01/05/13 - The Militant - How 1959 Cuban Revolution ended US domination of
Vol. 77/No. 1 January 14, 2013
How 1959 Cuban Revolution
ended US domination of island
(feature article, books of the month)
Below are excerpts from Fidel Castro's September 1960 address to the U.N.
General Assembly, included in To Speak the Truth: Why Washington's
'Cold War' Against Cuba Doesn't End, one of Pathfinder's Books of the
Month for January.
The Militant is reprinting the excerpts on the occasion of the 54th
anniversary of the Jan. 1, 1959, Cuban Revolution that overturned the
U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship and brought the working class to power,
opening the socialist revolution in the Americas. Copyright C 1992 by
Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.
BY FIDEL CASTRO
The military group that tyrannized our country was based on the most
reactionary sectors of the nation and, above all, on the foreign interests
that dominated our country's economy. .
Fulgencio Batista's government based on force was the type most suited to
the U.S. monopolies in Cuba, but it was obviously not the type most suited
to the Cuban people. Therefore, the Cuban people, at a great cost in
lives, threw that government out. .
What "marvels" did the revolution find when it came to power in Cuba?
First of all, the revolution found that 600,000 Cubans, able and ready to
work, were unemployed-as many, proportionally, as were jobless in the
United States during the Great Depression that shook this country, and
which almost produced a catastrophe here. This is what we confronted in my
country-permanent unemployment. Three million out of a population of a
little more than six million had no electricity, possessing none of its
advantages and comforts. Three and a half million . lived in huts, in
shacks, and in slums, without the most minimal sanitary facilities. In the
cities, rents took almost one-third of family income. Electricity rates
and rents were among the highest in the world. Some 37.5 percent of our
population were illiterate; 70 percent of the rural children lacked
Public services, the electricity and telephone companies, all belonged to
U.S. monopolies. A major portion of banking, importing, and oil refining;
the majority of sugar production; the best land; and the most important
industries in all fields in Cuba belonged to U.S. companies. .
What alternative was there for the revolutionary government? To betray the
people? As far as the president of the United States is concerned, of
course, what we have done is a betrayal of our people. And he surely would
not have considered it a betrayal if, rather than being true to its
people, the revolutionary government had instead been true to the
monopolies that were exploiting Cuba.
The revolutionary government began to take its first steps. The first was
a 50 percent reduction in rents paid by families. . [T]he people rushed
into the streets rejoicing, as they would in any country-even here in New
York-if rents were reduced by 50 percent for all families. .
Then another law was passed, a law cancelling the concessions that had
been granted by the Batista dictatorship to the telephone company, which
was a U.S. monopoly. .
The third measure was the reduction of electricity rates, which had been
among the highest in the world. This led to the second conflict with the
U.S. monopolies. .
Then came another law, an essential law, an inevitable law-inevitable for
the Cuban people and inevitable, sooner or later, for all the peoples of
the world, at least those who have not done so. This was the Agrarian
Reform Law. .
In our country it was indispensable. More than 200,000 peasant families
lived in the countryside without land with which to plant essential
foodstuffs. Without agrarian reform our country could not have taken the
first step toward development. And we took that step. We instituted an
agrarian reform. Was it radical? Yes, it was a radical agrarian reform.
Was it very radical? No, it was not a very radical agrarian reform. We
carried out an agrarian reform adjusted to the needs of our development,
to the possibilities of agricultural development. .
Then the question of payments and indemnities came up. Notes from the U.S.
State Department began to rain down on Cuba. They never asked us about our
problems, not even to express sympathy or because of their responsibility
in creating the problems. . Every conversation we had with the
representatives of the U.S. government centered around the telephone
company, the electricity company, and the problem of the land owned by
U.S. companies. The question they asked was how we were going to pay. .
They demanded three things: "prompt, adequate, and effective
compensation." Do you understand that language? "Prompt, adequate, and
effective compensation." That means, "Pay this instant, in dollars, and
whatever we ask." [Applause]
We were not 150 percent communists at that time, [Laughter] we just
appeared slightly pink. We were not confiscating land. We simply proposed
to pay for it in twenty years, and in the only way we could-by bonds that
would mature in twenty years, at 4.5 percent interest amortized annually.
How could we have paid for this land in dollars? How could we have paid on
the spot, and how could we have paid whatever they asked? It was
It is obvious that under those circumstances, we had to choose between
either carrying through an agrarian reform or not doing so. If we chose
not doing so then our country's dreadful economic situation would continue
indefinitely. And if we did carry out the agrarian reform, then we faced
incurring the enmity of the government of the powerful neighbor to the
We chose to carry out the agrarian reform.
Original Source / Fuente Original:
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