event: the Mambí (19th century freedom fighters), the Rebel and the FAR (Revolutionary Armed Forces).

WE CUBANS ARE AWARE THAT WITHOUT THE SUSTAINED EFFORT OF OUR PEOPLE TO CONSOLIDATE THE DEFENSE CAPACITY OF OUR COUNTRY, WE WOULD HAVE CEASED TO EXIST AS AN INDEPENDENT NATION A LONG TIME AGO

We Cubans are aware that without the sustained effort of our people to consolidate the defense capacity of our country, we would have ceased to exist as an independent nation a long time ago.

In accordance with that principle and after a profound analysis of the times in which we were living and scenarios that could present themselves in the short term, on July 15, 2003, our Party, represented by the plenary of its Central Committee, presided over by its first secretary, called on everyone to increase whatever we were doing to fortify our defenses.

That time could not have been more complex. The U.S. government was experiencing the triumphalist euphoria of a supposed thunderous victory in Iraq. That illusion, supported by a gigantic propaganda campaign based on lies, confused a large number of U.S. citizens and many others throughout the world at that point.

Even though the anti-war movement was strong in some areas the aggressive policy of the empire had the backing of the population at that moment, as was reflected in surveys.

Many unsuspecting people saw that war as part of a supposed crusade against terrorism. They did not realize that in real terms it was an action coherent with the imperialist plans of planetary hegemony, another effort aimed at controlling essential raw materials, in particular fuel; in parallel, a fresh attempt to go for the old scheme of war as a means of overcoming the economic crisis; and also, not exactly in the last place, to satisfy the desire for profits of the large transnational consortiums.

In those conditions favorable to their interests, it was obvious that the imperial hawks were considering the possibility of giving a piece of their mind to those who signified a obstacle to their dreams of world domination, and evidently, Cuba, for reasons that are all too well known, could be high on the list of immediate targets.

This U.S. administration’s increasing backing of ultra-right groups of Cuban origin based in Miami, as well as the extended inciting of local mercenaries by the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, compounded by increased provocations and acts of terrorism such as the hijacking of civilian vessels and aircraft, all accompanied by the staging of grand media campaigns, were clear signals of such aggressive plans.

That was happening at an extremely difficult juncture for the country, given the combination of the increased price of oil after the invasion of Iraq, the collapse of tourism as a consequence of the September 11 attacks in 2001, and the vertiginous descent of sugar prices to levels that made its production simply unsustainable in many parts of the island.

None of that daunted us. Along with other important tasks of the Revolution, the programs contained in the Battle of Ideas directed at improving education, health, social security, culture, sports – at the end of day, the quality of life of the people, went ahead.

The resources for that miracle did not come from any mysterious fund. They emerged from the creative ingenuity, talent and organized and enthusiastic work of our people. Those who have considerably fortified the country’s defense capacity come from that same source.

OUR SECURITY IN VICTORY IS SUSTAINED BY THE BLOOD OF FALLEN COMPAÑEROS AND IN THE RIVERS OF SWEAT SPILLED BY MILLIONS OF CUBANS

Behind the affirmation of the commander in chief that Cuba today is virtually invulnerable to a military aggression lie many hours of dispassionate analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of our probable enemy, as well as the possibilities of standing up to it using the ways and methods most appropriate for a small country like ours that does not have great natural wealth, but does have the exceptional source of the revolutionary morale and knowledge of our sons and daughters.

Our security in victory is sustained by the blood of fallen compañeros and in the rivers of sweat spilled by millions of Cubans throughout the decades and particularly in recent years, who have worked to make our principal objective of avoiding war a reality.

The terrible hornet’s nest that every corner of our country would become; I repeat, the terrible hornet’s nest that every corner of our country would become, would cause enemy losses far superior to those that U.S. public opinion would be prepared to allow.

It is fair to recall that in those extreme circumstances, as in others we have lived through throughout 45 years of aggression of every kind, we have not seen nor do we see the U.S. people as an enemy; quite the opposite.

Last April, in the east of the country, we initiated visits lasting various days to the territories of the three armies in the company of Major of the Revolution Juan Almeida and the principal FAR chiefs, the last of which ended last week with the Central Army.

The objective was to directly confirm on the ground the fulfillment of the agreements of the Plenary of the Central Committee to which I referred at the beginning of my address, and the decisions of the Commander in Chief derived from the Bastion 2004 Strategic Exercise. I can confirm, with full causal knowledge that however significant was the increase in the country’s defense capacity up to that date, since then the effort and, above all, the results, have appreciably doubled.

To the point that it was advisable, the people were aware of the lengthy sessions that the Commander in Chief devoted to Bastion 2004, which even extended for various days after the official completion of the exercise.

The putting into practice of the decisions derived from that detailed analysis – a summary of the conclusions reached by hundreds of leadership and command bodies – signified a considerable qualitative leap in the country’s defense capacity. And I am not referring to issues directly linked to the armed struggle. The measures being adopted in the economic and sociopolitical terrains are just as important.

From the grand collective workshop directed by our Chief emerged solutions at once rational, creative and bold that permitted an immediate response to many important problems that had concerned us over a long period.

Aware that human beings are the fundamental component of our defensive power, particular attention has been given to training personnel. Not only was the instruction for the troops improved. In just three years, the leaders and civilian officials who have updated their knowledge of their duties in relation to defense run into the thousands.

The military training centers, this Brigade-School where were are meeting, and other similar ones existing in all the military regions that make up the three armies, are still playing a decisive role in attaining that important objective.

Likewise all the defense plans were redrafted, from national level to the area of defense, to bring them into line with the new realities and the particularities of each concrete place, based on the new concepts developed.

