Friday, March 27, 2009

US Invasion of Panama - Ch.4

The Resistance of Panama’s People is of Truly Historic Significance

A few days ago, we projected holding this ceremony here today. In the past few hours, we thought about whether or not to suspend it, owing to the developments you know about. We had also planned a reception with the athletes, which had been promised some time ago. Obviously, however, that has been suspended until a more suitable time.

In any case, we wanted to go ahead with the ceremony, although I believe that our hearts are not exactly into talking about sports. Sports are deserving of every honor and glory. Victories in sports are one of the most legitimate products of the revolution.

This has been a year of great successes, of great satisfaction for our people, and of glory for Cuban sports. And these are a precursor of even greater glories in the future. But our intention is not to speak about sports.

It is more fitting to devote a few words to the heroes of Our America who at this moment are fighting in Panama for the dignity, honor, and sovereignty of our peoples. It is more fitting to recall those who are dying at this moment. We should recall those who at this very moment are being massacred by bombs and imperialism’s most sophisticated weapons of war.

We must think about the fact that they are fighting at this very moment. Thus, our event is occurring at one of the most painful, dramatic, and difficult times in the contemporary history of what Marti called Our America.4

To a greater or lesser extent, we have witnessed and received information about everything that began occurring yesterday, December 20, during the early morning hours.

It’s not that these developments took us by surprise. It’s not that we considered imperialism incapable of such a crime. It was possible to anticipate these acts.

Our country had denounced these acts in our press three or four months ago, and in particularly strong terms. We’re now in December and these denunciations were made around August or September. We also energetically denounced them at the Non-aligned summit meeting.5 We know the enemy and we know the enemy’s moral character. Therefore, what they did could not surprise us.

But even though we anticipated these actions and denounced them, we could not but feel deeply indignant to the bottom of our hearts, deeply angry, deeply bitter. Because it is not possible to react to such a crime in any other manner.

Once again, we have been witness to how imperialism acts. We have seen or heard – in one way or another, through television footage or radio broadcasts – the pretexts and justifications used to carry out this savage and uncivilized action. We have listened to the spokespersons of imperialism, from the president of the United States to the secretary of state, as well as the secretary of defense and the Pentagon chiefs. We find loathsome and disgusting the way they try to justify the deeds, the lies, and the ridiculous pretexts used for it.

They say that the Panamanians murdered an unarmed soldier. Everybody knows how they go around there, how they go around in Panama drunk who doesn’t know that US soldiers do when they’re drunk? Once they even climbed atop the statue of the hero of our national independence, Jose Marti, in Central Park.6 There are photographs of it.

These soldiers, armed and in the state of intoxication, fired on a military installation and wounded some Panamanians. One of these soldiers died as a result of the provocation. What could the Panamanian soldiers there do, being attacked while at their post? What the imperialists are saying is that an “innocent” and “unarmed” US soldier was murdered.

It seems that in the party they were having they brought along a North American woman. So what do the US spokespersons say? That not only did the Panamanians murder a soldier, but there was also an attempt to sexually abuse a North American woman. These things have been said and repeated hundreds of times. The goal is to present as the most natural and justified thing in the world the act of committing genocide against the people of Panama.

13 Heavens Note: For the purpose of United States military troops being located on foreign soil, US officials negotiate a SOFA agreement, or Status of Forces Agreement, which among other things, outlines the actions and responsibilities by both nations (the host and the USA) in the event criminal or military crimes are committed by US civilian, military, or contracted personnel. In most cases, this acts in similar fashion to ‘diplomatic immunity’, preventing prosecution or even punishment for crimes committed against the host foreign nationals or property. To see the effectiveness of this, simply look at the many rapes of young Japanese and Okinawan girls by US military troops. In many cases, these girls were under the age of thirteen, and in some cases were abducted and then gang-raped. Such soldiers are afforded protection from prosecution by the host nation, per the terms of the SOFA. Only in rare circumstances has the US government turned over US personnel to face host-nation prosecution, and these tend to be the stories that are allowed to come into the homes of parents and neighbors of those charged with such crimes. The countless others are never reported by the US media.


These are the methods of imperialism and this is how it acts. We know it well, and not only through our own long experience. We also know the number of lies used in this whole sad episode of aggression against Panama. We have seen the videos, we have seen these things on television. And we know the dozens and hundreds of times that US troops have violated Panamanian sovereignty, humiliation and trampling on the people of Panama. This was occurring virtually every day, and now we have the scenes, we have the televised shots of these events, which our people can observe.

