At Giron, African blood was shed, that of the selfless descendants of a people who were slaves before they became workers, and who were exploited workers before they became masters of their homeland. And in Africa, alongside that of the heroic fighters of Angola, Cuban blood also flowed, that of the sons of Marti, Maceo and Agramonte, that of the internationalist heirs of Gomez and Che Guevara (Prolonged applause). Those who once enslaved man and sent him to America perhaps never imagined that one of those peoples who received the slaves would one day send their fighters to struggle for freedom in Africa.
The victory in Angola was the twin sister of the victory at Giron (Applause). For the Yankee imperialists, Angola represents an African Giron (Applause). At one time we said that imperialism had suffered its great defeats in the month of April: Giron, Viet Nam, Cambodia, etc. This time the defeat came in March. On the 27th of that month, when the last South African soldiers crossed the Namibian border, after a retreat of more than 700 kilometers, one of the most brilliant pages in the liberation of black Africa was written.
Ford and Kissinger are irritated by the defeat. And like two little thundering Jupiters, they have made terrible threats against Cuba.
Ford, in a political meeting in Miami, competing for the votes of the Cuban counterrevolutionary colony with his rival Reagan who, to be sure, is much more reactionary, called the Prime Minister of Cuba an international outlaw because of the aid our people gave to Angola. Even some United States press columnists were surprised to hear such epithets emerge from the illustrious mouth of Mr. Ford. Moreover, perhaps as one indication of Ford's cultural level, now becoming proverbial, he declared on one occasion that Cuba's action in Angola was similar to what happened in Ethiopia in Mussolini's time. And later on, not satisfied with that most original historical simile, he compared the events in Angola to Hitler's dismemberment of Czechoslovakia at Munich.
The war in Angola was really Kissinger's war. Against the advice of some of his closest collaborators, he insisted on carrying out covert operations to liquidate the MPLA through the counterrevolutionary FNLA and UNITA groups, with the support of white mercenaries, Zaire and South Africa. It is said that the CIA itself warned him that such clandestine operations could not be kept secret. Aside from the fact that the FNLA was supported by the CIA from the time it was founded, a fact now publicly acknowledged, the United States invested several million dollars from the Spring of 1975 on, to supply arms and instructors to the counterrevolutionary and separatist Angolan groups. Instigated by the United States, regular troops from Zaire entered Angolan territory in the summer of that same year, while South African military forces occupied the Cunene area in the month of August and sent arms and instructors to the UNITA bands.
At that time there wasn't a single Cuban instructor in Angola. The first material aid and the first Cuban instructors reached Angola at the beginning of October, at the request of the MPLA, when Angola was being insolently invaded by foreign forces. However, no Cuban military unit had been sent to Angola to participate directly in the fight nor was that projected.
On October 23, also instigated by the United States, South African regular army troops, supported by tanks and artillery, invaded Angolan territory across the Namibian border and penetrated deeply into the country, advancing between 60 and 70 kilometers a day. On November 3, they had penetrated more than 500 kilometers into Angola, meeting their first resistance on the outskirts of Benguela, from the personnel of a recently organized school for Angolan recruits and from their Cuban instructors, who had virtually no means for halting the attack by South African tanks, infantry and artillery.
On November 5, 1975, at the request of the MPLA, the leadership of our Party decided to send with all urgency a battalion of regular troops with antitank weapons (Applause) to help the Angolan patriots resist the invasion of the South African racists. This was the first Cuban troop unit sent to Angola. When it arrived in the country, the foreign interventionists were 25 kilometers from Luanda in the north, their 140 millimeter artillery was bombing the suburbs of the capital and the South African fascists had already penetrated more than 700 kilometers into the south from the Namibian border, while Cabinda was heroically defended by MPLA fighters and a handful of Cuban instructors.
I do not mean to relate the events of the Angolan war, the later development of which is generally known to everyone, but rather to point out the occasion, the form and the circumstances in which our aid began. These facts are strictly exact.
The enemy has talked about the number of Cubans in Angola. It is sufficient to say that, once the struggle began, Cuba sent the men and the weapons necessary to win that struggle (Applause). In honor to our people we must say that hundreds of thousands of fighters
from our regular troops and reserves were ready to fight alongside their Angolan brothers (Applause).