As has invariably happened throughout our revolutionary history, and particularly at moments of danger, when mentioning those who made those results possible one cannot separate the military and civilians because, as always, all of us work closely together.

It couldn’t be any other way. The War of All the People is far from being a simply theoretical concept, it is a daily reality in every task aimed at strengthening the country’s defense.

Workers from the Ministry of Construction and from the bodies of People's Power, engineering troops and military construction workers have built hundreds of kilometers of tunnels and other fortified works. Patriots in uniform or out of uniform attached to other agencies of state central administration have joined efforts to develop communications and upgrade and manufacture combat means. This last task – with a rational investment of material resources – has translated into a considerable increase in their combat qualities and, above all, making them correspond to the use we foresee giving them, while allowing the reanimation of one part of national industry and demonstrating the significant potential existing in those workers’ collectives.

It has been the same with tasks directed at the country’s economic and social development. I shall limit myself to mentioning some notable examples, such as the important contribution of combatants in the Army of Working Youth over the years, the large group of FAR officers who have contributed to easing the flow of merchandise from the ports to its destination, or that currently being undertaken by the military construction enterprises with workers from the Ministry of Construction and the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources in the large-scale diversion of rivers in the eastern region and subsequently in the center of the island, which will make it possible to move large volumes of water to the regions traditionally most affected by drought in the provinces of Holguín, Las Tunas and Camagüey.

The important results achieved in the training for the defense of the country are a new point of departure for continued advances. This is a task that has demanded and will constantly require years of sustained effort, maximum when the international situation could be radically transformed in a matter of days. Once achieved, military invulnerability can only be maintained with constant improvements.

In the strengthening of the defense capacity, creative workers, intelligence, the revolutionary morale and awareness of the people and their leaders at all levels and of all institutions have been more decisive than resources – which have also become available in a growing form.

ONLY THE COMMUNIST PARTY, AS AN INSTITUTION THAT BRINGS TOGETHER THE REVOLUTIONARY VANGUARD AND IS A SURE GUARANTEE OF CUBAN UNITY IN ALL TIMES, CAN BE THE WORTHY INHERITOR OF THE CONFIDENCE DEPOSITED BY THE PEOPLE IN ITS LEADER

The 47-plus years that have passed since January 1, 1959, totally demonstrate that the millions of Cubans prepared to defend the Revolution to the final consequences are not moved by a passing enthusiasm or political fanaticism, but a confidence based on the infallible evidence of time and facts, on the profound conviction that the road chosen is the correct one, and in undefeatable national unity.

That is the key to our defensive power, to our capacity to resist and overcome the greatest adversities. The enemy knows that, and for that reason aims its blows at weakening us ideologically. And it does so, above all, with a view to the future, to a scenario that it considers more favorable for its propositions.

We should not forget that they have drawn up a so so-called transition to capitalism, banking on an end to the Revolution when its historical leadership is no longer here. For that reason they are maintaining the so-called Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba with a designated U.S. administrator and everyone to the front, like in the good old days of the Yankee cannons throughout Latin America.

We are confronting an enemy whose obstinacy and arrogance frequently leads it to commit errors, but that does not mean that it is stupid. It knows that the special confidence given by the people to the founding leader of a Revolution, is not transmitted, as if it were an inheritance, to those who occupy the main leadership posts in the country in the future.

I reiterate what I have affirmed on many occasions: the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution is solely and uniquely the Communist Party, as an institution that brings together the revolutionary vanguard and is a sure guarantee of Cuban unity in all times, can be the worthy inheritor of the confidence deposited by the people in its leader. That is what we are working for and that is how it will be, the rest is pure speculation, not to call it by another name.

Just as we have won all the battles, as much within Cuba as in fulfilling our internationalist duty, we shall overcome the enemy who tries to hide within our ranks, we shall further consolidate the Revolution and we shall make ourselves stronger on all fronts.

Indisputably, circumstances have changed radically in relation to those existing in July 2003, when the plenary of the Central Committee that I have already referred to took place.

Whereas at that time, in response to questions asked them or composed surveys, between 90% and 55% of the U.S. population supported the policy of Mr. Bush, at this point in time that figure, at best, is no more than one third of citizens, something that could make even a city councilor quake.

The lightning victory given by the "mission accomplished" in Iraq three years ago has turned into a maze without a visible way out and full of mires everywhere. Even Afghanistan, which seemed to be pacified – at least the principal cities, really the only ones that they managed to control to a certain extent – are beginning to be another serious headache for the empire and its allies.

The U.S. economy is hanging more and more on the weak thread of war costs. Add to that the unchecked printing of dollars with which they are trying to counter the growing trade and budget imbalances, any impartial prognosis would point to a debacle sooner or later.

On the other hand, more and more people within the United States are calling for a reassessment of the policy on Cuba, including some important voices within the U.S. forces.

Without any doubt, it would not seem to be the most appropriate scenario for undertaking new military adventures, but the lessons of history must not be forgotten. It would not be the first time that an imperialist power and, in particular, the United States, has turned to war as a way of attempting to get out of an internal crisis of any type.

Neither should we discount the possibility that wounded arrogance or desperation could take them to the insanity of initiating a military aggression against Cuba, however crazy that might seem to be.

That explains the validity and permanence of what compañero Fidel stated in the Central report to the 1st Party Congress:

"While imperialism exists, the Party, the state and the people will lend maximum attention to defense services. The revolutionary guard must never be neglected. History teaches with too much eloquence that those who forget this principle will not survive the error."

That is how it will be, so that we can always shout in the face of the empire:

íViva Cuba libre!

   

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