They showed no respect for Panama’s streets or avenues. From their military bases in the canal zone they came with their helicopters, their tanks, their armored personnel carriers, and their mercvenary troops. With the look of murderers that characterizes them, they would go into any part of the Panamanian capital or any other town, violation all international laws. And now they are saying that those who provoked it were the Panamanians. They are saying that the United States had to invade a smaill country in our hemisphere to defend the security of the United States.

I repeat once more: This is loathsome and disgusting. And these pretexts and lies have been spread throughout the world by way of their powerful mass media.

The fact is that they invaded Panama. How did they do it? They did it in the manner that the peoples were familiar with not so long ago, in 1939. They did it in the manner of the Nazis and the fascists, looking for similar pretexts to initiate their aggressions. They did it in the manner of the Nazis and the fascists, attacking by surprise, without any kind of warning.

This time they did it in the early morning hours, at 1:00AM, when it was assumed that the population was asleep, that the workers were asleep, and even that the soldiers were asleep. And this was not an attack against one position. It was a simultaneous attack on all the military units and important strategic points in Panama.

In this way they have brought death and destruction to this sister country in Latin America. In a few hours they have shed the blood of thousands of Panamanians, the majority of them civilians.

But they didn’t attack fearlessly, that is, fearless of the death of imperialism’s own mercenary soldiers. Quite the contrary. They killed as many persons as necessary to avoid their own losses. Wherever there was resisteance they didn’t send soldiers. They used planes and helicopters to drop bombs, and they “flattened” areas with artillery. Then they attacked. Whenever they encountered resistance, they would retreat again and “flatten” the area, using air power and artillery. This is the type of war they have waged in the capital of Panama, in the most densely populated communities. That is what has created thousands of civilian victims.

Imperialism’s mercenary soldiers who are wounded receive immediate attention. They are picked up in modern ambulances, taken to hospital planes, and flown to the best hospitals in the United States. Meanwhile, they don’t even permit ambulances to pick up wounded Panamanian combatants. And they don’t even permit them to pick up the wounded civilian population. Thus people are dying, and the streets of the capital of Panama are covered in blood.

There were some wounded Panamanians who the people themselves, in one way or another, were able to bring to the hospital. Owning to the number of victims, however, there was not adequate medical attention, despite the extraordinary efforts by Panamanian doctors. There wasn’t enough plasma, medical supplies, hospital beds, equipment, or surgical instruments. And thus we have seen photographs and television footage of dozens of civilians – men, women, children, and old people – whose dead bodies filled the hospital corridors.

Cuba addressed itself to all the most authoritative international bodies. It called on the United Nations. It called on the Movement of Nonaligned Countries and all organizations that could participate in the struggle, in the effort to halt US imperialism’s act of barbarism. Cuba spoke with many friends throughout the world.

But in addition, it also addressed itself to the International Red Cross, to the highest authorities of that institution, explaining to them what was occurring in Panama with the victims of the invasion. We explained the need for an urgent mobilization to attend to the wounded Panamanians, who the empire’s mercenary soldiers were preventing from even receiving assistance.

We have expressed our willingness to cooperate. We have expressed our willingness to send our plasma, our doctors, our equipment, our surgeons. We have done this many times over the years of the revolution, helping countries that suffered natural catastrophes such as hurricanes or earthquakes. We have done this even in cases where the governments were enemies of ours, as in Nicaragua under Somoza, or as in Honduras. We also did this with governments that we had no relations with, as happened on one occasion following a major earthquake in Peru. Now we are facing the reality that it is not possible to assist Panama’s wounded, because US troops are there and do not want Panama’s wounded to receive assistance.

13 Heavens Note: International Red Cross personnel, as well as journalists from around the world, were prevented from helping, let alone videotaping or interviewing victims. The world wanted to know what was happening, but the US military and its leadership wanted to keep the story contained until they could report their version...


How much barbarity and abuse have we come to in this world? How much cruelty have we come to in this world? Thus, while the empire’s wounded soldiers travel immediately to the best hospitals over there, Panamanians lie bleeding in the streets.

That’s why I say that the events are sufficiently sad and sufficiently harsh as to make anyone angry and bitter. I’m no longer thinking just of the brutality, the illegality, and the unjustifiable action of the United States.

Alongside this, there is something else that has occurred that is truly historic, that is truly significant. This is the resistance of the people of Panama, the resistance of the units of the Defense Forces and the civilians organized in the Dignity Battalions and other units.