Our losses were minimal. In spite of the fact that the war was fought on four fronts and our fighters fought alongside the heroic MPLA soldiers in the liberation of almost a million square kilometers (Applause) that had been occupied by the interventionists and their henchmen, fewer Cuban soldiers were killed in action in more than four months of fighting in Angola, than in the three days of fighting at Giron (Applause).
Cuba made its decision completely on its own responsibility. The USSR - which had always helped the peoples of the Portuguese colonies in the struggle for their independence and provided beseiged Angola with basic aid in military equipment and collaborated with our efforts when imperialism had cut off practically all our air routes to Africa - never requested that a single Cuban be sent to that country. The USSR is extraordinarily respectful and careful in its relations with Cuba. A decision of that nature could only be made by our own Party (Applause).
Ford and Kissinger lie to the people of the United States and to world public opinion when they try to place responsibility for Cuba's solidarity actions in Angola on the Soviet Union. Ford and Kissinger lie when they seek to blame the Congress of the United States for the defeat of the interventionists in Angola, because Congress failed to authorize new funds for the FNLA and UNITA counterrevolutionary groups. Congress made those decisions on December 16, 18 and 19. By that time the CIA had already supplied large amounts in arms, Zairean troops had been repulsed in Luanda, Cabinda had been saved, the South Africans were contained and demoralized on the banks of the Queve River and no shipment of arms from the CIA would have changed the already inexorable course of events. Today they would be in the hands of the revolutionary forces like many of those it supplied earlier.
Ford and Kissinger lie to the people of the United States, and especially to the black population of that country, when they hide the fact that the fascist and racist troops of South Africa criminally invaded Angolan territory long before Cuba sent any regular unit of soldiers there.
There are some other lies on the part of Ford and Kissinger in relation to Angola which need not be analyzed now. Ford and Kissinger know perfectly well that everything I say is true.
In this solemn commemoration ceremony, I am not going to say what I think of the insolent epithets Ford has used in his political campaign through the south of the United States and of other cynical aspects of his imperial policy; I will confine myself, for now, to replying that he is a vulgar liar (Applause).
True, events in Angola resemble those of Ethiopia, but in reverse. In Angola, the imperialists, the racists, the aggressors symbolized by the CIA, the South African troops and the white mercenaries, did not win victory nor did they occupy the country; victory was won by those who were attacked, the revolutionaries, the black and heroic people of Angola (Applause).
True, events in Angola resemble those of Czechoslovakia at Munich, but also in reverse; the people who were attacked received the solidarity of the revolutionary movement, and the imperialists and racists could not dismember the country nor divide up its wealth nor assassinate its finest sons. Angola is united, integrated, and today it is a bulwark of liberty and dignity in Africa. The swastika of the South African racists does not fly over the palace of Luanda (Applause).
We advise Mr. Ford to study a bit of true history and draw the correct conclusions from its lessons.
With the imperialist defeat in Angola, Mr. Kissinger scarcely has time enough to run from place to place whipping up fear of the Cuban Revolution. A few days ago he traveled through a half-dozen Latin-American countries and now he has announced a new trip to several countries of Africa, a continent he never deigned to look at before his African Giron.
No Latin-American country, whatever its social system, will have anything to fear from the Armed Forces of Cuba. It is our most profound conviction that each people must be free to build their own destiny; that each people and only the people of each country must and will make their own revolution. The Government of Cuba has never thought of taking revolution to any nation of this hemisphere with the arms of its military units. Such an idea would be absurd and ridiculous. Nor is it Cuba that stole the major part of its territory from Mexico, nor landed 40 000 Marines to crush the revolution in Santo Domingo, nor occupies an inch of Panamanian territory, nor oppresses a Latin country in Puerto Rico, nor plans assassinations of foreign leaders, nor exploits the wealth and natural resources of any people in this hemisphere.
No country of black Africa has anything to fear from Cuban military personnel. We are a Latin African people - enemies of colonialism, neocolonialism, racism, apartheid, which Yankee imperialism aids and protects.
They say that Kissinger wants to meet with the representatives of the liberation movements of the African continent. Anything is now possible in black Africa after the Giron of Angola (Applause). But what kind of hypocritical, cynical and pharisaical words can Kissinger speak to the African liberation movements, to the representatives of the oppressed peoples of Rhodesia, Namibia and South Africa, he who represents the empire that unscrupulously supported Portuguese colonialism and today aids, protects, and supports with economic and political means the South African and Rhodesian racists, in brazen violation of United Nations agreements and resolutions?