The empire believed the resistance would last minutes, perhaps hours. They thought that when they dropped paratroopers at night or attacked with planes and helicopters, not a single soldier or a single civilian combatant would remain at his post. That is the conception they have of Latin Americans. They still have not learned enough. That is their conception – or more accurately, that is their contempt for our peoples.

The truth is that they believed the battle would already be over by dawn. The president of the United States had a speech prepared for 7:00AM to announce that everything had already been wrapped up. One could see discouragement, disgust, even panic on his face that morning. Tens of thousands of soldiers had been deployed in a surprise attack, along with hundreds of planes, helicopters, heavy artillery, and armored personnel carriers. But despite all this, they encountered everywhere the heroic resistance of the defense Forces and of civilians opposing the aggression.

In this respect they were unable to imitate Hitler. They were unable to imitate the fascists and the Nazis of 1939 or 1940. Because in many countries the Nazis were able to at least capture important cities in a matter of hours, fighting against well-equipped armies. Yet in twenty-four hours the empire was not able to capture the capital city of Panama. This was despite the fact that they began the attack from military bases within Panama itself, and despite their fabulous superiority in men and, above all, weaponry. And yet they were unable to overcome the resistance of a handful, of a few thousand combatants.


13 Heavens Note: When the USA wanted to send US bombers stationed in England to attack Libya, France, in opposition to their planned attack, refused over-flights through French airspace. The US was forced to “go around”. That didn't stop one pilot from dropping a bomb on French soil as if saying, "Take that!" However, in the case of the Panama invasion, US warplanes few directly over Cuba. No request for permission was requested. Rather, the US sent electronic jamming aircraft ahead of the bombers to completely disrupt Cuban radar and defense systems. It is also worth noting that the US Air Force’s prized F-117 Stealth saw its first combat action in the invasion of Panama, accompanied of course by electronic jamming EF-111 Ravens, to help give it its much touted “stealthiness”. This, rather than announce it three years earlier during the attacks against Muammar Qaddafi of Libya. It was said, "Qaddafi wasn't worth it!"


Don’t imagine that Panama had a large military force. They posed a few thousand men in their armed forces spread across the country, plus a few thousand civilians organized and trained in a relatively brief period of time. Don’t’ imagine that large amounts of military equipment were in the hands of the Panamanians. Many of our municipalities in Cuba have more weapons and more firepower than the Panamanian people had as they confronted this aggression.

We ourselves have calculated our firepower in comparison with that of Panama. These calculations show that Cuba possesses 200 to 300-times greater firepower than Panama in terms of combat resources, quantity of arms, and the capability of our weaponry. Nevertheless, tens of thousands of Yankee troops, attacking by surprise in the early morning hours of December 20, were unable to capture Panama City. Even today they have had to take another twenty-four hours to try to overcome the resistance. And this is in a city cornered between the Pacific Ocean and the canal.

That is why we believe that the Panamanian people have written one of the most heroic chapters in the history of the hemisphere during the last forty-eight hours.

None of the empire’s key objectives have been attained.

They did not succeed in capturing the head of the Defense Forces, which was one of the main stated aims for this savage and illegal action. Their aim was to capture him and bring him to the United States.

See how far we have come: they have put into practice a new imperial principle whereby their armed forces can land in any part of the world to arrest persons they say are wanted by their courts. They can go into any part of the world and arrest people who in their view may have violated their laws, or whom they classify as terrorists.

This is the first time they have put this principle into practice. They have invaded a country and killed thousands of people under the pretext of capturing a senior official of a sovereign state in Latin America, a country that is a prominent member of the Movement of Nonaligned Countries and the United Nations. But they are frustrated because they say they have not attained their objective.

They also claimed that they were going to bring democracy. And they were going to do this through no less than a repugnant, puppet government. They have imposed a mercenary government over a river of blood, a river of Panamanian blood, the blood of the Panamanian people. In addition, they said they were going to guarantee implementation of the canal treaties and other, similar pretexts.

Up to the present, what they have won for themselves is the repudiation of the world. They have not succeeded in smashing the resistance. They have not succeeded in crushing the resistance in a few hours, as they imagined they would. The great army of the great empire has been made to look ridiculous against a handful of Panamanian fighters attacked by surprise.

What are they now afraid of? What do they now fear? They fear that the resistance will be prolonged. Their tactic has been to attack the capital, appoint a puppet government, and, based on this, call on the other patriots to surrender. It’s as if one day they attacked Havana and captured it, and then called on the people of Pinar del Rio to surrender, the people of Villa Clara to surrender, the people of the eastern provinces to surrender, the combatants in the Sierra Maestra to surrender.

That is their hope, and that’s the idea they are attempting to apply. They are making use of their technology to jam television broadcasts and to send messages over clandestine radio stations, applying the methods of psychological warfare. The goal is to paint a picture of a people no longer able to put up resistance. In this way they also aim to deceive the world.

Yesterday we witnessed how in the morning, six hours after the attack had begun, they were already telling the world that all resistance had ended.

For more than fifteen hours yesterday, the Panamanian national radio network – which was being relayed to other transmitters – broadcast news of what was occurring, summoning the people to the struggle. It did this until the invaders were able to silence it through direct attacks by helicopter gunships.

But Panamanians have also been listening to international radio. They have been listening to Cuban radio, to Radio Havana Cuba, Radio Rebelde, and other stations. These stations were in regular communication with Panama yesterday, informing the people of Cuba and the world of what was happening. Today these stations continue reporting, although the US was attempting to intercept their broadcasts in Panama. They were trying to jam the broadcasts because they did not even want the Panamanian people to know what was going on through listening to Cuban radio.

What is it that they fear like the devil himself? What is the fear that all the spokespersons of the empire now express? The fear is that the resistance will continue. The fear is that the Defense Forces and the Dignity Battalions and all Panamanian patriots will continue the war in the country’s interior. Because they know that it is possible, over a greater or lesser period of time, to control the capital with its overwhelming accumulation of force. But they are panic-stricken that the patriots will get organized in the country’s interior, in the wooded and mountainous terrain, and continue the war of resistance. All the steps they are now taking are inspired by this panic.

Their hope is to prevent this from happening and to present the aggression to the world as being over. For this reason they are using all possible means today to confuse the Panamanians, telling them that all resistance has ended.

They are afraid of getting bogged down there. It is one thing to control a city, given the means at their disposal. It is quite another to try to eliminate resistance throughout the country if the Panamanians make use of the rich experience of irregular warfare.

This is something we have studied extensively. It is something we have educated our combatants in from one end of Cuba to the other, through what we call the concept of war of the entire people. We have studied the experience the revolutionary movement has accumulated in recent years, as well as our own experience. Because when all is said and done, we did not begin our struggle for liberation in the capital of the republic. We began in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra, until our guerrilla struggle extended itself across the entire country.

That’s what the powerful imperialist gentlemen are afraid of now, and that’s what they are trying to avoid at all costs. They are afraid, and well they should be! Little by little they will be forced to learn what we are capable of, we whom they have scorned, we the peoples of Latin America!

They have had to be taught a number of lessons. They were taught something at the Bay of Pigs, a number of years ago. They were taught something in Nicaragua, by the Sandinista fighters. And just recently they were taught something in a spectacular fashion by the heroic actions of the Salvadoran revolutionaries and patriots.

This was something truly extraordinary. For ten years the United States has constantly provided financial resources, training, and arms to the genocidal government of El Salvador. For ten years they have provided technical means, helicopters, planes, the most modern infantry weapons, communications equipment, everything. For ten years!

And yet the number of Salvadoran fighters has grown. They have proved they can penetrate the streets of the capital nad remain there for weeks at a time, holding in check an army that is armed to the teeth, financed, and trained by the United States.

This was just five or six weeks ago. And now we have seen what has happned to them in Panama. They know that if the Panamanian patriots are able to take into account the experience of Nicaragua, of the FMLN [Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front] in El Salvador, then they are going to get bogged down in this small country – and for who knows how long.

The Yankee imperialists have in one way or another been rebuked by world public opinion. But in our opinion they have not yet received a sufficient response.

There is still a great deal of hypocrisy in the world. Europe, which boasts of its civilized character, has seen some governments applauding the aggression against Panama. Others have expressed their “understanding” for US actions.

Of course, there are also governments in Europe that have forcefully condemned these acts. In terms of the European socialist countries – as far as we know right now – the Soviet Union has condemned the US action and called for the withdrawal of US troops from Panama. But in some European socialist countries we haven’t heard so much as a word spoken concerning the aggression against Panama.

In Latin America the immense majority of countries and political leaders have in one way or another condemned these acts – some energetically, others more tepidly.

International institutions – above all the Movement of Nonaligned Countries – have forcefully condemned these acts. The United Nations Security Council has not said its final word on the matter; they are still discussing it. But as you know, the United States enjoys the sacrosanct right of veto, which it has utilized on countless occasions.