Ford and Kissinger have the inveterate habit of using extorsion and threat as a tool of foreign policy. Not long ago they threatened the oil-producing countries with military measures. Now they are using the same cynical and shameless language against Cuba. They are not the first Yankee rulers that have used, to no avail, these intimidating tactics against our homeland. Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon all tried to intimidate Cuba. All, without exception, underestimated the Cuban Revolution and all were mistaken (Applause). Cuba cannot be intimidated by bellicose threats. Four mad men can fix the date to start war against Cuba, but what they can't do is to fix the date when it will end nor decide how it will end (Prolonged applause).
Only people who have no dignity can be intimidated. We have already lived through the Crisis of October, 1962, and scores of atomic weapons pointed at Cuba did not make our homeland hesitate, not even our children (Applause). The people of Cuba can respond to Kissinger's threats with those verses of a classic Spanish poem:
And if I fall
what is life?
gave it up for lost
when like a man
I tore off the yoke
of the slave (Prolonged applause).
The Yankee imperialists have hundreds of thousands of soldiers abroad; they have military bases on all the continents and in all the seas. In Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Turkey, Western Europe, Panama and many other places, their military installations can be counted by the dozens and the hundreds. In Cuba itself they occupy by force a piece of our territory. What moral and legal right do they have to protest that Cuba provides instructors and assistance for the technical preparation of the armies of African countries and in other parts of the underdeveloped world that request them?
What right do they have to criticize the solidarity aid we give to a criminally attacked sister people of Africa like Angola?
The imperialists are pained that Cuba, the attacked and blockaded country they tried to destroy 15 years ago by a mercenary invasion, is today a solid and indestructible bulwark of the world revolutionary movement whose example of bravery, dignity and determination is an incentive in the peoples' struggle for their liberation (Applause).
On the other hand, our revolutionary action does not disregard the world correlation of forces or the interests of international peace. We are not enemies of detente or of peaceful coexistence between states with different social systems, based on strict respect for the norms of international law. We would even be willing to maintain normal relations with the United States on the basis of mutual respect and sovereign equality, without renouncing any of our principles and without giving up struggling internationally so that the norms of peaceful coexistence and respect for the rights of each nation are applied to all the peoples of the world without exception.
The United States occupies a piece of our territory in Guantanamo; the United States has maintained a criminal blockade against our country for more than 15 years. Cuba will never submit to this imperialist policy of hostility and force and will struggle against it tirelessly (Applause). We have said that there can be no negotiations while there is a blockade. No one can negotiate with a dagger in his chest. It doesn't matter if we spend another 20 years without relations with the United States (Apptause). We have learned to live without them and by basing ourselves on our solid and indestructible friendship with the USSR (Prolonged applause), we have advanced more in those years (Applause) than any other country in Latin America. While trade with the United States might perhaps mean certain advantages and a faster rate of development, we prefer to move more slowly but with our heads high and the flags of dignity fully unfurled (Prolonged applause). We will not exchange the revolutionary birthright we hold as the first socialist revolution in the western hemisphere, for a plate of lentils (Applause). We can also say, like the Christians, that man does not live by bread alone.
Some days ago, and coinciding with the Yankee threats made by Ford and Kissinger, pirate ships, whose crews the entire world knows come from the United States, attacked two Cuban fishing boats. Once again, a humble worker of the sea was savagely assassinated. This is a flagrant violation of the Memorandum of the Agreement on Air Piracy between Cuba and the United States. If such events do not cease and if their authors are not duly punished, that Agreement will be terminated (Prolonged applause). Let it not be said later that the government of the United States was not warned in time of the consequences of its irresponsible acts.
From Giron to the present has been a long time. Our Revolutionary Armed Forces today have an incomparably greater potential. Our soldiers and officers have acquired a vastly superior training. More than half a million men make up the reserve of our military units (Applause). The most modern equipment, supplied by the USSR, constantly updates and improves our combat ability. The country is much stronger in every sense. Our Party, virtually born, as I said, at the time of Giron, is today a formidable and deeply rooted vanguard organization. The people and the state are organized on increasingly broad and solid bases. Whoever attempts to seize Cuba - as Maceo said - will only taste the blood-soaked earth, if he doesn't perish in the struggle! (Prolonged applause.)
Let us bow our heads with respect and eternal gratitude to the heroes who, with the victory of 15 years ago, made possible the worthy, brave and indestructible homeland of today.
Patria o Muerte! Venceremos! (Ovation.)
Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, la Habana, 1976)
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