The United Nations secretary general has said he regrets the acts of violence. But in all sincerity I believe that this is a time not for regretting acts but rather for condemning them. In the past I have expressed the hope that peace can be attained. But this is not the time for expressing the hope that peace cab be attained. Rather, it is the time to demand the withdrawal of the invading US troops.

Of course it is not easy to carry out important functions in the United Nations, because those elected to posts there depend on the backing of the Security Council. And it is sufficient for a single member, among those who enjoy the irritation and anti-democratic privilege of the right to veto, to overturn the election of any leader of the United Nations.

The Organization of American States, although not the same rotten mess it was thirty years ago, is still a far from being a model institution. This time the United States was not able to secure the complicity of the OAS.

This time the United States was not able to accomplish what it did in the case of Cuba, where it gained OAS support for its aggressive measures.

This time it was not able to accomplish what it did in the case of the Dominican Republic in 1965, where, after staging a cunning military strike, it managed to get the OAS to approve a resolution to also send in troops.

 This time, despite many maneuvers in the OAS to get it to support US plans for political aggression against Panama, it did not succeed. And when it came to sending in troops, the United States won no support in the OAS for its action, let alone agreement by OAS members to send in troops of their own.

What happened this time is that the OAS condemned both the aggressor and the victim. It condemned the aggression by the United States and it condemned the government under attack. This is a novel approach. But it is one that, despite everything, represents a step forward. In fact, we might say it is a considerable step forward.

Many governments around the world have condemned this crime, including a number of capitalist governments, a number of Western governments. They know it is an act of savagery, an act of barbarism, which strikes a blow against peace in Central America, against stability in Central America, where there are so many serious unresolved problems.

They know this action strikes a blow against stability in Latin America, where there are so many serious unresolved problems. They know it is a blow against stability in world politics, and that it is a humiliating slap in the face to the Soviet peace policy.

We have been sounding the alert for more than a year, since the meeting with the milita members of Havana held in the Plaza of the Revolution, and on numerous occasions since then. Just a few days ago, at the ceremony for eh burial of the comrades who lost their lives in internationalist missions, we said what we thought about the imperialists’ interpretation of peace and what we thought about the dangers of the present situation.8

We said what we thought about the evolution from a bi-polar to a uni-polar world, under US hegemony. And we said what we thought about the stepped-up role by the United States as a policeman that does not stop at any hemisphere, that intervenes in Asia and Africa as well as in Latin America, and that takes upon itself the right to decide what government a country can and cannot have.

We said that the only guarantee and security that our people can have is that which we were capable of conquering with our heroism.

It is difficult to place much confidence in international law when we see such things. It is difficult to place much confidence in international institutions when we see these events and the other things we have seen. It is difficult to place much confidence in the United Nations when we see such things.

It is difficult to place much confidence in the Security Council, which ended up not even issuing a resolution, even a mediocre one, expressing a judgment on the events. Instead it discussed who represents Panama – the representative of the puppet placed in power there or the representative of the government under attack, which is recognized by dozens of countries around the world. This is what they have been discussing!

Even the OAS proved capable of declaring that the representative it would accept is the representative of the government of Panama, of the Torrijista government of Panama, of the anti-imperialist government of Panama. And this is something that has not yet been decided by the “brilliant” Security Council of the United Nations!

From this we have to draw lessons that even wise men should continually reflect upon. I am not a pessimist, because I believe in the peoples. And I believe particularly in the peoples of Latin America – peoples who have been so humiliated, plundered, exploited, and attacked. I believe in this mixture of Indians, Blacks, Spaniards, Europeans, and even Asians who make up our peoples! Or who make up the Cuban people in particular, and to a greater or lesser degree those of Latin America.

I believe in these peoples not as an article of faith but because I have seen them fight, I have seen them in battle. I admire the way in which Latin Americans today are prepared to fight. I am referring to the peoples, because there are governments that are still not sufficiently courageous to challenge the actions of the imperialist power. But any country, no matter how small, can fight.

The Grenadians fought. The Nicaraguans fought the genocidal army of Somoza, created by the United States. They fought the mercenary invasions, the war imposed by the United States, just as in the past Sandino fought the Yankees. The Salvadorans have fought with unequaled heroism. The Panamanian patriots have fought with equally extraordinary heroism. Without a single exception, the peoples are losing their fear of the imperialist soldiers!

I have not spoken of Cuba; there is no need to. We know very well what will happen if one day they dare to invade our homeland! I think they know this too – and if they don’t, they should – because we have not wasted time. We have confronted this empire for thirty years, and the more aggressive it becomes the more we prepare ourselves to confront it with our own forces, which are sufficient to defend our homeland.

Our homeland will be defended not only with unequaled heroism but also with the best technical means that our science can provide, with the best military and political conceptions, with the best strategy, with the best tactics. And we didn’t just start to work on his today, we didn’t just start thirty years ago with this revolution. We began more than 120 years ago during our first war of independence.

One single municipality, even the smallest in our country, could wage a long war against the same number of troops the imperialists have employed in Panama. So we are prepared and we are trained. We have hundreds of thousands of trained military personnel; we have an experienced and seasoned party; and we have an exceptionally courageous and patriotic people.

Our people have always been patriotic, but never like today. They have always been revolutionary, but never like today. This stems from years of real-life experience in the revolution and in the international field. It stems from the constant observation of phenomena and of the evolution of the world.

Let the imperialists do what they will! They will never force Cuba to surrender and they cannot keep Latin America in submission indefinitely. Each time they will have to confront a people who are increasingly conscious, increasingly tired of suffering abuses, injustices, and plunder. Imperialism will increasingly fail to force the Third World into submission, no matter what political maneuvers or conspiracies it employs, and despite its successes against certain countries in the socialist camp.

Let them do what they will! I am convinced that these aspirations to be the policeman of the world, to be owners of the world, to be masters of the world, will be unsuccessful no matter what weapons they employ, including nuclear ones. We have already learned that this is nothing to be afraid of. We know this because they once threatened us with those weapons, and I don’t think a single person in this country lost any sleep over it.9

It doesn’t matter what they have! It doesn’t matter how sophisticated their weapons may be, because what a man carries inside himself, in his breast, in his consciousness, in his mind, is worth far more than any advantages offered by their sophisticated weapons.

We know this from our own history and from more than one experience. In fact we began our war of liberation virtually without weapons. And with the enemies’ weapons – which had been provided by the United States – we carried out and won the war. The situation today is different. Today, we have millions of weapons – millions! And we even produce our own. But in addition we can also count on the weapons of the invaders because we know how they can be taken and used against them. [Applause]

I think that the best guarantee is a correct understanding of the power of our peoples, of the courage of our men and women, of the courage of our nations.

More than in hackneyed phrases of international law, more than in discredited international institutions, we believe in the peoples and in their courage. We believe in the ability of man to continue marching on the path of progress, on the path of independence, on the path of genuine freedom and dignity!

I am speaking here to athletes, but we know that our athletes are also soldiers of our homeland. For they are ready, as has been said many times, to defend their country not only in the field of sports but also in the field of battle.

US Invasion of Panama

We know the patriotism with which our athletes fight. We know the moral values and honor with which our athletes fight. We know the love with which they defend our beautiful flag in any corner of the world. We know the honesty and integrity of their conduct. There is no campaign of lies that can force them to deviate from this. Not even all the gold in the world would be enough to buy them off. I speak to these athletes today and I express these sentiments, these thoughts, because this is not the time to speak of anything else.

You athletes know that the better trained you are, the better prepared you are, the more certain you are of victory. Inner courage, intelligence, and thought are important and decisive, but so too is training. That is why in recent years our party and our revolutionary government have devoted so much energy, so much time, and so many resources to preparing the people for a war of the entire people. Because if the difficult hour arrives, it’s good to know how to shoot for the heart, how to shoot for the head, how to shoot with whatever weapon you have. And if the invaders come wearing bulletproof vests, we can make mines ant will blow them 100 yards into the air. That’s the only way they’ll break the records set by Sotomayor!10

We have arms of all calibers and penetrating power. And we will have the marksmanship to shoot where we have to shoot, even if they come equipped with armor heavier than that worn by the Spanish knights during their conquest of this hemisphere or in their wars of the medieval era.

Let us make use of this additional experience to deepen our understanding that we must be ever more prepared and ever more organized; so that the barbarians, the savages, the monstrous imperialists never again dare to commit a similar act of aggression against our homeland. They will have to pay a very high price if they dare try it!

I salute you, our athletes, for the honors and trophies you have won.

Let me finish today the way Sotomayor, the glory of our sporting world, did in his remarks today:

Socialism or death!

Patria o muerte! [Homeland or death]

Venceremos! [We will win]



- Fidel Castro

This speech was delivered December 21, 1989, the day after the US invasion of Panama. It was given at a ceremony called to present awards to the most outstanding Cuban athletes of the year, held at the Sports City complex in Havana.


- pages 40-57

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